Dr. Bruce S. Old
OUR FEATURE ARTICLE ON CITY COUNCILOR RANDY OLD’S FATHER, DOCTOR BRUCE S. OLD, TOLD THE STORY OF HOW HE WAS RECRUITED TO BE THE HEAD OF THE U.S ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION (USAEC).
At USAEC Dr. Old had a very large budget to do the material development to permit what the Commission hoped to be an age of building nuclear power plants around the United States.
At that time everything nuclear had a magic aura until later in life when people began to fight nuclear activity. He regretted that it never reached its potential for power the way it seemed following World War II, but believed it still would someday.
But now, in an October 31, 2015 article on “The Future of Nuclear Energy,” the Economist calls nuclear energy a “Half-death.”
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plan in Massachusetts
In the U.S., New Entergy, based in New Orleans, announced on October 13, 2015 that it would close it’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Massachusetts.
In December, 2014, Entergy closed its nuclear plant in Vermont.
It’s rival, Exelon, based in Chicago, the largest operator of nuclear in the U.S. said 14 of its plants in the U.S. are “vulnerable,” including it’s Three Mile Island’s Unit One.
Germany is phasing out nuclear power. Four years ago it announced it would shut-down all its nuclear plants by 2022.
France intends to slow it down. It passed a bill in July, 2015 committing to reduce nuclear power in its electricity mix from 75% to 50% within 10 years.
Sweden wants to replace their 50% reliance on nuclear power with renewable energy, primarily from wind farms.
Sweden Wind Farms
According to the Economist, “the closure on both sides of the Atlantic represent a blow (emphasis added) to an industry that for years talked about the prospect of a ‘nuclear renaissance,’ based on the merits of large scale, low-carbon energy.”
The blow is where Dr. Bruce S. Old would surely be disappointed.
Then there is the problem of decommissioning the nuclear power plants. “Neither America nor most European countries have found adequate sites for permanently storing nuclear waste.” And “more than three-quarters of nuclear plants in the rich world are 25 years or older. In the coming years the number of them shutting down is only likely to accelerate.”
Remember, Dr. Old regretted that nuclear power never reached its potential for power the way it seemed following World War II, but believed it still would someday. That would be his disappointment.
But maybe there is some hope for Dr. Old. According to the Economist, “China plans to almost to triple its nuclear generating capacity by 2020 and other emerging markets are also building new plants.”