Australian news, and some related international items

Those non existent ”small nuclear reactors” are a dangerous fantasy

Extract from The nuclear industry’s updated songsheet remains outdated, Pearls and Irritations, By Mark Diesendorf, 22 Oct 21,

” ……………….Misleading new nuclear songs 

Many people understand that existing nuclear reactors are dangerous, very expensive, produce dangerous wastes that must be managed for thousands of years, and can assist governments to develop nuclear weapons. To deflect attention, the nuclear industry is nowadays creating the false impression that new reactors exist that could solve these major problems while contributing to climate mitigation. These hypotheticals are the so-called “small modular reactors” (SMRs), small enough to be distributed around a country and modular in the sense that they could be mass-produced by the thousand in factories and erected rapidly.

However, the actual situation is that SMRs don’t exist — they are paper reactors fuelled on ink and hot air. They could not be installed in Australia for at least 15 years, if ever. By that time, given the political will, we could have an electricity system that’s  entirely powered by renewable energy mainly solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind, supplemented by hydro

The reason why past and current generations of commercial nuclear power reactors are very big is to obtain economies of scale. Even so, nuclear electricity costs three to five times that of large-scale wind and solar PV (see Lazard and CSIRO). After adding storage to smooth the variability of wind and solar, renewables are still cheaper than nuclear. Nuclear costs have been increasing while wind and especially solar costs continue to fall. SMRs would have to be mass-produced in hundreds, possibly thousands, to overcome the loss of economy of scale and, even then, their electricity would still cost much the same as from existing big nuclear power stations.

Fortunately, there are no orders for multiple SMRs, because the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons would be greatly increased by distributing SMRs around the countryside. Reducing proliferation risk or increasing safety or improving waste management would all increase cost. SMRs that simultaneously solve proliferation, safety and waste management, while reducing costs, are a dangerous fantasy……………..

October 23, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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