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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: No argument here.
By exdeath on 3/1/2007 3:14:11 PM , Rating: 2
Just to refine a few things (no pun intended):

As per my previous post a new fuel rod goes in with 96% harmless U-238 and 4% U-235, which is the active fuel.

After 20 years of fission in a reactor, what is left is still mostly 90-95% harmless U-238. A tiny bit of that will have been transmuted to Pu-239, which can be used as reactor fuel itself.

The primary waste components are the fission products of the actual 4% U-235 fuel component. Remember that fission is simply the splitting of an atom into two or more other random elements, giving off useable heat energy in the process. After a fuel rod is spent, most of that U-235 has become now mostly a random collection of radioactive actinides. These may or may not be useful for any particular purpose including new fuel. This is the true waste of a nuclear reactor. 90-95% of the mass of the spent fuel is just as harmless as when it came out of the ground.

One issue with reprocessing spent fuel from a political perspective is the accumulation of recovered Pu-239, which may violate weapon proliferation treaties, etc. Pu-239 results from the bombardment of stable non radioactive U-238 with slow neutrons which starts a long chain of events that eventually stabilizes into Pu-239.

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