For the past 50 years, we have labored under an illusion of surplus
I’m really glad to see people fighting for our futures once again.
I got excited about nuclear power as an undergrad in Mechanical Engineering, then went on to the Nuclear Navy. It seemed optimistic with 3 nuclear plants being built in the early Bush years.
Then the powers that be decided to sabotage all of those projects and destroy a significant part of our nuclear power infrastructure. It was very disheartening.
The fraud within the “Green” movements from wasteful spending to infrastructure sabotage to blatant environmental damage is simply frightening. It’s as if all of these agencies were infiltrated with enemy spies, like the Soviets used to attempt within our biggest labor unions.
Sentiment has markedly turned in most countries since the energy crisis in 2022, but our leaders are absolutely dragging their feet.
Excellent summation of a complicated, long term issue. I have said in several places, "It's fossil fuel + nuclear + some solar where this is BTU positive; or subsistence agriculture". Choose. Me, I garden but am not interested in subsistence ag!
One very important issue not addressed in your piece is safety of nuclear plants. We need designs that fail to a safe state, as these plants like all things made by man will have failures. Chernobyl and Fukushima and Three Mile Island were nasty fails and are in the public mind.
Bravo, mechanical engineer here, and energy density has always been the key. Love the concept of viewing fuel sources as batteries, absolutely true.
In some areas I would add geothermal as a viable option. Goes back to the energy density and cosmic energy points.
As is always the case, nuclear will not progress until the politicians feel enough pain secondary to the public feeling enough pain. The collective psyche and intellect is simply to uneducated and irrational to act pre-emptively because "it makes sense"
It seems as though thoughtful people are embracing the notion of nuclear power. The BIG impediment is the Mainstream Media, usually devoid of reason, unable to think, and only spouting some approved set of talking points. It is past time to sunset (bankrupt?) the MSM and welcome rational voices. Ending their "hot air" will help global warming!
It’s so frustrating that we have not made much progress with nuclear the last 50 years, and that a few mis-directed politicians and an oil industry lobby can sabotage what is best for the country. How much more time will we waste, and as time goes by, the country’s future economic prospects look more precarious with each passing year.
The current discourse on energy policy is too often dominated by a class of Malthusian elites, whose actions starkly contradict their public advocacy. These individuals, comfortably ensconced in their coastal estates and shuttling in private jets, are quick to erect barriers against innovative and economically viable energy technologies. Their lifestyle, a clear antithesis to their public stance on environmental conservation, undermines their credibility in dictating energy policies.
It is high time that the influence of such figures is critically examined. Their policy prescriptions, which appear detached from economic realities and technological potential, should be scrutinized in light of their personal adherence to the principles they promote. The disparity between their words and actions raises questions about the validity of their contributions to the energy debate.
The conversation on energy and environmental policy must evolve beyond the echo chambers of the elite, embracing voices such Mike Green's who advocate for realistic and sustainable energy strategies. Only then can we hope to formulate energy policies that are not only environmentally sound but also economically rational and technologically feasible.
I think the actual and bigger problem is the education process. People are being tought lots of facts, but they are not being tought to think critically and scientifically.
I've been thinking about this for years and I think the problem is that modern science has became SO ADVANCED that for an ovewhelming majority if people it actually became magic. For most people iPhone is not much different from a magic wand because they have no mental models or process to differ one from another. Just recently I had a conversation with a person that was telling me that Astrology is a science because "serious Astrology has a lot of maths and formulas in it" and that esoterics is something that "science has not yet explained".
In a perfect world we should start mandatory teaching of Karl Popper and Imre Lakatos in school, and not on a 4th year of selected university specialties, but I have no idea how this can be achieved.
It's hard to communicate and even imagine what our lives could look like if we societally pursued energy abundance. Indoor farming is actually a good example of the opposite of the bottleneck of land and water area. Energy abundance would mean we could afford to spend energy on desalination plants that could make use of all the currently uninhabitable desert coastlines. Energy can drive dramatically expanded desalination to deflate land cost and production costs. Similarly, if the production of nuclear energy is adequately vast, we could use it to manufacturer ammonia cheaply enough that it could be organically adopted in preference over fossil fuels. And I'm sure we would figure out how to use electricity to make steel and concrete if there was enough economic incentive. And arguably most impactful, we'd use electricity to heat buildings.
As you point out, replacing 'dirty' fuel with 'clean' isn't economic growth, it's by definition, stagnation. But if we got electricity to be so cheap that we drove those mentioned changes to be implemented by the market on it's own, we'd undoubtedly be in a situation of consuming much more.
While I don't agree with Erik's conclusions about how to implement nuclear rollout, he's certainly on the right track in a general sense about the need to pursue energy abundance. Modularizing NPPs doesn't work in the multi-terrawatt scale we need to meaningfully impact economies, because most of the expense isn't the reactor vessel itself; it's all the site work and containment structures and such that are, like any building, unique to the location. The red tape that he correctly implicates with cost\schedule issues is also largely site-related, and don't go away just because we got a reactor vessel delivered in a shipping container (not that we don't need to overhaul the red tape issue). I think Erik is being a classic wall Street guy fascinated by the shiny new thing (like his thorium\breeder notions), when we already have the solutions on hand in new gen PWRs.
I believe the real key to getting nuclear power to proliferate is banking 'technology', not mechanical tech. I think that what we need is to charter a publicly owned infrastructure bank that can issue extremely long maturity loans at advantageous (or zero) rates to CREATE the money needed to finance large NPPs, and collateralize the loans by the NPPs themselves. That would allow [the good kind of] inflation to finally take off as the economy adds assets and matching currency, without expanding uncollateralized public debt.
I am a fan of nuclear. While solar is a great solution because 1. A small surface area of panels can generate enough power for the whole world and 2 batteries can be recycled (so after a certain level it can become a circular system and we do not have to mine much) it is still nuclear that wins because if we ever have a meteor hit (not bad enough to wipe us out but bad enough to block the sun for an extended period) we are dead without nuclear.
I vote for Mike G and Doomberg to be the the new Oligarchs of disUSA.
Here is a link that takes the letter and automates sending it to your relevant congressman: https://resist.bot/petitions/PZQZZO
I think the issue stalls out at the national level when you get into details about which specific nuclear tech to advance. Vogtle is the only recent plant in the US and it hasn’t gone smoothly. Deploying more light-water tech developed in the 60s probably isn’t the right answer. Sentiment may shift quickly if some of the next gen technologies being developed pan out.
Another point of contention is a next gen energy solution that can be deployed around the globe is better than one that can’t. I would be ok sending state of the art solar panels to unstable governments around the world. On the other hand, setting up a nuclear reactor is sub Saharan Africa feels like bad risk reward.
Thank you for sharing the template for reaching out to our representatives. While I hope they listen, I'm not very optimistic about change occurring until some form of widespread hardship forces their hand. It feels cynical to say that but it seems to generally be the precedent
HELL YEAH! Nice, fiery, compelling approach right here.