At the Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, a large part of Ken Darlington’s job involves convincing the public that the latest generation of nuclear technology is safe — so safe, in fact, that it can be mass produced.
The USNC-Power, as the U.S.-based company is known in Canada, is developing the smallest nuclear reactors around — designed to produce enough power to provide electricity for about 5,000 homes, or roughly five megawatts. If all goes according to Darlington’s plans, as vice president of corporate development in Canada, there could be around 100 reactors around the country in two decades.
That’s a huge jump: Canada has roughly 19 large reactors, each around 900 megawatts, at six plants. As efforts to reduce emissions gather momentum, Darlington and others are advocating for nuclear power as a less carbon-intensive alternative to fossil fuels.
But the high cost of nuclear power, as well as the catastrophic safety record, as seen in the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan as well as the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986 and others, has stopped the industry’s expansion.