Small modular reactors probably the future of nuclear

The clear trend in recent decades towards higher electricity consumption inevitably leads to the question of how this is to be ensured in the future. By abandoning nuclear energy and shutting down its last remaining nuclear power plants, Germany has embarked on a special path.

It relies on a lot of flutter power, i.e. a power supply that is mainly based on wind and solar energy and therefore cannot produce a single kilowatt hour when there is no wind or at night. The gaps are to be filled by conventional power plants that run on gas.

However, Germany is relatively alone in pursuing this path. No other major industrialized country is following the same path and smaller countries such as Sweden, which once wanted to go down this route, have since done a U-turn and gone back to nuclear power.

The German special path stands above all for high costs

The main problem with Germany’s special approach is the high cost, because where other countries only need one power plant and operate it around the clock, Germany needs two power plants, the wind turbines and solar plants and, if these fail, the gas-fired power plants as a reserve.

However, maintaining and servicing two power plants and being able to connect them to the grid at any time is significantly more expensive than operating just one. It is therefore to be expected that the electricity generated in Germany will be more expensive than the electricity generated in other countries for years to come.

This also makes it clear why many countries, above all the emerging and developing countries that want to build up their industry first, are not going down this expensive special path, but are consistently opting for other solutions.

Small modular reactors probably the future of nuclear

These solutions require two important aspects in particular: electricity must be cheap and it must be available at all times – a matter of course for an industrialized country – and not just when nature is kind to us.

Interestingly, this is where nuclear power can score points because, as a comparison of German and French electricity prices shows, the electricity it generates is inexpensive. The German media repeatedly emphasize how expensive nuclear power is because the problem of final storage has not been solved.

On the other hand, one advantage of modern nuclear technology in Germany is usually not mentioned. This is because the nuclear power plants of the future will probably not be the large reactors that we still use today, but small modular reactors, known as SMRs. They represent nothing other than a paradigm shift in nuclear energy.

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