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September 28, 2007
Nuclear Power on the Way Back?
With all the concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, the nuclear power industry may be poised for a comeback here in the US.
This excellent article in The American Spectator by William Tucker illustrates why nuclear power plants may start being built again:
If you're tracking the nuclear power revival in America, last Tuesday, September 25, was a milestone. For the first time since 1973, a new application for building a reactor was placed before the federal government.
A "perfect storm" of events and situations has given a huge boost to the nuclear industry. Not only fears of climate change but also a big improvement in the technology itself including an increase in safety that has caused the opposition to change tactics. The greens have dropped the scare tactics of yesteryear and now oppose nuclear power on practical grounds; too expensive, no one will invest in it, and the idea that it's not carbon neutral thanks to the mining process for uranium.
The applicant was NRG Energy, Inc., an 18-year-old "merchant" corporation headquartered in New Jersey's Princeton Corridor....
The proposal submitted Tuesday is to build two new reactors with a total capacity of 2,700 megawatts at the South Texas Project site in Matagorda County, where two nuclear units have already operated for 25 years. The size of the reactors is unprecedented -- the biggest American plants generally produce about 1,200 MW.
"This is a historical event," said Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, long the Senate's strongest supporter of nuclear. "Consumers around the world are benefiting from clean nuclear power. Finally our nation is on the verge of taking greater advantage of this technology. I hope it is the first of many."
But proponents seem ready to begin construction at several sites over the next two years.
Nuclear energy is now on the cusp of a renaissance. Whether it will prove part of a permanent solution to generating clean, efficient, energy is another matter.