Posts tagged “SMR”
Below is the second of two posts by Robert Petroski and Brian Marrs about the future of nuclear energy (link to Part I). Petroski is a nuclear engineer, with a degree from MIT, and Marrs is a Power Markets Specialist, with a degree from Yale. They are colleagues of mine from the Atlantic Council’s “Emerging Leaders in Energy and Environmental Policy,” a Transatlantic Network of professionals in the energy field. In this post, they argue that the nuclear debate we are having today should reflect how much technology has changed and will change in the coming decades. They end by arguing that we have to remember, the real enemy is carbon; I couldn’t agree more!
Also, be sure to check out the podcast of our conversation over at the American Security Project, here.
The Innovation Imperative
The majority of today’s nuclear fleet will complete their tenure within the coming decades. As it does so, categorically dismissing nuclear energy technology means abandoning 50 years of collective experience, just as the world’s demand for energy has never been greater – and coal-based. We believe that nuclear technologies are currently evolving in the direction of increased simplicity and safety, and by doing so nuclear energy has the potential to overcome traditional shortfalls of highly uncertain costs and unknown risks.
The uneven history of nuclear energy, especially in the United States, has been due in large part to the growing pains of a new industry combined with those of a new nuclear regulator. The development and maturation of nuclear regulatory requirements led to design changes in nuclear plants, which were often conceived and implemented “on the fly”, because they occurred after construction of a plant had already begun. These design changes commonly took the form of increased numbers and types of backup systems, increasing the complexity of nuclear power plants. The result of these growing pains was an immense escalation in nuclear costs and construction schedules, which was further compounded by an attempt to build larger and larger plants to generate economies of scale.
Senator Bernie Sanders is using Grist Magazine to lobby against government assistance for nuclear energy on the grounds that it’s a mature industry. I might agree with him if it really were a mature industry and if renewables really could carry the day without it. But it isn’t, and renewables can’t. It always irritates me to watch ignorant politicians screw with my children’s futures. As sometimes happens with my long-winded comments, the one I left over there got large enough to convert into a post over here.
Senator Sanders may have good intentions, but what’s new? We don’t need any more roads to hell paved by those. He’s just another member of the generation that has been systematically misinformed by “the end justifies the means” anti-nuclear lobby and our sensationalist for profit lay media.
An earlier article on Grist recently (and inadvertently) demonstrated with a simple graph that the most optimistic estimates for renewable energy do not come close to meeting our energy needs, all cost issues aside. CONTINUE»