Stephanie Cooke

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The Fantasy of Reviving Nuclear Energy

World leaders are not unaware of the nuclear industry’s long history of failing to deliver on its promises, or of its weakening vital signs. Yet many continue to act as if a “nuclear renaissance” could be around the corner even though nuclear energy’s share of global electricity generation has fallen by almost half from its high of roughly 17 percent in 1996.

In search of that revival, representatives from more than 30 countries gathered in Brussels in March at a nuclear summit hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Belgian government. Thirty-four nations, including the United States and China, agreed “to work to fully unlock the potential of nuclear energy”, including extending the lifetime of existing reactors, building new nuclear power plants and deploying advanced reactors.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Obama has made clean and efficient energy a top priority, and Congress has obliged with more than $32 billion in stimulus money mostly for conservation and alternative energy technologies like wind, solar and biofuel. Sadly, the Energy Department is too weighed down by nuclear energy programs to devote itself to bringing about the revolution Mr. Obama envisions.

Today, the department’s main task is managing the thousands of facilities involved in producing nuclear weapons during the cold war, and the associated cleanup of dozens of contaminated sites. Approximately two-thirds of its annual budget, which is roughly $27 billion, is spent on these activities, while only 15 percent is allocated for all energy programs, including managing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and researching and developing new technologies.…  Seguir leyendo »