Later this month the state's (california) energy commission plans to tread carefully when for the first time it will review new ways to handle the radioactive waste produced by nuclear energy — the biggest legal obstacle to building new plants in California. One possible option could be to reprocess, or recycle, the waste.
I support a lot more nuclear power in the United States, China (300+ reactors by 2050), Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, Russia, India, South Korea, South Africa and other places. I support nuclear reprocessing and high burn reactors. It will help to save the 3 millions lives that are lost each year to air pollution. It will help to address any eventual lack of oil. I would rather we get off oil and coal for the pollution reasons than because we ran out.
Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu, who is also the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, echoes the desire to rethink nuclear. He reasons that despite the fears and concerns about the energy source, nuclear power must be considered because it does not produce greenhouse gas during generation. Anything, he said, would be better than carbon-spewing coal plants.
And what of the people who don't want to consider nuclear energy in the hope that less controversial solutions like renewable energy and conservation will be enough?
"If you start thinking like that, then you doom yourself," he said.
Berkeley professor supports nuclear reprocessing:
Opponents say reprocessing would encourage nuclear proliferation, but nuclear supporters like University of California-Berkeley nuclear engineering Professor Per Peterson said such concerns need to be re-evaluated.
"The whole logic of abstaining from a technology so that others would not pick it up no longer makes sense," Peterson said.
Stanford president supports nuclear power:
"Nuclear power has to be part of the solution," Stanford University President John Hennessy said at an alternative-energy gathering in Palo Altothis spring. "Can we really understand the notion of risk? Nuclear plants versus carbon emissions — which will kill and has killed more people?"
28 nuclear plants could get authorized and first could start in 2015
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects applications for as many as 28 new nuclear reactors during the next two years.
Dennis Spurgeon, the Bush administration's senior nuclear technology official, said new plants could be running by 2015.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission believes there's enough momentum that some of the expected plant applications will result in construction.
"This time, we are taking it very seriously," said agency public affairs officer David McIntyre. "Our agency has been reorganized to prepare for these applications coming in. We're hiring people right and left. Congress has given us a budget increase."
California EPA is going to revisit the issue: Note: California also has the strong action of California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore who submitted a bill to lift California's ban on nuclear power.
The California Environmental Protection Agency's Dan Skopec said climate change provides the perfect opportunity to revisit the controversial power source.
"We need to have a debate on nuclear," said Skopec, who was appointed undersecretary for the agency by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Wind, now the cheapest of renewable energies, is expected to cost 6.8 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020, according to the Federal Energy Information Institute. Natural gas, by comparison, would cost 5.6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Nuclear energy would cost 6.1 cents per kilowatt-hour. All these figures include the cost of plant construction.
Advocates argue that not including construction costs, nuclear power is the cheapest option of all. The California Energy Commission's most recent estimates put nuclear power's current cost at 1.4 cents to 1.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.
the Utilities support nuclear power:
We don't believe that conservation and renewables combined will be sufficient to meet demand in our market for an extended period of time," said Brad Peck, spokesman for the Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear plant in Washington state that feeds a small amount of power to Northern California. "You simply can't conserve yourself into prosperity."
The leader of PG&E Corp., the parent company of Northern California's largest utility, agrees. "We need all of the options to meet this huge challenge and, therefore, nuclear ought to be on the table," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter Darbee.