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Small and Medium Sized Reactors: Driving Forces and Technology Development

[+] Author Affiliations
P. J. Gowin, J. Kupitz

International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria

Paper No. ICONE10-22339, pp. 719-724; 6 pages
doi:10.1115/ICONE10-22339
From:
  • 10th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • 10th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering, Volume 2
  • Arlington, Virginia, USA, April 14–18, 2002
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3596-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3589-8
  • Copyright © 2002 by ASME

abstract

There will be growing demands for energy in the coming decades. One aspect of particular importance is that prospects for nuclear energy will to a considerable extent be influenced by developing countries. Since population growth will occur primarily in developing countries nuclear energy cannot play a significant global role without being a viable option in these countries. Since new power plants to be built will have to be compatible with regional electricity grids, this may result in a greater focus on plants in the small and medium range, defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to produce up to 700 Megawatt of electrical power. This paper first examines the driving forces that could influence the development of nuclear energy in general and of Small and Medium Sized Reactors (SMRs) in particular in the next decades and identifies key factors in that process. Concerns over climate change may to a certain extent influence the discussion on future energy options. Other factors of equal importance for the future of nuclear are a continued emphasis on maintaining high safety standards, the implementation of acceptable solutions for spent fuel and radioactive waste disposal and a globally accepted non-proliferation regime, factors that may in turn have an impact on public acceptance. Economic competitiveness of nuclear energy is an additional important factor, and without being commercially viable, no energy source can in the long run represent a major and stable component in a competitive energy sector. The introduction of SMRs in developing countries poses additional challenges, such as investment limitations. Technology development plays an important role in keeping the nuclear option open for countries wishing to use nuclear reactors to meet their energy needs, and advances in reactor design will be important to enable a significant nuclear component in developing countries. This paper considers the contribution that nuclear science and technology can make towards meeting those needs and discusses the role of the IAEA in the nuclear technology area. The activities of the IAEA encompass the broad areas of nuclear technology, safety and safeguards, together with outreach activities which seek to provide information to decision makers, civil society and the public.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME

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