Apr 28, 2012

Will The Stars Align for Small Nuclear Reactors? @MattWaldNYT

A company that wants to build a new kind of nuclear reactor, one small enough that it could be delivered by truck, has found a potential customer.

A rendering of the Westinghouse small modular reactor.WestinghouseA rendering of the Westinghouse small modular reactor.

The Westinghouse Electric Company has lined up Ameren, a St. Louis-based electric company, as a partner for its small modular reactor project. Getting a strong indication of commercial interest is critical because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can review only a few of the many proposed reactor designs and gives priority in the licensing process to those with a stronger chance of getting built.

Some utility analysts have argued that small reactors would be good “drop-in replacements” for 1950s and 1960s-era coal plants that are now being retired, given that that their generating capacity would be about the same. But Ameren is looking at its Callaway nuclear plant near Fulton, Mo.,where it runs one reactor and had hoped to build a second full-size one.

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