Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Nuclear vs Solar: The Race For Renewable Dominance — Alex Kimani

We have discussed the gains being made in the development of advanced nuclear reactors that use thorium instead of uranium. Thorium is now being billed as the great green hope of clean energy production, producing less waste and more energy than uranium. Thorium is meltdown-proof, has no weapons-grade by-products, and can even consume legacy plutonium stockpiles.

The United States Department of Energy (DOE), Nuclear Engineering & Science Center at Texas A&M, and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have partnered with Chicago-based Clean Core Thorium Energy (CCTE) to develop a new thorium-based nuclear fuel they have dubbed ANEEL. ANEEL, which is short for "Advanced Nuclear Energy for Enriched Life", is a proprietary combination of thorium and "High Assay Low Enriched Uranium" (HALEU) that hopes to solve some of the knottiest problems nuclear power faces, including high costs and toxic wastes.

That said, we pointed out that the main sticking point to the promotion of thorium as a cleaner nuclear fuel is that it remains unproven on a commercial scale. Thorium MSRs (Molten Salt Reactors) have been in development since the 1960s by the United States, China, Russia, and France, yet nothing much ever came of them. Further, only about 50 of the world's 440 reactors can currently be configured to run on thorium.

We have also highlighted how scientists have finally broken ground by kicking off the five-year assembly phase of the massive International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest fusion reactor, in Saint-Paul-les-Durance, France. Funded by six nations, including the U.S., Russia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, ITER will be the world's largest tokamak fusion device with an estimated cost of ~$24 billion and capable of generating about 500 MW of thermal fusion energy as early as 2025. Unfortunately, practical nuclear fusion remains a long-shot and could be decades away from becoming a commercial reality....

Whereas the nuclear sector comeback has its work cut out for it, solar power has clearly been on the ascendancy thanks in large part to falling costs.…

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar installation costs have dropped by more than 70% over the past decade, opening up vast new markets and systems nationwide.... 

Nuclear vs Solar: The Race For Renewable Dominance
Alex Kimani

No comments: