Nuclear System Assessment
Resources 12th June 2020
Key contact: Gregg Butler, The University of Manchester, firstname.lastname@example.org
The vision for low carbon nuclear power in the UK is growing. In particular, work triggered by the 2011 House of Lords report on Nuclear Research and Development Capabilities and the Government’s response in February 2012 led to Sir John Beddington’s Ad-Hoc Nuclear Research and Development (R&D) Advisory Board’s publication, “Nuclear industrial strategy: the UK’s nuclear future”, which maps possible nuclear power generation pathways for the UK. The question remains in deciding which of these pathways is preferable.
The Generic Feasibility Assessment (GFA) is a tool to help answer the question “What are the attributes of a nuclear energy system which would justify investment in its future development with a view to deployment in the UK”. The GFA approach has been developed by The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) as part of a decision-making research package commissioned by DECC.
The GFA compares nuclear technologies (reactors and their fuel cycles) to a reference case (such as the proposed new build light water reactors in the UK) on the basis of a range of criteria, including aspects of system integration. It was discussed at a joint workshop ran by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the Dalton Nuclear Institute on 9 July 2013. See below to access the report and a presentation on the GFA.
In 2014 NNL and Dalton Nuclear Institute led a Generic Feasibility Assessment (GFA) of the GEN IV EVOL molten salt fast reactor design. This was subsequently critiqued and strengthened at a workshop of experts in April 2014 and the resulting document adjusted to take account of comments received following the meeting. It is in the form of a PDF document which should be navigated using the hyperlinks provided within the document. Download the 2014 edition.
This, like every GFA, is, and will remain, a ‘work in progress’. The assessments and analyses should reflect the benefits and challenges presented by the system as currently known from public domain material. If information is obtained which changes the assessment by considering additional peer reviewed public information, then the GFA will be modified to reflect the new knowledge, but will remain ‘work in progress’ awaiting the next advance. In fact, it can be noted that this assessment is on Version 11 of the GFA template. Changes have been relatively small, but it should be mentioned that the Techno-Economic Assessment mentioned below is on Template 13, with minor modifications to reflect regulator views on the current Template 14.
In early 2014, the Government commissioned a feasibility study to assess the technical, economic and commercial case for the deployment of SMRs in the UK. The study was published by the National Nuclear Laboratory in December 2014. Subsequently, in May 2015, DECC (now BEIS) commissioned an in-depth Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) ‘to contribute to the SMR evidence base’, and in March 2016 launched a competition ‘to identify the best value small modular reactor (SMR) design for the UK’.
The applications for the competition included a range of reactor systems which were required to be compared in terms of technical readiness, likely time to deployment, economics, and suitability for various futures. The National Nuclear Laboratory, together with the Dalton Nuclear Institute and Integrated Decision Management Ltd were chosen to evaluate the ‘advanced’ (i.e. non-LWR) systems using the Generic Feasibility Assessment methodology, and it was decided to use only public domain information for what would always remain a ‘Work in Progress’ analysis.
A general review of the emerging technologies was undertaken by NNL before the Techno-Economic Assessment was undertaken using GFA combined with an examination of likely benefits and challenges using Lifecycle Cost of Electricity. These can be downloaded below.
- SMR Techno-Economic Assessment Project 3: Assessment of Emerging SMR Technologies Summary Report
- SMR Techno-Economic Assessment Project 3: Literature Review of Emerging SMR Technologies
- The Generic Feasibility Assessment – Summary
- Scoping a systems approach to low carbon energy in the UK and role for nuclear – Report
- GFA – a methodology for assessing nuclear energy technologies – Presentation