50 years of fission power.
Today we mark the 50th anniversary of the first operation of a nuclear power plant, at least in the United States.
On December 18, 1957, the Shippingport Nuclear Power Station was connected to the electricity grid – the first reactor designed specifically as a nuclear power plant in the Western world.
Of course, the Obninsk nuclear power plant went on the grid in June, 1954, so the Russians were, really, the first. Calder Hall was connected to the grid in 1957, but it was primarily a military plutonium production reactor, with electricity essentially a useful byproduct.
The 5 MW GE boiling water reactor at Vallecitos Nuclear Centre went on the grid a little earlier – in October, 1957. However, unlike Shippingport, it was not designed from the ground up to be what we are today familiar with, as a full scale nuclear fission power plant.
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Here’s looking forward to 50 more years of clean, safe, productive use of nuclear fission power plants.
In 50 years, energy generation via nuclear fusion should be technologically mature and in commercial use. I look forward to our children’s Shippingport.