Many other nations already rely on nuclear power to supply much of their energy -- and have done so for years. In another paper, Spencer highlights several such nations, including France, Japan, Finland and Britain. Finland gets nearly a third of its electricity from nuclear power, and that amount will soon go up; it’s building a modern 1,600-megawatt reactor. Japan draws 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear sources, an amount set to rise to 41 percent in under a decade. Britain has 19 reactors and is a net exporter of energy. Russia is building new plants as well.
France, though, is the poster child among industrialized nations for nuclear power. Nearly 80 percent of its electricity comes from nuclear power. Stung by the oil shocks of the 1970s, France began gearing up nuclear-power production years ago. Today, it’s a net exporter of electricity. Germany, by contrast, phased nuclear energy out for political reasons -- and now must import some of the energy it needs.
If Greenpeace and other like-minded groups worry about pollution, then they ought to love nuclear power’s impressive environmental record. “Burning fossil fuels releases an abundance of elements into the atmosphere,” Spencer writes. “Nuclear energy, to the contrary, fully contains all of its byproduct in the form of used nuclear fuel.” If France, Finland and Japan can manage this waste safely, why can’t we?
Back when energy was cheap, perhaps we could afford to indulge the fears of radical environmentalists. Not anymore. We need a range of solutions -- renewable energy, increased conservation, The Conservative Guide to Energy” by The Heritage Foundation.
We have a lot of lost time to make up for. It’s been more than two decades since President Reagan urged us to rely more on nuclear power. What are we waiting for?