Design Maturity and Regulatory Expectations for Small Modular Reactors

Cooperation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing Working Group - SMR Task Force and Licensing and  Permitting Task Force

First Published June 2021


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There is significant interest in the role small modular reactors (SMRs) can play in the clean energy systems of the future. SMRs cover a wide range of technologies but have in common their potential to decarbonize electrical grids and other applications, such as district heating, process heat for industry, hydrogen and synthetic fuels production, as well as providing electricity to remote or off-grid areas.

To help support the process of bringing SMRs to market, Design Maturity and Regulatory Expectations for SMRs describes the relationship between licensing processes in a variety of countries and design phases of a reactor. The report highlights key safety case development considerations, technology challenges, and licensing activities.

The report emphasizes the importance of early engagement between SMR vendors and national regulators to clarify the degree of design maturity required to undergo the pre-licensing and licensing processes. In addition, the report recommends national regulators to collaborate through bilateral and multinational agreements on design and safety reviews, to share technical reviews, establish common positions on safety criteria, and make appropriate use of existing reference SMR design reviews to streamline SMR licensing processes.

This report has been jointly produced by the Small Modular Reactors Task Force and the Licensing and Permitting Task Force of World Nuclear Association’s Cooperation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing (CORDEL) Working Group.