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    • Small Modular Reactors: The next big thing in energy?
    • 25 January 2018
    • The increased take-up of electric vehicles, the general electrification of our energy system and the need to decarbonise all sectors of our economy mean we need new low carbon sources of electricity and heat to replace existing capacity and meet rising future demands. The diffuse and intermittent nature of solar and wind means that we cannot rely on them for 100% of our energy needs – for example, January typically sees at least one week where virtually no electricity is produced by either wind or solar compared with what is needed. Buying in electricity through interconnectors from other Western European nations will be increasingly difficult as our neighbours also turn to wind and solar and so have less capacity to export, while the battery storage capability to back up renewables could cost up to £1 trillion.

      We need a reliable and affordable low carbon form of energy – small modular reactors have the potential to be that technology.

      Policy Exchange’s recommendations include:

      • Use SMRs as part of our energy mix to reduce the system costs of decarbonisation, thereby reducing consumer bills in the long term.
      • The Government should proceed swiftly with the development of at least one third generation (Gen III) small modular reactor design after the results of their current consultation are published
      • Launch a consultation with heavy industry into what services advanced fourth generation (Gen IV) reactor designs could also bring that would be of use to them, like hydrogen production to use in low carbon steel manufacturing.
      • SMR producers should prepare for hydrogen to become a larger part of our economy, from replacing the gas currently supplied to homes for heating to powering a new generation of low-carbon vehicles. This means developing the technology to create hydrogen using nuclear power.
      • The Government should also commission polling of populations closest to potential sites for SMRs to inform decisions on where they are located.
      • SMR producers should plan to make the most of nuclear capacity, heating nearby homes with the excess water currently pumped into the sea and developing storage battery storage to ensure the most efficient use of power generated.

      For full article click here.