A New Dawn for Nuclear?

From Bloomsburg Businessweek:

Recently there's been much talk of a nuclear renaissance in the U.S. And that's all it is right now: talk. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is acting. More than 50 new nuclear plants are under construction around the world, including 24 in China alone. In the U.S. is just one.

Today nuclear power supplies roughly one-fifth of U.S. electricity needs—safely, reliably, and cheaply. It can continue to do so in the future and perhaps even expand its share, but only with sensible policies in place.

We must begin by acknowledging the threat from climate change. While the science of climate change will never be settled to the satisfaction of every observer, we know enough to say there is a significant risk that global warming will cause dire consequences. Confronted with risk, prudent individuals—and prudent societies—take out insurance policies to protect against potentially catastrophic losses.

What form should this insurance take? One school of thought says we can achieve all of the greenhouse gas reductions necessary through renewable energy and the increased efficiency of our homes and offices. "While nuclear power undergoes yet another face-lift, energy efficiency and renewable technologies will continue to provide the best opportunity to slow climate change," says Greenpeace on its "No New Nukes!" blog. As the chief executive of the nation's largest producer of renewable energy from wind and solar power, I wish that were true. But the simple fact is that there is no way renewables and energy efficiency alone will get us where we need to go.

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