Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Despite the influence of Bill Gates, experts find that nuclear power is the wrong climate solution

“A decade ago, perhaps one could still argue we need new nuclear power plants to combat global warming, and that better approaches were hopefully just around the corner,” Howarth says. “But in 2021, it is very clear that we can completely rebuild the energy economy of the world moving forward built on renewable energy alone, with no need for fossil fuels or nukes. To build our future on renewables is that fastest, safest, and cheapest way to address climate disruption.”

How Bill Gates’ company TerraPower is building next-generation nuclear power, CNBC Make It, , Apr 8 2021 ”…….  Selected by the U.S. federal government to demonstrate the viability of nuclear power through its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), TerraPower aims to build “fully functional advanced nuclear reactor within 7 years of the award,” according to the Office of Nuclear Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy………

TerraPower’s ability to achieve those goals will be in no small part due to the money and influence of the company’s founder.“The most important factor is that Bill Gates is behind this,” principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology department of nuclear science and engineering Charles Forsberg tells CNBC Make It………..

Still, some say nuclear power is the wrong solution,  Despite what Gates and TerraPower see as benefits, the debate over nuclear power is fierce.    On March 18, for instance, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a non-profit group of 250 scientists and related professionals, issued a 140-page rebuke of “advanced nuclear” reactor designs.

“If nuclear power is to play a larger role to address climate change, it is essential for new reactor designs to be safer, more secure, and pose comparable or—better yet—lower risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism than the existing reactor fleet,” says Edwin Lyman, Director of Nuclear Power Safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC, in a statement released with the report. “Despite the hype surrounding them, none of the non-light-water reactors on the drawing board that we reviewed meet all of those requirements.”

The UCS even recommends the Department of Energy (DOE) suspend it jointly funded ARDP demonstration project (in which TerraPower is a particpant) until regulatory agencies determine what kind of prototyping is necessary, and calls on the DOE to have an independent commission to review the project.

“It doesn’t make sense to us for either government or industry to devote a lot of resources to pursuing high-risk, low-reward technologies – or technologies that could be even worse than what we have now,” Lyman tells CNBC Make It.  Instead, more federal government spending to improve conventional reactors is a better tactic, according to the UCS.

“Investment to address the shortcomings of conventional reactors would have a higher chance of success because there is a large base of operating experience and experimental data that researchers can draw upon,” Lyman says………

Still others say focusing on nuclear power at all is the wrong approach.

Nuclear power, which has been around since the 1950s, “has proven to be very slow to deploy, very expensive, and fraught with dangers,” says Robert W. Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University. “And no one has ever solved the problem with what to do with nuclear wastes.”

Safe and affordable nuclear power is “a pipe dream” that “never materialized,” he says.

Michael E. Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC), argues that nuclear energy “comes with unnecessary risks when better alternatives (i.e. wind, solar, geothermal) are available.”

And “investment in nuclear likely crowds out investment in the safer alternative (renewable energy),” he says.

Both Howarth and Mann are signatories on a declaration that calls for decarbonization through 100% renewable energy, like wind and solar.

“A decade ago, perhaps one could still argue we need new nuclear power plants to combat global warming, and that better approaches were hopefully just around the corner,” Howarth says. “But in 2021, it is very clear that we can completely rebuild the energy economy of the world moving forward built on renewable energy alone, with no need for fossil fuels or nukes. To build our future on renewables is that fastest, safest, and cheapest way to address climate disruption.”

April 10, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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