The Green Movement frequently fights against establishing nuclear plants as a viable energy source, but in a recent report by NPR, the U.S. government is investing $400 million in mini-reactors:
The entire reactor — the core, the cooling system, everything — is self-contained in this rocket-shaped steel cylinder. The industry says that makes it safer. And the reactors will be small enough to build in a factory and ship on trucks, like prefabricated houses. They'll generate about one-tenth the power of a typical nuclear power plant.
Assistant Energy Secretary Pete Lyons sees promise that goes beyond a new energy gadget. He sees jobs. "One of the features of these small reactors is that they can be entirely manufactured here in the United States," Lyons said. "They can literally be made in the USA. With the large plants, that's simply physically impossible."
Lyons pictures churning reactors out in factories, shipping them to utilities to replace aging coal plants or selling them to developing countries — which can't afford a full-scale $15 billion nuclear plant.
Nuclear energy continues to be discarded as a dangerous, wasteful alternative to oil, despite well-documented studies that show nuclear energy to be non-hazardous. The same cannot be said for wind energy, which contributes to the deaths of over 30,000 birds per year.
That hasn’t prevented green lobbies from protesting, campaigning, and manipulating past reactor issues to paint nuclear power as an unstable, threatening energy source. The U.S. investment in mini-reactors is a sign that the public perception is changing. People are becoming more informed about going nuclear and realizing that the environmental impact is practically nonexistent.
These new reactors have a genuine potential to stimulate job growth, and at the very least provide an affordable, clean energy source that won't require billions of stimulus subsidies.