A Multi-Pronged Approach towards Small Modular Reactor Regulation
Globally, there has been a growing interest in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), an innovative nuclear technology. The often-touted value proposition of SMRs revolves around the potential it holds to help solve challenges long-associated with conventional large-scale nuclear power projects. These benefits are increasingly well known and include affordability, scalability, enhanced flexibility and shorter time to market. The COVID-19 pandemic has also intensified calls in many quarters to accelerate the clean energy transition, where SMRs could provide the impetus needed for nuclear power to play an expanded role in climate action and sustainable development. However, despite this value proposition, the global market outlook for SMRs remains uncertain. Apart from uncertainties relating to the status of technology development, a key challenge is the need to overcome the negative impacts arising from the different national regulatory approaches in order to support SMR deployment globally. Given the cross-border nature of the SMR market, the development and initial deployment of SMRs will require coordinated efforts between the different stakeholders including governments and the industry.
In this regard, steps are being taken at the international and industry levels to help pave a way forward. This webinar will provide an overview of the SMR-related activities the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is facilitating, including through the SMR Regulators’ Forum. The webinar will also highlight the licensing model study undertaken by Fermi Energia (an Estonian nuclear energy start-up) and Fortum (a Finnish energy company) for SMR deployment in Estonia. While the study was specific to Estonia, its findings could be of broader application. Experts who advised on this study will share their findings as well as insights on other hot topics in this area, such as the relevance of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant licensing experience in the United Arab Emirates. Within ASEAN, there has also been significant interest in SMRs and similar calls to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable energy future. In the latest release of its plan for region-wide energy cooperation (APAEC Phase II: 2021-2025), ASEAN has reaffirmed its commitment to further strengthening its capabilities on policy, regulatory, and technology aspects of civilian nuclear energy through technical studies and assessment of emerging nuclear energy technology including SMR technology. This webinar aims to catalyse within the region, a discussion on how the different yet complementary approaches could potentially be synergistic and help facilitate SMR deployment in the region and beyond.
Denise Cheong, Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore
Miguel Santini, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer, Department of Safety and Security, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Camille Scotto De César, Legal Officer, Office of Legal Affairs, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Helen Cook, Fermi Energia Legal Partner and Principal, GNE Advisory
Ian Grant, Fermi Energia Advisory Board Member and Principal, Ian Grant Consulting