Peter Asmus ["Nuclear Dinosaur," op-ed, July 6] clearly opposes increased reliance on nuclear power to meet the nation's energy needs, but what is his alternative? His one reference to "smaller, smarter and cleaner power sources" encompassed technologies that already are the recipient of the same federal "intervention" that he decries for new nuclear power plants.
Mr. Asmus attempted to depict support for nuclear energy as a Republican position, but the Energy Policy Act of 2005, including provisions supporting nuclear energy, recently received bipartisan support in the Senate.
On emissions, nuclear energy fares well relative to other technologies. A 2000 study by the International Energy Agency showed that, next to wind power, the nuclear energy life cycle resulted in the lowest emissions of greenhouse gases. Wind is hardly a technology Americans can rely on to provide the round-the-clock, bulk electricity that nuclear plants provide.
Mr. Asmus's reference to the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant "in the 1980s" was irrelevant to energy policy deliberations today; the U.S. nuclear energy industry has vastly improved its performance during the past 20 years, setting electricity production records for four of the past five years with average capacity factors -- a measure of efficiency -- hovering at record-high levels of 90 percent. By comparison, U.S. wind power projects had an average capacity factor of 32 percent last year, and a 1,000-megawatt wind farm planned off the coast of Britain -- 1,000 megawatts is the capacity of a typical nuclear reactor -- is projected to cost $2.7 billion and will receive government assistance to improve its economics.
It is because nuclear power plants are performing so well that policymakers rightly see them as a vital element of a diverse portfolio of energy sources for our nation in the decades to come.
Nuclear Energy Institute