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Mini-Reactors Are Gaining Traction in the Push for Greener Grids

The new designs would be easier to build than traditional plants but may still not be cheaper than wind and solar.

A rendering of Oklo Inc.’s Aurora power plant. 

A rendering of Oklo Inc.’s Aurora power plant. 

Source: Gensler via Business Wire

Updated on

The nuclear industry has been stalled for years now, struggling to compete with cheaper forms of power and viewed as suspect ever since the accidents at Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Only two reactors are being built in the U.S., in Georgia, and they are years behind schedule and weighed down by cost overruns and political opposition.

But now there’s a race to take nuclear power in a radically different direction in a bid to revive the industry. Companies around the world, including NuScale Power LLC in the U.S., China National Nuclear Corp. and Russia’s Rosatom, are developing a new generation of reactors, with some designs that will be more than 90% smaller than the hulking facilities that have dominated the industry for decades. One model can even fit into a single-family house.