BY THE END OF 2018, local town councils in Ireland should be able to purchase small nuclear power plants that could provide a carbon-free method of powering city lighting, electrical heating for council facilities and back-up power for emergency communications systems. The Hyperion devices, licensed by the US government, are smaller than an Irish garden shed, are factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and are impossible to steal because they are encased in concrete and buried deeper than a septic tank underground. Each Hyperion unit costs just under $25m. The leapfrog technology appeals to remote and isolated communities (like islands off the Irish coast) in Romania, the Cayman Islands, Panama and the Bahamas. Because the reactor is based on a 50-year-old design that has proved safe for university students to use on campuses in the States, few countries are expected to object to build plants on their territories. Each Hyperion device could power a building the size of the Dublin City Council offices for up to 40 years.