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SMR Platform: New Web Portal Facilitates Technical Support


The SMR Platform's new web portal provides support to countries working to introduce small modular reactors. (Photo: A. Tarhi/IAEA) 

Countries looking to accelerate SMR deployment with the help of the IAEA’s Platform on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and their Applications—launched one year ago to provide support on all aspects of SMR development, deployment, licensing and oversight—can take their first step through a new online portal to access all IAEA services as well as the latest information related to this emerging nuclear power technology.

With more than 80 SMR designs under development in 19 countries and the first SMR units already in operation in China and Russia, SMRs, including microreactors (MRs), are expected to play an increasingly important role in helping to ensure the security of energy supply as well as the global energy transition to net zero. The technology, its safety and economic competitiveness must be fully demonstrated before SMRs can be more widely deployed — and the SMR Platform is already helping governments, prospective operators and regulators in countries such as Brazil and Jordan to address these and related challenges.

The portal covers technology development and deployment (including non-electric applications), nuclear safety, security and safeguards as well as fuel, the fuel cycle and waste management. The portal’s navigation bar features 10 selectable topics that allow users to filter the news, events and publications per subject matter. In the near future, the SMR portal will be further expanded to incorporate additional features such as areas for technical working groups, information on national and international SMR projects and programmes, and a version for mobile phones and tablets.

“The portal is designed to serve as a centralized source of information for both external and internal IAEA stakeholders, with different levels of information and data access,” said Stefano Monti, Chair of the SMR Platform Implementation Team and Head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Power Technology Development Section.

SMRs will use prefabricated systems and components to shorten construction schedules and offer greater flexibility and affordability than traditional nuclear power plants. They have the potential to meet the needs of a wide range of users and to be low carbon replacements for ageing fossil fuel fired power plants. They potentially offer enhanced safety features and are suitable for non-electric applications, such as cooling, heating, hydrogen production and water desalination. SMRs also offer options for countries with smaller electricity grids as well as regions with less developed infrastructure and for energy systems that combine nuclear and alternative sources, including renewables.

The IAEA has in place several activities related to SMRs which the Platform helps to coordinate and for which the portal provides information. The Platform also interfaces with other important IAEA initiatives. For example, the new Nuclear Harmonization and Standardization Initiative (NHSI), which held its kickoff meeting in June 2022, is helping to facilitate the deployment of safe and secure SMRs by harmonization and standardization of regulatory and industrial approaches.

“The IAEA is undertaking important activities on the safety and security of SMRs. For example, we have recently completed the review of applicability of the safety standards to SMRs and other technologies,” said Paula Calle Vives, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA coordinating SMR safety activities. “We have also developed a programme of work to progressively adjust the safety standards so that they better capture the specificities of these new technologies. The Platform portal will enable us to better disseminate this work to Member States.”

The IAEA SMR Platform includes activities on SMRs and their applications, with a focus on the technologies closest to near-term deployment, including supporting industrial preparedness for SMRs and their applications; promoting, supporting, and developing SMR research and innovation; supporting the establishment of institutional, legal, and regulatory frameworks for the deployment of safe and secure SMR operation and decommissioning; and supporting international cooperation on SMRs. Next month, the IAEA SMR Platform will issue a new booklet, “SMRs: A New Energy Paradigm”, which examines the factors to be considered when deciding whether to adopt SMRs and ways to enable their safe, secure, peaceful and sustainable deployment. The 2022 edition of the biennial booklet on “Advances in Small Modular Reactor Technology Developments” will also be published in September.

Countries are already receiving assistance through the IAEA SMR Platform and several cross-cutting task forces have been established to address their needs. One of these is helping to organize an expert mission to Jordan to analyze the economics of using SMRs for electricity generation and water desalination. The IAEA is also supporting Brazil in analyzing SMR technologies and market readiness, regulatory issues, and requirements for SMR siting, and last April took part in a three-day course on SMRs and MRs organized by the Brazilian Association for the Development of Nuclear Activities (ABDAN).

“Amid the energy and climate crises, more and more countries are looking at SMRs as an option to improve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Monti said. “The IAEA can help them on this journey, which can begin with a visit to the new portal of the IAEA SMR Platform and then, if desired, by lodging a formal request for Agency assistance.”

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