Small Modular Reactors

IAEA / Publication Can Help Countries Identify Reactor Designs ‘To Suit Their Needs’

By David Dalton
2 November 2020

Agency says 72 plants under development in 18 countries
Publication Can Help Countries Identify Reactor Designs ‘To Suit Their Needs’
China’s Shidao Bay-1 prototype HTR-PM is scheduled to begin operation next year. Courtesy CNNC.
An International Atomic Energy Agency publication on small modular reactors, among the most promising emerging technologies in nuclear power, can help countries identify reactor designs to suit their needs as they look for reliable and affordable energy sources to slash greenhouse gas emissions and drive sustainable development.

The agency said the 2020 edition of its biennial booklet Advances in Small Modular Reactor Technology Developments, provides the latest data and information on SMRs around the world, including detailed descriptions of 72 reactors under development or construction in 18 countries.

The booklet for the first time contains annexes on waste management and disposal, and a section on microreactors, which are very small SMRs intended for niche applications.

Unlike large power reactors, SMRs typically have a capacity of up to 300 MW and are built largely from prefabricated components assembled on site. They are designed for less upfront capital and have wider financing schemes. According to the IAEA, their modular nature also allows for scaling up capacity by adding units according to demand. SMRs may also be well suited to operate flexibly in tandem with variable renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and for non-electric applications such as seawater desalination, district heating and hydrogen production.

While wider deployment of SMRs is expected to begin over the next decade, two SMR units of KLT-40S design are already in operation in Russia aboard the Akademik Lomonosov, a floating nuclear power plant. Two other SMR frontrunners in Argentina and China are due to begin operation within the next three years.

Argentina is developing the Carem-25 SMR, with construction of the prototype nearing completion on a site next to the Atucha nuclear power station in Lima, about 100 km northwest of the capital, Buenos Aires. China’s Shidao Bay-1 HTR-PM, a prototype high-temperature gas cooled SMR in Shandong province, eastern China, is scheduled to begin operation next year.

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