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IAEA INPRO Forum Tackles Opportunities and Challenges in Small Modular Reactors

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In his video address, IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov underlined that the IAEA can play an important role in supporting Member States with established nuclear power programmes and potential newcomers in addressing technology requirements of both users and holders. (Photo: IAEA)

There is increasing interest in the development and deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In light of such growing interest, a major IAEA meeting, the 17th Dialogue Forum of the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO), held last week in Ulsan, Republic of Korea, focused on the opportunities and challenges related to SMRs.

With some 50 concepts at various stages of development and deployment around the world, SMRs have the potential to meet the needs of a wide range of users and to be a low carbon replacement option for ageing fossil fuel fired power plants. They also display enhanced safety features and are suitable for non-electric applications, such as heating and water desalination. These reactors have advanced engineering features, are deployable either as a single or multi-module plant, and are designed to be built in factories and shipped to utilities for installation as demand arises.

SMRs do face some challenges, including a need for countries to develop a resilient supply chain and robust regulatory framework based on the IAEA safety standards. “Though significant advancements have been made in various SMR technologies in recent years, some technical issues still attract attention in the industry,” said IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, Mikhail Chudakov, at the 17th INPRO Dialogue Forum that gathered 142 experts from 22 Member States. 

“This is where the Agency can play an important role in supporting countries with established nuclear power programmes and potential newcomers in addressing technology requirements of both users and holders.”

The Dialogue Forum not only focused on technological innovations, but also on institutional aspects, such as market, resources, effects of regulation and public acceptance issues that are affecting SMRs. 

Geni Rina Sunaryo, Director of Reactor Technology and Safety Assessment Center at Indonesia’s National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN), said: “Coming from a country interested in SMRs, such forums give us a chance for face-to-face dialogue with experts and counterparts from various countries. Sharing experiences and receiving precise technical information will help Indonesia make the correct decision in identifying and choosing the technology most suitable to meet national and regional energy needs.”

The Agency can play an important role in supporting countries with established nuclear power programmes and potential newcomers in addressing technology requirements of both users and holders.
Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General

Background

The International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) was established in 2000 to support its members on their long term planning and collaboration on innovations in reactors, fuel cycles and institutional approaches that will promote the sustainable development of nuclear energy. Currently, 41 IAEA Member States and the European Commission (EC) are members of INPRO. Its Dialogue Forums offer a platform for technology holders, technology users and other stakeholders from all interested IAEA Member States so that technology holders can better understand the needs and concerns of technology users, and users can better understand the possibilities and limitations of technology holders associated with the development and deployment of innovative nuclear energy systems.

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