Usually, when we build nuclear power plants, we build them big. The largest nuclear plants produce more than 1,400 megawatts of electricity, enough power for about 1.5 million households. That could be changing. The Department of Energy is studying smaller power plants that would produce about 300 megawatts. Enough to power, say, Jackson, Mississippi. Other researchers are looking into power plants that could serve even smaller communities.
Experts estimate that a 50 megawatt reactor about the size of a garden shed could provide electricity for small towns or even individual work sites away from the power grid. Even better, these small reactors could be linked together as the town grows and electricity demand increases.