Monday, January 26, 2009

The Greening of Nuclear Energy

It appears the Filipino People own a 620 Megawatt Nuclear Reactor that could significantly help to light up the dark alleys and decrepit neighborhoods of the Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.  I'm covering new developments involving the irrationally mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant over at Filipino Voices in Harnessing the Secret of the Stars. But just guess who is against this idea. Take one guess...
One aspect of nuclear energy I did not really tackle in the FV post is the question of the environmental impacts on Global Warming of an electric power generation strategy based on nuclear fission or nuclear fusion technologies. In Ten Myths About Nuclear Power Spiked
one discovers some surprising tidbits:
The OECD analysed the total lifetime releases of GHG from energy technologies and concluded that, taking into account mining of building materials, construction and energy production, nuclear is still a ‘lower carbon’ option than wind, solar or hydroelectric generation. For example, during its whole life cycle, nuclear power releases three to six grams of carbon per kiloWatthour (GC kWh) of electricity produced, compared with three to 10 GC/kWh for wind turbines, 105 GC/kWh for natural gas and 228 GC/kWh for lignite (‘dirty’ coal) (6).

An important concern has been nuclear weapons proliferation due to large scale nuclear power plant construction.  Paradoxically, there is an argument that says the opposite effect would be achieved!
More nuclear plants (in Britain and elsewhere) would actually reduce weapons proliferation. Atomic warheads make excellent reactor fuel; decommissioned warheads (containing greatly enriched uranium or plutonium) currently provide about 15 per cent of world nuclear fuel (19). Increased demand for reactor fuel would divert such warheads away from potential terrorists. Nuclear build is closely monitored by the IAEA, which polices anti-proliferation treaties.
But the Catholic Bishops are just plain wrong on this. Whatever happened to Satan? Why pick on poor nuclear energy?

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