A Reliable Electricity Supply – Six Months and Half a Dozen Years

Dr Kelvin Kemm
Chairman: Stratek Global

Electricity is the lifeblood of the country. If it stops flowing, the economy immediately starts to decay. The average citizen notices it immediately when the electricity stops flowing, because the kettle does not work, and the lights go out. So there is an instant public reaction.

The public demands; ‘a solution’.

So people look for a ‘quick-fix’.

Unfortunately it is not so easy, it is far more difficult to generate electricity than people realise. Coal power stations are huge; you can park a couple of Boeings inside one, easily.

But the public wants a quick-fix to an electricity shortage so they jump at apparent solutions, such as solar panels and wind turbines. These renewable energy devices are not equal to a huge coal power station, not by any stretch of the imagination. There is also the added problem that solar is only available for part of the day, and not at night at all. Wind is only available when the wind blows, and you don’t know when that will be.

Imagine that you have just undergone open heart surgery and you’re in the Intensive Care Unit; ask yourself; would you rather have the Intensive Care Unit attached to solar and wind power, or attached to coal and nuclear power?

If you are a miner working two or three kilometres underground in an inherently hot, dusty gold mine, that same question is most important too!

People these days are constantly coming up with all sorts of ideas for quick-fix energy, even though very many of the people concerned have no technology training. They say; sea-wave energy; tidal energy; a wind energy device which works like a rotating washing line; use hydrogen; geothermal, as if all of these are ingenious new ideas. They are not; they are all very old ideas and were not adopted on a large scale, for very good reasons.

Mostly they were not adopted because they cannot produce large compact power, and also because they are very unreliable.

Here we have so far considered only technological questions, and the results for the ‘renewables’ are not so good. But now, unfortunately for renewables, if you add in economic factors, the renewables become worse.

If society wants a continuously-running lifeblood of electricity, then the electricity must still flow when the Sun is not shining and when the wind drops. What this means is that when a solar and wind combination is used, there must always be a reliable continuous alternative supply on standby; such as coal and nuclear.

But if a coal power station is standing idle much of the day, because solar is being used and the wind is blowing, the staff at the coal station are still being paid. The costs at the coal station are still mounting. Those costs of idled coal plants must be added to the apparent costs of solar and wind, but that is generally not done. One has to ask: where do the costs of a coal-fired power station being kept in reserve in idle mode get added into the financial equation.

There are definitely valuable applications for solar and wind, but driving an electric train across the vast and arid South African Karoo, or operating a gold mine, are not for them. Wind turbines can be used for pumping water up into a dam. Solar can be used for an application which only needs power over lunchtime.

The challenge is to find technologically sensible and economically viable applications for all energy sources. One has to remember that large wind and solar power generation came about as an apparent significant force as a result of political fears about possible climate change, and that climate may be altered by carbon dioxide emitted by industry.

One has to ask; what if that idea is actually wrong?

What if we have been led by the nose down the wrong path?

This is a question which needs serious consideration

Realities of Africa

Let us now digress to consider the real size of Africa. Believe it or not but Africa is larger than the United States, China, Europe, the UK, and India; added together. South Africa alone is the same size as the whole of Western Europe added together, with the distance from Pretoria to Cape Town being the same as that of Rome to London.

The point is that solutions which may work for Europe, or appear feasible for Europe, are not necessarily at all applicable to African countries. African countries have to make their own decisions about their future. They have to choose energy systems which work for them.

The real size of Africa.
The continent is larger than China, the US, the UK, Europe and India added together.

African countries must not be persuaded by other countries to follow energy policies dictated by them, particularly when they are mainly in the interests of the ‘donor’ countries.

In the case of South Africa, which relies on coal for by far the largest fraction of its electricity, the coalfields are all in the far north east of the country. So in transmitting electricity from the coalfields to the Cape area, the distance is further than Rome to London.

As a consequence, about half a century ago, South Africa decided to build a nuclear power station on the southern tip of Africa, near Cape Town.

The Koeberg power station started operating in 1984 and supplies about 50% of the electricity of the Western Cape Province.

A really important factor in the case of nuclear energy is that so little fuel is required, so the transportation of fuel is not an issue in the slightest. In contrast, coal has to arrive at a coal station continuously, so coal plants need to be sited near to a coal mine. From a fuel delivery point of view you can position a nuclear plant anywhere.

Illustration of the energy density of Uranium in comparison to commodities like coal and petrol

During the later 1960’s and the 1970s there was significant building of nuclear power stations in numbers of advanced countries, but this construction slowed down primarily due to vociferous anti-nuclear propaganda which was stirred in many countries around the world.

But in fact in reviewing in the 2020’s the decades of past world nuclear power performance it is clear that nuclear has turned out to be the cheapest, safest, cleanest, and greenest, of any energy source ever.

Reactors built in the 1970’s are still running today, producing inexpensive reliable electricity.  Koeberg produces South Africa’s cheapest electricity.

Nuclear is safe

Contrary to much public belief, not a single person was killed by nuclear radiation at Fukushima, and in fact not a single person was even injured by nuclear radiation during the much publicized incident.

The Fukushima incident was an amazing demonstration of a massive amount of power going out of control under the worst possible circumstances, and nuclear radiation did not harm anybody, or any private property.

The Fukushima story was twisted

The Fukushima incident could not have been a worse collection of factors all coming together… yet the drama unfolded such that one could not have had a better nuclear safety experiment had it been intentionally designed.

The reactors were old, early models of Generation II, and they were sited on a dangerous coastline, a known area for earthquakes. Then the largest earthquake on record struck. That produced a massive tsunami. The size of the tsunami exceeded the height of the defensive barrier wall.

The tsunami also wrecked the entire district, for kilometres around. There were some bad management decisions at the plant, and Japanese procedure in certain respects was poor. What a combination of factors!

So what happened?

What few people know is that there were two different Fukushima nuclear power stations; Fukushima Daini (meaning Number 1), and Fukushima Daiichi (meaning Number 2). The drama happened at Daiichi. When the earthquake struck, the ground shook. Automatic detectors at both Daini, and a few kilometres away, at Daiichi, triggered plant shutdowns, as per design.

At both sites all the operating reactors shut themselves down successfully. The operators at both Daini and Daiichi must have breathed a sigh of relief. The fellows at Daini were justified, because at their plant reactors all closed down, and everything was fine.

But at Daiichi … 55 minutes later the tsunami’s wall-of-water arrived, and it was higher than the anti-tsunami protection wall. No such water arrived at Daini.

When a reactor shuts down in emergency mode, cooling-water pumps have to run for about five days to remove residual heat from the reactor. With some motor cars when they are switched off after a long hot run, the radiator fan keeps running for a while, to cool the hot engine slowly and carefully. That is the exactly the same reason that a nuclear reactor needs some days of cooling; to remove residual heat.

However reactor cooling pumps run off incoming electricity, supplied from the municipality. But the local Fukushima municipality had been smashed up by the tsunami. There was no incoming electricity, so the electrical pumps failed. No problem, diesel backup pumps kicked in. But there had been a poor management design decision and the diesel supply tanks had been placed outdoors. They were washed away, so the diesel pumps only ran for a while, on the fuel which was already inside the building. Then it ran out.

So the third level of protection kicked in, the reactors switched to battery power. But the batteries had only been designed to last 8 hours. And we can go on… the roads were smashed up, so no Police; Fire Brigade; Army; Air Force; help was going to arrive. But those services had also been smashed up in any event.  World news reporters were screaming for answers, every few minutes.

There were more unfortunate factors too, like a highly formalised internal reporting structure, yet in spite of all this, nobody was injured by nuclear radiation.

That is an incredible indication of just how safe a nuclear plant really is.

Modern Nuclear technology is far advanced

Nuclear power technology has advanced dramatically over the past couple of decades, since the earlier boom in nuclear reactor construction of the 1970’s.

Of course, by world technological standards, the 1970’s were a very long time ago, and technology has advanced considerably. Back then the internet did not exist; nor did email; there were no cell phones; there was no personal GPS; no non-stick frying pans; and no 2-in-1 shampoo….

Technological advances since then which are less visible to the public include the development of advanced metal alloys; composite materials; and electronic controls. Such developments have enabled huge advances in solar and wind technology, which is undeniable, but equally there have been huge technological advances in nuclear power, which strangely, huge sectors of society overlook, and even try to ignore.

Indication of the standards of life of decades ago.
It is not reasonable to compare standards of the 1970’s with those of the 2020’s

Does one really imagine that a nuclear reactor designed and built after, say 2010, is the same as one designed and built during the couple of decades after 1960? Are modern nuclear reactors really still stuck in a pre-internet, pre-cell phone era? Clearly not!

So if nuclear power performance has been so good over the past half-century, it will be even better during the coming half century.

South Africa built the Koeberg nuclear power station to supply electricity from the South ‘upwards’ to complement the coal-supplied electricity coming from the North ‘downwards’, but there is still a huge space in-between which includes points of high electricity consumption such as large mining complexes and major manufacturing centres.

So in 1993 a decision was made to start investigating the potential in developing a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) to be placed in South African areas in which there were no major supplies of water. South Africa has minimal spare inland water.

So South Africa became the first country in the world to start designing a commercial SMR. The project grew to a significant size, with a total workforce of some 2,000 people, and by 2008 the reactor was ready to be built. The pressure vessel was ordered and it arrived in South Africa.

But 2008 was an ominous year.

That was the year of the great US-induced international financial meltdown when major US banks went bankrupt, and it was only a few months later in the following year that South Africa had an abrupt change of government. Those factors, and a few others, led to the PBMR project to be put into a ‘Pause mode’ not long after, from which it never emerged. Anti-nuclear propaganda worldwide was also in full swing, which very much influenced decisions.

The HTMR-100 Emerges

What positive action did happen as a result of the PBMR programme is that a group of engineers and scientists from the PBMR project started their own project to design a cheaper, simpler, and faster-to-build reactor as a derivative of the PBMR.

It was called the HTMR-100.

The HTMR-100 was designed for conditions like a typical South African mining community.

The HTMR-100 is half buried underground.

The Ventilation Stack stands on ground level. (Red Line)

Over the following number of years the HTMR-100 was designed to the point at which it has been ready to build since 2020. The HTMR-100 is privately owned but requires significant funding to move into construction of the First Of A Kind (FOAK) model.

Meanwhile the team continues to work, while also carrying out other nuclear development for foreign countries.

International opinion changes

A strong positive is that from about 2020 the international political climate started to swing in favour of nuclear, and during 2022 the swing accelerated dramatically towards nuclear.

A number of world leaders then found the courage to stand up in public and declare that their countries would move towards nuclear power and start new nuclear projects. Some African leaders stood up and announced that they saw nuclear power as the future for their countries. They are totally correct.

The realisation started to sink in that the world could not make progress into the future without the reliability of substantial nuclear power.

Journalists and youth groups have also come out pro-nuclear.

Even the European Union declared nuclear to be green for taxonomy purposes, thereby making nuclear not only respectable in the eyes of many EU politicians, but also opening up avenues for green funding which previously had not been available.

President Emmanuel Macron of France announces details of a French SMR programme. February 2022

Nuclear Fuel Development

South Africa also developed the fuel for the HTMR-100 reactor. It is known as TRISO fuel. The fuel was extensively tested in a number of countries over a 10-year period and it passed all the stringent tests.

Stratek Global Director : Commercial  Francois Reyneke holding a TRISO Fuel Ball fabricated in Pretoria.

A TRISO fuel assembly now stands in Pretoria in a Care and Maintenance state waiting for customers.

Meantime fuel development work continues for foreign clients.

Chemical Engineer Zak Madela in front of a portion of the TRISO fuel plant in Pretoria.

African Readiness

African countries and others around the world became interested in nuclear power as they realised the importance of solutions which really work for African conditions, or for the local conditions of diverse countries.  A few African leaders have made powerful public statements about their intention to take their countries down a nuclear path. That is totally reasonable, by using Small Modular reactors which do not need large scale water cooling.

African countries can also easily form a collaborative ‘club’ to link to each other with daily operations, training, and regulatory oversight, amongst other functions. Such an approach will lower costs further and also induce a spirit of cooperation which will be beneficial to all.

Advanced countries have also shown great interest in SMR systems to use in specific applications, or for smaller areas such as municipalities, or specific industrial applications.

The HTMR-100 is now ready to build.

Investors need to have the confidence in an advanced energy solution development coming from Africa. Some established mindsets need to change. The SMR from South Africa is an investment opportunity waiting for people with vision, and some courage, and who also have some self-confidence, and a belief in abundant and reliable green power for the future.

Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and is Chairman of Stratek Global (Pty) Ltd, a nuclear development company based in Pretoria. Stratek Global is developing a South African SMR and carrying out project planning in a wide variety of fields for diverse clients.

Dr Kelvin Kemm

Chairman: Stratek Global (Pty) Ltd

This article was derived from a presentation given at an energy conference held in Cape Town by The Afrikaner Action Initiative.

The conference was sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Engineering graduate students deep underground, visiting a South African mine
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February 9, 2023 2:11 pm

Daini (meaning Number 1), and Fukushima Daiichi (meaning Number 2).

This is back to front. Ni means 2, while ichi means 1.

Luke B
Reply to  Hivemind
February 9, 2023 6:45 pm

I can confirm this.

Just noticed that this has been pointed out twice further down. Probably anyone who learned to count in Japanese notices this.

Last edited 3 months ago by Luke B
Reply to  Luke B
February 10, 2023 9:17 am

Luke, yep. I caught it immediately too 🙂
Minor detail I suppose.

Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 2:13 pm

Contrary to much public belief, not a single person was killed by nuclear radiation at Fukushima”

154,000 were evacuated. Most have not been able to return to their homes. The city is abandoned.

This is not a good outcome.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 2:16 pm

It was a massive over-reaction by a government that wanted to demonise nuclear power.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Hivemind
February 9, 2023 3:03 pm

Would you want one in your city?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 3:39 pm


Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 4:03 pm

Not an old boiling water reactors design, but I would gladly live next to a modern SMR.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 4:20 pm


Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 4:35 pm

Unlike you, I don’t own a city. And I don’t want to tell everyone else how to live.

If I did own a city, I would not be overly concerned with installing one (or more) in my city.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 5:08 pm

No, I want one in my block to do cogen (cogeneration) and have free heating.
Or even triple gen, let’s have free vapor and free aircon.

Reply to  niceguy12345
February 9, 2023 10:26 pm

Awesome idea! Most of the heat of a reactor is basically wasted in the cooling tower or sea/lake cooling pipes. Better to cool the reactor by heating the neighborhood – how about a field of greenhouses around too.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 6:37 pm

There is one in my city. It’s been there since 1970.

Paul Stevens
Reply to  Smart Rock
February 10, 2023 4:58 am

I’ve worked there, as well at her sister stations Bruce 1 and 2 and retired from Ontario Power Generation while working at Darlington.

Timo- Not That One
Reply to  Smart Rock
February 10, 2023 9:13 am

I live close to that one too.

michael hart
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 6:38 pm

“Would you want one in your city?”

I lived and worked for many years within sight of Heysham I and Heysham II reactors in Lancashire. No problems. Lots of local employment. Lots of electricity.

The tsunami at Fukushima-time killed over 10,000 people, if my memory serves me correctly. They, and their friends/relatives didn’t get to return to their homes for very real reasons.
It is very offensive to me that the media always prefers to tell the tale of some imagined nuclear disaster instead.

Leo Smith
Reply to  michael hart
February 10, 2023 3:32 am

The tsunami at Fukushima-time killed over 20,000 people actually

Paul Stevens
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 10, 2023 4:59 am

The key point would be that the “tsunami at Fukushima-time killed over 20,000 people” but nobody died from radiation.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 8:11 pm

There are typically a number nuclear reactors in San Diego Bay, mostly as submarine power plants but also in CVN’s. The first unit at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was on-line when Nixon had his “Western White House” some 4 km away.

Frankly, I would rather be closer to a nuke plant than to a wind farm or downstream from a hydro plant.

Last edited 3 months ago by Erik Magnuson
John Hultquist
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 8:42 pm

There is one 60 miles from me.
Columbia Generating Station – since May 1984

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 9:13 pm

“Would you want one in your city?”

I’d love one in my neighborhood.
You sound like a green nimby, Nick.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 10, 2023 12:29 am

Yep, no problem. I grew up less than 10 miles from Oldbury nuclear power station. Also not that far from two others there on the same river in the UK. Visited it a couple of times and sailed our dinghy from the adjacent Thornbury sailing club with my father right over the retaining wall in the river to maintain water at low tide.

Completely safe and benign.

Last edited 3 months ago by ThinkingScientist
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 10, 2023 1:03 am

No. I would also not want a sewage treatment plant, a wind farm, a steel plant, a coal mine, a chemical plant…. But that does not mean I don’t want us to use steel, coal or chemicals, and in the case of wind it just means keep the things out of cities. Whether wind is a good idea or not is a completely separate question.

Its a typical irrelevant emotional argument. Put necessary facilities in appropriate locations. Give them appropriate protection. First decide whether nuclear is the solution. Then decide where to put it.

I don’t know whether nuclear is the right solution to the power generation problem. But I am sure that whether or not people want them in their cities is not the issue.

I am pretty sure that steel is an essential material for modern civilization. And I’m equally sure that we should not stop using steel because people don’t want steel plants in their cities. Where there is anyway no reason to locate them.

Reply to  michel
February 10, 2023 1:47 am

I don’t know whether nuclear is the right solution to the power generation problem”. —


There is no power generation problem. It (the “problem”) is fabricated by the “greens”

Last edited 3 months ago by SteveG
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 10, 2023 3:23 am

Would you want lots of wind turbines built right next to your house?

Leo Smith
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 10, 2023 3:31 am

Yes. I would want one in my back garden. FAR more than a windmill

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 10, 2023 7:40 am

Yes as soon as possible.

Reply to  Hivemind
February 9, 2023 5:02 pm

And the inane, debilitating, death causing evacuation of the city of Futaba, far from any danger zone, was a personal initiative by its mayor, Katsutaka Idogawa, who was praised on Russia Today by Sophie Shevardnadze, who as a pathetic antinuke cheerleader failed to even ask

  • how many died during or because of the evacuation
  • how much radiation dose would the population not evacuated exposed to.

She just praised and praised and praised. It was pathetic – even by today’s Western “journalistic standards”.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 2:39 pm

Sillyass policies are not a product of nuclear power, but green Antitechnology biases and residual Soviet dezinformatsiya

Reply to  Tom Halla
February 9, 2023 4:22 pm

You notice that the anti-nuclear movement virtually disappeared as soon as the Soviets stopped funding it.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Hivemind
February 10, 2023 3:34 am

I don’t believe they have yet.
FSB fingermarks all over the green movement.

Reply to  Hivemind
February 11, 2023 3:46 pm

But Marine Le Pen was quite anti nuclear and now fully supports keeping all French reactors and she is Putin’s agent allegedly so I don’t follow.
French communists, always Moscow funded and controlled; yet fully pro nuke.
So it’s more complicated.
Yes Russia Today is the voice of Gazprom, but what about Ségolène Royal, former Presidential candidate (lost against Sarkozy)? Not Russia funded AFAIK.
But too close to Greenpeace and friends for confort.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 3:39 pm

Speaking of over reactions, here comes Nick.
The decision to evacuate was a political one, not a health one.
It was never needed. The fact that they are still prevented from returning is also a political one.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 5:06 pm

Why don’t you tell us the maximum monthly dose the public would be exposed to to in case of an accident.
If less than 100 mSv, don’t bother replying as I will argue it’s fine.
I say:
Change all exposure limits in the world to no less than 100 mSv per month

Reply to  niceguy12345
February 9, 2023 6:30 pm

And even those standards are highly conservative.

Reply to  MarkW
February 10, 2023 1:49 am

Yeah — Not too many CAT scans now,,

Reply to  SteveG
February 11, 2023 3:52 pm

I disagree 100% with your medical point.
Medical exams are over a tiny time period.
They aren’t inherently comparable and as safe over environnemental contamination.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 9, 2023 8:57 pm

Of course it was a good outcome. The biggest natural disaster of all time and 154,000 were evacuated. Amazing response. And no one died from anything nuclear.

Reply to  doonman
February 10, 2023 1:54 am

I’ve been injected with a radioactive substance –  fluorodeoxyglucose… Positron emission topography… I love nuclear…

Leo Smith
Reply to  SteveG
February 10, 2023 3:38 am

I’ve had x rays, cat scans, swallowed radioactive something or other, visited places far more radioactive than Fukushima…
Still here. Mostly.

Timo- Not That One
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 10, 2023 9:18 am

Watch out for the beach in Rio.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 10, 2023 3:30 am

No one needed to be evacuated at all.

Your argument is therefore that ‘fear of nuclear power and incompetent government has ruined 160,000 lives needlessly’

Timo- Not That One
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 10, 2023 11:25 am

The Fukushima incident certainly put to rest the suggestion that if a reactor melts down, it will be the the end of the world. These reactors, after a freak series of multiple failures, and the biggest tsunami ever recorded, still demonstrated how safe these things are during a “worst case scenario”.

February 9, 2023 2:13 pm

Solar and wind are the kids toys.
Nuclear is for the grown up boys.

Ron Long
February 9, 2023 2:17 pm

What a great report! As a past CEO of a uranium exploration company, and official country representative at the IAEA Redbook review in Vienna, Austria, I can appreciate the great innovations and redundant safety design going into modern nuclear reactors. France runs their reactors right in the middle of their wine grape agriculture, without problems. The greenies that still believe the movie China Syndrome was a Documentary will never even consider nuclear, so the path forward to true energy independence is a difficult one.

Reply to  Ron Long
February 9, 2023 2:38 pm

Yes, and considering that about half of cancer sufferers receive radiation treatment, one wonders how many greenies suddenly don’t have any reservations about being exposed to radiation when The Big ‘C’ affects them or their nearest & dearest.


Reply to  Mr.
February 9, 2023 4:24 pm

There are a lot of councils in Australia with signs to the effect of “no nuclear here”. One can only assume that that means their citizens aren’t allowed the benefits either, such as radiation treatment for cancer.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ron Long
February 9, 2023 2:52 pm

Ironically, at the end of “The China Syndrome” the plant’s safety features kick in and end the “event” without any “catastrophe.”

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
February 9, 2023 4:25 pm

I forgot that. My main take-away was that it was a poorly concealed anti-nuclear harangue.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Hivemind
February 10, 2023 3:40 am

Half Hollywood was funded by Soviets

Henry Pool
February 9, 2023 2:41 pm

This is amazing. I also live in Pretoria. This could be the solution for our problems here in South Africa with electricity.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Henry Pool
February 10, 2023 3:40 am

I have family in Cape town. The money allocated to build more power statins was stolen by politicians.

Frank Hansen
February 9, 2023 3:53 pm

I was in Fukushima at the day of the hydrogen explosion, and I have since visited the prefecture and the city numerous times. It is not abandoned at all. There is a small exclusion zone around the destroyed plant on the coastline, and tourists are allowed to visit the zone for up to two days. In that period they receive an radioactive dose of around 0,024 mSv. If you take a round trip plane from the US to Japan you will receive a dose of radioactivity that is about five times as high.

One-two-three in Japanese is Ichi-ni-san, so Dai-Ichi means plant number one.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Frank Hansen
February 10, 2023 8:51 am

On the Kerala coast in India the background natural radiation dose is 12.5 mSv pa and in Northern Iran 260mSv pa. Plenty of people live there ok.

February 9, 2023 3:58 pm

This might be a great product and the long years of hard work may deserve rewards but there is now considerable upcoming SMR competition. Politics, not merit, will decide the outcomes

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  AndyHce
February 9, 2023 7:34 pm

G’Day AndyHce,

“Politics, not merit, will decide the outcomes.”

Darn, now you’ve gone and scared the heck out of me.

February 9, 2023 4:44 pm

Fukushima Daini (meaning Number 1), and Fukushima Daiichi (meaning Number 2).

You sure? That looks backward. Last time I counted in Japanese, it started at ICHI, then NI, then SAN, etc etc.

February 9, 2023 5:58 pm

Excellent news.

February 9, 2023 8:57 pm

You have to love this blog – now we are learning how to count to 3 in Japanese.

Very informative – I learned a lot. Still not sure what 1 & 3 are.

February 9, 2023 10:07 pm

I don’t recall the exact date, but I think it was in the mid 1980s or so, I was out Berkeley, CA way, and Berkeley was busy declaring itself sister cities with various pariahs and such. They voted to declare themselves a “nuclear free zone” to fight the spread of nuclear power and weapons. After a year or so of looking around the city, they found there were no nuclear weapons, power plants, etc. within the city. But they did swoop down on the medical facility then called “Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Institute.” The made it change its name and signage to “Magnetic Resonance Institute” and felt much better now that Berkeley was “nuclear” free.

Last edited 3 months ago by fah
February 9, 2023 10:43 pm

An excellent article that will be the first on my list of up to 24 recommended climate science and energy articles, later today at
Honest Climate Science and Energy

We rarely hear any news from Africa, much less good news about progress there. That’s odd, because Africa is the continent that has the largest energy problems. Problems that will not be fixed with solar panels and bird and bat shredders.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard Greene
Leo Smith
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 10, 2023 3:44 am

Well S Africa has its local equivalent of the Guardian…

Front page? Tax breaks for solar.

Henry Pool
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 10, 2023 9:24 am

i have solar. endless problems,

Henry Pool
February 9, 2023 11:57 pm

I wonder if these HTMR power plants could be situated at or near the old coal fired power plants that they want to scrap. That way one could make use of existing facilities for power distribution.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Henry Pool
February 10, 2023 3:55 am

It’s possible. Political issues apart, you need to balance the cost of new infrastructure with the cost of new cooling – Koeberg is on the West coast where the cold currents are.
S Africa is not overall a beautiful country in the interior, nor does it feature any big rivers.
There are three general areas of population – the Cape, where Koeberg is, Natal, where Durban is – think Florida only more so, and the old Transvaal now called Gauteng, which is all diamond coal and gold mining, and is about as inspiring as the Nevada desert by and large.
Gauteng runs on local coal, but Natal/Durban would be a good location for a nuclear power station. The sea is subtropical but it is still cooler than the land…

S Africa doesn’t need to replace its coal power stations, it just needs more power, The problem is that everyone in the shanty town puts croc clips on the overheads and doesnt pay for the electricity, so the power company is broke, and any money the government gives it magically disappears.

Last edited 3 months ago by Leo Smith
Henry Pool
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 10, 2023 4:49 am

So do these HTMR plants still need a lot of cooling water?

Reply to  Henry Pool
February 10, 2023 6:59 am

This page (written by the same author) has more detailed information on the design. It states that the reactor is gas cooled and can be located without a source of water.

Last edited 3 months ago by Yirgach
Henry Pool
Reply to  Yirgach
February 10, 2023 9:42 am

Thanks. I think this is important.

Reply to  Henry Pool
February 10, 2023 5:02 am

How about adding a “nuclear boiler” to the existing steam plant and saving/reusing all the generation equipment?

February 10, 2023 4:32 am

Thiel has said that he believes a major factor in the stalling out of nuclear power plants after the 1070s was not 3 mile island or even Chernobyl – it is that any country with a significant amount of nuclear power can also build nuclear bombs.
Small reactors don’t change this dynamic.

Reply to  c1ue
February 10, 2023 3:10 pm

The amount of nuclear power is not the gating issue. If you build a conventional LWR you will need to enrich fuel, which provides a technological boost to enriching for bombs, but you do not need a working reactor to make a U-235 bomb. Similarly, the LWR is only one way to make U-238 into Pu-239. The gating factor today is money and political will. The scientific understanding and engineering solutions are well known.

On the other hand, Pebble Bed, Molten Salt, Small Modular, etc do introduce additional obstacles to concentrating useful amounts of bomb ready fissionable materials (multiple locations, inconvenient physical and chemical properties) so you can argue that nations building small modern reactors are less likely to be building bombs or bomb factories.

Kevin Kilty
February 10, 2023 6:33 am

The Fukishima incident was helped along by the Japanese social characteristic of commity (they ignored ancient data on tsunami run-up in the area for sake of agreement) rather than the scientific/engineering characteristic of vigorous debate and unflinching examination of facts. Our western elites would like to legislate commity.

Mike Dombroski
February 10, 2023 7:34 am

Great article. From Googling I note that the acronym PBMR is for Pebble Bed Modular Reactor meaning that this is a gas cooled reactor, which presumably makes it good for places with low water access.

Writing Observer
Reply to  Mike Dombroski
February 10, 2023 2:52 pm

And the HTMR is a further refinement of it. Still pebble bed fuel, but helium cooled for better thermal transfer.

Many safety benefits, too:

1) Can be thorium fueled – much less nuclear weapon potential with thorium. You can “breed” uranium 233 from it, which can be used in a bomb – but the process to get weapons grade U233 is very finicky – anything more about 50-100 ppm of U232 makes it unusable. (Well, “dirty” bombs, but any country with access to any uranium/thorium ores of any kind has that, with just chemical separation).

2) Complete loss of coolant is not a disastrous event. (It simply shuts down the reactor; nothing melts.)

3) Radioactive byproducts do not need to be separated from spent fuel – they are already contained by the pebbles. (Note that the pebbles are manufactured using advances made since the 1970s in ceramic and glass technologies.)

4) Exposure to common air or water is not an issue, either. (Uranium or plutonium metal is highly reactive, similar to the alkaline metals. Set it off, and it is very difficult to put out, besides creating a toxic and highly radioactive cloud to spread over a large region.)

Andy Pattullo
February 10, 2023 7:47 am

Great article full of common sense and good science from sub Saharan Africa. That’s the part of the developing world that many elites in the wealthy west are trying to strangle by inhibiting cheap reliable energy and industrial development. As one of those westerners I must apologize for the idiots we allowed to take charge. Regardless of the ill conceived policies of the West it is inevitable that Africa will rise and flourish eventually due to its people, resources, landmass and will to succeed. If only the rest of us were helping rather than hindering.

February 21, 2023 10:01 pm

Its all good and well, however the issue I see is that like the RE this is another solution that is being sold as cost effective by scientists, yet again they are manufacturing consent.

They are pushing this a a panacea, yet there are no long standing evaluations and all appears comfy and rosy.

Private industry is still pushing for this to be subsidised because the costs are hidden massaged. IMO of course.

The only reason that Nuclear cost is so high is that the industry sold a solution with a fear cake being built in to make massive profits under the “Safety Banner” which allowed for massive opportunity costs to be added in design and paperwork and “fuel” disposal. The environmentalists love the fear of pollution and fear of enviromental damage to stop progress. They overplayed the fear profit and In the end they shot themselves in the foot. Again IMO.

I am pro-nuclear and coal and natural gas, but not at the massive extraction of profit for industry.

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