Ships need energy. Generators come in three main types:

  1. Fuel Cells, which are the least powerful for their size but very heat efficient.
  2. Radiothermal Generators, which are in between.
  3. Nuclear Reactors, which are powerful but hot.

Since power density is more important than heat, your late-game ships should use reactors. The human-produced ones are decent, but most of the other races have better ones, with various hurdles to overcome in acquiring them.

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