20.6.2 Utilization of regional mechanisms

Second, a template for education, training, skills — and institution-building to support specifically SMR nuclear programs in multiple countries would shorten an indispensable rate-determining step (Goodman and Storey, 2012). A new country aiming to develop a nuclear regulatory body from scratch is presented with a daunting prospect, especially if the achievement of regulatory competence is tied to delivery of a national project to build a nuclear power plant for the first time.

Developing countries, grouped by region, could benefit from pooling of resources and sharing of processes. To lighten the institutional and infrastructural burden on individual developing countries, especially those that are poor or small, regionalizing SMR mechanisms would be useful.

This could mirror regional electricity grid interconnections such as the WAPP (West African Power Pool) or the SAPP (Southern African Power Pool), or regional economic communities such as ASEAN or that comprise mainly SIDS (small island developing states), such as CARICOM (the Caribbean Economic Community area).

Financing, grid installation, modernization and networking, nuclear regulation, operation, training, and monitoring are all good candidates for regionalization. Regional fleet mechanisms for a particular SMR type could be developed to handle all stages of project deployment, operation and decommissioning. This would be advantageous financially and also from the point of view of safety and security.

Regional regulators, especially or even specifically for pre-licensing of designs, would reduce the number of steps for an individual country regulator, and additionally improve financing potential, because of the shorter gap before the site-specific licensing and build process begins. Regional TSOs (technical safety organizations) could provide pooled technical resources, while maintaining the sovereignty and independence of the national regulator. A precursor could be ETSON (European Technical Safety Organisations Network), a European network of TSOs that support separate national regulators (ETSON, 2013).

To ease the burden on individual regulatory resources, the regional regulators would as a body or jointly perform a design verification delivering some form of ‘acceptable-design’ instrument, which could be conferred by an internationally recognized body. For example, the MDEP (Multinational Design Evaluation Program) could be extended into a group examination process towards common international design certification of SMRs (Goodman and Storey, 2012).

In the interim, innovative business models such as BOO; bilateral and regional tutelary programs; and international SMR-specific TSOs could help to bridge the human-resources gap for newcomer developing countries (Goodman and Raetzke, 2013). Developing countries will be able to operate and maintain SMR plants, by themselves, to global standards of safety.