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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

December 7, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Gates glowing with optimism about nuclear power for China

Here’s the “hmmm” story of the day: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is in China discussing jointly developing with Beijing a “new and safer” nuclear reactor. “All these new designs are going to be incredibly safe,” Gates told the audience in China, according to the Associated Press. “They require no human action to remain safe at all times.”

Now hold your Terminator jokes about “Skynet became self-aware…” Same with Homer Simpson humor. According to the AP, Gates said he has mostly funded TerraPower, a Bellevue-based company that is working on a fourth-generation nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium. “TerraPower says it has discussed its plans with India, Russia and other countries with nuclear energy programs.”

What is unanswered is how such a reactor would perform in the aftermath of the lessons still being learned from the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan? That event’s dire details, still coming out, have been swamped by more important news, such as Kim Kardashian’s wedding and divorce.

Another question is why the company isn’t working to develop a revolutionary reactor in the U.S.? But America is a socialist, over-regulated hellhole, blah, blah, blah. Not for the rich and connected. Has Mr. Gates been talking to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who is committed to nuclear energy? Or is China, with its command economy, just easier. An argument can be made that China needs alternatives to greenhouse-gas-causing fossil fuels more than any other nation. But the one thing Gates’ efforts won’t do is create many jobs in America.

And Don’t Miss: Tiny tax on financial transactions gains advocates || NY Times

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Will the euro live?

Merkel and Sarkozy

Try to buck the trend

Comments | More in Bill Gates, Energy

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