Thursday, September 26, 2013

Is nuclear on the decline, or not?

The Guardian UK has a dispiriting article about the state of nuclear energy in the United States.  The interesting thing is, though, that nuclear energy around the world is actually a growth industry.   I still expect that the nuclear industry in the U.S. will reverse as the economics of scaling up wind and solar truly become apparent, as new and safer plants are built, and as small 'neighborhood' reactors reach demonstration stage.

Here's the article, and then the confounding statistics from the article.

First US nuclear power closures in 15 years signal wider industry problems

" With the industry's survival hanging in the balance, nuclear power supporters and equipment makers have focused on overseas markets where growing energy demand is fueling power projects of all stripes. Worldwide, there are 70 nuclear power reactors under construction, with almost 40 percent of those in China alone. Russia has 11 in the works and India has plans for 20 new reactors, with 7 underway. Experts warn, however, that it's hard to tell how many of those plants will be completed.  [And this doesn't mention the plants in the Middle East, where the power could be used to run desalination plants, to help with dwindling water resources. ]
"A more concerted approach to energy efficiency could lessen the need for new power plants. Fear of storm-induced power outages and other grid problems could accelerate a move away from large, centralized power plants (like nuclear reactors) that supply electricity through long-distance transmission lines."
 and there's also this:

 Researchers Just Hit A New World Record In Solar Cell Efficiency  

which might be great if everybody in sunny places can put solar cells on their roof, but even then, what about the places and climes where winter is cold, snowy, and cloudy?

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