Small Modular Reactors

In the last decade, as talk of a “nuclear renaissance” has gained credence, the nuclear power industry has begun to reverse its historic reliance on large, gigawatt (GW)-scale reactors. Smaller reactors, which can be manufactured in factories, assembled onsite, and arrayed in multiple-reactor configurations to scale up capacity incrementally, have caught the imaginations of vendors, technology developers, power generators, and government regulators around the world.

SMRs offer a range of advantages, countering the economies of scale offered by larger facilities with economies of mass production and standardization, lower upfront capital costs, enhanced safety features, flexible deployments, innovative fuel cycles, and a broader range of applications, from heat for industrial processes to distributed generation (for remote military bases, for example) to water desalination. Navigant Research has developed two forecast scenarios, a base and a conservative scenario, for worldwide SMR capacity in 2030. Under the base scenario, total capacity will reach 4.6 GW in 2030; the conservative scenario projects 18.2 GW by the same year.

This Navigant Research report examines the history and future of small modular reactors, with an emphasis on current 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.

Key Questions Addressed:
  • What are small modular reactors and how do they differ from existing reactor designs?
  • What are the economic and technological drivers behind SMR deployments?
  • What are the primary applications for SMRs?
  • How are governments funding and supporting deployments of SMRs?
  • In what ways are SMRs viewed as vehicles for national energy security and economic competitiveness?
  • What factors must be in place for SMRs to achieve the level of deployments envisioned by vendors?
  • What are the primary barriers to achieving these levels?
  • What are the outstanding technology issues for vendors of SMRs?
Who needs this report?
  • Nuclear technology vendors
  • Utilities and power generation companies
  • Nuclear power support groups
  • National laboratories
  • Government agencies and policymakers
  • Investor community

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. Market Update

2.1  Introduction

2.1.1  Advent of Small Modular Reactors

2.1.2  National Competitiveness

2.1.3  SMRs in the Developing World

2.2  Definition and Scope

2.3  Applications

2.3.1  History of Small Reactors

2.3.2  Baseload Power

2.3.3  Heating

2.3.4  Distributed Generation

2.3.5  Medical Isotopes

2.4  Market Drivers

2.4.1  Diversity of Supply

2.4.2  Economics

2.4.3  Government Support

2.4.4  Safety

2.5  Market Challenges

2.5.1  Costs

2.5.2  Regulations

2.6  Key Players

2.6.1  Babcock & Wilcox

2.6.2  General Atomics

2.6.3  Holtec International

2.6.4  NuScale Power

2.6.5  Westinghouse Electric Company

2.7  Scenarios

2.7.1  Assumptions

2.7.2  2030 Projections

3. Conclusions and Recommendations

List of Charts and Figures

  • Total SMR Capacity by Region, Base and Conservative Scenarios, World Markets: 2030
  • Westinghouse SMR

List of Tables

  • Selected SMR Programs in Advanced Development
  • Safety Features of Conventional Nuclear Plants and SMR-Based Plants
  • Estimated Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources, United States: 2018

Report Details

  • Pages: 19
  • Tables, Charts,
  • Release Date: 2Q 2013

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