Nuking the Future

by August 7, 2015
 

The best estimates I’ve seen for projected energy production in the US all say it would be a significant achievement if sustainable electrical generation comprised 10% of the mix. With hydro-power dropping in the Western US, due to drought conditions, coal is picking up the slack; if coal plants are closed as part of the clean energy revival, that leaves us with nuclear.

Nuclear power — as part of an energy investment portfolio that includes coal, oil and gas — is attractive to Wall Street investors because it is taxpayer-insured, guaranteeing a profit, even as mining reclamation and waste disposal remain disasters with no solution in sight.

The greatest challenge to energy efficiency in the US is long distance transmission power loss; roughly half of the electricity generated in the country is lost between the power plants and the ultimate consumer. Dispersing production might help, but that isn’t possible with coal.

One solution recently proposed is to install mini-nukes all over the country, using technology derived from nuclear-powered submarines. Disturbing as this sounds, it is the logical consequence of shutting down coal.

As climate catastrophe beckons us to back bold energy initiatives, we want to be careful we don’t jump ‘out of the pan and into the fire’.