There's an interesting discussion at the Oil Drum today on LFTR nuclear reactor technology. I have looked into this a little as a result of James Hansen's letter to Obama calling for a research program to develop these fourth generation nuclear technologies. Hansen thinks that the global warming predicament is so serious that nuclear power will be needed to knock out coal generation which is far more dangerous to the planet.
The comment below comes closest to my own views, though I would be more supportive of a massive research effort to determine if these fourth generation nuclear technologies really are feasible.
What is wrong with you people? This is like me as an computer system admin banking on Windows 8 to solve all my IT problems. Windows 8 like LFTR is vaporware. There are no operating LFTR reactors of any kind working in the world today yet you are all willing to hitch your wagons a totally unproven solution that could be the Edsel Ford of nuclear reactors.
The solutions are already here and operating.
1. Generate NEGAWATTS. Electricity you don't have to generate is the quickest, cheapest and easiest method of reducing greenhouse emissions. Start a massive campaign of energy conservation and reduction. I realise that this is boring alternative to something as sexy as LFTR however Negawatts will be saving more power sooner than any new technology. You only have to look at the passive solar threads on TOD to see what can be done and what savings can be made.
2. Make the grid smart. Put in new HVDC links with storage. Again distribution links are the hidden boring part of electricity however without them the grid ceases to function. Replace old transformers etc with modern massively more efficient units. Replace dumb loads with smart loads. The storage at the end of HVDC links benefits the current grid as it can greatly reduce the need for spinning reserve which in itself is a massive waste.
3. Put all the renewables into the mix. Join present wind farms (that should be legislated to have storage), with solar thermal, rooftop PV, tidal, wave and geothermal so that the whole is greater that the capacity factor of the parts and then provide 24X7 power.
4. Join in the existing peaking plants to the smart grid with smart controls and add biomass plants that also product biochar to enhance the fertility of the soil.
5. Electrify transport with V2G so it becomes part of the solution.
Look don't get me wrong LFTR might be great and the answer to our problems but lets not put all our eggs on a vaporware technology that may not deliver any of its promises. We need to start now with what we have. Renewables involve some compromises however they can support a technological society that is prepared to meet them halfway.