Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Nuclear Option

Simpler - and safer |
"Climate scientists trace warming temperatures largely to greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, or natural gas. The nuclear industry has long argued that nuclear energy must remain an option to reduce those emissions. But it's been a tough sell. Accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 and Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986 still echo in public discussions. These memories are kept fresh by many environmental groups who see nuclear energy as too dangerous and too expensive. They push instead for greater energy efficiency and increased reliance on renewable energy sources.

Yet faced with global warming, some groups, such as the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Environmental Defense, appear willing to give nuclear energy a reluctant second look.

Support for new reactors also appears in a bill introduced last Thursday in Congress. Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D) of Connecticut and John McCain (R) of Arizona offered the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2005. It would require the Environmental Protection Agency to set limits on emissions of greenhouse gases and set targets for achieving them. The duo has introduced similar bills in the past. But the latest measure outlines a mechanism to fund the development of new technologies to help achieve those targets. Among those technologies: three unspecified new nuclear-reactor designs."

We need to do this. No, it's not perfect, but Nuclear is the best way to quench our unrelenting energy thirst at this time. Couple it with cleaner coal burning applications, biomass ethanol, and advancing battery technology and we can begin to prepare ourselves for the end of cheap oil. Yeah, solar and wind power would be great, too, but in real life, these technologies have not been able to produce enough power for their size & cost.
I've long wondered if it would be possible to harness the power of lightning (each strike can power a city for so many days....). If we could store that energy in some new kind of instant charge that could power an entire grid....OK, I'm dreaming, but this is why I think battery power is the future. There is plenty of energy out there to harness, it's the "holding" of the energy that is difficult.