Bob Stuart
This makes me very sad. I used to have a lot of respect for MIT.
This "initiative" is no different than what most sane people have been saying for the past 20 years. Unfortunately that gets lost in the politics of those who want to push their agendas, and I don't see how that will ever change.
As to standardized designs, those have existed for some time. The real cost drivers have not been the plans, but regulations that treat every project as its own separate entity. Easily half of the cost of a nuclear power plant in the US goes towards duplicating paperwork and financing projects that take decades instead of a few years as they should (and used to).
But then again, all of this is intentional feet dragging by those who are dead set against nuclear power in any form. The old joke in Germany in the 80's used to be "Who needs nuclear power? My electricity comes out of the wall socket." ... It seems nothing has changed in 40 years.
Thanks to MIT for taking a practical, unbiased approach. While I still favor thorium reactor tech, we need to look at all options without this irrational fear of anything with "nuclear" in the name. The worst option is doing without abundant energy.
I absolutely agree for the need for (open) world standard reactor designs. Also agree to "The real cost drivers have not been the plans, but regulations that treat every project as its own separate entity".
I also think our world needs much more clean power than most people realize! Electricity is not just needed for running homes/offices/shops etc, but also for all kinds of industrial production! For example, if we had lots of (clean) electricity, lots of "dream" construction materials like titanium, aluminum etc would become a lot cheaper! Imagine all kinds of buildings, vehicles, city infrastructures, roads which are durable for centuries (so almost never require replacements)!
I believe MIT is letting itself being used by the Nuclear lobby. Today it is clearly proven that wind and solar are producing power at much lower cost than any of other available technologies. Nuclear has not even resolved the problem of safe storage of the nuclear waste and the technology is NOT "fail safe". This violates a basic engineering principle, which wouldn't even allow application of such a technology. Today the public is facing extraordinary cost from nuclear reactors, which are shifted to the public and not accounted for in the cost calculations.
If leading decision makers would just apply a massive build out of solar and wind, the residual power needed to compensate for fluctuations in production would be less than 20% of the energy demand during a year and could be easily covered by other available RE sources; and may be complimented by a small residual supply through LNG. Sorry for MIT. With this "study" you disqualify your entire highly reputable institution instead of moving forward to really move into a sustainable direction. Kind regards Juergen Lorenz, M.Sc. (Process Engineering) & MBA
The critique of renewables put here is reminiscent of coal industry claims about 'baseload', that is constantly being debunked by energy analysts, but to no effect. Where does the claim that renewables produce significant negative impacts come from, especially when compared with nuke plants? And who says nuke plants are clean or all that reliable & safe, or even cost efficient compared to renewables?
This article has a whiff of nuke industry publicrelationspeak about it that can only be dealt with by opening the caims being made here to some more diverse energy expert opinion.
Tom Swift
If there is a problem of excess CO2, then part of the blame goes to everyone who jumped on the "No Nukes" hysteria after TMI. Instead of trying to make plants safer the mob-rule demanded shutting them down. They did not consider the consequences. People still demanded more and more electric power, the only economically acceptable alternative was coal. So instead of a few nuke plants dozens of coal fired plants were built, and here we are.
They acknowledge that nuclear costs more than solar and wind but stand behind the efficiency saying it would be sustainable. What is cost measuring though? Currency is a representation of labor and resources. If something is really expensive it's also a sign of high resources required to do it. Solar and wind are cheaper than nuclear now and getting cheaper.
Further more what aren't they measuring? There are about 450 nuclear power plants in the world. There have not been a lot of large scale accidents but they certainly exist. There may not be a lot of Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents but what it the cost (in $/MWh of LCOE) of losing an entire city and the associated cleanup? The cost of the Fukushima disaster is said to cost $180bn USD. So there is a half a percent chance at having a ~$200 billion meltdown not being measured into nuclear $/MWh). Half a percent of $200 billion is still a billion dollars averaged out per nuclear power plant so it represents a significant amount of cost of nuclear that's not being measured in in the levelized cost (LCOE).
Sure there are few direct fatalities with nuclear meltdowns (at least until they become military targets) but we probably need to consider the costs of writing off the whole city for 30-50 years when there is. Who is shouldering that burden of liability? If my local nuclear reactor melts is the power company going to buy me a new house somewhere else and move my family or stick me with those costs? I'm pretty sure I know the answer. The odds of a major disaster are high enough to be concerned. At the time Fukushima was built it was believed to be safe but in hindsight the shortcomings in the design are now obvious. As we move to newer/safer designs it's hard to know what shortcomings we may be overlooking that could seem obvious some day in the future.
Dan Lewis
Sadly surprised that thorium wasn't mentioned loud and clear. Phooey.
Now this is an incredibly bad idea. As we saw in fukushima, chernobyl, three mile island and in many other close calls, all it takes to blow up a nuke plant is lack of cooling for a few hours or human error (lack of control or mistakes). Anything disabling cooling including flood or drought will also make it pop. Global warming is all about floods and droughts .. and the scarcity of food and social distruptions might also stop spare parts for plants. If the situation gets bad enough the controllers might just leave or never arrive to work. Pop-pop-pop go the nukes like popcorn