Steve Thomas: Is it the end of the line for Light Water Reactor technology or can China and Russia save the day? The Nuclear Renaissance has failed. China and Russia cannot save it. LWR technology is a blind alley. In the late 1990s, a new generation of reactor designs evolved from existing designs was touted as solving the economic problems that led to the collapse of reactor ordering after the Chernobyl disaster. It was claimed these designs would be cheap and easy to build because they would be simpler and use passive safety, modular construction and standardisation. The US and UK governments were convinced by this and launched reactor construction programmes. However, 20 years on, the claims have proved false and the US and UK programmes are in disarray. The last hope for the nuclear industry appears to be that Chinese and Russian reactor vendors, with powerful support from their governments, will take over, providing reactors that are cheap but meet the safety standards required in Europe and North America. However, these vendors and their designs are largely unproven in open markets. There is also little evidence that their reactors will be cheap, there are concerns about quality and safety culture and there are national security concerns that may deter customers. New technologies, such as radical new ones, Generation IV, and Small Modular Reactors are unproven and, at best, a long way from commercial deployment.
Energy Policy (accessed) 12th Nov 2018 read more »
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report released in October rightfully elicited much public commentary about global warming and its truly frightening impacts. But in those initial reactions, less attention was paid to the unnerving implications of the report’s suggested solutions, which encourage us to roll the dice on unproven technologies and double down on nuclear power. Underlying the IPCC report’s claims is the belief that technological solutions can fix the climate problem. Yet these fixes don’t address the root cause of climate change. Let’s start by facing the frightening facts. The report shows that warming must be held to no more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels to avoid truly catastrophic consequences. This requires emissions of CO2 to be limited to an amount that, at the current rate, will be breached in 10 to 15 years.
Beyond Nuclear 11th Nov 2018 read more »