Gray Watson Personal Thoughts 2004.09.08
Nuclear Power Realities

I put a 5 kilowatt solar system on my house earlier in the year. I did it because I could afford it and I thought it was important to support renewable energy resources and individual responsibility for energy usage.

Recently, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group contacted me to hold some press event in front of my house in support of solar power. Sounds good. I had a political and social agenda with my photovoltaic system and so publcity would be good. But then then mentioned that one of their current campaigns is not to renew the Pilgram Nuclear power plant licence. This is when they really lost me and what generated this rant.

Nuclear plants are unfortunately going to be a requirement in the future as our never ending thirst for energy continues. The demand for energy is expected to triple by 2050. I strongly believe that renewable sources are not going to be prevalent enough in the near term to be able take over the load.

What we are realistically talking about is replacing nuclear with additional fossil fuel plants. Either we are talking about increasing our already perilous reliance on middle east oil (you known, the stuff that finances world terrorism) or coal (you know, the stuff that requires strip mining the planet and is responsible for major CO2 emissions). The end of fossil fuels is coming and it's going to make the oil shock of the 70s look like an economic blip in comparison.

No, MPIRG will have to talk about closing Pilgrim somewhere else. The idea that Nuclear power is less clean than the current realistic alternatives is ridiculous. Now, if you can say that we are going to close the Pilgrim plant and then install 134,000 additional homes with 5kw solar systems like my own or we'll erect 600 1mw wind generators to replace the Pilgrim's 650mw output by 2012 then I'm listening.

If they want to talk about increasing renewable energy usage, less reliance on fossil fuels, more public responsibility for energy usage, etc. then you have me on board. If they want to talk about fusion power or distributed smaller "meltdown proof" nuclear plants then I'm really listening.

We are no where near the renewable energy "tipping point" so I'm afraid that the dangers of nuclear power will have to be put up in the short to mid term.

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