Monday, July 21, 2008

Nuclear, American Style

I have written about nuclear power on two occasions, "Build Wind, Drop Nuclear? Germany Loses its Mind!" and "Nuclear, Silver Bullet or Money Pit." While I generally have a positive outlook on nuclear power, I must agree with William Tucker, author of "Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Can Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Long Energy Odyssey," which is due out in September, as to how the US can do it better.

In the 7-12-2008 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Tucker writes an editorial titled, "Let's Have Some Love for Nuclear Power." He outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the current energy situation in the US, and points out how coal, while abundant and efficient, creates significant amounts of CO2 and other pollutants. He also clearly spells out the costs and inefficiencies of solar and wind.

What makes Mr. Tucker's discussion unique is that he points out the need to allow investors to decide whether to invest in nuclear, and not just rely on subsidies. As I mentioned in my "Silver Bullet" post, some companies have decided not to pursue new nuclear plants. For nuclear to be successful, a stable, regulatory environment must be in place, as well as re-allowing the recycling of spent nuclear fuel.

Government, yes I said government, can help out in both instances. Regarding regulation, the US government has improved and streamlined the process for building new plants. Now all it needs to do is overturn that genius president, Jimmy Carter's ban in fuel recycling. Tucker gives an easy to understand example. France, which has produced 80% of its electricity needs from nuclear over the past 30 years, recycles its spent fuel. The waste product fits in one small underground room. Imagine if the existing spent fuel could be recycled for fuel, as well as industrial and medical purposes, not only would nuclear power be even less costly, but actual waste would be reduced.

Let's here it for more clean nuclear power, as well as nuclear recycling!

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