Emerging Technology – Microreactors

Nuclear is getting smaller … and it’s opening up some
big opportunities for the industry.

• A number of SMR designs are under development and they could be  ready to roll out within the next decade

• These compact reactors will be much smaller than the large nuclear reactors that the public is used to seeing. SMRs could help solve energy challenges in a number of areas

• Each NANO or Micro reactor would produce between 500 Kilowatts – 1 megawatt of thermal  energy for up to 20 years that could be used directly as heat or converted to electric power

• They can be used to generate clean and reliable electricity for commercial use or for non – electric applications such as district heating, water desalination and hydrogen fuel production

Important Market Developments:

  • INL and the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) are enabling developers by providing technical resources, capabilities and a demonstration site
  • Technology advancements and experience provide improved microreactor designs
  • The federal government is supporting development through funding and legislation
  • The U.S. advanced reactor industry is developing several microreactor concepts

Other Benefits:

  • Seamless integration with renewables within microgrids
  • Can be used for emergency response to help restore power to areas hit
    by natural disasters
  • A longer core life, operating for up to 20 years without refueling
  • Microreactors have characteristics that enable rapid deployment and removal
  • Microreactors can be “right-sized” to location and are easily scalable

Current Global Energy Crises

Europe – Bad Policies Leading to Crises

Un-diversifying its base-load power supply away from dirty coal while also dumping nuclear, which has led to consequences such as:

    • Over-reliance on Russian natural gas
    • Frantic bidding wars with China for liquefied-gas shipments
    • Home-heating and electricity prices up 300% at the wholesale level since last winter

Europe falls short of sustainability benchmarks:

    • Europe has adopted 1990 as its emissions baseline
    • Since 1990, Europe claimed 20% reduction in emissions
    • Yet, the world increased its total emissions 50% overall
    • Investors simply relocated their emissions-heavy processes to places outside the EU
Europe Energy Crisis Goes Global
  • Asia – importers of liquefied natural gas are paying record prices for this time of year to secure supplies, with some starting to snap up dirtier fuels such as coal and heating oil in case they don’t obtain enough


  • Kazakhstan – protests about gas prices rapidly spread, turning into wider discontent about how the country is run. It is home to the world’s largest producer of uranium, Kazatomprom

  • USA – Rising crude oil prices and increased gasoline demand contributed to the average U.S. retail price for regular grade gasoline increasing to $3.01 per gallon (gal) in 2021, the highest average nominal price since 2014


  • Brazil – the lowest flows to the Parana River Basin in almost a century have slashed hydropower output and forced utilities to rely more heavily on gas

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