Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our Time Has Come

The Indians plan to build 470 GWs of nuclear electrical generation capacity between now and 2050. Much of it will be built in the form of small (220 to 200 MWs) and medium size (500 MW) reactors. Most of those reactors will be locally designed, and will operate on a thorium rather than a uranium fuel cycle . There is no reason why the United States and Europe could not match or exceed the Indian goal by 2050. During the First Nuclear Era, both Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory developed designs for small advanced technology reactors that could be factory mass produced for a fraction of the cost of large Light Water Reactors. Nuclear-phobia prevented the completion of these reactor designs. A reactor similar to the Argonne reactor will play a major role in Indian reactor plans. Proponents of the Oak Ridge design. now called the LFTR, say that it will be safer, and less expensive to build, and easy to deploy in very large numbers. Like the Indian nuclear scheme, the LFTR uses the thorium fuel cycle, which many scientists believe offers significant advantages over the Uranium fuel cycle. Thorium is a common, easily recoverable, mineral that at present has virtually no use. In a LFTR one ton of thorium can produce a giga watt of electricity for a year. AEC reports, prepared during the 1960's suggested that The United States had a thorium reserve large enough to provide all of its energy needs for millions of years.

Current thinking about Anthropogenic Global Warming Mitigation are expensive, fraught with controversy, are and likely to lead to a decline in the standard of living enjoyed in advanced nations, while inhibiting improvements in the standard of living in less developed countries. It is clear that the governments of India and China will refuse to accept the continued impoverishment of their people.

The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. It is time to exclude the ritualized anti-nuclear discourse of nuclear-phobia, from mainstream discussions about future energy. It is time that the media and politicians begin begin to acquire nuclear literacy. It is time for national and international leadership to seriously examine the potential of advanced nuclear technology to solve our future energy problems. Our time has come!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Charles this is a concise well-worded endorsement for development of new generation nuclear power. Thank you.

John Tjostem

David Walters said...

Not to pooh-pooh this but the Indians are NOT planning 470GWs. If you look at what Singh noted was that the "potential" is there for 470GWs. The *plan* is for 40GW under construction by 2020 (10 years away).

Anonymous said...

As somebody from India I'm not too optimistic that government projects will get completed on time, I expect considerable slippage.

For some numbers on public infrastructure projects under development(includes nuclear projects) in India
as of March'09 see this govt report: http://www.mospi.gov.in/QSR_jan_march_2009.pdf

Charles Barton said...

David, given my analysis (see above) which suggests that Indian nuclear costs are extremely inexpensive, and that nuclear generated electricity in india is very competitive with coal, it is not at all unlikely interms of building 500 gWs worth of nuclear power generating capacity by 2050.

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