New Paradigms Emerge for Innovation and Investment
in Advanced Nuclear Energy Reactor Designs
(Updated July 2022) 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 and Compendium of Major Developers
The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) has published a primer on advanced nuclear reactor technologies. The PDF file is available for free by downloading it from the organization’s website. ( updated July 2022)
The NIA 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.
List of Advanced Nuclear Reactor Developers
NIA has published a compendium of the major developers of advanced nuclear reactors. This compendium highlights major advanced reactor developers and their current development and deployment status, and documents public agreements between advanced reactor companies and outside parties including the private sector, government, universities, and international organizations.
The compendium is a broad summary of the advanced reactor business ecosystem and provides insight into what companies are associated with the planning, design, testing, construction, and operation of advanced nuclear energy projects. (June 2022)
The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) publishes a directory of developers of advanced nuclear energy technologies, suppliers, and national lab resources. (The current edition is January 2023) The new edition contains a much expanded section on suppliers and an expanded and updated section on advanced reactor developers along with some fact sheets on various advanced reactor technologies.
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).
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.
IAEA Advanced Nuclear Energy Data
on Advanced Reactors and Small Modular Reactors
- IAEA Readers can check out the IAEA ARIS Database for a deep dive into the technologies for each reactor design and current work in other countries. Bear in mind that the data here is updated by developers, not IAEA, 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 especially for fuels and performance information.
- OECD/NEA SMR Dashboard – 2023 the OECD/NEA SMR Dashboard – PDF file which contains status information on various measures of market and technology readiness for about two dozen SMRs.
- 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. It contains technical data of these devices and country statistics, including research statistics from the Fusion Energy Conference series.
IAEA World Survey of Fusion Devices 2022 – There are currently over 130 experimental public and private fusion devices operating, in construction or planned around the world, based on different approaches to producing fusion reactions and having a variety of designs.
To review this multitude of devices, the IAEA has published a new report World Survey of Fusion Devices 2022, which further elaborates the information available on the IAEA’s online database called Fusion Device Information System (FusDIS).
- All information is collected by the IAEA and undergoes a process of review involving the International Fusion Research Council. Information is available at the IAEA Fusion Portal.
- Fusion Industry Association – 2022 Annual Report with profiles of major fusion energy startups.
Maps of Advanced Reactor Projects
- 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.
- 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.
Key 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. See also their newest report
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.
See also their latest report – Advancing Nuclear Energy – Evaluating Deployment, Investment, and Impact in America’s Clean Energy Future (July 2022)
This report uses a high-resolution nationwide model of the United States electricity sector to demonstrate how advanced nuclear reactors might play a major role in a least-cost plan to transition the power grid entirely to clean energy sources by 2050.
Investing in Advanced Nuclear Energy Firms
Due Diligence for Advanced Nuclear Technology Companies: A Guide for Potential Investors This NIA report is an introductory guide for potential investors in companies developing advanced nuclear technologies for electric power generation, industrial or district heating, hydrogen production, or other applications. The guide describes advanced reactor characteristics and considerations that may be of particular interest for evaluating investments. The focus of this guide is on fission technology, not fusion. (October 2021)
ESG Frameworks and Advanced Nuclear Energy This new publication by NIA provides an introduction to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) frameworks and how they may affect advanced nuclear energy technologies and projects. It includes potential actions the nuclear industry and financial community should consider to promote consistent analytical treatment of nuclear energy within ESG frameworks and efficient access to capital for nuclear investments. As a practical matter, until a firm has reportable earnings of over $50M/year, ESG ratings agencies aren’t going to pay attention. Also, there are multiple issues over which set of standards a firm should use to prepare an ESG report. See coverage of these issues on this blog. (March 2022)
Regulatory Issues for Advanced Reactors
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2020 approved a new approach to licensing non-light water reactor technologies. The new guidance is expected to significantly reduce the regulatory uncertainty challenging the industry, while streamlining the advanced reactor design and licensing processes that have been slowed down for years due to longstanding and unresolved regulatory policies.
The new process is the direct result of a 4-year Licensing Modernization Project (LMP) supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The project was coordinated through the Nuclear Energy Institute and led by Southern Company and industry experts.
The finalized approach focuses on a risk-informed, performance-based review process that takes into account more realistic scenarios that the developer must account for. The approach is also tailored to the unique aspects of each advanced reactor design, allowing for a clear and consistent review of its safety case. The guidance focuses on identifying licensing basis events; categorizing and establishing performance criteria for structures, systems, and components; and, evaluating the safety margins of advanced reactor designs.
Cost Reduction Drivers
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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