Policy Studies Clean Energy

Planting the Seeds of a Distributed Nuclear Revolution

by William Murray AND Josiah Neeley AND Jessica Lovering, Energy Director at the Breakthrough Institute AND Spencer Nelson, Policy Associate at ClearPath AND Ted Nordhaus, Founder and Executive Director of the Breakthrough Institute
Sept 28, 2018

Key Points

Harness America’s unrivaled innovation system and entrepreneurial business culture to develop small nuclear reactors (microreactors) that can compete with any other fuel sources.
Recommendations include alternative licensing pathway for very small reactors, the increased use of federal power purchase agreements, and funding for a fast-test reactor.

Reestablishing an economically competitive domestic nuclear industry in the United States will require a different path, one that is responsive to current economic, political, and institutional realities and can leverage America’s comparative advantage: our unrivaled in- novation system and entrepreneurial business culture. Small and microreactors offer just such a possibility — relying upon economies of multiples rather than economies of scale and allowing standardization without the implicit nationalization of the US power sector that any strategy for learning through standardization of large reactors would require.

Featured Publications