This story was originally published by Yale Environment 360 and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Huge computer screens line a dark, windowless control room in Corvallis, Oregon, where engineers at the company NuScale Power hope to define the next wave of nuclear energy. Glowing icons fill the screens, representing the power output of 12 miniature nuclear reactors. Together, these small modular reactors would generate about the same amount of power as one of the conventional nuclear plants that currently dot the United States — producing enough electricity to power 540,000 homes. On the glowing screens, a palm tree indicates which of the dozen units is on “island mode,” allowing a single reactor to run disconnected from the grid in case of an emergency.
This control room is just a mock-up, and the reactors depicted on the computer screens do not, in fact, exist. Yet NuScale has invested more than $900 million in the development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology, which the company says represents the next generation of nuclear power plants. NuScale is working on a full-scale prototype and says it is on track to break ground on its... Read more