U.S. utilities are looking to miniature nuclear reactors, as they seek a steady energy source that can help reduce the carbon emissions linked to climate change. While power companies have stopped building big nuclear reactors because of cost overruns and construction delays, not all utilities are giving up on nuclear power. Several U.S. utilities and power consortia—including Energy Northwest, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, and PacifiCorp, part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. —have entered into partnerships with manufacturers to build small modular reactors, or SMRs, attracted to their potential to produce carbon-free, 24-houra-day power. However, SMR makers are still years away from proving that the technology can live up to its promise. None of the designs being tested across the country have fully made it past the U.S. regulatory review process, and the first miniature reactors likely won’t start delivering power to customers until the end of the decade, at the earliest. Opponents question whether the shrunken nuclear reactors can shed the issues that have plagued the now aging fleet of full-size plants, such as costly development times, nuclear waste management and safety concerns.
Wall St Journal 2nd Aug 2021 read more »