Bookmark and Share

Democratization of Nuclear Energy – Miniature Nuclear Plants much closer to reality

1 Comment

Large nuclear power plants require a long time to build with delays due to permitting,environment clearances,financing etc. This can lead to project risk and cost escalations which may make a nuclear plant too expensive when it finally gets built. On top of these problems the “3 mile” and “Chernobyl” disasters have made nuclear power plants a NIMBY for a lot of the developed countries. However due to the massive demand in energy from the developing countries , a number of new power plants are getting built in China and India.However the pace is too slow for the increase in demand

The advent of mini nuclear plants from 10 MW to 50 MW could dramatically change the situation.With non on the large project problems , massive number of mini nuclear plants could generate power without any emissions just like solar panels.Both large companies like Toshiba,Areva and startups like Microsoft promoted Terra Power and Hyperion are working to make advances in this direction.However before we see nuclear in your basement , there are still lots of issues to be sorted out .These range from safety risks due to terrorists and accidents to problems of disposal of waste.

Miniature Nuclear Plants Set to Seek Approval for Work in U.S – Bloomberg

John Deal, chief executive officer of Hyperion Power Generation Inc., intends to apply for a license “within a year” for plants that would power a small factory or town too remote for traditional utility grid connections.

The Santa Fe, New Mexico-based company and Japan’s Toshiba Corp. are vying for a head start over reactor makers General Electric Co. and Areva SA in downsizing nuclear technology and aim to submit license applications in the next year to U.S. regulators. They’re seeking to tap a market that has generated about $135 billion in pending orders for large nuclear plants.

“A 25-megawatt plant would put electricity into 20,000 homes, and it would fit inside this room,” James Kohlhaas, vice president at a Lockheed Martin Corp. unit that builds power systems for remote military bases, said in an interview. “It’s a pretty elegant micro-grid solution.”

Certifying and building small reactors will require the same multi-year licensing procedure necessary for bigger plants. And since no small-scale systems are operating, there’s no track record to know how well they will work.

‘Pandora’s Box’

“Whether it’s a small or large reactor, the hoops you have to jump through are the same,” said Hans-Holger Rogner, head of economic planning at the International Atomic Energy Agency. “You open up a Pandora’s Box of intervention from society every time you try to build any kind of nuclear plant.”

So far, no manufacturer has sought certification for any small reactor, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Formal approvals would probably take three to five years, the same as for bigger reactors, said Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the commission.

Small reactors have been used in U.S. submarines since the USS Nautilus was commissioned in 1954. Russia’s Rosatom Corp. is using its experience on submarines and icebreakers to develop atomic plants for floating barges.

Hyperion’s technology was invented at the U.S. government’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Six other reactor designs are in information-sharing stages, including ones from NuScale Power Inc., Toshiba and its Westinghouse unit.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

One Response so far | Have Your Say!