Nuke Power Future: No Carbon, Small, Smart

 Nuclear Power's Future
Source:  Stock Image of Nuclear Power Plant


Nukes:  Smart, Small, No Carbon EmissionsFirst the facts about nuclear technology:
  • Nuclear power plants produce 11% of world electricity.  
  • Nuke plants generate 1/3 of the world's low carbon electricity. 
  • They cut CO² emissions by 2 gigatons per year which equals taking 400 million cars off the roads.
The Director of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Yukiya Amano argues that to secure sufficient energy and cut average global temperature increases by 2० centigrade a year, the world need to make more use of nuclear energy.  He added, in a summer 2018 meeting in Paris, nuclear science, technology and nuclear power are important in meeting global development needs.

Most Promising Emerging Nuclear Tech:  Small, Smart Nuclear Plants 
In the case of nuclear power plants, perhaps smaller is better.  There's a global push for small, medium sized and modular nuclear reactors (SMR's), customized for local rather than wide areas.  They're part of the crucial innovation needed to decarbonize the energy sector and cut Climate Change. SMR's are low-carbon power generating alternatives. Significant advances are being made, including prefabricated systems and components to cut construction time and cost.  The IAEA is supporting deployment globally.

Russia, China & Argentina Good to Go With SMR's
SMR plants will start commercial operations in Russia, China and Argentina between 2018 and 2020, according to the IAEA.  A dozen other nations will follow suit. SMR's are considered good low carbon alternatives to aging fossil fuel plants.  Besides generating electricity, they can provide heating, cooling and water desalination.  They're good for rural areas and for any energy system that combines nuclear and alternatives like renewables. 50 SMR concepts are in development globally. IAEA forecasts what it calls "fleets" of SMR's between 2025 and 2030.

Future Energy Mix And Climate Change
The Agency argues wind and solar power will play an increasingly important role in our energy future.  But as "intermittent" sources, they can't meet global needs on their own. They believe nuclear power as part of the world's energy mix in the foreseeable future is unavoidable. Consequently, they've developed a priority action agenda to optimize global nuclear science, technology and power:

  • Deployment of small, medium-sized and modular reactors globally
  • Digital systems at plants to promote higher reliability, functionality, better performance 
  • Digital diagnostic capabilities to spot and start fixing issues real-time
  • Enhanced, robust safety measures
  • Advanced water-cooled reactors with innovative safety failsafe systems
  • Continuous improvements in reactor design to make nuclear power more safe and cost effective)
So, whether you support or oppose nuclear power plants, it appears they're here to stay for the foreseeable future.  Although increasingly in smaller, smarter and safer forms.