Go-ahead for mini reactors as energy crunch looms

Posted: September 10, 2017 by tallbloke in Energy, Nuclear power
nuke-powerFrom the Sunday Times: By Alan Tovey

MINISTERS are ready to approve the swift development of a fleet of “mini” reactors to help guard against electricity shortages, as older nuclear power stations are decommissioned.

The new technology is expected to offer energy a third cheaper than giant conventional reactors such as the ongoing Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Industry players including Rolls-Royce, NuScale, Hitachi and Westinghouse have held meetings in past weeks with civil servants about Britain’s nuclear strategy and development of “small modular reactors” (SMRs).

A report to be published by Rolls-Royce in Westminster this week claims its consortium can generate electricity at a “strike price” – the guaranteed price producers can charge – of £60 per megawatt hour, two thirds that of recent large-scale nuclear plants.

SMRs are a fraction of the size and cost of conventional plants and were earmarked for funding from the £250m pledged by the Government in 2015 to develop “innovative nuclear technologies”. It is hoped a fleet of these small reactors could be cheaply produced to guarantee Britain’s energy supply, with further ambitions for the technology to be exported worldwide.

Full story

  1. tallbloke says:

    So, The strike price moves from ‘staggeringly expensive’ to ‘eyewateringly expensive’. Hinkley looks more and more like a stalking horse.

  2. Richard111 says:

    Well let’s hope liquid thorium reactors catch on. Can be built in a standard container and provide power for five years. Can use up old radioactive material… can go on and on… never voted for a greenie but they call the shots on this.

  3. oldbrew says:

    DT says link to full story has expired.
    [update: link amended]

  4. ivan says:

    The stated strike price sounds like a one off rather than mass produced. With mass production it should get down to being very close to conventional coal fired plant.

  5. A C Osborn says:

    Let’s face it small nukes have been powering subs, aircraft carrier and icebreakers for years.
    So the technology is well established.

  6. pochas94 says:

    “The new technology is expected to offer energy a third cheaper than giant conventional reactors” until the Enviroregulators get their motors running.

  7. JB says:

    Been a half century since Fred Hoyle published his analysis on nuclear. About time more woke up to it. But I despair of it ever surviving political intrigue, just as Fred lamented in his day.

  8. prismsuk says:

    SMRs are 28% of the cost of offshore wind and ought to be far more attractive to investors. So if offshore wind ‘competes’ with nuclear at a £140/MWh CfD rate, SMRs should be able to get down to 28% of that – £39.20/MWh:

  9. stuartlarge says:

    I like Moltex energy the best, it’s British, thorium and can be as cheap as coal when established

  10. Richard111 says:

    Thanks Stuart. Wonderful export opportunity when Brexit completes (if ever).

  11. The Badger says:

    We can put one in the centre of each town and city and optimise the smart grid by connecting them to the IOT via the new network for consumers smart meters.

    Q.What could possibly go wrong?

    A.Not having enough Bitcoin to pay the ransom demands.

  12. michael hart says:

    It’s about four decades behind the times. Yes, it’s a good idea and I’m all for it. But the technology could be four decades more advanced because government was so ineffective in countering the scaremongering of the anti-nuclear lobby. They needed to invest in both new technology and better publicity to counter the poor regulation laws, but they did neither. That’s why we find ourselves with the technology we need being more expensive than it should be.

    We WILL have to use it wholesale at some point, so why not make a more convincing commitment than before? The British establishments, both green and political anti-industrial, remain the main obstacles. They were mostly ‘arts & humanities’ students, plus lawyers.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Michal Hart:

    I think you repeat yourself… the A&E was the pre-law school major….

  14. Like I said many times before…..build a nuke each day and bring electricity to every dusty hamlet in the third world.

  15. Why not put the whole thing below ground level? Buildings above ground are vulnerable.

  16. @A C Osborn, September 10, 2017 at 2:41 pm
    “Let’s face it small nukes have been powering subs, aircraft carrier and icebreakers for years.
    So the technology is well established.”

    The nuclear warships use pressure vessels, highly enriched fuels and Gadolinium.

    SMRs use a totally different technology that was developer 60 years ago at ORNL and then abandoned for reactors that produced more plutonium:

  17. Seems like people are forgetting the South Koreans like the SMR they are installing for desalination plants in the UAE and I think they are doing work with the Finns. I think UK will be able to do better research when they are out of the EU which sucks in research money for anything other than Nuclear.

  18. […] looks as if the UK government has got cold feet about the small modular reactor concept, possibly under pressure from the ‘green’ lobby. Meanwhile subsidies for […]