“The answer must include nuclear, or it’s no answer at all.”
Those are the exacting words of Maria Korsnick, the President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, better known by the colloquial acronym NEI. That statement came forth in the middle of her “State of the Industry” address on March 26th, 2019, reprinted in the Nuclear Plant Journal. Ms. Korsnick enters and withdraws from a host of avenues in which nuclear energy shapes our homes, our communities, our economy, our nation, and the world, but the overarching light of her address remains the same—nuclear energy is necessary for humanity.
Now we know a thousand mouths are suddenly shrieking blind indignation at those words. We know that green-spun environmentalists are weaving their retributive tapestries at these words, we know eager-lipped senators and congressmen are plastering themselves with buttons, stickers, and crocheted pendants displaying pick and paste adopted ideologies like “I’ve always put the planet first!” “We’re going green for our children!” “No Nukes, Not Now Not Ever!” and streaking their faces with non-GMO soil for measure, we know young Americans eager to join in on anything that makes them seem cohesive with whatever the current cultural ‘this is end of the world’ fad is are throwing themselves into the New Green Deal and lecturing their parents on the dangers of such words, we know there is a long and deeply-woven fear of the very word nuclear. We know all this and have known for the better part of seventy years. The only question left would be….is any of this really necessary?
The answer, of course, is no. But history and by proxy, cultures, are slow to warm to the winds around them.
Fortunately, men and women like Ms. Korsnick move quicker. So let’s take a look at three major themes she addresses: nuclear innovation, importance, and the carbon question.
The agency and stability nuclear energy possesses is paramount to understanding its vitality. Its complexity can be reduced to a simple notion—nuclear power is always on, 24-7/365 days a year and the numbers never lie. “Nuclear is responsible for a fifth of this nation’s total electricity”, Ms. Korsnick surmises, “It represents more than 55% of our emissions free energy. Which is even more impressive when you consider that out of the 8,000 power plants connected to the grid, less than one percent of them are nuclear plants.” And too—“We produced 800 million megawatt hours of nuclear energy last year—the most ever.” As Ms. Korsnick explains, the industry is constantly evolving and seeking better, more efficient, less special, less costly, less vulnerable means of producing energy—micro reactors, small modular systems capable of generating the same output as their massive counterparts, are passing through certification phases and are expected to change the way we think of nuclear power plants by being able to fit into communities and global necessities where traditional reactors just aren’t feasible. Additionally, as Ms. Korsnick notes during a visit to micro-reactor developer NuScale’s facility in Oregon, these reactors are capable of self-correcting during an emergency without the aid of operators—this has enormous implications considering the majority of global nuclear disasters are largely attributed to human error. “Today we operate at more than 92% capacity. A generation ago, we were at only 63%.”
The importance of nuclear energy to this country, to its people, and to the world cannot be understated. A short litany: nuclear energy is indirectly responsible for nearly half a million jobs and half a billion dollars in economic activity each year, nuclear energy powers electricity for 8.6 million American homes—roughly more than every single household in New York, nuclear energy is the only energy source proven to keep the lights on during a natural disaster, if America does not renew its resolve for nuclear energy, Russia and China will overtake us as the world leaders. It’s this last article that is most jarring—Russia and China are not as benevolent in their ideological pursuits as America. Imagine a world in which nuclear energy is controlled and dictated by the cold eyes of Communism, hungry, after a century of watching America, for supremacy.
Finally we come to the big one—the carbon question, and by extension, climate change. Ironically enough, nuclear energy has nothing to do with climate change and actually, by its very nature, works against it—but common sense is an arrow unrefined. Ms. Korsnick ticks off the irrefutable evidence:
– Nuclear energy generates the highest percentage of our countries carbon-free emissions
– In order to match nuclear energy’s production one would have to multiply 2018’s total solar output by twelve. For wind, you would need 3x the amount of turbines currently in existence
– Nuclear energy is always connected, always ready to produce. Wind and solar rely on the finicky whims of Nature
– Battery technology to back up renewables does not exist
If empirical facts are not enough to sway those who hold the weight of their opinions in the deepest trenches of their hearts, global organizations such as The Union of Concerned Scientists, The Nature Conservancy, Mass. Senator Ed Markey (who long opposed nuclear), The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, and Google have all endorsed nuclear energy as a necessary part of any real endeavor against climate change. The reality is stunningly simple to understand—“The answer to the climate crisis won’t be as simple as replacing carbon with renewables and batteries. The answer must include nuclear, or it’s no answer at all.”
Ms. Korsnick also mentions, “A new generation of entrepreneurs who are stewarding digital technology” and that’s where Otek comes in. As a Class1E company, we developed our Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM) to function as a cyber security exempt meter in nuclear I&C rooms. The SSAM was designed with without microprocessors in order so that it may be classified as a Non-Critical Digital Asset under NEI 08-09 regulation, as well has having the ability to replace obsolete ammeters and older DPMs wire by wire using the same panels and requiring only minimal operator training. With the SSAM beginning to garner huge interest across the industry, we’re gearing up in 2019 to help revitalize the nuclear industry all along the planet.
For more information on how Otek has aided the nuclear industry or our vast array of customizable technology driven products, please call us at (520) 748-7900 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The answer must include nuclear, or it’s no answer at all.”