SMR industry leaders say 2016 is milestone year for US, Asia deployment

Global support for SMR development is accelerating and 2016 will see developers take major steps towards deployment in U.S. and Asia, industry leaders said at Nuclear Energy Insider's 6th Annual International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit.

Leading figures from US, Europe, Russia, China, Japan and Korea set out the next steps for the commercial deployment of SMRs which will open up massive supply chain opportunities for the nuclear industry.

Global competition is increasing as China fast-tracks the development of new SMR plants, while North American companies submit permit applications towards the first commercial plants in the early 2020's. The UK has also launched a competition to identify the best-value SMR design.

In the U.S., the Tennessee Valley Authority utility is to submit its Early Site Permit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) next month, while Oregon's NuScale will be the first U.S. SMR developer to submit its design license application later this year.

Jack Bailey, VP Business Development, NuScale Power, told attendees that if NuScale supplies 25% of the global SMR market that would mean building between 28 and 38 plant units per year.

U.S., Canada and UK have all signalled support for new reactor development and Bailey said the global deployment of NuScale plants would be "driven by countries and dynamics."

Attendees also gained insight into China National Nuclear Corporation's (CNNC) ambitious deployment timeline for its ACP100 SMR design.

CNNC aims to receive state approval this year to build the ACP100 in China and Danrong Song, Chief Designer– SMR at CNNC, said the company plans to pour first concrete for the reactor as early as 2017.

“In 20 years there could be 100 units in China,” Song said.

Financing the development of new SMR technology remains a key challenge and U.S. and UK governments have recently increased funding for SMR licensing and backed the development of advanced reactors. U.S. vendors and utilities have formed a new industry group to unlock financial and regulatory resources and accelerate deployment in U.S. and abroad.

The deepening support for U.S. SMR deployment was illustrated by Speakers from government and power utilities.

Senator Sharon Brown, Republican, Washington State said SMRs could play a key role in providing carbon free power in the U.S. and more support could be built from public and within government.

“People really don’t understand the need for clean, baseload power,” Senator Brown said.

The U.S. Clean Power Plan has prompted utilities to rethink their long term generation profiles and small reactors could play a major role in limiting carbon emissions.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is among a growing group of U.S. utilities backing the development of advanced reactor technology.

The utility is preparing for a new future for energy generation, Dan Stout, Senior Manager - SMR Technology, TVA, told the Summit.

“Who can predict what the grid is going to look like in 60 years from today?” he said.

Nuclear Energy Insider

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