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Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNR)

US Government Accountability Office pours cold water on advanced reactor concepts SMNRs require additional technical and engineering work to demonstrate reactor safety and economics. These challenges may result in higher cost reactors than anticipated, making them less competitive with large light-water reactors. Nuclear Monitor, September 9, 2015

The Forgotten History of Small Nuclear Reactors Small nuclear reactors have historically suffered from poor economics as well as technical problems. Without exception, they have cost too much for the little electricity they have produced. By M. V. Ramana, Princeton University, April 2015 (PDF)

Small modular reactors: a chicken-and-egg situation A review of their inability to gain traction. Nuclear Monitor, March 19, 2015

Nuclear Power: A risky wager for the Pacific Northwest Running an aging nuclear plant and building new, modular ones is a gamble for Washington State. By Bruce Amundson and Chuck Johnson, Crosscut, September 11, 2014

What went wrong with SMRs? Something happened on the way to the modular reactor promised land. Over the past year, the SMR industry has been bumping up against an uncomfortable and not-entirely-unpredictable problem: It appears that no one actually wants to buy one. By Thomas Overton, POWER Magazine, September 1, 2014

One size doesn’t fit all: Social priorities and technical conflicts for small modular reactors Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been proposed as a possible way to address the social problems confronting nuclear power, including poor economics, the possibility of catastrophic accidents, radioactive waste production, and linkage to nuclear weapon proliferation. Several SMR designs, with diverse technical characteristics, are being developed around the world and are promoted as addressing one or more of these problems. This paper examines the basic features of different kinds of SMRs and shows why the technical characteristics of SMRs do not allow them to solve simultaneously all four of the problems identified with nuclear power today. It shows that the leading SMR designs under development involve choices and trade-offs between desired features. Focusing on a single challenge, for example cost reduction, might make other challenges more acute. The paper then briefly discusses other cultural and political factors that contribute to the widespread enthusiasm for these reactors, despite technical and historical reasons to doubt that the promises offered by SMR technology advocates will be actually realized. By M.V. Ramana and Zia Mian, Energy Research and Social Science, May 24, 2014

Your choice: small reactors or carbon reductions. You can't have both. A newly-released study asserts that large-scale development of “small modular reactors” (SMRs) likely would cost $90 Billion – an amount that likely would be diverted from development of much more cost- and climate-effective renewable energy. May 15, 2014 The full report:
The economic failure of nuclear power and the development of a low-carbon electricity future: Why small modular reactors are part of the problem, not the solution By Mark Cooper, Ph.D., Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, May 2014

Why Nuclear Power Fails Jeremy Rifkin, President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, speaks at the Wermuth Asset Management 5th Annual Investors Event regarding nuclear power and its fate in the future of renewable energy, offering several reasons to avoid nuclear investments, including:
* Nuclear power can't be scaled up enough to have an impact on climate change.
* No solution has been found for the disposal of nuclear waste.
* Even with existing plants, there will be a uranium deficit in the not-distant future.
* Water to cool the power plants is in short supply - over 40% of all fresh water used in France is used to cool nuclear plants.
* The centralized power-plant paradigm is outdated. The future is bringing distributed generation.
Video (4 minutes), published October 8, 2013

Small Modular Reactors: No Solution for the Cost, Safety, and Waste Problems of Nuclear Power Physicians for Social Responsibility, September 2013 (PDF)

Small Isn't Always Beautiful Safety, Security, and Cost Concerns about Small Modular Reactors. By Edwin Lyman, Senior Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists, 2013 (PDF)

Does DOE’s Funding Announcement Mark the End of its Irrational Exuberance for Small Nuclear Reactors? By Edwin Lyman, Union of Concerned Scientists, November 21, 2012

Squandering Money and Resources Sierra Club fact sheet on small modular reactors

“New” Nuclear Reactors: Same Old Story Why Small Modular Reactors (and other newly-promoted concepts) will not work. By Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute, June 2009
 


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