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Electricity production costs drop to the lowest point in the industry's history.

You won't hear this on CNN, but the U.S. nuclear power industry set a record last year.  Despite rising costs of fuel and regulation, the average production cost of electricity dropped to an astounding 1.66 cents per kilowatt-hour.  This is a figure well below the cost of coal-generated electricity, and a tiny fraction of the cost of solar or wind power.  Furthermore,  nuclear plants generated 36% more electricty than they did 15 years ago, without a single new plant being built.  The industry just keeps getting better and better.

Nuclear power is a true clean, green energy source, with zero CO2 emissions, and less environmental impact than solar or wind.  Those sources of energy are extremely diffuse--which means they must be collected and concentrated.  A 1,000 MW solar plant requires 2 million tons of concrete, 600,000 tons of steel, 75,000 tons of glass, 35,000 tons of aluminum, and a whole host of rare and exotic elements.   This is several hundred times the materials needed by a nuclear plant the same size.  And the nuclear plant will have much higher availability and require much less maintenance.  Most telling of all is the costs which, for solar power, currently average a painful 28.6 cents per kW-hour.

Other nations are wiser here than the US.  France  generates 76% of its power from nuclear, South Korea has several new plants on order, and Finland is building a new one, specifically to meet its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

Expanding the US nuclear power industry would allow the US to dramatically reduce carbon emissions ... and to save money while doing so.  And it's a solution available today, without the need for years of additional research and development.  Its high time we pulled our heads out of the sand, and started using it to its full potential.

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RE: heavy water reactors
By number999 on 2/28/2007 4:19:37 PM , Rating: 3
The reactor technology in the US is derived from technology stemming from developments from Naval reactor developement. Shippingport, the first non-military reactor, was developed under Adm Rickover, who was in charge of Naval reactor developement. The technology in use there - pressurized light water. To leverage the knowledge base, he just used the expertise already in place.

Enrichment allows the fuel rods to be changed less often than natural uranium and you generate more MW/Kg of fuel. With the Candu design of pressurized tubes instead of the pressurized vessel of other water reactor types, rods of fuel can be changed without a general shutdown. Candu reactors are capable of taking slightly enriched fuel, with the added benefits.

Plutonium is a by-product of all nuclear reactors. There has never been a case where the Candu was used to generate weapons grade plutonium. In the case of India, a specially made reactor was used to generate the weapons grade plutonium used in their bomb and not the Candu built there. In fact, most weapons grade plutonium was made in specialty reactors designed to produce plutonium. The infamous Chernobyl reactor design was derived from such a design as well as the British CO2 gas cooled reactors which were recently decommissioned.

The Candu was designed from the ground up for commercial electricity generation only. Although highly neutron efficient, it is not capable as a breeder. The only breeders designed so far and even built, all use liquid metal and maybe a couple of the high temperature gas ones.

Considering the lower amount of Plutonium produced by weight in a Candu reactor, it would be a poor choice if the aim was the production of weapons grade fissionables.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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