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No need to rush for risky nuclear power while other climate options are better

The key to understand is that we have options in the transition to a low carbon economy and there’s no need to resort to the riskiest first. Indeed, the clean energy sector can be a economic bonanza: according to the Department of Energy, the U.S. solar workforce has increased 123 percentsince 2010 – and this is the third consecutive year of about 20 percent annual jobs growth in this sector.

There’s no need to continue to subsidize risky, proliferation-prone nuclear technology in a fight against climate change

globalnukeNODon’t go nuclear on climate change just yet, The Hill, 9 Feb 16  “……A better understanding of the climate sensitivity to carbon emissions is crucial in making sensible policy decisions between the two types of risks at hand: the societal risks of from the man-made component of climate change versus the societal risks of any proposed solutions. No one wants the cure to be worse than the disease.

Could innovative new nuclear reactors like small modular reactors or the molten-salt concept solve the cost, proliferation, waste and safety concerns that plague the current generation, and so be part of the low-carbon solution? While “new-nuclear” should certainly be aggressively researched even supporters argue it will be 15 to 20 years before the technology is mature enough for commercialization. And licensing issues in bringing the power online would entail significant changes at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency……..
 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports that many nuclear suppliers have said that “without Price-Anderson coverage, they would not participate in the nuclear industry”. ……

So do we just sit on our hands until we have more precise values for the climate sensitivity parameter? Certainly not – the large uncertainty of climate projections should not be an excuse for inaction. Quite apart from the issue of temperature increase due to carbon dioxide, there’s the additional problem of ocean acidification: Carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean to make an acid which can degrade the ability of many marine organisms to make and maintain their shells and skeletons. Regardless of the temperature increase due to carbon emissions, ocean acidification could have potentially serious consequences for the entire marine ecosystem – and the humans that depend on it.

Luckily, there are several carbon mitigation strategies with few, if any, negative side-effects and these could be implemented right away while climate scientists work to refine their climate sensitivity estimates. For instance, a McKinsey study concluded that,“Energy efficiency offers a vast low-cost energy resource for the American economy….[A] holistic approach…is estimated to reduce end-use energy consumption in 2020 by…roughly 23 percent of the projected demand, potentially abating up to 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gases annually”.

Residential and commercial buildings consume roughly 40 percent of the nation’s energy budget and there is enormous scope for making current and future building more efficient. Put another way, implementing strict energy efficiency standards alone could more than obviate the need for the 20 percent contribution nuclear power makes to the nation’s electricity budget.

Similarly, government policies could help boost the use of carbon capture and renewable energy sources like wind, hydro and solar which have few negative side effects and many upsides. Specifically, government policies could be tailored to help address the technological challengesfacing renewables: scale-up, storage, transmission, and backup capacity issues.

The key to understand is that we have options in the transition to a low carbon economy and there’s no need to resort to the riskiest first. Indeed, the clean energy sector can be a economic bonanza: according to the Department of Energy, the U.S. solar workforce has increased 123 percentsince 2010 – and this is the third consecutive year of about 20 percent annual jobs growth in this sector.

There’s no need to continue to subsidize risky, proliferation-prone 1960’s nuclear technology in a fight against climate change…….http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/268696-dont-go-nuclear-on-climate-change-just-yet

February 10, 2016 - Posted by | general

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