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For nuclear power to achieve its promise as a source of global-scale, rock-steady, emissions-free power, new approaches are needed. To understand how nuclear power can rise again, we need to take a look at fusion, small modular reactors, traveling wave reactors and more.

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While a stable grid is essential for the well being of developed countries, nuclear power magnifies the risks and rewards of making electricity to a level of national security. Few types of power generation are more contentious and none have the potential to affect the well being of nations like nuclear power – as both defender and demolisher.

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The biggest clean energy headlines of October:
* The US is about to surpass 1 million electric vehicles. 
* The US Government has written off $500 million in “clean coal” research since 2010.
* The US is on track for record coal retirements in 2018
* California utilities are proactively creating blackouts to avoid more powerline caused wildfires. 
* Chernobyl is once again generating power but this time it’s solar.

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I recently had the honor to keynote the 10th annual Southern Solar Summit. My presentation focused on two points. First, solar and battery will become the largest source of electricity sooner than people think. Second, Georgia is in a unique position to help lead the clean energy transformation.

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There are few more important questions for the 21st century than how we will power our electric grids. Literally trillions of dollars and are at stake, and possibly even the future of the planet. It’s a good bet that wind and solar will make up the majority of the future grid. But, wind and solar are not the same. Wind turbines benefit from economies of scale. As they get bigger, their costs go down; but only up to a point. By comparison, solar’s cost declines are driven by something even more powerful, economies of volume – the more you make of something, the cheaper it gets.

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I recently moderated a panel at the Energy Leaders Symposium called Disruptions in the Energy Industry. This event was hosted by Georgia Tech’s Center for Distributed Energy. To help frame the discussions, I defined a disruption as an industry changing so quickly that incumbents can’t keep up. I listed three drivers threatening to disrupt the power industry: a shift from economies of scale to economies of volumes, a shift from top-down to edge-in, and battery storage.

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Nuclear power plants produce almost no greenhouse gases. If you want a huge amount of steady 24/7/365 electricity that has minimal impact on climate change, nuclear is your go-to option. But the environmental promise of minimal greenhouse gas emissions comes with an environmental cost: nuclear waste. Decades of nuclear power has resulted in 250,000 tons of accumulated waste.

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* Utilities have a problem. The public wants clean energy and quick.
* New battery promises cost-competitive grid-level storage.
* Solar farms across North Carolina were unscathed by Hurricane Florence.
* ARPE-E goes on a quest for the holy grail of the grid – long-term energy storage.

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Radioactivity triggers a deep dread in most people. It is invisible and hard to detect. It is associated with birth defects. It can lie dormant in adults only to emerge as cancer decades later. But just how dangerous is it really? How harmful is the radiation from nuclear accidents?

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Nuclear power has a unique challenge. While it’s much safer than most people realize, it easily conjures up thoughts of meltdowns, sickness, and bombs. Decades of movies and the occasional nuclear disasters have kept these fears at the forefront of people’s minds. Up until recently, the future of nuclear power looked grim. However, the growing concern over greenhouse gases has put nuclear back in the spotlight as a possible source of carbon-free electricity.

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In my recent article, “What is the best way to make electricity? The answer isn’t simple”, I put together a list of the most important considerations for choosing new power plants. In this article, I’ll put this list to use and take a look at one of the most complex and contentious kinds of power… Read More

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How should we generate electricity for the world’s grids? This may be one of the most important questions of the 21st century. The stakes are incredibly high. At $2 trillion a year, electricity is one of the largest and most influential industries on earth. Whichever directions we take, some of the world’s largest corporations will… Read More

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