Small modular reactors (SMRs) promise cheaper nuclear energy, supplying zero-carbon grid baseload and enabling new use cases for nuclear reactors. By shrinking the size of nuclear reactors compared to conventional large nuclear reactors, much of the construction is transferred to factory assembly lines, cutting capital costs and making nuclear power cost-competitive with renewables in many applications. SMRs offer a new tool in the fight for decarbonization and energy security, leveraging proven technologies.
IDTechEx's report forecasts growth in the SMR market from 2023 to 2043. Here the second decade is shown - Asia is expected to be the highest-growth region for the technology. Source: IDTechEx - "Nuclear Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) 2023-2043"
The brand new IDTechEx report, "Nuclear Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) 2023-2043", explores this emerging low-cost alternative to expensive large nuclear reactors, analyzing the current and future SMR market, competing technological approaches, and key players. It includes detailed information on SMR reactors that have already entered or are close to entering service and provides regional market forecasts from 2023-2043. The report also includes quantitative benchmarking of 10 reactor technologies. With the potential for rapid growth fueled by lower capital requirements and zero-carbon provision of baseload and demand-following power that is cost-competitive with renewables plus storage, SMRs are predicted to supply 2% of the world's electricity in 2043.
Benefits and Applications
Intermittent renewables promise to supply a substantial proportion of global energy, yet when paired with energy storage for baseload and demand-following applications, the costs skyrocket. SMRs promise to fill this important niche in future energy networks, delivering electricity at levelized costs expected to be less than 50% of those for large nuclear power plants and avoiding the budget overruns that plague the nuclear industry today.
Compared to most of the world's fleet of nuclear reactors, SMRs are small in terms of power output (usually less than 300MW electrical, compared to over 1GW for many large reactors) but enormous in terms of potential benefits. By building most of the plant on assembly lines, economies of scale are transferred from the size of the individual installation to manufacturing higher volumes of individual SMRs, simplifying supply chains, reducing site variability, and allowing the identification of cost savings over time. Shrinking plant sizes and using advanced designs also have safety benefits, giving SMRs generally greater levels of passive and inherent safety features like passive cooling compared to their larger cousins. SMRs' smaller size gives them greater flexibility in location and use-case, with a strong interest in their use to supply electricity and process heat for industrial zones.
What Does the Report Include?
The report analyzes the SMR market in-depth, covering market trends, technologies, and key players, drawing on primary and secondary information, including attendance at nuclear industry events such as the 2022 World Nuclear Symposium and profiles of leading SMR developers. It explores competing SMR technologies, distinguishing between "evolutionary" Generation III+ reactor technologies, including pressurized water reactors (PWR) and boiling water reactors (BWR), and "revolutionary" Generation IV reactors, including molten salt reactors (MSR), and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR).
Drivers and market constraints, including licensing issues, supply chain immaturity, and safety considerations, are evaluated. In addition to forecasting the number, electrical and thermal capacity, and revenue of SMRs from 2023-2043, segmented by reactor type and region, IDTechEx carried out a comprehensive benchmarking study of the SMR industry. Data was gathered on all 83 SMR projects known to IDTechEx, with key performance indicators for factors including safety, efficiency and power density formulated and plotted. This allows a comparison of the technical merits and overall level of advancement of different reactor designs via quantitative metrics gathered from the industry.
"Nuclear Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) 2023-2043" provides critical market intelligence about the product sector and each of the 10 major reactor technologies involved. This includes:
- A review of the context and technology behind SMRs.
- History and context for the sector within the wider nuclear industry and individual technologies.
- Overview of important SMR technologies.
- Overall look at SMR trends and themes.
- Full data-driven benchmarking of SMR technologies from information on 83 projects.
- Overview and analysis of potential SMR use cases beyond grid power supply, including process heat, hydrogen production and desalination. Data-driven technology suitability analysis included.
- Reviews of major SMR players across technologies, from universities to nuclear industry insiders to early-stage companies.
- Market forecasts from 2023-2043 for four overarching technology types broken down into global regions.
To find out more about this new IDTechEx report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/SMRs.
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