The nuclear option

  • The nuclear option

    Nuclear energy is emissions-free while in operation, doesn't consume huge amounts of land, and can provide power 24 hours a day. So why aren’t we building more of it?

    With much of the clean energy conversation focused on solar and wind, storage, and energy efficiency, it's worth taking a closer look at the pros and cons of the technology responsible for the majority of clean energy generation over the last 70 years. In addition to laying out the cases for and against nuclear energy, I've also looked at new technology developments in the sector, as well as what's happening right here in Canada.

    I'd greatly appreciate any comments on the piece, thanks for reading!

  • @Josh another good read 👍 I think the biggest obstacle nuclear needs to overcome is the political inertia. Nuclear projects are generally massive infrastructure investments. With short political cycles, it can be tricky to keep enough momentum behind a potential new project to get it up and running. Smaller scale nuclear is really promising in this regard

    Nuclear is great for providing base load. Ultimately, I think a mix of technologies will be needed that can come on and offline quickly to cover variable peak power demand. Economical grid scale energy storage would be huge for being able to flexibly blend different generation methods.

  • @Josh nuclear is definitely a great option. Likely what we're moving towards is a more modular energy world with electric vehicles acting as moving batteries, distributed generation becoming more common, etc. So finding some way to balance both sides (large & small scale generation) will become more and more important

  • @Eric-Vanular thanks Eric. Yes, I agree that small and even micro modular reactors are promising ideas. However, I question whether nuclear truly is a good “base load” option, given its high costs per mWh. If it’s more expensive than renewables plus storage, is it a better option? I think the trade-off between cost and land use will be key when evaluating what’s best suited for a given jurisdiction. There may be instances where solar farms with grid-scale backup are able to provide “base load” power at a lower cost, while not disturbing local agriculture or animal and human life.

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