A Global Nuclear Renaissance
Source: Cambridge Network (8/16/10)
"20-year outline published for the renaissance of nuclear energy."
The scientists suggest a two-stage plan in their review paper that could see countries with existing nuclear infrastructure replacing or extending the life of nuclear power stations, followed by a second phase of global expansion in the industry by the year 2030. The team say their roadmap could fill an energy gap as old nuclear, gas and coal fired plants around the world are decommissioned, while helping to reduce the planet's dependency on fossil fuels.
The researchers suggest in their study that based on how technologies are developing, new types of reactors could come online that are much more efficient than current reactors by 2030. At the moment, most countries have light water reactors, which only use a small percentage of the uranium for energy, which means that the uranium is used inefficiently. The team suggest that new 'fast reactors' could be developed that could use uranium approximately 15 times more efficiently, which would mean that uranium supplies could last longer, ensuring energy security for countries.
Another idea is to develop reactors with replaceable parts so that they can last in excess of 70 years, compared to 40 or 50 years that plants can currently operate at.
Flexible nuclear technologies could be an option for countries that do not have an established nuclear industry, reducing the need for countries to build large electricity grid infrastructures.