James Hansen and Michael Shellenberger present a compelling case for re-evaluating the role that a modern generation of nuclear power must play in the world's energy mix if we are to avert a climate catastrophe of immense proportions.

Click here to watch the video.

SCGI was represented in an energy summit in Turin, Italy in mid-April by Tom Blees, president of SCGI. Russia’s Global Energy Prize organization invited members of the selection committee (those who decide who wins the annual honor for energy research) to participate in discussing the future of energy systems. Tom and Rodney Allam, the British chairman of the committee (himself GLOBAL ENERGY TORINO 235 xlan energy prize laureate), were asked to speak on the topic of the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources.

This topic is of special interest to countries like Russia that have economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The same situation applies in many countries in the Middle East, as well as Venezuela, Kazakhstan, and others. As much as one might expect such countries to wish to deny the gradual evolution away from fossil fuels, at least some of them (Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few) recognize that technological advances in electric vehicles portend a steep decline in demand for oil. Russia has responded by becoming the most aggressive marketer of nuclear power systems around the world. The Saudis and the UAE have dedicated vast sums to post-oil-era funds to determine what technologies and industries to invest in that can keep their economies vital as fossil fuel demand diminishes.

There has long been a discouraging tension between advocates of renewable energy systems and those favoring nuclear power. Given the challenge of climate change, this sort of conflict between near-zero-carbon energy systems seems self-defeating, even foolish.

Late last year this struggle for influence boiled over when Mark Jacobson sued Dr. Christopher Clack for ten million dollars in a jimconcalibel suit that many within the academic community found shocking. None of Clack’s 20 co-authors (including some collaborators with SCGI) were sued, only Clack, the lead author. Jim Conca, a valued member of SCGI, covered the story here, and earlier in 2017 he wrote another article on the topic that can be found here.

Assuming that anthropogenic climate change is an actual problem…

It seems ridiculous to start off with such a condition, but it’s the country we live in.

Once the discussion can begin with that assumption, the search for what to do about it quickly turns to how we can power modern civilization and diminish the climate change threat at the same time. The claim that one can provide sufficient energy solely with barryBrookso-called renewables, but without using nuclear power, is a question we’ve covered elsewhere here. As much as people might wish that were true, most serious discussions of the issue usually assert that we need an “all of the above” approach, using both renewables and nuclear power. Natural gas is often added to the solution scenario as a “bridge fuel” even though it produces plenty of greenhouse gases. The ultimate solution—one that should happen as soon as possible—eliminates natural gas too.

PaloVerde nuclear

Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station could be forced to close in six years, instead of twenty-seven, if voters approve a renewable-energy ballot measure, according to plant owner Arizona Public Service Company (APS).

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona produces the most electricity of any power plant in America, over 30 billion kWhs per year, and is also the largest single producer of low-carbon electricity.

by Tom Blees

5 factsA discussion of the pros and cons of nuclear power often pits an emotional point of view against a scientific point of view.

1) Nuclear waste: A viable solution to nuclear waste has been demonstrated at Idaho National Lab during the EBR-II project. Their recycling of over 30,000 fuel pins proved what can be done to reduce the radiotoxicity to a few hundred years. Argonne National Laboratory has now designed a commercial-scale facility that can recycle not only metal fuel (like that used in the EBR-II) but also spent oxide fuel from lightwater reactors like those currently in use (so-called nuclear waste) as well as spent fuel from the molten salt reactors expected to be deployed in the near future. It's a one size fits all approach, using proven technology, and it's ready to build now.