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Can a New Generation of Startups Revolutionize the Nuclear Industry?

nuclear start ups

The Energy Gang looks at the promise and pitfalls of small modular nuclear reactors.

Small modular nuclear reactors are often hailed as the savior of the struggling nuclear industry.

They’re cheaper, safer and more flexible than traditional light-water reactors. But many small modular reactor designs are also not fully proven on a commercial scale – and they’ll likely not achieve scale for another decade.

In this week’s show, we’ll talk with Leslie Dewan, the co-founder and CEO of Transatomic Power, about what it will take to make nuclear 2.0 a reality. She’ll discuss regulatory challenges, cost barriers and finding venture capitalists willing to take on the risk.

Later in the show, we’ll examine some predictions for U.S. solar made by GTM’s Shayle Kann. And we wrap up with an overview of GTM Research’s new report on how energy services are being offered in the connected home.

This podcast is sponsored by Renesola, a tier-one solar cell and module manufacturer with a decade of experience in the cleantech industry. 

The Energy Gang is produced by Greentechmedia.com. The show features weekly discussions between energy futurist Jigar Shah, energy policy expert Katherine Hamilton and Greentech Media Editor Stephen Lacey.

greentech mediaGreentech Media (GTM) produces industry-leading news, research, and conferences in the business-to-business greentech market. Our coverage areas include solar, smart grid, energy efficiency, wind, and other non-incumbent energy markets. For more information, visit: greentechmedia.com , follow us on twitter: @greentechmedia, or like us on Facebook: facebook.com/greentechmedia.

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Discussions

Josh Nilsen's picture
Josh Nilsen on Apr 8, 2015 3:57 pm GMT

The best SMR ever created is the fuel cell that powers Curiosity on Mars.

More nuclear based fuel cells please.

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 8, 2015 9:33 pm GMT

Josh, Curiosity’s power plant isn’t a fuel cell but an RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator), and was added to Mars missions after solar disappointed:

Previous Mars missions have relied on solar panels to power the rovers, but exploration was slowed down by dust build-up on the solar panels or short winters days with little sunlight.

Good thing we have no dust or short winter days on Earth, or solar might be impractical here.

Powering cars with RTGs is an idea which gets bandied about from time to time, but proliferation/terrorism are credible concerns. A cubic inch of polonium-210 could power a minivan EV for six months with no emissions at all, but it’s toxic enough to be Vladimir Putin’s weapon of choice for silencing dissent.

Paul O's picture
Paul O on Apr 9, 2015 5:47 am GMT

I listened to your webcast with Leslie Dewan, and I came away thinking what a Saint Leslie must be for not pointing out the provocations of  The Amory Lovins and Helen Caldicotts and their ilk, in doing all they can to portray Nuclear Power as Dangerous in Any Form.

I also shivered at you inclussion of Natural Gas  when you talked about the renewables. Natural Gas is CO2 producing as you well know, and the prospect of depending on it to make renewables workable seems to be a poor substitute to SMRs.

In short, my take on you Webcast was that it was nice and polite, but it pussy-footed around the resistance that some alarmists renewables fans have engendered against nuclear power.

Paxus Calta-Star's picture
Paxus Calta-Star on Apr 10, 2015 2:10 pm GMT

They’re cheaper, safer and more flexible than traditional light-water reactors. “

Perhaps they will be too cheap to meter?  Since we have no SMRs running or even in completed prototype stage, isn’t it a bit premature to say that they are cheaper than conventional reactors?  What we know about the small nuclear reactors used aboard navel vessels is that they are fantastically more expensive per kwh than even conventional reactors.  

Perhaps SMRs will be as successful as breeder reactors, or pebble bed, or thorium, or fusion.  No wait, all of those failed at tremendous tax payer or rate payer expense.  

Perhaps they will be as cheap to operate as the 5 reactors that Exelon can’t keep running without massive rate payer and tax payer subsidies. http://safeenergy.org/2015/04/02/exelon-plays-dirty/

Or perhaps, just perhaps nuclear power is an economic scam in which the industrial countries have pushed the costs (insurance, waste, construction costs) on to their citizens so they can continue to centralize extraction based energy sources so that money stays in the hands of those who have it already, rather than distributing power generation, using harvesting technologies and having a more decentralized grid and more democratic world.

http://funologist.org/2012/12/09/small-is-ugly-the-case-against-small-mo...

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