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How to generate base load power following the Paris Accord on greenhouse gas emissions is going to be the burning issue (excuse the pun) for the next phase of the debate on carrying through with the phasing out of coal as the fuel for base load power.
Renewable resources for base load power such as hydro and thermal are unavailable in many countries and wind and solar are too unreliable so the focus once again turns to nuclear energy.
How does the world embrace nuclear energy when there are fears that the materials used for nuclear power generation can be enhanced into bomb making materials and fall into the wrong hand?
I am no nuclear scientist but my understanding is that there are additional steps needed to take power station nuclear fuel rods to the stage of making a nuclear weapon.
This is a highly volatile subject as can be seen from the current debate with Iran on its attempts to develop a nuclear industry and the West’s determination to prevent this going beyond nuclear power to manufacturing weapons grade material with the potential to build a nuclear bomb.
If it is universally accepted that, where base load renewable energy in not available nuclear energy is the best alternative then the question is how can this be delivered safely into countries that have neither the expertise nor the financial capacity to develop their own nuclear industry, even if they could obtain the technology from the few countries that have it, which is unlikely.
The solution could be a licensing system through the UN which already has a nuclear monitoring role as part of its charter.
Countries that want nuclear energy could contract a UN licenced supplier to build and run nuclear power stations to a pre-approved standard on appropriately located land provided by the country concerned with a very secure long term tenure.
Power from the plant can be generated as AC if the consumer market is in the same region or as DC if it has to go over long distances and be converted to AC where it is required.
A recent technology breakthrough has made the process more economically feasible so distance is no longer a deal breaker.
This way continental interconnected grids could be developed securely and the world converted across to clean energy production securely without the need for countries to get themselves into huge debt.
Obviously there will be plenty of hurdles, lots of nay sayers and complex technical issues, but nothing that cannot be overcome with the right balance of determination and good will!