A Smaller, Safer Nuclear Reactor

UPDATE 1/7/14: The US Department of Energy is now partnering with NuScale to build their 100-megawatt modules in a $226 million deal.

Today's nuclear plants are big, expensive and take a long time to build. On top of that, there's safety concerns - ever since the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan after a major earthquake and tsunami, fear of a meltdown has been foremost in the public imagination. Well, what if a nuclear reactor was smaller, safer and cheaper? NuScale Power uploaded a video saying they're making it happen with their new Small Modular Reactors. They're built in a factory and shipped to the deployment site, and they're entirely self-contained. They also cost less upfront than a full plant - in fact, NuScale claims the full install cost for one of their plants will be less than just the interest on the loans necessary to get a bigger plant rolling. So what about the big safety concern? NuScale has that covered too with what they call "passive safety" systems that don't require outside batteries, operators or water (the big problems at Fukushima) to keep the reactor stable if a disaster occurs and it has to shut down. The plants aren't ready to go yet, but they could be  on the market by 2024. When we get there, and if the plants are really safer, would you be comfortable with one in your town? Join our discussion below - does this mean nuclear is looking like the most green option for our growing power needs? Want to learn more about Nuclear? Check out "Nuclear Back In The Spotlight," our roundup featuring this and more stories that tackle the nuclear issue.

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