June 4, 2013
Small modular reactors (SMRs), which can be manufactured in factories, assembled onsite, and arrayed in multiple-reactor configurations to scale up capacity incrementally, offer a range of advantages to producers of nuclear power. Countering the economies of scale offered by larger facilities with economies of mass production and standardization, SMRs have lower upfront capital costs, enhanced safety features, flexible deployment modes, innovative fuel cycles, and a broader range of applications. According to a new research brief from Navigant Research, worldwide SMR capacity will grow from a few dozen megawatts (MW) in 2013 to at least 4.6 gigawatts (GW) in 2030. Under a more optimistic forecast scenario, capacity could reach 18.2 GW by the same year, the study concludes.
“The move toward smaller, more flexible reactors is returning the nuclear power industry to its roots, in the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine program,” says Richard Martin, editorial director at Navigant Research. “It’s clear that for the so-called renaissance of nuclear power to achieve its potential, SMRs must become a significant part of the world’s nuclear fleet.”
Government support for SMR research and development is strong, and the barriers to commercialization for vendors of SMR technology are falling steadily, according to the report. In the United States, one of the highest hurdles is gaining approval and licensing from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which recently approved the first new large, conventional reactors in the United States in more than 30 years. The time and expense required to license new reactor technology in the United States is one primary reason many industry stakeholders believe that initial SMR deployments will happen elsewhere – likely China, which has one of the most advanced SMR development programs in the world.
The report, “Small Modular Reactors”, examines the history and future of small modular reactors, with an emphasis on deployment programs currently underway. The market drivers and barriers for SMRs are detailed, along with technology issues and government policies supporting SMR programs. The report includes profiles of major U.S.-based SMR vendors and their reactor designs, as well as a pair of forecast scenarios, base and conservative, for total worldwide capacity of SMRs in 2030 along with the factors that must be in place for those scenarios to become reality. Finally, the report provides conclusions and recommendations for industry stakeholders including policymakers, technology vendors, and utilities. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.
Contact: Richard Martin
* The information contained in this press release concerning the report, “Small Modular Reactors,” is a summary and reflects Navigant Research’s current expectations based on market data and trend analysis. Market predictions and expectations are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those contained in this press release or the report. Please refer to the full report for a complete understanding of the assumptions underlying the report’s conclusions and the methodologies used to create the report. Neither Navigant Research nor Navigant undertakes any obligation to update any of the information contained in this press release or the report.