Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Nuclear Energy -- Costs, Carnivals, Endless Fuel Supplies


Costs for nuclear are likely to drop with new technologies capable of unlocking most of the energy in uranium fuels. Rod Adams and Dan Yurman take a look at China's announced fuel re-processing plans which promise to extract 60 times as much energy from nuclear fuel, and to provide China with a 3,000 year energy resource.

The 33rd Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival contains some interesting links to blog articles. Excerpt:
Gail Marcus sums up the achievements of the year in her blog post Year End Reflections at Nuke Power Talk. She points out that more and more of the "nuclear" blog posts seem to be about alternative energy, as wind becomes the darling of people opposed to nuclear power. On another topic, Marcus was pleased to see the NRC "Principles of Good Regulation" being adopted world-wide. She was a member of the group that developed those principals.

Also, Marcus is pleased with the reception of her book Nuclear First, Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Power Development. The book is an important achievement, since so many "nuclear history" books focus on weapons.

Meanwhile, Brian Wang at Next Big Future has two posts about the nuclear renaissance in Asia, where it is moving along at a great clip. In India, Russia is planning to build 18 reactors, and will work on Fast Reactors with Indian scientists. Further east, China's AP 1000 is still on track to operate in 2013, and Japan has a fourth MOX fueled reactor. Areva, building China's reactor, discusses what they need to do in order to compete with Asian reactor builders.
Meanwhile, in Canada, Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues tackles the big question of proliferation in his post Filthy lucre and nuclear non-proliferation: what keeps them apart. As Aplin points out: Shutting down the nuclear industry will spur proliferation. It is the nuclear industry that ultimately pays for international safeguards, which are the best bulwark against the spread of nuclear weapons. The information in this post is a short, clear answer to accusations that power reactors enable bomb-making.
More at the carnival.

The biggest problem with modern nuclear power is its need for sophisticated human oversight and control. Third world nations are unable to supply competent oversight without bringing in outside expertise -- which is expensive.

Newer generations of nuclear technology -- as well as down-sized, sealed reactors -- are likely to reduce the need for constant advanced supervision. Even so, the third world as it now exists is not the best location for any form of nuclear power. Charter cities within the third world -- resembling Singapore -- are a different matter altogether. Such cities are likely to contain multiple modular nuclear reactors.

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