This VOX article discusses an article published in PNAS: US nuclear power: The vanishing low-carbon wedge. The scientist analyze the current large light water reactors in the States, and confirmed that no new reactors will be build in the near decades: too complex, too expensive. Newer generations of nuclear plants are not being build for the same reasons as they haven’t been build in the past: too complex, too expensive and not known enough. If then looks at a new development: light water Small Modular Reactors. It has a surprising conclusion:
“We have systematically investigated how a domestic market could develop to support that industry over the next several decades and, in the absence of a dramatic change in the policy environment, have been unable to make a convincing case.”
And this comes from the authors that were quite optimistic about SMR’s only five years earlier.
This should worry us. If the US will replace a dying nuclear industry with natural gas, we’ll have a problem. Even if it’s being replaced with renewables + natural gas, we’ll have a problem. We either need a good nuclear industry, or we’ll need to invest massively in storage and smart grids.