Argument: Nuclear energy can replace coal and cut emissions

Issue Report: Nuclear energy


Pascal Zachary. “The case for nuclear power” San Francisco Chronicle. February 5, 2006 – Expanding nuclear power is only one piece of the energy puzzle. But it is a piece we cannot afford to dismiss.

The reason is clear. Electricity demand is rising — some say by as much as 50 percent during the next 30 to 50 years. Demand might even increase more with the spread of electric cars. Without a crash program to expand nuclear power, America’s new electricity needs will be satisfied chiefly by new coal-burning plants. Coal is a remarkably democratic resource, spread fairly evenly around the globe. Scores of new coal plants are planned for the United States, where they already generate about half of the nation’s electricity. Many hundreds are likely to be constructed around the world before the end of the decade.

Coal does burn cleaner in new power plants than in older ones, but the goal of ‘clean coal’ remains many years off and relies on unproven technologies. For the moment, burning coal to create electricity is sure to accelerate climate change. And coal isn’t as cheap as it once was. Prices are soaring, narrowing coal’s cost advantages over nuclear.

Leslie Kemeny. “Nuclear power can cut emissions and still maintain supply”. The Age. 21 July 2008: “The Australian Government could well learn from Australia’s uranium trading partners as it shapes its energy and climate change policies. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong should endorse the energy technologies that provide real energy security and offer the largest emission reductions at the lowest cost. Her aspiration for “renewables” and “clean coal” clearly does not fit this template. Nuclear power does.

The call for the Government to formulate a sensible energy policy, which will provide Australia with energy, water and hydrogen security and an emission trading scheme at minimal cost is growing. Nuclear energy endorsement has come from former NSW premier Bob Carr, and chairman of the Commonwealth Bank and the Great Barrier Reef Trust John Schubert, as well as from Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union.

Following the G8 summit in Japan, climate scientists and energy experts were quick to comment on the fact that Australia was “the odd nation out”. Fifteen of the 16 participating nations were already committed to or were planning to adopt civilian nuclear power to battle global warming. From the G8 “host group”, Italy, which had for decades imported cheap and reliable nuclear power from France, has recently announced its own program for domestic nuclear power production. The other seven nations all had made a major investment in nuclear power over the past 40 years.”

Patrick Moore. “Going Nuclear A Green Makes the Case”. Washington Post. April 16th, 2006: “Wind and solar power have their place, but because they are intermittent and unpredictable they simply can’t replace big baseload plants such as coal, nuclear and hydroelectric. Natural gas, a fossil fuel, is too expensive already, and its price is too volatile to risk building big baseload plants. Given that hydroelectric resources are built pretty much to capacity, nuclear is, by elimination, the only viable substitute for coal. It’s that simple.”