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2016-04-04. Does Nuclear Power Have a Future in America?

posted Apr 8, 2016, 11:49 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Apr 8, 2016, 11:58 AM ]
By Brian Palmer, OnEarth NRDC. For GSS Energy Use chapter 4. Excerpt: ...growing concerns about climate change began beckoning a few wary environmentalists into the carbon-free nuclear camp, with such notables as Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand and renowned climatologist James Hansen endorsing a nuclear expansion. ...the first new reactor of the 21st century, Watts Bar Unit 2 had finally received its operating license (https://www.tva.gov/Newsroom/Watts-Bar-2-Project). ...Nuclear’s heyday came in the 1970s. Utilities broke ground on dozens of reactors around the country, including two units at Tennessee’s Watts Bar facility in 1973. ...In the early 1970s, a utility could build a reactor for only $170 million. ...By the early 1980s, the average price for building a reactor had risen to $1.7 billion—a tenfold increase in a decade. ...financial analysts ... recognized that the industry could be viable only if (1) the country instituted a carbon tax to increase the cost of fossil fuels, and (2) prices for coal and natural gas stayed high. Neither condition panned out. ...the Watts Bar project hit its own speed bumps. Initially slated to open in 2014, the project is now two years behind schedule. TVA has also admitted the project would cost at least $1.5 billion more than anticipated—a 60 percent overrun on its $2.5 billion budget. And that doesn’t include the $1.7 billion the company spent in the 1970s and ’80s. ...“Energy efficiency gains, wind, and solar are now proven to be smarter, cheaper, faster ways to address climate change without the burdens of nuclear waste, the risk of severe nuclear accidents, or the nuclear weapons proliferation problem,” notes [Matthew] McKinzie [, director of NRDC’s nuclear program]....  https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/does-nuclear-power-have-future-america