Mabus Suggests Adding Nuclear to the Fuel Mix for Navy Bases

first_imgThe Navy has relied on a combination of alternative energy sources, including solar, wind and geothermal, to achieve last year’s milestone of attaining 50 percent of its shore facilities’ electricity needs from renewable sources.Now the Navy is considering adding small, modular nuclear reactors to the mix of technologies allowing the service’s bases to operate independently of the commercial grid, says Secretary Ray Mabus. He told the Council on Foreign Relations last week that he envisions a system of small, distributed nuclear generators linked through a microgrid, reports Federal News Radio.“With some of the new technology that’s coming along, it’s much safer, it produces far less residue and nuclear waste, and it is an option that I think we should explore,” Mabus said.The private sector has been developing miniature nuclear reactors that are safer than traditional nuclear plants due to automated safety features and underground containment systems, he noted. Modular reactors also are cheaper because they can be built in a factory and quickly assembled onsite.In the near term, though, the Navy will continue to focus on the renewable technologies it already is deploying to power its shore facilities around the globe.And while the Navy is familiar with using nuclear energy to power its ships, much of that experience is not transferable to its shore-based needs.“There are differences because ours are 35-year reactors that don’t need to be refueled, and civilian reactors are refueled about every two years,” Mabus said. “Also, a submarine doesn’t take as much power as a community does. But a lot of the basic technology is transferable.” Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img