The electric car movement has, for the foreseeable future, a problem explaining how to best generate the massive amounts of electricity that plug-in hybrids and pure electrics will need. Right now, coal and nuclear the two most common ways to generate electric power in the U.S., and, while there's a lot of work being done on cleaner renewable sources, these two will be with us for a while yet.
ABG reader Rolf Westgard wrote a column for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota where he makes his case for nuclear (Westgard is also a portfolio manager who focuses on investments in the oil and gas industry and a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists). Starting with the image of watching 100+ car trains full of Wyoming coal headed to an electric plant, Westgard explains why we need nukes.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike coal from an environmental standpoint. In fact, I can't think of any reasons why coal should be the power source of choice unless all you factor in is the cost. It's a dirty fuel, and getting it out of the ground isn't pretty (watch an eight-minute movie about mountaintop removal after the jump. It's got Woody Harrelson in it). But what does nuclear power offer? Some very serious problems, in my view, but Westgard make his case in favor of more nuke plants this way:

No CO2, ground level ozone, acid rain or particulates. Not a lot of accidents ("Radiation release to the public at Three Mile Island was trivial," he writes). And it's politics, not technology, that's holding up new plants. You can read the entire thing here.

I'm not convinced by Westgard's arguments that we need to be building more nuke plants. As one of my fellow ABG writers pointed out to me, "There is no need to build nuclear reactor. We already have one. It is called the Sun. Wind power, solar PV power, conservation seem to me the way to go to avoid the admittedly low risk/high lethality nuclear event." No kidding. There's a lot of untapped power in the sun. Let's hope we see some serious movement in this direction before BEVs and PHEVs become more and more available. Otherwise, we'll just be filling our tanks with coal and/or nuclear power instead of dinojuice.

[Source: Rolf Westgard / St. Cloud Times]


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