Is It Possible to Decarbonize the Energy Sector with Nuclear

Governments throughout the world are turning to nuclear to reduce reliance on foreign energy supplies and speed their long-term objectives for decarbonizing the power generation industry.

As power costs rise and countries contend with fossil fuel-induced inflation, this need for decarbonization is more vital than ever.

Global electricity is produced to a greater extent by nuclear and renewable energy sources than by coal. The rise in global CO2 emissions could be catastrophic if nuclear and renewable energy production are not increased.

Despite the rise in clean energy generation, nuclear and renewable energy still make up a very small portion of the world’s energy mix.

Starting with small modular reactors, nuclear will play a more significant part in the energy mix alongside economic breakthroughs, energy efficiency initiatives, and renewable energy sources.

What are Small Modular Reactors?

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are viewed as a solution to the industry-wide problems of cost overruns and construction delays brought on by major nuclear power reactors.

These reactors have a 300-megawatt maximum output capacity. In Argentina, China, and Russia, the first SMR units are currently in the advanced phases of construction.

Key Features of SMRs

  • Flexibility: SMRs are made to be dispatchable with the capacity to change power production, making it easier to incorporate sporadic renewable sources into the energy mix.
  • Scalability: As energy demands increase, more SMRs can be added to the current nuclear power plant.
  • Safety: SMR designs are less complex and frequently rely more on passive systems and built-in features to provide safety under all conditions.
  • Waste minimization: Advanced SMR designs may burn nuclear waste and used fuel, addressing resource availability, radioactive waste treatment, and storage.
  • Grid integration: SMRs are the ideal power output size to replace coal- and gas-fired facilities, utilising the existing infrastructure in the process.
  • New usages: Some SMRs are intended to provide district or industrial heat and power isolated towns or infrastructure.

How can we ensure the safety of SMR use?

The immense power made possible by these SMRs requires a real duty to safety, however. Companies must convince citizens that their operations are secure if nuclear power is to continue playing a significant role in the world’s energy supply.

Each nation has its own laws and licencing procedures. This has an impact on both the technical solutions that must be used for safety as well as the plant’s safety demonstration.

Companies must create a thorough safety case for licencing evaluations to prove the plant’s safety. This may consist of:

Staff members spent thousands of hours gathering, verifying, and aggregating material.

20,000 pages of data on system-level engineering and safety precautions

Several technical conversations

“SMRs are intrinsically safer than larger reactors, thanks to the use of passive safety and systems, and smaller fuel inventories. The reactors also allow for longer coping time before operator action is needed in the case of accidents. But SMRs still have to undergo a complex and lengthy licensing process.”

Xavier Bussenault, Business Consultant Director, Infrastructure, Energy & Materials Industry, Dassault Systèmes

 

SMRs have the potential to reduce energy costs while bringing low-carbon nuclear energy to regions without a nuclear civil industry. The major force behind fulfilling this promise is standardisation, which is also the key to negotiating licencing procedures.

Stakeholders who digitise the safety case can streamline the licencing process and:

  • Create a digital thread connecting the evidence, such as simulation and test results, to the requirements
  • Make use of a safety demonstration based on a model
  • Ensure complete traceability of all modifications during the regulators’ virtual evaluation of the safety case

This is where we come in

Companies can get a clearer image of their plant design and digitalize the safety case to speed up licencing and certification by improving data consistency and full visibility on a single platform.

In the transition to digitization, traceability and trustworthiness of information are essential. For instance, businesses must show that the facility itself and the equipment have been used in accordance with the initial design and construction standards in order to indicate that a plant’s life can be extended after 40 or 50 years in operation.

As a result, businesses must record the data in order to ensure traceability. Our 3DEXPERIENCE platform excels in this area. The easiest way to gather the data needed for recurring safety assessments is to use the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to record operating data during commissioning and operations.

Accelerate Decarbonization with 3DEXPERIENCE

With our 3DEXPERIENCE platform, we are well situated to support you in delivering secure and dependable nuclear power plants. Do you want to find out more about how you can accelerate the clean energy transition with our 3DEXPERIENCE platform and ensure you are a part of this vital move in the industry? Get in touch today.