Small Modular Reactors (SMR)

Published on: 
Mon, 2013-03-18
K. Samul (NCBJ), A. Strupczewski (NCBJ), G. Wrochna (NCBJ)

The SMR term may denote: (i) single module reactor; (ii) modular design reactor; (iii) small/medium reactor. Light Water Reactors and High Temperature Reactors are the only SMR technologies that have a chance to be commercially implemented within the next 10-12 years. SMRs may find their best applications in remote communities (USA and Russia) and/or to co-generate electricity/heat (Europe). They are a valuable complement rather then competition to large power reactors operated in national backbone power networks. No solutions are yet commercially available but the recent US government decision to co-finance development of SMRs as well as growing competition in other countries may significantly accelerate the implementation processes. The first prototypes are expected by 2021, a full entry to the market – after 2024-2026. In Poland, some specific SMR technology might be chosen at the earliest in 2022, constructional works might be started by 2024-2026. A decision to switch to the SMR technology would mean the nuclear power programme currently accepted in Poland will be delayed by 8-10 years, in practice abandoned for the time being. A few tens SMRs would have to be put into operation if the „Poland’s energy strategy till 2030” programme assumptions are to be met. Such an approach is neither cost-effective nor technically feasible. SMRs are not any alternative for the nuclear power programme currently accepted in Poland, although after 2030 they might be both useful and cost-effective in special applications, mainly in co-generation. Till that time R&D programmes – including a project to construct a research reactor or even a prototype – are fully justified.