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Pandora's reliance on untested technology invites disbelief

From GRIST, by John Perkins. "Pandora’s failure lies in its startlingly simplistic proposal to replace fossil fuels with nuclear power. For example, the film claims that the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) provides a key route to safe nuclear power. These facts, however, are important: 1) The IFR’s prototype, the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, was small-scale when the program ended; and 2) No IFR plant was ever built. Accordingly, data on reliability, safety, and costs don’t exist. Nuclear power has a long history of bedevilment in scaling up from prototypes, and Pandora’s reliance on untested technology invites disbelief.

Despite the unknowns, Pandora wants a massive turn to new types of nuclear power plants. The world’s power plants currently produce about 5,000 gigawatts (1 gigawatt = 1 billion watts). Replacing this fleet with new plants of 1 gigawatt each — the common commercial size — means building 5,000 new nuclear plants, over 10 times the current number. Existing experience indicates that $6 billion may be a lower cost estimate to build such plants, so the total cost would be about $30 trillion, possibly higher.

Is such a sum even conceivable? Maybe yes, but would such a massive program be the best use of $30 trillion? At the same time, Pandorafails to seriously address the promises and challenges of developing major roles for renewable energy. Such a partial assessment doesn’t cut it for spending $30 trillion."

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