Nuclear Renaissance, Update 2010

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Nuclear Renaissance, Update 2010

The primary reason the Trends editors are skeptical about forecasts of rapid market penetration by new wind, water, and solar power technologies is the prohibitive cost.  To supply the energy needs of the entire world with those technologies, even if it were feasible, would require an investment of $100-$200 trillion.  Even then, there is no guarantee that the technologies would work as well as advertised. 

What will work and has been proven to work?  Nuclear power.  The entire world can be supplied with enough electricity to meet all of its requirements in 2025 with an investment of about $25 trillion using the new third-generation Advanced Boiling Water Reactors produced by General Electric and Hitachi.1 

The new reactors are safe.  They have passive safety systems that require no human intervention.  Some of them will operate at a high enough temperature, according to Chemical & Engineering News,2 to produce hydrogen gas directly from water.  They are economical to build, operate, and maintain. 

Developed by GE in the 1990s, four of these reactors are already in operation in Japan.  Three more are under construction in Taiwan and Japan, and these countries plan to build nine additional plants in the near future. 

Moreover, the next generation of nuclear reactors is in the works now.  The Generation IV International Forum was organized in 2000 by nine countries to identify the best designs for nuclear reactors going forward. 

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Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, the U.K., and the U.S. were joined by Switzerland in 2002 and the European Atomic Energy Community in 2003. 

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Some 100 concepts were evaluated by more than 100 scientists and engineers, and six designs were identified as meeting the criteria, according to World Nuclear News.  One of those criteria is that the Generation IV nuclear fuel be of a nature that could not be diverted to terrorists for use in making nuclear weapons.

Today, we don't hear a lot about nuclear power, even though it's already with us in a big way.  Some 441 nuclear power plants are in operation in 31 countries, with a combined generating capacity of 363 giga-watts.  Another 30 reactors are being constructed, and 24 nations are planning more than 100 new reactors for the near future...

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