Blog Post

DOE Loan Chief: We Remain Committed to Nuclear

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office will seek guidance from relevant nuclear agencies on lessons learned from the Japanese nuclear incident, but at this point, it remains committed to nuclear power as a part of a responsible clean energy future, said Jonathan Silver, the executive director of the DOE’s Loan Program Office, at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday. (Silver will be speaking at our Green:Event on April 21 in San Francisco).

The sentiment echoes DOE Secretary Steven Chu’s cautious but steadfast comments supporting nuclear before the House Energy & Commerce committee.

The DOE Loan Program has issued a conditional commitment for a $8.33 billion loan guarantee to Georgia Power to build the first nuclear power plant in the U.S. in three decades. Silver noted briefly in his talk that the nuclear technologies used by Georgia Power will be different from the GE (s GE) Mark I, which are the type of reactors that are under going a partial meltdown in Japan right now, in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami.

Silver said the Loan Program expects to move forward with the Georgia Power nuclear plant, as well as additional nuclear projects. The Georgia Power project is still a conditional commitment, and the loan guarantees take months to finalize.

Silver reiterated that the DOE takes the events in Japan very seriously and is monitoring the outcome. For more reading on nuclear and Japan, see my Here Comes the Backlash to Japan’s Nuclear Disaster.

Image courtesy of rowens27.

2 Responses to “DOE Loan Chief: We Remain Committed to Nuclear”

  1. I agree with James M. I think we should hold off. If the Rossi and Bocardi cold fusion (in Italy) proves to be successful (although most likely years away), it would surely be safer.

  2. James Monachino

    Risk vs. Reward – We may not be technologically ready yet.

    Nobody has a complete understanding of what it cost to fully deploy a nuclear energy program. Issues that must be considered:

    • Start up costs of a nuclear project.
    • Safely operating the program with upgrades as needed.
    • Ameliorating the random risk possibilities due to the extreme negative consequence to life in the operational zone.
    • Neutralizing the nuclear waste and its safe disposal.
    • Closing the complex at the end of the production life cycle.

    Yes, I understand we may have detailed projections of various sections of the above life cycle scenario but not all of them. Considering this is a technology which requires heavy public subsidizes, why do we need to add crushing debt (Wallstreet & Banks won’t finance these projects without the guarantees) when there are many other robust solutions regarding our energy alternatives?

    Folks, does building a nuclear reactor with all of its unknown factors in a dangerous world to boil water really make a lot of sense ($ cents) at this time?

    Jim Monachino