The global small modular reactor market is worth $5.7 billion and could grow to $7 billion by 2030. Small modular reactors (SMRs) are portable nuclear reactors built by companies such as TerraPower, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Holtec, NuScale, and Rolls-Royce.
Many experts view small modular reactors as necessary for combating global warming because nuclear power is carbon free and can run 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates nuclear energy use will need to double by 2050 to meet climate goals, Forbes reports.
Small modular reactors are cheaper and easier to install than traditional nuclear plants. The licensing process for SMRs is simpler than for traditional nuclear plants. Moreover, they can use small nuclear reactors to power ships.
Small Modular Reactors
However, SMRs produce less power. The Rolls-Royce SMR will produce around 470 megawatts of electricity. Other SMRs can produce between 50 and 300 megawatts of electricity. In contrast, the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona produces around 3.937 megawatts of electricity with three nuclear reactors, the Energy Information Agency estimates.
However, they can combine several SMRs to create a larger power plant comparable to a standard nuclear reactor. I estimate each of the reactors at Palo Verde generates around 1,3123 megawatts of electricity.
The first operating SMR, the China National Nuclear Corporation’s ACP 100 reactor, or Linglong One, is under construction in Changjiang, Hainan. Construction workers have poured the final concrete for the slab the ACP 100 will sit on, World Nuclear News reports. The ACP 100 is a demonstration project for Chinese SMR technology.
Small Modular Reactor Market is not profitable
However, Markets and Markets Research shows small modular reactors may not be profitable.
Markets and Markets estimates the SMR market will grow by 2.7% between 2022 and 2030. Thus, I think SMRs will need massive infusions of government money to become practical.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, passed in August 2022, creates tax credits for clean electricity production, such as SMRs. Morgan Lewis speculates companies can use those tax credits to fund SMRs.
The principal market for SMRs will be the Asia and Pacific Market, Markets and Markets reports. The SMR market is growing but it will need government help to survive and grow.