New study will compare small electricity generating plants

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A new research project funded by the Energy Technologies Institute aims to enable the direct comparison between different types of small electricity generating plants, including nuclear reactors.

The ETI has awarded engineering consultancy Mott McDonald £200,000 to complete the project, which involves defining the high-level performance characteristics and the business-case parameters of the plants, including building and operating costs. The study is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

The study will enable technologies such as small-scale biomass to be compared with small modular nuclear plants, which are believed to be a potential strength of a new UK nuclear sector.

‘New nuclear power is expected to play a key role in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions, with some scenarios showing deployment increasing towards 75 gigawatts,’ said ETI strategy manager Mike Middleton.

‘However there are potential technical, economic and policy challenges associated with the rollout of new large-scale nuclear power stations now in development.’

‘One of the key challenges is in the identification of suitable and sufficient nuclear power station sites in England and Wales, and managing the impact on the transmission system of an increasing capacity of a type of plant which traditionally supports inflexible base-load electricity,’ he added. ‘This project will enable a comparison amongst the range of technologies currently under development.’

According to Mott MacDonald’s director of power, Simon Harrison, the study will be carried out with Rolls-Royce as a subcontractor, and ‘will be looking at the opportunities for small reactors to contribute flexibly to the UK’s energy transformation, and identifying what such reactors would have to deliver in terms of performance, cost and financing requirements to become credible future choices.’