- August 1, 2021: Vol. 14, Number 7

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Why small modular reactors will shape the future of nuclear debate

by White and Case

Small modular reactors are gaining the attention of governments and power providers across the world because of the optionality they offer. But the champions of the SMR will have to work hard to ensure its potential can be fully unlocked.

The vessel Akademik Lomonosov — named after an 18th-century Russian scientist, and anchored off Russia’s Arctic coast — is a surprising place to find the future of nuclear energy. Yet for now, the barge is home to the world’s only operating small modular reactor, a nuclear plant that produces enough electricity to power a city of about 100,000 people.

SMRs are a relatively nascent concept, but judging by the backers lining up behind it, that won’t be the case for much longer. Newly elected U.S. President Joe Biden has already signaled that they have a key role to play in the world’s biggest economy’s $2 trillion investment in clean energy, while U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said he’ll pour money into the

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