Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nuclear Energy Update

In the U.S. market, the appetite for electricity continues to soar. And that’s just here. While electricity demand will “only” increase by 50% in the United States between now and 2030, demand will increase 400% in China and six-fold in India.

Overall, across the planet, electricity consumption is expected to double by 2030, increasing by 17 trillion kilowatt hours. _NukesComingBack
Nuclear fission is one of the best "bridge" energy technologies that can connect a modern world to its more sustainable clean energy future. The US, China, Russia, India, MENA (Middle East, North Africa), and many other nations are counting on nuclear fission to help carry them through to plentiful advanced solar, bioenergy, geothermal, and nuclear fusion energy.
...just maintaining nuclear energy’s current 20% share of generation would require building three reactors every two years - starting in 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy has said.

...China and South Africa are working on so-called “pebble-bed reactors,” one version of which is filled with 100,000 billiard-ball-sized spheres of coated uranium that are cooled by helium. That eliminates the need for enormous pressurized water-cooling systems and million-dollar containment domes, making them virtually meltdown-proof. _NuclearEnergyComeback
In MENA, Algeria, Iran, and Egypt want to go full speed ahead for nuclear power. Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other oil rich countries have also expressed interest in fission power.
ALGERIA: -- Algeria aims to build its first commercial nuclear power station by around 2020 and to build another every five years after that, energy minister Chakib Khelil said in February.

* EGYPT: -- Egypt said in October 2007 it would build several civilian nuclear power stations to meet its growing energy needs.

-- In December 2008 Egypt chose Bechtel Power Corp as contractor to design and consult on the country's first nuclear power plant. Bechtel offered to do the work for around 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($180 million) over a 10-year period, it said.

* IRAN: -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated its first nuclear fuel production plant on Thursday. He said the plant would produce fuel for Iran's Arak heavy water reactor.-- Iran plans to start up its first atomic power plant in mid-2009... _Reuters
Some analysts have expressed concern as to whether the world will have enough uranium supplies to support a strong world-wide upsurge in nuclear power. Scientist at California's National Ignition Facility say, "not to worry."
...scientists at the NIF have a crafty solution. Rather than creating a pure fusion reaction, they plan to combine their technology with a traditional nuclear fission reactor, which would require the laser to fire at a far lower frequency.

"Using the laser to trigger nuclear fusion and drive a fission reaction means we can deliver the benefits of fusion to the utility companies far sooner," says Ed Moses, director of the NIF. "We will be getting energy from both the fission reaction and the fusion reaction, so for each kilo of fuel used in a traditional fission reaction, we will get about 20 times more energy." _BrisbaneTimes
In this way, the NIF will be able to utilise "nuclear waste" as a valuable fuel, thus killing two radioactive birds with one NIF-ing stone. Another popular proposed solution to the "shortage of uranium" is the usage of Thorium in molten fuel thorium cycle reactors. Update: Via Brian Westenhaus, a story in Scitizen provides a relatively mainstream view of the prospects for Thorium Energy. But at least it illustrates that the mainstream is looking into the possiblity.

I suspect that nuclear energy will become one of the foremost sources of energy for this century. It will take almost the entire century to perfect orbital solar power, enhanced geothermal, and nuclear fusion energy. So rather than trying to fight new energy, a more intelligent, wise, and sane approach would be to help make sure the energy is safe and abundant.

But then, sanity and wisdom are not generally on display among contemporary Obama zombie environmentalists and dieoff.orgiasts. Some amount of conflict does appear inevitable.



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