After Fukushima, US Seeks to Advance Small Nuclear Reactors
Two years ago, some thought that the nuclear energy had been leveled. But the industry today is picking up steam by getting construction licenses to build four new units and by getting government funding to develop smaller nuclear reactors that are less expensive and which may be less problematic when it comes to winning regulatory approval.
The creators of those roughly 100-megawatt electric modules want to sell their products first in this country before they would market them overseas to lesser-developed nations that don’t have a huge transmission infrastructure. They would be factory-built before being shipped and fueled to where the energy is needed. To the extent that more electric generation is required, no problem: Just lay the small-scale modules next to each other, making the financial outlays more manageable.
“Restarting the nation’s nuclear industry and advancing small modular reactor technologies will help create new jobs and export opportunities for American workers and businesses, and ensure we continue to take an all-of-the-above approach to American energy production,” says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
To that end, the Obama administration is partnering with Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel to develop those smaller nuclear reactors for the federally-owned utility Tennessee Valley Authority. The Department of Energy is expected to invest about $450 million in the project, which equates to roughly half of the overall cost. Industry will pony up the other half.
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