A new kind of small reactor, long billed as the most convincing future for nuclear energy production, could be in use in the U.K. by 2030.
These devices are, as the name suggests, smaller than regular nuclear power plants, providing 300 megawatts or less of energy capacity. Because of their modest size, they’re easier to build and install than their larger counterparts, as well as being safer. In theory they can also be used to provide both heat and electricity to nearby communities.
A new report by the U.K.’s government-backed Energy Technologies Institute outlines what it considers to be a reasonable timeline for the country to adopt the new reactors, estimating that they could be in use by 2030. For that to happen, talks between operators, developers, and the government would have to begin next year.
But, as the Guardian reports, the research institute warns that it will only be possible if the British government encourages adoption of the technology. Like any other nuclear power technology, this one is potentially compelling because the world desperately needs carbon-free sources of non-intermittent power. But fears about the safety of nuclear plants have made them so costly as to discourage investors. “Creating the right environment for increasing investor confidence is critical if this schedule is to be met,” says Mike Middleton, the author of the report.
Even if that happens, the U.K. will still lag behind America. Earlier this year, the Tennessee Valley Authority applied for a permit to build the first such reactor in the United States. While the finer details of the installation are unconfirmed, if all goes as planned, the facility could be up and running by the mid-2020s.
Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever
Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.
All charges against China Initiative defendant Gang Chen have been dismissed
MIT professor Gang Chen was one of the most prominent scientists charged under the China Initiative, a Justice Department effort meant to counter economic espionage and national security threats.
Going bald? Lab-grown hair cells could be on the way
These biotech companies are reprogramming cells to treat baldness, but it’s still early days.
A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click
Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.