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Environment

Powering nuclear power

August 1, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 31

Jeff Johnson ends his article on the decommissioning of California’s last nuclear power plant, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, with the following statement: “Nuclear power is carbon-free when generating electricity; however, it demands significant electricity, carbon-free or otherwise, when enriching uranium for fuel” (C&EN, June 27, page 15). This is true enough, and the energy required for uranium enrichment must be included in the energy budget for the life cycle of a nuclear power plant.

However, it is scarcely something unique to nuclear power. The corresponding energy cost of a solar electric plant would be the energy expended in the production of the solar cells used by the plant.

Evan Appelman
State College, Pa.

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