Cost overruns and several nuclear plant mishaps shut down construction of nuclear reactors in the United States over three decades ago. Money, allocated by Congress for new nuclear construction is finally being allocated to nuclear building projects. So why has nuclear energy suddenly become popular again? As unlikely as it may seem, nuclear power is seen as a green source of energy.
Europe and the United States both have plans to build nuclear reactors. Although construction of new nuclear reactors came to a screeching halt thirty years ago, at least two in the US are expected to receive funding within the next few days.
According to The New York Times, Nuclear Energy is considered to be a green source of energy because it has low to no carbon emissions, a green house gas (GHG). Since every country is trying to cut down on GHGs because of the environmental and health toll that air pollution has on our planet and populace, looking to nuclear power is viewed by many as the logical place to start.
“There is an increasing number of people who have spent their lives as environmental advocates who believe that carbon is such an urgent problem that they have to rethink their skepticism about nuclear power,” said Jonathan Lash, the president of the World Resources Institute, who puts himself in that category.
Other environmentalists like Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, fear that nuclear projects will ultimately end up diverting money from renewable energy sources like wind and solar. That could be true but money for new nuclear projects was allocated by Congress in 2005. It’s just taken until 2009 to get the funding requirements and procedures in place.
Unlike wind, solar, and wave energy, nuclear energy provides a dependable consistent source of tremendous power. For that reason, nuclear energy is seen as a replacement for coal and fossil fuel powered plants currently in existence.
Countries like Germany and Spain are phasing out their nuclear reactors while others are ramping up their building programs. Finland and France have nuclear reactors under construction. Both projects are currently experiencing problems. While the U.K. has 10 reactors that they are planning to build.
One of the other factors that may be coming into play, is that our current nuclear power plants are aging and several are due to be decommissioned. Since nuclear energy provides over 100,000 megawatts of energy here in the US, that’s a lot of power that has to be replaced. The most consistent energy sources are coal, fossil fuel, and nuclear energy. Of the three, nuclear is the one with the least GHG emissions.
Tomorrow we will look at some of the mishaps and problems with Nuclear Energy.