UK and US pursue interest in SMRs

25 February 2016

The UK's Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has commissioned a study to investigate the deployment potential for small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in the UK. Decision Analysis Services (DAS) has been selected to undertake a six-month project to identify what would be needed during the first five years of a development plan. ETI will invest up to £300,000 ($416,800) in the six-month project.

A previous ETI project that looked at the broad issues and timescales required to support a UK-based SMR fleet from 2030, concluded that "there are still many uncertainties" surrounding SMR development but that work will need to start this year. The government said in its November 2015 Spending Review and Autumn Statement that GBP250m ($350m) would be made available to help position the UK as an international leader in SMR technology.

The week before, the US Department of Energy (DOE) granted a site use permit to Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) to support the possible SMR siting at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The permit allows UAMPS to access the INL site to analyse environmental, safety, and siting conditions. UAMPS is working to identify potential locations that may be suitable for building the UAMPS 'Carbon Free Power Project' (CFPP) for further characterisation and analysis. The SMR design for the CFPP is being provided by Oregon-based NuScale Power. NuScale is among nuclear plant designers and operators that have joined the US SMR Start consortium which aims to boost moves towards the commercialisation of SMRs.

DOE said: "If UAMPS identifies a suitable area within the INL site boundary for development of the CFPP, and if the DOE determines that the use of such site would not conflict with INL mission work, the design, construction, operation, and eventual decommissioning of an SMR at the selected site would be licensed and inspected by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, following extensive safety and environmental reviews."

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