Science chose nuclear reactors

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Science chose nuclear reactors

The magazine Science published an editorial entitled “A Fresh Look at Nuclear Energy” in its January issue. It touted nuclear energy as a feasible option for decarbonization as time runs out due to global warming and with governments lagging behind their commitments to reduce emissions.

Since full decarbonization is nearly impossible, the editorial reasoned that nuclear energy was “one low-carbon dispatchable option that is virtually unlimited and available now against various geographic and cost restrictions with renewable energy technologies.” Without nuclear power, it predicted that electricity costs could double or even triple because of the enormous cost of solar and wind energies and batteries required to meet demand in the absence of low-carbon energy sources. It advised “strong actions” in countries such as Korea and Switzerland, where existing nuclear power plants are “seriously at risk of being phased out.”

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates also recently pitched nuclear power as an “ideal” technology to decarbonize the global energy system since it is less prone to volatility and other variables compared to renewable energy sources.

Nuclear reactors have resurfaced due to their scientific and economic merits. Japan, which declared it would reduce nuclear power after the Fukushima meltdown, has reactivated its reactors. The Seoul government, however, is pushing ahead with its ideology-led phase-out policy. It even claims it has the public’s support.

Yet a poll shows the majority of people — 68 percent — prefer an increase, or at least the status quo, in nuclear power. A civilian body campaigning against the government’s nuclear phase-out and supporting the construction of the Shin Hanul 3 and 4 reactors has gathered 330,000 signatures. After the petition was handed to the Blue House, it drew another 50,000 signatures. If a petition draws responses from over 200,000, the presidential office is required to answer. The Blue House must answer based on scientific and factual reasoning, not ideology.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 24, Page 30
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