Thursday, July 26, 2007

Environmentalists Choose Nuclear Power

It's nothing new that nuclear power is becoming more attractive for the environmental community as the concern people used to have about nuclear waste is replaced by concern about global warming. It has seemed for a few years now that nuclear power was poised for a comeback.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, the environmental community has been increasingly successful in blocking coal-fired power plants -- including so-called clear coal:

Even proposals to build so-called "clean coal" plants have been met with skepticism. This new technology, which primarily involves converting coal into a combustible gas for electricity generation, has been touted as a solution to coal's global-warming problems.

A hearing judge at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is urging commissioners to reject a plan for Northern States Power Co., a unit of Xcel Energy Inc., Minneapolis, to buy about 8% of its electricity from a coal-gasification power plant that was proposed by Excelsior Energy Inc., Minnetonka, Minn. The judge concluded the 600-megawatt Excelsior plant wouldn't be a good deal for consumers.

The judge concluded it would cost an extra $472.3 million, in 2011 dollars, to make the power plant capable of capturing about 30% of its carbon dioxide emissions, and another $635.4 million to build a pipeline to move the greenhouse gas to the nearest deep geologic storage in Alberta, Canada. Thus, $1.1 billion in pollution controls had the potential to inflate the cost of power coming from the plant by $50 a megawatt hour, making electricity from Excelsior twice as costly as power from many older coal-fired plants that simply vent their carbon dioxide. The recommendation will be considered by the commission on Aug. 2.

It seems that the environmental movement is now doing to coal power what it once did to nuclear. And while we may not yet have affirmatively chosen nuclear power, we've still made a choice; the 'veto' of coal makes it the only realistic alternative.

Note: OK, that last paragraph was somewhat contrived. But how else am I going to link Rush?


James Aach said...

As someone who works in the electric energy sector, one of my major concerns is that pundits, the press, the politicians and the public seem to be far removed from how much electricity we produce and use, and what goes into producing it. The chatter tends to be "no" to all big producers and "yes" to all small producers, without realizing it, as you have alluded to.

When making decisions about our energy future, I think we need to start by first understanding our energy present. So I've written an introduction to my own field of expertise - nuclear power. To avoid reader boredom it's in the form of a thriller novel, and it's available at no cost to readers at . Reader reviews at the homepage have been very positive. "Rad Decision" is also available in paperback at online retailers.

"I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read." - Stewart Brand, founder of The Whole Earth Catalog and noted futurist, who is calling for a second look at nuclear (for some of the reasons you mention).

Peddler's Brother said...

Wow! Peddler, have you become a viral marketer?!?