According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nuclear power has reliably and economically contributed almost 20% of electrical generation in the United States over the past two decades, and remains the single largest contributor (more than 70%) of non-greenhouse-gas-emitting electric power generation in the United States.
In order to deploy this type of power, a variety of key technologies are necessary. Small modular reactors (SMRs) are best suited to small electric grids and locations that cannot support large reactors, and can serve as a “plug and play” option, which reduces capital costs and construction times. They also offer utilities the flexibility to scale production as demand changes. Currently, the most common reactors in the United States are the Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) and Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR), both variants of the Light Water Reactor (LWR). The large majority of operating LWRs are PWRs – the primary difference is the combination of pressure and the temperature of the coolant, which enables major design differences between the two types of reactors. Advanced Reactor Technologies are being explored by DOE, including the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) to demonstrate the technical viability of high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) technology and the Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC) program supporting research for advanced reactor subsystems addressing long-term technical barriers for the development of advanced nuclear fission energy systems utilizing coolants such as liquid metal, fluoride salt, or gas. Continue reading “Market Snapshot: Nuclear Energy”