This weekend while in a Borders I ran across a copy of Scientific America Earth 3.0 (Volume 18, Number 5, Pages 26-33) while in the magazine section. Normally this would not be particularly interesting but it did stand out as it was a magazine focusing on the environment and green energy with a cover story focusing on a second look at nuclear power. The story itself discussed a variety of potential energy sources and had a lot of focus on coal, wind, and solar but in comparison to nuclear. It was not all that positive but it did give a more balanced review of nuclear power than is usually seen in a publication. It also mentioned one item that was in the news last week, green power incentives. The proposed Obama budget advocates the implementation of a cap and trade system for carbon dioxide emissions. According to the Scientific America article this sort of a development would improve the cost of power generation for nuclear power plants by up to 1 cent per kilowatt hour (page 29).
If the savings for nuclear from cap and trade do turnout to be significant, then this method of waste moderation should be used to try to encourage other forms of waste reduction. One of the other problems mentioned with nuclear power in the article is that of waste storage. Currently that waste is left in temporary storage on site at each reactor while work continues of\n the DOE storage facility(page 33). During the nuclear energy lecture it was mentioned that the nuclear industry is reluctant to change to new reactor designs because of the learning curve in the industry for the development of efficient operating models for reactors. If this is true and new reactor designs that would reduce the generation of long lived nuclear waste exist then to encourage their adoption a similar policy for nuclear waste to that of carbon should be adopted. Those companies which reduce the amount of waste they generate should be able to receive a rebate on their licensing fee for their reactor.