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Nuclear power is a great fit with rural areas October 22, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Elmore County, Energy policy, nuclear industry, reactor types, rural nuclear, Water policy.
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At the Oct. 8 Elmore P and Z hearing, a number of protestors wore stickers saying the wanted to save family farming. I couldn’t agree more and if these protestors were to educate themselves about nuclear plants, they’d know that nuclear power plants make very good neighbors in rural areas.

Because they are quiet, clean and relatively compact, American nuclear reactors fit into a wide variety of settings. Reactors thrive side-by-side with dense urban areas, suburban development, high-end resort towns, farms and wildlife habitat. They discreetly produce large amounts of energy where other options would be inappropriate: coal (emissions), wind (needs large amounts of area, visual concerns, bird and bat deaths) and hydro (disruption to fisheries and land).

There are just a few good examples accessible from GoogleMaps that show nuclear plants and rural areas. All pictures shown from about 20 miles altitude.


Columbia Generating Station, Washington: Borders intensive agricultural uses across the Columbia River. Idaho gets 1 percent of its power from this reactor.


LaSalle 1, Illinois: It doesn’t get more rural than this. Farms are located right up against the plant’s cooling pond.


Prairie Island 1, Minnesota: Farms, suburban development and wildlife habitat are all in operation around this reactor.


Vermont Yankee, Vermont: Homes and farms are less than a mile away with towns less than 5 miles away.


Brunswick 1, North Carolina: Urban and rural uses nearby, including high-end
coastal resort towns.

The Idaho Energy Complex will benefit the agricultural community in other ways. Depending on market demand, the biofuels component of the plant could become a cornerstone of the local agricultural economy. About one-third of the energy in biofuels comes from heat (typically natural gas) to sustain bacterial conversion. By using free excess reactor heat, we believe we could produce ethanol for less than a dollar a gallon. The biofuels plant depends on market availability of crops, but many dairies in the area also produce agricultural waste that could help sustain a biofuels plant. If the crops were grown with below-market electricity, that would further reduce the cost of biofuels. The excess heat from the nuclear plant could be put to other uses, such as greenhouses, manufacturing and food processing.

So, anyone who says nuclear reactors are incompatible with rural areas needs to do their homework!

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