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Reconsidering nuclear energy for Singapore via IPS Commons

Singapore depends on natural gas, piped in from Indonesia and Malaysia, for over 95% of its power generation needs. Liquid natural gas (LNG), which is shipped into Singapore, has also begun to play a bigger part in power generation.

Because we know there are no permanent friends, Singapore’s almost total reliance on energy imports puts our economic competitiveness at risk. Policymakers have thus been studying our energy options even as we build our capabilities to handle LNG and continue to invest in fossil fuel opportunities overseas.

Both renewable and traditional nuclear energy have been touted as potentially significant sources of supply within our energy mix. However, as popular as they are in the public mind, renewables like wind and solar energy are diffuse and intermittent.

The glowing forecasts of the sector replacing fossil fuels largely rely on assumptions that they would somehow overcome the laws of physics with technological breakthroughs. They are also expensive and face resource limitations, notably in the area of silver production for solar energy.

[…]

While Singapore’s constraints mean that current or even future traditional nuclear technology cannot be adopted, there is another option that can be considered.

The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) uses thorium, a radioactive chemical element that is more commonly found than uranium. It represents the only option where the nuclear plant would remain safe even in the event of the most severe accident plausible. In such a scenario, the interaction of the physical, chemical and nuclear processes alone would force the LFTR to shut down without human intervention.

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