I am reading a book - Abundance- The future is better than you think, and there is an interesting chapter regarding use of Nuclear power in the future. I wanted to see what everyone thinks about balancing prospects of Nuclear power plants with safety concerns as a key channel of energy production.
Scientists denote nuclear power by generations. Generation I reactors were built in the 1950s and 1960s; generation II refers to all the reactors supplying power in the United States today. Generation III is considerably cheaper and safer than previous iterations, but it’s generation IV that explains the recent outpouring of support. The reason is simple: this fourth-generation technology was developed to solve all the problems long associated with nuclear power—safety, cost, efficiency, waste, uranium scarcity, and even the threat of terrorism—without creating any new ones.
But what has people most excited are so-called backyard nukes. These self-contained small-scale modular generation IV nuclear reactors (SMRs) are built in factories (for cheaper construction), sealed completely, and designed to run for decades without maintenance. A number of familiar faces such as Toshiba and Westinghouse, and a number of nuclear newcomers such as Nathan Myhrvold’s company TerraPower, have gone into this area because of SMRs’ tremendous potential for providing the entire world with carbon-free energy.
With coinvestments from Bill Gates and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, Myhrvold founded TerraPower to develop the traveling wave reactor (TWR), a generation-IV variation that he calls the “the world’s most simplified passive fast breeder reactor.” The TWR has no moving parts, can’t melt down, and can run safely for
fifty-plus years, literally without human intervention. It can do all this while requiring no more enrichment operations, zero spent-fuel handling, and no reprocessing or waste storage facilities. What’s more, the reactor vessel serves as the unit’s (robust) burial cask. Essentially, TWRs are a “build, bury, and forget” power supply for a region or city, making them ideal for the developing world.
Myhrvold wants a demonstration unit up and running by 2020. If this timetable is accurate, then TerraPower has a real advantage. Outside of a handful of projects, most generation-IV reactors won’t make it to market until 2030. More importantly, Myhrvold believes that the power provided by TWRs can be priced to undercut coal—which is exactly what it would take to spread them around the globe.
- Is Nuclear Power a good solution to our energy problem?5 votes
Yes - generation 4+ will be both safe and efficient- we should do that60.00%
No - too much unexpected safety risk long term40.00%