Some of the world’s most prominent scientists have written an open letter calling for the development of nuclear energy.
James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel and Tom Wigley wrote:
“As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems. We appreciate your organization’s concern about global warming, and your advocacy of renewable energy. But continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.”
In an email interview with rediff.com, Hansen further explained:
“We should compare alternatives for the future. The air pollution from fossil fuels kills far more people than the worst nuclear technology of the past, the most weakly regulated nuclear technology,” he said.
Now for someone who for a long time has been a supporter of nuclear energy, this makes a lot of sense. However, it’s going to have a lot of people up in arms….luckily the arms won’t be nuclear….
According to an article in The New York Times, nearly all of Japan’s nuclear plants are now offline. Only two of the country’s 54 nuclear reactors are still running.
So far, the shut down hasn’t led to any major power outages, but that’s partially due to some pretty extreme measures taken by the people and Government of Japan.
For example, air-conditioners are now shut off, even in the heat of summer.
One place the country have felt the brunt force of what shutting off the plants means is on the economy. Partially due to the tsunami, but also due to a sudden rise in the cost of energy, Japan posted its first trade deficit for nearly three decades.
Apart from rising energy prices, Japan also faces another financial problem. Several of the country’s industrial giants have both constructed and run nuclear power plants. The shutting down of these plants leaves these companies with a greatly reduced income and many workers very suddenly out of a job.
One potential way out of this is for the companies to look abroad for opportunities to build and run nuclear power plants there. However, the mood is very much against nuclear power in many places at the moment.
Kenya is reportedly looking to generate much of their electricity with nuclear energy. According to reports, including an article on Voice of America’s website, the country wants a nuclear program to be up and running in about 15 years.
Today, over 80 per cent of Kenyans do not have access to electricity, instead relying on firewood and kerosene to generate energy Electricity is expensive, and the supply is limited.
“If the cost of electricity can be reduced, then more of our people will be having access to electricity and with that other uses of electricity – like cooking, for example, our children being able to read. It will enhance the standard of living of our people if we have nuclear energy in the energy mix in the near future,” David Otwoma, secretary of the Kenyan Energy Ministry’s Nuclear Electricity Development Project said.
The first step towards a full nuclear program for the Kenyans has been the opening of a Institute of Nuclear Science & Technology.
Visiting said institute’s website presents what might both be a public relations gaffe and/or a PR masterstroke, as one of top pictures is of some people installing solar panels. Reassuring, yes, but surely not something that says ‘nuclear power’?
A recent article in the New York Times tells of a bright future (and if things go really wrong, a glowing future) for parts of the US nuclear power industry.
The good news for the industry is that the country’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved designs for a new type of reactor, thereby clearing a major hurdle out the way that had blocked the building of two new nuclear power plants in South Carolina and Georgia. The approval comes more than 15 after the last new US nuclear plant went into operation.
According to the article, the commission was so enamoured by the new design that they not only voted unanimously for approving it but also waived the usual 30-day waiting period that lies between their approval and the approval becoming official.
However, the two new projects might be the only one’s to begin construction in the foreseeable future, as the price of natural gas remains very low, especially due to production within the US itself, thus making it more economically viable to build gas-powered plants.