Interest is growing in building right-sized reactors. In the relatively near future, there will be operating demonstration plants in China, Argentina, and Russia proving that the nuclear industry has learned that the one-size fits all model cannot work if the chosen size is in the range of 1,000 MWe. There simply are not enough customers to make it worthwhile to manufacture the structures, systems and components required on the scale needed to make them economical.
Building smaller units that can serve a wider variety of customers and markets is the right way to increase the scale of the entire industry. Numerous smaller units will help build out the necessary supply chains that will enable nuclear energy to move its formidable physical capability of reliable, abundant, ultra-low emission power to a price point that is far more competitive with all other available energy options.
At the Nuclear Energy Insider’s 5th Annual SMR Summit, which will happen April 14-15, 2015 in Charlotte NC, there will be several speakers who will be addressing important aspects of making smaller reactors more economical by establishing a regulatory framework for a truly international market.
Kristiina Soderholm, the chairman of the World Nuclear Association’s Cooperation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing (CORDEL) Working Group, will introduce her group’s recently completed study titled International Licensing of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
(Note: Here is a link to CORDEL’s 2011-2012 Annual Report.)
The new paper includes a conceptual roadmap for designing licensing strategies that will enable international deployment of SMRs in a fashion that is analogous to the way that ships and aircraft are licensed to be able to operate in numerous countries without the expense and time investment that would be required for individual licensing efforts in each market.
Her presentation, titled Facilitating International Licensing for Small Modular Reactors will allow all delegates to:
- Gain insight into the WNA perspective of benefits to be reaped by establishing broad licensing principles
- Understand the difficulty of pursuing an SMR design export strategy without broad international design acceptance, and examine innovative new approaches that will streamline the licensing process for SMR technologies
- Assess opportunities to reform how regulatory bodies could cooperate to allow for easier integration of SMR technologies within multiple sovereign states in order to gain clarity over efforts to increase the export potential of various reactor designs
Of course, there will always be site specific requirements and perhaps country-specific standards for plant construction and for supporting systems that do not affect nuclear safety, but the CORDEL group is aiming towards a situation where reactor modules and primary safety systems can obtain internationally accepted certifications.
I’m looking forward to the opportunity to hear about the progress that the CORDEL working group has made and where it plans to go in the future. It will be valuable to have the opportunity to chat with Ms. Soderholm and to ask a few burning questions I have about ways to overcome obstacles that have already been identified.
Additional reasons I’m excited about attending
Gordon Waddington, the Director of the UK Government’s SMR Feasibility Study, will be making a presentation that describes the takeaways from a recent review of opportunities that will be opening up as leading SMR vendors begin building out the supply chains that will support the ability to license, build, operate, and maintain their modern designs.
There will be a workshop on Co-Generation and one on integral molten salt reactors hosted by Terrestrial Energy. Other participants will include: EDF, Exelon, PSEG, Fortum, Ameren, KPMG, Fitch Ratings, UAMPS, Areva, US DOE, Generation mPower, OPG, NRC, Chinese National Nuclear Corporation, IAEA, Strategic Insights and Mitsubishi.
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