Can Small Reactors Ignite a Nuclear Renaissance?


Even once the final design is approved by the NRC, costs could prove higher than expected once the plants are actually built. “Part of the problem when you start in on these things, especially with a new technology, is that all the news after you begin is bad,” says Michael Golay, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. “Things never behave in an optimized fashion.”

Small reactors have some benefits, but they won’t make nuclear as cheap as natural gas.

Small, modular nuclear reactor designs could be relatively cheap to build and safe to operate, and there’s plenty of corporate and government momentum behind a push to develop and license them. But will they be able to offer power cheap enough to compete with natural gas? And will they really help revive the moribund nuclear industry in the United States?

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