There currently are 75 startup companies working to develop new advanced, small nuclear reactors for producing electricity, which are safer and lower cost to build. Traditional light-water reactors use water to cool the hot nuclear fission, while these newer nuclear reactors will be cooled more safely and reliably by using salts or liquid metals and will produce far lower quantities of nuclear waste. Some designs will even be able to use old nuclear waste as fuel. Super safe thorium is also being looked at as a less radioactive fuel source with almost no waste.
Slowing down this development work is government regulations and a lack of public support. The federal government needs better, more efficient regulations to allow faster development of these new safer, more efficient designs. An example of over regulation is at Point Beach in Wisconsin. Originally, only 85 employees were required to run the plant. Now because of the federal government’s regulations, 650 employees are required to run the plant with added security and take care of all the extra paper work.
If we don’t encourage nuclear power, we will lose our lead in low-cost power. China is currently planning to build 61 new nuclear reactors, Russian to build 32 and India 25.
Nuclear power is still the lowest cost way to produce electrical energy and does not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide. It is also the most efficient at 92 percent, while natural gas is 56 percent efficient, coal 55 percent efficient, wind 33 percent efficient and solar only 29 percent efficient.
We need to learn about and support development of these advanced nuclear reactors, so the U.S. can continue to lead the world with a low-cost abundant source of energy.