Just a little idea, literally. Rather than building massive nuclear reactors to provide power for everyone why not build lots of little ones?

The argument for big reactors is that of economies of scale but there size comes with significant dangers, namely if it goes critical then it can do an awful lot of damage. Roughly speaking if you build a single reactor that can power a small country then it may be capable of taking out a significant portion of that country if it goes POP.

So, what about smaller reactors. Well if you build a reactor small enough then you ought to be able to enclose it in a protective shell that is strong enough to contain a melt down. If the reactor does go pop then all you end up with is a warm lump of reinforced concrete. You can also install the reactor deep underground, maybe even design it to be disposable so when it is spent you just leave it in place and install a new one. Burying them underground also means you don’t need to worry so much about anyone trying to damage it, perhaps by flying an airliner into it.

Now you would need lots of these reactors to power a whole country so the best approach would be to distribute them across the country. You can also hopefully reduce the percentage of energy lost during transmission – piping electricity across the whole country from one location can mean you loose lots of energy due to the resistance of the power lines. A distributed system like this also helps with failures as neighboring generators can take over when one fails or needs to be take off line.

Good idea? Maybe, but then I’m not really an expert of the energy industry.

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