American energy consumption since 1776
Happy Fourth of July to all of our readers. Did you know that virtually all of the energy used by Americans until 1850 was renewable? From 1776 to 1850, wood…
Did you know that a new generation of small-scale advanced nuclear reactors that are smaller and safer than traditional power plants is on the horizon? This is good news. I firmly believe that the only source of electricity generation that will someday be able to beat fossil fuels in terms of reliability and affordability will be advanced nuclear reactors.
One reason nuclear power is probably the future is because of the energy density of nuclear fuel. The fission of 1 g of uranium or plutonium per day liberates about 1 MW. This is the energy equivalent of 3 tons of coal or about 600 gallons of fuel oil per day. Some have estimated that 9 ounces of uranium would be enough to power an entire person’s lifetime.
The benefits here in terms of potential fuel costs are obvious.
Unfortunately, excessive red tape prevents many nuclear designs from competing economically with other sources of electricity like coal and natural gas. This harms all Americans by limiting our options for electricity generation, and this should be of even greater concern to those who claim to believe that climate change is an existential crisis.
However, many of the same people who want to regulate our every action in the name of averting the crisis are also ardent anti-nuclear activists. Many anti-nuclear comments have been filed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in an attempt to prevent them from streamlining the permitting process for these newer, safer reactors.
Here’s how you can help. Email email@example.com and tell them that you support a generic Environmental Impact Statement for these new nuclear reactors. Please feel free to copy and paste the comments (which are a slightly modified version of Generation Atomic’s comments) below in your email.
Dear Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
I am writing in support of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s proposal to produce a generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) for small-scale advanced nuclear reactors. This action directly supports the NRC’s primary mission to protect the public health and safety, by streamlining America’s access to clean, safe, nuclear power plants. There are several reasons supporting this effort, including:
1) NRC has decades of experience evaluating and overseeing small scale and advanced nuclear reactors (ANRs).
2) While the category of advanced reactors covers a far wider variety of potential reactor designs than exist today, fundamentally, lower material, the lack of use of incredible amounts of natural watersheds, and more inherent safety characteristics means lower overall impact and significant topic areas which may be ruled on in a generic fashion for these technology types.
3) There is significant basis for assuming small-scale ANRs would not be able to cause significant offsite radiation releases. The U.S. has had experience with literally hundreds of small-scale reactors without a single significant release.
4) Similarly, non-light water reactor microreactors contemplated in the GEIS would, by definition, have a dramatically smaller environmental footprint than large light water reactor plants traditionally evaluated in large plant EIS analysis, and these non-LWR microreactors lend themselves to a generic evaluation.
5) Advanced reactors that utilize a fast spectrum are the only effective tool in the world to both produce clean electricity as well as reduce radioactive waste. In fact, they are key to closing the fuel cycle and turning current hazards into valuable assets to the public.
6) All of the environmental impacts of small-scale ANRs will have significantly positive environmental justice impacts, especially due to their fundamental ability to have more distributed and smaller footprints, as well as the ability to reduce cost overruns, and for communities to “opt-in” as opposed to having large plants of any kind which are generally forced on small, underprivileged, or remote communities.
America is currently squandering billions of dollars every year on unreliable, weather-dependent sources of electricity like wind and solar. Our country needs affordable, reliable electricity, and I believe that nuclear power must play an important part of our energy future.
The NRC must consider the importance of streamlining the environmental review and licensing process for ANRs to keep America safe and secure, and to keep our economy strong.
Thank you for continuing to ensure health and safety, in particular by enabling efficient review of clean power plants.