Sunday, July 08, 2007

Are Nukes Back In Play?

It appears that nuclear power may be coming out of the penalty box.

BOSTON - Thanks to global warming, nuclear energy is hot again. Its promise of abundant, carbon-emissions-free power is being pushed by the president and newly considered by environmentalists. But any expansion won't come cheaply or easily.

The enormous obstacles facing nuclear power are the same as they were in 1996, when the nation's last new nuclear plant opened near the Watts Bar reservoir in Tennessee after 22 years of construction and $7 billion in costs.

France produces approximately 80% of its electricity from nuclear power.

There is also fervent anti-nuke sentiment waiting to be restoked. Jim Riccio of Greenpeace said nuclear advocates are exploiting global-warming fears to try to revive an industry that's too risky to fool with."You have better ways to boil water," Riccio said.

But notice how Riccio also fails to mention any alternatives. If Riccio knows a better way then why doesn't he mention it?

But environmentalists aren't in lock step on the issue. Bill Chameides, chief scientist for Environmental Defense, said anything that helps alleviate global warming must be an energy option."I think it's somewhat disingenuous that folks who agree that global warming is such a serious issue could sort of dismiss it out of hand," he said. "It's got to be at least considered."

It's surprising to hear this discussion among environmentalists.

The U.S. has 104 commercial reactors, including five in Florida, that supply about 20 percent of the country's power.

The Department of Energy projects a 45 percent growth in electricity demand by 2030, meaning 35 to 50 new nuclear plants will be needed by then just to maintain nuclear's share of the energy market, said Scott Peterson of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's chief lobbying arm.

That growing demand, not global warming, "has been the single biggest factor in companies looking at building large nuclear plants again," Peterson said.

Must be all those power-gobbling 46" plasma HDTV's with the home theaters attached. Seriously, where do people think all the juice is going to come from?

Unfortunately NIMBY determines a lot of the politics surrounding power generating facilities. Look at the situation in Massachusetts when Sen. Kennedy nixed the creation of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound last year. These wind generators would have produced 75% of the electricity needed by Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

Seems like the Senator is all for environmentally friendly electricity as long as it is produced far away from his property.

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