Regarding the April 2 editorial “Nuclear energy in peril”:
Article after article has demonstrated how renewable energy, combined with energy efficiency, especially in buildings, can more than make up for the 19.5 percent of U.S. electricity generation currently provided by the dwindling nuclear-power sector.
Climate change will not wait. Slow, cumbersome nuclear energy, even if its many problems vanish tomorrow, simply cannot be delivered in enough speed and volume to rescue us from global warming.
The renewable-energy and energy-efficiency industries provide thousands of long-term, well-paying jobs while making a positive impact on climate change and our environment. The solar industry is closing in on 400,000 jobs in the United States, more than natural gas. Wind power employs slightly more than 100,000 and is growing rapidly. Nuclear energy offers just over 76,000 jobs.
Toshiba’s Westinghouse is going under because the companies gambled on an outdated, expensive industry in decline while turning a blind eye to the obvious opportunities in green energy and efficiency, sectors that might have saved Westinghouse while boosting the U.S. economy.
Linda Pentz Gunter, Takoma Park
The writer is an international specialist
for Beyond Nuclear.
The Post editorial board makes a critical error in judgment when it advocates for nuclear power apparently simply because a nuclear reaction doesn’t directly generate carbon dioxide. A few queries get to the heart of the issues that need to be raised. Have capital markets suddenly changed their tune on private-sector financing of nuclear? Have technological improvements allowed for nuclear plants to no longer require special liability exemptions or limits? Can you build a nuclear plant as quickly as you can install a solar panel or a wind turbine? Or as inexpensively? Is the price per kilowatt competitive with less risky alternatives? Has an agreement been reached on where the wastes will be located and how they will be safeguarded? Would anyone want to live near a nuclear plant?
To say that “nuclear power never quite lived up to its potential either economically or environmentally” is an understatement of epic proportions. When has the nuclear energy industry ever lived up to the promises it has made?
Jim Nagle, Reston
I am a senior nuclear power plant control room design inspector, and I know that the United States has fallen about 30 years behind Russia, South Korea and China. The plants operating in the United States are 1970s-era thermal-reactor technology. These plants, like the Westinghouse AP1000, produce highly radioactive spent fuel rods that are stored in spent fuel pools. Today, many spent fuel pools in the United States are near capacity, and we have no final disposition solution.
While the United States has wasted the past 20 years gabbing about small modular reactors, Russia has developed the BN-800 fast breeder reactor at Beloyarsk 4. The BN-800 now produces 800 megawatts on the grid, while breeding new fuel and producing almost no radioactive waste. The Russians, Chinese and South Koreans all have robust design and manufacturing capabilities that they are successfully marketing abroad while we are dozing in 1990.
If the United States wants to achieve competitive parity with Russia, China and South Korea, it will require a massive government/industry initiative. Otherwise we will have to buy from them or start digging more coal.
Joseph DeBor, Arlington