We must deploy today’s GenIII reactors immediately. We cannot wait any longer. These GenIII reactors have passive safety features undreamt of in Chernobyl and Fukishima.
And they have the GenIV feature of being modular. Think about that for a moment. Older nukes were the “Rolls Royce” of the energy world. They were hand-crafted site-constructed expensive beasts! But GenIII reactors can be modularised and put up on the assembly line. Safety systems can be standardised as part of the production line process. It will bring the costs down dramatically, and cuts Rolls Royce costs down to the Hyundai level, while being better than the original.
Now, GenIV reactors are still my favourite as they burn nuclear waste. They breed it up. I’ve said repeatedly that we have about 500 years of fuel sitting around in cooling ponds, just waiting for GenIV reactors to burn it.
But it’s not that simple. We don’t have access to all that energy yet. Even if I waved a magic wand and overnight and we had the thousands of GenIV nukes we need, it would still take a few decades to breed up our nuclear waste to the right purity to run them! That is, although we *already* have 500 years worth of nuclear fuel sitting around in our ‘waste’ cooling ponds, it will take a few decades to get at it all as the fuel only doubles every 7 years.
So build the safe GenIII nukes now, and then we’ll have all the waste we need ready for the GenIV reactors when they finally come off the production line! As a friend over on BNC said,
Gen III+ reactors (AP1000, ESBWR) are also largely ‘modular’ with parts built in a factory and assembled on site. We can do this now. New designs should be developed, but there is no need to wait. In 10 years China will be building AP1000 (or their higher-power variant the CAP1400) reactors at rates that will astonish the world. They are building the module factories now.
We have the technology right now. We can do this! We should build AP1000 assembly lines to fly them out the doors onto the trucks and freight them straight to site for assembly like so much giant-sized Lego. It’s time to do this, and the faster we start the better we’ll cope with peak oil and climate change.