SMRs – Why Not Now? Then When?

I have shamelessly borrowed the title of one of the talks given during the first day of the Nuclear Energy Insider 4th Annual Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Conference as being representative of both the rest of the agenda and the conversations that I had in the hallways during the breaks.

For the past five years, a relatively small band of stalwarts has been gathering several times per year to talk about their progress in creating a new and improved energy option for the United States. Though nuclear fission has been in commercial use since 1957, the operative design philosophy has been that the way to improve its economics was to build bigger and bigger units in order to take advantage of the “economy of scale.”

SMR proponents believe there is a different way to achieve scale economies. They are investigating several different design philosophies that revolve around finding the right combination of output, physical size, locational flexibility, approval challenges, manufacturability, and construction schedule to attract a sufficient number of timely orders to enable economy of series production. Scale is important, but it’s the size of the overall enterprise, not the size of individual units that will matter.

Over time, the nascent SMR industry has also learned that they need to address a number of additional issues in order to achieve their challenging goal of enabling a useful and economically competitive new energy option based on the known technical advantages — specifically a virtually unlimited resource base of low-cost, emission-free fuel — of using atomic fission as the basic energy source.
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SUNY Maritime Student Advocates Commercial Nuclear Ship Propulsion

Stimulated by early atomic optimism, naval successes and Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace initiative, four nations built ocean going ships with nuclear propulsion plants. The US built the NS Savannah, Germany built the Otto Hahn, Japan built the Mutsu, and Russia built a series of nuclear powered icebreakers. For reasons that are beyond the scope of […]

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Energy versus Power – Energy delivered rapidly equals power

A BusinessWeek article titled Putin $14 Billion Nuclear Deal Wins Over Russia Critic Orban recognizes the importance of recent Russian power deals to supply gas, oil, and nuclear energy facilities. There is widespread confusion about energy versus power. Conversations about the business of selling hydrocarbons or electricity are described as being about energy, but the […]

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Professional antinuclear greens resist; greens concerned about climate change embrace

Fissures related to nuclear energy are developing in the monolithic movement known as Environmentalism. The Breakthrough Institute has published a good introduction to the schism titled The Great Green Meltdown: How Economic Arguments Against Nuclear Highlight Environmentalist Delusions. Though this is a simplification, it is generally accurate to describe two sides of the movement that […]

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Greg Jaczko claims nuclear is too expensive and that unreliables will take its place

The above clip is titled Nuclear power for the future. It describes the industry leading example of the construction project at Plant Vogtle in northeastern Georgia and it includes some opining on America’s energy future by Greg Jaczko the former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The video correctly points to the fact that […]

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I want a nuclear plant in my backyard. So do some of my neighbors

  Watch more video from the CNN channel on Frequency   Though I sometimes suffer from the blues, I am not crazy — I swear. Even though I am just a guy who often blogs in my PJs, I’m also pretty sure that I am not a nobody. In fact, none of us are nobodies, […]

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Open letter to Ralph Nader from Timothy Maloney – Atomic energy is much better than you think

By Timothy Maloney, PhD Editor’s note: Timothy Maloney has written a number of text books about electrical circuits, electricity, and industrial electronics. The below is a copy of a letter that he wrote to Ralph Nader in response to an opinion piece published by CounterPunch under the headline Why Atomic Energy Stinks Worse Than You […]

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Oil Road and Carbon Democracy – Actinides could disrupt corrupt establishment

The October 8, 2013 episode of Democracy Now! featured a fascinating conversation with James Marriott, Anna Galkina, and Timothy Mitchell. The three guests shared a passion of mine; they have obviously invested a great deal of time investigating the way that oil and gas dependence influence power politics, economics and the condition of our environment. […]

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Are natural gas companies purposely overproducing to build market share and deter competition?

John Horgan and I had another conversation on Bloggingheads.tv about nuclear energy. He asked a lot of good questions; I hope that you find my responses worth considering. In the above embedded video segment, we talked about the causes of low natural gas prices in the US. I explained how I believe that the situation […]

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Arnie Gundersen does not like nuclear plants that provide several hundred high paying jobs

In an interview that shows what kind of “nuclear industry executive” he was, Arnie Gundersen explains to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! that even though nuclear fuel costs are far lower than fuel costs for gas or coal plants, the need to employ hundreds of trained, dedicated professionals is a severe disadvantage. He was the […]

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Atomic Show #206 – Energy Education

We spent a lot of time on this show talking about energy-related education. It is important for people to have a better understanding of how they get energy, how humans use energy to enable better living, and how difficult life can be when there is no reliable, convenient source of delivered energy. We tipped our […]

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Cooper’s criticism may awaken nuclear competitive spirit

Dr. Mark Cooper is strongly opposed to the use of nuclear energy, but on July 18, 2013, he issued a report sponsored by the Vermont Law School titled Renaissance in Reverse: Competition Pushes Aging U.S. Nuclear Reactors to the Brink of Economic Abandonment that may inadvertently spur action to create a more competitive industry. If […]

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