[Answered] Examine the potential of Small Modular Reactors (SMR) and other technological advancements in nuclear power for reducing carbon emissions. Discuss how these technologies can contribute to the destigmatization of nuclear energy.

Introduction: Contextual Introduction

Body: Highlight the potential of SMR & how such technologies can help in the destigmatization of nuclear energy.

Conclusion: Way forward

As per the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), SMRs are advanced nuclear reactors with a power generation capacity ranging from less than 30 MWe to 300 MWe. Conventional Nuclear power plants have generally suffered from time and cost overruns. As an alternative, several countries are developing small modular reactors (SMRs) to complement conventional Nuclear power plants.

Potential of SMR in nuclear power for reducing carbon emissions

  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Like traditional nuclear reactors, SMRs generate electricity through nuclear fission, a process that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases during operation.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: SMRs are smaller and more modular than conventional reactors. This allows for deployment in areas with lower energy demands and facilitates a gradual shift towards nuclear power.
  • Enhanced Safety Features: Many SMR designs incorporate inherent safety features, minimizing the risk of accidents and meltdowns.
  • Flexibility: SMRs can be integrated with Renewable Energy to fulfill the need for flexibility, producing energy services, and low-carbon co-products. These can include electricity, hydrogen, synthetic fuels, hot process gases, or steam. When coupled with variable energy sources SMRs can mitigate fluctuations on a daily and seasonal basis.

How can SMR contribute to the destigmatization of nuclear energy?

  • Refueling interval: Standard plants require refueling every one to two years, however SMR-based power plants may only need to do so every three to seven years. Some SMRs have an operating life expectancy of thirty years without refilling.
  • Safety features: Extensive use of passive safety features in SMR designs, which rely on the laws of physics to shut down and cool the reactor under abnormal circumstances, provide inherent safety. In most cases, these technologies don’t need a power supply and can handle accidents without the assistance of a person or a computer.
  • Economical: SMRs require a low capital outlay and/or a phased capital expenditure. They have the adaptability to allow co-generation, supply heat for desalination and manufacturing, etc.
  • Compact design: Compared to big reactors and renewable energy sources, SMRs require less area for operations. Parts of outdated or closed fossil fuel-based power facilities are expected to be repurposed by SMRs.


SMR may complement large-size reactors to increase the nuclear share in the energy mix and achieve Net Zero Emissions goals. The UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), held in Dubai (UAE) in December 2023, underscored the crucial role of nuclear energy in achieving climate objectives & highlighted the necessity of tripling nuclear energy capacity by 2050 to address climate challenges effectively.

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