How about this for a solution to the highly radioactive waste produced by nuclear power stations? Mark Lynas, writing in the UK's New Statesman magazine suggests... fourth-generation nuclear reactors:
This is the solution proposed by Tom Blees, a US-based writer, in his upcoming book Prescription for the Planet. Blees focuses particularly on so-called fourth-generation nuclear technology - better known as fast-breeder reactors. While conventional thermal reactors use less than 1 per cent of the potential energy in their uranium fuel, fast-breeders are 60 times more efficient, and can burn virtually all of the energy available in the uranium ore.
Fourth-generation nuclear reactors? This overlooks the fact that the nuclear industry is currently struggling to build third-generation reactors on time, on budget or to required standards of safety or construction. The building of third-generation reactors in Flamanville, France and Olkiluoto, Finland are becoming a byword for industry incompetence and cover up.
Not only that, fourth-generation reactors currently only exist in theory and as drawing-board plans. They are not expected to begin commercial electricity generation some time into the second half of this century and are likely to be much more expensive. Given the nuclear industry's reputation for missing deadlines by huge margins and poor economics, this could prove to be wildly optimistic.
Climate change needs to be challenged now. Theoretical nuclear reactors that may or may not be available are a distraction. Nuclear energy remains expensive and dangerous. The alternatives exist already - there's no need or time to wait.