Impact on the progress of GFR development in Europe and on EU competitiveness
The results of the SafeG project will represent a major contribution to the success of the ALLEGRO project plans. The project presents significant contribution to improvement of innovation capacity of all participating teams and to EU generally in two main areas. The first and more generic one is the capacity for the development of advanced technologies. GFR, with the design at the Generation-IV level, brings forward new and demanding challenges such as specific cooling media, new types of fuel, significantly innovated reactor design, much higher safety requirements, high-temperature resistant materials and many others. Coping with them will require a boost in both research and innovation. The scope of phenomena and complexity of the problem is nevertheless outside possibilities (both human and material resources) of a single company or single EU country. Solving such demanding task is possible only with unified effort and support of the EU. Within this impact area, the SafeG project will present both political and financial contribution of the EU to the effort of V4G4 CoE towards the development of the ALLGERO GFR demonstrator. This will result in generic increase of the EU role in top world technological progress and in preservation of the EU capability to participate in development and innovation of complex technologies.
Environmental and societal impacts
The SafeG project focuses on introduction of the GFR technology as a commercial, industrial source of both electricity and high-temperature heat for industry applications. Nuclear power technology is a sustainable, low carbon technology. It is an efficient alternative of fossil energy sources with a significant reduction of the CO2 emissions. Replacement of fossil (coal, gas) energy sources with nuclear ones will result in reduction of about 2500 kg of CO2 for every produced MWh of electricity. Moreover, GFR technology can become a source of high-potential heat for the industry. One of its promising applications is to produce hydrogen, being considered the fuel of the future, reducing even more the carbon footprint of human activities. ALLEGRO, as a demonstrator of Generation-IV GFR technology, will use fast neutron spectrum, which enables re-using of already available fissile and fertile materials (including depleted uranium from enrichment plants). Through the combination of a fast-neutron spectrum and full recycling of actinides, the GFR reactors will minimize production of long-lived radioactive waste isotopes, with significant positive environmental impact.
According to the FORATOM‘s “Competitiveness of Nuclear Energy” the civil nuclear industry currently supports 800,000 jobs in Europe. The retirement rate in the nuclear field in 2030 will be about 50 % and the need of replacement of the present nuclear reactors is expected to be partly covered by the advanced nuclear reactors.
Technologies developed or assessed in the SafeG project will contribute to making next generation nuclear energy safer. This improved safety demonstration will have economic benefits as it is a clear prerequisite to the commercialization of all the Generation-IV FNRs.
Fuel cycle studies show that about 60–80 times more energy can be obtained from the same mass of uranium in Fast Neutron Reactors (FNR) compared to Light Water Reactors (LWR). The increased uranium utilization will result in insensitivity to uranium cost, making uranium used in FNRs an almost inexhaustible energy source. ALLEGRO, as a demonstrator of the GFR technology, represents a necessary step for deployment of GFR technology with its high-potential heat for industrial use, more efficient use of fuel, and highly competitive prices of both electricity and industrial heat. Continuation in GFR development within EU is a strategic decision to prevent loss of knowledge and to prevent potential future expenses on restoration and intensification of the related research.