by Will Davis
I was intrigued this morning to read that StarCore Nuclear, a startup in Canada that’s focusing on small, independent nuclear plants to provide a spectrum product (power, water, heat) had been – it is reported – in negotiation to provide an African nation with not less than twenty-three nuclear plants.  This audacious plan at first brush sounds incredible, but it’s in the details that the wisdom is found and, in fact, perhaps the model for Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s) to really break through into the world’s broader market for power.
Nigeria, the nation with whom StarCore is said to be negotiating, has a very serious energy problem; according to a 2015 PriceWaterhouse Coopers report less than half of Nigeria’s population had access to the nation’s electric grid.  After implying that the nation is generating about a third of what it really needs in electric power, the report also noted that most of Nigeria’s electric power comes from fossil fuels.  For several years now, it’s been the policy of Nigeria’s Ministry of Energy to pursue the development of all forms of power generation, including nuclear.  The advantage of nuclear, of course, is that it’s emission free – but it has definite hurdles that Nigeria would have to leap in order for it to become a significant energy (or resource) producer nationally.
Aerial view of the StarCore Nuclear plant shows its modern, compact design. Illustration courtesy StarCore Nuclear.
Nigeria need not worry about indigenously developing a nuclear power infrastructure in the way that the UAE has, if it selects the sort of option that StarCore Nuclear has been offering to Canadian oil field producers.  The company’s offering, which incorporates a pebble-bed High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR), is not simply a power plant itself but rather a

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