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  • Writer's pictureTom Mast

America Does Need More Nuclear Energy!

Tom Mast, founder Solve American Gridlock

What is to be learned from the table above about how to get on a dependable pathway to phasing out most of the hydrocarbon fuels used to produce electrical power in the U.S? Remember that the challenge will get worse due to population growth, switching much of transportation from liquid hydrocarbon fuels to electrical energy, and substituting electricity for hydrocarbons for heating.

The hydrocarbon sources that now produce 60.0% of our electrical energy are the Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) coal and natural gas. Wind and solar, the growth renewables on which we have been depending heavily to phase out hydrocarbon fuels, now produce a sum of 12.0% or only 1/5 of that of the hydrocarbons even after a couple of decades of large subsidies to encourage their growth. See the graph below.

Already, we have seen instances of the unreliability of the wind and solar sources triggering power outages despite their only supplying 12% of the market. What would happen if they were 20% or 30% or 40% of the market? Stretching our imaginations, let’s assume wind and solar were to replace all coal and natural gas for generating electrical energy for a total of 12 + 60 = 72%? And, they were still intermittent. It won’t work – unless we bet on some undeveloped storage technology, a dangerous gamble.

A glance at the table above tells us that we need another horse to ride and that it is nuclear energy. We know from decades of experience how to do that, and much of the rest of the world does also. Producing electrical energy from nuclear power plants does not create GHG emissions. It is a known technology. It is affordable – more so with a large number of new plants.

A very interesting subset of nuclear energy is that of Small Nuclear Reactors. Such reactors are much smaller; their components can be built in factories under controlled conditions for much better control of costs, quality, and adherence to schedules. Plants can be constructed using from 1 to 12 modules to provide a wide variety of sizes of final plants from one basic design. The modules can be designed to be safer, shutting themselves off if necessary with no need for electrical power being available. China and Russia both have plants coming on line, and the U.S. and other countries have designs that have been under development for many years and are nearing production. The first design approval for a U.S. plant came recently – in the shortest time ever due to its simplicity. #SMR

Let’s put nuclear energy on the front burner now. Let’s have a Congressional Commission of scientists and economists develop a formal long-range pathway based on facts and a Carbon Pricing program with dividends to consumers to get this massive climate change project to lift off the runway; I am sure these experts will make nuclear an important part of it. #congress


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