David Herron in the Green Transportation Examiner reports that the world's largest and fastest 100% solar powered ship, the TÛRANOR PlanetSolar, has successfully sailed from Monaco, France to Cancun, Mexico to take part in the current U.N. climate summit. After that, it will continue on its way via the Panama Canal to enter the Pacific on its global circumnavigation back to Monaco. Follow the ship's progress at its website. Even though this ship is nonfiction, its name comes from fantasy: in one of the languages in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, TÛRANOR translates as "The Power of the Sun."
Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time. Funding diverted to new nuclear power plants deprives real climate change solutions like solar, wind and geothermal energy of essential resources.
As reported by Matt Wald of the New York Times, former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford strikes again, with a most apt metaphor bringing a dose of reality to the so-called Third Way/Idaho National Lab conference on nuclear power's future. Unmentioned in the reporting, however, is the irony of U.S. Senators Voinovich (R-OH) and Carper (D-DE) hosting the event. It was on Voinovich's watch that the Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo came within 3/16ths of an inch of a meltdown; Carper's political power base in Wilmington could suffer 100,000 "peak early fatalities," over 70,000 "peak early injuries," 40,000 "peak cancer deaths," and over $300 billion in property damage if any one of the three Salem/Hope Creek atomic reactors suffered a catastrophic radiation release, according to NRC's 1982 CRAC-2 study ("Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences"). Also unreported was the irony that, as Obama administration officials -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu, White House climate and energy czar Carol Browner, NRC chairman Greg Jaczko -- rubbed shoulders with NEI President Marvin Fertel, GE-Hitachi Board Chair Jack Fuller, etc., the nuclear power industry's army of lobbyists worked Capitol Hill to attach a $7 billion nuclear loan guarantee onto the congressional lame duck session Continuing Resolution to fund government operations. NRC's homepage described the gathering as "28 nuclear leaders from government, industry and finance -- focused on long term policy for nuclear energy," but offered no explanation as to why its Chairman would attend an event seemingly largely devoted to nuclear power's promotion -- NRC is not supposed to promote nuclear power, but rather to regulate it in the interests of public health and safety and environmental protection.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has described China's world leadership on clean energy development as a "Sputnik moment" for the United States. Chu said "America still has the opportunity to lead in a world that will need essentially a new industrial revolution to give us the energy we want inexpensively but carbon-free...[b]ut I think time is running out." Of course, nuclear power is anything but inexpensive or quick to deploy -- and just as important as a carbon-free energy future, is a nuclear-free one.
The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced approval of what would become the world's largest solar energy project, to be built in Blythe, Southern California. The four massive plants costing $1 billion each would, when completed, generate up to 1,000 megawatts of energy, enough electricity to power up to 750,000 average American homes. The 1,000 megawatt output is equivalent to one nuclear power plant but at a considerably cheaper construction price tag with single nuclear reactor units potentially costing between $9 billion and $12 billion each at minimum.
A new study by Dr. Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School, released today, warns "it is highly unlikely that the problems of the nuclear industry will be solved by an infusion of federal loan guarantees and other subsidies to get the first plants in a new building cycle completed. U.S. policymakers should resist efforts to force the government into making large loans on terms that put taxpayers at risk in order to ‘save' a project or an industry that may not be salvageable." The press release contains a link to the executive summary and the full report. Steven Thomas of Greenwich University in London, expert on Electricite de France and Areva economic woes, joined Dr. Cooper for the press conference, a full audio recording of which can be found at www.nuclearbailout.org after 6 p.m. today.