We're all willing to work for affordable energy and global power management, but how much are we willing to pay? A new report by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) says that we can halve the cost of reducing future carbon dioxide emissions if we aggressively pursue heretofore underdeveloped energy technologies. Sounds great, says the man in the street. Except don't ever call him up and say "nuclear."
Clearly, "We The People" don't necessarily share government's enthusiasm for that solution, a different bird from saving power at the circuit board and system levels. The consumer likes the idea of plug-in hybrid vehicles, a needed ingredient for reform as outlined in the EPRI report. Relying on "clean coal" plants as EPRI suggests sounds expensive but doable, although the learning curve seems complicated.
But then we have nuclear. I'm neutral on nuclear, but I'd be surprised if even one in 100 know about all the activity, the presentations, the work by the various think tanks talking to Washington right now on that subject. Sounds like a done deal. But, take a look on the Web to see how people react. There are sites promoting clean, safe nuclear energy, presented in a way I'd have to say is analogous to the ads in the 50s when margarine first came out. On the opposing side, we have sites with some rather unsettling cinematography (professionally done, I'm sure) complete with apocalyptic chants that are certain to spook some.
Whatever side you're on, one thing has changed. It has to do with alternative power. A lot of people are saying that if such sources are going to contribute 15 percent to the future energy store, as traditionally touted, it just isn't enough anymore—we need 25 percent. But more people also believe we have to be realistic, there's just so much one country's economy is capable of, just so high a standard of living we can achieve beyond which the price from both an economic and psychological viewpoint isn't worth it. I'm with them.