Implications and Policy

Renewable resources (solar, wind etc.) are a positive step. But it is widely recognized that their inherent restrictions cannot satisfy our growing need for energy.  It is a question of quantity primarily.  Thorium provides the energy density to provide all our energy in less space and at less cost.

The reactor could be designed in a variety of sizes. The U.S. Army would like small mobile reactors to power remote sites with or without available water.  They could replace long vulnerable fuel convoys with power plants flown in and set up in under a week to power their bases. Eventually, manufacture-able units could come off the assembly line one or more per day, i.e. about the same rate that Boeing manufactures passenger jets.  This implies an industry of equivalent size with an equivalent number of jobs and product price points. 

Not only through a new industry and the jobs it would create, the U.S. economy can win in other ways.

1.) The energy from these plants could power electric cars and generate hydrogen for fuel cells, reducing our demand for oil and driving down oil imports.  

2.) With the proper safeguards, these reactors could be export products, further improving our trade deficit.

3.) Because thorium reaction doesn’t generate greenhouse gases, our ability to curtail further global warming is limited only by the rate at which we produce thorium reactors, replace fossil fuel processes and turn to electric cars. If you like fuel cells better, thorium could be used to produce the required hydrogen.

With a unique, healthy, green export industry, we would shrink our import expenses and increase our export revenue.  Would this be sufficient to: ease up funds to rebuild our infrastructure; fund health care and education; and take a bite out of the national debt?  Only time could tell. 

With such a great energy source, we could cut our oil and gas imports to zero.  Oil wars would be unnecessary.  Our whole foreign policy would change.  We could become the global good guys.  For the third world, we could provide reactors coupled with desalination, sewage treatment, and ammonia fertilizer plants. How would that change their destinies?  It is generally held that high population density countries have lower prosperity because they don’t have enough energy.  If we remove this restriction, will women in low prosperity countries have fewer babies?  The data suggests it, but it can’t be considered causal.  With thorium reactors, we could try it and see.

“I believe that the sooner we get started, the sooner we can reap the benefits.” stated Dr. Greene.  “It would take about five years to get through a design, development, and testing phase, and perhaps another five years for more testing and the manufacturing implementation phase.  A molten thorium fluoride reactor project would probably cost in the neighborhood of $2B (significantly less than what the US yearly provides in subsidies to energy companies today).  If we applied “Apollo Project-like” zeal, we could probably shorten the tasks to a total of six or eight years.”

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