To the editor:

The retirement of the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth occasions a gut check for energy policy in Massachusetts (“Our view: Changing energy sources should be top priority,” May 29). The test of our political will to commit to a clean energy economy is eased by the confidence that the future holds some critical advances in technology.

First, grid-scale batteries for energy storage will improve, both in cost and capacity. Research on flow batteries that use inexpensive organic electrolytes is encouraging.

Next, significant advances in power transmission are in development. By efficiently distributing electricity over much wider areas, next-generation grids will alleviate the problem of localized intermittency, making renewable generation more resilient.

And if nuclear power is going to be in the mix, the nuclear industry has to develop affordable, smaller, and safer reactors that generate far less waste than current designs.

Planning must assume that at least some of these advances will come about within the next decade or two. Just as it was impossible to imagine the energy landscape of today 50 years ago, we cannot foresee all the innovations that will profoundly shape the future. But we do know that the trajectory of technological advance is in our favor, and that should strengthen our political resolve.

Frederick Hewett


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