Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Sustainable Energy

Nuclear Power?

Let’s rethink this option, without losing sight of alternative energy.

Forget about nuclear winter; these days it feels like nuclear spring. Early signs point to a global renaissance in fission power. Twenty-four nuclear power plants are being built abroad. Well-organized U.S. utilities are identifying sites at existing nuclear power plants where new reactors might be built and asking the U.S. Congress to provide generous subsidies to help (see “Nuclear Powers Up”). And all of this is happening without the kind of groundswell of public opposition to nuclear power witnessed in the 1970s and 1980s.

There is little question that nuclear power works well, produces no CO2, and has a fairly safe record – Chernobyl excepted. The real issue is how best to spend public monies on energy production. The utilities say that new nuclear power plants will require federal help. Fair enough. But other approaches to weaning our thirst for fossil fuels will continue to require federal help, too – and they are equally promising.

A good case, for instance, can be made for advanced wind turbines. They are already economically competitive in regions that have strong winds and are convenient to the electrical grid, and with further subsidies they could be made competitive in more areas. Subsidies for hybrid cars would save oil.

This story is part of our September 2005 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

Even research on nuclear fusion has begun to gain momentum: an international consortium has agreed that southern France will host a $5 billion experimental fusion reactor, feeding hopes that the same process that keeps stars aflame will eventually light our cities at night (see “Fusion Research: What about the U.S.?”). Fission reactors are an attractive option, but Congress and power generators should not consider them alone.

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.