COXWORTH: Small reactors are not wisest solution

COXWORTH: Small reactors are not wisest solution

Postby Oscar » Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:46 am

Small reactors are not wisest solution

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Letter to the editor from Ann Coxworth December 12, 2019


Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are being vigorously promoted (SP, Nov 27) as a way to respond to the climate crisis and to bring electrical generation capacity to small and remote communities. But is this the wisest solution we can come up with?

The lack of any facility to manage the long-term hazardous wastes that all nuclear reactors produce and the difficulty of maintaining adequate security and technical expertise in scattered, remote locations are obvious concerns. But added to these is the fact that the climate crisis demands action now; we can’t afford to wait decades for SMRs to become commercially viable, if they ever do.

The many potential designs being suggested are now only at a very preliminary stage of evaluation, and the process of detailed safety reviews, pilot projects and development of large enough markets to make production economically reasonable is going to take many years, if indeed it ever comes to fruition.

Meanwhile we are fortunate to live in a region with world-class solar and wind resources which can enable us to very quickly put in place electrical capacity at a cost lower than new fossil fuelled power and much lower than any form of nuclear power. Rapidly developing energy storage technology is overcoming the problem of intermittency. Moreover there are major, low-cost opportunities for improving the efficiency with which we use energy.

Cost, safety and effectiveness factors all indicate that we have options much superior to SMRs for reducing the carbon load from our electricity sector.

Ann Coxworth
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