Study: Microreactors show potential but face challenges

July 28, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recently released technical report from Idaho National Laboratory finds “significant potential” for deploying microreactors on a global scale, but also “significant challenges in achieving the technical capacities, meeting regulatory requirements and international accords, achieving competitive costs, and for gaining public acceptance.”

In the 147-page report, Global Market Analysis of Microreactors, authors David Shropshire from INL, Geoffrey Black from Boise State University, and Kathleen Araújo from the CAES Energy Policy Institute at Boise State assess the unique capabilities of microreactors and their potential deployment in specific global markets in the 2030-2050 timeframe.

The authors’ assessment methods include developing unique microreactor deployment indicators and matching use cases to define future profile markets. Both top-down and bottom-up analysis techniques are used to evaluate emerging market trends, derive a range of possible demands, and rank potential markets in 63 countries, including current nuclear users and newcomer countries.

Powerful potential: Microreactors have potential to expand nuclear power’s contribution in North America and Western Europe that otherwise shows low future growth, according to the report. Mid-term deployments beginning around 2035 could expand microreactors to areas in Eastern Europe and Asia where energy infrastructure is under development, and to support new nuclear markets in emerging economies. Longer term deployment (2040–2050) could support urban markets and megacities lacking access to energy and susceptible to climate change, as well as disaster relief by replacing portable diesel generators.

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