Skip to main content

Using Nuclear to Reduce Oil Dependence

My colleague William Skaff pointed me to a report (available for purchase online) published by the Council on Foreign Relations called National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency.

The report was written by an Independent Task Force that was formed “to examine the consequences of dependence on imported energy for U.S. foreign policy.”

The overview of the report at the website states that the Task Force concluded that
The lack of sustained attention to energy issues is undercutting U.S. foreign policy and national security.
And
The issues at stake intimately affect U.S. foreign policy, as well as the strength of the American economy and the state of the global environment. But most of the leverage potentially available to the United States is through domestic policy. Thus the Independent Task Force devotes considerable attention to how oil consumption (or at least the growth in consumption) can be reduced, and why and how energy issues must become better integrated with other aspects of U.S. foreign policy.
Of greatest interest to me is the fact that the Task Force found a direct correlation between nuclear energy and the reduction of oil imports for transportation. The report says
Electric cars and plug-in hybrids require attention to the sources of electricity. Conventional coal-fired electricity (which accounts for the majority of the U.S. power supply) emits CO2. Advanced coal technologies that make it possible to capture and sequester most of the CO2 underground are still in their infancy. Some forms of renewable energy, for example, wind, which emits no CO2, may play an increasing role in the electric grid. At this time, however, most renewable energy projects are not commercially viable without subsidies or regulatory mandates. If the new incremental electric power–generating capacity required for vehicles is fired with natural gas, then electrification could merely shift dependence on imported oil to dependence on imported gas. If the electricity generation is by nuclear power, then a transition to electric and plug-in cars displaces oil. Thus, nuclear power, among other electric power supply options, offers an important long-term pathway to displacing oil as a transportation fuel.
And one of its later recommendations is
The Task Force believes that the United States should make greater use of nuclear power. With high natural gas prices and concern about CO2 emissions, there is renewed interest in nuclear power. In the near term, new nuclear plants will be ordered and built only if the U.S. government is successful in making clear progress on nuclear waste management, creating a reasonable regulatory framework for licensing nuclear plants with acceptable safety risk, and meeting proliferation concerns. In turn, the additional electricity supply will eventually make it easier to achieve greater substitution of electricity for oil, such as through use of plug-in hybrid cars and other cost effective electricity-based transportation technologies.

Comments

Robert Schwartz said…
A pdf of the report may be downloaded from that web page, gratis.
Anonymous said…
Nuclear power does NOT have a direct link on oil dependence. It's a secondary link at best. The use of more electric cars would, but with prices of electric cars being so high it doesn't change the use of oil by americans.

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…