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Nuclear Power Isar Plant - Germany Diablo Canyon - California Nuclear Power – The facts Nuclear power - like wind, hydro and solar energy - emits no carbon dioxide Proven technology with base-load electrical power production capacity >1,000MW/plant

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nuclear power

Nuclear Power

Isar Plant - Germany

Diablo Canyon - California

nuclear power the facts
Nuclear Power – The facts
  • Nuclear power - like wind, hydro and solar energy - emits no carbon dioxide
  • Proven technology with base-load electrical power production capacity >1,000MW/plant
  • Used worldwide; good safety track record despite TMI and Chernobyl
    • Much safer than coal-fired power both from an industrial (mining) and public health perspective
  • There are significant issues:
    • Environmental impacts, costs, aging plants, waste disposal, nuclear proliferation, security, and public safety perceptions
nuclear power projections
Nuclear Power Projections
  • More nuclear plants may be needed to meet growing electric power demand
    • International Energy Agency estimates renewable plants will only reach 6% of worldwide supply capacity by 2030
    • Population increase from ~6.5B to 9B by 2100
    • Standard of living rising across the globe with higher electrical demand – will double by 2050
    • Nuclear energy production likely to continue to grow globally – especially in light of controls being placed on carbon emissions
nuclear worldwide
Nuclear Worldwide

2007: 439 commercial reactors in 30 countries; 372,000 MW

  • Efficiency improving in both design & operation
  • Newer plants more efficient >1,000 MW capacity
  • Nuclear reactors currently supply 16% world’s power
  • 2,625 billion KWH in 2005; ~30% produced in the US

US 2005 total: 97,400MW cap. 782 billion KWH

As of 2001

Source: World Nuclear Association

uranium mining

McArthur River Mine Canada

Uranium Mining
  • Canada (25%), Australia (19%), Kazakhstan (16%) are world’s largest uranium ore producers (U.S. 4%)
  • Removal methods:
    • Underground 41%
    • Open pit 24%
    • In situ leach (ISL) 26%
    • By-product 9%
  • Environmental & Health Risks
    • Land use impacts
    • Waste impacts
    • Operational risks
    • Health risks

Highland ISL Mine, Wyoming

Source: World Nuclear Association

nuclear fuel cycle
Nuclear Fuel Cycle
  • Each fuel pellet = energy of 150 gallons of oil
    • Pellets encased in metal tubes bundled into a fuel assembly
  • Spent fuel is a hazardous radioactive waste
    • US: No pathway to disposal; spent fuel is stored in pools or casks at power plant sites
    • Proposed U.S. disposal site Yucca Mountain, Nevada dropped 2/09
    • Other countries reprocess fuel to remove Pu-238 to use as fuel (closed fuel cycle); more efficient, creates less waste, but increases nuclear proliferation risks
u s nuclear power
U.S. Nuclear Power

ENW Columbia Generating Station 1250 MW

Hanford, WA

  • U.S. world’s largest supplier of nuclear power
  • Nuclear power accounts for 20% of the electrical power generated in the U.S.
  • Currently, there are 66 power plants consisting of 104 operating nuclear reactors
    • 787 Billion KWhs electricity produced in 2006
    • No new licenses since TMI accident (1979)
    • NRC has accepted applications for 11 new units and are expecting applications for up to 33 new units by 2010
  • Current plants avoids 700 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually vs. fossil fuel plants
it s expensive the real costs
It’s Expensive - The Real Costs
  • Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides significant cost benefits to nuclear industry
    • Tax credits up to $125 million for 8 years
    • Loan guarantees up to 80% of plant costs – initially limited to $2 billion fund but industry lobbying to expand to $50+ billion
    • Federal insurance against regulatory delays
    • Other subsidies include local tax incentives and limits on liability for accidents
  • Costs of decommissioning contaminated plants and waste disposal are not reflected in cost projections for new plants
  • Long history of significant cost increases and overruns in nuclear power plant construction
zero carbon construction costs







McNeil Biomass Plant Burlington, VT 50 MW, $67M

Zero Carbon Construction Costs*

South Korean Uldolmok Tidal Plant 1MW, ~$9.9M




Nuclear Plant 1,000+ MWe$5B to 9B



Big Horn 200 MW 11,000 Acres, ~$130M Klicitat County, WA

Kramer Junction CA Solar Trough, 150 MW, 1000 acres, ~$750M

*Does not include waste disposal & decommissioning



Waldpolenz Germany 250 acres, 40MW, $185M

PS-10 Solar Tower Spain 10 MW, 150 acres, $28M

* New 1000 MW Coal Plant ~ $4B

how do we meet growing energy demands and reduce co 2 emissions
How do we meet growing energy demands and reduce CO2 emissions?
  • #1 - Increase efficiency and reduce use
    • we can’t continue increasing demand without consequences (the cheapest plant is the one we don’t build!)
  • Government needs to favor the most promising options to reduce carbon emissions
    • Revisit our current subsidy strategies
    • Increasing investment and deployment of renewable power plants will increase cost competitiveness
    • Europe is making major investments to transition to 20% renewable power by 2020
  • Many current nuclear plants are operating beyond their original design life
    • How long can they operate and how will we replace the 20% of our power they produce? Build more?
  • Wealthy nations must help developing nations build low (or zero) emissions power production

What do you think?

Where do we go from here?

How do we keep our planet habitable?

Design the power infrastructure for your own city – make the decisions and compare the results online at:

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