Monday, January 22, 2007

Nuclear Resurgence?

I've seen a few of these articles and Op-Eds floating around lately. I'm not convinced that there is going to be an extensive increase in nuclear power. Most of the works being considered appear to be continuing around the older technology and I'm seriously doubtful that any of the newer technologies will ever be considered. However, it is interesting to see that there are some former anti-nuclear voices changing sides.
Buoyed by billions of dollars in subsidies pushed through Congress by the Bush administration, the U.S. nuclear power industry says 2007 is the year its plans for a “renaissance” will reach critical mass.

“We see a wave,” said Steve Kerekes, a spokesman with the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s chief lobbying arm, pointing to letters of intent by a dozen firms to seek licenses for as many as 31 new nuclear power plants. “We definitely believe it’s going to be a whole new era of new plant construction in this country.”

Kerekes credits improvements in plant design and efficiency and the ability to operate without spewing carbon into the air — a key advantage amid mounting concern about global warming — as chief reasons for the resurgence.

I'm not fond of the subsidies. I think there are far more useful places to place that money, including storage and reprocessing facilities for the spent fuel. Note that no fuel reprocessing occurs in this country, and it's a vast waste of fuel. Much of that fuel has cooled to the point where reprocessing would be much easier. But instead, the US is looking just to bury it. The waste of that resource is appalling and the screaching about that waste is even worse. If reprocessed there would be less waste, and that waste for the most part would be substantially shorter lived radioactively.
"If this were a renaissance, you wouldn’t need to be enticing giant corporations with subsidies in order to get them to build reactors they claim are economically viable,” said Jim Riccio, nuclear policy analyst for the environmental group Greenpeace, a staunch foe of nuclear energy.
Greenpeace, the foe of anything human is not who I would have gone to for a comment. What alternative technology which is capable of running our industries, does Greenpeace support? I'm betting none. Solar and wind won't do it, and I'm betting they'd stand against any scaling of that technology to the level that would support the present economy.

They of course have the usual litany of statements about Chernobyl and TMI. No real discussion of scope or similarity of the plants or the problems and the related solutions. Just that the industry has improved its safety procedures. Then for some reason the article goes into a long tirade on the Cheney Energy commission. Sadly the article spends most of its time wandering around the politics or the issue rather than the viability or comparative use in a world with a strong need to move away from fossil fuels.

1 comment:

Eric McErlain said...

A couple of points:

1) A colleague of mine, David Bradish, took a look at the subsidies issues a few weeks back in detail. I think you'll find some interesting conclusions there.

2) Have you ever heard of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership? I think it addresses many of the issues that you raise about used nuclear fuel.