energy

The world’s thirst for more energy has led us down the path to climate change. Some politicians have said that alternatives to fossil fuels may help us reverse that, but the problem is that alternative forms of energy aren't ready on the scale we need. And recently scientists at UNC Charlotte came to an even more alarming conclusion, that the problem is unsolvable. Two of the people working on that project talk about their troubling conclusion, when Charlotte Talks.

Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy, Inc.

Nuclear power continues to be a hot topic when it comes to America's energy future but a new invention could change the entire landscape for nuclear power, or so they the supports of the SMR or Small Modular Reactor. These mini power plants could soon be installed all over the country fueling skyscrapers, neighborhoods and manufacturing plants. Supporters say they are safe, scalable and can be built quickly but those who watch the nuclear industry says that much more research needs to be done before small reactors dot our cities and states. A company on the forefront of this new technology is right in our backyard and we'll hear from them and others on this new plan to power America when Charlotte Talks.

U.S. Energy Information Administration

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—for natural gas in shale rock has radically changed the nation’s energy mix. Since the fracking boom began in 2008, the cost of natural gas has plummeted and supply has surged. The technique is banned in North Carolina, but a bill that passed last year and another currently making its way through the legislature would open the door.

Ben Bradford/WFAE

The U.S. government and the nuclear industry are betting on new, much smaller nuclear reactors that can be mass produced in factories, and shipped around the world. 

"We are trying to jumpstart a new U.S. industry," says Assistant Secretary of Energy Pete Lyons. "That’s my goal: A U.S. industry, U.S. jobs, clean energy."

Last month the Department of Energy partnered with Charlotte-based nuclear company Babcock & Wilcox to finish development, in a deal that could total over $400 million. But critics worry that the model for the new reactor is flawed at its core.

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