Carmel Pine Cone – Jan. 5, 2024
I have long felt that nuclear energy was the natural successor to fossil fuels was the natural successor to fossil fuels. Solar and wind power do not supersede fossil fuels in this regard.
Nuclear energy got a bad name from Three Mile Island’s near failure many years ago. It was Hollywood that made nuclear energy a pariah.
Old nuclear plants often cost upward of $10 billion. This level of capital expenditure represented too large a percentage of utilities’ equity bases. A national approach to funding and offsetting risk never was in place. As such, it was easy to scare off investment in nuclear energy. Over the last two decades, submarine nuclear technology has been used to produce small-scale plants that are off the drawing board (Nuscale — 65 percent owned by Fluor). It is ready to go now. Small-scale nuclear plants are safer, less costly (about $1 billion, plus or minus).
Another scare was spent uranium and the need to have large places to store it, such as Yucca Flats in Nevada. However, the United States, unlike other nations, decided not to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. If it had done this, the amount of nuclear waste would be reduced dramatically. The fact that reprocessing itself produces a very small amount of weapons-grade plutonium was enough in highly charged times to table reprocessing. France gets 70 percent of its energy needs from nuclear. I assume the country has found a way to deal with the plutonium produced.
Today, we produce only 5 percent of the uranium we need domestically. The Uranium One transaction under the Clinton administration sold off a significant amount of our production. Work with thorium might allow it to complement/replace uranium, but this is off in the future. I always enjoy your editorials. They are educational. I continue to be amazed by how many high-IQ people don’t seem to have the facts where important issues of the day are concerned.
John Goode, Carmel