We’ve been fascinated by the recent debate on the potential of thorium reactors.
With all of its potentially devastating consequences, nuclear is a difficult technology to justify - see here for Damian Carrington's discussion traditional nuclear technology in light of Fukushima, but the developing thorium reactor technology is quite different to conventional nuclear energy technology: energy is produced in molten salt reactors using thorium, as opposed to traditional solid fuel reactors using uranium. Thorium is widely abundant, doesn't explode, and can't be used to make nuclear weapons.
Duncan Clark writes in the Guardian:
"What I've found striking discussing and reading about the technology over the past few years is that no one seems to disagree that it's a good idea. There's no obvious scientific case why it couldn't work, and even many of the traditionally anti-nuclear green groups seem to be cautiously in favour."
Thorium reactor technology does seem to provide a glimmer of hope for producing electricity without the carbon emissions of coal and oil, and avoiding the negative aspects of conventional nuclear. However, it takes huge amounts of oil-based products and energy to physically construct a power station, and the literature appears unanimous in saying that the required roll-out of these reactors to meet current demand will not be possible within the time constraints of peak oil and climate change.
So behavioural change in terms of radically reducing greenhouse gas emissions is still vital, and there is no easy, quick-fix solution to this.
Find out more in this very informative Tech Talk.