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Is nuclear a green fuel? « Voices from Ghana

globalnukeNOIs nuclear a green fuel?June 1, 2009 · Voices From Ghana “…………….some forecasters predict an uptick in nuclear power.

Yet, for nuclear energy to contribute to a significant degree to greenhouse gas abatement, the rate of construction would need to vastly accelerate. Offsetting even 10 percent of global carbon emissions by 2050 would be an immense undertaking, requiring some 2,200 new plants, or more than one per week in the coming decades.

The nuclear power option faces a set of vexing problems that should temper enthusiasm for an expansion of this scale.

Safety and Cost

Although no plant design can be risk-free, new research has brought claims of a new generation of nuclear reactors with advanced safety features. However, they have yet to be tested at full scale, and all reactors on order now use conventional technology. Moreover, nuclear power plants are now considered plausible targets for terrorist attacks. Whether caused by accident or malice, a sudden dispersal of radioactivity would have severe community impact, perhaps exacerbated by inadequate evacuation plans. If such an event triggered a renewal of anti-nuclear sentiment in the general public and led to demands for a nuclear moratorium, the resilience and sustainability of the energy system would be greatly compromised.

The full economic costs of nuclear energy are difficult to determine. A comprehensive accounting would include accident insurance, safety assurance, decommissioning, and radioactive waste disposal — costs that are often buried in generous public subsidies for the nuclear industry or shifted to future generations. As the experience in the U.S. with the first wave of nuclear plants indicated, projected costs will soar as the full costs of the nuclear-fuel cycle are reflected in the price of electricity. Of course, high costs might not be a key issue if nuclear power were the only option for climate mitigation.  It is not.some forecasters predict an uptick in nuclear power.

Yet, for nuclear energy to contribute to a significant degree to greenhouse gas abatement, the rate of construction would need to vastly accelerate. Offsetting even 10 percent of global carbon emissions by 2050 would be an immense undertaking, requiring some 2,200 new plants, or more than one per week in the coming decades.

The nuclear power option faces a set of vexing problems that should temper enthusiasm for an expansion of this scale.

Safety and Cost

Although no plant design can be risk-free, new research has brought claims of a new generation of nuclear reactors with advanced safety features. However, they have yet to be tested at full scale, and all reactors on order now use conventional technology. Moreover, nuclear power plants are now considered plausible targets for terrorist attacks. Whether caused by accident or malice, a sudden dispersal of radioactivity would have severe community impact, perhaps exacerbated by inadequate evacuation plans. If such an event triggered a renewal of anti-nuclear sentiment in the general public and led to demands for a nuclear moratorium, the resilience and sustainability of the energy system would be greatly compromised.

The full economic costs of nuclear energy are difficult to determine. A comprehensive accounting would include accident insurance, safety assurance, decommissioning, and radioactive waste disposal — costs that are often buried in generous public subsidies for the nuclear industry or shifted to future generations. As the experience in the U.S. with the first wave of nuclear plants indicated, projected costs will soar as the full costs of the nuclear-fuel cycle are reflected in the price of electricity. Of course, high costs might not be a key issue if nuclear power were the only option for climate mitigation.  It is not.

Proliferation and Security

Nuclear power cannot be de-coupled from nuclear weapons. Two paths lead from a nuclear energy program to weapons-grade material; one involves uranium and the other plutonium.

Nuclear Power Deflects Us From the Path to Sustainability……………….With its long-term legacy of heightened risks and toxic burden, nuclear power violates a fundamental principle of sustainability: passing on a resilient world to future generations. At the least, a world laced with nuclear power plants and crisscrossed with commerce of fissionable materials would require a strong international regime of security and control, a world more consonant with an authoritarian Fortress World scenario than a Great Transition.

Is nuclear a green fuel? « Voices from Ghana

June 5, 2009 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment | , , ,

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