David McNelis, a joint research professor at UNC, is a proponent of using nuclear energy as much as possible. He recently wrote an op-ed in the (Raleigh) News & Observer explaining the dangers of overlooking nuclear energy.
Staff writer Kelsey Mason spoke with David McNelis about his thoughts on nuclear energy in North Carolina.
THE DAILY TAR HEEL: How is nuclear energy currently used in North Carolina?
DAVID MCNELIS: We have five nuclear plants in North Carolina and they produce about 36 percent, roughly, of the electricity that we use.
DTH: How does North Carolina compare to other states in using and developing nuclear energy?
DM: So about 20 percent of the electricity (in the U.S.) comes from nuclear power. And like I said, in North Carolina we’re about 35 percent so, on the average, we have more electricity coming from nuclear power.
DTH: Why do you think we’re not utilizing nuclear energy as much as we could be?
DM: The upfront costs are very expensive to build a major nuclear power plant. There are designs, but there is a lot of work being done worldwide on small modular reactors. And they would be safer, you get into a lot of other discussion here, but they tend to produce less waste and to consume existing waste.
DTH: How do you think nuclear energy can be marketed towards the public so as to increase popularity?