Concerns Raised over Nuclear Power for Shipping Sector


Microsoft co-founder (and chairman of TerraPower, a nuclear tech company), Bill Gates, announced a partnership with Mikal Bøe’s CORE POWER, French nuclear materials handling specialist Orano and American utilities firm Southern Company to develop molten salt reactor (MSR) atomic technology, based on marine molten salt reactors (m-MSRs), a technology using thorium developed in the 1960's.

A leasing model has been proposed for the batteries, similar to those deployed for aircraft engines.

Bøe’s atomic battery invention (pictured below) has been much discussed in the shipping industry in recent months.


Meanwhile, Andreas Sohmen-Pao, the chairman of BW Group, expressed concerns regarding the possible advent of nuclear powered ships becoming widespread in merchant shipping, Sohmen-Pao said: “The change in the industry is going to be massive and maybe catastrophic because you will have ships going 50% faster because the fuel is essentially free once you’ve paid the up front capex investment and the tanks will be empty because you will have cheap electricity around the world without intermittency.” Sohmen-Pao argued far fewer ships would be needed as vessels would travel faster without transporting the same volumes of fuel currently required. Approximately 40% of the world’s fleet today transports fuel.

Laurence Odfjell, chairman of Odfjell Group, said nuclear power for ships was a “long shot” as ships move around the world and would then need approval from authorities across the globe. It was more likely safe new nuclear technology would be deployed at fixed locations, Odfjell suggested.

Bjørn Højgaard, the CEO of Hong Kong shipmanager Anglo-Eastern, stated, “I think that in 50 years nuclear molten-salt-reactors will be par for the course in the shipping industry, and we will look back at the current time and wonder why we dabbled in alternative pathways for greenhouse gas-free propulsion,” 


For additional details on the nuclear-powered shipping debate, please visit the links below: