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Listen Up: Electricity from Nuclear Too Cheap to Meter — Or Not

It's the environmentalist's third rail question: "Should we promote nuclear power as an expedient way to reduce CO2 emissions?" On the one hand, nuclear power generates electricity with almost negligible CO2 emissions — potentially a good way for our society to reverse the current global warming trends. On the other hand, nuclear power is...well...nuclear. Problems related to waste disposal, proliferation and high costs have not been solved, and we still have the occasional disaster.

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Nuclear technology continues to improve. Today we have more efficient reactors, lower cost modular designs, safer fuel cycles, better materials and control systems, and a heightened awareness of reliability and safety issues. We also have a determined and well-funded nuclear industry pushing the "restart" button. But alternative sources of electricity — particularly solar and wind — also continue to improve. Moreover, developments in more cost-effective storage are starting to negate nuclear's biggest base load generating benefits.

The nuclear question is not only about costs and technology, it's also about anticipated trends in our electrical distribution system — particularly what types of companies will be around a dozen years from now installing power plants of all sizes. The surging solar industry is probably the biggest long term threat to a nuclear renaissance. So tune in to this week's Energy Show on Renewable Energy World for my perspective on the future of nuclear power, especially in light of practical and cost-effective solar power and battery storage.

Find more episodes of The Energy Show here.

About The Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices. 

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He's been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock

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03/01/2015
Volume 18, Issue 3
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