Nuclear Energy is back to the headlines, after the publication of a research study published by MIT that pointed to importance of Nuclear Energy in the fight against Global Warming.
This technology, the offspring of a devastating weaponry system behind the wiping of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and still a major threat to human existence, has since its inception by President Eisenhower who proposed, under his program “Atoms for Peace” to use Nuclear Power to generate electricity, suffered and never achieved its goal only in few cases.
Things got even worse with many serious incidents starting with 3-Miles Islands, Chernobyl and Fukushima Nuclear Disasters. The later made all the 30 countries with nuclear capabilities to reconsider the fate of their 104 power plants. Many, like Japan where Fukushima was in their soil and Germany, decided to phase them out.
What triggered the so-called ‘Nuclear Awakening’ is the MIT research conclusion that, “The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World.” The replacement of Natural Gas over coal as an alternative or the bridge to renewables was a mistake. When Natural Gas was included in electricity generation-mix, Nuclear was hit the most because renewables were not able to fill the gap.
The point to the fact that Nuclear Energy in the United States is degrading and cannot play is intended role for decarbonization (0% CO2 emission, best in the industry).
According to the same MIT report,“Out of the 66 facilities currently operating in the U.S., 24 nuclear plants are either scheduled to shut down or likely won’t make a profit through 2021.”
What are the key issues that can revitalize this industry to join the fight to meet the 2050 target to prevent Global Warming; Government legislations, optimized flexible design, Investment and most importantly is safety.
The first important step was the Government legislation. The House passed bipartisan legislation to support advanced nuclear-energy technologies.
“Cost-share grant program at the Energy Department for applicants seeking federal licenses for advanced reactors.
Formally structured collaboration among national labs, private companies and others.
The big picture: With America’s existing nuclear plants struggling to compete with cheap natural gas and subsidized renewable energy, advanced reactors have the potential to provide the next wave of carbon-free electricity in big quantities as the world tackles climate change.”
The next step is to send to the president for a final signature. This is full admittance with full commitments from the house in the importance of Nuclear Energy, as carbon-free electricity, to join the effort to fight Global Warming.
Flexible and optimized design with worldwide effort is key to secure that these reactors will be cost effective and able to be installed in a short period of time, in years and not in decades like the case with many projects like the Westinghouse/Toshiba projects in South Carolina and Georgia.
Safety is the most crucial to erase from people’s memory the Fukushima nuclear disaster and also the recent 6.7 earthquake that hit the island of Hokkaido in Japan and the halt of the Tomari nuclear plant on the island. As a good practice is to avoid location with a history of natural disaster like Earthquake.
Hurricane Florence hits South Carolinas but before its touch down nobody was sure where the hit will be. While the U.S. rely on 20% of its electricity from nuclear energy but in South Carolina it is almost 57%. These Nuclear Power Plant are owned by Duke Energy and lot of safety precautions were taken and there is always risk that 4 million customers would lose power depending on areas hit the Hurricane.
If all these steps are well accounted for, maybe Nuclear will have its second awakening.
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