SMR Business Day 2023

SMR Business Day continues the Finnish SMR Business Event tradition for the fourth consequtive year. This time the 1-day event in Dipoli, Otaniemi, Finland brought together an international group of SMR pioneers and enthustiasts.

SMR Business Day 2023 panel discussionThe event started with TEM, OECD NEA, VTT, Fortum, Nuward EDF & Westinghouse introduction speeches about the current state of development of SMR deployment. As a summary of the indtroductions, small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) represent a promising component of the future carbon-neutral energy mix. These reactors are characterized by their smaller size, modular design, and increased flexibility, offering several advantages for sustainable energy production. New SMR designs provide opportunities for scalable and resource-efficient power generation decentralization, enhanced safety features, integration with renewables and long operational lifespan.

Speakers highlighted that small modular nuclear reactors offer a versatile and sustainable solution for future energy needs. Their flexibility, safety features, and compatibility with renewable energy make them a valuable component in the transition towards a carbon-neutral energy landscape. However, it’s important to address regulatory, public acceptance, and cost challenges to realize the full potential of SMRs in the energy mix of tomorrow.

During the lunch the real business negotiations started when the nearly 200 participants from over 10 countries started to discuss about the potential collaboration efforts in the presented projects. This year SMRs have clearly moved from the questions “IF” to “WHEN” and “WHERE”; the main concerns were not anymore on solved technical issues and more on the deploying models, costs and schedules. The nature of the discussions clearly show that the stakeholders are every year better prepared to start utilizing the long-stated promises of SMRs.

After the lunch two paraller sessions were held; one about the Nuclear industry and SMR adoption: evolving business environment and supply chain; and another session with the topic Finnish SMR Roadmap: The way forward (in Finnish). The supply chain discussion focused on elements of licensing, qualification, verification, validation, quality and other requirements considering international nuclear safety class supply chains and their development. International collaboration on shared quality requirements and systems was identified as a key enabler for increased safety and cost-efficiency in the nuclear energy industry. In the Finnish Roadmap session stakeholders discussed about the realistic deployment models and timelines for first SMRs in Finland; and also will they be of domestic design, imported design or applied design. The atmosphere was clearly hopeful that plenty of deployment opportunities exist anda next step is to identify the most feasible business cases.

The vivid discussions continued on the coffee break which united the two sessions back together for the last panel discussion; NIMBY – Nuclear in my backyard? Stakeholder involvement and social acceptance. In this session Finnuclear’s Harri Varjonen was interviewing the panelists about their views on the social acceptance of SMRs in the Nordic and Baltic countries. The panelists highlighted the high public acceptance of nuclear energy in these regions and some reasons for it. Nordic nuclear industry has been able to facilitate extremely valuable dialogue between the civil society, regulators and utilities, which has led towards high public trust towards the engineered solutions. Overall the consensus of the panelists was that the time is ripe and the public and political acceptance is ready for new nuclear energy projects in the Nordics and Baltics. The nature of the new low carbon energy projects could be a fleet of SMRs.

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