1. Yes, you need your message to reach a wider audience, but what a shame that you’ve gone full neoliberal. I leave you with two thoughts:
    1. It was the Cold War. The American government needed to keep competitive advantages as secrets so the USSR wouldn’t be able to utilize them and come out on top.
    2. Any developed or wealthy country worth its salt has legal regulations and investments in the public sector. These DON’T preclude the ability to establish privately owned businesses and profit from them- in fact, well-funded public credit and infrastructure make logistics and distribution easier for business. A public sector DOES NOT equal “socialism” or “tha gubmint owning everything”. The libertarians who say otherwise are blind ideologues or intellectually dishonest propagandists. Singapore, the supposed ideal polity of libertarians, charges few or no corporate taxes and bans labor unions, but the government is the dominant shareholder in education, banking, real estate, healthcare, defense and energy. Absolute free markets don’t exist, and their closest implementations have caused as much misery around the world as their opposite.

    1. @Martin Ramirez

      Did you read the article before commenting?

      During the period from 1946-1954, the U.S. government FORMALLY and aggressively declared complete ownership of all things atomic. It absolutely precluded the establishment of privately owned businesses, took control over intellectual property related to atomic energy – including the Szilard/Fermi patents that were filed well before the U.S. government got involved and began paying any of the development costs and prevented information sharing among any researchers who were working on practical applications of nuclear knowledge. (Basic physics and chemistry were still allowed.)

      I’m not seeking absolute free markets. I also remind readers that I wrote the piece more than 22 years ago, more than 1/3 of a lifetime ago. I did not do any editing to reflect the morphing and refining of my ideas and attitudes toward economic development and the government’s role in enabling it to move forward.

      1. Rod, I thought in your article, you sounded like a great conservative. Though I still can’t forgive you for voting for Obama.

  2. I think it was still a good article.

    I do wonder. OK, the US government limits innovation in nuclear technology. Despite the arrogance of many, the US is not the world. If the US won’t be the innovator, why haven’t people elsewhere created more innovative reactors?

    Is there a possibility that the advent of smaller reactors will be a springboard for this innovation? Think of the rapid technological changes done with microchips. Small devices take less effort to “tinker out” new changes.

    Of course, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” Cheap fossil fuel energy will not encourage this innovation.

    1. @Eino

      At the end of WWII, the US had successfully gathered a large portion of the scientists and engineers who knew anything about nuclear energy production, nuclear physics and associated chemical and material experts. Obviously we did not have a monopoly; there was still a lot of talent out there.

      Even under the conditions that existed, there was a pretty fair exploration of the types of reactors that were possible. Progress was made, but it was slowed at nearly every possible step.

      The innovation that the industry needs isn’t in basic science or engineering or even in new types of reactors. The innovation needed is the normal evolutionary process of designing systems that do a better and better job of meeting customer needs. There are many measures of effectiveness that customers formally or informally use to determine which product best suits their budget, schedule, specific application, long term planning, fuel diversity criteria, etc.

      Capable businesses need people who are innovative in a wide range of skills so that they can find out what customers want, figure out ways to improve their product, package it in attractive ways, supply accessories that improve the experience, etc.

      I have firmly believed for a very long time that smaller units than the extra-large sizes produced in the First Atomic Age are necessary to enable the kinds of refinement that I believe are necessary. When projects last as long as some people’s careers, it is hard to learn and refine skills. Once you choose a path, making changes is difficult. Even making minor adjustments can disrupt schedules and thus budgets.

      1. Size matters a lot. Generally smaller is cheaper which in turn allows innovation, which is essentially what you said in your last paragraph.

        Recent example from the space world: Take a look at what SpaceX and Blue Origin are doing with reusable rockets. Why are they able to innovate re-usability when Shuttle / United Space Alliance (Atlas – V / Delta – IV) are not?

        Smaller company. Less expensive equipment. Smaller bureaucracy. More agile. Able to start / stop and turn on a dime.

        Cheap small reactors ought to allow the same sort of serial innovation and subsequent learning curve. And if DoD and NASA can learn how to open the door to this, so can the NRC (note that this was mandated via legislation written by newSpace people inside the O’Bama administration). Cheers –

  3. I think this article is somewhat of an illustrative example of what you’re talking about in your (old) article, Rod. All about heavy control of everything nuclear. Bemoaning that other entities may be networking around the (burdensome) US-controlled system. What do they even mean by “strong governance”?


    “Strong global governance is essential if the promise of nuclear power is to be achieved.”

    Why? You don’t hear about a need for “strong governance” for all of the competing energy sources. Might that just be a reason why nuclear is struggling to compete?

    “……to ensure that nuclear power can meet the growing need for clean energy with the highest standards of safety and security.”

    If they continue to relentlessly focus on minor and/or made up issues (nuclear is already the safest source, and proliferation is not really an issue), as opposed to focusing on cost reduction, nuclear will NOT play much of a role in meeting the need for clean power generation.

    And this is from NEI! Articles like this cause me to think that the nuclear industry doesn’t deserve to succeed, and that many if not most in the industry itself are nuclear’s worst enemy).

    1. Re: “…and that many if not most in the industry itself are nuclear’s worst enemy).

      That really sums up the core of the whole problem in a nutshell. Tech smarts nuclear folks have. People smarts, naw…

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY
      region of the utterly unsupported and non-advertised ex-Indian Point.

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