Now, a new generation of nuclear engineers focused on climate change is designing plants that are smaller and cheaper, and could be located closer to where people live. Companies say the plants are also safer, but to help their business models succeed they need changes to regulations that were designed for the larger existing plants.

One of the start-ups getting attention is Oklo, whose proposed nuclear power plant looks more like a stylish ski chalet than an industrial facility.

« We’re not using water. We’re not large. We’re not using the same type of fuel. We’re able to recycle waste and used fuel, » says Caroline Cochran, Oklo chief operating officer and co-founder.

Cochran says her company’s plants are more like the small research reactors found on college campuses. Each would generate enough electricity to power hundreds of homes. Initially the plan is to use them in remote areas such as rural Alaska, where they could replace more-polluting diesel generators.

Jeff Brady, NPR, 1er aout 2020