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Exploring the social, environmental, and economic benefits of Small Modular Reactors in Communities Sandpit

January 2024

C-DICE is offering the opportunity to participate in this research sandpit, with up to £30k of funding available for postdoctoral researchers from any discipline who wish to explore the social, environmental and economic benefits of Small Modular Reactors for host communities.

This research sandpit is being hosted in partnership with Rolls Royce SMR. Rolls-Royce SMR uses established nuclear technology and know-how to offer a low cost, deliverable, global & scalable and investable solution, that can be rolled out around the world. Rolls-Royce SMR offers a radically different approach to delivering nuclear power, by drastically reducing the amount of construction activities and transforming the delivery environment, from a large complex infrastructure programme into a factory built commoditised product.

About the research topic

Small Modular Reactors are being developed to provide carbon-free energy to better manage energy demand and support the UK’s transition to net-zero.  SMRs are potentially a game changer in net zero technology, however the impact is not limited to a net zero energy solution. The changes in energy infrastructure can create a ripple of activities that benefit the environment, businesses, and society.

To unlock the potential benefits to the host region requires a proactive, purposeful and empathetic engagement agenda with host SMR communities to be developed. In addition to localised energy security, the full extent of social, environmental and economic benefits needs to be explored, through engagement with supply chains, businesses, environmentalist and other social groups that can capitalise on the new energy infrastructure.    

Research sandpit session hosted at Loughborough University in May 2023

This sandpit will focus on identifying interconnected relationships, drawing on communities that can cocreate and transform areas benefiting from this technology.  The resulting framework would also serve to address risks and concerns, supporting communities as they consider the adoption of such technologies.

The C-DICE sandpit is themed around developing multidisciplinary communities of practice with the advanced skills, capability, and mindset to explore and develop innovative approaches. The sandpit will identify the social, economic and environmental factors influencing a host community’s acceptance towards the SMR’s. From this a transparent framework, supported with strategies and tools to foster community involvement, can be developed. Such a collaborative framework may be developed through case studies and simulations, addressing strengths and weaknesses to maximise its adaptability and effectiveness. 

Potential benefits to industry from the sandpit include: 

  • Bringing together an interdisciplinary team of researchers to develop a fair, just, and effective engagement strategy for engaging with prospective host communities; 
  • Applying blue sky thinking to identify possible social, environmental and economic benefits of SMR and the potential to further develop net zero technologies;   
  • Exploring how public engagement needs could be formalised and feed back to policymakers 
  • Supporting postdoctoral researchers, with real world engagement opportunities and case studies to enhance their development. 

Sandpit Session Dates

Sessions and mode of deliveryDateTime
Session 1 (in person, at Loughborough University)18 January 202410:00-17:00
Session 2 (in person, at Loughborough University)19 January 20249:00-16:15
Review group work2 February 2024TBD by your group
Pre-sandpit events for all applicants 
Writing Letters of Support Webinar30 January 202412:30-13:15
Budgeting Workshop (online,
optional but strongly recommended)
7 February 202410:00-12:00
Workshop on EDI (online,
optional but strongly recommended)
14 February 202410:00-12:00
Post sandpit session events for teams  
Funding proposal submission deadline11 March 202412:00
Presentation of proposal21 March 202410:00-11:30
(C-DICE reserves the right to make changes to the programme due to circumstance beyond its control i.e. COVID-19).

Participants are expected to attend sessions 1 and 2 in-person at Loughborough University – Loughborough campus.

Applications Closed