Thursday, November 10, 2005

Nuclear power: Going Small

Here's an interesting article from MIT's Technology Review. It discusses the development of small nuclear reactors that could be deployed at low cost in developing countries to provide power to a small area without requiring extensive infrastructure such as a national power grid. Of course there are safety and security concerns, and these are addressed in the article. The article is based on comments made in a talk at MIT by this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mohamed ElBaradei.

With world-wide demand for power growing rapidly, global CO2 emissions will become a bigger and bigger problem if we simply burn more coal and other fossil fuels to meet this demand. Solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources should be developed and exploited, and as space technology advances (especially the space elevator), we may eventually be able to meet much of the demand with solar power satellites. But that's not a near-term solution. In the near-term, nuclear power has to be a big part of the solution.

1 comment:

Brian Dunbar said...

I will have to read the article in depth of course. But even small reactors incur a capital cost.

SPS can be online months after the cost to get 'stuff' to orbit drops to a reasonable cost. The power generated can be leased as needed, and the capital costs on the ground only distribution and a rectenna.

Okay, microwave rectenna cover valuable acres - but a receiver for a laser would not. I know a company that if we get our way is going to have a lot of experience beaming power up at moving targets via laser.

Some mighty big 'ifs' here of course. 'If' we get funding, 'if' a space elevator can be economically built and so on.