Building New Nuclear Power Plants to Fight Climate Change – Bill Gates


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Bill Gates

Stop shutting down nuclear reactors and build new nuclear power plants to fight climate change, urged Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft.

While some nuclear power companies continue to shut down nuclear reactors for reasons ranging from economic challenges to security concerns, Mr. Gates firmly believes that nuclear power is a clean energy solution to climate change.

Mr Gates, who is also an investor in nuclear energy, told the Nuclear Energy Assembly of the Institute of Nuclear Energy that the United States should strengthen its commitment to existing nuclear power plants and invest in new ones.

“Today, nuclear power is at a crossroads. Almost 20% of US electricity comes from nuclear, ”said Mr. Gates.

“But while the current US nuclear capability serves the country well, there are many more reactors scheduled for retirement than there are new reactors under construction.”

In April, the Indian Point Energy Center nuclear power plant in upstate New York retired its last operating nuclear reactor.

And Exelon Corporation has announced plans to pull two of its Illinois nuclear power plants in the fall.

If those retirements materialize, 2021 could set a record for the most nuclear generator retirements in a year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Since 1960, the United States has withdrawn 40 nuclear generators, but it has never had so many in a year, an EIA spokesperson said.

Mr Gates said: “If we are serious about solving the problem of climate change, and quite frankly we have to be, the first thing we should do is keep reactors in safe operation.”

“Even then, it is not enough to maintain this status quo. We need more nuclear power to eliminate emissions in America and to prevent a climate catastrophe. “

According to the United Nations, reaching “net zero” means achieving no new amount of emissions into the atmosphere, both by reducing emissions and eliminating emissions from the atmosphere.

Mr. Gates is the founder and president of TerraPower, a leading nuclear technology company launched in 2006.

On June 2, TerraPower announced it would build a state-of-the-art nuclear power plant at a retreating coal-fired power plant in Wyoming.

The specific location in Wyoming is not yet decided: Several potential locations in Wyoming are currently under review, according to the company.

Mr Gates said TerraPower will use the existing coal-fired plant infrastructure and its skilled workforce to build and operate the advanced reactor plant, called Natrium.

TerraPower developed the Natrium technology in collaboration with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

“We hope to show that in addition to all of its energy benefits, advanced nuclear can play a key role in developing good jobs for skilled workers across the country,” Gates said.

Other companies, like X-energy, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, are also building advanced nuclear reactors.

In October, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced it would invest $ 80 million in TerraPower and X-energy, for a total of $ 160 million.

Mrs Rita Baranwal, then Deputy Secretary for Nuclear Energy, said at the time that the urgent development of nuclear technology is “important not only for our economy, but for our environment …”.

Ms. Baranwal is now Director of Nuclear at the Electric Power Research Institute, a global energy research and development organization.

Although Mr Gates believes “strongly” that “nuclear power must play a role in bringing the world to net zero”, and that everyone from technologists to utility companies must have “a common vision of the role nuclear power in our power grid, ”other experts disagree.

For example, in February, academics and other researchers signed a public statement calling for tackling climate change by switching to 100% renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal energy. , tidal and wave power.

Nuclear power is not considered renewable, says Mark Z. Jacobson, professor at Stanford University, one of the signatories to the declaration.

He said nuclear fission, the process currently used to create usable nuclear power, requires uranium for fuel, which was a finite resource.

Professor Jacobson said that in fact “investing in new nuclear power is the surest way to cause climate catastrophe”.

“Climate change is urgent and new nuclear power plants are expensive and time consuming to build,” he said.

Professor Jacobson, who published a handbook on renewable energy, also points out that nuclear power comes with concerns that renewables do not have, including the proliferation of weapons, mergers, radioactive waste and the risks. uranium mining.

“New nuclear is fundamentally an opportunity cost,” he said.

Ghana has started the journey towards building and operating a nuclear power plant to strengthen its energy supply for the foreseeable future.

Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) will own and operate Ghana’s first nuclear power plant, providing some 2,000 megawatts to ensure the steady supply of electricity to Ghana’s rapidly growing industrial sector.

With an energy mix dominated by generators powered by fossil fuels, the country hopes to minimize carbon combustion to an absolute minimum in line with global thinking and actions.

The Ghana News Agency (GNA) is a partner of the NPG for effective communication on nuclear energy.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed to promote NPG’s strategic stakeholder management programs, build public confidence and enhance understanding of nuclear power plant technology issues.

Source: CNBC / GNA

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