[Answered] Compare and contrast the characteristics of small nuclear modular reactors (SMRs) and conventional nuclear power plants.

Introduction: Give a brief context of the question.

Body: Highlight differences between small nuclear modular reactors (SMRs) and conventional nuclear power plants.

Conclusion: Way forward.

The move to decarbonize power generation has once again brought the issue of small nuclear modular reactors (SMRs) as an alternative to coal-fired power generation plants  “to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

Difference between small nuclear modular reactors (SMRs) and conventional nuclear power plants.

  • Size: SMRs are smaller in size and have lower power output compared to conventional nuclear power plants. They typically have an electrical output of fewer than 300 megawatts (MW). Conventional nuclear power plants on the other hand are large with an output of 700+ MW.
  • Cost & Construction: The construction of conventional plants can be more complex and time-consuming, often requiring a longer lead time for planning and execution. By reusing existing infrastructure, SMRs can be constructed in decommissioned thermal power plant sites, saving the host nation from having to buy extra land and/or relocate residents outside of the current site border.
  • Safety: Because SMR designs are more straightforward than those of traditional NPPs and incorporate several passive safety safeguards, there is less chance of an uncontrolled release of radioactive materials into the environment. Additionally, compared to a traditional NPP, an SMR plant will store less spent nuclear fuel.
  • Fuel Used: Some SMR designs employ various fuel types, including advanced fuels and even non-uranium fuels, which might result in improved fuel utilization and less waste. Enriched uranium is primarily used as fuel in conventional nuclear power plants.
  • Regulation: Due to their distinct design and smaller scale, SMRs may have a different regulatory process than conventional facilities. Some nations are investigating simplified licensing procedures for SMRs. The standard plant regulatory process is well-established, but it can be strict and time-consuming.


Union Government must take full responsibility to ensure the safety, security, and safeguards, controls of nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. Additionally, a law must be passed by the government to establish a regulatory body that is independent, powerful, and qualified to monitor every phase of the nuclear power production cycle. Lastly, the Atomic Energy Act will need to be amended to allow the private sector to set up SMRs.

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