DP: This is one of those litmus tests of a person's seriousness about the environment. If you care about the environment and you're against nuclear energy, then you don't really care about the environment. What you care about is a romantic notion that you hold about energy, that for some reason it is more pristine and beautiful to you to imagine wind and sun. Although as i have learned, by the way, William Tucker, and I'm speaking to the author of Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead To Green Revolution And End America's Energy Odyssey. It's up at Pragerradio.com at the blog area. And William Tucker has done a lot of research for this. I learned just recently, William Tucker, that it takes an immense amount of water to clean solar panels.
WT: Yeah, I was the one that put that out there, in fact.
DP: Oh, (laughing)
WT: (laughing) I'm glad I got it out.
DP: Well, it did get around. Bless your soul.
WT: Yeah, yeah. No, those mirrors that they're using have to be cleaned every week, and they need a complete, thorough scrubbing every month. So that's the biggest labor element to solar power is you need a lot of water. And these are, the things they've got now are about a quarter of a mile square. But they're talking about literally ten, twenty square miles of mirros out in the middle of the desert.
DP: To produce the same amount as how many nuclear reactors?
WT: You need with a thousand megawatts, you need...which is a standard coal or nuclear plant, you need about 50 square miles of solar. That's seven miles on a side.
DP: Folks, do you hear that? Seven miles by seven miles gives you just under 50 square miles. That's what you...seven miles all around, 49 miles around you would need to...the equivalent of one nuclear reactor.
DP: And people claim that that is better for the environment.
DP: It drives me nuts. I tell you, you need a sedative on this matter.
WT: No, you're right about the romanticism, because there's always been this idea that wind and solar would be so clean and nice and manageable. If you read Amery Lovins, he's been the guru of this, he was talking back in the 80s about well, you'll just have a little windmill in your backyard, and maybe a solar panel up on your roof. You won't even need the electrical grid. They were actually talking about, you know, we can get rid of the grid. Now they suddenly realize wow, we need to run an industrial society here. Well, we need a hundred square miles of this, and a hundred and twenty-five, and we've got to pump it from the remote deserts to the cities as well. The big talk now is we have to completely rebuild the electrical grid. That's like rebuilding the interstate highway system. We've got to completely rebuild the electrical grid if we're going to go to renewable energy. And of course, don't forget, they only work when the wind blows and the sun shines.
DP: In writing your book, did you speak to people at major environmentalist organizations?
WT: Yeah, yeah. I spoke to...
DP: And what do they say to you?
WT: Well mostly, they don't want to speak to me.
DP: Oh, okay, that's what I thought.
WT: I'll tell you one of the most fascinating interviews I had was at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
WT: ...with Kaz Kazmierski, who is the nation's leading researcher in photovoltaic energy. He's been with the Department of Energy since the Carter administration. I went in, I sat with him for about ten minutes. I finally said what do you think we really need, and he says, he kind of looks at me cautiously and he says you probably won't believe this, but around here, we think what we need is nuclear and solar. We need nuclear for the base load, and solar can work very well for these peak summer loads that utilities always have a terrible time meeting. Solar is perfect for that, because it peaks on the hottest summer days. But he says, you know, I've been trying to do, and I said to him, I said this is in my book, is a nuclear-solar alliance. And his eyes kind of widened, and he says I've been trying to get people in the Department of Energy to talk, the nuclear and solar people to talk to each other.
DP: Yeah, but it's taken over by the ideologues. All right, let's get some calls from around the country. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Ed. Hi, Ed, you're on with William Tucker and Dennis Prager.
Ed: Hi, Dennis, how are you today?
ED: Good, I am a fan of nuclear power. I think it's very efficient. And the history of safety is great. The biggest question I have is in Philadelphia, or right outside of Philadelphia in Limerick, there's a nuclear power plant. And it sits right, I guess it's on a high piece of ground. But the towers are about 500 feet tall and they are quite ugly. They really do mar the landscape.
WT: In the cooling tower?
ED: And it's certainly not in my backyard, but you can see these things for a very long distance. I don't know much about them, but is it normal that they have to be that tall and that visible?
WT: Yes, yes. The cooling tower is the one piece of architecture that you need. You also need them for coal plants, by the way now, because they're, they have to have their water cooled as well. But yeah, I mean, the tradeoff is you have one cooling tower per nuclear power plant as opposed to, say, 50 square miles of cooling towers, of windmills that are as tall as cooling towers.
DP: Okay, let's get some more calls, and we'll go to Humboldt, Arizona, Ken. Ken, Dennis Prager and Liam Tucker.
Ken: Hello, gentlement.
Ken: I am wondering about the tradeoff, if there's any, with the mining of the uranium compared to the mining of the coal.
WT: Well once again, it's a matter of volume.
Ken: ...for energy unit on the end of the process.
WT: Yeah. Well, coal has only...uranium has 200 million times the energy per square meter as coal does. In fact, there's actually uranium in coal. If you could take the uranium out of the coal, it would give you more energy than the coal itself. So the volume of coal you need is about 2 million times as great. So when you mine it, I mean, uranium mines are little holes in the ground, whereas coal mines now, they're taking whole tops off of mountains in West Virginia, or else they build these two mile square escavations in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. And you just, you know, once again, it's just the density and the volume of the material that gives nuclear such a tremendous advantage.
DP: Phoenix, Arizona, Scott. Hello, Scott, Dennis Prager, Liam Tucker.
Scott: Hey, thank you for having me on. Sir, I really appreciate your opinion, and I'm actually in favor of nuclear power. But my concern is that number one, I think that you've been subsidized, or you're a lacky for the nuclear indistry because you've done nothing but cover the pro sides of it.
WT: Because nobody would ever have these opinions if they weren't being paid tens of thousands of dollars, right? Go ahead, I'm sorry.
Scott: Sir, for some reason, I can hardly hear you. But my one question I have is that, about nuclear reaction is that the world has gotten together, and nobody can figure out what to do with Chernobyl. And everybody's scratching their heads, and yet they want to...even though I'm in favor of it....
DP: Wait, Scott, let me ask you a question. You say you are for nuclear energy?
Scott: Yes, I am, but what I can't understand is why they continue to build them so close to cities like here in Phoenix, Arizona.
DP: All right, wait, wait, wait. The only...that's fine, that's a legitimate question. I just want to understand, though, you're for nuclear energy, but you're not a lacky for the nuclear energy people. So why is he?
Scott: Well, because he's on your program, a wonderful program like yours, Dennis. And also I think he's written a book. But what I'm saying is that to be fair, he's not covering the negative aspects of it. Not once has he mentioned Chernobyl.
DP: Okay, we will when we come back. We will in fact. Hold on.