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Are ‘small’ nuclear reactors the holy grail that we were promised?

In this week’s gossage, we explore the much-hyped ‘small’ nuclear reactors and why this technology has yet to actually deliver on its promise. 

It is reported that Downing Street is supporting plans for a £2.2 billion (minimum) subsidy to ‘small’ nuclear reactors. A complete misnomer, as the prototype is the same size as all the earlier large nuclear power stations.  

Despite much hype, these ‘small’ nukes as yet exist nowhere in the world. Even were the prototype to become a reality, the real problem will be ever finding sites where these unicorns might be installed. 

Anticipated local hostility is why the existing new nuclear programme – published 14 years ago – is, without exception, planned for existing sites with old nuclear reactors. After all, the government has still failed to identify a site for the safe storage of nuclear waste, let alone for new reactors. 

Before Dominic Cummings throws billions of public money at ‘small’ nuclear reactors, might I suggest that the government produces a White Paper setting out the potential sites awaiting these ‘small’ reactors? Once that happens, I doubt there will be any majority in Parliament for proceeding with such White Elephants. 

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