Nuclear power is worth the risk | News, Sports, Jobs

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For the editor,

Suppose all vehicles on the road run exclusively on electricity. Think about it, no more polluting exhaust fumes from gasoline engines. Pure green energy at last.

But how many have considered the enormous amount of energy required for automatic charging facilities? Not too much, I submit. The amount of electrical energy required to recharge the batteries of a large fleet is indeed phenomenal. Right now, green energy advocates seem blissfully unaware of the enormous cost required for a charging source that will meet the demands of every electric vehicle on the road.

What then is needed as a relatively inexpensive source of energy to charge the batteries? Will solar energy meet these requirements? This is where we get a rude awakening. For example, it is easy to show that many square kilometers of solar panels are needed to equal the capacity of a single 1200 megawatt coal plant. Fossil fuels can easily provide this needed energy, but have been roundly condemned by green energy fanatics who would shut down fossil fuel facilities altogether. What are we left with then?

How about wind power or hydroelectric dams? The countless hundreds of hectares of wind turbines that destroy the landscape and kill the birds will not be welcomed by the general public. Since solar energy can only be generated during sunlight, wind turbines are useless in calm weather. When it comes to hydroelectric power, the United States has probably already reached its limit of dams.

There is, however, a workable solution. It is nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is clean and free from stifling over-regulation, it is affordable. The industry has served us well with few major disasters, the most notable of which are Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. There is no doubt, however, about the economic and psychological impact these disasters have had on the public.

So what can be done to improve the safety of nuclear power plants? As a suggestion, standardized reactors should go a long way towards ensuring safety. Not 50 different reactors, but maybe a few select designs, each with a specific power output. At most three or four standardized units should suffice, allowing for a more intensive focus on “what can go wrong” during a rigorous design phase.

No facility in the world will ever be 100% secure. But with engineering ingenuity and relieving itself of a mind-numbing bureaucracy that does little to ensure nuclear safety while tackling the challenges from a purely technical standpoint, plant safety nuclear would be optimized. Potential accidents would thus be minimized.

Clean, green nuclear energy is well worth the risk. Only then will a fleet of all-electric vehicles make sense.

Gail Wickstrom

Newell



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