Sian Crampsie

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) could be operating in the UK by 2030 with the right policy environment and government support, according to a new report.

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has published a report examining the potential for using SMRs in the country – including the viability of deploying SMRs as combined heat and power (CHP) modules – and says that a range of locations have the characteristics for potential early deployment of UK SMRs.

The report says that a credible integrated schedule can be achieved if action is taken to create investor confidence through the development of a policy framework that progressively reduces risks for an SMR developer.

“Our analysis shows that it is possible to have a first of a kind SMR operating by 2030 if SMR developers, SMR vendors, government and regulators work together in an integrated programme,” said Mike Middleton, the ETI’s nuclear strategy manager and report author.

“Creating the right environment for increasing investor confidence is critical if this schedule is to be met; there will be a key role for government in the first five years of any such programme to deliver an SMR policy framework which progressively reduces investor risk.”

ETI also believes that due to their smaller size and easier siting, SMRs could be used to deliver low carbon heat into cities via hot water pipelines up to 30km in length. This flexibility opens up new potential sites and can help to decarbonise energy use in buildings.

The ETI report follows recent work by the government to assess the potential for SMRs in the UK. In late 2015, the government announced a £250 million programme for nuclear research and development, including SMRs, and in March 2016 it announced phase 1 of a competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK.