Renewable energy sources like solar and hydroelectric are great, but they generally can't provide enough baseload power. Sure, maybe we need to upgrade our electrical grid to handle more distributed power plants and circumvent traditional baseload power requirements, but in the short term, the only carbon-free power source comes from nuclear reactors. However, after the Fukushima accident, there seems to be growing distaste for nuclear energy -- with Germany closing about half of its nuclear power plants and pledging to close all of them by 2022, and more plants around the world have been closing
rather than opening since 2011.
- The US will probably maintain about 100 gigawatts of nuclear energy capacity for the next 10 years, despite closing some reactors. A few new reactors should replace the old ones, but the pipeline of operational reactors looks a bit empty in 20 years or so -- unless licenses are renewed quickly and new reactors aren't delayed so much. [url]
- After just 19 years and almost 4.5 billion dollars, a "new" nuclear power plant (a first since 1996) in Tennessee could be generating power before the start of 2016. This is a Generation II nuclear plant design, even though there are Gen III plants being built. Gen IV designs are planned to exist in the 2030s, but by then, we'll all have Mr. Fusion reactors in our cars, right? [url]
- The US and China are collaborating on developing molten salt nuclear reactors that could be commercially ready by 2030. China currently relies heavily on coal power plants, but in the not too distant future, the country could be producing much cleaner energy with more nuclear reactors. [url]
- The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission hasn't approved a new nuclear reactor in decades -- and offers a highly bureaucratic process for regulating any new reactor designs. Nuclear energy startups are targeting China to avoid the regulatory barriers in the US, but the current low price of natural gas is also making the economics of nuclear power a bit difficult to justify. [url]
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