Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are an innovative solution that could reshape power generation. Envision a university campus or an industrial hub like NTPC, BHEL, or Jamshedpur, with a discreet yet powerful nuclear plant generating clean and reliable electricity – that’s the world of small modular reactors.
Globally, SMRs could spark an energy transformation. Compact nuclear power plants interest experts as they efficiently energise small communities. Originally designed from 30 MW to 300 MW, SMRs are evolving.
SMRs offer advantages. Unlike larger reactors, they can be discreetly situated almost anywhere with safety protocols. Abandoned thermal plant sites are suitable, equipped with essential infrastructure like power evacuation systems, water access, and storage facilities.
Another option is maritime barges for SMRs, allowing versatile transport to coasts. The 200 MW Taneer Bhavi plant, once owned by the GMR group, showcased barge-mounted power plants.
Modularity and standardisation are strengths. Designs can be standardised for mass production, leading to cost-effective deployment. The marine domain shows small nuclear plants’ effectiveness, like India’s INS Arihant with an 83 MW nuclear plant.
Two operational SMRs exist globally: the 35 MW Akademik Lomonosov plant, a floating nuclear power station, and China’s 210 MW plant operational since December 2021. Two more SMRs are under construction – a 30 MW unit in Argentina and a 300 MW plant in Russia by 2026-27.
Challenges exist. Regulatory adjustments are key, especially for private sector involvement and fuel supply. Handling nuclear waste and ensuring safety, security, and non-proliferation require deliberation. Initiatives, like the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Harmonization and Standardisation Initiative, harmonise regulations.
Obstacles persist, but the urgency for clean energy drives determination. The realisation of SMRs might be years away, yet optimism suggests overcoming these barriers. This could lead to a novel industry, transforming the global energy landscape. The journey to small modular reactors signifies cleaner, more sustainable energy.