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  • Nuclear Energy: Learning from the French

    Skyrocketing gas prices and rising energy demands have policymakers considering some of the same bad policies of the 1970s. Chief among these are windfall profits taxes, setting price controls on oil and using subsidies to pick winners and losers.

    The French, on the other hand, took a different approach in the 1970s—sort of. They decided turn to nuclear energy to reduced its dependence on foreign oil. By developing an energy policy that was consistent with French values and national strengths, it transformed its energy profile.

    Before France became the nuclear leader it is today, most of the country’s electricity came from oil burning plants. Undoubtedly, the country felt the effects of the 1970s oil shocks when a barrel increased four-fold. Not being rich in natural resources, legislators in France turned to nuclear energy. As a result,

    “Over the next 15 years France installed 56 nuclear reactors, satisfying its power needs and even exporting electricity to other European countries.”

    Today nuclear power provides about 80% of France’s electricity. Not only has nuclear power been critical to replacing fossil fuels as a source for electricity production, but it is also effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including the much maligned carbon dioxide.

    Moreover, France has proven that nuclear waste can be safely and comprehensively managed, which is often a sticking point among nuclear power skeptics. Unlike the U.S., who banned the practice in the 1970’s, France recycles its used nuclear fuel. The result is more energy and less high-level waste. In fact,

    “France’s La Hague plant has safely processed over 23,000 tones of used fuel–enough to power France for fourteen years.”

    Nuclear power isn’t the answer for the United States simply because the French do it. Nor should the U.S. follow France’s centralized approach to expanding nuclear power. The important takeaway is that France used the oil spikes of the 1970s as the impetus to develop a clean, safe affordable source of power to transform its energy profile and become less dependent on oil. It then developed a practical and comprehensive strategy to assure the sustainability of is energy production sector. The U.S. is facing a similar situation today. While a new nuclear plant won’t likely come online for another seven years, more nuclear power could help the U.S. be prepared for the next energy shock.

    At 10:40 a.m. tomorrow on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” Research Fellow Jack Spencer will discuss what can be learned from the French about energy independence.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Nuclear Energy: Learning from the French

    1. symonds,phoneix says:

      I am a new comer to this site. I enjoyed when i read those posts in this site. I gathered lot of information.

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    2. Pingback: Can We Learn Something from the French?

    3. Curious says:

      Does anyone know where Mr. Loris got his quotes from? I am definitely a proponent of nuclear, but I'm hesitant at just taking some of his facts at face value…especially when it comes to recycling spent fuel….

    4. Dave, laguna niguel, says:

      Nuclear power has proven itself over the years to be safe, if managed properly, and totally efficient. The liberal left, lunatics devoid of common sense and always willing to shrug off facts, were shaken to their nutty core by a MOVIE! The China Syndrome, which was completely made up! And it causes an entire country to go into a tailspin and now be totally dependent on foreign oil! And as for "spent fuel", all of it, since the nuclear program was begun, can be put into a common gymnasium!

    5. biplab; India says:

      If Indo-US nuclear deal comes through the main beneficiary is likely to be France. Considring our energy requirement of 700GW by 2030 and 1800GW + by 2050 we really do not have a choice but to go in for nuclear power plants in a big way. French experiance of generating the cheapest nuclear power in world is likely to most valuable, particularly 1600 MW super critical plants. Joint venture for FBR is also most likely.

    6. Charles Forsberg, Le says:

      The French decision for nuclear power was a consequence of the Suez crisis, the Algerian war, and the 1973 oil embargo. These three disasters led the French to conclude that only fools depend upon Arab oil. Their nuclear program was a direct outgrowth of that experience.

      Today the world sends four-trillion dollars per year to the world's oil producers, the mideast is no more stable than it was in 1975, and we face the challenge of climate change. The question is how long before we learn what the French understood in 1975.

    7. igmuska, South Dakot says:

      And the USA bailed out France twice, once in World War I and once in World War II. We tried to help them save face after their honorable defeat at Dien Bien Phu by Vietnamese army but were also sadly defeated by politics in the Viet Nam Conflict.

      Hopefully France's nuclear profileration program doesn't result in our getting nuked by any of the rogue nations France is selling the nuclear energy.

      France shouldn't be allowed to control US energy policy.

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