Indonesia looks to SMRs

21 March 2018

Indonesia's National Atomic Energy Agency (Badan Tenaga Nuklir Nasional - Batan) announced in March that it had launched a roadmap for developing a detailed engineering design for its Experimental Power Reactor (Reaktor Daya Eksperimental - RDE).

The design of the indigenous small modular reactor  (SMR) is expected to be finalised before the end of the year. Geni Rina Sunaryo, Batan's director of nuclear reactor safety and technology, gave details of the roadmap, which is part of Batan's RDE pre-project phase. The RDE basic engineering design was completed in 2017. Based on the detailed engineering design document and a safety analysis report, Batan is hoping for approval for the RDE design from Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten).

The first draft of the detailed engineering design, which will involve a consortium of Indonesian universities and private companies, should be ready in June for review by an expert mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Based on recommendations from that review the Indonesian government hopes to announce the design during the IAEA General Conference in September, Batan said. Batan began work in 2014 on a plan to build a 10MWt RDE at the Puspiptek research facility in Serpong as a first strategic as a first step towards the introduction of large-scale nuclear plants.  

RDE is a small pebble-bed high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) which will use low enriched uranium oxide TRISO fuel. Batan intends the reactor to be suitable for subsequent commercial use by utilities and independent power producers domestically, as well as for export. Batan began the pre-project phase in 2015 in cooperation with Russian-Indonesian consortium RENUKO as a consultant for the conceptual design. The RENUKO consortium includes Indonesian companies Rekayasa Engineering and Kogas Driyap Consultant, as well as Germany's NUKEM Technologies GmbH and subsidiaries of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. In 2017, Batan received a siting licence from Bapeten for a demonstration RDE reactor at the Serpong complex.

Later this year Batan will begin construction of a system test facility to demonstrate Indonesia's ability to design and build a portion of the RDE itself. The test results from the facility will be used as input data in the RDE's design.

Batan envisages the startup of conventional large light-water reactors on the populous islands of Bali, Java, Madura and Sumatra from 2027 and is also planning to deploy small HTGRs (up to 100MWe) on Kalimantan, Sulawesi and other islands to supply industrial power and heat.

Batan had earlier also signed agreements with China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC) in 2016 to develop HTGRs in Indonesia, including training of personnel.  In August 2014, Batan had signed a cooperation agreement with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) on research and development of HTGRs.  

Indonesia has also been considering small molten salt reactors. Three state-owned companies completed a technology pre-feasibility study which concluded that the ThorCon molten salt reactor design proposed by US-based Martingale could deliver safe, cheap, clean energy. Pertamina, PLN and Inuki said the reactor would be economically viable, and could replace coal power plants. Martingale signed an agreement in 2015 with the Indonesia Thorium Consortium to jointly develop the reactor with Indonesia. The ThorCon team has also held discussions with Batan. ThorCon is a liquid-fuel nuclear reactor design, which uses uranium and thorium fuel dissolved in molten salt. ThorCon is a  scale-up of the molten salt reactor experiment (MSRE) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, which would be the reference plant.

Batan also held talks in 2015 with Russia on the possible construction of small floating NPPs (FNPPs) for Indonesia, resulting in a document of intent being signed, but no further progress has been reported.



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