Could small modular nuclear reactors help the energy mix?

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A North East company, Penultimate Power UK, has questioned why nuclear power relies on £multi-billion power plants that each take a decade to become operational. Could Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) about the size of a shipping container be the answer – located in the areas where the electricity is demanded, with significantly reduced lead times and capital costs?

Penultimate Power is currently working with the Government and a consortium of leading UK corporations to take this solution forward.  SMRs are smaller than the UK’s existing and planned power stations, in a range between 45MW and 300MW. This helps cut construction lead times from ten to three years. Manufactured off-site, SMRs can be fabricated, fuelled and sealed in the factory then delivered to the site ready for use.

A Government inquiry into the long-term viability of SMRs will be complete in August. A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson said: “SMR technology has the potential for shorter delivery times and lower costs of nuclear power for consumers and the Government is investigating the potential benefits SMRs could deliver to the UK.”

SMRs are also receiving support from industry body the Nuclear Industry Association, its Chief Executive, Keith Parker said: “It is crucial to keep a wide range of technological options open so the UK can build more nuclear plants should demand require it.

“Small reactor technology could bring a number of benefits to the UK civil nuclear industry.

“This latest inquiry on small nuclear power is encouraging; it shows the Government’s recognition and understanding that the UK’s requirements for nuclear power may exceed current plans for new build, perhaps substantially.”

For more information, help or advice please contact Andrew Davison on 0191 211 7950.