Skip to main content

Another Try at Nuclear Energy and Electric Cars

tama-electric-car-1947 Below we have a quote from the BBC about nuclear energy and electric/hybrid cars. It almost makes the point we wanted, but not quite, and it’s a little silly about where wind and solar fit into the equation. We poked around to see if someone has addressed this topic and stayed a little more on-point and found this from Halbert Fischel in the Weekly Standard:

At the risk of some cross-border envy, Canada's Bruce Power Co. operates an eight-reactor plant on the shores of Lake Huron that produces 6.4 gigawatts. By upgrading our own 100-plus plants to that level, we could produce enough cheap electricity to competitively replace gasoline and charge the batteries of every potentially electrified car and light truck in the United States. An additional 40 such plants would be sufficient to power all our buses, heavy trucks, and trains.

He goes a little pie in the sky after this, but why not?

With 200 plants, augmented by existing and upgraded hydropower, we could replace all hydrocarbon-based power-generating plants and virtually eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint. If this seems too big a task, one need only look at France which gets 80 percent of its electrical power from nuclear plants.

With 400 plants, we could teleport elephants from Paris to Peoria. But we can’t fault the enthusiasm and France certainly did make the transition.

---

Don’t think industry, both automotive and electricity related, haven’t noticed the opportunities. Here’s your car guy:

Bill Ford, chairman of Ford, on the history of the auto industry: "We haven't had a lot of revolutions but boy are we now. I love it."

More from Ford, on how times have changed: "When I joined the (Ford) board, I was asked to stop affiliating with known or suspected environmentalists." Ford now works with Paul Hawken and Environmental Defense Fund.

And your nuclear guy:

David Crane, the CEO of NRG Energy, another utility guy who likes electric cars: "The electric car is our savior; it is the air conditioner of the 21st century."

More from Crane: "I'm convinced that there will be three nuclear power plants built in the U.S. in the next 10 years." Whether they will be anomalies (supported by a limited pool of federal loan guarantees) or lead to a nuclear renaissance remains to be seen.

Crane also opines on the current Congressional tilt away from nuclear energy and toward clean coal.

"Right now the dominant wing of the Democratic Party knows they need to accommodate the coal wing of the Democratic Party in order to get energy and environmental policy passed."

We would just add that clean coal also has a tougher row to hoe ultimately than nuclear energy.

---

We suspect that electric and hybrid cars will move into the mainstream faster than we can anticipate and will spur energy policymakers to find a way to accommodate them. To be honest, Congress should look forward to at least that approximate moment in time, whether it’s five or so years before hybrids become broadly acceptable, if still too expensive, or a decade or more for them to gain critical mass. Industry is doing its part – to be cynical, there’s profit to be found there – but now’s the time where government direction will dictate how and even whether this industry blossoms.

And that’s where nuclear fits in. It’s hard not to imagine emission free electricity powering emission free cars. Dreams of using wind and solar power as enablers fits a Planet Green utopia, but leads to ridiculous scenarios in which cars have to charge up at night because that’s when the wind blows. No market will develop around such onerous strictures. Certainly, wind and solar belong at the table, but they don’t bring a full set of silverware with them.

---

Hurrm! We suspect we’ll be visiting this topic a fair amount.

Nissan’s Tama Electric Car – from 1947!

Comments

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 …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …