Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nuclear Dialog

From TED: Stewart Brand and Mark Z. Jacobson square off over the pros and cons. A discussion that'll make you think -- and might even change your mind.

The main problem with nuclear is not that it requires carbon energy, or that it takes high security, and a long time to build out. The main problem is that just ONE ACCIDENT, like Tree-Mile Island or Chernobyl will WASTE AN ENTIRE CONTINENT.

The other problem I have with nuclear is that it too is non-renewable, Yes, I know about breeder reactors, but the main source of nuclear fuel today is uranium, mined like coal, and then refined to useful levels. Once that resource is used, just like oil or coal, it is gone forever. We shouldn't waste our resources, we should bank them as a back-up source of energy in case of emergency.

Having said all that, I do think that nuclear should play a part in our energy portfolio. I think we should have Nuclear for special purposes, like space exploration, and National Defense. And I think we need to have nuclear capacity built to handle up to 20% of our energy needs, for security. Then we should use just enough nuclear to balance out the bumps and spikes in our renewable energy supply and demand curve (keeping the nuclear generation to about 3% of our total power used).

Nuclear should NEVER be located near population centers, and it should never be put down-wind of agricultural areas. It needs to be built in the wastelands, seismically safe, underground, and with adequate self-storage of all fuel and waste. Given these restrictions, Nuclear is viable and necessary. Not a profit center, just another small piece of the energy puzzle.

Use the comments section to tell us what you think.

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