Mark J. Perry, scholar at American Enterprise Institute: It wasn’t that long ago that we were wallowing in an era of energy scarcity, worried about our dependence on foreign oil and constantly hearing dire warnings about “peak oil.” The record high oil production this year further solidifies America’s new status as a world energy superpower in a new era of US energy abundance. In addition, the United States has used nuclear fuel and depleted uranium that can provide over 700 years of electrical energy needs at 1994 levels, if America decides to use fast nuclear reactor technology and used nuclear fuel recycling.
Meredith Angwin, Physical Chemist, Naturalist, Educator: Extremely cold weather stresses the grid During recent below-zero weather in New England, our grid was saved by oil. Most people believe that burning oil for electricity is a thing of the past, but that's only partially true. In general, gas-fired power plants cannot always get gas in cold weather, because home heating has priority for gas deliveries. And our grid is heavily dependent on gas. It was not merely "lucky" that oil was available for the power plants during the deep freeze; it was planned.
Vijay Jayaraj, M.Sc. Environmental Science. Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation: Developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America face the uphill task of reducing mortality due to diseases, many caused by poor hygiene and other localized pollution concerns accompanying poverty. Historically, coal-powered energy has played a pivotal role in helping these nations improve their healthcare facilities to support and sustain their expanding populations. A recently released critique of a report in The Lancet reaffirms the indispensable role of coal-powered electricity in improving healthcare in poor communities.
Andres Daniels, Writer about ultra-modern history: nuclear power, radiation, post-Cold War (1989-), Rwanda, modern Afghanistan, and Japan: The discovery of fission created a new kind of fear, not simply a new iteration of the previous responses to new technology. This new fear was profound, disquieting and all encompassing. By the time nuclear power was introduced, anxiety and concern about nuclear weapons had already fostered perceptions that left a long-lasting legacy that would taint nuclear power for decades. It is time to overcome the general aversion to learning about this important energy source, and to understand this key technology. In an age of rising air pollution, it has never been more crucial.
James Conca, scientist in the field of earth and environmental sciences. Contributor to Forbes: Most people have heard of something called externalities, costs not factored into the price. An energy’s deathprint is a rarely-discussed externality. The deathprint is the number of people killed per kWh produced. There is debate on the absolute numbers, but no one debates on the relative ranking from most dangerous to least. It is notable that in media and legislative discussions, the only time death is mentioned is for nuclear, ironic since it has the lowest deathprint of any source.
Meredith Angwin, Physical Chemist, Naturalist, Educator: Links to her blog about Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, her personal website and explanation of cold weather operations for electric generating plants.
Scott Bean, Business Development Representative, Steenkampskraal Holdings Limited/Steenkampskraal Rare Earths: Germany's energy policies often get good press highlighting fleeting moments of significant output, negative prices, capacity installation, and more. Rarely does news coverage add context to these stories that allows us to comprehend what the consequences of these events are for consumers, the grid, the environment, the economy, and Earth as a whole.
Meredith Angwin, Physical Chemist, Naturalist, Educator: Energy sources should be used for the highest value use. Using them for other purposes causes complications and unnecessary depletion of precious resources.
Thomas Cochran has been working with the Natural Resources Defense Council since the 1970s to stop the use of nuclear power, particularly the kind that uses most of the potential energy and produces the lease amount of radioactive waste: In the United States the high cost of new nuclear power plants, their lengthy construction period, the current dependence on large federal subsidies and incentives to stimulate private investment in the sector, unresolved waste management and disposal issues, and a massive requirement to replace the current installed base of nuclear plants before 2050, will all make it difficult for nuclear to make a significantly greater contribution to carbon reductions than is already being contributed by today's fleet of U.S. nuclear power plants.