According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the UK should turn to the deployment of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to boost its nuclear industry, reinvigorate its former status as a “world-leading innovator in nuclear technology” and seize emerging export opportunities in relation to the nuclear reactor supply chain. Their report follows a recently published report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee about the difficulties leaving the European Union and its nuclear watchdog, Euratom.
Developing SMRs will secure Britain’s nuclear industry post Brexit, says the Institute, and the UK should remain an associate member of Euratom for Research & Development, safeguarding, Nuclear Co-operation Agreements and regulation purposes, to secure the future of projects such as the Joint European Torus (JET) project in Oxfordshire. On top of that, the UK should establish its own Safeguarding Office and make the existing nuclear licensed site at Trawsfynydd in North Wales available as a potential location for the building and demonstration testing of an SMR.
Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment and Lead Author of the report, said:
“Brexit presents the country with an opportunity to reshape its nuclear industry. In the 1950s the UK was the first country to develop a civil nuclear programme, but we have since fallen behind countries such as China, France and Canada.
“Pushing ahead on the demonstration and commercialisation of SMRs would be a key way for the UK to once again become a world leader in the field. This would not only help to meet future energy demand, but also to develop skills, local employment and build future export business.”