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Union government tells parliament it is working on new technologies such as Small Nuclear Reactors to make a clean energy transition

Small capacity atomic power plants, popularly called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), with their unique features of modularity, scalability, small footprint and improved safety present themselves as an attractive option for repurposing of retiring coal-based thermal power station sites.

The Union Government on Wednesday (6 December) informed that it is working on new technologies such as Small Nuclear Reactors to make clean energy transition.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, nuclear power is considered as one of the most promising clean energy options for power generation.

There is a thrust world over for a strategy to use nuclear power that could reduce reliance on fossil fuels over the coming years. Small capacity atomic power plants, popularly called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), with their unique features of modularity, scalability, small footprint and improved safety present themselves as an attractive option for repurposing of retiring coal-based thermal power station sites, said a statement issued by the Department of Atomic Energy.

Deploying Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) across the country especially in locations not suitable for large nuclear plants, can produce large amount of low-carbon electricity. In order to move away from fossil fuel consumption, SMRs can be installed and operated for repurposing the aging fossil fuel-based power plants.

However, SMRs are not expected to serve as replacement to conventional large-sized nuclear power plants, which serve as base load plants, as per the department.

Nuclear power plants are installed and operated in line with stringent regulatory requirements to contain radiation and to avoid exposure to public in all circumstances. The techno-commercial aspects of SMRs are still in initial stages even globally and its large-scale deployment depends on various factors including regulatory harmonization globally by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), especially considering emergency planning zone and public acceptance. 

Small Modular Reactors

Small Modular Reactors (SMR) is a promising technology in industrial decarbonization especially where there is a requirement of reliable and continuous supply of power. India is considering steps for development of SMR, to fulfil its commitment to Clean Energy transition, the atomic energy department added.

Last year Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh had said that the Indian government is taking steps for the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMR) to produce clean energy. The Small Modular Reactors will have up to 300 MW capacity, and they are being built to fulfil India’s commitment to the Clean Energy transition. He had said that in terms of base load power, nuclear energy can play a big role in the de-carbonization strategy.

Small Modular Reactors (SMR), with up to 300 MW capacity, are flexible in design and require a smaller footprint. Being mobile and agile technology, SMR can be factory-built, unlike the conventional nuclear reactors that are built on-site. Thus, SMRs offer significant savings in cost and construction time. SMR is a promising technology in industrial de-carbonization, especially where there is a requirement of reliable and continuous supply of power. It is said that SMR is simpler and safer as compared to large nuclear plants.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, SMR designs are generally simpler compared to traditional reactors. They are also safer, due to inherent safety characteristics of the reactor, such as low power and operating pressure. Due to this, they use passive safety systems and do not require human intervention or external power to shut them down in case of emergencies.

SMRs also operate longer without the need for refuelling. While traditional nuclear plants require to be refuelled in 1 to 2 years, SMRs need refuelling every 3 to 7 years. SMRs are used for various purposes, like producing electricity, heating, water desalinisation and steam for industrial applications.

SMR is a very new technology developed in recent years. Akademik Lomonosov in Russia was the first Small Modular Reactor to be commissioned, which started commercial operation in 2020. The modular reactor is actually a floating plant, as it is placed on a barge docked in the Pevek harbour. After that, many such SMRs are under construction in various countries.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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