One of the most read articles on this blog is ” 10 reasons to support nuclear power “, which I wrote in 2009 when the situation was very different. A lot happened since then that has made me reconsider my stance on nuclear, so here is a counter-point.
While I am not advocating nuclear as much as I was doing a few years ago – the incident in Fukushima have shown how the technology can be dangerous – I am still believing that it is better than coal. (Sidenote : anything IS better than coal…)
According to a study quoted by Cleantechies, ” The use of nuclear power from 1971 to 2009 prevented more than 1.8 million premature deaths related to air pollution and 64 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. “
Of course, there are huge safety concerns over nuclear and having it based on plutonium over thorium wasn’t the best idea Humankind had, but who knows what will happen.
A year after the catastrophic events in Fukushima, Japan is planning to be nuclear free by May 5. It is I believe a good opportunity to focus on the future of the industry. Opinions diverge on this critical issue.
Some believe nuclear is bound to disappear as it has a negative learning curve and that it is increasingly expensive compared to renewables. It is true the latter are becoming cheaper and cheaper.
I know we shouldn’t cringe to just one solution. But I now believe that nuclear risk and waste free is one day possible. Thorium is already being used in India, and I believe it will be used more and more.
While we are waiting for thorium to be ready for commercialization and its mass use, we should work massively on efficiency and renewables.
The French magazine Science & Vie [Fr] published this month a lengthy series of articles on thorium-based nuclear, and how it could solve the various issues encountered with uranium-based energy generation.
Much more safer, without the need to be enriched, Thorium is also four times more abundant than Uranium. Molten salt reactors could also recycle the waste of current reactors.
In today’s post we will have a look at the various other advantages of this still not commercially developped technology.
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David JC MacKay on his website mentions two main fission possibilities : fast breeders and thorium and fusion. We will have a look at thesemost promising solutions as well as to other technologies.
The needs for safer, cheaper and cleaner nuclear solutions are important as the IAEA forecasts the demand for nuclear is to increase by 60 percent in the next twenty years.