Source: The Daily Caller | Andrew Follett | October 3, 2016
Advanced, unconventional nuclear reactors could shake up the industry as soon as 2030, according to a new reports by leading scientists.
If the government promoted advanced nuclear technology and streamlined the permitting process, such reactors could become operational in the next 15 years, according to Britain’s government-backed Energy Technologies Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The report found that the biggest hindrance to unconventional reactors is bureaucratic delays in government approval processes and the public’s fear of nuclear power.
“Like any other nuclear power technology, this one is potentially compelling because the world desperately needs carbon-free sources of non-intermittent power,” the MIT Technology Review report states. “But fears about the safety of nuclear plants have made them so costly as to discourage investors.”
Even if the U.K. government gets on board, the country’s unconventional reactors will still lag behind America, according to MIT.
In May, the federal Tennessee Valley Authority applied for a permit to build the first U.S. unconventional reactor. Power companies in Idaho and Utah announced plans in June to build small modular reactors to provide electricity to nine western states.
If approved immediately, these facilities could potentially be operational in the late 2020s. However, the bureaucratic U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) does not yet have a regulatory framework in place to approve unconventional nuclear reactors.
Small reactor designs can generate 50 megawatts of energy and the plan is to build six to 12 of them. Some of the largest of these unconventional smaller reactors are intended to generate 450 megawatts of electricity. America’s largest conventional nuclear power plant generates about 3,937 megawatts.