The goal of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is to have electricity generation that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We, as consumers, also want the generation to have a reasonable cost and to produce the electricity when we need it, which may not be when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.
If backup electricity storage is added to either wind or sun generation the cost is very high and generally can’t be justified.
But there is still a reliable base load means of generating electricity that is economical and carbon free. That is nuclear power.
Indeed, without the reliability of nuclear power it is unlikely that any international agreement limiting carbon emissions can succeed since without it you can’t get to an affordable, reliable low-carbon electrical grid. The window of opportunity is right now and we don’t have good alternatives to using more nuclear power in the near future.
Wind and solar can help but this doesn’t meet the demand for reliability in most locations.
Nuclear power has had a great record of safety in the U.S. for the past 35 years. The Three Mile Island accident of 1979 changed the way the industry runs its power stations and put an emphasis on safe operations. Furthermore, we have an excellent location for storing high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, Nev., although it was stopped for political reasons.
It is time we recognized the need and benefits of nuclear power and expand its use.
Edward H. Klevans, State College