The onslaught of the climate emergency has made nuclear power a lot more attractive to make people because it can be a big source of carbon-free power. The downsides are still there – especially waste disposal, very high cost and long construction times, fear of proliferation of nukes and safety issues – but the upside is more important.
The big hope in technology circles these days is “next generation” nuclear, a variety of approaches to designing nuclear plants that often concentrates on smaller, more reproducible designs with simpler, automated safety features and sometimes different fuels or internal systems.
In New Hampshire, where more than a few people wish we’d built that second Seabrook reactor, the legislature wants to make sure we don’t miss out if this new technology comes to pass. The governor recently signed HB543 , which “establishes a commission to study and consider legislation or other actions relative to the possibility of implementing next-generation, nuclear reactor technology in New Hampshire.” Final report due in December 2023.
Two things of interest:
The bill starts out with this matter-of-fact statement: “Eliminating carbon emissions from electricity generation is an urgent goal to mitigate the threat of climate change.” That’s been a no-brainer for years to anybody paying attention but the number of climate-denying lawmakers in Concord makes it slightly surprising that it slipped through here.
The bill replaces an earlier commission “to investigate the implementation of nuclear reactor technology in New Hampshire” – but not next-generation nuclear. I don’t know much about that earlier commission.