I hate to admit it but it’s true. France is the world leader, producing 93 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources. They do all this at half the cost of electricity than their neighbor Germany which only produces 46 percent of its electricity from clean energy.
In 2016 Germany, heralded as a leader in wind and solar energy production, installed four percent more solar panels and 11 percent more wind turbines. But, get this, they generated three percent less electricity from solar and two percent less electricity from wind than 2015.
If you’re like me you’re wondering how that could be true. It’s simple, there were more cloudy days and less windy days in 2016. Once again proving that wind and solar are not reliable.
In the U.S. we produce 20 percent of our electricity from clean energy-sources not even close to France.
France is the leader, not because they rely on wind and solar, but because they predominantly get their electricity from nuclear power.
According to Time Magazine’s “Hero of the Environment” and energy expert Michael Shellenberger, had Germany invested $580 billion on nuclear instead of renewables they would already be getting 100 percent of their energy from clean sources.
Most people don’t know but long before I choose my career in journalism my dream was to become a nuclear scientist. My strength in high school was in math and science so it was a logical choice for me. One I passed up.
Nuclear energy was the source of about 20 percent of U.S. electricity generated in 2019. There are currently 60 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 98 nuclear reactors across 30 U.S. states including the Callaway Nuclear Plant near Fulton. It began producing electricity on Dec. 19, 1984.
We are the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30 percent of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity.
Nuclear has gotten a bad wrap. In a world study on the public’s attitude to different forms of energy production nuclear only had a rating of 28 percent positive, just three points higher than coal. The winners were solar at 85 and wind at 78. Oil came in at 30.
This all started in 1979 with the accident at Three Mile Island in New York. There was never any danger of any hydrogen explosion at that accident and the amount of radiation emitted was the equivalent of a chest x-ray. The next accident was 1986 in Chernobyl in the old Soviet Union. It was attributed to lax safety measures which would never be allowed in the west. According to the World Health Organization “as of Mid-2005 fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster.”
The last accident was Fukushima, Japan in 2011 where a tsunami destroyed the plant. You may be surprised to find out that not one person died because of radiation leaks at Fukushima. All the deaths were attributed to the tsunami.
The truth is completely different from our perception. Nuclear energy is not only cheap, it is the cleanest and safest way to produce electricity.
Consider this, in the complete history of nuclear power less than 200 people have died from radiation poisoning , while according to the World Health Organization, seven million people die each year from air pollution.
The British Medical Journal Lancet has found that nuclear power is the safest way to make electricity. American physicist James Hansen has concluded that “nuclear power has saved 1.8 million lives to date by preventing the burning of fossil fuels.”
All forms of producing electricity produce waste. The difference is that waste from nuclear power is the only one that can be contained.
All other forms of generating electricity emit pollution into the atmosphere or as material waste into our landfills.
In fact all the nuclear waste ever generated in the United States can fit on a football field stacked less than 70 feet high.
According to a study from the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014, nuclear power produced four times less carbon pollution than solar farms.
Unlike solar and wind, power from nuclear is consistent — on line 92 percent of the time.
Last week’s column ended with how much the federal government subsidizes wind and solar — $70 billion a year from 2010 to 2019.
If we would have spent that money on nuclear we would be on our way to more than doubling our reactors in the U.S. and increasing our clean energy production to 50 percent.
Think about it