New paradigms emerge for innovation and investment in advanced nuclear energy reactor designs
(Updated July 2021) Designers of advanced nuclear reactors seek to bridge the gap between concept and prototype. While it is too early for investors and potential customers to easily pick winners from an increasingly crowded field of advanced reactor projects, new patterns of investment, including public/private partnerships, are creating opportunities for entrepreneurial developers. A key area of interest is in small modular reactors, e.g., with electrical power ratings of less than 300 Mw.
The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) has published a directory of developers of advanced nuclear energy technologies, suppliers, and national labs. (Updated several times a year)
This directory by INL/GAIN was created in partnership between the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) and Third Way, with the help of the United States Nuclear Infrastructure Council (USNIC).
Scroll down to the image on the page like the one on the right. The link to the full directory (large PDF file for download) is there and is updated from time-to-time. It offers a listing of companies engaged in the development of advanced nuclear technologies. It also has supplier listings.
If you are a developer or a supplier to the advanced nuclear market, there are forms on the same page on this website you can fill out to get listed in the directory.
If you are interested in additional information please go to the contact tab for GAIN and leave a message.
Lists of Advanced Nuclear Reactor Development Efforts
- IAEA Readers may also want to check out the IAEA ARIS Database for a deeper dive into the technologies for each design and work in other countries. Bear in mind that the data here is updated by developers and may not be current. IAEA does not check claims made by developers for performance or technical specifications.
- IAEA Small Modular Reactors – 2020: “Advances in Small Modular Reactor Technology Developments: Technical Profiles of 70+ SMRs. A Supplement to: IAEA Advanced Reactors Information System (ARIS) 2020 Edition.” (PDF file – 354 pages) This is an excellent reference with extensive technical details for SMR reactor designs.
Advanced Reactors: Turning the Corner – by Third Way, June 2021
Takeaways: A common misconception about advanced nuclear technologies is that they are largely conceptual and will not be commercialized in time to contribute to meeting near-term climate goals. However, a comprehensive look at global efforts to develop advanced nuclear reveals rapid progress towards commercialization and operation.
For example, with numerous projects underway and multiple policies recently enacted to support advanced reactor development, the U.S. is well-positioned to be a global leader in this field.
Several other countries are also boldly pushing forward with programs to develop, demonstrate, deploy, and commercialize advanced reactors—in some cases, the reactors are already being constructed or operated.
To enable a pathway towards American leadership in advanced nuclear, the U.S. will need to redouble policy approaches supporting the development of advanced reactors, including strengthening public-private partnerships such as;
- the DOE Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP),
- continuing modernization of its nuclear regulatory and licensing frameworks,
- ensuring robust supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel, and
- exploring opportunities for federal procurement of advanced reactor technologies.
Success Factors for
Advanced Nuclear Reactor Developers
Policy Issues – A good place to start is the report by the Breakthrough Institute How to Make Nuclear Innovative. Read the executive summary and watch the brief video on YouTube that covers the report’s key findings.
The report’s mainstream recommendations for modernizing nuclear innovation in the United States, include;
- Licensing reform. Licensing of new nuclear technologies will need to be reformed in order to support smaller, entrepreneurial firms and to build investor confidence as key design and testing benchmarks are achieved.
- Public-private partnerships. National laboratories will need to provide private companies with access to equipment, technical resources, and expertise in order to lower costs and promote greater knowledge spillover in the testing and licensing process.
- Targeted public funding for R&D. Significant and sustained research funding should be directed toward solving shared technical challenges.
- Inter-firm collaboration. Policy and funding should be designed to encourage knowledge spillover and collaboration between companies.
- Private-sector leadership. Public investment in demonstration and commercialization should follow private investment and avoid early down-selection of technologies.
Investment Issues – The missing piece in the U.S. is a nuclear energy investment bank. The nation needs a government backed investment bank to secure capital at reasonable interest rates for development of advanced nuclear reactors. See this blog’s proposal to create one.
OECD/NEA latest study (2020) on nuclear construction costs identifies eight cost reduction drivers that can be exploited at different stages of nuclear construction. These include government support for robust and predictable market and financing frameworks, as well as policy support mechanisms for design maturity and regulatory stability.
Implementing these cost reduction drivers should also attenuate the technological, organizational and regulatory risks associated with new nuclear plant deployment.
Get more information and download the full report here”️ https://bit.ly/2TwG8H5
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