Most likely nuclear energy will be an essential part of decarbonizing the world’s electricity.

But new plants are expensive and the technology much criticized.

Wired writes:

Enter the small modular reactor, designed to allow several reactors to be combined into one unit.

Need a modest amount of energy? Install just a few modules. Want to fuel a sprawling city? Tack on several more.

For the last 20 years, the future of nuclear power has stood in a high bay laboratory tucked away on the Oregon State University campus in the western part of the state.

Operated by NuScale Power, an Oregon-based energy startup, this prototype reactor represents a new chapter in the conflict-ridden, politically bedeviled saga of nuclear power plants.

NuScale uses a light water reactor—by far the most common type of reactor in commercial nuclear power plants—but that’s about where the similarities end. NuScale’s reactor is 65 feet tall and 9 feet in diameter, and is housed in a containment vessel only slightly larger.

About the size of two school buses stacked end to end, you could fit around 100 of them in the containment chamber of a large conventional reactor.

This small reactor can crank out 60 megawatts of energy, which is about one-tenth the smallest operational reactor in the US today.

Read more at Wired.