Pathways for Small Modular Reactor Deployment Serving Industrial Process Heat with Learning and Policy Impacts
Hard to decarbonize industrial emissions are a challenge which small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) have the potential to satisfy. Current SMR designs are novel and expensive but due to their inherent manufacturability, they could benefit from learning curves. In this study, we evaluate deployment pathways for SMRs serving industrial process heat across the continental US. Defining these pathways are policy, supply chain, and learning rate variations which the nascent SMR industry will need to navigate. Initial results suggest that SMRs do have a significant potential to economically decarbonize, or partially decarbonize, large numbers of industrial facilities in the US though the extent of this is sensitive to policy and learning. SMR deployment is impacted more significantly by manufacturing learning rates than onsite learning rates. Further, annual manufacturing limitations play a significant role in the ability to decarbonize industry for lower and mid-level temperature demands, with the supply of modules being met consistently above $8/MMBtu of competing natural gas. At high natural gas prices, the large number of industrial facilities competing for SMRs to serve their highest demands leads to fewer low temperature SMRs being demanded due to a comparative disadvantage.
Small Modular Reactors, Decarbonization, Policy Impacts
Vanatta, Max, and Michael Craig. "Pathways for Small Modular Reactor Deployment Serving Industrial Process Heat with Learning and Policy Impacts." AGU23 (2023). CSS23-29