Tuesday, April 8, 2008

An Oil Drum Nuclear Debate Comment

Introduction: In practical terms I think the pro-nuclear side has won the debate about nuclear power. I state my reasons for thinking this below. The next step in the dialogue about the post carbon-energy future, is a dialogue about what form nuclear energy should take. At present we are committed to a "cold war" reactor technology, that is far from efficient in several respects. The inefficiency of Light Water Reactor technology, is responsible for some of the problems of reactors that the anti-nuclear crowd sees. My view is that fundamentally better technology already exists, a technology that could answer some concerns of the anti-nuclear party, while diminishing the magnitude of other concerns. It is possible to develop technologies and policies that could address all of the concerns of the anti-nuclear party. Of course the willingness of the of the Anti-nuclear party to engage in constructive dialogue is very much at issue. I would point to one group, often included in the anti-nuclear camp, that engages in constructive dialogue, the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Power companies continue to line up in front of the door of the NRC , combined construction and operating license (COL) applications in hand.

In Germany the Anti-nuclear Greens have nothing to offer as a substitute for the hated power reactors, but CO2 belching coal fired power plants.

It is unlikely that Germany will reach its CO2 reduction targets without the aid of nuclear power, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, plans to make nuclear power an issue in the 2009 German election.

The UK has announced its intention to proceed with the development of a new generation of nuclear power plants.

In the real world, the anti-nuclear party is loosing its fight against nuclear power. Pro-nuclear greens are raising their voice.

The anti-nuclear party has a choice to make, to let itself become increasingly marginalized, or to focus on its underlying goals. The fundamental concerns voiced by the anti-nuclear folks in this debate are about some important issues concerning nuclear power. They include:
* safety
* the problem of nuclear waste
* creating a sustainable energy future
* keeping electricity costs low

There are, in fact, people on the pro-nuclear side who share the same concerns, but not the anti-nuk conclusions. The anti-nuclear camp, since it is loosing in the real world, can go off and lick its wounds, or it can start to talk with the people on the pro-nuclear side who share their concerns but not their conclusions. Rational anti-nukes can begin a constructive dialogue with nuclear advocates who share common their concerns. We can talk about how to address our concerns through technology and policy. The choice is yours ladies and gentlemen.

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