Category Archives: Small modular reactors (SMRs) the case of Russia

ACP100 Licensing

The following activities have been accomplished related to licensing:

• The contract of SMR combined research with National Nuclear & Radiation Safety Center was signed in 2011.

• The following work has been achieved: National Nuclear & Radiation Safety Center gave the comments on the SMR research report of design preparation phase; a technical exchange of SMR containment design after Fukushima nuclear accident occurred; passive integration test research technical exchange occurred, and the test program was approved.

• The Q1 questions and question reply of concept design stage was completed, and the concept design was approved.

• Signed several specific research programs and standard design safety analysis combined research with National Nuclear & Radiation Safety Center in 2013. Site selection

The demonstration the ACP100 nuclear power plant, with two 310 MWth reactors, will be located in Putian City, Fujian Province on the east coast area of China.

18.2 Future trends

China, as a major player in nuclear industry, has already developed several kinds of SMR, such as HTR-200, ACP100 and 20 MWe sodium fast reactor, named CEFR. In the near future, China will continue its SMR development. In the light-water reactor (LWR) family, the SMR in China is focused on modular and integrated reactors, factory manufacture and installation, railway or truck transportation, emergency zone decreasing, and external accidents resistance by underground reactor building layout. In non-LWR family, the SMR, such as gas-cooled reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors, is focused on non-proliferation, nuclear fuel utilization, emergency zone cancellation and enhancing economics. We hope two or three kinds of SMR will deploy in China around 2020.


I would like to thank Wang Changdong, Li Yunyi, Sun Dengke, Yu Funyun, Qin Zhong, Zhong Fajie and Xu Bin for useful discussions and information. I also thank the reviewers for their suggestions.


1. CHINA Energy Statistical Yearbook (2008).

2. Statistical year text base, International Energy Agency, Paris (2006).

3. http://www. heneng. net. cn/index. php? mod=npp.

4. IAEA-TECDOC-1682 Advances in Nuclear Power Process Heat Applications, page 171.

5. IAEA-TECDOC-1485 Status of innovative small and medium sized reactor designs 2005, pages 511, 514, 527.

6. F. Zhong ‘Safety Features and Licensing of ACP100 Design’, IAEA 6th INPRO Dialogue Forum on Global Nuclear Energy Sustainability, Vienna, Austria, July 2013.

Measuring development

This chapter does not, like others in this Handbook, concern technology development, but rather human development, in the global context. Our understanding of development tends to be one-dimensional, concentrating on economic indices. Development is regarded by some as a measure of economic growth, as measured by GDP (gross domestic product), denoting the total value of a country’s economic production or GNI (gross national income), the World Bank economic indicator formerly known as GDP.

Even this classification is problematic: for example, income is not coterminous with development (World Bank, 2013) and GDP by itself is not necessarily a good indicator of economic sustainability (SIDS Outcome, 2013). Development is also denoted by the presence of other human development indicators (HDI), which include life expectancy at birth. One catalogue of development desiderata is represented by the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by the UN in 2000 as the most pressing goals to achieve, namely to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and enable global partnership for development.

Finally, development can be measured by the ability of citizens to realize their innate capabilities. Following Sen (1995) and Nussbaum (2000), one might sum up development in this way: once anyone anywhere on the planet has the basic human capabilities, they can exert their creativity to even higher reaches of capability and functioning. These are defined as: ‘1. Life, 2. Bodily health, 3. Bodily integrity, 4. Senses, Imagination, and Thought, 5. Emotions, 6. Practical reason, 7. Affiliation, 8. Other Species, 9. Play, 10. Control over One’s Environment a. political, b. material’ (Nussbaum, 2000).

Small modular reactors (SMRs) the case of China

D. Song

Nuclear Power Institute of China, Chengdu, People’s Republic of China

18.1 Introduction

China’s economy has been rapidly growing since the 1980s. The increased energy demand and environmental problems caused by firing fossil fuels are key challenges for China’s sustainable development. In the period 2000-2007, China’s average growth rate of energy consumption was 8.9% per year and that of electricity consumption was as high as 13.0% per year. The composition of primary energy production (as coal equivalent calculation) was: 76.6% raw coal, 11.3% crude oil, 3.9% natural gas, 7.3% hydro power and 0.9% nuclear power [1]. Such a primary energy mix resulted in the emission of large amounts of SO2 and CO2. In 2006, the emission amounts of CO2 were 5.61 billion tons [2], and those of SO2 from the industry sector were 22.35 million tons [1]. To meet the challenge, China is developing clean energies including nuclear energy and renewable energies such as wind power and solar energy. In recent years, China’s nuclear electricity production has been increasing. Nuclear power plants (NPPs) with a total capacity of about 10 GW(e), (1% of total electricity generation) in the form of new, pressurized-water reactors (PWRs) are under construction [3]. The construction of Gen-III PWR, AP1000 and EPR are progressing well. According to the ‘State Medium-Long Term (2005-2020) Development Programme of Nuclear Power’ issued in Oct. 2007, the total capacity of operating nuclear power plants in 2020 will be 40 GW(e) plus 18 GW(e) under construction. Considerably increasing application of nuclear energy will greatly improve China’s primary energy mix and also its air quality.

In order to meet the goal of the Chinese government, several Chinese national industries have developed kinds of reactor, such as CAP1400, ACP1000, CGP1000, HTR-200 and ACP100. Among them, HTR-200 and ACP100 are small modular reactor (SMRs) which have been developed by Tsinghua University and China National Nuclear Corporation separately.

There are several reasons that have driven Chinese national industries to develop SMRs. They are suitable for small electricity grids, district heating, process heating supply and seawater desalination. According to specific conditions, different counties have varying goals in China. In the north of China, the demand of energy for city heat consumption is several hundred millions tons of coal per year, of which 10% is used for heating in the winter season. Due to air pollution in winter, SMR district heating is one of the options. In east China, energy consumption industries, such as building materials, metallurgy, chemical engineering etc., have set up their own

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thermal power plants. The emissions constitute over 70% of the total emission in China. For most of the industries located in east China coastal areas, the serious lack of fresh water resources have become the bottleneck of economic progress. SMRs for process heating supply and seawater desalination would be a good option. In outlying areas of China, such as mountain area and islands, SMRs will be the best choice for electricity generation.

Financing and the effect of external policy preferences

For developing countries, as with high-income countries, financing is central. Here, the trade-offs are acute. Countries that rely on external aid or multilateral aid to help in financing major infrastructure will face those institutions’ policy preferences as to the types of energy and institutional programs they will support (World Bank, 2010). This could be an obstacle to SMR programs in the developing world. For example, in 2012, Kenya’s nascent nuclear program, one of the key developmental priorities in its country’s Vision 2030 plan, was criticized by the head of UNEP (which institutionally favours renewable energy), who urged exploration of other options first (Orengo, 2012; The Standard, 2012).

As a parallel example of the impact of aid issues, this time for a thermal plant, the Medupi coal-fired plant funded by the World Bank in South Africa has come under scrutiny — and resulted in additional costs — because of its environmental impacts on water usage and sulfur dioxide emissions. Alternatively, a revision of multilateral lending criteria for energy projects could take greater account of externalities (World Bank, 2010). This could facilitate SMR fleet deployment in developing countries.

T. Okubo

Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Oarai-Machi, Japan

19.1 Introduction

In this chapter, the status of small modular reactor (SMR) R&D and deployment in Japan is described. In Japan, the terminology of ‘SMR’ normally means small and medium sized reactor, following the same definition as in the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). Based on the IAEA’s classification, the ‘small reactor’ has a power output less than 300 MWe and the ‘medium reactor’ between 300 and 700 MWe (IAEA, 2006). However, in this chapter, reactor concepts under the power output up to around 500 MWe are included, reflecting the SMR R&D status in Japan.

There was much SMR R&D activity in Japan in the past, especially after the accidents at Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2) in 1979 in the USA and Chernobyl Unit 4 occurred in 1986 in Ukraine. After the accidents, the passive safety characteristics in the reactor safety features that were considered to be favourable were introduced into reactor safety design, and then gathered a lot of attention as there was much interest in finding how they could be utilized as effectively as possible. In introducing passive safety features into the reactor design, the smaller size of the reactor, typically less than about 500 MWe, was in general easier than the larger size, such as more than 1000 MWe.

However, the small-sized reactors commonly have an economic defect, as it has been realized that the ‘scale merit’ — the advantages of scale that occur with larger plants — is important in reactor design for economic reasons. Therefore, in SMR R&D, it has been a very important requirement to overcome the ‘scale demerit’ of the smaller-sized reactors; this point will be discussed for each SMR concept. Apart from the passive safety features, there are some original and special needs or purposes, especially for small reactors, such as the variety of energy products and flexibility in design, siting and fuel cycle options.

The SMR R&D status in Japan is described in Sections 19.2 and 19.3, and the deployment of SMRs in Japan will be discussed in Section 19.4. The future trends in Japan and the sources of further information will be given in Sections 19.5 and 19.6, respectively.

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Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Trade-offs of small modular reactors (SMRs) in developing countries

When the basic human capabilities are not present, trade-offs have to be made between competing goods and harms. The effects of these trade-offs are not confined to the person or country: we live on a planet of increasingly shared benefits and detriments. If the avoidance of one risk means running another, how can their equivalence or difference be discerned?

In 2011, the South African Planning Commission’s diagnostic report asked some pointed questions that sum up the generic development issues and make explicit some embedded trade-offs to which SMRs have unique potential to respond:

Is it possible to reduce carbon emissions and environmental impacts and still remain a competitive commodity exporter? How quickly can the economy shift from being a high resource-intensive one to a more knowledge-intensive or labour-intensive one? How does the country balance the need for infrastructure to suit today’s economy, without locking in the present resource-intensive development path? (SAPC, 2011)

In a powerful 2009 appeal for a radical reconsideration of the precautionary principle that informs radiation regulation, Abdel-Aziz et al. (2009) argued that ‘[i]n the social and economic contexts of the developing world, lack of energy poses its own considerable risks to health and well-being […] where access to electrical energy is a direct covariant of health, education, life expectancy and child mortality.’ The instrumental quality of electricity in supporting the basis for human development should be acknowledged, as shown in the correlation between electricity usage and human development indicators: as one rises, so does the other (Pasternak, 2000).

All countries in the global economy are interdependent in that they all produce, suffer from, and can mitigate the effects of economic paths, social factors and climate change. This implies a corresponding duty to consciously take responsibility for the widest possible effects of their decisions and actions (UNDP, 2013). The advocacy of SMRs in this chapter is grounded in ethical concerns. Recent work by Kharecha and Hansen (2013) on the net reduction in harm to human health and the environment due to the use of nuclear power, as well as the remark in the proceedings of the INPRO 5th Dialogue Forum on Long-term Prospects for Nuclear Power that ‘eliminating nuclear power from the energy mix […] might have greater societal effects than the added risk’ reinforce the validity of this approach.

Some advantages of SMRs for developing countries, as compared to fossil generation technologies, include the comparative long-term stability of nuclear fuel prices versus volatile market prices of potentially scarce fossil fuels; and the lack of carbon emissions from nuclear electricity production, and in comparison to large — scale nuclear plant, its comparative flexibility and application to smaller grids, and its size compatibility with variable technologies such as solar or wind power. In addition, SMRs could be used for desalination purposes.

The energy-security benefits of SMRs, therefore, are considerable for developing — country fossil-fuel importers, when compared with reliance on costly fossil fuels from abroad. For example, in Jamaica, whose 95% dependency on petroleum makes it highly vulnerable to oil-price volatility, like the rest of the Caribbean and Central America (Yepez-Garcia et al., 2012), SMRs are explicitly considered as a future option in its 30-year national energy policy (Jamaica Ministry of Mining and Energy, 2009; Mian, 2011).

As another example, the increased need for power and therefore gas in Nigeria means that less gas is made available to export to neighbouring Ghana. As a result of the gas shortfall, the Ghanaian utility is forced to switch fuels from gas to crude oil or diesel and back, which damages plant meant to use a single fuel type. The utility resorts to load-shedding and power cuts (Osabutey, 2012). There, SMRs are also being considered as an option for energy security reasons, among others.

Where economic considerations might impinge on fossil-fuel supply, geopolitical ones could affect developing countries’ choice of SMR technology and nuclear fuel supply and disposal (IAEA INPRO DF 3, 2011).

Small modular reactors (SMRs) in the People’s Republic (PR) of China: HTR-200

18.2.1 Introduction of HTR-200

Since the 1970s, the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR) technology has been developed in China. A 10 MW(th) test reactor (HTR-10) with spherical fuel elements was constructed in 2000 and is now in operation. A number of safety-related experiments have been conducted on the HTR-10. R&D on direct cycle helium turbine technology is being carried out. Coupling a helium turbine system to the existing 10 MW(th) test reactor is foreseen. The construction of an industrial scale demonstration plant of modular HTGR (HTR-200) is one of the so-called ‘national major science & technology special projects’. The construction of the 200 MW(e) HTR-200 will be finished around the end of 2015 [4].

Obstacles and innovations

SMR deployment in developing countries, correspondingly, will not work out optimally if it is done in the same way that nuclear power deployment has been done in the past in high-income countries. The institutional and human-resources challenge is just too difficult to overcome in the window of opportunity available; and in the case of SMRs, the degree of regulatory intensity may not be appropriate.

SMRs, with their simple and ‘forgiving’ technology, work for developing countries on that very basis (Carelli, 2014). They do not need the scale of supporting infrastructure and expertise that is currently demanded by existing large-scale nuclear power plants in rich countries, and thus could provide the starting point for a new nuclear country of more limited means (Mian, 2011).

What are the new basic structures needed to ensure that this matchup of a situation and a technology that are similar in kind can take place responsibly?

20.6.1 The role of standardization of technology and licensing

The first potential approach arises from the technology: for deployment in developing countries, the highest degree of standardization of plant design, manufacturing and construction methods would be best. This would overcome some temporal or material limitations of expertise and resources, and permit greater ease of technology transfer and capacity-building.

This would not just affect technology deployment but also licensing. Currently, the multiplicity of incompatible licensing approaches (Soderholm, 2013) is an obstacle to widespread international SMR deployment. Because of their scale and comparative simplicity, SMRs present the opportunity to rationalize and innovate in the areas of policy and regulation. Reciprocally, a technology-neutral regulatory approach to SMRs eventually could be the template for new countries initiating a civil nuclear program and a new nuclear regulatory framework, especially if finances or grid size preclude embarking on a large-scale nuclear power program. Safety and security measures that are designed to enable remote operation and monitoring are also applicable and apt in developing-country situations.

Small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) R&D in Japan

19.2.1 SMR R&D in the 1980s and 1990s

In the present section, the Japanese status of SMR R&D is summarized for some representative conventional and advanced reactor concepts. In Japan, there was an important period for SMR R&D in the 1980s-1990s with a lot of R&D activity. Therefore, SMR R&D activities in this period are briefly overviewed in the following.

In Japan, although the first commercial reactor for electricity generation was a gas-cooled one with a small output of 166 MWe (operated in 1966-98), which was imported from England, the next commercial reactors were all light-water reactors (LWRs). The power output of the first commercial LWR in Japan was as low as 357 MWe (operation started in 1970). However, the power output was gradually increased to 600 MWe class, and then 900 MWe class, and finally over 1100 MWe, based on the ‘scale merit’ of the larger reactor. This was the same trend as that in other countries at that time, and it was because there was basically little need in Japan for small reactors for electricity generation.

After the accidents of TMI-2 in 1979 and Chernobyl Unit 4 in 1986, however, the passive safety characteristics in the reactor safety features were considered to be favourable and were used to promote the introduction of new reactors. In order to introduce the passive safety features, such as the natural circulation core cooling and the gravity feed emergency core cooling system (ECCS) effectively into the reactor design, taking into account balance with the economic aspects, the smaller size of the reactor, typically less than about 500 MWe, was considered more suitable than the larger size, such as more than 1000 MWe. This situation did not appear only in Japan, but was a worldwide trend after TMI-2 and Chernobyl Unit 4 accidents. The most typical and well-known reactor concept in this period was that named ‘PIUS (Process Inherent Ultimate Safety)’ (622 MWe/3 modules) (Hannerz et al., 1986), a Swedish integral type LWR or pressurized water reactor (PWR) design concept by ABB-ATOM. This introduced passive measures, ones not requiring operator actions or external energy supplies, to provide safe operation for the reactor shutdown and decay heat removal after a transient or accident situation. This was the integral type reactor concept without primary coolant piping preventing the LB LOCA (large — break loss-of-coolant accident). That is a kind of iPWR (integral PWR) concept. Based on and extending this concept, three PWR type concepts were developed in Japan. The ISER (inherently safe and economical reactor) (210 MWe) concept was developed by the University of Tokyo and others (Oda et al., 1986), introducing a steel reactor vessel instead of the pre-stressed concrete reactor vessel (PCRV). The, MISIR (Mitsubishi intrinsic safe integrated reactor) (300 MWe) concept was proposed (Kudo et al., 1987), and the SPWR (system-integrated PWR) (350 MWe) concept was developed by JAERI (Japan Atomic Energy Institute) (Sako, 1988). The MRX (Marine Reactor X) (30 MWe) was developed by JAERI for marine propulsion or local energy supply as an integral type PWR with passive safety features and a submerged reactor vessel (Kusunoki et al., 2000).

Extending the conventional loop type PWR concept, the MS-600 (600 MWe) was proposed by MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) (Makihara et al., 1991), based on the AP (Advanced PWR)-600 (600 MWe) developed by Westinghouse, which introduced the passive ECCS and primary containment cooling system (PCCS). Also, extending the conventional loop type boiling water reactor (BWR) concept, HSBWR — 600 (600 MWe) by Hitachi (Kataoka et al., 1988) and TOSBWR-900P (310 MWe) by Toshiba (Nagasaka et al., 1990) were proposed. They were based on the SBWR (simplified BWR) (600 MWe) concept developed by GE (General Electric), which introduced the natural circulation core cooling and the gravity-driven ECCS.

Although many SMR concepts were developed in Japan up to the 1990s as briefly described above, none of them could be realized or developed further. This was mainly because they could not overcome the ‘scale demerit’ in the economic aspect, and hence, were not attractive to the users, i. e. the electric companies. On the other hand, the large LWRs of over 1000 MWe were continuously improved, including the safety features based on their operational experiences, especially under the national projects of the ‘improvement standardization programs for LWRs’. In this way, up to around 1985, the development of ABWR (advanced BWR) and APWR (advanced PWR), which are the ‘third generation’ reactors, were already finished and they were ready to be introduced after the Chernobyl Unit 4 accident. In reality, after the construction initiation in 1991, the first ABWR plant in the world with the power output of 1356 MWe was in operation as the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Unit 6 in 1996.

Characteristics of developing countries that make deployment of SMRs viable

20.4.1 The increasing importance of the information economy

Feedbacks arise from the growth of connectivity and information economies in the developing world. The immense growth in mobile-phone uptake and information and communications technology (ICT) in the developing world has knock-on effects in increasing the demand for electricity. However, the ICT aspect could make energy demand planning problematic, reduce the effectiveness of conservation strategies, pit GHG-reducing plans against poverty reduction, and ultimately lead to a shortfall in supply and unplanned electricity shortages (Sadorsky, 2012).

With their comparatively small output and ability to be deployed in series, SMRs can help to ramp up to meet demand growth, mirroring the expansion of ICT — which itself has been a driver of development and social progress throughout the developing world.