According to a new report by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), by 2030 small modular reactors (SMRs) could be in use in the UK and the Government has an imperative role in fostering early investor confidence.
“Preparing For Deployment of A UK Small Modular Reactor By 2030” examines what needs to take place to support the potential first operations of a SMR in the UK.
The report says that a credible integrated schedule can be achieved if action is taken to create investor confidence through the development of a policy framework which progressively reduces risks for an SMR developer.
The detailed study has also re-assessed the technical viability and cost impact of deploying SMRs as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, rather than for just power generation. It again highlights the economic benefits of extracting low carbon heat for supply to district heating networks.
Due to their smaller size and easier siting SMRs offer flexibility and could deliver low carbon heat into cities via hot water pipelines up to 30km in length. This flexibility opens up new potential sites and can help to decarbonise energy use in buildings.
Therefore consideration should be given to the concept of deploying SMRs as “CHP ready”, even if there is no firm local demand for district heating systems at the time of SMR deployment. This is because the additional costs are small and the potential future revenues large, bringing benefits to both consumers and SMR operators.
One of the benefits of SMR technology is that they can be built to a standard design in factories before being assembled on site. This standardisation has the potential to accelerate cost reduction through the economy of multiples.
The ETI report says that a range of locations have the characteristics for potential early deployment of UK SMRs, including a number of sites potentially suitable for a UK First of a Kind SMR.
Mike Middleton, the ETI’s nuclear strategy manager and report author said:
“Our analysis shows that it is possible to have a first of a kind SMR operating by 2030 if SMR developer(s), SMR vendor(s), Government and regulators work together in an integrated programme.
“Creating the right environment for increasing investor confidence is critical if this schedule is to be met; there will be a key role for Government in the first five years of any such programme to deliver an SMR policy framework which progressively reduces investor risk.
“We have carried out further design and cost assessments which reconfirm the attractiveness of deploying SMRs as CHP plants linked to district heating systems identifying further carbon savings and cost benefits.
UK regulatory assessment through Generic Design Assessment is a big commitment.
“If SMR designs can combine standardised production in factories with developer options for heat take-off and cooling systems then there are two benefits. Firstly, these options can increase deployment opportunities which can further reduce unit cost; secondly it is not necessary to reassess the design or reconfigure the factory production process to deliver these options and again this reduces downstream deployment costs.”
“Our work has also identified a range of sites with the right environment to facilitate early UK deployment of SMRs, with a number of them being potentially suitable for a first of a kind. But it is important to take a strategic approach to managing potential sites because of the limited number of sites suitable for large reactors in England and Wales.”
In April 2015, the then Department of Energy and Climate Change launched a Government inter-Departmental Techno-Economic Appraisal to gather information to support Government policy development on SMRs. In November 2015, the Government announced a programme of £250M for nuclear research and development including SMRs, and in March 2016 the Government announced phase 1 of a competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK.
A copy of “Preparing For Deployment of A UK Small Modular Reactor By 2030” can be found at: http://www.eti.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/3588-Nuclear-Insights-2016—–Lores-AW.pdf
The latest ETI report follows the publication of “The role for nuclear within a low carbon energy system” last October which can be found at: http://www.eti.co.uk/the-role-for-nuclear-within-a-low-carbon-energy-system/
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!