Yesterday we brought you the fantastical tale of the Brazilian government announcing their ambition to build 50 new nuclear reactors by 2050. No sooner had the disbelieving laughter died down here at Nuclear Reaction, along came the World Nuclear Association (WNA) with an amazing fantasy of its own. Wait until you see this – it’s amazing. There are comedians who would kill for this ability to make people laugh…
In its Nuclear Century Outlook report, the WNA has an upper ‘outlook projection’ of 11,000 new nuclear reactors being built by the end of the century.
Read that again. The WNA can envisage a scenario in which 11,000 nuclear reactors will be built in the next 92 years.
That means starting to build this October 120 reactors a year…
…which is 10 reactors every month…
…which is one reactor every three days.
Where’s all the waste going to go? Where are the engineers, the materials, the finance, and the technology going to come from? It’s not LEGO we’re talking about here. Currently only one company, in Japan, produces the forgings able to withstand the extraordinary pressures inside a nuclear reactor. That company currently has a three-year backlog. So where is the extra capacity going to come from to build and supply the components for 11,000 new reactors? It’s going to require an expansion in industrial production not seen since the Second World War if at all.
Even half of 11,000 is ludicrous. It makes the IEAE’s own fantasy projection of a doubling of nuclear power production by 2030 look positively reasonable.
Now, we all like ambition – it keeps the human race moving forward. We all like optimism which is, after all, what keeps us going in the face of all life’s adversities. But there’s a difference between ambition and delusion; between optimism and blind faith.
We compared Brazil’s ambition to build 50 new reactors to them announcing a manned mission to Pluto. Compared to the WNA’s announcement, however, Brazil’s ambitions sound like planning a tree house. The WNA’s announcement is like announcing a manned mission to Middle Earth to ask Gandalf to help with electricity generation. All good fun but not a reliable solution to the problems we face.
The WNA tells us that it’s ‘representing the people and organisations of the global nuclear profession’. If ’11,000 reactors by 2100’ is anything to go by, those people and organisations need a new representative. Homer Simpson couldn’t do a worse job.