Nuclear remains a foundation for Gore

18 July 2008

Al Gore has called on the American people to switch to 100% low-carbon electricity within ten years. The plan relies on nuclear energy, but Gore chooses to give the headlines to renewables.


Al Gore, 17 July 2008 
Al Gore: "Committed to changing not
just light bulbs, but laws."
Speaking yesterday in Washington, former Vice President Gore explained the plans of the 'We' campaign from the Alliance for Climate Protection, which he chairs. He said that the USA's current problems of borrowing, dependence on imported oil and impending climate change could all be solved by one bold initiative. "We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persion Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that has to change," he said. "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon based fuels."


"So today I challenge America to commit to producing 100% of our electricity from renewable energy and from truly clean carbon-free sources within ten years," said Gore, who is now as famous for his An Inconvenient Truth tour as his conventional political career.

A ten-year deadline for the switch, Gore said, would be the longest timeframe the USA could expect to "hold a steady aim," citing past successful national projects such as the Moon landings, the Marshall Plan and the interstate highway network.


Gore spoke at length about the contribution solar, geothermal and wind energy could make without mentioning nuclear or hydro, today's leading low-carbon sources. He later admitted, however, to the Associated Press that his plan relies on nuclear power for the 20% of US electricity it currently produces. Hydropower also provides about 7% of US electricity; other renewables currently provide less than 3%.


Furthermore, Gore's vision of an extensive switch to electric vehicles would dramatically grow the electricity sector and therefore demand for off-peak nuclear power. Another infrastructure change required along with huge numbers of renewable projects would be a nation-wide grid upgrade to connect the renewables hotspots to the cities that need the power.


Gore also spoke in favour of a carbon tax as "the single most important change we could make" - another measure that would increase demand for nuclear power. He said he was in favour of sharply cutting income tax and making up the difference from carbon taxes: "We should tax what we burn, not what we earn," he concluded.