2 Jan (NucNet): Bill Gates has urged the US to invest in nuclear power research, noting that the country is no longer the global leader on nuclear energy that it was 50 years ago.
In his annual year-in-review blog post, Mr Gates said that to regain its leadership position, the US will need to commit new funding, update regulations, and show investors that it is serious.
Mr Gates said he will speak out more about how the US needs to regain its leading role in nuclear power research. He said: “Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day.”
He said breakthroughs are needed in clean energy to curb the rise of global temperatures. Generating energy from sunlight and wind does not emit CO2 and the same goes for nuclear energy, he said.
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world will face catastrophic effects of climate change if global temperatures climb to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. We are on track to hit that 1.5-degree threshold by 2040, though the IPCC said a huge shift in global energy and economic systems could still reverse the trend.
Solar and wind energy are becoming much cheaper— which Mr Gates said he was “glad to see” — but he wrote that these energy sources alone are not enough. That’s because solar and wind energy are not viable when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. Nuclear power, on the other hand, is available 24 hours a day.
Along with Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos and other billionaires, Mr Gates leads a fund called Breakthrough Energy Ventures that invests in startups that focus on renewable energy.
Mr Gates also pointed to the company TerraPower that he started 10 years ago. TerraPower is working on creating a travelling-wave reactor, which Mr Gates said is safe, produces minimal waste, and cannot be used in nuclear weapon production.
“We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the US have made that unlikely. We may be able to build it in the US if the funding and regulatory changes that I mentioned earlier happen.”
Mr Gates’ blog is online: https://bit.ly/2QcA8yU