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Nuclear power is renewable energy September 9, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in reprocessing.
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Many people in the nuclear industry have argued it should be considered a form of renewable energy. Recently, Eric Silagy, the chief development officer of Florida Power and Light, told The Miami Herald the best way to reduce greenhouse gases is to define nuclear as a renewable energy source.

According to the Herald, Silagy said ”it just makes sense for nuclear to be included.” Nuclear is a baseload power supply, ”operating 24 hours a day while emitting zero greenhouse gases. Solar power is intermitment,” producing electricity perhaps 22 to 24 percent of the time.

Unfortunately, the story really didn’t explain how nuclear is indeed renewable in the traditional sense. To make reactor fuel, natural uranium must be enriched to contain 3 to 5 percent burnable uranium. Once the percent falls below that, the fuel is considered “spent,” even though 95 percent of energy potential remains. To unlock the remaining energy, the spent fuel must be reprocessed to restore the level of burnable uranium.

Thanks to reprocessing, the “waste” that is spent fuel can be profitably reused and the amount of radiation reduced. After 40 years, the radioactivity of spent fuel drops by 99.9 percent, leaving the more potent transuranic components, which can be reused as fuel if reprocessed.

Eco-conscious France, which gets 80 percent of energy from nuclear reactors, is the top reprocessor, followed by England. For political reasons, the U.S. has pretty much stopped recycling, but reprocessing is an important part of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. In March 2007, more then 350 people turned out for a federal government public hearing in Idaho Falls to a possible reprocessing plant in Eastern Idaho.

What could be more renewable than reprocessing your spent fuel, getting more fuel in the process and virtually eliminating harmful waste?

Of course, many environmentalists are aghast at the idea of counting nuclear as a renewable. I suggest they turn their attention to the issue of global warming, as environmentalists, by pushing the country against nuclear power, had a major role in global warming. Energy companies simply moved from nuclear to coal power to meet our national energy needs (and coal, ironically, emits far more radiation, but that’s another story).

I think we’ve taken the advice of the anti-nukes long enough on this issue. It’s time to count nuclear power for what it really is: A highly effective form of renewable energy.

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Comments»

1. Thomas Saporito - September 10, 2008

Please, FPL, the public is not stupid, nuclear power produces extremely harmful and highly radioactive nuclear waste which contaminates our environment. It matters not that nuclear power produces nearly zero emission adverse to our enviroment when generating electrical power, instead, it matters a great deal that nuclear generates highly radioactive waste harmful to our environment and therefore nuclear power cannot be considered a renewable energy source.

FPL appears to be attempting to dupe its customers into believing that nuclear power is a renewable energy source so that FPL can ask the Florida Public Service Commission for another rate hike without its customers complaining.

None-the-less, nuclear power is a clean manner in which to generate electrical power and must be part of the energy mix for the United States to enable our country to become less dependent on foriegn oil sources.

Thomas Saporito, President
http://saporitoenergyconsultants.com


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