U.S. Energy Policy after Japan: If Not Nuclear, Then What? (April 2011)

Given the current nuclear risk crisis in Japan, one wonders what the effects might be in the future of civil nuclear energy development. This is not a small issue given the massive investments that have already been made or are planned in several countries. K@W devotes a special article on the question.
“As the crisis at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant continues to unfold, every bit of news that trickles out deepens the debate about nuclear energy. Anti-nuclear activists point to smoldering reactors and radioactive drinking water as reason enough to abandon nuclear power permanently. Others say the fact that the aging plant survived a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and 46-foot tsunami without greater damage signals its ability to withstand major disruptions.

The crisis has raised questions in the United States about the role that nuclear power should play in the country’s energy future. The U.S. produces 20% of its energy with nuclear power but has not built a new facility since the accident at Three Mile Island soured public opinion on nuclear energy in 1979. In his State of the Union Address in January, President Obama called for “building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants” as a way for the United States to reach the goal of drawing 80% of its power from “clean energy” sources by 2035. (…)”