Why Do We Need Nuclear?

  • Only nuclear power can lift all humans out of poverty without cooking the planet, or keeping cities like Delhi and Beijing caked in deadly particulate matter.
  • Coal and fossil fuels can lift people out of poverty but at a high environmental cost.
  • Solar and wind are too diffuse and not reliable enough to power factories and cities, and thus cannot lift people out of poverty nor reduce emissions from fossil fuel-powered electrical systems more than only modestly
  • Hydro can lift people out of poverty and is low-carbon, but it’s limited — most rich world rivers are over-dammed.
  • Spraying sulfur particles into the atmosphere can temporarily cool the earth but not reduce humankind’s negative environmental impact or lift all people out of poverty.
  • Everything is in place to build more nuclear plants.
  • They are the safest way to make reliable electricity and use the least amount of natural resources and produce the least amount of waste.

Resources:

“Energy and the Environment.” Environmental Progress, environmentalprogress.org/energy-and-environment/#why-nuclear.

Big Vs. Small Scale Nuclear

  • The concept is that you can’t take a large reactor with all of its pumps and valves and piping and just shrink it down and expect to see an economic advantage
  • In a standard reactor, there are pipes running everywhere, and pumps and valves to circulate water to the reactor core.
  • The hot fuel creates steam that is piped out of the reactor vessel to run a turbine.
  • In the NuScale reactor, there are no pumps. Water circulates naturally as it gets heated and then cools off. The whole reactor sits underground in a tank of water that will flood everything in case of an accident.
  • A large traditional plant also takes a decade to build. During that time, a builder pays interest on borrowed money and jumps through numerous regulatory hoops.

References:

Joyce, Christopher. “Is The Future Of Nuclear Power In Minireactors?” NPR, NPR, 6 June 2011, www.npr.org/2011/06/06/137004383/is-the-future-of-nuclear-power-in-mini-reactors.

Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power

  • California is regarded as the leading state when it comes to addressing climate change.
  • But in 2012 California’s carbon emissions actually increased more than 10 percent, bucking the national trend of decreases.
  • In large part because California shut down one of its few remaining nuclear power plants.
  • A recent study that looked at what it would take for California to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
  • It concluded that renewable sources are an important element; but the demand is vast if the state is to convert all its vehicles and the heating of homes from fossil fuels to clean electric energy.
  • A state-funded study by the California Council on Science and Technology concludes that nuclear power would also need to be a big part of the state’s response — providing one-third to two-thirds of the energy.

 

References:

Harris, Richard. “Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power.” NPR, NPR, 17 Dec. 2013, www.npr.org/2013/12/17/251781788/environmentalists-split-over-need-for-nuclear-power.

Why I changed my mind about nuclear power | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxBerlin

References:

“Why I Changed My Mind about Nuclear Power | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxBerlin.” Why I Changed My Mind about Nuclear Power | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxBerlin, TEDxBerlin, 21 Nov. 2017, environmentalprogress.org/slides-from-michaels-tedx-berlin-talk/6e3gbo2qq99zvpssz847hgc5ngp0kj.
St. Lawrence University