NEA launched its new Accelerating SMRs for Net Zero initiative at the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) during the UAE COP28 Presidency’s high-level Atoms for Net Zero event at Dubai Expo City on 5 December 2023. David Turk, US Department of Energy Deputy Secretary, and Sophie Mourlon, Director of Energy at the Directorate-General for Energy and Climate (DGEC), French Ministry for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, joined NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV for the launch of the initiative as founding members. Accelerating SMRs for Net Zero will leverage NEA’s network of industry leaders, government officials, researchers, and experts to establish a practical, solutions-oriented platform with a defined plan of work for collaboration and knowledge exchange to support decision makers in maximising the full potential of SMRs. It will focus on pragmatic tools, economic analyses and policy recommendations to help inform policy and investment decisions by governments, industry and the financial sector.
Accelerating SMRs for Net Zero features the NEA SMR Dashboard’s comprehensive assessments of progress towards commercialisation and deployment of SMR and Generation IV technologies, augmenting other sources that focus on technical attributes and technology readiness levels (TRLs). Taken together, assessments about technical readiness coupled with the NEA SMR Dashboard’s assessments of licensing, siting, financing, supply chain, engagement and fuel held shed light on which SMR technologies and projects are moving fastest, from concept to commercialisation in various markets around the world.
As momentum for SMRs continues to build around the world, many policymakers are seeking to keep pace with innovation in the private sector for the commercialisation of SMR designs and deployment opportunities, in support of decarbonisation. Keeping pace with private sector innovation on SMRs for power generation and industrial applications will require government-to-government, public-private, and company-to-company co-operation. Significant international co-operation will be required to lay the groundwork for substantive progress in six core areas: licensing readiness, financing, supply chain, workforce development, fuel availability and spent fuel management. Strategic collaboration in these areas can help lower both costs and barriers to SMR deployment.
Beyond on grid power to replace fossil fuel generation, market signals indicate the potential for significant SMR demand in hard to abate sectors: off-grid heat and power to replace diesel generators in remote regions for mining operations; high temperature heat to replace fossil fuel cogeneration in heavy industries such as chemicals processing and potash production for the fertiliser industry; and marine propulsion to replace heavy fuel oil for merchant shipping. Determining the suite of applicable SMR technologies, identifying the right enabling conditions, and better understanding potential applications and markets can help accelerate the deployment of economy wide SMR decarbonisation solutions.
NEA encourages governments and companies interested in joining the initiative to contact the Accelerating SMRs for Net Zero team at SMR4NZ@oecd-nea.org for further information.