The Old and the New

Some environmentalists like to pretend nuclear is just going away. Were this the case, we wouldn’t be seeing this situation:

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Nuclear component manufacturers are gearing up to supply plant for an 48-fold expansion of capacity in China alone. The rising eastern power will also be deploying the kind of fourth generation liquid fueled thechnology first demonstrated in the 1960s.

Meanwhile, Russia is progressing towards closing its fuel cycle with proven fast reactor technology. India is at a similar stage.

Bolivia looked at its neighbours, saw how safe and reliable their nuclear capacity is, and have made the right call.

It’s only a matter of months before the first Japanese reactors are brought back online, safer and more desperately needed than ever.

I could go on. But instead I’ll very roughly make a point. In 2008 Ranger uranium mine exported about 4643 tonnes of uranium, and it generated 1,495,000 GJ (at 433 GJ per tonne) in foreign power plants which is over 415 GWh of practically carbon-free electricity.

Ranger2005

If coal had been burned instead, that would roughly be an extra 415,000 tonnes of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere, plus a share of all the rest. Sure, Australia exported a heap of coal in the same year, but my point is the cumulative effort of those miners and truckers who extracted and delivered that uranium conceivably achieved more in the effort against greenhouse gas emissions than any given institutional environmentalist with a flair for polemic and disregard for expert wisdom. However, with groups like the Canada Greens considering calling for new safer reactor designs, it looks like the orthodoxy could soon be challenged from within.

 

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