UK members of parliament on the Energy and Climate Change Committee have announced a new inquiry into “small nuclear power” and are calling for written submissions of evidence.
The committee said small reactors – which it defined as below 300 megawatts – potentially have many useful applications, including electricity generation and industrial process heat, desalination or water purification, and co- generation applications, such as in the petrochemical industry.
Their small size and potential for modular construction may allow some new small reactors to be built in a controlled factory setting and installed module by module, improving manufacturing efficiency and cost while reducing construction time and financing costs, the committee said.
In its 2013 report, ‘Building New Nuclear: The Challenges Ahead’, the committee recommended that the Department of Energy and Climate Change monitor progress towards developing small nuclear reactors, so that the possibility of including these as part of the UK energy mix remains open.
The government responded that ultimately it is a matter for developers and operators to decide what type of fuel and technology to propose for future reactor systems.