Print 57 comment(s) - last by Ringold.. on Mar 3 at 12:52 AM

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 JonB on 2/28/2007 5:50:21 PM , Rating: 4
Grast, you've gotten your U235 and U238 backwards. Breeder reactors use the neutrons from the thermal fission of U235 to slowly change U238 into Plutonium239. P239 could then be extracted and put into new reactor fuel assemblies along with enriched U235 and be a very useful fuel, but the US currently prohibits it for commercial plants.

Another slight editorial comment to an earlier post. Depleted Uranium doesn't come from spent fuel (it isn't worth the radiation exposure that people would get processing it), it comes from the enrichment process of naturally occurring ores. For every kilogram of enriched Uranium ready to use in fuel, there is a byproduct of many kilograms of almost pure Uranium238. Because the depleted Uranium comes from ore that has never been in a reactor, Depleted Uranium is barely radioactive. U238 is not usable as bomb material, but it is very, very, very hard and has a high melting point. Since it is also heavy, it actually makes a good armor piercing slug. Not much will stop it, and if it does hit something very hard, its kinetic energy becomes heat, turning it into a plasma that just melts through whatever WAS in its way.

RE: heavy water reactors
By CascadingDarkness on 3/2/2007 5:33:37 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly they I bet people who handle the shells only need to wear gloves and resist licking their hands. Same thing could be said if they were lead.

Only people that really need to worry are the ones at the receiving end of the 120mm Sabots, or one of the 30mm, 3,600 rounds per second shells from an A-10.

Dang them's smarts

RE: heavy water reactors
By Ringold on 3/3/2007 12:52:33 AM , Rating: 2
Only people that really need to worry are the ones at the receiving end of the 120mm Sabots, or one of the 30mm, 3,600 rounds per second shells from an A-10.

Forgive me if I dont worry about those individuals? :)

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