UPDATED 1 Sept: The EI library in London is temporarily closed to the public, as a precautionary measure in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The Knowledge Service will still be answering email queries via email , or via live chats during working hours (09:15-17:00 GMT). Our e-library is always open for members here: eLibrary , for full-text access to over 200 e-books and millions of articles. Thank you for your patience.
New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

The potential for small modular nuclear reactors


6 min read

Artist's impression of SMR design from Rolls-Royce Photo: Rolls-Royce
SMR design from Rolls-Royce

Photo: Rolls-Royce

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are gaining the attention of governments and power providers across the world because of their low carbon and potentially low capital cost attributes. Yet the champions of the SMR must work hard to ensure its full potential is reached, write Daniel Garton, Richard Hill, Andrew McDougall QC, Kirsten Odynski, Dipen Sabharwal QC and Vit Stehlik from law firm White & Case.

Governments around the world face increasing pressure to replace fossil fuel power generation. The provision of affordable and clean energy is one of 17 United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, and at least 80% of the world’s electricity must be low carbon by 2050 — by which point the world’s energy consumption is expected to have more than doubled — to have a realistic chance of keeping warming within 2°C of pre-industrial levels.


Nuclear plants clearly have a role to play here. They have a small environmental footprint and keep air clean, requiring only a small amount of fuel compared to gas or coal while taking up a fraction of the space needed for wind and solar farms. In fact, a report published last year by one of the UN’s own bodies – the Economic Commission for Europe – has argued for the crucial role nuclear power can play in the transition to a clean energy future. 


The burning of fossil fuels is still the dominant source for global power, with the sector accounting for approximately one third of global emissions. While the role of renewable energy generation has risen exponentially in recent years, the inability of solar and wind to deliver reliable baseload generation means that many countries still rely on fossil fuels to fulfil that role. 


This content is for EI members only.
or join us as an EI Member to read all our Feature articles and receive exclusive EI perks from as little as £6 a month.