Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Small is not beautiful when it is nuclear: first the energy minister praised SMRs, renamed them ANTs, then resigned!


 

 

On Monday morning 25th March the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy  (BEIS) department issued a media release announcing the updated publication of its rfeport the power-generation technology formerly called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) , then renamed Advanced Nuclear Technologies or Micro Nuclear Technologies; but by Monday evening Richard Harrington, the energy minister responsible for nuclear policy - and the Government’s biggest cheerleading supporter of ANTs -  dramatically resigned his position and left Government (https://twitter.com/Richard4Watford/status/1110302682835759106)

Unsurprisingly this resignation was integrally related to Brexit, as the government strategy  to deliver Brexit went  nuclear, and suffered a massive political meltdown.(https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2019/mar/26/brexit-government-may-ignore-result-of-indicative-votes-process-says-hancock-live-news)

Harrington said in a coruscatingly critical resignation letter, Harrington asserted: “At this critical moment in our country’s history, I regret that the Government’s approach to Brexit I splaying roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of  people in this country who are employed by or otherwise dependent on  businesses for their livelihood.” So, he was very  keen to promote  British business.

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In a very strongly pro-nuclear speech to the annual conference of the Nuclear Industry Association, in December 2017, Harrington said the following about SMRs/ANTs/MNRs :

“…we are providing up to £7 million of funding to regulators to build the capability and capacity needed to assess and licence small reactor designs.

This funding will also provide support for pre-licensing engagement between vendors and regulators. I’m pleased to say a very successful first event took place in November with a focus on regulatory issues relating to smaller water-cooled reactors.

The second is to help turn new developer’s ideas into detailed designs.

To help deliver this, over the next 3 years we will be providing up to £44 million pounds in R&D funding to support Generation IV advanced reactors.

The third request was to create the right market conditions to enable developers to bring new reactors to market.

A crucial element of this is demonstrating commercial viability – in particular, the ability of new designs and delivery mechanisms to attract investment and generate cost-competitive electricity.

Smaller scale designs, using modular and other modern manufacturing techniques offer the possibility of achieving these aims, and I am grateful to those developers who have shared their financial estimates with us.

But I want to go further, so I’m setting up an expert finance group to report to me by the spring on smaller scale designs, identifying the barriers to investment and how these might be overcome.

I will also be considering what further steps government might take to support smaller reactor designs and maximise the benefits to the UK supply chain.

In the Clean Growth Strategy we confirmed £460 million of funding to support work in areas including future nuclear fuels, new nuclear manufacturing techniques, recycling and reprocessing, and advanced reactor design.

As part of this I am happy to announce that we will soon be launching the second phase of the Nuclear Innovation Programme. This will include up to £8m pounds for work on modern safety and security methodologies and advanced fuel studies.

We have also recently awarded contracts worth over £5 million pounds for work on materials and manufacturing as part of the Small Business Research Initiative that we launched last year

… and I am happy that we will be working with AMEC, Nuclear AMRC, Fraser Nash Consultancy and the University of Sheffield on this essential work.”


The updated BEIS policy paper on advanced nuclear technology options issued on Monday (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advanced-nuclear-technologies), having issued an earlier version on 7 December 2017.

A so-called  “Commercialisation of Small Nuclear in the UK” event took place on 5-6 November 2018, at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, at which  Richard Harrington announced further information on commitments made in the Nuclear Sector Deal, including the development of the Advanced Manufacturing and Construction programme.

The updated Government briefing document records:

Advanced Nuclear Technologies (otherwise known as small nuclear or small reactor technologies) encompass a wide range of nuclear reactor technologies under development. The common attributes that these technologies share is that they are smaller than conventional nuclear power station reactors and are designed so that much of the plant can be fabricated in a factory environment and transported to site, reducing construction risk and making them less capital-intensive.

Generally advanced nuclear technologies fall into one of 2 groups:

  • Generation III water-cooled Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which are similar to existing nuclear power station reactors but on a smaller scale
  • Generation IV and beyond Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs), which use novel cooling systems or fuels to offer new functionality (such as industrial process heat) and potentially a step change reduction in costs

There is a large variety of potential technologies within these groups which span technology types from conventional water-cooled reactors, to Generation IV reactors using novel fuels and coolants, as well as fusion reactor concepts.

Given this breadth, government believes that “SMR”, as commonly understood, is too narrow a description for technologies coming forward after the current generation of nuclear power stations. Instead government considers this to be the “Advanced Nuclear” market.”

The report, Market and Technical Assessment of Micro Nuclear Reactors(MNRs), received some media coverage in the business and specialist  press, which suggested SMRs could well be used as back-up to existing GW-scale NPPs, arguing:

“Due to their size and unique characteristics, there are several potential market opportunities for MNRs. A potential global accessible market of up to 2850 megawatts has been estimated by around 2030. The largest immediate market is likely to be nuclear power plant standby, with other markets starting on a much smaller scale, with the potential for longer term growth.”

It adds: “The UK may be able to utilise and grow its existing nuclear knowledge and supply chain into a new product line.

Simultaneously with  the  updated Government report, a private sector consultancy, Visongain released a new SMR study, Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Market Report 2019-2029: CAPEX and Capacity Forecasts by Nuclear Reactor Type (https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2019/03/22/1759232/0/en/Lead-analyst-says-The-small-modular-nuclear-reactor-market-is-valued-at-4-5bn-in-2019.html)

Sadly, this report appears not to have enjoyed independent peer review, as it includes some howler errors, the most egregious of which asserts “[SMRs] are one of the potential sources of CO2-free district heat production.” Neither GW-scale nuclear power plants, or SMMRs can produce CO2-free electricity or heat. The commissioners, Visongain, of this report are selling it for £2699 for a single user licence.

I would advise potential purchasers to apply strict caveat emptor to an non peer reviewed report, if they are seeking accuracy

Backstory

Government performs U-turn on smaller nuclear reactors

New Civil Engineer, 26 March, 2019



modular nuclear reactor

The government looks set to perform a U-turn on its approach to smaller nuclear reactors, after previously being accused of “crushing” their development. 

The government has been reluctant to invest in the emerging technology but a new government-funded report has backed the creation of hundreds of micro nuclear reactors (MNRs) in the UK. 

The study produced by Nuvia, WSP and Atomic Acquisitions concludes that there is great potential for development of MNRs between 2030 and 2035. 

The study, Market and Technical Assessment of Micro Nuclear Reactors, comes after a nuclear engineer’s report released last year criticised the government for ending the development of small modular reactors in the UK.

In October last year, documents obtained by the Guardian also revealed that energy firms’ requests for billions of pounds of government funding to construct small modular reactors for nuclear power stations had been rejected.

The latest study says wider use of the reactors will benefit the UK economy. The largest market for the reactors would likely be as backup generators to regular nuclear plants, it concludes.

“Due to their size and unique characteristics, there are several potential market opportunities for MNRs. A potential global accessible market of up to 2850 megawatts has been estimated by around 2030,” the report states.

“The largest immediate market is likely to be nuclear power plant standby, with other markets starting on a much smaller scale, with the potential for longer term growth.”

It adds: “The UK may be able to utilise and grow its existing nuclear knowledge and supply chain into a new product line.

“A potential MNR industry could enable the UK to grow indigenous civil nuclear reactor manufacturers gaining intellectual capital at low entry cost. At present this core part of the civil nuclear supply chain is not provided in the UK.”

The report also highlights risk factors that will negatively impact the attractiveness of funding small nuclear reactors. These include the “prohibitive” cost of regulation and the small chance of the public accepting the location of small nuclear reactors closer to population centres.

“The political environment and level of commitment in relation to MNRs is uncertain. There is a high risk that commitment may change before industry has the chance to develop competitive products in the long term,” it adds.

Tiny nuclear reactors could spring up across Britain by 2030, report says


City AM, Monday 25 March 2019

 


There could be hundreds of tiny nuclear reactors around the world by the end of the next decade and they may bring major economic benefits to the UK, a government-funded study has found.

 

So-called micro nuclear reactors (MNRs) typically produce up to 30 megawatts of energy, around the same as ten wind turbines.

A report commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) found that the fledgeling technology could tap into a 2,850 megawatt global market by around 2030.

The small reactors are cheaper and more flexible than traditional nuclear sites, and more reliable than renewables such as wind or solar, which rely on the weather.

 

They could provide energy for remote communities, military bases and desalination plants.

However, the largest market would likely be as backup generators to regular nuclear plants, the report by Nuvia, WSP and Atomic Acquisitions, found.

However the consultants warned that regulation and public concerns could hamper the technology’s future.

“The political environment and level of commitment in relation to MNRs is uncertain. There is a high risk that commitment may change before industry has the chance to develop competitive products in the long term,” the report said.

Meanwhile projects could be stalled by expensive requirements from regulators.

But if the challenges are overcome, the technology could boost the economy.

“The UK may be able to utilise and grow its existing nuclear knowledge and supply chain into a new product line. Growing the economic benefit from high value added jobs and manufacture and leveraging existing intellectual and physical assets,” it said.


The government has had to go back to the drawing board in recent months after both Hitachi and Toshiba pulled out of plans for nuclear reactors.

It comes as wind power is becoming cheaper, and looks set to account for a third of Britain's energy needs by 2030, according to government forecasts.

 

Policy paper

Advanced Nuclear Technologies


Information about Advanced Nuclear Technologies, previously known as Small Modular Reactors.

Published 7 December 2017
Last updated 22 March 2019 —
see all updates

From:


Documents

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Details

The advanced nuclear sector has the potential to play an important part in the UK’s Industrial Strategy building on our existing economic strengths and competitive advantages in nuclear whilst shaping new advanced nuclear markets and contributing to tackling the Clean Growth Grand Challenge.

Published 7 December 2017
Last updated 22 March 2019
+ show all updates

 

Lead analyst says: “The small modular nuclear reactor market is valued at $4.5bn in 2019”


Visiongain has launched a new energy report Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Market Report 2019-2029: CAPEX and Capacity Forecasts by Nuclear Reactor Type (Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR), Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR), and Others) Plus Leading Company Analysis and Leading National Market Analysis.

March 22, 2019 06:51 ET | Source: Visiongain Ltd

London, UK, March 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A typical nuclear power plant has an average life of 30-35 years and is licensed to operate up to 35 years. If licenses are not renewed, the nuclear plant will go through a decommissioning process which involves the disposal of radioactive wastes and dismantling of nuclear reactors. Nuclear power plant decommissioning has become a profitable business, and a majority of companies have started offering nuclear-decommissioning services. High capital costs associated with the development of traditional nuclear plants is a potential driver for small modular reactors.

Small modular nuclear reactors are one of the potential sources of CO2-free district heat production. In the last few years, small modular reactor (SMR) projects have been making substantial progress, with two reactors currently under construction: the CAREM-25 (a prototype) in Argentina and the KLT-40S in the Russian Federation. Interest in SMRs is being driven by a desire to reduce the total capital costs of nuclear power plants and to provide power to small grid systems, leading to more designs reaching advanced stages of development.


The Visiongain report analyst commented “Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) market is expected to witness a high growth on owing to low investments costs when compared to traditional nuclear power plants. SMR’s are low-mid capital-intensive nuclear power plants, and hence, numerous companies are offering equipment and solutions related to the development/deployment of SMR’s.”

If you are interested in a more detailed overview of this report, please send an e-mail to sara.peerun@visiongain.com or call her on +44 20 7549 9987

Leading companies featured in the report who are developing small modular nuclear reactors include: Bechtel Corporation, BWX Technologies Inc., General Atomics, General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Holtec International, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), Rolls Royce Plc, Terrestrial Energy Inc., and Toshiba International Corporation.

 

Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) annual conference 2017


Speech by Energy Minister Richard Harrington at the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference.

Published 7 December 2017

From:


Delivered on:

7 December 2017 (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)

Richard  Harrington MP

Introduction

Good morning and thank you to the NIA for the opportunity to address you all today.

Firstly, I want to congratulate John Hutton on his new role as Chairman of Energy UK - which means I can look forward to him lobbying me on my entire brief!

I also want to thank John, his team and the many industry leaders here today, who have contributed to the development of the Nuclear Sector Deal.

Clean Growth and Industrial Strategy

Sector Deals are a major component of the Industrial Strategy, which we published just last Monday.

The strategy is one of this government’s top priorities, because it sets out, in practical terms, how we intend to build a Britain fit for the future – a Britain ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead.

By focusing on the 5 foundations of productivity: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and place, we can unlock our potential and in doing so build prosperous communities across the UK.

We also identified 4 Grand Challenges – areas where we can seize the initiative with the technologies and industries of tomorrow. One of these is clean growth.

This follows September’s Clean Growth Strategy, which set out how the whole country can benefit as we cement our place as the world leader in low carbon technologies and industries.

The nuclear industry is well placed to deliver against these important objectives – providing clean, reliable energy while growing the economy.

The sector provides tens-of-thousands of highly-skilled jobs and benefits diverse regions across the UK, from Cumbria to Somerset and from Wales to Oxfordshire.

Look at Hinkley Point C: when complete, the plant will provide enough clean energy to meet an impressive 7% of the UK’s electricity needs…

…but the project has already begun to benefit the South West, which is now home to the 2,500 workers currently on site and where we have seen over £450 million in contracts let to local businesses in the first year.

We want to build on the momentum created by Hinkley and we continue to work closely with EDF, CGN, Horizon and Nugen on their proposals for future plants. I also welcome the news that Toshiba has selected a preferred bidder for the Nugen project, and we now look forward to continuing to work with KEPCO to discuss their plans.

At the other end of the fuel cycle, we continue to lead the way in waste and decommissioning and we are seeing the benefit of this at Sellafield. Today, our expertise across the nuclear sector is recognised throughout the world.

We have to use this as a springboard.

As the Industrial Strategy makes clear, we must build on the UK’s strengths to take advantage of the opportunities of the future.

So I welcome today’s publication from the Nuclear Industry Council of proposals for a sector deal which sets out a number of steps to deliver on that potential.

Boosting the competitiveness of the sector by driving down costs…

While supporting high skilled, well paid jobs in regions across the United Kingdom…

We will be working with industry over the coming weeks to explore their proposals in detail.

I am pleased with the progress of our discussions to date, and as co-chair of the Nuclear Industry Council, I have witnessed first-hand the determination shown by the industry’s leaders to see it succeed.

Government too is committed to a thriving and innovative industry, so I am pleased to announce a package of new measures to boost innovation and provide greater clarity on our future plans.

National Policy Statement (NPS)

Government recognises the value industry places on policy certainty, so today I am pleased to launch a consultation on siting arrangements for large scale new nuclear plants. This will begin the process towards designating a new National Policy Statement for conventional nuclear power stations deployable between 2026 and 2035.

This initial consultation sets out the proposed siting process and assessment criteria for sites potentially suitable for nuclear plants with single reactor capacity above 1GW.

Having this new National Policy Statement in place will provide reassurance and certainty to developers into the 2030s.

Geological Disposal Facility (GDF)

Looking further ahead, we recognise the need to implement a responsible long term solution for the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste.

That is why early in the New Year, we will be launching two consultations as part of the process to site a Geological Disposal Facility for higher activity radioactive waste. We will be consulting on a framework for future planning decisions and separately, on our approach to working with local communities in the siting process.

Internationally, it has been shown that ‘willing host communities’ are central to a successful siting of a Geological Disposal Facility. Strong, effective and lasting relationships, built on mutual trust and a shared vision of the long-term economic benefits for the host community, are key to successful delivery of a GDF.

These consultations will help reassure industry that investment in the supply chain, both in people and capability, will pay dividends once we move into the delivery phase of this project.

Again, this will support both the objectives of our Industrial Strategy.

On our current estimates, at the peak of construction, the site will support up to 1,000 jobs, with an additional 1,000 jobs in the supply chain.

When it’s ready, the facility will sustain around 600 jobs a year for more than a century, while delivering significant investment and innovation to local communities.

Innovation and future technology

Another key element of our Industrial Strategy is a big commitment to supporting innovation, with a pledge to raise R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

It is only by innovating across the nuclear supply chain that will we be able to maintain our competitiveness into the future.

This means new approaches to nuclear technology that drive down costs and improve safety.

I know you will be keen to maintain the pace.

After all, the UK has the potential to become a world-leader in developing the next generations of nuclear technologies.

Your appetite is clear; industry has repeatedly called for clarity on the government’s plans for emerging nuclear technologies.

So today I am pleased to be able to set out the first steps in our proposed way forward.

We have spent the last 18 months working closely with you to understand new technological developments, and to assess their viability through the Small Modular Reactor competition.

That exercise is now closed, but it has greatly informed the evidence base and helped shape our thinking in this area.

In particular, 3 key requests came through.

The first was that you want better and earlier access to Regulators.

So, as announced in the Clean Growth Strategy, we are providing up to £7 million of funding to regulators to build the capability and capacity needed to assess and licence small reactor designs.

This funding will also provide support for pre-licensing engagement between vendors and regulators. I’m pleased to say a very successful first event took place in November with a focus on regulatory issues relating to smaller water-cooled reactors.

The second is to help turn new developer’s ideas into detailed designs.

To help deliver this, over the next 3 years we will be providing up to £44 million pounds in R&D funding to support Generation IV advanced reactors.

The third request was to create the right market conditions to enable developers to bring new reactors to market.

A crucial element of this is demonstrating commercial viability – in particular, the ability of new designs and delivery mechanisms to attract investment and generate cost-competitive electricity.

Smaller scale designs, using modular and other modern manufacturing techniques offer the possibility of achieving these aims, and I am grateful to those developers who have shared their financial estimates with us.

But I want to go further, so I’m setting up an expert finance group to report to me by the spring on smaller scale designs, identifying the barriers to investment and how these might be overcome.

I will also be considering what further steps government might take to support smaller reactor designs and maximise the benefits to the UK supply chain.

In the Clean Growth Strategy we confirmed £460 million of funding to support work in areas including future nuclear fuels, new nuclear manufacturing techniques, recycling and reprocessing, and advanced reactor design.

As part of this I am happy to announce that we will soon be launching the second phase of the Nuclear Innovation Programme. This will include up to £8m pounds for work on modern safety and security methodologies and advanced fuel studies.

We have also recently awarded contracts worth over £5 million pounds for work on materials and manufacturing as part of the Small Business Research Initiative that we launched last year

… and I am happy that we will be working with AMEC, Nuclear AMRC, Fraser Nash Consultancy and the University of Sheffield on this essential work.

Our leadership in nuclear technology is not just about progress in fission technology. I also want to see us maintain our global advantage in fusion technology.

So I am delighted to confirm the announcement of £86m of funding to establish the National Fusion Technology Platform.

Our investment will support UK industry in targeting major contracts for nuclear fusion and build on our expertise in this potentially transformative field.

This builds on the pledge we made in June to underwrite our fair share of funding for JET until the end of 2020. These actions underline our commitment to close collaboration with our European partners on nuclear research and training as we prepare to leave the EU and Euratom.

Euratom

While we are leaving the European Union, we have been clear that our decision to withdraw from the Euratom Treaty in no way diminishes our nuclear ambitions.

The objective for our negotiations is to seek maximum continuity with Euratom across nuclear trade, nuclear research and nuclear regulation.

And I am pleased to say that we are making good progress with our negotiations with the EU, with the IAEA, and with our key trading partners across the globe.

The first phase of EU negotiations has focussed on legal and technical issues related to nuclear materials and safeguards arrangements.

In his report, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union noted that:

We are now close to reaching agreement on the vast majority of issues set out in our position papers on Euratom.

So we are keen to continue this good progress by moving on as quickly as possible to the negotiations on the future relationship with Euratom, with the aim of maintaining a very close a relationship.

But we don’t underestimate the challenge we are facing. There are some areas, such as free movement of goods and services, which are linked to broader negotiations with the European Union.

That is why we are putting the necessary arrangements in place to provide certainty for the civil nuclear industry that it will be able to continue to be successful under any scenario.

This includes negotiating bilateral safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency…

… Negotiating bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreements with Japan, Australia, the United States and Canada…

… Delivering a new domestic nuclear safeguards regime, regulated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation …

… Exceeding the standard that the international community would expect from the UK…

… And the Nuclear Safeguards Bill, giving government the power to establish that domestic safeguards regime. Good progress has been made on the bill, which passed Commons Committee Stage on 14 November.

We’ve also held many discussions with the nuclear sector to better understand your concerns, including my own attendance at September’s industry forum.

Most importantly, we will continue to engage closely with you in parallel with our discussions with the EU…

… And I can announce that we will be holding further industry roundtables on a recurring basis.

Today is another opportunity to engage, and in a moment you will be hearing from David Wagstaff who is the head of EU Negotiations within the Euratom team.

We also have a team of Officials from the Civil Nuclear Directorate in the event space to answer your questions on any of the today’s announcements.

Conclusion

These announcements all point to the great opportunities facing the nuclear industry, but we know the sector also faces a big challenge to remain competitive going forward.

This is emphasised by the falling price of offshore wind. While this is great news for our clean growth agenda, it puts a spotlight on nuclear. And the advancement of technologies such as battery storage will only increase the pressure on nuclear to compete with other clean technologies.

To do this, it is clear we must reduce costs across the nuclear lifecycle – from new build to decommissioning.

Government will play a key role in this, but there is no doubt that industry has to lead the way.

So I’m pleased to see you publish your vision for enduring success, based on ambitious, specific cost reduction… and I look forward to discussing these further with John and his team.

This government is committed to a bold, new Industrial Strategy, with Clean Growth as one of the central components and it is clear nuclear has the potential to deliver against these ambitions.

With a clear commitment to cost reduction, I look forward to supporting a strong and innovative nuclear industry; one which is fit to deliver for decades to come.

Thank you.

Published 7 December 2017

 

 

December construction start for Chinese SMR

25 March 2019

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China's Ministry of Environment is proceeding with environmental impact assessment for a project to build an ACP100 small modular reactor (SMR) at Changjiang, Hainan, with construction to begin by the end of this year.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/BlankSiteASPX/media/WNNImported/mainimagelibrary/reactor%20technology/ACP100-uses-(CNNC).jpg?ext=.jpgPotential applications of the ACP100 (Image: CNNC)

According to Chinese publication Nuclear World, first concrete is to be poured on 31 December. Construction is expected to take 65 months, with the 125 MWe unit expected to start up by 31 May 2025, subject to relevant governmental approvals.

The ACP100 was identified as a 'key project' in China's 12th Five-Year Plan, and is developed from the larger ACP1000 pressurised water reactor (PWR). The design, which has 57 fuel assemblies and integral steam generators, incorporates passive safety features and will be installed underground. China in 2016 announced plans to build a demonstration floating nuclear power plant based on the ACP100S variant of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) design.

A two-unit demonstration plant was originally planned for construction by CNNC New Energy Corporation, a joint venture of CNNC (51%) and China Guodian Corp in Putian county, at the south of Fujian province. In early 2017, the site for the first ACP100 units was changed to Changjiang, on Hainan island, with a larger reactor to be built at Putian.

The ACP100 plant will be located on the northwest side of the existing Changjiang nuclear power plant, according to the 22 March announcement. The site is already home to two operating CNP600 PWRs, with two Hualong One units also planned for construction.
 

 

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