Saturday, 3 October 2015

Jeremy Rifkin - how passé

In this video Jeremy Rifkin says there are 5 reasons why nuclear power is over:

  1. Nuclear power does not scale (it can't be built quickly enough)
  2. We can't recycle spent fuel nor store it. e.g. "Yucca mountain is cracked" and can't be used as a waste repository
  3. There's not enough uranium
  4. We can not use plutonium, and keeping it leads to uncertainty and terrorism.
  5. There's not enough water to cool reactors.
    Just before he stops talking, he remembers he wanted to make 6 points:
  6. Nuclear power is centralized it does fit the new technologies which are "distributed, collaborative and laterally scaled".

Let's refute Rifkin's points, one by one:

  1. After fossil fuels, nuclear power is the most scalable electricity generation source
  2. Waste disposal
    • Recycling. A number of new reactor designs are being designed to run on spent fuel. e.g. the IMSR by Canadians: Terrestrial Energy:
    • Waste disposal. This isn't an issue. The amount of waste produced by a nuclear power plant is quite small. We can reduce it over 30-fold by closing the uranium fuel cycle. We already have the technology to do that.
  3. The world's oceans contain 4 billion tonnes of uranium. This can be extracted for about $600/kg which is a low enough price to make it economic. New uranium resources are being discovered as I write. E.g. the huge new reserves recently announced in Iran.
    We don't have to rely only on uranium. Thorium is 3.5 times more abundant than uranium, and it too can also be used in nuclear fission reactors.
  4. Plutonium.
  5. Not every nuclear reactor needs water for cooling, but there's plenty of water anyway. Reactors built next to the sea will probably continue to use water cooling.
  6. "distributed, collaborative and laterally scaled"
    -- Hey man, have a toke on my reefer, and invent some kewl new energy paradigms of your own!

Rifkin should stop making stuff up and deal with reality instead.


  1. A Green Road: Jeremy Rifkin - Five Reasons Why Nuclear Power is a Dead-End Business Model
  2. Historic Paths to Decarbonization
  3. IMSR: Terrestrial Energy's Integral Molten Salt Reactor - by Dr. David LeBlanc @ TEAC7
  4. Iran finds huge new supply of uranium
  5. China to help Bill Gates develop "pioneering" nuclear reactor
  6. the GE-Hitachi PRISM
  7. British Moltex fast molten salt reactor design
  8. European EVOL fast molten salt reactor design
  9. Copenhagen Atomics Thorium Molten Salt Reactor
  10. Weapons grade plutonium can only be made in special military grade reactors
  11. Israel tests ‘dirty bombs,’ finds they pose no substantial danger
  12. Dry cooling for nuclear power plants

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