The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has launched a new initiative that aims to bring together leaders in government, industry, research and regulation to make the most of the potential of small modular reactors (SMRs) to help countries reduce their carbon emissions in the short and medium term, ahead of reaching their net zero emission targets by 2050.
The NEA initiative, “Accelerating SMRs for Net Zero”, will leverage the NEA’s global network of experts and leaders to define a plan of work to speed up the development, deployment and operation of safe, efficient and economic SMRs.
The new initiative was jointly announced in Dubai at the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) by NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV, U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary, David M. Turk, and Director of Energy at the Directorate-General for Energy and Climate (DGEC), French Ministry for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, Sophie Mourlon.
Director-General Magwood said: “SMRs are leading a new wave of nuclear technology that is ready to provide clean energy. The success of these new technologies depends on governments and the private sector co-operating to face remaining challenges. We hope that the NEA’s ‘Accelerating SMRs for Net Zero’ initiative will help countries around the world realise the potential of these new technologies in time to enable a successful green energy transition.”
Many governments are interested in SMRs as, according to NEA projections, tripling the total nuclear energy capacity provides a practical and realistic path to achieving net zero goals. SMRs are of particular interest because they can achieve economies of series through factory production, can be deployed to provide heat or produce hydrogen, and can be used in remote off-grid locations to lower emissions in hard-to-abate sectors such as mining and transport.
In particular, the “Accelerating SMRs for Net Zero” initiative will focus on licensing, financing, supply chains, workforce development, fuel availability and spent fuel management. Bringing like-minded countries together on these topics will both lower costs and speed up the roll-out of these new technologies. As part of this new initiative, the NEA plans to convene ministers from interested countries, industry CEOs and other
leaders in the sector to examine progress to date in an SMR Summit alongside NEA’s second High-level Conference on Roadmaps to New Nuclear, both to be held in September 2024.