In an interview with Steve Chu, director of Lawrence Berkeley Livermore Lab, Michael Kanellos of CNet makes a common mistake about projected new nuclear build:
Nuclear fission, or traditional nuclear energy, can't be an easy way out of burning fossil fuels either. To go all nuclear, the world would need enough nuclear plants to provide 3 terawatts of energy. "We'd have to build a gigawatt reactor every week for fifty years," he noted.I love this line of thinking: Since we can't build enough nuclear power plants to supply all of the world's energy needs, we shouldn't build any at all.
Nobody in business or government is proposing supplying all of our future electricity needs with nuclear energy. All we are saying, and it looks like we're going to have to keep saying it, is that nuclear has to be on the table. And in fact, if we kept nuclear energy's share of American electricity generation at 20%, we could go a long way toward reducing carbon emissions, supporting energy price stability, and doing it all with a fuel source that comes from countries we can trust like Canada and Australia.
In a way, Kanellos is casting the issue in the same manner a lot of tech journalists wrote about broadband Internet access back in the 1990s. We saw millions of pixels wasted over questions about whether cable, DSL, fiber or satellite would dominate the marketplace, when in fact a combination of all of these had a role to play.
And that's the case with energy too. When it comes to electrical generation, we're going to need all the nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydropower and renewables we can get our hands on. The increase in electricity demand is simply going to be too high (projected by the DOE to increase 45% by 2030) for us to take any one option off the table.
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Power, Electricity, Environment, Energy