Why Nuclear Failed the First Time and a Crucial Small Fix


Two energy commentators in Oilprice, Leonard Hyman and William Tilles, noted that the COP26 climate conference of 2021 was one of many news events suggesting that there will be a resurgence of nuclear fission reactors.

However, they started their comments from the other end, “Why Did Nuclear Power Fail the First Time Around?”

They listed three major reasons.  First, the giant quasi-governmental projects (which are essentially scaled up submarine reactors) are expensive in management, construction, and grid stability when a giant unit is down for any reason.  Second, people were concerned about the worst-case possible disasters from those giant reactors, even if the bottom-line risk is small.  Third, people are skeptical about storing nuclear waste for thousands of years. 

Hyman and Tillis mentioned small manufactured units as a way to reduce costs by half and reducing the size of any potential disasters. 

Meanwhile, they caution that the public will still be concerned about nuclear waste.  My suggestion: reprocess the “spent” fuel, as the French do, so that most of the radioactive material is consumed rather than stored—more production per unit of fuel and much less storage cost and risk.


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