(March 29, 2011) Energy Probe director of nuclear research Norm Rubin in the Toronto Star and The Week discussing why thorium is not the solution to the high costs of nuclear energy.
Toronto Star, March 25, 2011, Thorium touted as The Answer to our energy needs
Thorium pitches are really just “appeals for public funding,” he says: “Thorium reactors are only one of a significant number of long-term dreams to plant soybeans in Antarctica with the help of nuclear sun lamps. There is almost no limit to the dreams you can have with an endless, too-cheap-to-meter source of clean, benign, what-could-possibly-go-wrong energy.”
Needless to say, Rubin is not impressed. Not just with LFTRs, but with nuclear power plants in general.
“Thorium doesn’t eliminate the problems,” he contends. “If the nuclear industry’s problem was affording uranium, then switching to thorium might solve their problem. But that’s not their problem. The fuel cost in today’s reactors is a tiny fraction of the total cost. That’s not what is giving the Ontario government sticker shock about the next two reactors at Darlington. They’re solving a non-problem by substituting a cheaper fuel for uranium. Unless they solve the big problems, they’ve got a curiosity there instead of a practical solution to anybody’s problems.”
The Week, March 28, 2011, Could thorium make nuclear power safe?
First, it will take a lot of money to develop a new generation of thorium-fueled reactors — America’s has been dormant for half a century. China is taking the lead in picking up the thread, building on plans developed and abandoned in Europe. And part of the reason Europe dropped the research, according to critics, is pressure from France’s uranium-based nuclear power industry. Others just think the whole idea is being oversold. If “an endless, too-cheap-to-meter source of clean, benign, what-could-possibly-go-wrong energy” sounds too good to be true, says nuclear analyst Norm Rubin, it’s because it is.