Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An Energy Truth Shines Through

Amb. Jim Nicholson 
From Jim Nicholson, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See from 2001 to 2005:
Well, there's another thing that I hope he [Pope Francis] realizes, and that is that the best way to help the poor in this world is to help them come out of that poverty and get electricity. There are over a billion people in the world that still do not even have electricity, and fossil fuel is the hope for that electricity. It's cheap, it's readily producible, and if you can't refrigerate medicine and you can't read in the dark, and you can't grow out of that poverty and there's a real link there, and the Holy Father, I think, needs to be very careful about this green movement that he sort of seems to align himself with in this encyclical on global climate change, and I hope that he will realize that.
One may disagree with most of what Nicholson says here. But not with his main point: “the best way to help the poor in this world is to help them come out of that poverty and get electricity.” It’s such an important message – and important for the public to understand - that we’ll take it wrapped however anyone cares to wrap it. The rest will be resolved in the fullness of time.

2 comments:

Aaron Rizzio said...

There's nothing in the encyclical against the use of nuclear energy.

How much fission energy would be required to elevate the entire world to the OECD average? Given a world of 10 billion people by the end of the 21st century ~6,000GW(e) of capacity would be required (double that to reach US consumption rates). 6,000GW of LWRs would require over a million tons of uranium/yr mining production rate, which is probably impractical. Also insufficient fissile material would have been generated for fast sodium (S-PRISM or Terrapower)reactors -- a fissile bottleneck. What will be the only option? U233 stockpiles bred up from operating NPP fleets over the course of the 21st century and used to fuel low fissile inventory MSRs.

Aaron Rizzio said...

There's nothing in the encyclical against the use of nuclear energy.

So how much fission energy capacity would be required to elevate the entire world to the OECD average? Given a world of 10 billion people by the end of the 21st century ~8,000GW(e) of capacity would be required (double that to reach US consumption rates). 8,000GW of LWRs would require a production rate of over a million tons of uranium/yr, which is probably impractical. Also insufficient fissile material would have been generated for fast sodium reactors (S-PRISM or Terrapower) -- a fissile bottleneck. What then will be the only likely fission option? U233 stockpiles bred via our existing NPP fleets over the course of the 21st century and utilized to fuel future low fissile inventory MSR/LiFTRs.