Climate News Network reports on a possible alternative to the mega-sized nuclear plants of the last century.
The nuclear industry sees the UK as a springboard for its plans to expand in the next 20 years, especially as a pioneer in the deployment of a new breed of small reactors.
Despite the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, the industry is confident that many small reactors will be built in Britain and that the country will become a showcase for the industry and an exporter of the technology. The ideal is for each town to have its own reactor.
The government-owned National Nuclear Laboratory says the industry worldwide will be worth £400 billion by 2035, and much of the development and new build will be in Britain. In a Nuclear Energy Insider poll, almost 70% of those in the nuclear industry thought this figure was realistic.
Although the UK government under a newly-appointed prime minister is still encouraging the French, Chinese, Japanese and US companies to build 10 giant new nuclear power stations of 1,000 megawatts or more, it is also running a competition to find the best small-scale reactor design and is investing £250 million in research and development of reactors of about 30 megawatts or less.
More than 80% of the nuclear industry regard this as a significant step towards making the UK a centre for this technology, but want yet more help. They want fast-track licensing for the new designs, reduced regulation, and a government-financed campaign to convince the public that small modular reactors are the future for energy.
They also ask that the “government change the public negative mindset to nuclear” and “stop putting money into unreliable renewable forms of energy”. This and the suggestion of “a level playing field between energy sources by phasing out subsidies” may amuse anti-nuclear lobbyists. They complain it is the subsidies to the nuclear industry in free state insurance, policing, research funding, and waste disposal that should be scrapped.