The narrator’s comments on renewables is an over simplification and misleading, IMO. Using the price of solar thermal power, which doesn’t have much history of commercialization and economy of scale yet, as a proxy for the cost of solar, is one example. It ignores the rapidly falling cost of PV solar and wind.
It would likely be 20 years before commercial development of LFTRs. We don’t have the luxury of that much time for one silver bullet technology to solve the climate problem. In twenty years solar and wind power will be very cheap.
In this as in many other things Fermi’s question is the right one, where are they?
If you watch the talk, you will see that the speaker suggests that a prototype existed 30 years ago.
I think these guys keep showing up at Google talks precisely because they have given up on government funding, at least in America, and hope Google will step up to the place.
Americans tend to forget that there are other countries, of course. Actually I would shop this around to Mexico and Brasil if I were one of the thorium guys.
The Indians are working on a thorium reactor (as India has lots of thorium but almost no uranium). Kirk Sorenson’s Flibe company in Alabama hopes to construct a small modular thorium reactor so a so-called nuclear battery style.
You need to ask Bill Clinton where they are.
It was a liquid sodium reactor program that the Clinton administration cancelled, not a liquid fluoride one. As I recall, the Chinese have since built a reactor very like the EBR-II, but, like the USA, have not proceeded to a full-scale prototype with integral reprocessing step (which is what was cancelled in the USA).
Of course you are right. The US liquid fluoride reactor research program at ORNL was killed off back in the 1970s. Because although safe and suitable for power generation, it could not produce plutonium for weapons.
Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.