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This is great news. There is no better way to confront the possibility of global warming than more nuclear producing capacity. I understand that there are dangers, problems, and risks with the disposal of the waste, but there is simply no way to create enough electricity with more “green” alternatives.
I found this on Portfolio.com.
President Barack Obama today bet $8.3 billion on nuclear energy by offering loan guarantees for two nuclear reactors in Georgia.
The units, which will be constructed by Georgia Power at its existing Plant Vogtle nuclear power facility, will be the first nuclear energy project to break ground in 30 years.
More will follow, if the president has his way. He proposes tripling the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee authority for new nuclear reactors next year to $54.5 billion, enough to build seven to 10 new nukes.
Nuclear energy makes sense to Obama because it is a nearly carbon-free source of electricity.
“To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we’ll need to increase our supply of nuclear power,” the president said today, during remarks at a International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall in Lanham, Maryland.
“This one plant, for example, will cut carbon pollution by 16 million tons each year when compared to a similar coal plant,” he said. “That’s like taking 3.5 million cars off the road.”
The new nukes at Plant Vogtle also will create jobs—about 3,500 during construction and 800 permanent jobs when the units are up and running.
Encouraging utilities to build new nuclear power plants also will help the U.S. catch up with the rest of the world in development of advanced nuclear technologies, according to the president.
“There are 56 nuclear reactors under construction around the world: 21 in China alone; six in South Korea; five in India,” Obama said. “And the commitment of these countries is not just generating the jobs in those plants; it’s generating demand for expertise and new technologies.
“Whether it’s nuclear energy, or solar, or wind energy, if we fail to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, then we’re going to be importing those technologies instead of exporting them,” he said.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu made a similar point: “We’ve been sitting on the sidelines in the nuclear technology race for far too long.”
The Department of Energy has been authorized to grant loan guarantees for nuclear power projects since 2005. Now that it has finally done so, more projects could get off the ground.
“This is a great start,” said David Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of Southern Co., the parent company of Georgia Power. “There will be others that follow.”
Marvin Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said the loan guarantees will make it easier for electric utilities to access capital markets for new nuclear reactors. They also “send a strong signal to companies throughout the nuclear supply chain to expand their manufacturing capacity for growing domestic, as well as overseas, markets,” he said.
The National Association of Manufacturers likes nuclear power “because it is a reliable, low-cost, clean energy that supports a sustainable growth agenda and helps manufacturers compete globally,” said NAM president John Engler.
Not everyone, however, speaks of nuclear power in such glowing terms.
Conservative groups like the National Taxpayers Union contend the government could lose billions of dollars if Georgia Power or other future recipients of these loan guarantees default on their loans. If nuclear power makes sense economically, it shouldn’t need government subsidies, they contend.
Many environmental groups, meanwhile, remain opposed to nuclear power despite its low carbon emissions. They still don’t think it’s safe.
Obama, meanwhile, cautioned nuclear power advocates that loan guarantees by themselves won’t be enough “to achieve a big boost in nuclear capacity.” That will depend on the same thing that major gains in solar and wind power depend on: “a system of incentives to make clean energy profitable,” Obama said.
“As long as producing carbon pollution carries no cost, traditional plants that use fossil fuels will be more cost-effective than plants that use nuclear fuel,” he said.
In other words, we won’t see a nuclear renaissance unless Congress makes coal-produced electricity really expensive.