Moniz countered that it is far too premature for the United States to chart such a course now. Instead, the commission recommended continuing research and development on possible new nuclear fuel and reactor options, such as a "fast" reactor employing a closed fuel cycle technology. If successful, it could increase the efficiency of fuel use, extending the uranium fuel resources and reducing the volume of wastes requiring storage.
"The whole trajectory of nuclear power is extremely uncertain," Moniz said. "If nuclear power has its renaissance and becomes a major zero-carbon energy source, then going to alternative fuel cycles will become a lot more compelling." But that isn't clear now, nor have the technological and economic issues been answered, he said. The commission's approach is to create "a sensible approach that preserves options," he said.
Hamilton and Scowcroft said they are encouraged by the comments they've received from Chu and White House officials.
"I don't want to speak for them, but our impression is they are taking the report very seriously," Hamilton said. "They recognize the problem has to be resolved. And thus far, they've commented positively. So, so far, so good."
Scowcroft said the commission, whose members brought a range of views to the issue, have given it a thorough study. "Hopefully, that will create the necessary confidence -- which is badly lacking -- for Congress, the administration and the American people to move forward."
"I think the signals we've been receiving are pretty encouraging," Moniz said. "Maybe we can pull together and get something done."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500