While we cannot help but be heartened by all the good press nuclear energy has been picking up lately, we hope it is not collateral to the hoopla surrounding offshore drilling and the attendant determination to score political points with it. Like offshore drilling, nuclear energy can be part of a solution, but it’s not a panacea: there is a real danger of overloading specific solutions with so much significance that a prime opportunity can slip by for developing a sensible energy policy. A point or two at the polls, we have found, can be a powerful incentive for half-baked ideas. (To put it another way, let the gas tax holidays begin!)
Well, enough of that. We don’t know what the inside of a gift horse’s mouth looks like and maybe we shouldn’t be trying to find out. Let’s enjoy some nuclear goodness instead.
Mark J Perry in the Hartford (Ct.) Courant balances enthusiasm against realism just about right:
This support for nuclear energy is a hopeful sign, because the problems it has encountered have never been technological; they have been primarily political and institutional.
The United States pioneered the development of nuclear energy, and had the first major nuclear program. Most other leading industrial countries have continued developing their nuclear programs since the last nuclear plant order in the United States — primarily using U.S. technology.
Today we have the means — and more important, an urgent need — to bring that technology back home.
Howard Shaffer in the Union Leader (in Concord, N.H.) is a bit more worrisome – he comes pretty close to calling nuclear energy a cure-all - though he’s got all his facts in order:
The average nuclear plant runs uninterrupted for nearly two years before shutting down for refueling. And the refueling process is completed in a few weeks instead of a few months. That's one reason the Pilgrim plant was up and running 95 percent of the time from 2004 to 2006. Over that three-year span, the Seabrook plant was operating 91 percent of the time and Vermont Yankee, 98 percent. By comparison, the average capacity factor is 43 percent for a U.S. natural gas combined-cycle plant and 16 percent for a natural gas steam turbine. The gas plants run as little as possible because their fuel is so expensive.
And oh, all right, haters, here’s Sara Barczak in the Atlanta Constitution-Journal. Hooey central:
As we're seeing with Iran, it's unlikely that the U.S. would be keen on having nuclear power technologies shipped all over the globe. Global warming and all smart energy policies require terror-resistant solutions. No matter what you think about nuclear power, it will not solve global warming and it can only complicate strained international relations.
But in spite of these nuclear-induced headaches, Georgia and several of our neighboring states are headed for a nuclear relapse. Don't let history repeat itself. We can't afford it, and we don't have time.
Just in case you thought we were getting swelled heads.