Here's Bill Gates explaining TerraPower in 6 mins.
I posted this before but the math is approx right and I personally think it's important to understand the reality in this area.. as it stands now. Things can and do change but in this case it would require a radical, massive and abrupt change.
I reckon Nuclear Power Stations are too expensive and take too long to build for Nuclear Power to be seriously considered as a way to greatly reduce carbon emissions from Coal fired power stations.
I wouldn't expect anyone to have geeked over the costs associated with building nuclear the way I have of late so I'll just give you the numbers and you can checkem out yourself if you want. It's a massively complex subject so I'll just throw some good numbers out there which are approx correct...if possibly over simplified.
- It costs about 5 Billion dollars to build a nuclear power station that produces 2 Gigawatts of electricity.
- It takes anywhere from 5-8 years to plan and build one.
- There are 435 reactors today which produce about 13-15% of the electricity we use.
- Coal fired plants produce about 41% of what we use.
The cost of building a Nuclear Power Plant has increased more than 20 fold since the 70's. The Av cost of a car in 1970 was about $3,700 so obviously now cars would cost $75,000 on average if inflation is what you're thinking.
Most plants were built between 1965 and 1985.
To replace ALL the electricity gotten from Coal plants with nuclear would require today - another 1500 nuclear plants....and that's today, right now.
BUT next year the demand will have increased 5% !! and the year after...for at least the next 10/15 years.
The general opinion is that electricity demand will be double todays by 2050.
So just keeping up with demand, will require, that we build another 435 stations in the next 40 years which is what? 10 a year say, to keep it the same 13-15% of electricity from Nuclear.
lets assume we all believe deeply in Man-caused Global Warming and also lets assume we all think Nuclear is completely safe, just for a second.
In that scenario we would WANT very much to massively upscale nuclear generated electricity right?
So how many plants would it take to make a big difference, not a little one, a big FAT difference?
Well to replace HALF of the coal plant electricity with nuclear, by 2050, and thereby (hypothetically) halving carbon emissions from coal fired plants would require us to build by 2050 approx
1500 New Plants
(and that's ignoring the more than 150 plants which will close during the period to 2050...100 of which will be closed within the next 15 years)
I only illustrate the numbers because it seems that pro-nuclear global warming concerned people seem to think Nuclear will and should play a central role in electricity production given that renewables will not play a large enough part over the next 40 years at least realistically speaking. (Renewables will not for instance replace even close to 25% of coal electricity or anything like it in that period)... and either, I'm saying, will Nuclear and not because I'm an irrational nuclear pessimist!
I think this because when you look at the costs, time, barriers, constraints, limits and drivers that exist right now....verses... THE SAME back in the nuclear golden age of the 60's/70's/80's , you quickly come to the conclusion that Nuclear CANNOT and therefore WILL NOT scale up FAST ENOUGH to make a large difference when it comes to the issue of Carbon Emissions and man caused global warming, at least over a reasonable period like 40-50 years. Now, over 100 years or more? then that is a different conversation and would include things like Nuclear Fusion etc etc but that's not my thesis here. I'm merely saying that it can be clearly shown that we CANNOT AND WILL NOT replace coal electricity with Nuclear in any significant way in the period to 2050 even 2060, and therefore Nuclear should not enjoy a central role within this debate.
It is in fact, relatively speaking, a red herring as far as carbon emission reduction up to 2050 goes.
We managed to build approx 300 stations between '65 and '90, 300 in 25 years say, and that was during the Cold War which served as a major driver for nuclear build and it was impressive, but since then the cost of building has risen 20 fold !!! and it takes much much longer now AND there's a global backlash against nuclear right now.
There's no way we could build an average of 30-50 stations per year every year to 2050. In fact I'd like to hear a solid argument for 25 per year to 2075 because from what I've learned it currently seems so unlikely as to be almost impossible.
I doubt we could build 18 per year every year to 2050.
Russia and America managed about 12 a year between them at the height of the Cold War !!
There aint no Cold War now although there is a global warming war, alas mostly a war of words.
Sure, China is building 25 right now and plans for 100 over then ext 20/30 years but America hasn't delievered a nuclear power station in 30 years... it actually cancelled or stopped more than 60 projects in the last 30 years!!
you could increase nuclear supply by 50%-100% of current level over the next 20 years, but CERTAINLY not 500% .. no chance in hell. That's the reality and that's why I regard the whole nuclear debate as marginal in terms of the big problem and a relevant time frame of solution. If you think I'm wrong you better bring the facts because I put a lot of work into understanding this area and I don't think I'm far off base. The stats and figures are there to be found and the math is simple and speaks for itself.