NATO ENERGY SECURITY Center of Excellence

Is small really beautiful? The future role of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in the military

NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence is pleased to present an article “Is small really beautiful? The future role of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in the military” written by Centre’s expert Mr. Lukas Trakimavičius.

This study draws attention to the future role of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in the military activities. Although oil and its products used to play a major role in military by powering the engines of ships, planes, and vehicles, in recent years there has been a slow but steady shift from fossil fuels. Mostly because of climate crisis and unstable politics, many Wester militaries are turning to more sustainable and safe solutions for powering the facilities.

As this study implies, Small Modular Reactors could become a promising technology to power the militaries quite well. They could not only contribute to military operations by increasing energy security, reduce the military’s dependence on fossil fuels, but also help cut greenhouse gas emissions. However, it is important to remember that nuclear energy is a controversial topic and SMRs itself poses some serious risks. If SMRs would be started using in the military, things could become more complicated.

The author of the article suggests that the benefit of SMRs could only be seen if some serious questions that SMRs pose would be solved by political and military leaders. It would only be reasonable to develop SMRs if militaries would actually intend to use them. After that, if the leaders would become convinced that there was a need to deploy SMRs, both the militaries and the SMR developers would have to carefully think about other, less high-brow matters. And only if these matters are well dealt with, it would make sense to invest in military SMRs. Contrarily, the risk of this technology becoming a liability is very real.

Link to the article: https://www.enseccoe.org/data/public/uploads/2020/11/02.-solo-article-lukas-smr-eh-15-web-version-final.pdf