A nuclear frontier | TheHill
The one-time freeze last month across Texas and much of the Midwest underscored an inescapable reality: We need reliable power and more of it. Modern society demands it. Millions of people around the world are escaping poverty through improved access to reliable energy, a demand that is estimated to increase by an estimated 25 percent over the next 20 years. However, this is not the only public request. People around the world are also demanding cleaner energy that reduces CO2 emissions.
The Biden government believes we can do this by prioritizing solar and wind power. You are wrong.
Now I am on no philosophical level against wind and sun. I think they should be part of the energy mix in places where it makes sense and the damage to the environment can be minimized (keep in mind that you need to clear large areas to build wind and sun. This is not free for the environment) .
But sun and wind have obvious limitations that many do not want to acknowledge. If the Texas power grid were entirely or largely dependent on renewable energy for the past month, our situation would be far worse. So how do we achieve a massive reduction in emissions while maintaining a reliable base load energy? Nuclear.
Nuclear power has gotten a pretty bad rap. The hit show Chernobyl certainly didn’t help, and the memory of the Japanese plant in Fukushima is still fresh for many. But the truth is that nuclear power plants are very safe. I’ve dived hundreds of feet under the sea and a nuclear reactor hums right next to me like many Navy submarines do every day. Most Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor and have never noticed it. The oft-repeated claim that we cannot safely dispose of nuclear waste is wrong. We can safely store nuclear waste for 1 million years in Yucca Mountain, which Congress designated in 1987 as the country’s nuclear waste repository.
We don’t even refer to nuclear power as clean energyeven though it’s carbon free. As a result, solar energy receives 250 times more subsidies than nuclear power and wind 160 times more. Not only is nuclear fuel severely underutilized, it is also practically infinite and can separate uranium from seawater. One uranium fuel pellet produces as much energy as one ton of coal.
Why don’t we build anymore? Nuclear power plants are expensive to start with. This is partly because the permit requirements go well beyond adequate security standards as well as a lack of scalability (we don’t commit to building many plants, so we can’t buy in bulk). And here in Texas, where wind power takes precedence over the electricity grid, nuclear power plants sometimes operate at a loss even though they are continuously producing reliable clean energy. The result? Nobody wants to invest in building a nuclear power plant.
These are not impossible obstacles. In addition to streamlining permits and regulations, the government could also co-sign the loan to fund new projects, a model that is proving successful at the Vogtle plant in Georgia (currently the only new nuclear project under construction in the US).
Laws like the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, the Advanced Fuel Availability Act, and the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act were also supported by both parties in Congress. It is time to pass it. Last year, the Trump administration lifted a 2009 OPIC restriction on nuclear reactor funding that allows our Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to fund nuclear energy projects overseas. If the DFC can finance nuclear energy projects, the US – not Russia and China – can meet the growing demand for nuclear energy. The lifting of this obsolete restriction was supported by both parties across the political spectrum for good reason.
The new, advanced nuclear technology is also promising. In October, the government announced the development of two new advanced reactors, X-Energy and TerraPower, which will be funded through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), created through a non-partisan funding bill at the 115th Congress. This was a Moonshot goal to bring advanced nuclear technology to market, and it went from idea to reality within four years. The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act is a bipartisan, bicameral law that would accelerate these developments and encourage public-private partnerships to bring advanced nuclear technology to market. We could put it into law now.
With all the hysterical talk by the Green New Dealers about a future only for renewable energies, the simple truth remains: Renewable energies will never be reliable enough to power the modern world. If we want to fight climate change, reduce emissions and supply the grid with electricity, we need the right energy mix. We have to make sure that nuclear power not only stays on the grid, but grows on it.
And CrenshawDaniel CrenshawCrenshaw Pours Cold Water On White House 2024 Commandment: “Something Will Come Up” Six ways to visualize a divided American Texas lawmaker’s tweets mocking California blackouts show up in winter storm MORE represents the 2nd District of Texas and is a member of the Energy and Trade Committee.