Energy buffs give small modular reactors a gigantic reality check

When the industry lost faith in the gargantuan costs of building big reactors, some of them seized on the possibility of rolling out batches of small modular reactors (SMRs), despite never having come to grips with reverse economies of scale. Predictably, it’s been a complete disaster, and so now the industry is desperately backtracking and shopping around the idea of returning to huge plants. This piece in The Register is a nice summary of how the industry faceplanted.

Miniature nuclear reactors promise a future filled with local, clean, safe zero-carbon energy, but those promises quickly melt when confronted with reality, say a pair of researchers.

Known as small modular reactors, or SMRs, miniaturized atomic power plants have been touted as a way to ensure the world meets climate change mitigation goals as fossil fuels are phased out in favor of renewables and nuclear sources.

With a few SMR projects built and operational at this point, and more plants under development, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) concludes in a report that SMRs are “still too expensive, too slow to build, and too risky to play a significant role in transitioning away from fossil fuels.”


Head over to The Register for the full article.