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Questions about the state of nuclear power in the U.S.

  1. Jul 13, 2015 #1
    What do you know and think about the state of power in general in the United States (for example the coal industry)?

    What do you know and think about the state of nuclear power in the United States?

    Do you think there should be more or less support for it and why?

    How dangerous is a nuclear reactor and should the public be concerned?

    Do the advantages of nuclear power outweigh its disadvantages, why?

    Why is the support for nuclear power in the United States lacking?

    Is there a future for nuclear power in the United States and around the world?

    If not what can we hope to see as a main source of energy in the future (no more coal)?

    Is nuclear power better controlled by the public or private sector?

    Is the current way of storing nuclear waste our best option or should there be a different way?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2015 #2
    All good questions but It would be best to take just one of these questions and expand on it.

    Nobody is keen on writing a twenty volume response.
  4. Jul 13, 2015 #3
    Thanks for the reply. I guess my main question would be why nuclear power is not supported as much in the U.S. Countries like France choose nuclear power as their main source of power.
  5. Jul 13, 2015 #4


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  6. Jul 13, 2015 #5
    The ecofreaks quashed nuclear power. It is scientifically sound though. The economics would work if one dod not need to satisfy the ecofreaks.
  7. Jul 13, 2015 #6
    Thank you for the related threads and I do agree that the people against nuclear energy often blow the disadvantages out of proportion. The U.S. government relies a lot on coal power so can we expect a change in the near future?
  8. Jul 13, 2015 #7
    Nuclear power is also on a downward trend in France..and the rest of Europe except for Russia. Otherwise, it's China that leads the way (and thus will also develop a solid nuclear infrastructure)

    It's not viable at this time...economically or politically in western countries. None on the books in my country ( Canada) despite a vibrant industry in the 70's.

    I lived a year in the Las Vegas area and the Yucca Mountain storage site issue was debated non stop. A dead duck despite billions spent. Until issues of nuclear waste, etc. are resolved, nothing will change.
  9. Jul 13, 2015 #8
    I know nuclear fusion is in the works to try and get rid of the waste that comes from nuclear fission but is this realistic?
  10. Jul 14, 2015 #9


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    The US economy relies a lot on coal, which is relatively abundant. About 50% of electrical generation is based on coal. Natural gas is an increasing fraction of generation.

    I'm not aware than nuclear fusion systems are being developed to get rid of the waste from nuclear fission. Most of the 'waste' from fission is the fission products (radionuclides), which contribute little energy per unit mass, but they must be kept out of the environment until they decay to non-radioactive isotopes.

    Public support for nuclear energy is mixed, and there are strong opinions in support and against, an a spectrum in between. Certainly, Fukushima increased the concern about safety, and as others mentioned, the lack of a policy on the final disposition of the spent/used nuclear fuel is a substantial handicap.

    Industry is driven by economics and safety. Currently, natural gas-fired plants (particularly combined-cycle plants) and wind generation are challenging the economics of some nuclear plants.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
  11. Jul 15, 2015 #10


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    39% in 2014, and falling as you suggest.
  12. Jul 15, 2015 #11


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    I guess I was thinking back when natural gas was ~14% of the generation, and renewable were about 2 or 3%.
  13. Jul 16, 2015 #12


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    After the first years of centralized electric generation when nearly all US electric generation was hydro, eventually the renewables of hydro, a little biomass, and a little geothermal settled into 7-9% share of the total in the latter half of 20th century. Wind never broke 1%, I think, until ~10 years ago.

    Unfortunately biomass now enjoys the same cache as other renewables and is consequently growing rapidly, as if it were somehow not a combustion process with particulate, NOx and CO emissions all greater than coal per unit energy. The largest single source of energy in Maine, for all uses, has become not natural gas, not even gasoline, but biomass. Forest cover in Maine fell to 50% in the 19th century, returned to over 90% by this century, and now is again perhaps returning to that of 19th century. California is suffering a similar derangement syndrome. I expect biomass generation will grow until finally the phrase "big biomass" enters the lexicon generating resistance, or some begin to notice a large share of the trees are missing, as if this were the beginning of the industrial age.

    The recent discovery of nuclear power means that a couple of nuclear plants in New England could avoid the re-demolition of New England forests, along with the legions of logging trucks and logging reality TV shows. Nuclear in New England is a radical idea in some corners, I know, yet I boldly offer names for two new plants here: let us call them Maine Yankee and Vermont Yankee.
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