Bruce promotes nuclear energy

Just about everybody who’s talking about energy these days is talking about the twin glamour goddesses of renewables, solar and wind. As well they should. Solar and wind power provide less than 1 percent of our power. If we can up that number to 20 percent or even 30 percent by 2020, that’d be nice. There’s also plenty of talk in the chatosphere about natural gas, biodiesel, flex fuels, hydrogen, coal (clean coal? right), even algae, for cryin’ out loud. It’s an exciting time.

But with all this energy talk going ’round, I can’t help but notice that the one source of power that could very well be THE answer to our dilemma, the one source of energy that could, within the next 30 years, truly and finally deliver us into this most desirable place known as Energy Independence, is rarely mentioned. If ever.

Here we have an impressive power source that will provide energy around the clock, no matter if the sun shows, the wind blows, or the corn grows. A source that, when packaged in a pellet the size of your little finger, contains the same amount of energy as 149 gallons of oil and 1,780 pounds of coal. Let that sink in for a second. A pellet the size of YOUR LITTLE FINGER, packing the energy equivalent of nearly a TON of coal.

It’s an energy source found in abundance in North America, especially Canada. Enough to run power plants for a long, long time. This means we would never again have to invade countries and kill a bunch of people to keep our homes humming. That’s big. We could tell OPEC, once and for all, to buzz the eff off. That, too, would be big. You realize how many TRILLIONS of dollars we would save? Most important, in this era of rapidly rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, the combustion of this particular material in a power plant releases only 1 to 4 percent of the CO2 of a similarly-sized coal plant. That’s huge. HUGE.

And yet, we’ve pretty much turned our backs on uranium. Yep, I’ve been drinkin’ the U-flavored Kool-Aid, from a 2007 book entitled Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, by Gwyneth Cravens. And damned if I haven’t come away with the feeling that new, modern nuke plants should at least be included in The Energy Conversation.

Twenty years ago, we could be decadent enough to allow ourselves to be scared off by Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and The China Syndrome. Oil was cheap and plentiful, solar was eccentric and expensive, and nukes, well, nukes were just too damn dangerous to take seriously anymore. And leave us not underestimate Homer Simpson’s ability to make nuclear power look like a bad joke!

But things, as Cravens discovered, have changed. More next week, including critical new developments in handling plutonium waste and the best place in the world to stash it. And no, it ain’t Yucca Mountain.