Saturday, March 13, 2010

Energy Policy Series: Why Nuclear Gets More Love Than Natural Gas (EnviroKnow)

Josh Nelson of Enviro Know has a very informative post about the merits of nukes versus natural gas. He tries to answer why nukes have got so much more attention, especially on the right. While he personally is not sanguine about public investments in nuclear energy and would prefer that the government invest in wind, solar, geothermal, advanced biofuels and basic energy research, nukes do have a couple of advantages over natural gas: they emit far less CO2 per kilowatt hour of energy generated, even when considering factors like building plants.

Additionally, natural gas prices are very volatile:

Finally, natural gas combustion produces nitrogen oxides. Natural gas extraction from shale deposits is very likely to introduce chemicals into water tables. The industry has stalled, but the House Energy and Commerce Committee is probing this. Action is being taken on the local level as well (see the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Earthworks Action on the formation of a Texas watchdog group.

I personally disagree with the author in that I think nukes are worth exploring. They are a proven source of power. Waste disposal and safety concerns need to be thoroughly addressed. However, I do agree that the federal government needs to invest much more into basic research on alternative energy.

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