Last week, at an event at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., Intellectual Ventures’ CEO Nathan Myhrvold made the point that innovation in the energy sector, especially the nuclear industry, is necessary and obtainable. The Future Tense event, co-sponsored by the New America Foundation, Arizona State University and Slate Magazine, presented alternatives for tomorrow’s energy as part of the important discussion about the world’s future energy sources.
The world is getting richer and more populous, and consequently, energy demand is growing greatly. Within the next century, nations will need to quadruple energy production worldwide. Just look at the statistics: according to the World Energy Outlook, worldwide electricity demand is likely to rise over 40% by 2030, with more than 80% of the increase in non-OECD countries.
Clearly, the world needs to explore many different options to supply the incredible amounts of power we will need by 2030. While alternative intermittent energies like wind and solar will play an important role in meeting demand, new forms of cost-effective, efficient, scalable, emissions-free base load power will have to be part of the equation.
Nuclear energy stands out as an integral part of the solution. As a carbon-free, emissions-free source of power, nuclear energy is also unmatched in efficiency. Nuclear plants deliver 90% of their rated capacity, compared to solar and wind, which respectively deliver less than 20 and 30 percent. Emerging nations like India and China are already turning to nuclear power to supply a significant portion of their growing energy needs. With the help of innovation that improves the safety of nuclear technology and relieves proliferation concerns, nuclear energy can play an even larger role.
Here at TerraPower, we believe the TWR is an example of nuclear energy’s promise. The TWR design simplifies the nuclear fuel cycle, increases safety and reduces proliferation risk. The use of depleted uranium as fuel reduces the need for expensive enrichment and reprocessing, affordably addressing global energy needs.
The thought leadership presented throughout the day at the Future Tense event made clear that solutions to the world’s future energy needs like the TWR are both necessary and worth pursuing. We are confident that the today’s energy innovations will power the world tomorrow.