Today NRG energy announced its intention to file permit requests with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two nuclear reactors in Texas — a phenomenon that apparently hasn’t happened in roughly 30 years.
The climate sessions today at the UN have generally shied away from the specific options to reduce carbon emissions, instead sticking to the 4 pronged agenda of discussing adaptation, mitigation, technology, and financing.
Generally the people who have led the movement to combat climate change have not been wild about nuclear power despite the fact that it provides one-sixth of the world’s electricity, carbon-free, as Deutch and Moniz, who chaired an exhaustive MIT study on nuclear power, tout. Interestingly enough, a cofounder of Greenpeace endorsed nuclear power some time ago arguing it was a necessary compromise to achieve a larger objective.
Indeed, the work by Socolow and Pacala, which Al Gore featured prominently in his film An Inconvenient Truth, depends on nuclear power. The two Princeton scholars propose 15 carbon stabilization “wedges” to bring carbon emission levels down to a sustainable level which each wedge contributing equally. Nuclear power was left out of Al Gore’s proposal for reasons I can only speculate on — perhaps because it has been an anathema in the eyes of the public due to the horrors of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, or perhaps it raises concerns of proliferation of nuclear materials into irresponsible hands — but with the increasing demand for new, carbon-free energy sources, the taboo is eroding and we can expect to see a growing push for nuclear power both domestically and abroad.