The Future of Nuclear Energy

Written By Nick Hodge

Posted April 27, 2010

As prices for crude oil continue to surge, millions of folks are spending more time watching their investments than their own children.

To this I say, tisk tisk.

For every red carpet celebrity, there’s a yet-to-be-star who’s simply biding their time, waiting for their chance at glory…

And that’s where your eyes should be.

Instead of staring at your computer monitor, watching every tick in the price of oil, you should be affixing your gaze at the newest under-the-radar heavyweight: nuclear energy.

I realize most people haven’t given nuclear energy a second thought since the near-disaster at Three Mile Island 31 years ago…

But as all things change, so has nuclear energy. Most people just don’t know it.

First, let me set the record straight; nuclear energy is absolutely safer than its alternatives.

According to an article from the Australian online newspaper The Age:

… In proportion to the amount of power produced, power stations fuelled by coal and oil or driven by hydro power had caused 1,000 times as many deaths as nuclear stations, and gas-fired stations had caused 15 times as many casualties as nuclear ones.

Second, and most importantly, nuclear energy is our future. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact every major government in the world says so.

China has 20 nuclear power reactors under construction as I write this, with plans to increase their nuclear capacity six-fold over the next decade.

There will be 12 such reactors built in India over the next seven years.

Plans to build a total of 150 nuclear reactors across East and South Asia as a whole are currently in the works.

This fury of nuclear construction abroad certainly hasn’t been lost on President Barack Obama… As energy demand in the United States soars, and is estimated to increase even more — 23% over the next twenty years, creating a new, massive source of energy has become top priority.

In his State of the Union address, Obama called for dramatically increased nuclear reactor construction:

[W]e need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.

Shortly thereafter, he tripled the amount of loan guarantees for nuclear power to $54 billion in his budget request. He’s practically hemorrhaging money to get nuclear energy in place as soon as possible.

In fact, $8.33 billion in loan guarantees has already been handed out for two new nuclear reactors to be built in Burke, Georgia.

So, why is nuclear energy the chosen one?

Well, put simply, it has the greatest potential of all the clean alternatives out there. Few solutions, if any, hold a candle to nuclear.

In a case study done on a 500-megawatt nuclear power plant, it was found that 250,000 homes could be powered for just several pounds of waste…

At the same time, that nuclear plant would emit 4.1 million less tons of CO2 over the course of a single year than would a coal-fired plant.

The environmental benefits are simply too huge to sweep under the rug.

The best part is we’re not exactly inexperienced when it comes to nuclear energy, either. So we wouldn’t be starting from scratch. In 1980, nuclear production was around 251 billion kWh (11% of our country’s electricity generation). As recently as 2008, that figure had risen to 809 billion kWh (20% of generation).

But now, efforts to get nuclear far more integrated are underway as the U.S. tries to catch countries like France, China, and Russia…

And, as I mentioned, it’s the absolute centerpiece of Obama’s current objectives.

As reported by the Washington Post, Obama recently stated: "If we fail to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, then we’re going to be importing those technologies instead of exporting them. We will fall behind. Jobs will be produced overseas instead of here in the United States of America. And that’s not a future that I accept."

The two Georgia plants that have already been commissioned are expected, according to the Department of Energy, to produce 3,500 on-site jobs and 800 permanent jobs once construction is complete.

Not only that, but as the National Association of Manufacturers says, a single new nuclear power plant can add $500 million annually to the economy.

The numbers are just too juicy to resist. And as a new age of nuclear energy asserts itself in the United States, we have a lot to look forward to…

In the words of our President, this is "only the beginning."

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge


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