Thursday, March 28, 2013

Little Controversies: A Slew of Nuclear Energy

From U.S. News and World Report:

Despite a slew of developed nations putting the brakes on nuclear programs in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster, global nuclear energy generation is expected to increase significantly, climbing 30 percent by the end of the decade, according to recent research.

A slew? Is that like a murder of crows?

Rapidly increasing demand for electricity coupled with surging fossil fuel prices is making nuclear power an increasingly attractive option for many countries, especially in those where large-scale alternative-energy generation—such as wind and solar—is impractical. Around 45 current nuclear-free nations including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Poland and Bangladesh are looking at adding the controversial power source to their energy portfolio, the GlobalData report noted.

That controversy might be a little overhyped if 45 countries that have never used nuclear energy are considering implementation. If you’ve really got to promote the idea of controversy in the teeth of contrary evidence, have at it. (Honestly, the story isn’t that bad and its data points are solid. What we’re talking about here is the requisite thicket one has to cut through to get to it.)

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From Mother Jones:

But beyond his job in academia, [Department of Energy Chairman-designate Ernest] Moniz has also spent the last decade serving on a range of boards and advisory councils for energy industry heavyweights, including some that do business with the Department of Energy. That includes a six-year paid stint on BP's Technology Advisory Council as well as similar positions at a uranium enrichment company and a pair of energy investment firms.

Heaven forbid a prospective Energy Secretary should have been involved with energy companies. Mother Jones admits this is not so controversial. This is, though, in the magazine’s view:

"His connections to the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries threaten to undermine the focus we need to see on renewables and energy efficiency," said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

No, it doesn’t, because the fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries know that utilities pursue energy diversity as well as energy efficiency. Moniz isn’t a child – he can separate the interests of nuclear and fossil fuel industry nabobs and energy policy in general. Really, people don’t live in test tubes.

To be fair, the story points out that Energy Secretary Steven Chu had ties to BP but nothing has suggested he favored the company while in office. That’s probably the view one should start with – there really isn’t any smoke here much less fire.

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From Visual News (out of Australia):

Can Harnessing Ships and Tides Beat Nuclear Power?

I’m going with No.

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