When today’s children are in their 40s, 9 billion people will want a decent standard of living as resources diminish. For every environmentally-friendly person, there are several thousand self-centred energy users who don’t care where it comes from, as long as it’s there 24/7.
Only one technology can meet the demands of everyone on the planet, for all of time. That technology is the breeder reactor and the cutting-edge version, ready for manufacture today, is the GE Hitachi PRISM Power Block.
Nuclear waste can be burned to provide all of the UK's energy for 500 years.
For every one of us who worries about the future of meeting the UK's energy needs, there are several thousand self-centred individuals who don't care one iota about carbon targets and climate change, as long as the energy is there 24/7.
There is only one technology that can supply every individual on the planet with an energy-rich lifestyle, for all of time, even when there are 9 billion of us. It is that of the breeder-reactor. In the not too distant future, our lives will be dominated by the decline of hydrocarbon resources and many others. To avoid international confrontations from energy, water or food wars, worldwide deployment of breeder-reactors is inevitable. Global warming will not prove to be the only driving issue.
The tragedy of today’s UK politics is that the technology of the breeder reactor is here and now, in the form of the GE Hitachi Power Block. It is safe and economic, but it is being ignored in favour of ridiculously expensive and ineffectual renewable and ‘’yesterday’s’ nuclear. Authorities have already stated that there is no significant impediment to the UK licensing the GE Hitachi PRISM Power Block technology. GEH say they can build the first one in 5 years.
So an enlightened Government, prepared to drop the mollifying mish-mash of the current energy policy, could have the first of this unique type of nuclear power plant up and running in under 10 years. At the moment, one is under consideration to 'burn' our plutonium stockpile, as it generates 622 MW of commercial electricity, over a period of 50 years plus. So the first one would solve the proliferation problem.
We then have 35,000 tonnes of depleted uranium plus all of the existing, and still to be created, spent nuclear fuel, which these power plant can also 'burn'. That's enough fuel to power the UK for 500 years, using a fleet of these reactors. So that's the energy security problem solved.
They emit no greenhouse gases. So that's the carbon targets met, with ease.
The minuscule amount of nuclear waste they produce, decays to background radiation levels in 300 years - easily, cheaply and safely stored. So the problem of storing long-lived nuclear waste, for mega-thousands of years, is also resolved.
These reactors are inherently safe - under accident conditions, such as complete loss of power, they shut down according to the laws of physics. They are passively safe - under accident conditions, such as the disabling of all safety systems, they shut down without human intervention. Natural or man-made conditions experienced at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, would result in these reactors undergoing benign shutdowns.
What a unique opportunity for the UK to lead the rest of the world into the era of the breeder-reactor. The plant and equipment is made from stainless steel and operates at atmospheric pressure, meaning that UK companies with the expertise and capacity, such as Rolls-Royce, could manufacture these reactors in their entirety. We are so well placed to negotiate manufacturing licences with GEH and the UK would move into a period of manufacturing growth and prosperity, we have not seen in at least 3 generations.