There has not been a nuclear power plant licensed since 1979 due to the radioactive releases at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant and an accident at Chernobyl. Opinion of the public and federal government regarding nuclear power has since changed because the nuclear power plants are operating with extraordinary reliability and economy. Nuclear has again become the focus of attention as the natural gas prices increase coupled with capacity shortages in California in 2000-2001. Burning coal produced Sulfur dioxide l causes of acid rain. Carbon dioxide and other Green house gases such as and five others come from burning fossil fuel in the power plants. The amount of heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes global warming and serious disruptions to agriculture and other ecosystems. In December 1997, delegates from 159 countries gathered in Kyoto, Japan, and adopted a treaty that could limit the greenhouse gases. In order to cut the greenhouse gases, the treaty encouraged the fossil fuel dependent countries to develop renewable and alternative technologies. Nuclear power is an alternative technology. With the modular type construction, standardization, and one-step approval, the nuclear power can be revived. The new reactors are safer and more efficient than plants built in the past. Nuclear energy is clean, affordable and reliable and offers a potential and promise for this country and the rest of the world. The paper discusses different ways of reviving nuclear power.
Nuclear power is often described as a big, fast, and vital energy option—the only practical and proven source big and fast enough to do much to abate climate change. Yet industry and government data tell the opposite story. Nuclear power worldwide has less installed capacity and generates less electricity than its decentralized no- and low-carbon competitors—one-third renewable (excluding big hydroelectric dams), two-thirds fossil-fueled combined-heat-and power. In 2004, these rivals added nearly three times as much output and six times as much capacity as nuclear power added; by 2010, industry forecasts this six fold ratio to widen to 136–184 as nuclear orders fade, then nuclear capacity gradually disappears as aging reactors retire. These comparisons don’t count more efficient use of electricity, which isn’t being tracked, but efficiency gains plus decentralized sources now add at least ten times as much capacity per year as nuclear power.
Nuclear power is an inherently limited way to protect the climate, because it makes electricity, whose generation releases only two-fifths of U.S. CO2 emissions; it must run steadily rather than varying widely with loads as many power plants must; and its units are too big for many smaller countries or rural users. But nuclear power is a still less helpful climate solution because it’s about the slowest option to deploy (in capacity or annual output added per year)—as observed market behavior confirms—and the most costly. Its higher cost than competitors, per unit of net CO2 displaced, means that every dollar invested in nuclear expansion will worsen climate change by buying less solution per dollar. Specifically, every $0.10 spent to buy a single new nuclear kilowatt-hour (roughly its delivered cost, including its 2004 subsidies, according to the authoritative 2003 MIT study’s findings expressed in 2004 $) could instead have bought 1.2 to 1.7 kWh of wind power (“firmed” to be available whenever desired), 0.9 to 1.7+ kWh of gas-fired industrial or ~2.2–6.5+ kWh of building-scale cogeneration (adjusted for their CO2 emissions), 2.4–8.9 kWh of waste-heat cogeneration burning no incremental fuel (more if credited for burning less fuel), or from several to 10+ kWh of electrical savings from more efficient use. In this sense of “opportunity cost”—any investment foregoes other outcomes that could have been bought with the same money—nuclear power is far more carbon-intensive than a coal plant.
National energy policy currently rests on and reinforces an illusion. Original advocates conjure up a vision of a vibrant nuclear power industry poised for rapid growth, with no serious rivals in sight, and with a supposedly vital role in mitigating the threat of climate change. A credulous press accepts this supposed new reality and creates an echo-box to amplify it. Some politicians and opinion leaders endorse it. Yet industry data reveal the opposite: a once significant but now dying industry already fading from the marketplace (Figs. 1–2, pp. 2–3), overtaken and humbled by swifter rivals. In 2004 alone, Spain and Germany each added as much wind capacity—two billion watts (GW)—as nuclear power is adding worldwide in each year of this decade.3 Around 2005–2006, nuclear construction starts may add less capacity than solar cells. And in the year 2010, nuclear power is projected by the International Atomic Energy Agency to add 136–184 X less net capacity than the decentralized electricity industries project their technologies will add.
Worldwide, low- and no-carbon decentralized sources of electricity-surpassed nuclear power in capacity in 2002 and in annual output in 2005. In 2004, they added 5.9X as much capacity and 2.9X as much annual output as nuclear power added. (Output lags capacity by 3 y because nuclear plants typically run more hours per year than wind power and solar power — though other renewable, like the fossil-fueled cogeneration shown, have high average capacity factors. Large hydro, over 10 MWe, isn’t shown in these graphs nor included in this paper’s analysis.) The post-2004 forecasts or projections shown are industries, and are imprecise but qualitatively clear. The E.U. aims to get 12% of its energy and ~21% of electricity from renewable by 2010, when the European Wind Energy Association projects 75 GW of installed European wind power. Cna targets decentralized renewable to grow from 37 GW in 2004 to 60 GW, a tenth of total capacity, in 2010. Two-thirds of the decentralized non-nuclear capacity shown is fossil-fueled co- or regeneration (making power + heat + cooling); its total appears to be conservatively low (e.g., no steam turbines outside China), and it is ~60–70% gas-fired, so its overall carbon intensity is probably less than half that of the separate power stations and boilers (or furnaces) that it has displaced; the normal range would be ~30–80% less carbon.
Standard studies compare a new nuclear plant only with a central power plant burning coal or natural gas. They conclude that new nuclear plants’ marked disadvantage in total cost might be overcome if their construction became far cheaper, or if construction and operation were even more heavily subsidized, or if carbon were heavily taxed, or if (as nuclear advocates prefer) all of these changes occurred. But those central thermal power plants are all the wrong competitors. None of them can compete with wind power (and some other renewable), let alone with two far cheaper resources: cogeneration of heat and power, and efficient use of electricity. The MIT study (note 57), like every other widely quoted study of nuclear economics, simply didn’t xamine these competitors10 on the grounds of insufficient time and funding. Thus the distinguished authors’ “judgment” that nuclear power merits continued subsidy and support, because we’ll supposedly need all energy options, is only their personal opinion unsupported by analysis. The author has verified this widely overlooked interpretation with three of the MIT study’s leaders.
The links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons go back to the very beginning of the development of atomic energy. Over time the nature and strength of these links have varied.
• Any country that has nuclear power has the potential to make nuclear weapons.
• The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) enshrines the right of member states to have nuclear power as long as they promise not to develop nuclear weapons.
• The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) promotes the spread of nuclear technology as part of its remit, as well as trying to ensure that civil nuclear material is not used for military purposes. Both the NPT and the IAEA, who are responsible for controlling nuclear proliferation, also have a brief to spread the use of nuclear power.
• The inspection and safeguarding roles of the IAEA are somewhat limited, in the official nuclear weapons-states as well as in others. Accounting for fissile materials is very problematic – Russia being a case in point, but not a lone case.
Nuclear materials and weapons
Plutonium and uranium
Uranium ore contains only about 0.7% of the fissile isotope U235. In order to be suitable for use as a nuclear fuel for generating electricity it must be processed (by separation) to contain about 3% of U235 (this form is called Low Enriched Uranium – LEU). Weapons grade uranium has to be enriched to 90% of U235 (Highly Enriched Uranium or HEU), which can be done using the same enrichment equipment. There are about 38 working enrichment facilities in 16 countries. (1) The Hiroshima bomb was made using about 60kg. Of (HEU). Today’s more sophisticated nuclear weapons can be made with 20 – 25 kg. Because the numbers of warheads and their accuracy have been increased. Plutonium is a product of the chain reaction in nuclear reactors; it is separated by reprocessing the “spent” fuel (which is highly radioactive but no longer usable in the reactors in fuel rods). In 2000 Britain had an estimated stockpile of some 78 tonnes of civil plutonium out of a world store of about 210 tones.
(2). The military stockpile was about 7.6 tones in 1999
(3). Only 2 -10 kg. Are necessary to make a nuclear bomb.
An important product of the processing of uranium, which has commercial and military use, is depleted uranium (DU), which is essentially what is left over after uranium enrichment. Some DU is used to make a tank Armour-piercing projectile, the DU penetrate, which has been used in both Gulf Wars and in Kosovo. (Probably two or three times, as much was used in the recent Gulf War as in the first.) DU is toxic both chemically and radio logically, and is widely believed, with scientific support, to have caused cancers, birth defects and deaths where used. The Ministry of Defense admitted in 1998 “the potential to cause adverse health effects”, but maintained: “There are no immediate plans to withdraw DU-based tank ammunition from service… No satisfactory alternative currently exists to achieve the levels of penetration required…”
Davida Higgin, 2006, The links between nuclear power =and nuclear weapons, 11 Dec 2007, From, http://www.cnduk.org/pages/links.pdf
Pete Roche, 2005, Is nuclear power a solution to climate change? , 11 Dec 2007 from