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Publications

  • NIRAB III (2021-2024)
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    Early Advice to BEIS to support the Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development and Demonstration Programme (AMR RD&D),

    This document outlines early advice to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on the Advanced Modular Reactor Research Development and Demonstration Programme (AMR RD&D) from initial analysis. NIRAB broadly welcome the proposal for a three-phase approach to delivery, as outlined in the recent market engagement exercise1. However, the advice highlights are several points that NIRAB advise BEIS should urgently consider within the programme.


    Open Document
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    Overview of Impact of the Nuclear Innovation Programme (2016–2022)

    This report provides NIRAB expert opinion on the impact that the Nuclear Innovation Programme (NIP), running from 2016-2022, has had on nuclear innovation in the UK, in response to a request from the Department for
    Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). BEIS also requested a NIRAB opinion on what research and development within the UK, if anything, could be stopped; what else needs prioritising and what R&D is needed in order to build an AMR demonstrator to the timescale necessary for a meaningful contribution to net zero emissions by 2050.
    This report, validated at the September 2022 Board, presents NIRAB’s view of the impact of the Nuclear Innovation Programme (NIP), where it has supported the Nuclear Industrial Strategy aspirations, and contributed to fulfilling its high-level objectives. NIRAB is aware that Government is in the process of commissioning a comprehensive evaluation of the NIP via a commercial process which is likely to report in late 2023, and will provide additional advice. NIRAB does not have access to detailed information such as project deliverables or Key Performance Indicator (KPI) data, and therefore the NIRAB advice contained herein has been developed from the open literature, principally information provided in the NIP summary brochure which summarises the scope and the key achievements of each of the contracts making up the NIP, alongside NIRAB members’ own expertise and  involvement in the various programmes.

    Open Document
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    NIRAB Annual Report 2022

    The third iteration of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) was convened in autumn 2021 comprising of experts from industry, academia, and independent consultants with diverse backgrounds. Since then NIRAB has been developing and evolving and delivering a programme of work. This report provides an overview of the work of NIRAB over the year to October 2022.

    Development of the work programme identified three key areas of work: Technology, Delivery, and Use Case. The focus of the NIRAB Technology Working Group (NTWG) is to advise on research and development needs for new nuclear, with a focus on (Advanced Modular Reactors) AMRs. The Delivery Working Group (NDWG) has a focus on innovations in delivery methodology needed to bring forward AMRs, and in particular High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs) to build a demonstrator by early 2030’s. The Use Case Working Group (NUCWG) has a focus on the potential end user requirements and market for AMRs and their role in decarbonising hard to reach sectors such as, transport and industry to supply to a heat and hydrogen economy, and thus supporting the achievement of Net Zero by 2050.
    Over the past 12 months NIRAB has developed and provided several written outputs:
    • NIRAB Early Advice to BEIS to support the Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development and Demonstration Programme (AMR RD&D), March 2022.
    • NIRAB Advice to Regulators on Scope of AMR RD&D programme, July 2022.
    • NIRAB paper on Review of Nuclear New Build Approval Processes, September 2022.
    • Response to House of Lords Inquiry on People and Skills, September 2022.
    • NIRAB response to House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry on Nuclear Power, September 2022.
    • NIRAB Overview of Impact of Nuclear Innovation Programme (2016-2022), October 2022.
    NIRAB has also engaged with senior officials in BEIS on their advice, with regular attendance at NIRAB plenary meetings from officials and Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Paul Monks. NIRAB continues to develop its work programme to support the AMR RD&D programme as part of a roadmap to support delivery of a HTGR demonstrator.


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  • NIRAB II (2018-2020)
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    The UK Civil Nuclear R&D Landscape Survey, March 2020

    This document presents the results of a survey of the UK civil nuclear R&D landscape in the 2018/19 financial year. It is an update to the landscape review published by Government in 2017. It provides information on the Government policy landscape, funding sources, magnitude, location and focus of research and development being undertaken in the UK and the level of experience of the R&D community currently engaged in civil nuclear research.

    The survey results show that:

    - Overall it is estimated that there has been an underlying 3% increase in the number of researchers engaged in civil nuclear research in the UK compared to 2015/16.

    - The figure for total funding for 2018/19 was around £331million. This represents an increase of around 39% relative to 2015/16. This increase in funding is distributed across public, private and overseas sources.

    - Funding for research into advanced nuclear fission technologies remains low; this was also a key conclusion in both the 2017 and 2013 surveys.

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    NIRAB Annual Report 2020 - Achieving Net Zero: The role of Nuclear Energy in Decarbonisation

    Maximising nuclear’s contribution to Net Zero will not only require the major deployment of further large scale nuclear, capitalising on repeated designs, but also stations that are smaller than those Gigawatt scale units currently preparing for construction and advanced reactors which can contribute to meeting the needs for heat and hydrogen as well as electricity.

    NIRAB publishes its work from 2019/20 with a series of recommendations for Government regarding research and development to support implementation of nuclear energy options.

    This report provides a summary of the activity of NIRAB since April 2018. It reflects the progress made by NIRAB in formulating advice to Government on the future role of new nuclear energy as a means to achieve net zero by 2050 and in doing so create positive economic impact and jobs. A number of recommendations for action are made.

    NIRAB is convinced that new cost-competitive nuclear power must make a significant contribution to meeting the increased demand for low-carbon electricity. It would be prudent to plan for nuclear energy to provide at least half of the firm low carbon electricity not provided by renewables. NIRAB is also convinced that nuclear power has the potential to contribute to the decarbonisation of other energy vectors, playing an increased role in a connected future clean energy system. Further work is required to quantify how nuclear can best support cogeneration; to use a high temperature process to generate hydrogen or synthetic fuels, together with the ability to switch over to delivery of mid-merit electricity, when required.

    NIRAB proposes that three streams of nuclear product development and deployment should be progressed to supply the energy needs of the population and support economic prosperity without impacting on climate change or air quality:

    - Large scale Light Water Reactors (LWR), which are currently available and suitable for baseload electricity
    generation;

    - Small Modular Reactors (SMR), which are based on the same proven technology and can offer additional flexibility
    to meet local energy needs;

    - Advanced Modular Reactors (AMR), which typically have a higher temperature output, consequently enabling
    them to contribute to decarbonisation through heat and hydrogen production, as well as generate electricity at
    competitive costs.

    NIRAB believes it is time to move forward towards demonstration of both Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Modular Reactor systems with appropriate underpinning R&D programmes to support the decarbonisation of the UK economy. NIRAB makes 6 recommendations to Government to enable this to be achieved.

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    NIRAB Working Group Overview, October 2018

    This document provides an overview of the six NIRAB working groups currently operating. It gives an outline of the structure of the groups required to address NIRAB’s initial six priority topics and brings together the terms of reference for the corresponding six working groups of NIRAB, along with their membership.

    The six working groups are:

    - Working group 1 - What does success look like?

    - Working group 2 - Facility Needs

    - Working group 3 - Nuclear Innovation Programme

    - Working group 4 - International Strategy

    - Working group 5 - Innovation to Enable Cost Reduction

    - Working group 6 - Industry Pull

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  • NIRAB I (2014-2016)
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    The UK Civil Nuclear R&D Landscape Survey, February 2017

    This document presents the results of a survey of the UK civil nuclear R&D landscape in the 2015/16 financial year. It is an update to the landscape review published by Government in 2013. It provides information on the Government policy landscape, funding sources, magnitude, location and focus of research and development being undertaken in the UK and the level of experience of the R&D community currently engaged in civil nuclear research.

    The survey results show that:

    - Public sector funding for civil nuclear R&D in 2015/16 was lower than the level reported in 2013

    - There has been a 19% increase in the number of researchers engaged in civil nuclear research in the UK compared to the 2013 review data

    - The number of people working on research into advanced reactor systems and fuel fabrication remains very low.

    Open Document
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    UK Nuclear Innovation and Research Programme Recommendations, March 2016  

    This document sets out nuclear innovation and research recommendations that have been developed by the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB). The recommendations have been closely aligned to the needs of the UK nuclear industry, academia and national laboratories to promote economic growth, skills development and scientific excellence. The programme is also designed to harmonise with on-going programmes to deliver the UK decommissioning objectives.

    Open Document
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    Prioritisation of UK Nuclear Innovation and Research Programme Recommendations, November 2016

    This report outlines the principles agreed by NIRAB in order to prioritise its 2015 programme recommendations to match a range of possible Government funding scenarios. The resulting prioritised five year programme options have been recommended to Ministers for consideration as Government develops its new Nuclear Innovation Programme.

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    The Current Landscape for Publicly Funded Civil Nuclear R&D, August 2015

    This document presents a summary of the level of publicly funded nuclear fission research in 2014/15. It also presents a summary of the arrangements for the management of research within the NDA estate, which currently dominates the public nuclear R&D funding landscape.

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