The US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and nuclear industry association the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) have released the first phase of their Advanced Reactor Roadmap, which is focused on North America. Subsequent phases will focus on other global regions.

The 66-page report says: “The nuclear energy industry is taking action to enable nuclear energy to meet the market demand through the continued operation of existing reactors and the commercialisation of advanced reactors, which could be called upon to provide 60 to 400 GW of generating capacity as a carbon-free option by 2050.” It adds: “The purpose of this Advanced Reactor Roadmap is to outline the critical strategies and support actions necessary for the successful large-scale deployment of advanced reactors. This will be a living document that evolves and refocuses strategies and actions as the future unfolds.”

The roadmap’s intended audiences are “potential customers (owners and energy off-takers), policymakers, regulators, financial institutions, public stakeholders, and industry stakeholders”. It was developed “through a multistakeholder process, including experts from advanced reactor developers, suppliers, utilities, researchers, and industry associations”. The report describes “an achievable path to facilitate the successful commercialization of advanced reactors, spur and support the necessary actions, and enable deployment at the levels needed”.

The industry’s approach seeks to “enable the value of advanced reactors to fulfil critical market needs is focused on three key things:

  • Commercialising advanced reactor technologies that deliver the desired value;
  • Establishing a portfolio of advanced reactor technologies to meet a diverse set of market and customer needs;
  • Ensuring that the commercialisation of these technologies is both cost-effective and on track to meet the milestones for decarbonisation.

“The approach relies on disruptive innovations that develop advanced reactors with benefits that deliver value to the market, including easing deployment challenges, accelerating deployments, and increasing cost competitiveness, all while increasing safety and maintaining reliability,” the report notes. “This requires the industry to change how it designs, deploys, and operates advanced reactors. The approach is framed to allow a realistic, phased, and risk-managed approach to deploying advanced nuclear technology.”

"There is growing consensus that the energy system must include large amounts of nuclear energy in the US and Canada. This roadmap outlines the key strategies and actions needed to enable advanced reactors to meet the market demand that is forming," said NEI Senior Vice President & Chief Nuclear Officer Doug True. "The plan focuses on key opportunities needed for the successful large-scale deployment of advanced reactors in the areas of policy, regulatory, and public acceptance. There are roles, not just for industry, but also other stakeholders, like the federal government, to contribute to this success."

Neil Wilmshurst, EPRI Senior Vice President of Energy System Resources & Chief Nuclear Officer said advanced nuclear technology represents an option for helping achieve carbon reduction goals while producing energy "The plan outlines actions that could facilitate an increasing role for nuclear energy as a zero-emissions energy source in global decarbonization efforts,” he noted.

The roadmap comprises three sections:

  • Outlining a recommended approach to help the nuclear industry fully realise the potential value of advanced reactors;
  • Discussing seven enablers for large-scale deployment of advanced reactor technologies, including conditions related to policy, regulatory and public acceptance; and
  • Establishing ownership and implementation targets for 45 key actions necessary for delivering advanced reactors into the market. These actions address strategic priorities, including licensing, fuel cycle, supply chain, construction, operation, and workforce development.

Specific actions outlined in the roadmap include:

  • Engaging with governments to ensure a stable supply of enriched fuel;
  • Providing recommendations to enable more timely and efficient reviews and approvals of advanced reactors by US and Canadian regulators.
  • Developing specific programmes to create a skilled labour workforce for both existing and new reactors; and
  • Ensuring the industry is prepared to execute the first deployment projects.

An industry steering group composed of industry leaders will be formed to assess the status of action items from the roadmap and ensure their completion.

The report says: “Successful decarbonisation efforts will depend on a host of actions, across many industries and end uses. Nuclear is expected to play a strong role in achieving this success. This roadmap is intended to be a valuable, informative asset in enabling that outcome.”

Image courtesy of EPRI