Worth USD 11.3 billion by 2026, Small Modular Reactors or SMRs seem to be on every country’s agenda. There is certain reliability it offers, not to mention the low-cost, ‘always on’ clean energy. The construction cost though is a different story. So are the security implications. Yet SMRs have become a force to reckon with. Here is our roundup (in no particular roundup) of the biggies within the SMRs.
UK SMR consortium
A Rolls-Royce-led UK SMR consortium offers a big picture in SMRs. With an aim to build 16 SMRs, this consortium – which includes names like Atkins, Assystem, Laing O’Rourke, BAM Nuttall, National Nuclear Laboratory, and so on – hopes to build up to 10 SMRs by 2035. With an initial marketed cost of £2.2bn per unit, the plant aims to generate 470MW. The company is optimistic though that the prices may fall by £1.8bn.
Nuscale in Portland, the US founded in 2007, is another gigawatt-sized nuclear facility taking center stage. Owned by Fluor Corporation, this could be America’s first commercial SMR. Made to incorporate 12 modules, the Nuscale plant can produce 924 MWe (gross) and power over 700,000 homes in the U.S. with carbon-free electricity. That’s roughly the carbon equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars off the road per year. Nuscale claims that it could generate at a cost of $58/MWh, and estimates its construction cost at $3,000/kW.
Arguably the first EU-designed SMR, The NUWARD™ consortium led by EDF will rope in the expertise of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), TechnicAtome, Naval Group, and Framatome (EDF turbine engineering subsidiary). Comprising a 340 MWe pressurized water SMR plant, it will have two reactors of 170 MWe each. Tractebel will work jointly with the French electric utility company to deliver engineering services for NUWARD™. They slated the construction to begin by 2030 and aim to meet Europe’s growing demand for carbon-neutral, safe, and affordable electricity.
Bruce Power, Canada
Known as Canada’s first private nuclear generator, Bruce Power claims to have provided 30% of Ontario’s power at 30% less than the average cost to produce residential power. They plan to produce 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity, through a fleet of SMRs in order to help Canada reach its 2030 emissions reduction target. The Canadian government for one is investing CAD27.2 million (USD21.6 million) in micro reactors as well.
Canada though might see its first SMR in action by 2028 at Darlington Nuclear Power Station, if all goes as planned between Ontario Power Generation, and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH).
Fermi Energie, Estonia
The Estonian company would introduce SMRs in a currently coal-dependent Estonia. The International Energy Agency (IEA) sites that Estonia currently uses coal to cover 55% of its electricity, biomass, and waste coming at around 25%. With SMRs, the company hopes to change the energy narrative. In 2019, Fermi Energia signed an agreement with US-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to bring GEH BWRX-300 small modular reactors to Estonia. Recently it signed Vattenfall as a minority shareholder and the company has reportedly invested €1 Mn.
CAREM 25, Argentina
CAREM 25 in Argentina, is not only an indigenous Argentinian design but also the first-ever domestically developed nuclear power unit. After a few initial legislative hiccups, the SMR resumed construction in April 2020. The name CAREM is a short form for “Central ARgentina de Elementos Modulares”. They mostly sourced the 32 MWe prototype from Argentina (70% of the components). The commercial model ultimately envisaged by CNEA as the basis of a multi-reactor plant would have a higher power of between 100 and 120 MWe.
We at Prospero events have had the pleasure to interact with all these key SMR players in our previous summits. You can look at our upcoming events for a deeper dive into such hot topics in the European energy industry.