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The South China Post reported on March 18th that the Chinese government has greatly accelerated its plans to produce a commercialized LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor), which is a type of MSR Molten Salt Reactor. The previous goal set for the development of this reactor was within 25 years and that goal has now been reduced to just 10 years.
In the past, the development of a LFTR by China was due to a massive energy shortage in China. China’s energy shortage is the result of millions of Chinese living in the third world that are dreaming and reaching for a first world lifestyle (that a majority of many Americans and Europeans today enjoy). The adoption of a very shrewd brand of American capitalism by the China government has allowed China the prosperity and wherewithal to pursue scientific endeavors such as the LFTR. These types of projects were previously reserved to capitalist countries like the United States, France, and Canada….
The reason given for the acceleration of the LFTR program by the China government is due to smog and air pollution brought on by the massive amount of manufacturing that has left America’s shores and other countries to set up business in China. Many out of work Americans in our struggling economy would like to have that problem. While China is exploiting its natural resources to produce prosperity for its citizens, America has adopted a policy of putting many of its natural resources off limits to protect the environment.
What is particularly ironic is that MSR technology was invented by America and Americans conceived the LFTR, but the same regulatory environment in America that has pushed American jobs overseas also prevents American companies from commercializing its own conceptual technology. A technology that could make many dirtier forms of energy naturally obsolete in a free market economy and give America a competitive edge.
China’s commercialization of LFTR would be a game changer that would allow an already very competitive China to have much more affordable energy and have a pollution free environment.
America’s energy policy is currently largely focused upon the development of renewables, and in particular, those renewable technologies that are not concentrated, base-load, or are power upon demand. Arguably, this means America has set its energy policy upon developing the most inefficient forms of renewable energy (wind and solar as compared to hydro or geothermal), which to economist (that are not scientifically biased and believe in the free-market system), means America is building energy expense and inefficiency into the foundation of its already struggling and un-competetive manufacturing arsenal.
China produces many of the solar panels and wind turbine generators (due to China’s near monopoly of rare earth elements used in their construction) used in America’s fleet of renewables, while China itself has gambled its present day prosperity and its future upon the development of nuclear technologies to provide safe, reliable, and clean energy.
Wind and solar in America struggle just to compete with coal and natural gas, LFTR is predicted to produce electricity at half that of natural gas and coal (and do so with less environmental harm to the planet than the large footprint of wind and solar) while producing no long-lived waste. Many Americans are used to living with Washington making bad energy policy decisions but, many cannot understand why we are aiding the Chinese in the development of commercializing MSR technology. To the layperson and even many experts this seems to be akin to shooting ourselves in our own foot. While America struggles to climb the ladder out of economic recession our legislators have adopted a policy of pursuing clean energy at any cost and a policy of assisting China at pursuing the development of clean and safe energy at an affordably competetive cost.
Shouldn’t we be pursuing clean, efficient, safe, and affordable energy?
Who are the winners in this current strategy?
via The Energy From Thorium Foundation The Molten Salt Reactor Race: Will America Join the Race.