SONE Newsletter 286 – April 2023

Posted by Wade Allison on 24 April 2023 in Newsletters

Tagged with: Anniversary, Antone Brooks, Essay competition, Hugo Kruger, Jubilee, Sir Bernard Ingham, Sir William McAlpine, TRISO, X-Energy, YouTube.

This month

Editorial Note

Each month there are many items of news in the nuclear field. This newsletter does not pretend to make the best selection. A proper compilation can be found on the daily and weekly postings of the World Nuclear News that may be found by searching for WNN. In the Newsletter we report SONE news and anything else nuclear that might have otherwise escaped notice. As the nuclear resurgence grows the shortage of investors becomes apparent – not the financial investors so much as the young people making the long-term investment of their careers. Our first two items concentrate on the younger generation.

SONE Silver Jubilee – Prizes and Competition announced

Here is the link to the announcement. SONE Members are invited to share it with as many young people as possible and encourage them to enter. That’s anyone from 13 to 37. If they don’t understand, they should get studying and thinking – it is not difficult to imagine the future more clearly than some of those currently making decisions.

The announcement of the two £1000 prizes is at:

A printable PDF version is at:

A full-colour A3 poster is also available at:
Link: Prize_Poster A3.pdf

Announcing two £1000 prizes to be awarded for essays on the future of nuclear power

The availability of energy will be crucial to later generations in the UK and around the world. To stimulate the imagination of the current generation, unfettered by the mistakes of their elders, the Supporters Of Nuclear Energy (SONE) is offering two prizes, each of £1000, to mark the 25th anniversary of its foundation on 1 June 1998.

The Sir Bernard Ingham Essay Prize

will be awarded to the UK resident under the age of 38 on 1 June 2023
whose submitted essay shows the most realistic scientific and political imagination.

The Sir William McAlpine Essay Prize

will be awarded to the student in full time school education in the UK
whose submitted essay shows the most realistic scientific and political imagination.

Here’s the brief:

The date is 2073 and your essay tells the story of what has happened in the fifty years since the British Government finally started to take on board the superior benefits of nuclear energy. You describe what has happened to the energy supply, the climate and society in general. What other challenges have been faced? How have some of these been overcome? You may also look forward to 2098 and imagine what new problems might then be worrying the British people and their friends abroad, and how nuclear energy might contribute to their solution. You may also look back to 1931 when Winston Churchill wrote of the prospect of nuclear energy, The discovery and control of such sources of power would cause changes in human affairs incomparably greater than those produced by the steam-engine four generations ago.

Note: The year 2098 will be the 100th anniversary of the foundation of SONE by Sir Bernard Ingham (1932-2023), Sir William McAlpine (1936-2018) and others, who presciently foresaw that nuclear power would be essential to the future of the UK and resolutely steered SONE as a mouthpiece of independent nuclear opinion towards this objective for many years.

Entries will be kept confidential, unless agreed otherwise by the author. They should include:

  • a title and text of not more than 1500 words without the use of graphics,

  • the name of the sole author with address, email and phone number,

  • a statement that the author’s age, residence and educational status making her or him eligible for the prize,

  • an acceptance that the selection of the winning essays by SONE will be final and that SONE may publish the two winning essays with a list of runners up.

Submissions should be sent as email attachments in pdf format by the closing date, 31 August 2023, to the Secretary at or

The SONE Committee expects the announcement of the winner and the presentation of the Prize to be made at the SONE Annual General Meeting at the Reform Club on Monday 16th October 2023.

The Plusses and Minuses of the Energy Beauty Pageant

Miss America 2023 is a nuclear engineering undergraduate, we learn. Miss Grace Stanke graduated from being Miss Wisconsin and has now recorded a concise but well balanced nuclear video.

She replied to a note from your editor saying that she is glad that her message is being heard overseas. Meanwhile Miss England 2022-23 is an aerospace engineering student, apparently. Let’s hope that nuclear power will soon be chosen as the UK Energy Queen. Miss Renewables is not up to the job and Miss Fossil-Fuels is on the way out, but the various new nuclear reactor designs include many likely potential winners. The Government seems to prefer running technical pageants to actually declaring a winner that should lead to lifelong careers and export opportunities with international collaboration.

“Hug pylons, not trees”

says the Economist in its April 8th edition, as summarised below by John Brenner, SONE Member.

Environmental concerns are accelerating worldwide transition towards zero-carbon electricity. Governments and industry worldwide are investing lavishly on new generating capacity. But making the added supply useful also needs proportionate investment in new electricity grids. Unfortunately, there is vast under-investment in them: about $1.1trl a year is needed between now and the middle of the century; but the current spend is only about $260bn

This shortfall must be rectified. It is rooted in environmental concerns and related red tape that traditionally obstruct new construction. Such behaviours delay and disrupt the vast amount of carefully coordinated construction needed along the whole electricity supply chain. The crux of the matter is that the strongest objections to building are often lodged in the name of the environment (and the conspicuous ugliness of electricity pylons makes them particularly hateful). Therefore those who are most anxious to achieve the energy transition have to accept that more building of pylons and other intrusions into the natural environment is the most practical course of action. And governments must make it much easier to build big and often unpopular bits of infrastructure promptly.

Under the headline “Hug pylons, not trees”, the April 8th issue of the Economist makes the case for society to concentrate on building, redesigning and interconnecting electricity grids, as outlined above. And their detailed technology report explains the intricate technology that is needed:

Electricity grids are the ultimate supply chains, and are about to be transformed

Adding capacity to electricity grids is not a simple task

Electricity grids fed by renewables need a different kind of plumbing

It is harder for new electricity grids to balance supply and demand

The physics of rotating masses can no longer define the electricity grid

[Editor’s comment: Better invest in nuclear SMRs built close to consumers, so reducing the extra MW-miles needed by unreliable sources. Then the task required of the grid should be more modest and less costly. Cut out the renewables!]

A new paper on the fear of radiation by Brookes et al

How the Science of Radiation Biology Can Help Reduce the Crippling Fear of Low-level Radiation”. The May issue of Health Physics presents a paper from Dr. Antone Brooks. “He has a rare gift for gently taking his audience by the hand, charming them with his authentic folksy style, and gaining their confidence by making complex topics understandable. He is also one of the foremost experts on the topic, having led the Department of Energy’s Low Dose Radiation Research Program. In their paper, Dr. Brooks and his colleagues answer five important questions that have contributed to the fear of low-dose radiation in a way everyone can understand.”

X-Energy – news of actors getting together, there and here

Dow, Cavendish Nuclear,… Serious collaboration across the Atlantic on gas cooled reactors with TRISO fuel. Looks encouraging.

A second discussion with Hugo Kruger

Hugo Kruger is a South African engineer living in Paris. An earlier discussion in June 2022 was well received:

Recently we recorded a second discussion. His wife is Iranian and he has just returned from a visit to Ramsar where the natural background is about 250 mGy per year, said to be the highest in the world (wait a little to get past the ads at the start):

An article on BBC published a few days after the Fukushima accident:

Rod Adams comments on a press conference in Japan in Dec 2014:

A good video on Chernobyl and Fukushima by World Nuclear:

An interview with the American Nuclear Society in Chicago, April 2012:

An interview at a Chemical Engineering Conference in Manchester:

With Ecomodernists in USA, June 2022:

A video that exposes the flaws in the popular rush to Net Zero:

Wade Allison
Hon Sec
23 April 2023.