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Nuclear Power: The Clean Energy Everyone Overlooks

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As the world continues to shift toward low-carbon energy sources, a closer look makes it clear that nuclear power has to be included in order to reduce carbon emissions. Until the problem of long-term power storage is solved, nuclear will remain the only zero carbon base load power source. Given how clean and reliable it is compared to its alternatives, it is far too early to take nuclear power off the table. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What options do we have for dealing with nuclear waste?
  2. What country uses the most nuclear power?
  3. How do we minimize risks associated with nuclear plants? 

Additional Resources 

  • Read “The Benefits of Nuclear Power” by Admiral James O. Ellis Jr. and George P. Shultz. Available here.
  • Listen as Admiral James O. Ellis Jr. takes a fresh look at nuclear power in a time of newfound domestic energy abundance in "Reinventing Nuclear Power." Available here.
  • Watch as Admiral James O. Ellis discusses nuclear energy at Stanford University, available here
  • George Shultz and Admiral James O. Ellis Jr. discuss "Reinventing Nuclear Energy," available here.
View Transcript

As the world continues to shift toward low-carbon energy sources, a closer look makes it clear that nuclear power has to be included in order to meet our goal of reducing carbon emissions. 

Nuclear power plants have two main advantages: They produce zero carbon and they provide constant baseload power – meaning they’re always on. 

That’s important because until we solve the problem of large-scale, long-term power storage, we cannot rely on intermittent power sources like wind and solar for our everyday power needs. 

Even though Nuclear energy is a lot safer than people think, some countries have begun closing their nuclear power plants. 

Since they still need baseload power, they’ve mostly replaced them with coal and natural gas plants that emit more pollution and are associated with tens of thousands of air quality related illnesses and deaths a year. 

Currently around twenty percent of America’s electricity comes from nuclear power plants, but that number is expected to fall as few new plants are in development and most existing plants will be retired in the coming decades. 

No single power source can or should provide all of our clean power needs, but nuclear should be included and considered as a zero carbon option. Given how clean and reliable it is compared to its alternatives, it is far too early to take it off the table.