Skip to Content
Climate change

Small nuclear reactors—now with 20 percent more power!

NuScale Power announced today that its small modular nuclear reactors can generate 20 percent more power than the company initially estimated.

Big news for small nukes: The Oregon-based firm hasn’t said much about how the reactors achieved their gains—something about “advanced testing and modeling tools.” But it insists its first planned plant, slated to be built in the next few years, will reap the benefits of the upgrade.

How small is “small”? NuScale Power’s reactors are about 74 feet tall and 15 feet wide—actually a lot smaller than traditional nukes (that’s a traditional plant pictured above), but you still definitely need a crane to lift them.

Why it matters: SMRs, as they’re called, could be a BFD. NuScale’s reactors were the first new designs to reach the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s formal review process in decades. And SMRs in general promise a future in which nuclear power is cheap and easy to export around the world, without fear of weaponization (though admittedly it’s a dream that’s been long deferred). For its part, NuScale says its advance will save costs and put SMRs on a more level playing field with other energy sources.

Deep Dive

Climate change

China’s heat wave is creating havoc for electric vehicle drivers

The country is a leader in EV adoption, but extreme weather is exposing weaknesses in its charging infrastructure.

We must fundamentally rethink “net-zero” climate plans. Here are six ways.

Corporate climate plans are too often a mix of fuzzy math, flawed assumptions, and wishful thinking.

This is what’s keeping electric planes from taking off

Batteries could power planes, but weight will limit how far they fly.

The US agency in charge of developing fossil fuels has a new job: cleaning them up

The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management has a new name, new leaders, and a new mandate to meet Joe Biden’s climate goals.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.