The Future Is Nuclear 

Energy prices are rising with no sign of stopping. Economic sanctions against Russia have closed off one of the largest sources of European energy. Now begins the debate over what to do. The answer is simple, and it comes from Czechia: Small Modular Reactors.

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Earth at night was holding in hands on night city background
Teams of scientists in Czechia are working on a Czech-designed Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactor (SMR) with a stable power output of up to 300 MWe. Photo: iStock.com / Ipopba

Living in a village or a small town is like a dream. You are close to nature, you usually know your neighbors by their first name, and you can enjoy the peace majority of big cities people cannot. You can grow your food in the garden and have a steady water source from a well. Yet something is missing, breaking this idyllic picture of a self-sustainable community — an energy source.

Power plants: not so remote

It is standard worldwide that the energy sources (power plants) are in remote areas — the reason being to ensure the safety of both the power plant and the population. Well, people in ÚJV Řež (Institute of Nuclear Research Řež) near Prague are tirelessly working to solve this problem. The priority of ÚJV Řež is nuclear power engineering, nuclear research, support for the operating atomic units, and preparing new nuclear technology.

SMRs are not only safe and reliable but also environmentally friendly—no smoke, no toxic emissions, and no fossil fuel need. They do not take up that much space, so you can place them easily underground

So, what is the result of their research so far? A Czech-designed Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactor (SMR) with a stable power output of up to 300 MWe. The practical use would be straightforward. Your peaceful small town would get a Small Modular Reactor to supply the electricity for you, your neighbors, and the surrounding villages. And not just electricity, but cheap electricity and heat as a bonus. The ultimate benefit would be energy independence for the whole region.

What are Small Modular Reactors?  

The Czech Republic, of course, is not the only country experimenting with small modular nuclear reactors. For example, Poland, Romania, and Lithuania are all working towards the goal of energy security and independence. There are over 150 SMR designs all over the world. So, what’s so special about the Czech ones, you may ask? The cooling method. You will find no water (nor heavy water) in the Czech SMR, only molten salt. You heard right, salt. With the right temperature, you can make a liquid out of salt crystals.

The molten salt cooling system makes the SMR much safer and more reliable. So, there is nothing to be salty about. Everything is safe and reliable, and you don’t have to worry about having a nuclear reactor “in your backyard.” Though on that note, it can heat your pool.

SMRs are not only safe and reliable but also environmentally friendly—no smoke, no toxic emissions, and no fossil fuel need. They do not take up that much space, so you can place them easily underground. The bottom line is that you don’t have to build monstrous structures to house the reactors. And it is not only about “small.” There are microreactors (50 MWe – 250 MWe), small reactors (up to 300 MWe), medium reactors (300-700 MWe), and big reactors (over 700 MWe).

Without a doubt, small modular reactors will play an essential role in the future of the European energy market, and they will expand the potential of the nuclear sector in the medium and long term. We must hope that utilizing atomic energy to its full potential will get the “green light.”

Marek Koten

Master's student in economics, political consultant, and history enthusiast from the Czech Republic. He has dedicated his academic research to Nuclear Energy. He is an active political consultant with over a year of experience as a political coordinator for a major US political party.

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