The new, safer nuclear reactors that might help stop climate change

Leigh Phillips in the MIT Technology Review:

BP might not be the first source you go to for environmental news, but its annual energy review is highly regarded by climate watchers. And its 2018 message was stark: despite the angst over global warming, coal was responsible for 38% of the world’s power in 2017—precisely the same level as when the first global climate treaty was signed 20 years ago. Worse still, greenhouse-gas emissions rose by 2.7% last year, the largest increase in seven years.

Such stagnation has led many policymakers and environmental groups to conclude that we need more nuclear energy. Even United Nations researchers, not enthusiastic in the past, now say every plan to keep the planet’s temperature rise under 1.5 °C will rely on a substantial jump in nuclear energy.

But we’re headed in the other direction. Germany is scheduled to shut down all its nuclear plants by 2022; Italy voted by referendum to block any future projects back in 2011. And even if nuclear had broad public support (which it doesn’t), it’s expensive: several nuclear plants in the US closed recently because they can’t compete with cheap shale gas.

More here.

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