By on June 9, 2010

“I want to make nuclear power generation ‘visible’ through electric vehicles,” says Takafumi Anegawa, a former nuclear engineer who works for Tokyo Electric Power Co.  He thinks that “electric cars are the best tool to help people understand the importance of nuclear power,” reports The Nikkei [sub].

Anegawa heads up  the CHAdeMo Association. With 236 member firms and organizations, the group aims to promote the installation of electric vehicle chargers. The group’s suggestions stand a good chance to make a method of electrical charging developed in Japan the global standard via the ECE.

Anegawa was one of the first promoters of electrical cars – to promote nuclear energy.

“Every time there is a problem at a nuclear power plant, people see nuclear power generation as something bad,” Anegawa said. He thought electric vehicles could change people’s perceptions.

People with green leanings may not want to hear it, but pretty much the only sensible way to produce the power needed to charge masses of electric vehicles would be nuclear. Burning fossil fuels simply moves the exhaust from the car to power plant chimneys. Hydro-electric, solar, or wind powered? Dream on.

In many countries of the world, there had been a moratorium on nuclear power. No new nuclear power plants had been built in the U.S.A. since the 1970s. In February 2010, the two new nuclear power plants had been approved, the first in 30 years. In Germany, building of new nuclear plants had been against the law for years, and Germany wanted to be nuclear-free by 2021. Now, nuclear power looks more and more like it’s here to stay.

Broad acceptance of electric cars, combined with what is happening off the coast of Louisiana, could very well become the impetus for a resurgence of nuclear power.

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19 Comments on “The Truth About EVs: They Will Be Nuclear Powered...”


  • avatar

    Yup. Sober-minded US greens have been saying that the way forward is nuclear (well, nuclear plus natural gas) for awhile now. Just gotta get the coal lobby out of the way…

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Too few sober minded greens as most greens oppose oil, coal and nuclear.

    Coal probably would not be the current leader in large scale electrical production if the anti-nuclear greens had not blocked nuclear all these past decades.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Coal power is also half the price of nuclear which may speak louder than any green opposition to nuclear power.

      Let’s hope the government will do a better job regulating the nuclear industry than they have done with oil.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Well-said. Coal is abundant and compelling for many reasons, and doesn’t carry the fear factor that nukes do.

      Unfortunately, perception is reality. Coal actually costs more lives each year than does nuclear (mining, power plant operations, especially in China). American and French nukes have excellent safety controls that warrant widespread construction of more plants.

      However, the real problem with EVs will not be the power generation plants; it will be the charging protocol. A century of 5-minute fillups and fuel portability makes the spectre of charging stations, power cords, and battery change-out depots very tasteless to all but the greenest of consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      Don’t discount the fear of terrorism lobby/factor in the lack of nuclear power here. In the 70s, Carter signed into law that we could not reprocess our fuel for fear terrorists would steal the plutonium. Just about every other country with nuclear does reprocess and has never had an issue. In addition to that, not all reactors are the same and can be built to use other fuels. (I’m not a nuclear engineer, but a good friend is)

      I’m a greenie, but I am also a huge fan of nuclear. Coal is disgusting, and having worked at a coal-fired plant I know just how nasty it is in the immediate area. Wind and water can’t provide enough energy even if we cut our per capita energy levels down to other industrialized nations. Solar would be a great addition, but we’re dark half the time, so there has to be something else or a vast storage system. Nuclear is clean, yes there’s waste but it can be handled safely and reused, safe, and heavily regulated.

      The biggest problem with nuclear taking hold is overcoming public perception. With aging infrastructure it’s not gonna get better. The reactors are fine, it’s the pipes underground that will leak a small amount of radiation, but that doesn’t matter to people who don’t understand what’s dangerous and what’s not when it comes to radiation.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Not to mention that coal ash is itself radioactive waste, and I would bet a resident of eastern PA would get a higher dose of radiation than someone living next door to a French nuclear reactor.

      I give college greens until age 30 to wise up, after that they’re too naive and stupid to live, so off to Carousel with them..

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      “I give college greens until age 30 to wise up, after that they’re too naive and stupid to live, so off to Carousel with them.”

      Yeah, every environmentalist is against nuclear power.

      Every. Single. One.

      This does a disservice to strawmen everywhere, as it is filled with complete horseshit.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Thre’s a big part of the reason why I’m supporting electric cars: If there’s anything that’s going to get us over our irrational fear of nuclear plants, this is it. Anegawa’s definitely thinking.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    I wouldn’t totally write off coal. The US has enough domestically to power itself for centuries, and it doesn’t produce radioactive waste. The trick will be to get serious about upgrading coal based thermal generation with the more efficient technologies already available, such as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle. That alone would decrease CO2 emissions from coal significantly…and that is before any CO2 sequestration strategies are employed. Sure, all that stuff is expensive, but not likely as expensive as building new nuclear plants.

    If IGCC coal plants, with CO2 sequestration, could also burn crop biomass, then a part of the country’s electricity production could actually be carbon *negative*.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      The US has enough domestically to power itself for centuries, and it doesn’t produce radioactive waste.

      Unit-for-unit, coal puts more radioactivity into the environment than nuclear.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      In fact, we’d be better off using the thorium in coal for power, and converting the hydrocarbons into useful stuff like fertilizer, composites, etc..

      Or heck, fissioning the thorium, then using that power to fabricate gasoline and diesel from seawater and atmospheric CO2..

      OR… Reprocessing the nuclear waste we have and using THAT for electricity, thus concentrating and reducing the quantity of waste, and thus not having to hollow out a mountain range to store it..

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    The Truth? Eh. Nuclear will be the flavor of the month until cost overruns and safety issues hit the headlines again. Then it’s back to the showers. Also remember that we still haven’t figured what to do with all of the waste — and how to fully decommission closed plants.

    Emerging technologies such as hydrogen show more long-term promise in combination with potentially huge energy-efficiency improvements. Meanwhile, there’s no such thing as “clean” coal, e.g. sequestration looks like a very expensive pipe dream.

    There’s no one silver bullet; it will take a bunch of different strategies tailored to the situations of individual communities.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Where does the hydrogen come from? You are still going to need the nukes, or coal, to generate enough electric power to separate it from water. Almost all the H2 currently produced is by steam reforming methane (natural gas) inside oil refineries. This is a very inefficient process and CO2 is the byproduct.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The first problem with nuclear is that, if managed poorly, it becomes a huge cost sink. EDF has a capable, comprehensive, well-managed nuclear program and the cost and safety records bears it out.

    By comparison, Canada’s nuclear program is less well-led, largely because the oversight is poor, management balkanized, the funding penny-wise and pound-foolish and the political will waffling. And the results, accordingly, suck.

    The second is that it allows people and government to take their “eye off the ball” via s vis conservation. Big, capital projects tend to siphon off the will to do “micro” projects like smart meters or increased end-user efficiency. Combine both of these issues and you have a problem: a nuclear program that’s over budget and sucking money and attention from “micro” initiatives.

    But yes, it’s better than coal/oil/gas and more reliable than solar or wind.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    No well-managed full-rollout of nuclear means no cheap electric cars. That’s that.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Modular nukes (<300 MW) look pretty promising to me. You can mass produce them at a factory to drive down unit costs, while streamlining regulation approval, maintenance, training, etc. Then you can just ship these things out to wherever they're needed. You can bury an eight-pack of them right next to a large coal plant, plug in at the same point on the grid, and decommission the coal plant.

    As for waste, reprocess, baby, reprocess. Problem pretty much solved, with far more energy harvested to boot.

    (Deja vu. I think I posted something like this here before.)

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    I’ve always liked Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s solution to the nuclear waste issue (first published 30 years ago in ‘A Step Further Out’!) but he’s still in general agreement with it today.

    “First, nuclear waste is a non-problem. The simplest method of dealing with them is to encase the stuff in glass (actually make a glass with the waste as ingredients) then take it to the Mindanao Trench and drop it overboard. It will eventually be carried into the depths of the earth where it came from in the first place. End of problem.

    What most people do not seem to know is that while “nuclear waste” is in fact radioactive for thousands of years, after about 600 years the only radioactivity remaining is from the actinides, and those are what caused it to be fuel in the first place; after about 600 years the residuals are less active than the original ores mined in the first place.

    And if we don’t like dumping the stuff in the Deep (where we can’t retrieve it if we suddenly wish we had it) then again make glass of it, and stack it in the Mojave desert. A square mile of the Fort Irwin maneuver area would do for many years to come. If you really doubt the stability of glass (which is pretty near eternal) build a superdome over it. Put a triple chain link fence topped with razor wire around the site with a notice that anyone crossing the line is fair game for the Army, but you’ll probably die before we can kill you. Have a nice day.”

    Although in the original article his sign was more straightforward -> “If you cross this fence you will DIE”

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Or how about using the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository facility. It was built for the purpose of warehousing nuclear waste. We’ve spent billions of dollars on it but it’s sort of emblematic of anything nuclear – spend lots of money, spend years litigating issues, spend years debating it and finally decide to abandon all of it.

    • 0 avatar

      @tced:

      To my knowledge, Yucca Mountain was scrapped in favor of the WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) in my home state of New Mexico. The difference is geological. Volcanic welded tuff is not a good place to store nuclear waste. WIPP is in basically a salt bed, with no underground acquifers or springs. The salt encases the radiation completely.


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