Discursive Essay Nuclear Power

Discursive Essay Nuclear Power-9
This should all give one pause in dreaming of a nuclear renaissance.

This should all give one pause in dreaming of a nuclear renaissance.

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Nuclear power growth is stagnant or negative in most of the industrialized countries, and there is still today, outside of China and India, almost no nuclear power in the developing countries.

In 2007, world nuclear electricity generation dropped by 2 percent; in 2008, for the first time in nuclear power’s history, no new reactor was connected to the grid anywhere.

Its energy output is not intermittent, as is the case with wind and solar.

And though the overall costs of nuclear are rising, they are arguably competitive with other low-greenhouse-gas electric-generation alternatives.

In May 2007, China’s National Development and Reform Commission announced that its target nuclear generation capacity for 2030 is 120 to 160 GW! The fairly tepid projections for nuclear power outside of Asia are due to several factors, but two are particularly significant: the extraordinarily high capital investment required, and the continued public wariness about nuclear power, driven by an amalgam of concerns over safety, radioactive waste disposal, and nuclear proliferation.

In June 2008, the China Electrical Council projected 60 GW of nuclear capacity by 2020! The recent literature shows a range of costs both for nuclear and its competitors.

However, despite these many attractions, nuclear power seems to go forward only where governments heavily subsidize its operation, such as in China and India today.

As Henry Sokolski has pointed out, “No private bank has yet chosen to fully finance a new nuclear reactor build; no private insurer has yet chosen to insure a nuclear plant against third party off-site damages.” In the United States, almost all of the several nuclear plants that are now being considered for future deployment are in states with regulated utilities, where nuclear does not have to compete directly with other generation sources and where rate payers in the state assume much of any risk.

The most striking aspect of nuclear power projections is the tremendous uncertainty about how rapidly or not nuclear capacity will grow worldwide over the next four decades.

For example, the by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows low and high scenarios as follows: the high scenario grows to about 600 GW by 2030 and then rapidly grows to almost 1,500 GWby 2050; the low scenario shows no growth to 2030 and then modest growth to 600 GW by 2050. For example, for OECD countries in North America, the range of change from 2004 to 2050 is 20 to 275 GW; for OECD countries in Europe, it is -10 to 200 GW; and even for China the range is considerable: roughly 60 to 120 GW.


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