The SMR market is expected to reach US$295 billion by 2043.

Nuclear Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) 2023-2043

Comprehensive coverage of small modular nuclear fission reactors, with data-driven benchmarking study on ongoing SMR projects, and 20-year granular forecasting, detailing SMR emergence by region and reactor type.

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Small modular reactors (SMRs) promise to offer cheaper nuclear energy, supplying zero-carbon grid baseload and enabling new use-cases for nuclear reactors. IDTechEx's new report explores this emerging alternative to conventional nuclear reactors, analyzing the current and future SMR market, competing technological approaches, and key players. It includes detailed information on SMR reactors that have already entered or are close to entering service, and provides regional market forecasts from 2023-2043. The report also includes data-driven benchmarking of 10 reactor technologies. With the potential for rapid growth fueled by lower capital requirements and zero-carbon provision of baseload and demand-following power that is cost-competitive with renewables + storage, SMRs are predicted to supply 2% of the world's electricity in 2043.
SMRs aim to significantly reduce the capital expenses (CAPEX) associated with nuclear energy. Despite increasing operational expenses (OPEX), the overall levelized cost of energy is expected to be vastly lower.
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SMRs are small nuclear fission reactors which are partially factory-built and transported to site as modules. They aim to make nuclear projects cheaper, enhance their safety and open pathways to new business models. Economies of scale are transferred from the size of the individual installation (i.e. a conventional large nuclear project), to manufacturing higher volumes of individual SMRs. This transition should help in avoiding the budget and time overrun issues that plague the nuclear industry today. In 2023, renewed energy security concerns and the ongoing climate crisis are causing governments and businesses to re-evaluate these sources of carbon-free energy. Intermittent renewables promise to supply a substantial proportion of global energy, yet when paired with energy storage for baseload and demand-following applications, the costs skyrocket. SMRs promise to fill this important niche in future energy networks.
This report analyzes the SMR market in depth, covering market trends, technologies, and key players. It explores the various SMR technologies, with distinction made between "evolutionary" Generation III+ reactor technologies including pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs), and "revolutionary" Generation IV reactors including molten salt reactors (MSR), and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR), among others. A key question answered is whether the potential operational and safety benefits of Generation IV designs outweigh the thousands of years of reactor time experience for Generation III reactors.
Drivers and constraints affecting the market, including licensing issues, supply chain immaturity and safety considerations, are carefully explored. The report also provides an overview of the competitive landscape, with profiles of leading companies in the SMR industry. In addition to forecasting the number, electrical and thermal capacity, and revenue of SMRs from 2023-2043, broken down by reactor type and region, IDTechEx carried out a comprehensive benchmarking study of the SMR industry. Data was gathered on all 83 SMR projects known to IDTechEx, with key performance indicators for factors including safety, efficiency and power density formulated and plotted. This allows comparison of the technical merits and overall level of advancement of different reactor designs via quantitative metrics gathered from industry, cutting through the fog when understanding these technologies.
Unique position and experience behind the report
IDTechEx is afforded a unique position in covering this topic. The analyst team builds on decades of experience covering emerging technology markets, including in the wider energy and decarbonization field and related industries including the hydrogen economy and renewable energy. IDTechEx analysts attended nuclear industry events, including the 2022 World Nuclear Symposium, in the process of research for this uniquely comprehensive report.
This report provides critical market intelligence about the product sector and each of the 10 major reactor technologies involved. This includes:
  • A review of the context and technology behind SMRs.
  • History and context for the sector within the wider nuclear industry and individual technologies.
  • General overview of important SMR technologies.
  • Overall look at SMR trends and themes.
  • Full data-driven benchmarking of SMR technologies from information on 83 projects.
  • Overview and analysis of potential SMR use-cases beyond grid power supply, including process heat, hydrogen production and desalination. Data-driven technology suitability analysis included.
  • Reviews of major SMR players across technologies, from universities to nuclear industry insiders to early-stage companies.
  • Market forecasts from 2023-2043 for four overarching technology types broken down into global regions.
Report MetricsDetails
Historic Data2020 - 2023
CAGRThe global market for SMRs is expected to reach $72.4 billion by 2033 and $295 billion by 2043, representing a CAGR of 30% in this period.
Forecast Period2023 - 2043
Forecast UnitsVolume (number of reactors), electricity generated (TWh), electrical/thermal capacity (GWe/GWt)
Regions CoveredWorldwide, Asia-Pacific, East Asia, Europe, North America (USA + Canada)
Segments CoveredNuclear SMRs (Small Modular Reactors), LWRs (Light Water Reactors), PWRs (Pressurized Water Reactors), BWRs (Boiling Water Reactors), PHWRs (Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors), MSRs (Molten Salt Reactors), LMFRs (Liquid Metal Fast Reactors), HTGRs (High Temperature Gas cooled Reactors), PBRs (Pebble Bed Reactors), nuclear decarbonization, nuclear process heat.
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Table of Contents
1.1.Small modular reactors (SMRs): what and why?
1.2.Why is interest growing nuclear energy?
1.3.SMRs are expected to reduce the cost of nuclear energy
1.4.SMRs could work alongside renewable energy systems towards decarbonization
1.5.The cost of energy from SMRs could compete with renewables and fossil fuels
1.6.Where are the SMR projects?
1.7.Countries around the world are announcing interest in SMR projects
1.8.SMRs enable new use-cases for nuclear energy
1.9.What reactor technologies will SMRs use?
1.10.SMRs in existence today
1.11.Selected players in SMR design
1.12.What is holding back SMRs?
1.13.What factors are important when comparing SMR technologies?
1.14.Insights from SMR benchmarking
1.15.Forecasting the SMR market
1.16.Forecasting growth in number of SMRs
1.17.Growth in installed SMR electrical capacity: regions
1.18.SMR technology breakdown by region: 2043 predictions
1.19.Key takeaways on SMRs from IDTechEx
2.1.Introduction: the nuclear industry, SMRs and technical background
2.2.Nuclear industry overview
2.2.1.Nuclear energy: the story so far
2.2.2.Nuclear energy has struggled in recent years
2.2.3.Nuclear power in the global energy mix
2.2.4.The last decade was tough for nuclear. Why should this one be different?
2.2.5.Nuclear new builds: why or why not?
2.2.6.Nuclear for net zero: how much is needed?
2.2.7.Why do hopes for nuclear installation rate vary so wildly?
2.2.8.How realistic is rapid nuclear expansion?
2.2.9.Segmenting nuclear technologies: generations
2.2.10.How have commercial nuclear power plants been constructed?
2.2.11.The economics of nuclear plant construction confound expectations
2.2.12.Conclusions: the nuclear industry needs an overhaul
2.3.Introduction to small modular reactors
2.3.1.Small modular reactors (SMRs): what and why?
2.3.2.Defining small modular reactors
2.3.3.SMR drivers: transferring the economy of scale
2.3.4.SMR construction economics: the evidence
2.3.5.Motivation for adopting SMRs
2.3.6.Modularization as a cost saving
2.3.7.Cost of capital for SMRs vs. traditional NPP projects
2.3.8.The cost of energy from SMRs could compete with renewables and fossil fuels
2.3.9.SMRs as an answer to energy security
2.3.10.Where are the SMR projects?
2.3.11.Production bottlenecks for SMRs: reactor pressure vessels
2.3.12.SMR developers face slow licensing processes, but progress is being made
2.3.13.Are SMRs safer than large nuclear power plants?
2.3.14.Conclusions: SMRs aim to make nuclear power economically viable
3.1.Introduction to forecasting
3.2.Forecasting overall electricity demand
3.3.Nuclear energy by region today
3.4.Nuclear energy by region: forecasting growth
3.5.Where in the world is growth in nuclear energy expected?
3.6.Constructing the forecast: SMRs in operation today
3.7.Constructing the forecast: establishing when SMRs enter operation
3.8.Forecasting methodology: projecting growth, technology focus
3.9.Forecasting growth in number of SMRs
3.10.Forecast: number of SMRs with table
3.11.Reactor technology forecasts
3.12.Forecasting reactor types: overall breakdown
3.13.Forecast: SMR reactor types with table
3.14.SMR technology breakdown by region: 2043 predictions
3.15.Growth in installed SMR electrical capacity: regions
3.16.Forecast: SMR electricity generated by region with tables
3.17.Installed energy capacity of SMRs: electrical
3.18.Installed energy capacity of SMRs: thermal
3.19.How much will SMRs cost to build?
3.20.Forecasting revenue from SMR construction: reactor types
3.21.Forecast: SMR construction revenue by type with data table
3.22.Forecasting revenue from SMR construction: regions
3.23.Forecast: regional revenue from SMR construction with data table
3.24.Forecasting: Conclusions
4.1.Structure of this chapter
4.2.Technical primer
4.2.1.Nuclear fission: subatomic components
4.2.2.Fission processes: releasing energy
4.2.3.Segmenting SMRs: active vs. passive vs. inherent safety
4.2.4.Controlling and maintaining chain reactions
4.2.5.Fuel types in nuclear reactors: enrichment
4.2.6.Fuel costs as a fraction of levelized cost
4.2.7.Void coefficient as an indicator of safety
4.2.8.Temperature coefficient also affects safety
4.2.9.Explaining how nuclear reactors work through the context of light water reactors
4.2.10.Ultimate heat sinks and reactor siting
4.3.Segmenting SMRs by type
4.3.1.Reactor technology coverage in this report
4.3.2.Reactor designs: dividing by technology parameters
4.3.3.New reactor designs: evolution vs. revolution
4.3.4.Coolant temperature defines efficiency, application fit
4.3.5.Distribution of project types by reactor class
4.3.6.Project stage by reactor class (I)
4.3.7.Project stage by reactor class (II) - frontrunner technologies
4.3.8.Project stage by reactor class (III) - "middle of the pack"
4.3.9.Project stage by reactor class (IV) - speculative technologies
4.3.10.Which technologies are likely to see wide use in a future SMR fleet?
4.3.11.Comparing promising technologies
4.3.12.Conclusions: A wide range of reactor types are competing for use in SMRs
4.4.SMR technology benchmarking
4.4.1.Introduction to Benchmarking
4.4.2.Benchmarking KPIs
4.4.3.Building the benchmark
4.4.4.Comparing benchmarks
4.4.5.Which variables form each benchmark?
4.4.6.Judging overall reactor performance
4.4.7.The issue of unavailable data
4.4.8.Comparing performance between benchmarking metrics
4.4.9.Unweighted benchmarking scores
4.4.10.What plant types are exceeding benchmarking expectations?
4.4.11.Plant efficiency has little correlation with technological focus
4.4.12.More power-dense plants are seeing greater industry focus
4.4.13.Conclusions from benchmarking
4.5.Pre-Gen IV reactor designs
4.5.1.Pre-Gen IV designs: introduction to established nuclear technologies
4.5.2.Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs): Overview
4.5.3.Layout of PWRs
4.5.4.Types of PWR: overview
4.5.5.Shrinking PWRs could improve safety and smooth operations
4.5.6.CAREM: slow progress towards an Argentinian SMR
4.5.7.CAREM: passive safety and a conventional approach
4.5.9.NuScale: potentially the closest SMR to market in the USA
4.5.10.NuScale: a new approach to PWR design
4.5.11.NuScale: when will reactors be built?
4.5.12.NuScale/VOYGR: SWOT
4.5.13.Rolls-Royce SMR: the not-so-small modular reactor
4.5.14.Rolls-Royce SMR: designed for export potential
4.5.15.Rolls-Royce SMR: small pressure vessel, large power output
4.5.16.Rolls-Royce SMR: SWOT
4.5.17.Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs): Overview
4.5.18.Why are less BWR SMR projects ongoing than PWRs?
4.5.19.GE Hitachi's BWRX-300: accelerating project timespans is key
4.5.20.GE Hitachi's BWRX-300: compact plant design eases siting difficulties
4.5.21.BWR-300: SWOT
4.5.22.Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs): Overview
4.5.23.PHWR-based SMRs
4.5.24.Summary: the Gen III/III+ SMR landscape
4.5.25.Comparison of leading Gen III/III+ designs
4.5.26.Conclusion: older reactor designs will continue to see wide use in SMRs
4.6.Gen-IV reactor designs
4.6.1.Gen IV designs: introduction to transformational nuclear technologies
4.6.2.High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs): Overview
4.6.3.HTGRs: Introduction
4.6.4.TRISO: the new paradigm for nuclear fuel?
4.6.5.HTGRs: multiple possible generation schemes
4.6.6.HTGRs: Rankine vs. Brayton vs. combined cycle generation
4.6.7.Comparing benchmarking scores for HTGR types
4.6.8.Pebble bed HTGRs: why frequent anomalies?
4.6.9.GFRs appear to be high technical performers, yet are let down by power density
4.6.10.HTR-PM: the first commercial-scale land-based SMR
4.6.11.HTR-PM: use of HALEU, Rankine cycle approach
4.6.12.HTR-PM: SWOT
4.6.13.U-Battery: distributed nuclear energy for industry
4.6.14.U-Battery: how do you target an SMR project?
4.6.15.U-Battery: SWOT
4.6.16.Liquid Metal Fast Reactors (LMFRs): Overview
4.6.17.LMFRs: extensive demonstrator experience has struggled to transfer to commercial use
4.6.18.Comparing LMFRs to other Gen IV types
4.6.19.Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs): Overview
4.6.20.Molten salt reactors perform highly in technology benchmarks - yet adoption has lagged
4.6.21.Terrestrial Energy: molten salt SMRs with short-life cores
4.6.22.Terrestrial Energy: focus on co-generation as a business model
4.6.23.Terrestrial Energy: LEU in a Gen IV reactor
4.6.24.ISMR400: SWOT
4.6.25.Not every Gen IV design is being considered for SMRs
4.6.26.TerraPower: Gen IV designs outside of SMRs
4.6.27.Summary: the Gen IV SMR landscape
4.6.28.Conclusion: Gen IV designs are likely to find their place in SMRs
5.1.SMRs and new use-cases for nuclear
5.2.Cogeneration: getting the most out of nuclear fuel
5.3.Pairing SMRs with industrial zones for efficient use of nuclear cogeneration
5.4.Compatibility between processes and reactor types relies on reactor temperature range
5.5.Nuclear energy and the hydrogen economy
5.6.Desalination using nuclear energy
5.7.Nuclear district heating - a proven concept enhanced by SMRs
5.8.High temperature reactors open new possibilities for process heat supply
5.9.The "nuclear battery": nuclear microreactors
5.10.Marine SMRs: portable nuclear power
5.11.No smoking: coal-fired power plant repowering
5.12.Development status of new SMR use-cases
5.13.Summary: SMRs make nuclear energy more versatile

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Nuclear Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) 2023-2043

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Report Statistics

Slides 193
Forecasts to 2043
ISBN 9781915514639

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