Small Nuclear Reactors, Future Energy for Green Data Centers?

With all the attention on carbon emissions, cap and trade, and other government programs, Nuclear Reactors are getting more momentum.  Many environmentalist are against nuclear, but the reality is nuclear plants are one of the few 24 x 7 carbon neutral power sources that can work for a data center.

The World Nuclear Association has a good article on Small Nuclear Reactors.

Today, due partly to the high capital cost of large power reactors generating electricity via the steam cycle and partly to consideration of public perception, there is a move to develop smaller units. These may be built independently or as modules in a larger complex, with capacity added incrementally as required - see final section of this paper. Economies of scale are provided by the numbers produced. There are also moves to develop small units for remote sites. The IAEA defines "small" as under 300 MWe.

The most prominent modular project is the South African-led consortium developing the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor of of 170 MWe. Chinergy is preparing to build a similar unit, the 195 MWe HTR-PM in China. A US-led group is developing another design with 285 MWe modules. Both drive gas turbines directly, using helium as a coolant and operating at very high temperatures. They build on the experience of several innovative reactors in the 1960s and 1970s.

A list of small-medium nuclear reactors in development follows:

300 MWe PWR
Atomenergoproekt, Russia

27 MWe PWR
CNEA & INVAP, Argentina

35 MWe PWR
OKBM, Russia

30-100 MWe PWR
JAERI, Japan

100 MWe PWR
Westinghouse-led, international

100 MWe PWR
KAERI, S. Korea

100-300 MWe PWR
Technicatome (Areva), France

165 MWe HTGR
Eskom, South Africa, et al

285 MWe HTGR
General Atomics (USA), Minatom (Russia) et al

300 MWe LMR
RDIPE (Russia) 

100 MWe MSR
ITHMSO, Japan-Russia-USA

Russia is already building floating nuclear power plants for Arctic operations.

Given that we are already supposed to be facing the twin threats of terrorism and environmental meltdown, you might think the last thing the world needs is a fleet of floating nuclear power plants (NPPs). Russia disagrees, and confirmed this week that construction has started on the first of seven ships carrying a 70MW nuclear reactor. The ships will provide power to remote coastal towns, or be sold abroad, with 12 countries, including Algeria and Indonesia, said to have expressed interest.