The Lure of Free Energy

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by John Popovich

In the 1950s we were assured by the best scientific minds and the U.S. President that nuclear electricity would be of such low cost that it would not make sense to meter it. The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty granted every country the right to enrich and the nuclear haves promised the nuclear havenots that they would help them develop nuclear electricity to increase their economic well being. It may not be clear what went wrong but it is still very difficult to determine the economics of nuclear electricity and this is in part because the fuel is provided by governments and the price may not be indicative of its cost and because of the hazard and closure costs.

The U.S. government tried to get private industry to process nuclear fuel but had a difficult time finding takers. Union Carbide made an offer that required government…

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