Can common ground be found between “warmers” and “skeptics”? Can we identify energy sources that satisfy the concerns of both groups?
Guest Post by Charles Hart
Warmers want energy that does not emit CO2 because they look at the climate data and conclude that CAGW is a credible threat that needs to be addressed. Their energy sources of choice are typically wind and solar.
Skeptics look at the same climate data and conclude the evidence for CAGW is just too weak to justify accepting the current high cost and unreliability of wind/solar. They look at Europe and notice that nuclear has given France the smallest carbon footprint and wind/solar has not been effective in any European country in keeping energy both low cost and low carbon.
What about nuclear? Some warmers support it (e.g. Dr. James Hansen) but others do not because of toxic waste streams, lingering concerns about safety, cost, and the potential for proliferation.
What if we could have nuclear power that was far “greener” than current technology, cost considerably less, was even safer and more proliferation resistant? What if this “greener” nuclear technology had already been proven in working prototypes?
Welcome to LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactors) technology. Demonstrated in the 60′s, the thorium/uranium fuel cycle molten salt reactor (LFTR) approach was abandoned to concentrate efforts on the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle pressurized water reactor (PWR) during the cold war bomb making era, an era when lots of plutonium was considered a good thing, not something to be worried about.
LFTR (compared to current PWR): A waste steam 10,000 times less toxic (some variations of LFTR can actually burn PWR waste). Cost <50%, thus competitive with coal. Even safer (no fuel rods to melt, no high pressure radioactive water to escape, passive criticality control ….). More proliferation resistant.
What about the politics? Replacing coal with LFTRs is far easier politically than imposing cap n trade or carbon taxes. $10B invested over 10 years could update this technology and make it ready for commercialization. LFTR is attractive to both Democrats/warmers and Republicans/skeptics. It is very green, cost competitive and can be put into production for a realively modest sum.
For more information see:
American Scientist “Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors”
“Energy Cheaper Than From Coal”
Mechanical Engineering Magazine “Too Good to Leave on the Shelf”
Dr James Hansen LFTR endorsement
LFTR nuts to bolts.