Why use nuclear power? Cheap fossil fuels won’t last forever

 This aerial file photo taken, June 20, 2010, shows the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, in Avila Beach, Calif. (Joe Johnston/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP, File)

This aerial file photo taken, June 20, 2010, shows the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, in Avila Beach, Calif. (Joe Johnston/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP, File)

This kind of perspective is interesting and it invites arguments and debate for the other camp who do not want to use nuclear power.

Several nuclear power plants in the United States are being shut down. The electricity they generate is being replaced by electricity from fossil fuel-fired power plants. The utilities say that their nuclear plants are more expensive to operate than their fossil-fueled plants operating on cheap coal and natural gas.

The question has been asked, “Do we really need nuclear power?” The response has to be an unequivocal “yes!” Cheap fossil fuels won’t last forever. Nuclear power is the only source of electricity we have that has a plentiful fuel supply and is both “dispatchable” — that is, available whenever it is needed — and carbon-free.

Related: Why nuclear power has no future in California or U.S.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in 2010 published a study showing that there exists a sufficient reserve of nuclear fuel — uranium — to fuel our nuclear power plants for more than 100 years at our current rate of consumption in our current, relatively inefficient water-cooled light water reactors. The report also shows that this reserve of fuel would last for more than 2,500 years if it were used in more efficient sodium- or helium gas-cooled reactor designs.  Read More