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Trade-offs reveal no clear favorites in alternative energy market

CHICAGO, Ill. The nuclear power industry is riding the green wave back into public favor with its promise of a low-carbon solution to our growing energy needs. But even as the industry struggles to dictate what role nuclear can realistically play, it is bound by a global energy landscapefrom solar to carbon sequestrationthat is still predominantly shaped by the marketplace.

Veteran New York Times energy reporter Matthew Wald takes a pragmatic look at the trade-offs associated with investment in a number of alternative energy sources in Getting Power to the People, a special in-depth feature appearing in the September/October 2007 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Wald considers variables such as the cost of fuel inputs, capacity factor, and the price of carbon capture technology, and discusses how they affect energy prices for consumers. There is a future on the grid for almost everything: coal, natural gas, nuclear power, gasified biomass, and probably wind and solar as well, Wald concludes. What remains is to determine the proportions.

Additional materials include selected graphs that illustrate baseline energy concepts and a summation chart that offers energy source comparison at a glance.

Also in this issue of the Bulletin: Want the truth about the hidden world of hazardous waste disposal and the arms trade" Its all about knowing how something gets from point A to point B. Sergio Finardi, a logistics expert who independently tracks the international freight transport system, talks to the Bulletin about subterfuge and foul play rampant in the transport business, and about how he knew that the United States had decided to invade Iraq a year before it happened.

Elsewhere in the Bulletin:

  • Jeanne Guillemin warns that if history is any guide, states will again call on scientists to develop biological weapons;
  • Harold A. Feiveson scrutinizes the environmental consequences of the Bush administrations Global Nuclear Energy Partnership;
  • Jennifer Ouellette explores how scientists can improve their notoriously poor ability to communicate risk;
  • Researchers with the Global Transnational Terrorism Project map the social ties that bind terrorist networks.


Contact: Jonas Siegel
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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