NuScale wants to build a nuclear plant that will be smaller than your traditional power plant, simpler and smarter. The actual concept is genius when you think about how the entire complex will work.
Russia have also announced the arrival of their fascinating floating nuclear plant that just arrive from a long journey through the arctic. Let’s take one at a time.
A smaller, safer, smarter power plant
NuScale plan on using small modular reactors – smaller nuclear fission reactors that allow for less on-site construction, have increased containment efficiency and heightened nuclear materials security – that could work well with solar and wind energies by providing back up electricity when there’s no wind blowing or the sun shining.
Most nuclear reactors are at risk of closing down because they cannot compete with less expensive natural gas and renewable energy.
NuScale co-founder Jose Reyes says,
Instead of building one big nuclear reactor, we will build a series of 12 smaller reactors, which will be built in a factory and transported to the site of development which will be prepared simultaneously.
After the disaster in Fukushima back in 2011, where a tsunami knocked offline the emergency generators and let the power plant to a reactor meltdown, the NuScale team have taken extra security measures to reassure such thing never happens again.
Their new design does not depend on generators and pumps that could potentially fail in an emergency. NuScale’s power plant will use passive cooling, where the reactors would be in an underground containment vessel in a pool of water that absorbs heat. So if the reactor would fail it would still be safe.
But even though the NuScale team believes their power plant is safe, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not convinced. Licensing this new design will prove to be challenging even though it has passed the first review phase.
Edwin Lyman, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, feels that things could go wrong even with passive safety design. He will be among regulators, watchdogs and critics watching this power plant as it draws close to its final operation in 2026.
Floating Nuclear Power Plant
Russia’s Rosatom has developed its first floating nuclear plant called the “Akademik Lomonosov” and only recently it docked at its permanent base near the Bering Strait. It initially docked out of Alaska on August 23rd, 2019 to journey 5,000km through arctic waters to reach its destination.
Rosatom was aiming at making the floating power station operational by the end of 2019. According to sources it would supply more than 50,000 people with electricity in the region of Chukotka and replace the already existing ageing coal-fired plant in the area.
The “Akademik Lomonosov” with its small mobile capacity units, is specially designed to suit the needs of this remote part of the world and will support in helping the environment by reducing carbon emissions that are causing global warming.
The floating power plant is designed to supply electricity to areas that are hard to reach across Russia and will operate non-stop without refuelling for at least 3 years.