Skip to main content

ANL Director: Use of Nuclear Energy is "Unavoidable"


In today's edition of E&E TV's On Point, Monica Trauzzi interviews Robert Rosner, director of the Argonne National Lab. He has some interesting things to say about nuclear energy:
Monica Trauzzi: Where do you think the debate over nuclear stands and do you see it having a major role in the future of U.S. energy policy?

Robert Rosner: So the answer is, let me start with the second part. I think nuclear is at some level unavoidable. When we think about what the energy mix will be for stationary power say 30 years from now or 40 years from now, it's very hard to see how you're going to avoid the use of nuclear power. Even in the most optimistic scenarios about carbon sequestration one question that does come up is, in the long term, if you're really talking about say time scales of the order of say a century, 100 years, does the United States, for example, have sufficient reservoir capacity to actually contain all the CO2 that would need to be, for example, pumped into the ground if you sequester it? The answer is, well, it's not so clear. So if you take the long view, not next year, not five years, but if you really take the long view of say 50 years from now, 100 years from now, it's very hard to see how you can avoid a source of energy such as nuclear. So having said that the question is, well, how do you get there? The rest of the world is plunging on ahead. There's no question about it. If you go to China or you go to India they're busy building nuclear plants. If you go to Europe the Europeans are starting to build nuclear plants.
For the transcript, click here.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Hmm. I guess CO2 is similar to deadly nuclear waste in that it needs to be sequestered "forever." Except that it doesn't decay. Maybe we should reprocess used fuel and sequester CO2 at Yucca Mt. Would that be ok with Harry Reid?
Anonymous said…
The case for nuclear is that it is unavoidable? That's stupid.

I can think of several ways it could be avoided for the balance of this century, and almost as many ways it could be avoided by a high-power-using world almost indefinitely.

The case for nuclear is that it is safer and cleaner than today's majority energy sources, and, unlike them, inexhaustible. People who have a choice between putting themselves close to either an oil burner or a nuclear reactor that serves the same purpose sensibly choose the latter, even if working for an organization that lobbies to protect and increase fossil fuel tax revenue.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, former H2-energy fan
Rod Adams said…
The real question is why would you want to avoid a power source that is as capable, as clean, and as abundant as nuclear fission.

With leaders like this in the "industry" who needs enemies?
Anonymous said…
If I'm not mistaken, Stewart Brand and/or James Lovelock have couched their support for nuclear power in "neccesary evil" terms. I don't see this as being any different.
Rod Adams said…
I cannot understand the "necessary evil" comment either. As far as I can tell, fission is a huge boon to mankind - more of a gift from Nature or God or whoever runs this place we call Earth.

Why do even nukes fail to see the beautiful poetry, symmetry and amazingly efficient way to produce the power needed to mold the world to make it a more friendly place?

Maybe more people need to make friends with their neighborhood reactor. (I always thought of the reactor I was responsible for as a trusted shipmate.)

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…