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September 28, 2022

 

The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World (Executive Summary, MIT)

In this 2018 Executive Summary, an interdisciplinary MIT study analyzed the future of nuclear energy in a world combatting carbon emissions. The study gives multiple recommendations that will allow for nuclear energy to play an integral part in the push for a zero-emission energy industry. These summarized recommendations are as follows:

  • Focusing on proven methods of building new reactors to ensure they’re built on time and on budget.
  • Standardizing reactor and plants designs.
  • Utilizing modern technological advancements to ensure “inherent and passive safety features”.
  • Introducing De-carbonization policy that will incorporate CO2 emissions into energy prices, allowing for renewable energy to compete on their own merit.
  • Increased cooperation between governmental and private industries in all aspects of nuclear energy production (infrastructure, testing, waste storage, etc) 

MIT study and Executive Summary: https://energy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/The-Future-of-Nuclear-Energy-in-a-Carbon-Constrained-World.pdf

NowComment Annotations: https://nowcomment.com/documents/310604?scroll_to=2761539


The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S.

In this National Geographic article (published May 4, 2021), two experts on nuclear energy give their opinions on what role it will have in de-carbonizing the American energy industry.

Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, believed Nuclear Energy could contribute, as long as some big changes were made. His research found that the large, 1,000+ Megawatt reactors of today are too expensive, and “without cost reductions, nuclear energy will not play a significant role in decarbonizing the power sector.” But, the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) that produce around 300 Megawatts could allow for nuclear-produced electricity to compete with the prices of electricity produced from Fossil Fuels. 

On the other hand, Arjun Mahkijani, a nuclear physicist and head of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), doesn’t think nuclear energy is needed. Though the biggest issue with renewable energy sources is variability in energy production (nighttime for solar, calm days for wind), this problem can be fixed with battery storage. Mahkijani’s research suggests that the future exponential increase in battery storage capabilities as well as other energy-conserving incentives for consumers will be enough to transfer away from fossil fuels without the help of nuclear energy.

Original Article: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/nuclear-plants-are-closing-in-the-us-should-we-build-more

NowComment Annotations: https://nowcomment.com/documents/309988


MIT “The Future of Nuclear Power” (Executive Summary)

This 2003 interdisciplinary report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology “The Future of Nuclear Power” and its subsequent 2009 follow-up set the basis for what is needed to be done to ensure that the increased use of nuclear power can cut the projected 2050 carbon emissions by over 25%. This and the increased use of solar, wind, and other sustainable energies, combined with the gradual phasing out of carbon-producing fuels will hopefully ensure an effective response to best mitigate the worst effects of human-caused climate change. As this was published in 2003, it will give me a good basis to see what changes have been made, what is going well, and what needs to be done better.

Annotated NowComment: https://nowcomment.com/documents/307059

Original Link: https://energy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2003/07/MITEI-The-Future-of-Nuclear-Power-Executive-Summary.pdf


What’s Next for Nuclear Energy in 2021

The Biden Administration has set a goal for America: it will be carbon neutral by 2050. The nuclear energy Institute believes that nuclear energy will be integral to the US reaching this goal. Due to technological limitations in solar and wind energy production, nuclear energy is the only source of clean energy that has the capabilities to sustain the US’s energy requirements as it quickly weans itself off fossil fuels. Thanks to advancements in the private sector, nuclear energy is getting safer every day. But, Federal funding and support are required to ensure that Nuclear Energy can best support America’s energy needs until 2050. Because solar and wind energy capabilities are not yet up to the task of supplying all of America’s energy, nuclear can act as a stop-gap, which will allow the US to move away from fossil fuels, while developing even cleaner and more efficient energy sources to ensure America is 1005 carbon-neutral by 2050.

NowComment Annotations: https://nowcomment.com/documents/308164

Original Article: https://www.nei.org/news/2020/whats-next-for-nuclear-energy-2021


What’s Next for Nuclear Energy in 2021

The Biden Administration has set a goal for America: it will be carbon neutral by 2050. The nuclear energy Institute believes that nuclear energy will be integral to the US reaching this goal. Due to technological limitations in solar and wind energy production, nuclear energy is the only source of clean energy that has the capabilities to sustain the US’s energy requirements as it quickly weans itself off fossil fuels. Thanks to advancements in the private sector, nuclear energy is getting safer every day. But, Federal funding and support are required to ensure that Nuclear Energy can best support America’s energy needs until 2050. Because solar and wind energy capabilities are not yet up to the task of supplying all of America’s energy, nuclear can act as a stop-gap, which will allow the US to move away from fossil fuels, while developing even cleaner and more efficient energy sources to ensure America is 1005 carbon-neutral by 2050.


Why is nuclear energy not only outrageous but inefficient?

Nuclear warfare is not only inhumane but inefficient against carbon emissions. The catastrophic events experienced in Japan are prime examples of the profound dangers as a result of nuclear warfare. Those who did survive had an 46% risk of leukemia. Nuclear energy is not only dangerous but incapable of fixing our climate issues. Despite the pros of it being cheaper and more effective than fossil fuels, the cons exceed. Nuclear energy accidents are more risky and there’s a limited fuel supply. The impact it has on the environment and the amount of radioactive waste produced is another problem.Lastly, the material used for these nuclear power plants is not renewable making the harvest of nuclear energy difficult. Overall, nuclear energy hasn’t proven to be a reliable solution to climate change and energy source issues. Nuclear energy is far too risky to provide accurate experimentation on to prove the effectiveness of it as energy, power, and weaponry.


Fusion Power and Future Technologies

At the rate that humans are producing greenhouse gases, we are likely going to cause irreversible changes to the earth in a matter of decades. Already, global temperatures and sea levels are rising significantly, completely altering the planet’s current climate. The only solution to this growing issue is a revolutionary technology that will allow us to generate unlimited energy at little to no environmental cost. Currently we’ve put together a few pieces of the puzzle, but we are still a long way from unlocking the secret to limitless energy.

Three years ago MIT decided to form a research partnership with Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a new private company, in order to conduct rapid, staged research of fusion technology. From this research they discovered an innovative way to replicate a fusion reaction that actually outputs more energy than is inputted into the reaction. This is a revolutionary finding because, so far, fusion experiments have only ever consumed more energy than they produce.

Another major problem that the team had to overcome was the extreme heat produced by the reaction; hot enough to melt any solid material. To solve this, the collaborators utilized a new type of superconductor to create small, powerful magnets in order to suspend the reaction in the air and prevent it from touching solid objects.

With the major drawbacks out of their way, the team began to build their conceptualized reactor, which is predicted to be commercially viable in just 12 years. This breakthrough in fusion technology demonstrates the innovative capacity of the human race and proves that, with enough research and experimentation, we can conquer any obstacle in front of us. I wonder what technologies the future have in store for us.

Annotated NowComment Article: https://nowcomment.com/documents/266720


Viability of Nuclear Energy

While there are a lot of pros to the potential of switching to nuclear energy, there are also a lot of logistical nightmares that need to be addressed. According to the article, The Nuclear Option by Upholt Boyce, there are a lot of people who still believe that nuclear energy is not the way to go in regards to the future. Anti-Nuclear beliefs stem from the horrific tragedies of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and the long island incidents that caused thousands of casualties and tens of thousands of extreme injuries. Each of these incidents represents a time where nuclear energy was handled incorrectly and as a result, was released into the air which is extremely dangerous for humans and wildlife alike. Once in the air, the land that was exposed to radiation is usually not completely safe to inhabit for several days.

In addition to the instability of nuclear energy, the viability of a complete switch to nuclear energy is not good due to a lack of nuclear power plants across the nation. Furthermore, in the upcoming years, some of the existing plants will shut down leaving fewer sources for nuclear energy. In addition to the lack of these power plants, technology is not advanced enough to collect other forms of renewable energy year-round which would be vital in supplementing the large-scale use of nuclear power. Lastly, while nuclear energy is claimed to be good for the environment, the waste from the mining of uranium is often mishandled when it is disposed of which is not good for the environment.

In conclusion, Nuclear energy has a lot of upsides, but there are also some big logistical issues that need to be addressed. The last point that this article made was that the upside of the use of nuclear energy is tremendous. This leads me to believe that while there are logistical issues, they can be dealt with and ultimately eliminated.


Nuclear energy as a viable alternative

The more and more that I research the pros and cons of nuclear energy, the more that believe it is the best option for an alternative energy source. According to an article from the office of nuclear energy, Nuclear energy is said to be as high as 3.5 percent more reliable than other plants that produce alternative energy. Furthermore, they produce much more power than other alternative energy plants which means that nuclear power is the most efficient alternative form of energy. In addition to these impressive facts, according to another article that was released by conservative energy future, states that nuclear energy is very environment friendly and has the ability to eliminate 470 tons of carbon emissions. While there are some downsides to nuclear energy, the downsides are mitigated and so rare that malfunctions, due to user error, have only happened twice. Both nuclear meltdowns were not even on U.S. soil. Currently, I believe that nuclear energy is the future of alternative energy in the United states.


We Need Nuclear Energy

Dear Next President,

I want to first congratulate on your victory in the past election. Winning an election like that is not an easy task and commend you for the amount of effort you put into your victory. I would like to discuss a topic that I have alway been interested in and would like you to consider my solution to a current problem.

As the years go on, technology advances and the need for energy increases. A major concern around America and the world is the amount of carbon dioxide that is being emitted into the atmosphere by the energy generating power plants. Whether this carbon dioxide emission is causing climate change is another argument but the fact is that large amounts of this pollution are being released. In order to solve this problem, a source of energy needs to be found to provide enough energy to energize the world and prevent the mass amount of carbon dioxide that current energy sources generate.

My suggestion is that our country veer towards nuclear energy. There are currently several other renewable energy sources that produce energy but none of them produce enough energy to supply the country with electricity for very long. Nuclear energy is capable of matching if not surpassing fossil fuels in both cost efficiency and energy production. Numbers backing up this claim, nuclear energy costs about 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour compared to 3.27 cents for coal. With the quantity aspect, the reason there is such little nuclear energy production is that there are very few nuclear power plants out there and many of them are quite old. The rate of energy production matches that of coal.

There are many concerns with nuclear energy that I would like to point out. One, and the most recognized problem when it comes to anything labeled nuclear is the nuclear meltdown possibility. This is one of the main reasons nuclear power is not larger in the power economy in today’s society. Nuclear meltdowns are not a problem if the correct procedures are taken. One is that these power plants are located in a safe place. Some people say that nature is unpredictable and that natural disaster is bound to happen but there are places that natural disasters do not happen. For example, if there is a nuclear power plant located in Nevada or Montana, there is no way a tsunami could possibly hit and damage them. The other concern is just a straight up failure or human error like what happened in Chernobyl. The cause of this meltdown was a faulty design and a lack of action when a serious problem came up. With today’s designs and technology, there will never be a meltdown by a faulty design or human error. It simply won’t be able to happen.

Another major concern of nuclear power plants is nuclear waste. Some people claim that nuclear waste is dangerous and they are right. What they don’t know is that where it is being stored safely and securely away from people in an NRC and EPA regulated facility. All areas holding nuclear waste has to pass expectation from both of these groups. Some of the requirements are that all waste must be 80 miles away from any human civilization and at least 2,000 feet underground. Even if there was a leak, there is no way anybody could ever be affected by the radiation.

Overall, I hope that what I have brought up will not be overlooked. Making the move to nuclear energy will not only be cheaper and more efficient, but it also prevents carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Thanks for your time.

Thanks again,
Ryland, Grade 12
Columbus, Montana

https://www.youthvoices.live/tag/nuclear-energy/