Visiting policy expert to focus on small modular reactors

Professor Jeremy Rayner of the University of Saskatchewan has joined The University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute for four months, from January until April 2022, as a visiting Research Fellow. 

He is Director of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan, and a leading international figure in nuclear policy research. His work focuses on theories of the policy process, particularly policy learning and policy change, as well as policy analysis, governance, and resource, energy and environmental policy. 

Professor Rayner's visit will renew and extend an existing research relationship between the Dalton Nuclear Institute and the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, set out in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two institutions in 2015. 

During his visit, Professor Rayner will undertake research on the policy environment for the development and deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the UK as part of a larger comparative study. 

Professor Rayner explains: "My project involves a comparison of how Canada and the UK are managing the development and deployment of SMRs, focusing on the mix of policies in place to support development and on public understanding of SMR technologies. 

"As the pandemic has once again reminded us, innovation, however brilliant it may seem to scientists and engineers, will often encounter significant public resistance that threatens the achievement of crucial policy goals. This should hardly come as a surprise but, once again, we seem to have been blindsided by the social dimensions of innovation. 

"SMRs are currently presented to the public as a solution to the problem of decarbonising electricity generation, which is certainly an important goal. While policy makers seem to find this argument convincing, what about the public and, even more important, organised interests? 

"The Dalton Nuclear Institute has a distinguished history of encouraging interdisciplinary research on nuclear issues and I'm looking forward to learning about the work that is currently going on here." 

Professor Rayner has a number of students working on issues such as community level acceptance of nuclear power, nuclear issues in social media, and on nuclear policy networks in the Americas. While at Manchester, he aims to organise a workshop to facilitate researchers to come together to discuss the social dimensions of SMR deployment and make connections across countries and disciplines. 

Professor Richard Taylor, BNFL Chair in Nuclear Energy Systems at the Dalton Nuclear Institute and co-founder of The Beam, said: "I'm delighted to welcome Professor Rayner to Manchester and to the Dalton Nuclear Institute. We're lucky to have such a prominent international figure in nuclear policy research to spend time with us, and this is an ideal opportunity to strengthen existing collaborative ties between our respective organisations. 

"In addition to undertaking his independent research on the policy environment for the development and deployment of small modular reactors in the UK, Professor Rayner will be looking to organise a workshop on SMRs and nuclear policy. This is a very topical area in both countries at present and the work will be of direct and immediate relevance to both industry and government. 

"I am sure Professor Rayner's time here will not just help to further our ambition to lead on interdisciplinary research in civil nuclear, but will also add to the University's reach and credibility in this area." 

Professor Rayner's visit and research is supported by the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation. 

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