This is an old debate many times repeated. The interesting question about repeating a debate is that sometime new points of view appear and gain strength. This happened when James Lovelock claimed a “Climate Change point of view” to rediscover nuclear as the planetary energy solution for the present. I suppose that terrible discussions between ecologist followed this statement.
I have never been a nuclear supporter, even if I am physicist and know many supporter close to me. Maybe the main reason is subjective, related with my father point of view and campaigns against “Lemoiz” nuclear in my childhood. They are vague memories of complicate issues but the clear conclusions for me over the years is that most people here were against nuclear but they have used several nuclear Kwh during last decades from Garoña and French nuclear power stations.
I still think that nuclear power stations are risky in spite of the controls. I also have many doubts about their economical profitability considering the eternal residuals and dismantling cost of the power station itself. Nevertheless I agree in some points with Lovelock’s idea:
- “Climate Change point of view” may be different from classical ecology, and Climate Change should be the priority in this moment because if we fail too much here the consequences will worsen many other ecological, social and economic problems.
- It is true we need to act now and fast and change our minds in many aspects to address this challenging situation. Fossil fuels have to be substituted from this moment.
- I also think there is no magic and perfect solution. We will have to sacrifice. I agree that reneweables alone are not able to maintain our energy thirst in this moment.
But I do not agree in the main idea, I do not think nuclear power stations are the solution for the following reasons:
- Nuclear fuel is also scarce and I do not know how many energy is possible to obtain from it or how many time it can spare us but likely not enough to bridge to a renewable future.
- Nuclear power stations are very expensive at the beginning and we-don’t-know-how-expensive at the end of their life. A total transition to nuclear in this moment would lead to add the cost of closing all stations and opening new ones. Would not be cheaper to research more intensively in renewables?
- Widespread nuclear would increase the risk.
I do not believe nuclear is the magic card but I also consider very difficult to get ride of nuclear Kws in this moment, they will be something we have to live with for many years and I prefer to have new, safer and more efficient nuclear power stations instead of the old-fashioned ones, just in case.