Nuclear Energy: G20 Puts Spotlight on Small Modular Reactors

Nuclear

New Delhi: The Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), mentioned in the G20 declaration, are compact versions of traditional nuclear reactors. Unlike their larger counterparts, they can produce up to 300 MW of power and are quicker to build because they’re pre-made and assembled on-site, say reports.

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G20 nations recognised the potential of civil nuclear energy in their final declaration released on September 9. Particularly, the Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are now in the spotlight. These reactors are compact with a capacity under 300 MW and can be set up faster, making them a promising choice for the future of energy.

The declaration underscores that “countries that opt to use civil nuclear energy will collaborate on voluntary and mutually agreed terms, in research, innovation, development, and deployment of civil nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors, in accordance with national legislation”. Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) makes them great for areas with limited power infrastructure, even in remote locations. They can also run without refuelling for decades.

The G20 isn’t just thinking about energy. They also want to make sure nuclear power is safe. This means sharing knowledge, best practices, and ensuring that global standards for nuclear safety are upheld and focusing on how to manage nuclear waste and safely close down old nuclear sites.

Right now, nuclear energy isn’t a big player in India’s energy game—only 3% of the country’s energy comes from it. But India is looking to change that. Currently, 22 reactors are working, and they produce 6,780 MW of energy. More reactors are coming up, including the one at Kakrapar nuclear power plant, which started working in January 2021.

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India’s government sees the potential here. They’re even allowing companies to partner up with Public Sector Units to boost nuclear energy. Companies like the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) are already partnering with others like National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL). The government is also thinking about letting foreign companies invest in India’s nuclear power sector.

In 2023, India and the US talked about working together. They want to develop new nuclear technologies that can be used in both countries and even sold to other countries.

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SMRs can be a game-changer for India. The country is big, and some places don’t have the infrastructure for big reactors. SMRs can be a good fit for these places. Plus, India wants to reduce its carbon footprint by 2070, and nuclear energy can help with that. SMRs work all the time, unlike solar and wind which are intermittent and dependent on weather conditions.

By joining the G20’s nuclear push, India can learn from other countries, get new ideas for waste management, and even attract investment. It can create jobs and also help India not to rely too much on one type of energy.