But the Department of Energy funding may only support two designs. Innovation spurred by competition seems unlikely. And that may ultimately erode the current U.S. nuclear industry advantage—from design to operation to regulation.
That means that the rest of the world—particularly China, which is building almost every type of reactor on offer, and Russia—may well inherit the promise and peril of nuclear power, whether small or large. "China and India lead the world in nuclear safety today," NRG CEO David Crane told the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit on March 20. NRG initiated and abandoned plans to build at least two new large reactors in the last five years, thanks to falling natural gas prices and uncertainty surrounding U.S. government policy. "The U.S. cannot lead the world in safety, if we're not building new nuclear power plants."