Union Minister of State of the Ministry of Science and Technology recently said, India is taking steps for development of Small Modular Reactors (SMR), with up to 300 MW capacity to fulfill its commitment to Clean Energy transition.

 

What are Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)?

  • SMRs are advanced nuclear reactors that have a power capacity of up to 300 MW(e) per unit, which is about one-third of the generating capacity of traditional nuclear power reactors. SMRs, which can produce a large amount of low-carbon electricity, are:
    • Small – physically a fraction of the size of a conventional nuclear power reactor.
    • Modular – making it possible for systems and components to be factory-assembled and transported as a unit to a location for installation.
    • Reactors – harnessing nuclear fission to generate heat to produce energy.

 

Advantages of SMRs

  • SMR, with up to 300 MW capacity by nature are flexible in design and require smaller footprint. Given their smaller footprint, SMRs can be sited on locations not suitable for larger nuclear power plants.
  • Being mobile and agile technology, SMR can be factory-built unlike the conventional nuclear reactors that are built on–site. Thus, SMRs offers significant savings in cost and construction time.
  • SMR is a promising technology in industrial de-carbonisation especially where there is a requirement of reliable and continuous supply of power. It is said that SMR is simpler and safer as compared to large nuclear plants.

 

Disadvantages

  • Lack of development — They do not currently exist as reactors for power generation.
  • Cost-effectiveness depends on production — Large-scale production of SMRs is required to achieve its economic benefits.
  • Licensing issues — Historically, the licensing process was developed for large commercial reactors and the licensing process for new reactor designs is a lengthy and costly process.