14177_large_Nuclear_EnergyThe American Physical Society (APS) panel on public affairs released a report in which they expressed their strong concern over the plans of four major U.S. nuclear power facilities to shut down.

The authors of the document warn that if utility companies do not extend the licenses of the power plants, and the government does not provide the necessary support for the construction of new reactors, it is very likely that more than 60 percent of the clean energy produced by the country will be lost as of 2030.

Nuclear power is the source of green energy, which provides the necessary back up for solar and wind in order to meet the continuously growing energy demand. Currently in the U.S. there are around 100 nuclear reactors, but this is very likely to change as utility companies, which operate nearly half of these, are considering to turn towards construction of natural gas plants and debate whether to discontinue the licences for nuclear. For four of these plants the decision has been made, as the operating utilities will not extend the 60 years of operation by the extra 20, which are allowed by law.

Roy Schwitters, the chair of the APS report, and his colleagues, however, are certain that nuclear power should be maintained as it currently is, at least until the availability of the cheap natural gas and all costs associated with its extraction from fracked wells are confirmed and approved. The authors also point out that there are too many environmental and financial factors that should be taken into consideration before such drastic decisions are made. They recommend that licenses are extended for as long as the plants can operate safely, while the U.S. Department of Energy should strengthen their current program in order to reduce environmental and financial risks. At the same time, the government should be ready to support and encourage companies to build and operate new nuclear reactors.

The document follows an open letter submitted to world leaders by scientists from leading American institutes, with which they urged for stronger support for nuclear power generation. They point out that although in theory emission-free energy generation is possible without nuclear, there is no clear and definite strategy to realize this.

Image (c) Corbis

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  1. We should have stricter enforcement of regulations to stop leaky gas pipelines form adding to methane pollution. Theoretically natural gas use lowers greenhouse emissions since it has a bigger proportion of hydrogen per molecular compared with coal. Leaky pipelines are negating the advantages fo natural gas. 10% of natural gas is flared and wasted at the source. A lot of unburnt gas contributes to the greenhouse problem. We need public interested groups as watchdogs to make sure the government is enforcing new regulations that benefit the environment.


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