- Jul 24, 2021 6:59 am GMT
Has it only been 4 years since attorneys for Tesla Motors Inc. called the retirement of California's Diablo Canyon [nuclear] Power Plant "well-reasoned, and factually, legally and technically sound," and implied "energy storage resources paired with solar generation" could take its place?
Tesla had recently added solar panels to its product line, so the company was obviously seeking market share. But no savant like Musk, trained in engineering, could possibly believe a solar farm and some batteries would be capable of replacing Diablo Canyon's 2.3 billion watts of reliable, clean power. Climate activist Michael Shellenberger:
"This is appalling — and symptomatic of the corruption of the CPUC, which is currently under federal and state criminal investigation for closing our second to last nuclear plant, San Onofre. For the record, renewables received about 100x more in subsidies than nuclear did last year."
Alas, now it appears Musk is (belatedly) coming to his senses:
"'We should build more nuclear power plants,' said Musk in an interview with PBS. 'I think that's a better way to generate energy than certainly a coal power plant or a natural gas power plant.' Unlike coal or natural gas power plants, nuclear power doesn't need to burn fuel to create heat, since it's powered by nuclear fission. 'We should build more nuclear power plants.'
In 2019, nuclear power comprised more than 10% of the world's energy. But in the public mind, the challenges nuclear power faces have less to do with safety or practicality than, well, the image. Since the disastrous meltdown of the Chernobyl facility in 1986, the perception of nuclear has focused largely on the potential dangers of radioactive exposure and catastrophe. As recently as May 2021, scientists have continued to monitor a surge in fission reactions in the ruins of the formerly Soviet installation, which could lead to a runaway reaction. But nuclear power is not bad or dangerous. Accidents in places like Fukushima or Chernobyl are almost unspeakably rare, and guidelines, inspections, and the technology behind reactors has advanced significantly since 1986."
Whether Musk will roll back his approval of shuttering Diablo Canyon remains to be seen.
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