Green energy has been a very hot topic for the last several years. Windmills and solar power have dominated the discussion. New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has championed her Green New Deal. President Joe Biden’s inappropriately named Inflation Reduction Act served to only inject money into Mrs. Ocasio-Cortez’s green plans.
The truth that most supporters of “green energy” neglect is that you cannot have a serious conversation about green energy without discussing nuclear power.
In 2021, 61% of “electricity generation came from burning coal, natural gas, or petroleum. Only 20% of the electricity in the U.S. came from renewables, mostly wind energy, hydropower, and solar energy … another 19% came from nuclear power,” per CNBC.
Since nuclear power produces its energy via nuclear fission “rather than chemical burning, it generates baseload electricity with no output of carbon, the villainous element of global warming. Switching from coal to nuclear power is radically decarbonizing, since nuclear power plants release greenhouse gasses only from the ancillary use of fossil fuels during their construction, mining, fuel processing, maintenance, and decommissioning – about as much as solar power,” according to author and historian Richard Rhodes. In fact, a 2019 report from the International Energy Agency says “over the past 50 years, the use of nuclear power has reduced CO2 emissions by over 60 gigatons – nearly two years’ worth of global energy-related emissions,”
In addition, nuclear power is extremely inexpensive. The cost of nuclear power was $35/MWh in 2018. This is “less than half the cost of coal- and gas-fired power plants.”
Many people will argue that nuclear is dangerous and a threat to the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. To quote Bill Gates, not a Right-wing advocate, “nuclear energy, in terms of an overall safety record, is better than other energy.” In nuclear power’s history as an energy source, “there have only been three major incidents worldwide.” Three incidents against the “backdrop of 60 years of nuclear production, totaling more than 17,000 cumulative reactor years … in 33 nations.”
Going 100% green is not practical. As Bloomberg reports, in order to achieve President Biden’s goal of an emission-free grid by 2035, “the U.S. needs to increase its carbon-free capacity by at least 150%. Expanding wind and solar by 10% annually until 2030 would require a chunk of land equal to the state of South Dakota. By 2050, when Biden wants the entire economy to be carbon free, the U.S. would need up to four additional South Dakotas to develop enough clean power to run all the electric vehicles, factories and more.” Nuclear energy would require a much smaller footprint.
In addition, there is enough energy in nuclear waste in the United States to “power the entire country for 100 years. The technology necessary to turn nuclear waste into energy is known as a nuclear fast reactor, and has existed for decades. For political and economic reasons, the technology has never been developed at commercial scale.” Imagine a source of energy where the waste can be recycled to create even more energy. Is there anything more green than that?
Is nuclear power the only answer? Certainly not. A balanced energy policy will include every available source: coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, and hydroelectric. If Mrs. Ocasio-Cortez and congress are serious about renewable and green energy, nuclear power must be a part of the plan.
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Jim Nelles is a Navy veteran and supply chain consultant based in Chicago. His articles have appeared in the Washington Examiner, Newsweek, Foxnews.com, and The Daily Wire. He has served as a chief procurement officer, chief supply chain officer, and chief operations officer for multiple companies.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.