The re-emergence of nuclear power as an energy source lends new vigor to economist Ahmed’s 30-year-old study.
Nuclear power is very much back on the table after years of legislative and public resistance, as fossil fuels have shown themselves to be vulnerable from almost every angle. Handling radioactive waste has been foremost of concern in this re-emergence, but as Ahmed ably–if in tinder-dry academese–demonstrates, a number of other concerns that most be addressed to gain a full grasp on nuclear-power feasibility. This has been the case since the late 1970s, when this book first appeared. Ahmed’s text serves two different audiences, one being the professional energy analyst who’s comfortable in the heavy weather of econometrics, flow charts that resemble the works of Jackson Pollack, parameter estimations and microeconomic simulations. The visuals provide a credible economic framework to thoroughly examine the uranium fuel situation: resources and reserves, supply and demand, prices and costs of extraction and refinement. These concerns dovetail with the other audience of the book–the lay reader curious about the nature of U.S. uranium reserves, the cost of nuclear-power production, those in control of the resources and the processes associated with mining and milling. If the book shows its age by concentrating on the light-water reactor fission program, it is also prescient about the potential for industry monopolization. â€œPossible producers’ collusion can be inferred from the future trend in the prices of uranium,” the author writes, and price forecasts have proven very close to today’s production prices. The system flow diagram of power generation costs is invaluable, as it also serves as a remarkable overview of what is required–fuel, capital, operating and maintenance factors–to produce even a single watt of nuclear energy.
A comprehensive address of nuclear power geared toward citizens privy to the complex issues involved.