Essay by Eric Worrall
“… we know they don’t have a clue how they’re going to get there. And most of them are not on track to get there. …”
John Kerry Lays It All Out on Climate Change
Biden’s envoy calls for a World War II-like mobilization.
By The Editorial Board
The world needs to treat climate change like World War II when “in order to win the war that we had to organize ourselves to take control of the skies and take control of the seas and be able to smash the battlements that had been built along the coastline of France and Belgium and the Netherlands,” Mr. Kerry said.
“Let’s face it, a whole bunch of companies in the world have chosen to say, ‘I’m going to be net zero by 2050,’” he said. “And you and I, we know they don’t have a clue how they’re going to get there. And most of them are not on track to get there.”
Maybe that’s because no one else knows either because with current technology it isn’t possible. That’s certainly true of governments in the U.S. and Europe, which have committed to zeroing out their CO2 emissions by 2050 but haven’t implemented the policies or developed the technologies to get there. Not that it would make much difference if they did as long as China and India continue to build coal plants to fuel their economic growth.
…Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/john-kerry-lays-it-all-out-on-climate-davos-11674170143
Utility scale nuclear power could get the world to Net Zero, though as our Willis pointed out in 2021, the 2050 target verges on impossible, even with nuclear power. Most greens seem to hate nuclear power more than they hate CO2.
To his credit Kerry is not one of those greens. Kerry helped shut down US advanced nuclear reactor research in 1994, during the Clinton Administration, but since then, Kerry admitted he was wrong. In recent times he has said some nice things about nuclear power.
Nevertheless, despite the recent talk of supporting nuclear, we’re not exactly seeing a nuclear renaissance in Western countries, including the USA.
So here’s a challenge Kerry. If you want companies to go zero emissions, and you truly support nuclear power, let American businesses install their own small campus scale nuclear reactors.
There is already cautious industry support for campus scale nuclear. Omdia, a major tech research company, recently advocated campus scale nuclear reactors for data centres.
Small scale nuclear is much safer than big reactors, because small scale fission reactions are self quenching. Basic physics, surface area to volume ratio means neutrons escape small cores much more easily than large cores.
Unlike big cores like Chernobyl, which continued fissioning even after it slumped into a puddle, the physical shape of a small core has to be perfect to sustain the fission reaction.
Even if a small core meltdown occurs, the moment the meltdown causes the core material to deform, and the core loses its optimum shape, the surface area of the core material rises (puddles have a large surface area, compared to a cube or sphere), more neutrons escape through the larger surface area, and the fission reaction stops, because the small core can no longer trap enough neutrons for a sustained fission reaction.
I’m sure loads of American companies would quietly love to embrace the predictable low cost energy and reliability a campus scale nuclear reactor could provide. Onsite campus scale nuclear would give a massive boost to companies seeking to answer Kerry’s call to Net Zero. If the cost of modular, campus scale reactors could be kept reasonable, there would be an absolute rush of private companies seeking their own cheap nuclear power, investing vast amounts of private capital into zero carbon nuclear energy, to stay competitive with early adopters.