Companies Look Abroad and to Small Nuclear Reactors as U.S. Work Slows
Don’t tell Bill Gates, Fluor Corp. or China that nuclear power is on the wane. And certainly don’t mention the trend to the companies that are developing more than 90 advanced nuclear technologies or the 15 countries building 60 reactors.
While economic, construction, engineering and regulatory factors make it unlikely that—for years, if ever again—another large nuclear plant will be built in the U.S., several companies are spending millions of dollars to develop different nuclear technologies and small modular designs that may prove to be cheaper, easier to build and more flexible in their capacity.
And the factors that make big nuclear difficult in the U.S., like cheap domestic natural gas, aren’t hampering new builds in China, Korea, India and elsewhere.
“Internationally, in 2016, slightly under 10 GW of new generation was brought on line, the newest generation since the 1980s,” says Matt Lee, director of nuclear operating-plant projects for Black & Veatch. “New nuclear is not dead. It is actually growing.”