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Together, coal-fired and nuclear power plants provide about 67% of U.S. electricity and nearly 35% of all global primary energy. Yet both forms of power are currently out of favor in the U.S. and much of the West, where ongoing efforts exist to limit or close such plants, in large part because of concerns about risks to public health and safety. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects global energy demand to increase about 80% by 2035, and that much of this demand will be met by coal and nuclear power. How can the need for power and concerns about its sources be reconciled? This question was recently addressed in New York City at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment. Chairing the panel was senior fellow, Robert Bryce, who pointed out that between 1990 and 2010 global electricity use increased by 76%. “The country that can provide cheap and reliable electricity can bring its people out of poverty into the modern world,” he said. “Those that can’t, can’t.” David Diamond, Senior Scientist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, sketched the nuclear picture. He explained that despite Fukushima, which had a major impact in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, and despite natural ...
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