Saturday, 26 March 2011

Solar power outshines nuclear power: Study
15 March 2011

A year long Queen's University study has concluded that nuclear power is simply not worth the risk when compared to solar power. "The current situation at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant and the anxiety of a possible meltdown are once again calling into question the use of nuclear power as a long term energy option here in Canada", Joshua Pearce, a mechanical and materials engineering professor told the Star.

The university team looked at the 100 nuclear plants in the U.S, and factored in the indirect public subsidy, which amounts to the cost of insuring a nuclear plant in the event of a catastrophic accident, and the power produced over the lifetime of a nuclear power plant. "In my mind it is basically insanity to shoulder the public with risk to get relatively small amount of electricity out of it", Pearce said.

He noted that in the U.S, there is a $10 billion cap on liability in the event of an accident, which amounts to an indirect subsidy of about $33 million per plant per year over the lifetime of a nuclear plant. The study, funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, took this indirect subsidy and transferred it in the form of a loan guarantees for solar panel manufacturing plants over 100 years.

"At the end of all of this you end up with $5.3 trillion in additional electricity (from solar). That for us was somewhat surprising that it was so high", he said. Ivana Zelenika Zovko, a master's student in environmental studies at Queen's who worked on the project, said that, all things considered, nuclear power is "just not worth the risk".

The study concluded: "In light of these results and with the recent economic challenges, climate destabilization and a new found emphasis on sustainability, U.S, energy policy needs to re evaluate its options and appropriate available funds wisely by moving away from nuclear power and diversifying their energy portfolio to maximize the renewable (not alternative) energy potential".