Sunday, March 1, 2009

Waste Moderation and Nuclear Power

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.


clarita said...
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clarita said...

TravisR, I think that what you talk about: do a similar policy than CO2 emission with nuclear waste. As you said, nuclear is interesting as there is no CO2 emission, and could play an important role in reducing CO2 emission but nuclear has another problem: nuclear waste.

In my opinion, this is an important problem, and a problem that is not really well taken for the moment. Storing the nuclear waste without really thinking what to do next is not the best idea... I heard that nuclear wastes could be stored near Las Vegas in the desert (does anyone has heard about that?). Would that be better to put all the nuclear wastes in one place? In fact, trying to reduce as much as possible nuclear waste as suggested by policy of Obama appeared as a good start.
Then, we need to think of what will occur to the nuclear wastes not in the next decade but in the next centuries...