Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Nuclear Energy

I remember debating in high school on why Nuclear Energy was not the way to go forward due to the enviromental dangers. Now nulcear energy has come back into my radar as I listened to a debate on BBC Radio this morning that was on because Toshiba Corp. has agreed to buy Westinghouse, the U.S. power plant arm of British Nuclear Fuels. The purchase price was $5.4 billion and was nearly triple the expected selling price. The purchase was to bolster its position in the world's resurgent nuclear power industry.

The Japanese company expects its nuclear power business to triple in size by 2015 and expects to recoup its investment in Westinghouse in 15 to 20 years.

Westinghouse builds and runs nuclear power plants worldwide and is a leader in the Chinese nuclear power market.Currently Toshiba uses different nuclear technology for its Japanase plants and the purcharse is seen as a step to take part of the pie being created by China's as china plans to add 27 new plants to its existing nine by 2020. There are also other opportunies popping up as coutnries are looking at nuclear energy to replace existing energy sources.

Frank Bowman, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington, D.C., recently noted that nine companies, consortiums, or joint ventures have firm plans for at least 12, and perhaps as many as 20, new plants in the US. By 2025, 30,000 megawatts of new nuclear capacity will be operating in the US, with more plants on the way, Bowman guesses. That might displace 30 to 50 coal plants.

Eight new nuclear plants came on line last year. One in Ontario, Canada, was restarted after a long shutdown. Globally, 443 "nukes" are in operation today.

Is moving to nuclear energy risky, Yes but all power sources have problems. Coal mining is dangerous. Dams can clobber the environment. Natural gas is explosive. Oil is costly. All fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases.

Patrick Moore, who cofounded Greenpeace stated that nuclear power is the only realistic solution to future power needs and states that the dangers associated with nuclear energy are exaggerated. Fewer than 60 people have been killed by nuclear power accidents worldwide, none in the US. An international team of 100-plus scientists, reviewing the worst nuclear power-plant accident (Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986), estimated last September that up to 4,000 people may eventually die from radiation exposure. That compares with earlier predictions of 300,000.

My take on Nuclear Energy
I remember when playing sim city that nuclear power plants were the way to reduce polution but thats only a game right!!. My view has changed from being against Nuclear Energy to seeing it as a real alternative to the current energy crisis.

From what I remember the main risks of nuclear energy are waste storage and chance of nuclear meltdown. I understand that there is minimal waste and it can be stored in very deep pits!!. In terms of meltdown lessons have been learnt from Eight Miles and Chernobyl but you never know.

Even though I think ethanol is one of the ways to go forward, the problem with bio fuel as energy is that the bio products are also competing for land with agriculture for food. This is not a good thing as Populations are still increasing and so more land will be needed to produce food.

The following article is why Dr Patrick Moore left Greenpeace, one my most respected organisations. This is another article from wired on Dr Patrick More.


Blogger Eric McErlain said...

Glad to see you're approaching this with an open mind. Stop by our blog if you want to get the latest on our industry,

2:21 am  
Blogger James Aach said...

You are quite correct that all energy supplies require compromises - from CO2 emmissions to nuclear waste to the massive increase in windmills, etc. needed to make alternative energy a real player. As an energy professional, I think our first, second and third priorities should be ocnservation. The cheapest, safest energy is that which you don't use.

FYI: If you would like an entertaining inside look at a (fictional) US nuclear power plant, see my novel "Rad Decision" at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com. It's available free to readers -- who see to like it, judging from the comments being left on the homepage.

11:25 am  

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