Energy Technologies Institute appoints delivery partner for small modular reactor project

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has appointed Decision Analysis Services (DAS), a UK independent engineering and management consultancy to deliver its new Small Modular Reactor Deployment Enablers project.

ETI is a public private partnership between industry, academia and Government which aims to help accelerate the development of low carbon technologies. It will invest up to £300,000 in the six-month project which will identify what activities need to take place in the first five years of a development plan if small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) are to be deployed in the UK.

A previous ETI project focusing on alternative nuclear technologies provided an overview of the broad issues and associated timescales required to support a UK SMR fleet deployment from 2030 onwards. It found that there are still many uncertainties around SMR development in the UK but that progress needs to be made across a number of areas from 2016 onwards if the option to include them in the UK’s future energy mix is to be kept open.

Last year the ETI also released a report – “The role for nuclear within a low carbon energy system,” – which identified the potential for both large nuclear reactors and SMRs to be deployed in the UK as part of the transition towards an affordable low carbon energy system.

The purpose of the ETI’s latest project is to identify what activities need to take place in the first five years of a development plan for UK SMRs and the necessary capability of the SMR utility/developer organisation during this phase. Selection processes are out of scope so the starting assumption for the project is that both the SMR utility/developer and reactor vendor have already been identified.

In last year’s Autumn Statement the Government announced that £250m would be made available to help position the UK as an international leader in SMR technology.

Announcing the contract award, Mike Middleton, Strategy Manager for Nuclear at the ETI said, “Our analysis of the UK’s future energy needs shows that new nuclear plants can form a major part of an affordable transition to a low carbon energy system, with both large nuclear and SMRs potentially playing a significant role.

“While there have been 10 years of enabling work by industry and Government around large scale reactors, a similar approach to SMRs is only just beginning.

“Work is underway by the Government to develop an evidence base on the economic and technical credentials of SMRs through its current Techno Economic Assessment and this new project will help to identify some of the key activities that need to take place between now and 2020 if a first of a kind SMR plant is to be in operation in the UK by 2030.”

For DAS’s part Peter Cook their Managing Director said, “For SMRs to be operational by 2030, it will require a sense of urgency from all stakeholders – including operators, vendors, government and regulators. Providing a clear route map through these complex interactions is an essential part of identifying the critical enabling actions.”