Obituaries of the “Nuclear Renaissance” have been widespread and frequent in the years since the Great Recession and reactions to the Great Northeast Japanese … [Read More...] about Are we finally approaching lift-off for a real Renaissance?
On Sunday, Feb 17, I realized that I was feeling extraordinarily good about the future of atomic energy, the future of clean energy production, and the future prosperity of the world that my grandchildren are going to inhabit.
I immediately composed and sent an invitation to some atomic colleagues to join me in a conversation. I picked the invitee list carefully, hoping to obtain useful responses to my explanation for the numerous bases on which my optimism relied.
Guests were forewarned about my bubbly mood and asked to bring their best arguments to temper my enthusiasm and perhaps talk me down from an artificially induced state of euphoria.
Of course, I couldn’t provide much prior notice, If I waited too long, the mood might dissipate or my bubble might be prematurely punctured by some kind of real life event.
Guests who were able to join in the conversation included:
Steve Aplin, blogger at Canadian Energy Issues
Jessica Lovering, Director of Energy at the Breakthrough Institute, and an expert on historical cost trends in nuclear energy generation systems
Canon Bryan, the CFO of Terrestrial Energy and a financial specialist with deep experience in the uranium market
I think you will enjoy the conversation. Spoiler, none of the guests succeeded in significantly dampening my enthusiasm for the possibility that we are very near an important inflection point in human history.
Obituaries of the “Nuclear Renaissance” have been widespread and frequent in the years since the Great Recession and reactions to the Great Northeast Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami. I’m pretty sure those obits have been premature in declaring the subject to be dead.
Last week, I attended the 6th Annual Advanced Reactor Summit and Technology Showcase. The event alllowed me to reconnect with some of my favorite atomic innovators and to meet, in real life, a long-time friend and colleague in the atomic advocacy community.
It’s worth remembering that the historical period we refer to as “The Renaissance” took about 50 years of foundation-building before taking hold and flourishing in a burst of human creativity and achievement that lasted about 300 years.
While already on the US West Coast, I spent the weekend in the heart of Silicon Valley engaged in fascinating discussions about atomic investment opportunities and challenges in an under appreciated branch of high technology.
Ever since that transformative experience, I’ve been thinking deep thoughts and trying to find words with which to describe and explain my optimism for a new Atomic Age.
My reflective moments have been punctuated and reinforced by such experiences as watching several committee hearings during which there was near universal agreement that we have a CO2 production crisis in need of solutions, that nuclear energy is an important tool that must be refined and used more effectively, and that America still has a virtually unmatched set of advantages that enable advanced atomic development.
I won’t attempt to provide details here about individual presentations from the AR Summit that provided encouragement, but if you are curious, you might want to search Twitter for my tweets that included the hashtag #ARSummit.
Among the talks and discussions that I found most valuable for my recent reflections were David Wright’s description of his regulatory and leadership philosophies; talks about additive manufacturing and its associated capacity for continuous, in process inspections; talks about methods for accelerating irradiation testing and model verification; talks about new uses of silicon carbide and SiC-SiC composites; talks about molten salt systems designed for easy fabrication and lower capital costs; and discussions on the summit sidelines about multiagency progress in addressing radiation protection models and the underlying science justifying substantial changes.
My visit to the heart of American startup and high tech investing culture reminded me that we are a country that is full of human, financial, physical and technical capital. We have a well-established process for bringing the disparate ingredients of success together in a way that can produce surprisingly rapid and repeatable revolutions.
We know how to recognize opportunity, how to solve problems and how to spread those solutions around the world.
Stand by for the next Atomic Age. You can call it Nuclear Renaissance 2.0, if you prefer.
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