A super-reactor was created by SRE, Inc (Super Reactor Energy), and it can provide as much clean energy as needed. There's no way to copy it or make another. It operates without problem or fuel - therefore SRE can sell the energy at a low price - and the competition kills all other energy sources as none of them is economically viable anymore.

Let's put aside the fact that SRE's monopoly would be strictly regulated and controlled by the government. Assume the lawsuit against SRE, Inc failed and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the company.

How long before the chokehold kills all other energy sources and SRE is the sole provider of energy for the nation?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Depends upon just how low the full life-cycle price really is, how solidly the safe/clean claim can be trusted, how competent the management if the company is, and (in the USA) how corrupt each state's utility regulation board is. Also depends upon if you are talking about a single super-reactor to rule them all or multiple super-reactors spread around. New high-voltage power lines take years to approve and build, and the loss (voltage drop) over a few thousand miles may offset the low price. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ Does SRE provide free&safe distribution of said energy, including into moving vehicles? If not, it will be limited by cost of power lines, and usual vehicle needs of fast recharge and weight of batteries. $\endgroup$
    – Bald Bear
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ Never. It might dominate one continent, but the cost of power lines to remote places would eventually become prohibitive. Even now, there are places where people use solar, wind, or generators because the cost of running a power line is prohibitive. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 19:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Costless energy has never ever been a problem; the Sun provides endless costless energy. The problem has always been having energy at the required place, in the required form and in the required amount. Think about it: there is ample free energy available just outside Timbuktu; it really is there, all you have to do is harvest it and transport it to the place of use. (A square mile of worthless desert outside Timbuktu receives 600 MW of free energy from the Sun, about the same as an average nuclear reactor.) Do you care about all that free energy freely available just outside Timbuktu? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 20:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Starfish Prime: Sure, and you happen to live on a ranch (or island, mountain, &c) that's 5 or 10 miles (or the equivalent in km) from the grid/the nearest other house. So you're going to pay to have that superconducting power line build out to your place? Sure you are :-) Even a regular residential line costs around $20-30K per mile (per Google). And then there are places like hospitals and data centers that absolutely need backup power systems. (Most power blackouts are caused by line problems, not generation failures.) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 3:58

2 Answers 2


Depends on the size of the nation, if little like Vatican City it could do it very fast, if big like USA or Russia never.

Actually the biggest problem is not the production of electricity but the transport of electricity.

Even if your super reactor produces infinite energy at no cost, you can't transport for free.

Most energy will be wasted over great distances, charge and transport batteries will be too much expensive.

You should also consider the problem of heat, how many cables do you need to transport energy all over the nation from a single source?

In fact now world is going to have numerous small power sources instead of big powerful reactors (solar panels, wind turbines, modular nuclear reactor).

Your idea could work, if we assume in future to transport energy with high temperature superconductors, we assume to have some futuristic batteries that can stock infinite amount of energy at low price, etc..

Another couple of things:

1) in many nations we burn trash to produce energy, even if your SRE is cheap, you still need to dispose trash, they will pay it to do, and you also produce energy, so it can be more convenient.
2) Nuclear reactor can also be used to produce fissile material for nukes, so nuclear reactor could be still used for that purpose.

Even if your SRE will replace all other power sources, we will still need Redundancy to protect against power failures.


Somewhere in the range 40 years to "never"

Power is one of those things that individuals, corporations and governments get very twitchy about. Murphy's Law is a basic engineering principle - anything that can go wrong will go wrong eventually. Even if the magic reactor cannot possibly fail, the lines transmitting the power to everywhere else can be damaged by weather, tectonic activity, sabotage and/or open warfare. The only situation in which a government would consider having only one power plant is if the nation is so small that it would only have one or two power plants anyway. Related issues are the cost and difficulty of maintaining very long high voltage transmission lines and the cost of running transmission lines to every location where power is needed. The practicality and desirability of running power lines to everywhere that people want power is also an issue.

Even for a nation small enough to only need a handful of large power stations, some facilities (military bases, hospitals, financial institutions) must have a backup power supply that can last as long as any conceivable power outage could last. If the nation has only one power station then that means that the backup must last until a new power station could be built. (Obviously it won't be the SRE model, as there is no more unobtainium.) In order for the backup to be only batteries that were originally charged by the SRE reactor rather than a diesel generator or a photovoltaic-plus-batteries system, massive advances in battery technology would be required to make the storage of years of electricity feasible. This massive advance in battery technology would also be necessary to reverse the current trend of campers taking solar cells with them, from palm-sized panels that sit on top of a hikers backpack to larger panels that are used to run a refrigerator in a caravan. Only if exceptionally energy-dense, lightweight, compact batteries were available would campers and others stop using them.

There is also the matter of powering vehicles - ground, sea and air. In order for all the nation's vehicles to be powered by the SRE, it would mean that all vehicles are electric or hydrogen powered (with water "cracked" by the SRE to provide the hydrogen). Fighter aircraft, cars, delivery trucks, ships - everything would need to be electric or hydrogen powered. While this is certainly feasible for civilian ground vehicles and some surface vessels currently or in the near future, current technology is a long way from allowing all military vehicles - especially combat aircraft - to be powered in this way.

In summary, a tiny, completely urban nation (Vatican City, Monaco) could possibly be using the SRE reactor only for all its power within maybe 40 years, although I am very sceptical about batteries ever being able to achieve the necessary energy density to remove the need for backup generators. Any larger nation would still have a security requirement for alternative generators and there will always be remote locations in larger nations where it is easier to generate electricity locally than try to run a power line to that location.


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