Elon Musk, who has an outsize influence on public opinion, whether it be on alternative energy or Bitcoin, had some striking things to say recently, stating that nuclear energy should provide part of the world’s energy needs in the future.
The entrepreneur at the helm of the Tesla Corporation and the SpaceX space exploration firm spoke about the future of energy during Italian Tech Week 2021, held last week. Making his remarks remotely, what he said about nuclear energy can be seen at the 22 minute mark on the video below.
Over the course of many years, Musk said that the majority of the electricity in the world will eventually be derived from solar and wind power. However, the brilliant tech mogul and entrepreneur admitted that the globe should have more nuclear energy “…or at least not shut down the nuclear power plants that we already have.
“People should really think positively of nuclear energy,” Musk stated. “I’ve been surpised by a movement away from nuclear energy. The reality is that it’s quite safe. My considered opinion is that they do not present a danger.”
Overall, Musk said that any coal-burning plants that might possibly replace nuclear plants could do much more damage to people’s health than nuclear.
Musk made further surprising remarks after wading into the environmental concerns regarding the mining of Bitcoins — which takes up vast electrical resources — as part of the B-Word conference, sponsored by the Crypto Council for Innovation.
Elon Musk: Nuclear energy is safe
“I think modern nuclear power plants are safe contrary to what people may think,” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said at the conference, adding “I really think it’s possible to make very, extremely safe nuclear.”
He then added “I’m talking about fission. You don’t need fusion,” Musk clarified.
Nuclear fission, when one neutron runs into a larger atom, splitting it in two, is what happens in conventional nuclear reactors. With fusion — which has long been the Holy Grail of those who want clean, safe, relatively cheap energy — smaller atoms run into others, and join together, creating a heavier atom, thereby releasing energy.
Fusion is also the process by which our Sun creates its energy.
“You’ve got that big fusion reactor in the sky called the sun. It comes up every day,” Musk reminded conference attendees.
While fission creates radioactive waste that can remain dangerous to all life forms for a very long time, fusion does not generate any long-lived radioactive waste whatsoever, leading its proponents to hail it as the ultimate power source for the future.
Nuclear energy is considered “clean energy” because generating nuclear en
Scientists have been madly attempting to create fusion events to generate a cheap source of power for decades.
The world also still grapples with the fallout from Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and the Fukujima nuclear disasters, leading others to believe any other source of energy the earth would be preferable to nuclear.
With the technology scientists are now working with, attempts at fusion use up all the energy it creates to sustain its reaction. Unfortunately this leaves no surplus energy left to use.
More than one company around the world is still trying to create workable fusion, to no avail as yet.
In his remarks, Musk unfortunately did not elaborate just how conventional nuclear power plants could be made “extremely safe;” he has for years expounded on how the technology should be part of the world’s energy production.
“We should build more nuclear power plants”
In a PBS interview in 2007, the energy mogul stated “We should build more nuclear power plants. I think that’s a better way to generate energy than certainly a coal power plant or a natural gas power plant.”
Information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates that at the present time, approximately 20% of the energy generated in the United States is from nuclear power.
However, conventional nuclear energy power production has changed a great deal over the years, with resulting increases in safety and efficiency. Computer entrepreneur Bill Gates founded his own nuclear power company called TerraPower, which has improved on many of the aspects of traditional nuclear power generation.
Opponents to nuclear say there are still risks associated with such power generation despite all the many technological improvements that have been made over the decades, making solar and wind the only viable alternatives for safe future power production.
“we should add more nuclear energy, or at least not shut down the nuclear power plants that we already have. there’s a strong movement to get rid of nuclear power plants which I think is not good.” @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/w87e3rZvXV
— isabelle 🪐 (@isabelleboemeke) September 27, 2021