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US public support for nuclear at record high April 2, 2010

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in Energy policy, public opinion, reprocessing.
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American public support for nuclear just keeps increasing. According to the World Nuclear News, US public support for nuclear energy has reached a record high, with 74% of people saying they are in favour of nuclear energy.

Surveys have shown a significant change in the US public’s view of nuclear energy over past years. In 1983, a Bisconti poll showed 49 percent of Americans supported nuclear.

The latest poll found 80 percent of  men and 68 percent of women favor nuclear. It also showed 33 percent strongly favored nuclear, more than triple the number who strongly oppose it. Some 87 percent of those questioned said they believe “nuclear energy will play an important role in meeting the nation’s electricity needs in the years ahead.”

In addition, 70 percent of respondents agreed the USA should “definitely build more nuclear power plants in the future”, compared with 28 percent who disagreed. The poll also showed high support for the US government  encouraging investment and 72 percent of those questioned said they backed government loan guarantees.

In addition, 82 percent said existing US nuclear power plants are “safe and secure” and some 79 percent  also said they would support a US plan to recycle used nuclear fuel rods in order to generate more electricity and reduce the amount of waste.

“This unprecedented support for nuclear energy is being driven largely by people’s concerns for meeting future energy demand and environmental goals, but it coincides with statements by President Barack Obama and other national leaders who have voiced strong support for new nuclear power plants,” said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research. “The President’s State of the Union speech and his subsequent announcement of federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors in Georgia clearly has elevated the issues in people’s minds.”

Last week, by the Gallup polling organization published a public opinion poll that also found a record high support for use of nuclear energy in the USA.


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.