US nuclear could ‘pave the way for a cleaner future’, says CNN host: Energy and environment


April 28, 2021

President Joe Biden’s pledge for the United States to reduce CO2 emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by the end of this decade will be “virtually impossible” without nuclear power, Fareed Zakaria , the host of the American network CNNof Global public square program, said last week. America is “going in the wrong direction” by reducing the contribution of nuclear power to its electricity supply, said Zakaria, who is also a Washington post journalist.

Fareed Zakaria (Image: CNN)

According to recent estimates by the Rhodium Group, he noted, the country is on track to shut down so many nuclear power plants over the next decade that nuclear will drop from 21% of grid electricity to just 7%.

“I know you’ve heard about the tremendous rise of wind and solar farms. It’s all true, but these have an Achilles heel: the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine,” a- he declared. “An electric utility must have energy sources that are working at all times. When nuclear power plants are closed, this role is usually filled by fossil fuels. Look at what happened in Germany, which began to withdraw reactors quickly after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. This fueled Germany’s dependence on coal. In the United States, states like California and New York have started taking their reactors offline and then switching to natural gas. Coal is the worst option; the dirtiest energy source and the one that produces huge amounts of CO2. Natural gas is better than coal, but it does not hold a candle to nuclear, which has essentially zero emissions. “

Two factors are behind the “decline” of nuclear power in the United States, he said.

“The first is the economy. Natural gas, which is more versatile and less regulated, beats nuclear on its costs. The second is public opinion. The rare accidents throughout history have been etched in people’s memories, and environmentalists have long worried about radioactive waste. But the dangers of nuclear power are massively exaggerated. Americans may fear a repeat of Three Mile Island, but do they know that not one person died from that accident or even got sick? In contrast, more than 100 Americans are killed in the production of fossil fuels each year, and hundreds of thousands more die from pollution. “

Climate change is a “much greater” risk to the environment than radioactive waste, he said.

“If you stacked up all the spent nuclear fuel the United States has ever produced, it would cover a football field without reaching the height of the basket. It’s a huge country; we can easily store it and safely.”

State-of-the-art nuclear reactor technologies will create a “safe” reactor that, if something goes wrong, will simply shut down automatically without the risk of meltdown and could recycle the fuel.

“If we fund research, streamline the regulatory process, and provide the right financial incentives, we can build a new generation of clean nuclear reactors that will help America reduce its emissions. And it could also spawn a new export industry because the whole world will need it. nuclear power to reduce emissions.

“Americans have lost the ability to seriously think about the risks and rewards. Nuclear power is another example of the problem and overcoming it is crucial because it could pave the way for a cleaner future.”

Zakaria’s report is on Twitter.

Research and writing by World Nuclear News

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