Small modular reactors

The next big thing in energy?

By Matthew Rooney

Small modular nuclear reactors could be a crucial technology in the drive to decarbonise our energy system, according to Small Modular Reactors: The next big thing in energy?  The increased take-up of electric vehicles, the general electrification of our energy system and the need to decarbonise all sectors of our economy mean we need new low carbon sources of electricity and heat to replace existing capacity and meet rising future demands. The diffuse and intermittent nature of solar and wind means that we cannot rely on them for 100% of our energy needs – for example, January typically sees at least one week where virtually no electricity is produced by either wind or solar compared with what is needed. Buying in electricity through interconnectors from other Western European nations will be increasingly difficult as our neighbours also turn to wind and solar and so have less capacity to export, while the battery storage capability to back up renewables could cost up to £1 trillion. We need a reliable and affordable low carbon form of energy – small modular reactors have the potential to be that technology.

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