Monday, September 27, 2021
HomeAlternative EnergiesNuclear PowerORNL section head touts advantages, safety of nuclear energy

ORNL section head touts advantages, safety of nuclear energy

Andrew Worrall, deputy director of Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) and section head at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, recently presented the clean power source comparisons mentioned in the following scenario during a Friends of ORNL (FORNL) meeting.

Artist’s concept of an envisioned nuclear power plant in Alaska.

Suppose you are worried about human-caused climate change and you wish to move into a town that is powered by a clean energy source.

Each town you examine is powered by a carbon-free source that will produce almost 470 billion kilowatt hours over its lifespan. Concerned about taxes and utility bills, you are particularly interested in the relative costs of the three sources (in 2009 dollars, according to one study), which include land price, plant components, financing, construction, labor, regulatory fees and fuel.

A screen capture of Andrew Worrall giving his talk to Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (FORNL) via Zoom.

One town is powered by a solar array that costs $28 billion and produces electricity only 30% of the year because cloudiness and night-time prevent the sun from shining indefinitely on the solar cells. The array covers 62 square miles.

Another town is powered by General Electric wind turbines that cost $11 billion. The spinning turbine blades generate power only 35% of the year because the wind is not always blowing or it blows so hard the wind power farm must be shut down. The farm occupies 36 square miles of land, equivalent to the size of downtown Knoxville.

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