Skip to main content

President Bush: "We must promote civilian nuclear power."

The following is an excerpt from President Bush's speech yesterday at the National Renewable Energy Conference in St. Louis:
A controversial subject is nuclear power. You might remember, we've had a time in our country where people liked nuclear power, thought it was a strong solution to energy independence, and then we just shut her down because of engineering concerns. I strongly believe that if we want to keep this country competitive, if we want to make sure we can compete globally, we must promote civilian nuclear power. We must have more energy coming from nuclear power. (Applause.)

Nuclear power is renewable, and there are no greenhouse gases associated with nuclear power. One of the problems we've had is that nobody wants to build any plants. They're afraid of the costs of regulation and the litigious nature that surrounds the construction of nuclear power plants -- litigious problems surrounding the construction of the nuclear power plants.

And so, in the energy bill that I signed, the Congress wisely provided incentives and risk insurance for nuclear power plant construction. Last year only three companies were seeking to build power plants -- nuclear power plants. Today 14 have expressed new interest in construction. In other words, there's a new industry beginning to come back.

I think it's very important for us to spend dollars on how to best deal with the waste, in other words, research new ways to be able to assure the American people that we'll be able to deal with the nuclear waste in a smart way. And that's why we're teaming up with France, and Japan, and Russia to spend money -- $250 million from the United States' perspective, and they're matching it -- on what's called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, all designed to research reprocessing and fast-burner reactors.

The idea is to take the nuclear industry, take the spent fuel, reprocess it, put it into a fast-burner reactor, which will yield about 90 percent less of the waste than under the current system. What I'm telling you is, is that the engineering is much safer today than it has been in the past, and we're spending money to make sure that we can deal with the waste in a sane way, so that we can with confidence say to the American people, now is the time to accelerate the expansion of nuclear power for the sake of national and economic security. (Applause.)
For more coverage of the speech, click here.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , ,


Kirk Sorensen said…
The idea is to take the nuclear industry, take the spent fuel, reprocess it, put it into a fast-burner reactor, which will yield about 90 percent less of the waste than under the current system.

The problem is that it will take one fast-burner for every four or five light-water reactors to destroy the transuranic waste that they generate. To say nothing about going back and destroying transuranic waste already generated.

Switching to thorium/U-233 as nuclear fuel makes it possible to produce nuclear energy without producing any transuranic waste, which means nuclear energy could grow tremendously without being saddled with the need to build hundreds of fast-burner reactors.
gunter said…
Is this any surprise?

Stay the course on a failed expensive and dangerous technolgy.

Not at all unlike the Bush Administration's "onward into the fog" approach to his misguided and increasingly unpopular energy war in Iraq.

And likely to become as unpopular.

Gunter, NIRS
Brian Mays said…
gunter said...

"... And likely to become as unpopular. ..."

... Well, I suppose if you have anything to do with it, Mr. Gunter. That's your job, after all, isn't it?

As for what will actually happen, only time will tell. It's no longer the 80's, and it has been over 25 years since The China Syndrome was released. These days, most of the anti-nuclear protesters you see out there are relics from the old days, out to fight one last fight (and perhaps their grandchildren; those of you who have been to a public hearing on new reactors know what I am talking about). Aside from these dinosaurs in tie-dye, the rest of America seems content to let things go forward and see what will happen. This is particularly true in the part of the country where most of the new reactors are proposed to be built: the Southeast.

I do not see how generating electricity is a problem. Someday, may we have the problem of generating too much clean electricity. Plus, we already have transuranics and they need to go somewhere. FBRs are closer to the market than MSRs, and also do not produce transuranic waste (meaning that everything that is produced is burned). I don't see how the end result is any different, and is that not all that matters?
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

Why can't we use nuclear power to produce hydrogen gas or hydrocabon fuels to relieve our dependency on oil acquired in lands of Islamic fascism?

There is only one set of groups opposing this: NIRS and its brethren. So when wars of foreign adventurism occur in such lands, you've only yourselves to blame.
Kirk Sorensen said…
I do not see how generating electricity is a problem.

Neither do I. What I am trying to say is that the GNEP scenario being put forward, if taken to its logical conclusion, will require additional light-water reactors (or any other thermal-spectrum uranium reactor) to be saddled with the construction of a fast-burner and a reprocessing plant every certain number of reactors built.

Now if you built only IFRs, you would not have this scenario, as you pointed out. I'm not crazy about IFRs (as we have discussed) but at least it has the virtue of being a self-consistent solution (complete consumption of the uranium resource, no transuranic waste leaving the plant).

The liquid-fluoride thorium reactor is another approach to the same problem, and one that I think will have safety and economic advantages over the LWR/GNEP scenario and the IFR-only scenario. But we should be cognizant that if we wish to build thousands of reactors and finally *solve* the world's energy problems, we need a breeder that does not produce transuranic waste. Either a fast-spectrum uranium reactor like an IFR or a thermal-spectrum thorium reactor like the LFR.

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.

Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…