Shellenberger et al., 9-11-12
[Michael Shellenberger, President -- The Breakthrough Institute, Ted Nordhaus, Chairman -- The Breakthrough Institute, both leading global thinkers on energy, climate, security, human development, and politics, authors of numerous books on energy, Jessica Lovering, Policy Analyst, Energy and Climate Program -- The Breakthrough Institute, “New Nukes
Why We Need Radical Innovation to Make New Nuclear Energy Cheap,” http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/new-nukes/]
Most of these designs still face substantial technical hurdles before they will be ready for commercial demonstration. That means a great deal of research and innovation will be necessary to make these next generation plants viable and capable of displacing coal and gas. The United States could be a leader on developing these technologies, but unfortunately U.S. nuclear policy remains mostly stuck in the past. Rather than creating new solutions, efforts to restart the U.S. nuclear industry have mostly focused on encouraging utilities to build the next generation of large, light-water reactors with loan guarantees and various other subsidies and regulatory fixes. With a few exceptions, this is largely true elsewhere around the world as well. Nuclear has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress for more than 60 years, but the enthusiasm is running out. The Obama administration deserves credit for authorizing funding for two small modular reactors, which will be built at the Savannah River site in South Carolina. But a much more sweeping reform of U.S. nuclear energy policy is required. At present, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has little institutional knowledge of anything other than light-water reactors and virtually no capability to review or regulate alternative designs. This affects nuclear innovation in other countries as well, since the NRC remains, despite its many critics, the global gold standard for thorough regulation of nuclear energy. Most other countries follow the NRC's lead when it comes to establishing new technical and operational standards for the design, construction, and operation of nuclear plants. What's needed now is a new national commitment to the development, testing, demonstration, and early stage commercialization of a broad range of new nuclear technologies -- from much smaller light-water reactors to next generation ones -- in search of a few designs that can be mass produced and deployed at a significantly lower cost than current designs. This will require both greater public support for nuclear innovation and an entirely different regulatory framework to review and approve new commercial designs. In the meantime, developing countries will continue to build traditional, large nuclear power plants. But time is of the essence. With the lion's share of future carbon emissions coming from those emerging economic powerhouses, the need to develop smaller and cheaper designs that can scale faster is all the more important.
No impact to trade wars
Share with your friends: