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Foreign construction of nuclear power plants could ruin Russia

Nuclear power station, Sergei Kirienko in foreign countries are financed by russiansociety “peaceful atom” victoriously marching across the planet, capturing investment in new areas. And to payfor it to have ordinary Russians. What do experts think about this? How soon will “explode”?…

Expensive toys Sergei Kiriyenko

Author – Nadezhda Popova

The Russian “peaceful atom” victoriously marching across the planet, capturing investment in new areas. In addition to the European countries – Hungary, Finland, Bulgaria, Atomstroyexport comfortably in the Islamic Republic of Iran has announced the construction of the second unit of the Bushehr NPP. The Turks look forward to the start of construction of NPPs of Russian design “Akkuyu”. New units Atomstroyexport is building in a big way in India at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, the correspondent The Moscow Post.

Already filled Playground for the new rooppur NPP in Bangladesh. A few days ago, a powerful signed an agreement with China on the construction of four new power units. All the construction is going at the expense of Russia and Russians. Your coins yet only offers Tehran . Beijing promises that the new NPP will be entirely paid by the Chinese side.

What are the billions spent on the construction of overseas nuclear power plants? Rosatom gives loans to the countriesin which it sells its nuclear projects. In total, Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Finland has already received more than $ 100 billion at 3% per annum. This money, incidentally, are withdrawn from the budget of the Russian Federation. And when is the deadline on the loan, which Moscow provided Minsk on the construction of NPP “Ostrowiec” in Belarus? 50 years later, in 2068! When it is alive it will not Sergei Kiriyenko, neither Dmitry Medvedev nor Alexander Lukashenko.

Note, that in Russia continue to operate the old dangerous nuclear reactors of the Chernobyl type. Today, 11 such reactors are working at the Leningrad, Kursk and Smolensk NPPs. But those old work horse nobody thinks to stop, although out of them for a long time spilling sand, or rather graphite. Why new nuclear power plants are being built EN masse for cordon? Yes, even at the expense of poor Russians?

The risks are monstrous

-Agreement on the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power station was signed by Moscow and Ankara in 2010, reminds the doctor of technical Sciences, in the recent past-the Deputy Director on science Institute of nuclear engineering, Professor Igor Ostretsov. – The contract involves construction of four power units of 1,200 megawatts. But why the credit for the nuclear project with a payback period of 30 years is issued for such a long period of just under 3% per annum.

Former Deputy Minister for atomic energy, doctor of technical Sciences, Professor Bulat Nigmatulin also can not conceal his indignation:

– Russian export projects for nuclear power plants promoted by those loans that we give to our foreign partners. And give in unfavorable conditions, with high risks of non-repayment of funds. What countries issued these loans? Not too economically developed, the problem on the state of the economy. In India we are stuck in political and environmental reasons, which worsened after the events at Fukushima in Japan. Of special note is the Turkish project of “Akkuyu”. This project requires a very close attention!

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July 12, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

How to Reduce Nuclear Risks in Helsinki

The Trump-Putin summit is an opportunity to stop this dangerous drift. Reaffirming that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, the United States and Russia could agree to specific steps at Helsinki to reduce nuclear risks.

First, begin discussions on how to increase decision time for leaders to reduce the risk of a false warning of a nuclear attack or a nuclear accident or miscalculation. Right now, both the US and Russian presidents may have only a few minutes to assess whether warning of a possible nuclear attack is real, and to decide whether to use nuclear weapons in response. Both the United States and Russia—and Europe—would be much safer if we could agree on steps to increase decision time to a few hours or a few days. A clear directive by the two presidents to their military leaders to work to develop options to achieve this goal would be a powerful signal to the American people, to the Russian people and to the world.

Second, begin discussions on reducing and managing cyber nuclear risks. The threat of a cyber intrusion to nuclear facilities, strategic warning systems, and nuclear command and control increases the probability of accidents, miscalculations, or blunders. Possible cyber-attacks leading to the theft of nuclear materials, nuclear sabotage, or false warning of a missile attack are the most frightening and potentially consequential aspect of the cyber threat. Developing clear “rules of the road” to reduce cyber nuclear risks is imperative.

Third, work jointly to restart bilateral crisis management dialogue, including among uniformed military leaders in charge of nuclear forces, and multilateral crisis management dialogue throughout the Euro-Atlantic region, to reduce military risks. Continuing curtailment of military-to-military and crisis management dialogue increases the risk of the ultimate “lose-lose” scenario:  a military conflict. We must work together, including our militaries, to increase transparency and trust.

Fourth, work jointly to preserve and extend existing agreements and treaties, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and New START Treaty. These two agreements are crucial to sustaining transparency and predictability.  In the absence of these agreements, there will be no regulations on nuclear forces, exacerbating today’s already high risks.

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Germany, China reaffirm their support for Iran nuclear deal

Tehran :Germany and China have reiterated that they are committed to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries following the United States’ withdrawal.
Speaking alongside visiting China’s Premier Li Keqiang , Chancellor Angela Merkel said the nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was well-negotiated. The Chinese premier also warned against the unforeseeable consequences if the deal falls apart.
“We remain committed to the nuclear agreement. We think it was well negotiated,” Merkel said. “There is more that needs to be negotiated with Iran, but we think it is better to stay in the agreement.”
However, Merkel implied that Berlin could do little to protect international companies against punitive US measures, adding that it is up to individual firms to decide if they want to invest in Iran.
Earlier in the day, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, expressed Beijing’s resolve to continue efforts to safeguard the achievements of a 2015 nuclear agreement, putting forward a five-point proposal.
“Facing the complicated and stern situation at present, China clearly put up a five-point proposal emphasizing in particular that international rules should be observed, major countries should show their due integrity and sense of responsibility, unilateral sanctions can only run counter to one’s desire and should be abandoned, and dialogs and consultations should adhered to a constructive approach in discussions about issues of common concerns,” Hua said.

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Russian MoD accuses Americans of violating INF Treaty and following Neo-colonialist Policy

MoD: US Violates INF Treaty by Deploying MK-41 Launchers for Tomahawks in Europe


In an interview with Il Giornale newspaper, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu commented on the issues of US strategy in Iraq and Libya, the US violating the INF Treaty, Russia-US relations, the Ukrainian crisis and war in Syria.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The United States is violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) by deploying in Europe missile defense system, whose launchers might be used for firing Tomahawk cruise missiles at the European part of Russia’s territory, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview released on Wednesday.

“We have repeatedly and publicly made it clear in all major international fora that it is the United States that is directly violating the INF Treaty, having installed, during the deployment of a missile shield in Europe, its MK-41 vertical launching systems, which might be used for the launch of Tomahawk cruise missiles. The destructive radius of these missiles covers almost all the European part of Russia’s territory,” Shoigu told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper.

Shoigu added that, at the same time, it was Russia that was accused of alleged violations of the treaty.

“The US party is currently preparing its withdrawal from the INF treaty. The reason for such a step is the alleged violations of the treaty by Russia. But there are no facts, only claims,” Shoigu said.

US Strategy in Iraq, Libya

The United States is implementing the strategy of neocolonialism, which has already been tested in Iraq and Libya, Shoigu said.

“It is about the neocolonialism strategy, which has already been tested by the United States in Iraq and Libya and which consists in supporting any, even the most barbarous ideologies in order to weaken legitimate governments,” Shoigu told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper.

According to the minister, the United States also stages attacks with the use of weapons of mass destruction or humanitarian disasters and, at the final stages, uses military force to create “manageable chaos,” which enables the transnational corporations to extract the existing assets to the US economy.

“Russia, which advocates the equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with all the countries within the concept of multipolar world, will always be an obstacle for such strategies’ implementation,” Shoigu stressed.

“I am convinced that any issues can and should be settled without the use of military force. I have repeatedly invited the Pentagon’s head to discuss the existing problems of the global and regional security, including the fight against terrorism. But the United States is not ready for such a dialogue,” Shoigu told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper.

“There is only one communication channel between our general staffs now, which is used in negotiations, including at the level of the chiefs of general staff, aimed, first of all, at preventing the military activities of Russia and the United States from turning into a military conflict between our nuclear powers,” Shoigu said.

Recuperating Russia Viewed by West as Threat to US Dominance

Western countries view recuperating Russia not as an ally but as a threat to the dominance of the United States, Sergei Shoigu stressed.

“Today recuperating Russia is being viewed not as an ally but as a threat to the US dominance. We are being accused of some aggressive plans with regard to the West, which, in turn, continues to deploy new forces near our borders,” Shoigu told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper.

Among such unfriendly steps of the West Shoigu mentioned the recent decision of NATO to establish two new commands, responsible for the protection of maritime communication and the prompt movement of the US troops to Europe, and the increase of the alliance’s contingents in the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania from 2,000 soldiers to 15,000.

Russia-US Tensions

“We often hear from the US that the crisis in bilateral relations has been provoked by Russia’s alleged aggressive actions on the international arena. However, we are firmly convinced that tensions in our relations have been artificially fueled all this time by those US elites, who believe that the world is divided into the US [part] and the wrong [one],” Shoigu told newspaper.

Shoigu added that it was the United States that in recent years had unilaterally broke key agreements, which formed the backbone of the global security. The defense minister pointed to Washington-initiated NATO expansion toward Russian borders, despite the promises that were given to the Soviet leadership during Germany’s reunification.

“For over 25 years we have been deluded by [claims saying] that there have been no promises, until the National Security Agency declassified archives with the documents of that period, in which it has been set out literally,” Shoigu said.

Shoigu has called on the United States, in particular, to explain why US military bases were edging closer to Russia.

“I, as president of the Russian Geographical Society, have for a long time wanted to present the US colleagues with a globe so that they would look at it and explain to us, why the ‘US adversaries’ designated by them are located in the Middle East and East Asia, while all their military bases and groups are nearing Russia’s borders,” the minister told the newspaper.

Russian officials have repeatedly expressed concern over NATO’s move closer to Russian borders. In May, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, regarding Poland’s wish to have a permanent US military base in the country, that NATO’s advance toward Russian borders did not contribute to the overall stability and security. Peskov added, however, that the decision to host a NATO base was for a hosting country to make.

Syrian Settlement

Iran and Turkey are playing key roles in stabilization of the situation in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview released on Wednesday.

“Iran, along with Turkey, has historically been one of the main actors in the region and plays a key role in stabilization of the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Shoigu stated.

The United States has not allocated any funds to support civilians in Syria affected by the war, Shoigu said.

“Affirming its ‘noble’ objectives and ‘good’ will, the United States has not allocated a cent to provide real assistance to Syrian civilians devastated by long years of war,” Shoigu added.

According to the minister, dozens of civilians continue to be killed by munition and mortars left in liberated Raqqa after massive bombings by the US-led international coalition.

Crisis in Ukraine

The armed rebellion in Ukraine in February 2014 were preceded by all signs of the United States waging a “hybrid war,” Russian Defense Minister stated.

According to Shoigu, the “hybrid actions” refer to various forms of pressure, short of military force, employed by one state against another one, including control over mass media, economic sanctions, the activities in cyberspace, fostering domestic unrest, and the use of specialized groups and specialists to carry out terrorist attacks, subversion and sabotage acts.

“Since the 1990s, these methods have been actively used by the United States in former Yugoslavia, Libya, [Russia’s] Chechen Republic and, most recently, in Syria. All the signs of the ‘hybrid war’ were apparent in Ukraine ahead of the armed rebellion in February 2014, with the European countries’ passive participation in these ‘hybrid actions,’” Shoigu stressed.

The necessary prerequisites for carrying out such campaigns include control of media with a global reach, possessing superior telecommunications and information technologies, a firm hold on global financial systems and an experience in deploying special forces in other countries, according to the Russian defense minister.

“What countries, other than the United States and the United Kingdom, have this kind of potential?” Shoigu said.

The defense minister added that London and Washington tested these methods in Iraq during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

“This is an important detail, because there had been the necessary technologies when the Soviet Union and a bipolar world existed, but there had been no opportunities. And, by the way, the US president at the time [of the Gulf War] was none other than George H. W. Bush, former director of the CIA,” Shoigu said.

In February 2014, following months of protests over President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an EU association agreement, the Ukrainian government was toppled. Two regions in the southeast of Ukraine refused to recognize the new government, which they believed had come to power as a result of the coup. The central authorities and the southeast of Ukraine have been locked in conflict ever since.

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July 12, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PETITION! Say NO to the Federal Plan to Dump & Store Nuclear Waste in South Australia!!


Dear Minister Canavan

CC: Flinders Ranges Council, Kimba District Council, SA Government

I write in opposition to the Federal Government’s nuclear waste plans in South Australia.

We don’t want to risk the regions’ rich heritage or industries like tourism and farming. SA has laws that make the development of a nuclear waste dump and store illegal and it has not been proven that this plan is needed.

This process has caused great divisions in the affected communities.

I urge your government to take an evidence-based approach to the management of Australia’s nuclear waste. Please stop the current plan and start an open assessment of the full range of future options.

I say no to the federal plan to dump and store nuclear waste in SA.

Petition link here;

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Olympics: Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay to start in Fukushima

(Mainichi Japan)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tokyo Olympic organizers said Thursday the torch relay for the 2020 Games will start on March 26 that year in Fukushima Prefecture, which was heavily hit by the 2011 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster.

The plan was approved in a meeting attended by top metropolitan government officials after a proposal to start the torch tour in the northeastern Japan prefecture.

“With Fukushima named the starting point of the torch relay, (the relay) will be a symbol of the Olympics of recovery,” said reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino.

“We want to use this as a global showcase for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. In order to restore livelihoods in the disaster-struck areas, we hope that victims take part (in the relay) as torch runners,” he said.

Tokyo Olympic organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori stressed that the committee had tried to formulate the torch relay plan by listening to various ideas.

“It’s not possible to figure out the plan which would absolutely be the best. We agreed to do it with the disaster-hit areas and their recovery in mind,” he said.

Organizers were considering starting the sacred flame relay, which is expected to run for 121 days, in either the disaster-affected areas or in Okinawa Prefecture, the starting point of the torch relay for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

People in Fukushima Prefecture welcomed the torch relay plan, which the prefecture sees as a good chance to raise the profile of its recovery all over the world.

“We are grateful that they have considered the feelings of the disaster victims,” said Jun Suzuki, an official of the prefecture’s Olympic and Paralympic Games promotion office, adding, “I believe it will be an opportunity to encourage Fukushima people.”

Masamichi Matsumoto, a storekeeper who was evacuated from the town of Futaba, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to Iwaki city in the prefecture, rejoiced at the announcement, saying, “Memories of the disaster are wearing thin as more than seven years have passed, but it is the utmost delight for us to have an occasion to attract (worldwide) attention.”

“We expect the (torch) relay will bring about great excitement in the devastated areas,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.

The torch relay will visit all of Japan’s 47 prefectures and end on July 24, 2020, with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron during the Games’ opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Scientists assessed the options for growing nuclear power. They are grim.

That’s profoundly concerning for climate change.

Is nuclear power going to help the United States decarbonize its energy supply and fight climate change?

Probably not.

That is the conclusion of a remarkable new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in early July — remarkable because it is not written by opponents of nuclear power, as one might expect given the conclusion. The authors are in fact extremely supportive of nuclear and view its loss as a matter of “profound concern”:

Achieving deep decarbonization of the energy system will require a portfolio of every available technology and strategy we can muster. It should be a source of profound concern for all who care about climate change that, for entirely predictable and resolvable reasons, the United States appears set to virtually lose nuclear power, and thus a wedge of reliable and low-carbon energy, over the next few decades.

Still, despite their evident belief in the need for nuclear power, the researchers are unable to construct a plausible scenario in which it thrives. And it’s not for lack of looking — the paper is a methodical walk through the possibilities for both existing and new nuclear technology. The researchers really want it to work. They just can’t see it happening.

It’s a relatively short paper; let’s quickly hit the important takeaways.

The existing nuclear fleet is shrinking

Existing nuclear plants in the US are having a rough time, getting undercut on energy markets by cheaper natural gas and renewables. A wave of retirements is underway that is probably going to take around 10 GW of nuclear capacity offline.

A handful of states have taken measures to keep nuclear plants open (see this post), but doing so requires “expensive refurbishment and careful regulatory consideration,” the authors write, and will only “slow, not reverse, the losses.”

So then what about new plants?

Existing nuclear plant technology is a dead end

Existing nuclear plants are light-water reactors (LWRs), which were always intended to be the first generation of nuclear plants. But subsequent generations have not materialized, and we’re still mostly dealing with LWRs.

Attempts to build new LWRs in the US have been a fiasco, ending up canceled (as in the beleaguered Summer plant in South Carolina, which was 40 percent complete) or endlessly delayed and over-budget (as in the new Vogtle reactors in Georgia).

The researchers are blunt about the prospects for new plants based on existing technology:

There is no reason to believe that any utility in the United States will build a new large reactor in the foreseeable future. These reactors have proven unaffordable and economically uncompetitive. In the few markets with the will to build them, they have proven to be unconstructible. The combination of political instruments and market developments that would render them attractive, such as investment and production credits, robust carbon pricing, and high natural gas costs, is unlikely to materialize soon.

And it’s worth noting that those political instruments and market developments, if they did manifest, would also benefit nuclear’s low-carbon competitors, which are already kicking its ass.

What about advanced, non-LWR designs?

Advanced nuclear plant designs are not happening

The agency responsible for shepherding advanced nuclear designs to commercial viability is the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy (NE).

The researchers did a close analysis of NE’s efforts, “using budget data acquired through the Freedom of Information Act and semistructured interviews with 30 senior nuclear energy experts.”

What they found is that NE has spent about $2 billion pursuing advanced designs since the late 1990s, with “very little to show for it.” Funding is inadequate, half of it goes to maintain existing testing infrastructure, it varies from year to year, and it’s spread shallowly across several technologies and research labs.

“In interviews with leaders across the enterprise,” they write, “those associated with the DOE and the national laboratories expressed either alarm or despair at the trajectory of advanced fission innovation in the United States.”

Theoretically, this decade-plus record of dysfunction could be turned around with “more competent stewardship of nuclear innovation, substantially greater appropriations, and a change in energy markets,” but all those, they note, are “very heavy lifts.”

The one bright spot in the advanced-nuclear area is TerraPower (Bill Gates’s nuclear startup), which has had some limited success getting licenses and testing from the feds, but in general “has found it remarkably challenging to build or secure access to the range of equipment, materials, and technology required to successfully commercialize its innovative design” — so challenging, in fact, that it’s now partnering with China.

The authors conclude that advanced fission designs have no hope at all of commercializing in the US by mid-century, which is when the US economy needs to be decarbonized.

Small modular reactors to the rescue? Maybe not.

The other great hope of the industry is factory-built small modular reactors (SMRs), which are — or will be, it is hoped — faster and cheaper to build than giant plants because they are smaller and built from standardized parts. They can be deployed incrementally, matched to energy demand in particular times and places, and are meltdown-proof without human intervention.

Several companies, most notably NuScale (which has already submitted its design to the feds), are trying to develop light-water SMRs. NuScale wants to build a test reactor on the grounds of the Idaho National Laboratories and more than a dozen companies have inquired about doing the same.

So, with already-proven technology and lower construction costs, are SMRs the key to saving nuclear in the US?

Using “a combination of engineering economic analysis and the use of structured procedures to elicit expert judgments,” the researchers took a close look at SMRs. Indeed, they “expended much effort in developing plausible scenarios of how an SMR domestic market might develop.”

The results? Grim. Under every plausible scenario, power from SMRs is (and remains, even with subsequent generations of the tech) substantially more expensive than power from competitors. So they probably can’t compete directly in power markets.

The researchers also examine four indirect ways that SMRs could build a market:

Industrial process heat: One alternative is to use SMRs to generate heat rather than power, for use in industrial applications that require high temperatures. The researchers find a substantial market exists for such heat, but when the costs of SMRs are compared to the cost of alternative heat sources (like natural gas), “the number of potential customers falls precipitously.”

Also, private companies (unlike utilities) can’t pass costs on to customers, so they’re less likely to take a chance constructing unfamiliar tech that still faces unresolved siting and regulatory issues. “When it comes time to sign contracts and pour concrete,” they conclude, “it is highly unlikely that any industrial customer would opt for a light water SMR.”

Power + desalination: Another frequently discussed alternative is to use SMRs as a kind of hybrid. The thing about nuclear plants is that they need to run more-or-less constantly; it’s expensive and inefficient to turn them on and off. But on-and-off power is what’s needed to flexibly complement variable renewable energy.

So the idea is to run SMRs constantly; when power is needed, they would provide power, and when it’s not, they would desalinate water. But after a close examination of the water situation in the US, the researchers found that there are only a few niche markets where desalination might be needed in the next few decades. And where they exist, desalinating with natural gas is much, much cheaper. This is likely another dead end, at least in the relevant time frame.

Military bases: Another thought is that SMRs might be used to power military bases — that the US military might serve as a kind first customer, helping SMRs scale up. The authors deem this “both unwise and unlikely to succeed.”

It is unlikely to succeed because the unique design requirements for the military are likely to yield an SMR too expensive for commercial viability. It is unwise because using the military as a tool to revive a particular industry is a Pandora’s box of political and ethical issues.

Plus, as they note, defaulting to the military to save nuclear is tantamount to admitting commercial defeat — not something likely to inspire market confidence.

SMRs for export: The final idea tossed around to jumpstart SMRs is building them for export. The idea is that other countries will have political and energy systems more amenable to nuclear. And the authors’ analysis supports the notion that there’s a global market for “many hundreds of light water SMRs.”

But there are substantial barriers. For one thing, many of the potential customers face “economic, political, and institutional realities” that render them unprepared to handle nuclear power at scale, and likely unwilling to accept close oversight by the US.

Aside from that, most decarbonization in the world will need to come from a select few big countries, and most of those countries are already nuclear-capable and unlikely to import hundreds of power plants from a geopolitical rival. “We remain skeptical that a US industry of factory-manufactured SMRs could be built primarily on the basis of exports,” they conclude.

In short, there don’t seem to be any viable markets to scale SMRs up. Consequently, “several hundred billion dollars of direct and indirect subsidies would be needed to support their development and deployment over the next several decades.”

On top of that, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission would need to radically update and revise its regulatory review process. On top of that, the US would need to commit to total decarbonization, clearly and unequivocally enough to give markets confidence that carbon prices will reach and exceed $100/ton. And this would all have to happen soon, in the next few years.

“All these developments are possible,” they note, “but we believe they are most unlikely.”

There’s probably not going to be a nuclear wedge

So let’s review. Current, giant LMR reactors aren’t going to get built in the US — they have proven economic and political suicide. Even keeping current plants open will require extraordinary interventions. Advanced fission is unlikely to commercialize in the next few decades. And SMRs currently face grim market prospects. They are unlikely to mature and scale up without hundreds of billions in subsidies, substantial reform at NE and NRC, and a high, secure national carbon price.

It’s not impossible to imagine a high carbon price in coming decades, or natural gas prices rising, and SMRs finding success in niche markets. And it’s certainly possible to imagine failing to fully decarbonize by mid-century and needing nuclear to finish the job. The researchers are blunt about what would be needed for nuclear to be ready by then.

To assure that we have safe and affordable advanced reactor designs that can be deployed at scale by midcentury, the United States will need to dramatically increase and refocus the budget of the DOE’s NE toward advanced reactor development. Perceptive and ruthlessly pragmatic program officers will need to be recruited: ones with a sense of the mission’s urgency. The government would have to sustain that higher level of support in the face of constant short-term political pressures and, undoubtedly, organized opposition from advocates of other generating sources. Part of that increased budget would have to be dedicated to building new infrastructure, such as fast-flux test facilities and other system test beds. Even with a higher budget, surge funding may be needed in some years to support demonstration reactor development and program leadership would eventually have to focus on moving two or three systematically chosen designs to the point of commercialization.

“Perhaps these things can happen; the United States is no stranger to ambitious undertakings,” they conclude, “but it will take both vision and a level of commitment that are sorely lacking today.”

Nuclear proponents might reasonably respond that, yes, nuclear cannot contribute to decarbonization without substantial policy help. But decarbonization by mid-century will be impossible without substantial policy, period. No combination of technologies can scale up fast enough without help.

But renewable energy technologies seem to be on a trajectory toward subsidy independence (though plenty of policy and regulatory barriers to advanced energy tech remain). They are falling in cost at ridiculous rates — not just wind and solar, but storage, EVs, and other grid-edge technologies as well. Policy can accelerate their progress, or impede it, but at this point it cannot stop them. They have a momentum of their own, purely on economics.

Nuclear is in a different situation. Its current trajectory is decline; it needs lots and lots of new policy and public money to reverse that trajectory. That is a much more difficult political lift. And like the authors of the PNAS paper, I don’t have much faith that it will get done. For better or worse, renewable energy is the name of the game for the next few decades.

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