Mike Chino

Obama Announces $8 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Nuclear Power

by , 02/17/10
filed under: Policy, Renewable Energy

sustainable design, green design, barack obama, nuclear power, southern company, federal loan guarantees, energy policy, us government, climate change, global warming

In an effort to spur the United States towards a new age of nuclear power, President Obama announced yesterday that Southern Company would receive $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to construct two new reactors in Georgia. It’s been over 30 years since a nuclear plant has been constructed in the US, and these federal guarantees are essential to the creation of new reactors due to the high initial cost involved. President Obama cast the loan guarantees as economically essential and politically attractive, however we have to ask — why aren’t such significant investments being made into cleaner renewable energy solutions such as wind and solar?

sustainable design, green design, barack obama, nuclear power, southern company, federal loan guarantees, energy policy, us government, climate change, global warming

The news comes after Obama recently announced his budget proposal for the DOE, which set aside $36 billion in loan guarantee authority for new nuclear power facilities and $793 million for research into nuclear energy production. These funds will be essential to overcoming the tremendous initial costs of constructing a plant (up to $12 billion), and signal the onset of a nuclear renaissance in the states. The last US nuclear power plant was built in 1977, and there are plans for at least 6 new nuclear plants over the next decade.

The Obama administration is promoting nuclear power as a way to cut carbon emissions while generating high-tech jobs, however it’s hard to call nuclear power a clean source of energy granted all of the radioactive waste that it produces. There’s also the potential for cataclysmic meltdowns, which leads us to ask – why not spend that money investing in cleaner, safer renewable energy such as solar and wind? What do you think? Sound off in the comments!

Via Earth2Tech

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13 Comments

  1. Dr. MooTwahz September 27, 2010 at 3:18 am

    COLD FUSION. Cheapest, Cleanest of all. Yes, NUCLEAR. And No Waste. First study completed in late 80s at UTAH. Discredited (a political ploy). Further suppression because the OLIGARCHS want to Go FISSION with typical NUKE REACTORS instead of ramping up for FUSION.

    Thanks to CHERNOBYL, everybodys worried about NUCLEAR WASTE. Which is uh, er, RECYCLABLE by the by. Can be turned into, oh, i dont know, ENERGY? lol! Yes, who woulda thunk it? Nuclear Waste is RENEWABLE! Ergo, there is no need to DUMP it somewhere. Instead just PUMP it back into the NUKE CYCLE. Its not as DANGEROUS as we are being led to believe (CHERNOBYL Vics were inflationary/inflammatory measure; and were not the result of Nuclear Radioactivity/Waste so much as the Placebo Effect….furthermore, HIROSHIMA/NAGASAKI vics received a few hundred times more RADIATION, yet, them and their Progeny have continued to prosper). In short, the RADIATION DOSE to HEALTH AFFECT RATIO of Radioactivity from NUKING is OVERESTIMATED! The average person receives a comparable amount of RADIATION NUKE STRIKES from the SUN/NATURAL NUCLEAR REACTOR over just the first 6 years of their life! Yet, i dont see anyone advocating the removal of the PLANET to friendlier climes!

    C’mon people!! Stop being afraid of media-created BOOGEYMEN and WIZARD of OZ propaganda. We have nothing to FEAR about NUCLEAR WASTE DUMPSITES! Thats pure Hogwash. And worth 10 RATINGS POINT on the 6 o’clock news! Thats about it. In fact, let HOGS eat it (they can damn near eat anything)! lol!
    –Min. MooTwahz–

  2. aqg August 25, 2010 at 10:07 am

    \”Conclusions
    The central premise of the 2003 MIT Study on the Future of Nuclear Power was that the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in order to mitigate global warming, justified reevaluating the role of nuclear power in the country’s energy future. The 2003 study identified the challenges to greater
    deployment and argued that the key need was to design, build, and operate a few first-of-a-kind nuclear plants with government assistance, to demonstrate to the public, political leaders, and investors the technical performance, cost, and environmental acceptability of the technology. After five years, no new plants are under construction in the United States and insufficient progress has been made on waste management. The current assistance program put into place by the 2005 EPACT has not yet been effective and needs to be improved. The sober warning is that if more is not done, nuclear power will diminish as a practical and timely option for deployment at a scale that would constitute a material
    contribution to climate change risk mitigation.\”

    In other words, nuclear is and has been a viable option to reduce our nations energy independence. This report only reiterates the importance of time. Our government needs to stop with the political horseplay and move forward with its support. The current loan guarantees program – which is aimed at reducing the risk of new plants and in turn the cost – is insufficient for what the industry needs. This does not, however, completely remove nuclear as a viable addition to our nations goal of a carbon \\\”free\\\” (read: savvy) energy portfolio – which should include increased wind and solar production as well. The truth is that in 20 years the U.S. will begin decomishining plants at the end of their life cycle. At 20 percent or our power production, we cannot afford to not move forward with new nuclear construction and expect to continue our ever increasing energy consumption needs.

    Waste for nuclear is an issue, but not because of the land required to store it (read comments section here http://www.cleanenergyinsight.org/energy-insights/what-does-renewable-energy-look-like-part-ii/). The issue lies in getting approval on a centralized location for storage and management (google \”The Most Studied Real Estate on the Planet\”).

    Finally, you are correct, reprocessing nuclear fuel is not something you wake up one morning and decide to start doing. However, it is possible, but thanks to the Carter Administration we currently do not have the necessary infrastructure. The French have been doing it for years, and continue to do so because they have the infrastructure to do so. If every American held the attitude that if it is complicated and will take time and resources, we shouldn\’t do it, where would our country be today?

  3. Twexcom August 24, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    According to MIT’s 2009 nuclear power summary (search for it in google, it is a PDF)), the cost of construction of nuclear power plants has been increasing at a rate of 15% per annum, and increased by 100% between 2003 and 2009. Most of the cost of nuclear power is construction, so that is a serious problem.
    (source: Kompulsa nuclear page)
    Another serious problem: Cost of Uranium Per Pound:
    Early 2003: $10.75
    Mid 2006: $45.00 (318% more than early 2003)
    Early 2007: $100.00 (122% more than mid 2006)
    2008: $45.88 (54% less than early 2007)

    Also, did you factor in the amount of land occupied by waste disposal (storage, rather) sites?

    You nuclear power advocates don’t really know what you are talking about. It is a very short term band-aid for the energy situation, and uranium is rare. It can’t last long, A very important detail, which I got from MIT as well, nuclear waste reprocessing is currently impractical, so don’t tell people they can just do that and it will last long. Demand is also exploding.

  4. Jefke August 12, 2010 at 3:36 am

    @wizewoman
    Cravens was not a skeptic. She was sceptic about nuclear power. Now that she investigated, she has become a real skeptic.
    For the rest, I completely agree with you. We should all become skeptics and learn critical thinking skills. A new energy policy has to include Nuclear to support the baseload.

  5. Jeebus_hates_you August 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

    IT’S BEEN SAID IN THE COMMENTS, THERE IS DEFINITELY CLEAN AND SAFE WAYS TO HARNESS NUCLEAR POWER, THERE HASN’T BEEN A PLANT BUILT YET WITH THE TECHNOLOGY THAT WAS DEVELOPED *AFTER* THE FINAL NUKE PLANT WAS BUILT? READ PAST YOUR COMFORT LEVEL, UNDERSTANDING WILL BRING PEACE TO YOUR LIFE, AND TEACH US WHEN TO REACT PROPERLY. THERE’S TOO MUCH WHITE NOISE WITH MEDIA THAT IT HAS US ALL CONFUSED ON WHAT TO APPRECIATE, AND WHAT MATTERS.

  6. Trudy Chambers March 14, 2010 at 10:18 am

    It seems like a lateral move to me. With no real way to get rid of nuclear waste we are just going to have to start removing places on our planet that are healthy to live or even be around. And that is only mentioning the implications to the human population let alone the other lifeforms that will be destroyed and impacted by this decision. It may be one option, but I agree equal amounts of money should be put into alternative methods so that we are one day (hopefully soon) able to also quit using nuclear energy as well. Why can’t we go to tailor made energy systems for homes, regions, and even states that utilize the best renewable resources that area has to offer? Why do we have to have this mega grid? Communities functioning as and within communities.

  7. Green Hope February 23, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Our first knee-jerk reaction to Obama’s recent decision to build the first US nuclear power plant in 30 years was “no more nukes!”

    To some, nuclear power is the face of the future; to others the ticking time bomb of the past. Are the facts that you know three decades out of date? We were surprised to find out ours were.

    Published author and EcoHearth staff writer, Steven Kotler, examines the evolution of nuclear technology and explains the new generation of nuclear power that is cleaner, safer and less vulnerable to terrorist attack in “Meltdown or Mother Lode: The New Truth About Nuclear Power”.

    Revisit the complex issue and update your nuclear power information: http://tinyurl.com/yjfheb4

  8. AQG February 22, 2010 at 8:41 am

    @ fabrice

    Not sure where you get your facts from but i think wizewoman has made a good suggest, do your research before making baseless comments. The footprint for a nuclear plant IS in fact smaller and rather than suggesting you read an entire book, Ill suggest that you take a look at the following article. Try and keep an open mind before coming back with more unsubstantiated claims:

    http://www.cleanenergyinsight.org/energy-insights/what-does-renewable-energy-look-like/

  9. kenter February 18, 2010 at 12:05 am

    The energy produced per land footprint is significantly higher in nuclear than solar or wind. We’re talking gigawatts for a single reactor, and the largest wind turbine is in the single digit megawatts. I am not against wind or solar, but the energy future is a mix of many things. And the rated capacity of solar and wind is usually lower once you consider the intermittent nature of the source. nothing is perfect, and it would be foolish to have everything based on solar and wind

    Over 80% of France’s generation is from nuclear, and has been for decades. If we used breeder reactors, we would have enough fuel for centuries. giving us plenty of time to increase efficiency on solar, or developing super capacitors

  10. ChristianAce February 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Are you friggin joking me?! I hope this is an early April fools joke. 36 Billion dollars? For such a large scale and waste creating product, would it not be worth the money to put that into renewables?! 36 billion dollars could on average of $36,000 to produce most of the solar power to a home you could do that math easily and it would be 1 Million homes. I know not all houses in the US could effectively only use solar. But all could. And that could incorporate WInd power, hydroelectric, insulation, geothermal heating, solar heating, etc and reduce energy USAGE while producing the homes energy.. whoa.. thats an idea. Shit. I am just a 24 yr old college student at the first national Global Institute of Sustainability, and I feel like we are the future and the older people are still ruining what they have already ruined. There is a reason nuclear was last made in 1977! Its expensive. Its dirty. Its really just not sustainable. We need to work on not producing for the needs of our growing country and growing energy usage.. we need to reduce the growth and energy usage. The world is already over peak usage for so many resources BECAUSE we have gone over the carrying capacity of the Earth. So no, we dont need Nuclear. We need a sustainable guide. We need to spend our money on renewables, energy efficiency, reduction of affluency, change in the food system(because the FDA can blow me) ugh. Im done here. Going back to class where maybe I will learn how to fix all this shit someday. Talk about frustrating.

  11. SpiritGreywolf February 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I feel like every time nuclear power is suggested, all of the “Three Mile Island” crazies come out of the woodwork. The technology to build extremely safe nuclear power plants is a reality. Read up sometime on the history of the LFT (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor) http://www.energyfromthorium.com/lftradsrisks.html and realize it never came to fruition as a cheap, safe source of energy was due to a political faux-pax of embarassment from an administration that WANTED plutonium for weapons.

    There are numerous designs like pebble-bed reactors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor and the like that would allow us to use nuclear energy safely and without all the knee-jerk radicalism spouted by people who think Chernobyl is an every-day possibility.

  12. fabrice February 17, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    You cannot tell me that that a nuclear plant requires a smaller foot print than renewable energy ! Not even talking about the waste,one of the most preferred ways for the waste used in the world is to send it to Russia and leave it out in open air junk yards.
    How many 100’000th. of tonnes of concrete is required for the construction,100’000th. m/3 of earth needs to be moved around,100’000 litres of water for cooling and so on.
    This money should be spent to find ways to be more efficient not an excuse to be more power hungry.

  13. wizewoman February 17, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Wind and solar are great technologies, but if we’re going to create enough new capacity to serve our growing hunger for electricity without resorting to coal (there’s no such thing as clean coal), nuclear power will need to be part of the equation in the interim. The technology for safe disposal of nuclear waste is available. A nuclear power plant requires a much smaller footprint than renewable technologies, thus disturbing less natural habitat. Suggested reading: Power to Save the World by Gwyneth Cravens. The author was a skeptic until she did the research. Information is power… read beyond your comfort level.

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