In 2011 an earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan and so damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that it lost the ability to cool the cores, which led to a meltdown. That event caused many around the world to consider the safety of current nuclear power plants, and how to make them safer in the future. Researchers at MIT have devised a new design for nuclear power plants that has the potential to remove earthquakes and tsunamis as a threat, by moving the plants far off-shore.
The idea of building a nuclear power plant off shore is not new as Russia is currently building a plant on a barge. The novel aspect of MIT's idea is to put the plants miles off shore, where the deepness of the ocean will protect the plant from earthquakes and tsunamis, just as how off shore oil and gas platforms are protected. The oceans offer more than just that protection though as nuclear power plants require large amounts of water to cool their reactors. On land this limits their locations to expensive shorefront areas. Also as the plants are mobile, they could be built and decommissioned at a central facility, like naval ships, which would improve standardization, and could reduce costs by using only steel, instead of both steel and concrete.
Currently this idea is just that, an idea, but is to be presented at the Small Modular Reactors Symposium being held this week. Of course offshore power plants need not be 'small' but could be built to rival the largest 1000 megawatt facilities you can find on land.