The Paw Print
Nuclear power in the United Sates is at a crossroads. According to Forbes, up to 39 percent of the current nuclear industry workforce is eligible for retirement in the next four years. Despite this rapid waning, some theorists believe that nuclear energy is the bright-future solution for humanity’s need for not only energy, but also water.
By using heat produced from reactors, scientists believe they can harness the heat to desalinate ocean water. According to ScienceDaily, “Nuclear energy seawater desalination has a tremendous potential for the production of freshwater.” This idea, while promising, does not stand without critics. Matthew Wald of the New York Times asks two of the biggest questions surrounding the production of new reactors: “What does a new reactor cost? With the price of natural gas near historical lows, can it even be worthwhile?”
With the cost of reactors ranging into the billions of dollars, such a startup cost is a difficult price tag to surmount. As current reactors creep towards retirement age, a crossroads is reached in the history of nuclear energy. Stiff competition arises from alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and natural gas. Nuclear power, even with its perceived benefits, is threatened to be put on indefinite hold. The New York Times theorizes, “Nuclear power could become a bypassed technology — like moon landings, Polaroid photos and cassette tapes.”
Nevertheless, companies like Southern try to revolutionize the industry by producing new reactors with prefabricated parts and low labor costs. The next few years will prove if the investment in nuclear power is worth the cost and will serve as a guiding example that will shape America’s energy future.