(Click here for a larger version of the image. Feel free to re-use as well.)
Climate change is not the only environmental problem we’re facing, but it’s the most critical. Many people agree, but as we’ve tried to explain in our book, Climate Gamble, not many countries are taking the danger seriously. After all, the best successes in the fight against climate change have been achieved entirely accidentally – by countries that didn’t even think about reducing CO2 emissions. These countries achieved the feat already in the 1980s by building nuclear power. Even more remarkably, unlike plans that require drastic decreases in energy use, multiple countries (France and Sweden foremost among them) were able to significantly cut CO2 emissions by building nuclear power, despite not even trying to reduce CO2 emissions and while energy use increased.
It’s too early to say with any certainty what a future low-carbon energy system will look like. However, given what’s at stake, it would be far too early to dismiss the most scalable source of low-carbon energy humanity has ever tried.
The people who push solar and wind never talk about the big unspoken problem of energy storage and base load. But the people who push nuclear never talk about the big unspoken problem of nuclear waste (which has still not been resolved and no path to resolution in sight) and the problem of decommissioning. The first true decommissioning in France is still going on, with no end in sight, and a price tag that keeps rising. I am not against nuclear power, but these 2 issues also need to be discussed.
I’ve talked about waste e.g. here:
As for decommissioning, several reactors have been dismantled totally. Here’s a picture of what Maine Yankee for example looks today.
While decommissioning can be expensive, in most countries I know the costs of decommissioning and waste management are covered from a special fund the plant operator is required to contribute in during the plant’s lifetime. Per kilowatt hour produced, these costs are quite small.
No, my colleagues and I talk about used nuclear fuel (“waste”) all the time. It was integral to one of our major studies
Click to access sen-edwards-sanfcrc-submission.pdf
The vast majority of subject matter professionals I correspond with are happy to talk about it at length!
And here’s the story of Maine Yankee’s successful decommissioning to greenfields status.