Robbie Lyons, a PhD student in the Department, attended the NI SMR 2016 conference and had this to report:
On 8/9 June, the Nuclear Institute hosted its second conference dedicated to the topic of small modular reactors: “SMR 2016”. This two day event focussed on the UK context for SMR development, in particular the UK Government’s recent commitment to nuclear research funding, and the launch of an SMR competition by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Many of the presentations and resulting discussions revolved around the possible first deployment of an SMR in the UK within the 2020s.
The conference was broken into three sessions, each dedicated to a particular question about the potential for SMRs in the UK. The first covered the reasons why SMRs are of interest in the first place, including the pursuit of a low-carbon economy and the need for energy security. The second session was concerned with exactly what SMR technology options might be available, featuring talks from SMR vendors with a range of different offerings. Lastly, the third session sought to shed light on the question of when SMRs might be deployed in the UK, and what factors will determine this timeline. The presentations explored regulatory and legal issues, as well as considerations about design, manufacturing, and the supply chain that need to be made in order to realise the ambition of an operational SMR in the 2020s.
Throughout the conference, several key messages were reiterated: the substantial opportunity open to the UK to take a leading position in SMR development, the limited window of this opportunity, and the crucial role government will have to play in not only setting the objective for SMRs in the UK, but also working with industry to overcome the significant challenges that SMRs face.
A full write-up of the conference is available on the Nuclear Institute’s website, and can be accessed via the following link: http://www.nuclearinst.com/News/keeping-up-the-momentum-for-small-modular-reactors-nuclear-institute-smr-2016-seminar-.