New paradigms emerge for innovation and investment in advanced nuclear energy reactor designs
(Updated November 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.
Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Primer
The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) has published a primer on advanced nuclear reactor technologies. The 48-page PDF file is available for free by downloading it from the organization’s website. (September 2021)
This primer provides basic information on advanced reactors to help the public and stakeholders the promise of innovative nuclear technologies. Dozens are under development around the world; this primer focuses on those in the United States and Canada.
This is an excellent resource written in an accessible plain English style. Anyone who wants to know what the excitement is about with advanced nuclear reactors will find a wealth of information here.
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. (It is updated several times a year. The current edition is for July 2021)
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 Energy Development Efforts
- IAEA Readers can 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 always 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. Check vendor web sites for updates.
- IAEA Fusion Device Information System – 2021 The Fusion Device Information System (FusDIS), developed and maintained by the IAEA, focuses on fusion devices worldwide. FusDIS contains information on fusion devices public or private with experimental and demonstration designs, which are currently in operation, under construction or being planned, as well as technical data of these devices and country statistics, including research statistics from the Fusion Energy Conference series. All information is collected by the IAEA and undergoes a process of review involving the International Fusion Research Council.
- Clean Air Task Force Global Fusion Map – The landscape for commercial fusion energy investment, research, and planned deployment is rapidly changing. The Clean Air Task Force’s Global Fusion Map is regularly updated to track investment and growth in the commercial fusion ecosystem.
- Third Way – Interactive Map of Advanced Reactors – 2022 Third Way 2022 Update: Map of the Global Market for Advanced Nuclear Reactors Scroll down for instructions on how to use the map. See also a PDF file (not interactive) of the web page if you just want to read the text which includes an analysis of market factors by geographic region and key takeaways for each of them.
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
# # #