NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

ENGINEERS AGLOW ABOUT PROSPECTS FOR NUCLEAR ENERGY

February 23, 2005

Nuclear power, an energy alternative that has long created controversy, was recently endorsed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as a safe and efficient source for the United States' growing energy needs.

According to the 120,000-member ASME, nuclear energy is safe and relatively inexpensive:

  • In 2002, power production at the 103 U.S. nuclear power plants was an average of 91.2 percent of their capacity; a record achievement of reliability.
  • Nuclear energy costs only 1 to 2 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh) during off-peak hours.
  • Furthermore, nuclear power already accounts for 20 percent of U.S. electric power generation, while coal-fired plants account for 50 percent, and oil and natural gas account for 21 percent.

Additionally, Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute notes that that new nuclear power plant designs will be even safer, using pebble bed reactors (tennis ball-sized mixtures of ceramic-coated carbon and uranium) cooled by helium.

However, federal and local governments must address the hassles in obtaining permits to build new plants, such as regulatory instability and legal delays, which drive up costs, says ASME.

Source: James M. Taylor, "Nuclear Power Wins Endorsement of Engineers," Environment and Climate News, January 2005, Heartland Institute.

 

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