Think about this the next time the news bulletins warn of the coming energy crisis in your country . . .
The Guardian reports that China’s investments in nuclear R&D have paid off and they now stand to reap rich rewards from it. According to the article the Chinese have solved the problem of reprocessing spent uranium, and hence have not only solved their energy problems, but largely solved the problem of what to do with nuclear waste as well:
State media claimed the technology overcame a supply bottleneck and ensured China would have sufficient nuclear fuel for at least 3,000 years.
The breakthrough would be a boon to the domestic industry, which is in the early stages of what looks likely to be the most spectacular burst of reactor-building in world history.
Due to surging demand for energy and growing concerns about pollution, China’s nuclear-power generating capacity is projected to increase up to tenfold in the next 10 years. By 2030 China could be on course to overtake the US as the world’s leading atomic energy producer.
Here’s a funny thing, though. We’ve all been told time and time again that China is investing in renewable energy, and that’s great. I have no problem with renewable energy. But their investment in solar and wind pales into insignificance next to the ten-fold increase in nuclear power over a single decade – and how often do you think we’ll hear that particular story?
In fact, not only does China stand to gain energy security from this investment, it will also be well placed to profit from marketing the technology and know-how abroad, like Western countries used to do before they were tied up by nay-sayers and technology-deniers:
China National Nuclear Corporation said last year it planned to invest 800bn yuan (£78bn) in the industry by 2020. China has already been replicating the technology of its foreign suppliers and is moving to design its own reactors and reprocessing plants. The next step is construction and overseas sales.
Personally, I say good luck to the Chinese – they are ensuring the energy security of their country in a real and realistic way. No one could fault them for that (for some other things, but not for that). It’s the governments in Western nations that are to blame here. With this technology (and who knows what further advances?) we could have enough energy and to spare for thousands of years.
Think about that when they tell you that we’re all gonna have to cut back a bit.