Day By Day

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Nuclear -- it's the New Green

So says Leslie Kemeny in The Age [Australia] here.

He asks us to,
Consider the immense contribution to greenhouse gas emission minimisation made by nuclear energy in 2001. In that year, the global electricity produced by the world's 435 nuclear power stations was 2398 terrawatt hours or 16 per cent of total electricity generation or 5 per cent of total primary energy production. The amount of avoided carbon dioxide emission because of the use of nuclear energy in 2001 was 2.4 billion tonnes. This is 10 per cent of total emissions. Japan's 54 nuclear power stations alone save the equivalent of Australia's total greenhouse emissions. And the secret of this success is uranium fuel imported from Australia.

In the United States last year, its 103 nuclear power stations maintained their position as lowest-cost producers of electricity, at US1.71 cents/kilowatt-hour for fuel, operation and maintenance. This includes a US0.45 cent fuel cost, of which about US0.1 cents would be the ex-mine uranium before manufacture into fuel. Coal came in at US1.83c/kWh (US1.36 cents of this for fuel), and gas was US4.06c/kWh (US3.44 cents of this being fuel). The implications of increased fossil fuel costs stand out. Reactor capacity factors reached an average of 91.5 per cent - a record. Compare this with an average capacity factor of 20 per cent for wind farms. All nuclear costs include waste management and plant decommissioning.

A conference held in Marrakech, Morocco, in October 2002 came to the conclusion that nuclear energy presented the technical, economical and environmental optimum for electricity generation and potable water production, confirmed by the pioneering work of Japan, Russia, India and China.

These countries have already operated nuclear desalination plants producing from 6000 cubic metres to 80,000 cubic metres of potable water a day at costs below $US1 a cubic metre....

You see, nuclear energy contributes not only to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, it is also cheaper than the alternative energy sources trumpeted by the Greens, and it helps to address another of their big scare stories -- the availability of potable water. And in the case of the United States it also helps to reduce dependence on oil which is both an environmental and a national security concern.

Put them all together, and they make a compelling argument for at least a serious consideration of dramatically expanding our nuclear generating capacity. The scare tactics of the left can no longer keep nuclear power off the table.

Speaking at a Small Business Administration conference yesterday, President Bush said:

"Nuclear power is one of the safest, cleanest sources of power in the world, and we need more of it here in America...."

And the way to get more of it, he said, is to wire around "regulatory uncertainty which discourages new plant production." Since the 1970s, Bush noted, more than 35 proposed plants hit dead ends because of "bureaucratic obstacles."

The Bush solution: legislation to cut down on uncertainty in the licensing process and federal risk insurance to mitigate financial damage caused by regulatory delay. The insurance would be available only for the first four new nuclear plants.

"A secure energy future for America must include more nuclear power," he said.

Read the story here.


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