Oklo Power recently announced that it had filed the first non-light water reactor combined license application ever submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Their 1.5 MWe fast spectrum, passively safe reactor represents a complete paradigm shift for nuclear energy.
It’s not a big, slow to build, hugely expensive project requiring complex financing structures. It’s a generator that will be built inside a power house occupying less than 5,000 square feet of space. No credible accident has been found that will cause a release of radioactive material or that will cause an increase in radiation levels outside of the confines of the power house.
In recognition of the importance of Oklo’s announced progress, Jigar Shah, the founder and president of Generate Capital and Jake DeWitt, a co-founder and the CEO of Oklo contacted me and asked to have a chat that would be an update to Atomic Show #247, published in Oct 2015.
I’ve been thinking about restarting the Atomic Show for several months; this request was just the motivation I needed to get moving.
As longtime Atomic Show listeners might remember, Jigar offered some tough love advice for the nuclear industry in terms of its need to rethink its political engagement strategy. As a leader in the renewable energy industry, Jigar has long been in favor of clean energy that includes nuclear, but he has often wondered why the nuclear industry isn’t easily identifiable and accessible when votes need to be counted to arrange supportive deals.
Jake and Caroline Cochran, Oklo’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, are often lonely voices inside of the nuclear industry when they work to explain the importance of establishing a framework that can support rapid deployment of advanced reactor projects. They are not terribly interested in science projects that produce a certified design to add to the growing inventory of options that no one is buying.
They are focused on designing, building, owning and operating a fleet of generators that can supply electricity, heat and perhaps additional products for customers that are not interested in owning or operating power plants. They know there are some enabling changes to be made and have been seeking to build alliances that can work together to enact the changes into law.
But their real focus is driving forward at the rate that private capital can sustain without waiting for the slowly moving legislative processes to catch up.
I think you will all enjoy the conversation between two aggressive clean energy business leaders.
Correction: The audio file originally posted with this podcast episode had significant quality issues. It was replaced with an improved file on March 23, 2020 at 0817 EDT.