Tag Archive for: Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power Radiation — Part 2

Recently, I posted a commentary arguing that there are good reasons to categorize Nuclear power as a “renewable” source of electrical energy, followed by another post: Nuclear Power Radiation — Part 1. That outlined radiation from normal nuclear power operations, waste, and misc. This Part 2 will briefly cover the rest of the well-known nuclear radiation possibilities…

1 – Nuclear Power Accidents

US nuclear power facilities are built to be extraordinarily safe. Even when there are accidents, there are backup systems — and often backups to the backups. The most familiar nuclear accident to us is the Three Mile Island problem in 1957. This summary states it well:

“A cooling malfunction caused part of the core to melt in a reactor, resulting in a limited off-site release of radioactivity over a multi-state area. Doses off-site were less than normal background radiation.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission determined the accident “led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community.”

Considering the consequences, the rhetoric about this event seems out of proportion.

2 – Nuclear Power Man-Made Disasters

The most famous case here was in Chernobyl (Ukraine: 1986). What is rarely covered by mainstream media (surprise!) is: a) there are no other nuclear reactors in the world that have the Chernobyl design, and b) the reactor failure was reportedly caused purposefully — i.e., it was not an accident.

The truth of what happened may be as evasive as the full story of the Kennedy assassination. My understanding (from reliable sources), was that there was a dispute within the facility between two groups (let’s say engineers and administrators). The issue reportedly was who was really in charge? Each group tried to “prove” to the other that they were in control — and in the process they purposefully shut off several safety mechanisms. The 100% predictable result was a catastrophic failure.

This is a reasonable account about this disaster (which soft-pedals the dispute part). Despite all the alarmism, the official total is only 45± deaths:

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has concluded that: a) two Chernobyl plant workers died due to the explosion on the night of the accident, b) 28 people died within a few weeks as a result of acute radiation syndrome, and c) there have been 15 fatalities from thyroid cancer. Other than those 45± deaths, “there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident.”

3 – Nuclear Power Natural Disasters

The classic case here is Fukushima (Japan: 2011). Again, my understanding (from reliable sources) is not what has generally been reported. The two indisputable facts are: a) Japan was hit by a tsunami, generated by a record undersea earthquake, and b) the tsunami was so large that it flooded the diesel backup power units (sitting on the ground), that were there to properly shut down the core in an emergency.

The part that I heard was that Japanese officials had been advised prior to this event, that to be extra safe, they should elevate the backup diesel generators off the ground. That had not been done. If it had been there very likely would have been no nuclear power failure. That said, considering that there never had been anything remotely like that tsunami, their delay is understandable.

Let’s keep things in perspective: a) there were about 20,000 deaths due to the tsunami, and b) less than ten fatalities due to the nuclear power plant failures. Here is a reasonably balanced discussion of the Fukushima nuclear disasters


Regretfully, what the mainstream media reports on any nuclear facility problem, is not an objective, factual explanation, but rather an alarmist exaggeration of reality. In other words, once again political science is trying to take over Real Science.

Considering that there are some 435 operating nuclear power facilities (worldwide), and almost all are operating basically 24/7/365, the safety of nuclear power is exceptionally good. Worldwide, over the last 60± years, less than 100 people have died from a nuclear power plant failure.

By comparison, there have been WAY more deaths related to industrial wind turbines! (See this table, where the good people tabulating the data stopped keeping track in 2012, due to the huge increase in workload.)

Another perspective is that 40,000± people die annually from US car accidents, that would roughly translate to 2 million deaths over the same 60± year period.

This is yet another example of why having critically thinking citizens is the best defense against dishonest and ignorant purveyors of information. Remember that fear is the primary tool used to control people…

©2024. John Droz, Jr. All rights reserved.

Here are other materials by this scientist that you might find interesting:

Check out the Archives of this Critical Thinking substack.

WiseEnergy.orgdiscusses the Science (or lack thereof) behind our energy options.

C19Science.infocovers the lack of genuine Science behind our COVID-19 policies.

Election-Integrity.infomultiple major reports on the election integrity issue.

Media Balance Newsletter: a free, twice-a-month newsletter that covers what the mainstream media does not do, on issues from COVID to climate, elections to education, renewables to religion, etc. Here are the Newsletter’s 2023 Archives. Please send me an email to get your free copy. When emailing me, please make sure to include your full name and the state where you live. (Of course, you can cancel the Media Balance Newsletter at any time – but why would you?

Nuclear Is A Renewable Energy: Wind and Solar lobbyists are fighting this reality!

As a physicist, I believe that one of the reasons that intelligent energy policies have not gained sufficient traction is that we are allowing those with political agendas (vs independent scientists) to define some key energy terms.

[One thing I know from golf, is that a match is usually won or lost at the first tee — where the terms and conditions are agreed on.]

Outside of “fiscal responsibility” and “all of the above” the most significant misused concept that we have unwittingly gone along with is the term “renewable” energy.

Giving some critical thought to this moniker is no academic matter, as what is defined as “renewable” determines what sources of electricity are eligible for massive handouts and other preferential treatments.

In other words, what is legally defined as a “renewable” will have profound technical, economic, and environmental consequences on the United States.

The renewable energy lobby is extremely aggressive on all aspects of legality, and has made sure that only politically favored energy sources are awarded these perks (e.g., see here). Note that in that definition, “renewable” energy is not defined by what it does (or does not) do, but rather by a list of politically acceptable sources!

To my knowledge, there is no “official” definition of this bandied-about term. When asked, the meanings proffered vary quite a bit, but the key difference between a renewable and non-renewable energy source is usually the rate of replenishment.

Consider this typical definition: “Renewable is an energy resource that is replaced in a reasonable amount of time (our lifetime, our children’s lifetime)…”

Such a word as “reasonable” is subjective — not scientific. Who determines what is a reasonable amount of time, and what is it: 20 years? 100 years? 500 years?

The reason the definition of renewable is focused on time, derives from the concern that we may exhaust some electrical energy sources, relatively soon.

But how much is enough to have? For instance, if we have 100 years of some fuel, would the replenishment rate really be that important?

Clearly, within the next 100 years of use, there will be some profound changes made regarding the efficiency and applications of said fuel’s implementation — in ways we have little understanding of today.

At the time there were well-reasoned expectations in 1950 about what would happen in the year 2000. The message is that almost ALL of the best guesses were wrong. A good example is that today we use LESS renewable energy than we did in 1950!

In the same vein, prior technology predictions by experts (like Einstein) have also proven to be significantly off the mark. Who among us will stand to say that we have a better understanding of technology than Einstein?

In that light, let’s look at the case for nuclear being “renewable.”

First, we should answer how much longer will our nuclear fuel supply last. Consider:

a) This says: “The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2008 jointly produced a report saying that uranium resources are adequate to meet nuclear energy needs for at least the next 100 years at present consumption levels. More efficient fast reactors could extend that period to more than 2,500 years.”

It is absurd to say that a 2500-year supply doesn’t qualify this as renewable.

b) In addition, there are several proven alternatives to uranium as a source. One example is Thorium (which is much more plentiful than uranium).

[Read this 2023 study about “The Sustainability of Mineral Resources.” Note that it states “no tools are currently available to allow a comprehensive evaluation of mineral raw material abundance“.]

c) Bernard Cohen (Professor Emeritus of Physics at Pittsburgh University) has stated that breeder reactors have enough raw material energy sources to last us over a Billion years. That’s Billion with a “B”.

When considering these sample facts, an important thing to keep in mind is this quote from some scientists at an excellent University of Michigan site: “Only 50 years ago, nuclear energy was an exotic, futuristic technology, the subject of experimentation and far-fetched ideas.”

Hard as it might seem to believe, most of this nuclear development has occurred in just the tiny space of 50± years — so having any fuel supply that lasts 100± years could cover an enormous amount of new development.

Second, some definitions of “Renewable” include a reference to “power derived from natural sources”. Of course, that is amusingly non-descriptive since essentially all sources of electrical power are based on natural materials, and that includes nuclear.

To read more about this I’d strongly recommend Bill Tucker’s excellent book Terrestrial Energy, or a more condensed discussion he wrote.

A third factor sometimes appearing in the definition of “Renewable” is a reference to a power source’s ability to reduce CO2 (i.e., to be a “clean” source). That same University of Michigan site (above) has this very informative graph about how (worldwide) we have been able to reduce CO2 since 1973.

Now, for the sake of comparison, let’s quickly look at the flip side of this question, at the poster child for renewables: wind energy.

The indisputable fact is that an indispensable part of wind power electricity production is the requirement of LARGE amounts of rare-earth metals. Each wind turbine is reported to have several thousands of pounds of rare-earth materials (typically 2000± pounds per MW. An average-size wind turbine today is something like 5 MW.)

This study concluded that all rare-earth materials might be gone in 20± years! And several more reports warn us of the very limited supplies of these materials, like this.

I could go on, but just considering this information, which is the true renewable: wind energy or nuclear power?

©2024. John Droz, Jr. All rights reserved.

Here are other materials from this scientist that you might find interesting:

My Substack Commentaries for 2023 (arranged by topic)

Check out the chronological Archives of my entire Critical Thinking substack.

WiseEnergy.orgdiscusses the Science (or lack thereof) behind our energy options.

C19Science.infocovers the lack of genuine Science behind our COVID-19 policies.

Election-Integrity.infomultiple major reports on the election integrity issue.

Media Balance Newsletter: a free, twice-a-month newsletter that covers what the mainstream media does not do, on issues from COVID to climate, elections to education, renewables to religion, etc. Here are the Newsletter’s 2023 Archives. Please send me an email to get your free copy. When emailing me, please make sure to include your full name and the state where you live. (Of course, you can cancel the Media Balance Newsletter at any time – but why would you?

Why America Must Go Nuclear—Power That Is!

We keep hearing about the need to dramatically “reduce carbon” in our atmosphere from environmentalists. This means reducing the use of fossil fuels.

So, what is the most effective way to reduce carbon? Why go nuclear.

Let us explain.

According to the Energy Information Administration in 2020 here is where Americans get their power, electricity, from:

  1. Natural Gas – 39.8%
  2. Coal – 19.5%
  3. Nuclear – 18.2%
  4. Wind – 10.2%
  5. Hydro – 6.3%
  6. Solar – 3.4%
  7. Biomass – 1.3%
  8. Petroleum – 0.9%
  9. Geothermal – 0.4%

Americans get 60.2% of their power, electricity, from fossil fuels.

The problem with renewables, particularly solar and wind, is that they aren’t cheap and reliable sources of power, electricity. The wind stops and the sun always goes down. When they do the backup power for these so called “renewables” comes from other sources primarily from fossil fuel driven power plants.

Biomass, geothermal and hydro power make up 8% of our power, electricity. While these sources are reliable they can’t fill the bill to power all homes, businesses with cheap and reliable power, electricity.

But there is one power source that can, if we just take the steps needed, provide us with all the clean power we will ever need.

America Must Go Nuclear

Nuclear energy provides nearly one-fifth of U.S. electricity.

What if all of America’s energy, electricity, came from nuclear power plants?

According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission we currently have 95 nuclear power plants licensed to operate.

The USNRC reports, “An operating nuclear power reactor is designed to produce heat for electric generation. Power reactors are distinguished from nonpower reactors which are reactors used for research, training, and test purposes, and for the production of radioisotopes for medical, industrial, and academic uses.”

The Columbia Climate School’s on November 23rd, 2020 wrote,

Nuclear power is the second largest source of clean energy after hydropower. The energy to mine and refine the uranium that fuels nuclear power and manufacture the concrete and metal to build nuclear power plants is usually supplied by fossil fuels, resulting in CO2 emissions; however, nuclear plants do not emit any CO2 or air pollution as they operate. And despite their fossil fuel consumption, their carbon footprints are almost as low as those of renewable energy. One study calculated that a kilowatt hour of nuclear-generated electricity has a carbon footprint of 4 grams of CO2 equivalent, compared to 4 grams for wind and 6 grams for solar energy — versus 109 grams for coal, even with carbon capture and storage.

In the last 50 years, nuclear energy has precluded the creation of 60 gigatons of carbon dioxide, according to the International Energy Agency. Without nuclear energy, the power it generated would have been supplied by fossil fuels, which would have increased carbon emissions and resulted in air pollution that could have caused millions more deaths each year.

Around the world, 440 nuclear reactors currently provide over 10 percent of global electricity. In the U.S., nuclear power plants have generated almost 20 percent of electricity for the last 20 years.

Read full article.

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) in May 2023 reported,

    • Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with about 60 reactors under construction.
    • Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in Russia.
    • Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading.
    • Plant lifetime extension programmes are maintaining capacity, particularly in the USA.

Today there are about 440 nuclear power reactors operating in 32 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of about 390 GWe. In 2021 these provided 2653 TWh, about 10% of the world’s electricity.

The Bottom Line

America must get on the nuclear power bandwagon.

The WNA reported, “Many countries with existing nuclear power programmes either have plans to, or are building, new power reactors. Every country worldwide that has operating nuclear power plants, or plants under construction, has a dedicated country profile in the Information Library. About 30 countries are considering, planning or starting nuclear power programmes (see information page on Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries).”

The USA is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity, according to the WNA.

Time to build back better with more and more nuclear power plants until the United States gets 100% of its electricity from nuclear power plants.

This will allow the U.S. to become a world exporter of oil, natural gas and coal.

In addition, America will become independent of all foreign sources of energy.

This must be the goal of every administration—energy independence.

©2023. Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.


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The case for nuclear power

Despite its lethal past, nuclear energy is the clean and cost-effective power source we need.

In the fall 2022 issue of the technology-and-society journal The New Atlantis, authors Thomas and Nate Hochman examine the pros and cons of building new nuclear power plants in the United States.  The case of nuclear power is fraught with political issues that are inextricably tied up with technical issues, but the Hochmans do a good job of laying out the problems facing nuclear power and some possible solutions.

If nuclear power had not been invented until 2010, say, it would probably be welcomed as the keystone in our society’s answer to climate change.  Imagine a source of the most fungible type of energy — electricity — that takes teaspoons of nuclear fuel compared to carloads or pipelines full of fossil fuels, emits zero greenhouse gases, and when properly engineered runs more reliably than wind, solar, hydro, or sometimes even natural gas, as the misadventure of Texas’s Great Freeze of February 2021 showed.  What’s to oppose?  Well, a lot, as the Hochmans admit.

Deadly history

It is perhaps unfortunate that the first major use of nuclear technology was in the closing days of World War II, when the US became the only nation so far to employ nuclear weapons in wartime, killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese with bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The long shadow of nuclear war has cast a darkness over the technology of nuclear power ever since, despite optimistic but misguided attempts to promote peaceful uses in the 1950s.

The Hochmans describe the golden era of US nuclear power plant construction, which ran roughly from 1967 to 1987, as a period in which the two major US manufacturers — General Electric and Westinghouse — offered “turn-key” plants that were priced competitively with coal-fired units.  The utilities snapped them up, and the vast majority of existing plants were built in those two decades.

The turn-key pricing turned out to be a big mistake, however.  Manufacturers expected the cost per plant to decline as economies of scale kicked in, but for a variety of reasons both technical and regulatory, the hoped-for economies never materialised.  The particular pressurised-water technology that was used was adapted from early nuclear submarines, and in retrospect may not have been the best choice for domestic power plants.  By the time the companies realised their mistake and switched to cost-plus contracts, they had lost a billion dollars, and utilities became much less enthusiastic when they had to pay the true costs of building the plants.

In the meantime, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed in 1970, making it much harder to obtain permits to build complicated things like nuclear plants.  In the pre-Act days, permitting a plant sometimes took less than a year, but once NEPA passed, such speediness (and the resulting economies of fast construction) was a thing of the past.

Then came the Three-Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 and the Chernobyl plant fire and disaster in 1986, further blackening the reputation of nuclear power in the public mind.  Add to that the not-in-my-back-yard problems faced by attempts to find permanent storage locations for nuclear waste, and by 1990 the US nuclear industry was in a kind of coma from which it has not yet recovered.

The Hochmans point to France as a counterexample of a nation that made a conscious decision to go primarily nuclear for its electric power, and even today about 70% of France’s power is nuclear.  But even France is having problems maintaining their aging plants, and French nuclear promoters face the same sorts of political headwinds that prevail in the US.

Viable option

Now that climate change is an urgent priority for millions of people and dozens of governments, the strictly technical appeal of nuclear power is still valid. It really does make zero greenhouse gases in operation, and when properly engineered, it can be the most reliable form of power, providing the essential base-load capacity that is needed to stabilise grids that will draw an increasing amount of energy from highly intermittent solar and wind sources in the future. Eventually, energy-storage technology may make it possible to store enough energy to smooth out the fluctuations of renewables, but we simply don’t have that now, and it may not come for years or decades.

In the meantime, there are plans on drawing boards for so-called “modular” plants.  If every single automobile was a custom design from the ground up, including a from-scratch engine and body, only the likes of Elon Musk could afford to drive.  But that was how nuclear plants were made back in the day:  each design was customised to the particular site and customer specifications.

If manufacturers had the prospects of sales and freedom to develop a modular one-size-fits-all design, they could turn the process into something similar to the way mobile homes are made today:  in factories, and then shipped out in pieces to be simply assembled on site.  And newer designs favouring gravity feeds over powered pumps can be made much safer so that if anything goes wrong, the operators simply walk away and the plant safely shuts itself down.

Standing in the way of these innovations are (1) the prevailing negative political winds against nuclear power, enforced with more emotion than logic by environmental groups and major political parties, and (2) the need to change regulations to allow such technical innovations, which currently are all but blocked by existing laws and rules.

In the Hochmans’ best-case scenario, the US begins importing modular plants from countries where an existing base of nuclear know-how allows efficient manufacturing, which these days means places like China.  Even if the US nuclear industry turned on full-speed today, it would take a decade or more to recover the expertise base that was lost a generation ago when the industry collapsed.  Regulations and regulatory agencies would change from merely obstructing progress to reasoned cooperation with nuclear-plant manufacturing and installation.  And we would derive an increasing proportion of our energy from a source that has always made a lot of technical sense.

On the other hand, things may just go on as they are now, with old plants closing and no new ones to take their place. That would be bad for a number of reasons, but reason hasn’t been the only consideration in the history of nuclear energy up to now.

This article has been republished from the author’s blog, Engineering Ethics, with permission.


Karl D. Stephan

Karl D. Stephan received the B. S. in Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1976. Following a year of graduate study at Cornell, he received the Master of Engineering degree in 1977… More by Karl D. Stephan

RELATED ARTICLE: In Europe, the nuclear “comeback”


EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

If Climate Change Is a Dire Threat, Why Is No One Talking about Nuclear Power?

A common (legitimate) concern with nuclear is unhealthy radiation, its usage actually emits less radiation than the burning of coal.

There is a deafening silence surrounding nuclear energy. Yet, if you are to believe the current climate alarmism on display, the world’s future is hanging by a thread. Indeed, the forceful climate marches in London last week, the Greta Thunberg-ization of the world’s youth, and David Attenborough’s new Netflix documentary are all symptoms of a growing call to arms. According to them, climate change is real and impending, and, in young Greta’s words, they “want you to panic.”

The situation appears dire. Yet, assuming it is, there seems to be a gap in reasoning. Politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are calling for a “Green New Deal,” which would seek to remove America’s carbon footprint by 2030 by “upgrading” every single one of the 136 million houses in America, completely overhauling the nation’s transport infrastructure (both public and private), and somehow simultaneously guaranteeing universal health care, access to healthy food, and economic security—without any consideration of cost. In other words, a complete pie-in-the-sky scheme that is more concerned with virtue-signaling than with pragmatic reality.

But if these people truly care about the environment and the damage being caused by climate change, why is no one talking about nuclear?

Nuclear is fully carbon-free and therefore a “clean” energy source in carbon terms. This is crucial considering the primary villain of climate change is CO2; switching to nuclear would directly cut out carbon emissions and thus represent a significant step forward, except for the construction phase (which would create a one-off nominal carbon debt about equal to that of solar farms). It has successfully contributed to decarbonizing public transport in countries such as Japan, France, and Sweden.

It is also often overlooked that nuclear is the safest way to generate reliable electricity (and far safer than coal or gas) despite Frankenstein-esque visions of nuclear meltdowns à la Chernobyl, which are ridiculously exaggerated and exceedingly rare.

Nuclear is also incredibly reliable, with an average capacity of 92.3 percent, meaning it is fully operational more than 330 days a year, which is drastically more reliable than both wind and solar—combined.

Finally, whereas a common (legitimate) concern with nuclear is that it creates unhealthy radiation, its usage actually emits less radiation than, for example, the burning of coal. Moreover, the problem posed by waste is more psychological and political nowadays than it is technological. Despite the Simpsons-inspired image of green, murky water, nuclear waste is, in fact, merely a collection of old steel rods; the nuclear waste produced in America over the last 60 years could all fit into a single medium-sized Walmart. Furthermore, it is not only securely stored in concrete-and-steel casks in the middle of deserts, but it also loses radiation over time and can actually be recycled to extend the life of nuclear production by centuries.

There are explicit success stories that attest to the power of nuclear. France and Sweden, which have some of the lowest per capita carbon emissions in the developed world, both rely heavily on nuclear (72 percent and 42 percent, respectively) rather than on wind or solar power. France generated 88 percent of its electricity total from zero-carbon sources, and Sweden got an even more impressive 95 percent. At the same time, these countries have some of the lowest energy prices in Europe, whereas renewable-heavy countries such as Germany and Denmark have the two highest energy prices on the continent—without much carbon reduction to show for it relative to France and Sweden.

So why, if people such as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez care as much about the climate as they claim to, are they seemingly so blindly attracted to over-ambitious, unrealistic proposals? Indeed, a near-utopiazation of renewables fails to take into account many of the issues associated with these while neglecting the advantages of nuclear.

Renewable energy isn’t always reliable, as mentioned (which makes sense when you consider the fact that the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow). When the reliability of these renewables falters (wind turbines only provide energy 34.5 percent of the time, and solar panels an even lower 25.1 percent), expensive and carbon-heavy stop-gap measures act as backup.

There are also ecological problems. Wind and solar farms require tremendous amounts of wildlife-cleared land and are often protested by local conservationists. Electricity from solar panels on individual homes, on the other hand, a plan AOC apparently endorses, is twice as expensive, thus making it unaffordable for many American households. Though the debate rages, there is also a case to be made for the fact that wind turbines represent serious hazards to rare and threatened birds such as eagles and other birds of prey. They also threaten marine wildlife such as porpoises and coral reefs.

When compared more directly with various forms of renewable energy, the narrative also skews in nuclear’s favor. Solar farms require 450 times more land than do nuclear power plants; nuclear plants require far fewer materials for production than solar, wind, hydro, or geothermal; and solar produces up to 300 times more hazardous waste per terawatt-hour of energy than nuclear.

Yet the issues aren’t merely technological and ecological. Indeed, there is an argument that renewables such as solar and wind will become more and more efficient and cheaper over time, which is certainly true (though some experts dispute the net validity of this claim). A different problem, however, is that the context within which they are promoted, such as the “Green New Deal,” often translates into economic madness (the GND would cost up to $90 trillion according to some). It is striking how the Green New Deal encapsulates not only climate change but also health care, jobs, and housing.

Indeed, it goes much further than simply combating the issues facing our environment, incorporating a much wider agenda of socio-economic transformation. And this is why some, such as Michael Shellenberger (president of Environmental Progress—a pro-nuclear, climate change NGO), argue that left-wing politicians in the mold of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez idealize renewables: they provide an environmentalist façade for increased government intervention in areas far beyond the climate.

Of course, nuclear isn’t perfect; it is still very expensive (though this is increasingly solvable through more standardization and long-termism), the risk of Fukushima-like disasters will probably always exist, and the localized environmental impacts are concerns to be addressed. Most importantly, the political will is still lacking.

Despite the fact that the public and private sectors spent a combined $2 trillion between 2007 and 2016 on solar and wind power, solar energy still only accounted for 1.3 percent, and wind power 3.9 percent, of the world’s electricity generation in 2016. Operating at a scale of 94 times more in federal subsidies in America for renewables than for nuclear, this looks like an unsustainable trend. Imagine if it had been invested in nuclear instead.

Rather, the Ocasio-Cortezes of the world, who are by far the most vociferous when it comes to climate change, should put money where their mouths are. Though this article is far from exhaustive and was unable to account for all the nuances and intricacies of environmental and energy policy, it seems that, at the very least, nuclear deserves a spot at the table if we are serious about saving our planet.


Christopher Barnard

Christopher Barnard is the Head of Campaigning & Events for Students For Liberty UK, as well as a final-year Politics & International Relations student at the University of Kent. He tweets at @ChrisBarnardDL.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Elon Musk: ‘We should not shut down nuclear power plants, we should reopen the ones that we’ve shut down’

Elon Musk did a broad interview (below) that was published on IsraelUnwired.com’s website by discussed during the interview the need for nuclear energy and re-opening any nuclear plants that have been shut down.


We fully agree with Elon.

In our column America’s Energy Future: Oil, Natural Gas and Nuclear we wrote:

America’s energy future is not in solar and wind power. Rather our energy needs are best met by oil, natural gas and nuclear power.

Let’s look at the current numbers to see where Americans get their energy from.

Here is a chart showing how much U.S. energy is produced by coal and coal byproducts.

Coal 899 21.8%
Petroleum (total) 19 0.5%
Petroleum liquids 11 0.3%
Petroleum coke 7 0.2%

Here is a chart on how much of our energy is produced by solar and wind.

NOTE: hydropower is classified as a renewable. 1. Take away hydropower and wind and solar only account for 12.5% share. 2. When the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing, solar and wind fail to produce power:

Renewables (total) 792 19.8%
Wind 338 8.4%
Hydropower 291 7.3%
Solar (total) 91 2.3%

 According to U.S. Energy Information Administration 80.9% of our total energy needs are met by oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric and nuclear power.

Total – all sources 4,116
Fossil fuels (total) 2,504 60.8%
Natural gas 1,575 38.3%
Coal 899 21.8%
Petroleum (total) 19 0.5%
Petroleum liquids 11 0.3%
Petroleum coke 7 0.2%
Other gases3 11 0.3%
Nuclear 778 18.9%
Renewables (total) 826 20.1%
Wind 380 9.2%
Hydropower 260 6.3%
Solar (total) 115 2.8%
Photovoltaic 112 2.8%
Solar thermal 3 0.1%
Biomass (total) 55 1.3%
Wood 37 0.9%
Landfill gas 10 0.2%
Municipal solid waste (biogenic) 6 0.2%
Other biomass waste 2 0.1%
Geothermal 16 0.4%
Pumped storage hydropower4 -5 -0.1%
Other sources5 12 0.3%

America’s Future is Nuclear

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) there are, as of December 31, 2020, 94 nuclear reactors operating at 56 nuclear power plants in 28 states. Thirty-two of the plants have two reactors, and three plants have three reactors. Nuclear power plants have supplied about 20% of total annual U.S. electricity since 1990.

America has not built any new nuclear power plants since 1990.

The EIA notes:

The United States generates more nuclear power than any other country

In 2019, 31 countries had commercial nuclear power plants, and in 14 of the countries, nuclear energy supplied at least 20% of their total annual electricity generation. The United States had the largest nuclear electricity generation capacity and generated more nuclear electricity than any other country. France, with the second-largest nuclear electricity generation capacity and second-highest nuclear electricity generation, had the largest share—about 70%—of total annual electricity generation from nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy is clean, efficient and reliable. It is also carbon free.

If America, like France, made the wise decision to begin building nuclear power plants to meet 100% of our power we would need to build an additional 500, plus or minus, nuclear power plants.

This national initiative would allow the United States to then use its oil and natural gas resources to fuel our cars, SUVs, trucks, trains, airplanes and other gasoline and diesel driven equipment, such as generators, and become energy independent.

We could also export all of our coal for use by other nations to meet their energy needs.

American consumers will continue to buy new and used vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Thus we as a nation must maintain and expand our ability to produce our own oil via on and off-shore drilling and fracking.

As more consumers go to all electric vehicles (EVs) and the charging stations needed to keep them running, whether in the home or on the road, the strain on our electric grid will increase.

We need more, not less, cheap and reliable power to fuel our economy, our communities and our nation.

Not to provide cheap and reliable power will lead to what we are seeing now, war in Ukraine.

The Bottom Line

America’s power lies in its ability to provide power to the engines of our current and future economic growth.

Starving America of power, makes America powerless. Starving our citizens of cheap and reliable power is a direct threat to our fiscal and national security.

To be powerful America needs powerful sources of energy. Nuclear, oil (for gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels) and natural gas are the best and most accessible means to energy independence.

Energy independence translates into life, liberty and the pursuit of our collective happiness.

Without cheap and reliable power sources the lights in that city on the hill will most certainly go out – for everyone.

Powerup America.

©2022 Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.

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