(AmericanProsperity.com) – One of the Biden administration’s top priorities is its green agenda, but it hasn’t all gone smoothly. The last 10 months have shown how much the economy still depends on oil, and changing that dynamic will require a lot more electricity than the US currently generates. Solar panels and wind turbines can’t meet that increased demand, so the Department of Energy is going for a better — but expensive — solution.
The Power Dilemma
To reduce carbon emissions to the levels demanded by President Joe Biden, the US will need to convert many things that run on oil to electricity instead. Yet, the US power grid, which the nation already relies on heavily, isn’t in great shape. Obsolete, above-ground power lines are vulnerable to weather. Making matters worse, replacing fossil fuels will take a lot of electricity. Just switching to electric vehicles could increase power consumption by up to 38%, and the extra capacity just doesn’t exist. Additionally, the US generates 60% of its current electricity using fossil fuels. Going green means replacing that production, too.
Renewable electricity isn’t reliable — the wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine, and even hydroelectric dams are vulnerable to droughts. Despite years of political pressure and huge government subsidies, renewables still only generate 20% of our electricity.
Nuclear power is the only realistic way out of the nation’s energy deficit. Currently, nuclear reactors generate 19% of US electricity, making them the biggest single source of carbon-free power. They do it in any weather while taking up much less land than renewables. If the Biden administration is serious about going green, then a massive expansion of nuclear capacity might be their answer. The Department of Energy is doing precisely that, but progress comes at a cost.
Nuclear Power: Vital but Costly
The DoE is currently running five nuclear-related projects to preserve existing capacity and build more:
- This year’s infrastructure spending bills included $6 billion in nuclear credits to repair and upgrade old reactors, keeping them in service past their original end-of-life dates. The second round of nuclear credit applications will open in January.
- A much smaller $5 million spending program will pay to train nuclear engineers at three universities. Existing power plants will need the “next generation nuclear workforce” to keep them going and run new ones.
- The government is spending another $150 million on improving the nuclear fuel supply chain. That means building processing plants that can produce the High Assay, Low-Enriched Uranium fuel used in many modern small reactors.
- In October, the DoE announced $47 million for research into nuclear fusion. Developing a practical fusion reactor would allow the nation to generate almost unlimited cheap, clean electricity.
- On December 7, the DoE awarded a $12 million grant for advanced research in theoretical physics. This line of study might result in the next quantum step in power generation in the next three or four decades. Theoretical physics research in the 1920s helped create modern nuclear power stations.
Only nuclear power can let the US go green and continue the current standard of living, and at least the DoE has a plan to build up capacity. The biggest downside is the economy could feel a lot of financial pain now in return for a secure energy supply in the future.
~Here’s to Your Prosperity!
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