(Bloomberg) — The nuclear industry has been stalled for years now, struggling to compete with cheaper forms of power and viewed as suspect ever since the accidents at Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.
Only two reactors are being built in the U.S., in Georgia, and they are years behind schedule and weighed down by cost overruns and political opposition.
But now there’s a race to take nuclear power in a radically different direction in a bid to revive the industry. Companies around the world, including NuScale Power LLC in the U.S., China National Nuclear Corp. and Russia’s Rosatom, are developing a new generation of reactors, with some designs that will be more than 90% smaller than the hulking facilities that have dominated the industry for decades. One model can even fit into a single-family house.
These power plants are designed to be faster and easier to build, and may make nuclear energy an affordable—and cleaner—option in developing nations that don’t need huge reactors. Some climate activists, while welcoming the potential of carbon-free electricity, aren’t entirely sold on the argument.
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