Research & Development

First Three SMR Designs Will Be Online Within Four Years, IAEA Meeting Told

By David Dalton
17 September 2015

17 Sep (NucNet): There are about 45 small modular reactor (SMR) designs under development around the world, half of them under preparation for deployment over the next 10 years, and the first three expected to become operational over the next four years, an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting heard.

At a side event to the 59th IAEA general conference in Vienna, delegates were told that the first three SMRs with advanced technologies expected to become operational are the KLT-40S in Russia, the HTR-PM in China, and the Carem-25 in Argentina.

The KLT-40S is a 150-megawatt (thermal) pressurised water reactor unit designed for floating nuclear power plants. It is based on the standard KLT-40 icebreaker reactor, but with advanced features aimed at increasing safety and reliability, with upgraded components and safety systems, including use of passive features and low-enriched uranium for fuel.

China’s HTR-PM is a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. Construction of the first demonstration unit began last year at Shidaowan in China's Shandong province. Carem-25, a domestically-designed and developed 25-MW small pressurised water reactor with natural coolant circulation, is under construction on a site next to the Atucha nuclear power station in Lima, about 100 km northwest of Buenos Aires.

SMR designs and technologies that are under development in many IAEA member states offer an option for improving security of energy supply in both expanding and embarking countries, the IAEA said in a statement after the event.

Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA deputy director-general and head of the department of nuclear energy, said SMRs can offer important advantages for nuclear newcomer countries, particularly those with small electric grids, with less-developed infrastructure and limited investment capabilities. He said: “Countries with existing nuclear power programmes may also consider SMRs for specialised applications such as deployment in remote areas, process heat and desalination.”

Intended to produce electric power up to 300 MW per unit, or around half of a traditional reactor, major components for SMRs can be manufactured in a factory setting and transported to sites for ease of construction.

At the event, the IAEA presented its work on developing a technology roadmap for SMR deployment, to provide member states with “generic pathways”.

Several countries new to nuclear power are considering SMRs not only for electricity generation but also for other uses such as district heating, desalination and hydrogen production, said Hadid Subki of the agency’s nuclear power technology development section: “Embarking countries, including Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, have even initiated a pre-project engineering of SMR for cogeneration.”

Stewart Magruder of the regulatory activities section of the IAEA said an SMR regulators’ forum has been established to identify, understand and address key regulatory challenges that may emerge in the future.

Maher Odan from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy said he believed that the SMR market had very large potential not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the wider Middle East and North Africa regions.

He said that earlier this month, Saudi Arabia signed a pre-project engineering agreement with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute to deploy the Korean Smart SMR design in Saudi Arabia.

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