Thursday, June 22, 2017

Large-Scale Nuclear Power vs. Modular Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is definitely one of the most controversial methods of producing energy and although it has great green credentials there are many reservations from the public as a whole. So what can be done to improve the image of an energy that could severely slow the rate at which greenhouse gasses are being produced?

Large scale nuclear reactors have historically been the most popular form of nuclear energy as it had been funded on a massive scale. Being able to produce enough energy to outweigh the more conventional forms of energy production has been the major stumbling block other than public image. In more recent years there has also been issues of holds ups in plans to big large scale nuclear plants that are difficult to fund and a failure to keep to timescales increases costs of undertaking such big plans.

Experts now believe that using much smaller, modular power plants is a viable option in replacement for the expensive large scale reactors. Modular reactors are already used on nuclear submarines and in countries such as India and Pakistan so the technology surrounding these plants is already at a very high standard but it is a recent idea that they might be considered economically viable.

Small power reactors are plants that produce less than 300 megawatts which compared with large scale reactors that are able to produce over 1.6 gigawatts. In order to make it worthwhile you have to build a lot more modular plants to produce the same amount of energy as a large scale one so why is this becoming the preferred method of nuclear power plant building? The answers are simple.

There have been many problems with nuclear power and most issues that have arisen have been assigned to the scale of the reactors. This indication implies that smaller reactors are safer and therefore could improve the overall image of nuclear power. While image isn’t everything in the world of energy suppliers it would make it much easier for nuclear power plants to get planning permission if there was less opposition.

Clearly image isn’t the only important factor with nuclear power plants. Modular power plants are much smaller than the pictures most of us think of when imagining a nuclear power plants. They can be completed much easier and faster and run a lot less risk of overrunning in terms of timescale. This is important as it reduces costs but also means the plant can be producing energy much sooner while they proceed onto the next plant.

It is possible to build these much smaller plants in a factory and should the demand for these types of power plants be high enough it would significantly reduce costs. Comparing modular power plants to larger scale plants indicates there is a clear decision to be made about the future and that is to transfer over to modular power plants.

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