ABOUT THE PANEL DISCUSSION:Professor Kadak's presentation is called "A Second Inconvenient Truth". Also on the video are Victor Reis and Allison Mcfarlane.
Nuclear energy will emerge either as a solution to the twin crises of global warming and a secure energy supply, or global catastrophe. Within this panel at least, there doesn’t seem to be a comfortable middle ground.
MIT’s Andrew Kadak, one of the two speakers arguing the necessity of nuclear energy, advances the policy recommendations formulated by a group of fellow researchers. Given the fact of global warming, we must admit a “second inconvenient truth,” says Kadak -- that all non-CO2 emitting energy sources must be used, and to make a real difference in the near term, we must turn first and foremost to nuclear energy and conservation.
Right now, 20% of U.S. electricity flows from nuclear power stations, but there have been no new orders for plants since 1975. The current administration hopes to spur interest, through its Energy Policy Act of 2005, which sets up tax credits for building new power plants. With the help of sophisticated new plant designs and an activated Yucca Mountain repository for spent fuel -- all potentially coming together in the next few years -- Kadak believes utilities and investors will accept the high costs of construction. This will be more likely if government puts in place a carbon tax, which will make fossil fuel costs higher, eventually evening the playing field for nuclear power.
Thanks to Paul Kedrosky for the pointer.