It was pure coincidence that the release event for my detailed review of US subsidies to nuclear power -- a document a couple of years in the making -- was on March 11, 2011, the day of the Fukushima accident. I was in DC for the launch, traveling in a cab to the event with David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who was also releasing a new report.
Although nuclear power is a source of low carbon electricity, it is by no means a clear solution to the challenge we face in reducting greenhouse gas emissions. This presentation discusses common metrics to assess the most cost-efficient source of ghg emissions and reviews multiple studies indicating that new reactors are an expensive option relative to alternatives, and getting more so each year. Cost escalation, lengthening delivery times on reactor projects, and oft-ignored concerns about proliferation create significant headwinds for the nuclear pathway. In contrast, competitors cont
Lot's happening with nuclear around the world -- mostly associated with continued problems with market-competitive delivery, seeking alms from taxpayers, and attempts by taxpayer groups and trading partners to block the largest of the subsidies.
Another roundup of interesting tidbits from the world of government subsidies.
1) Nuclear: A new age of nuclear energy is about to dawn? Optimism is a good thing, and Michael Brush of the Fiscal Times certainly exudes it. But optimism probably shouldn't lead you to invest your 401(k) in a bunch of nuclear utility stocks.
Two straightforward concepts drive the inevitable marketplace defeat of nuclear power in most power markets: incremental innovation and lot size. People are quite clever in making many things, but we also frequently screw up. We learn by educated trial and error, and we get better bit-by-bit over time.
1) Reuters attributes sunk costs of German nuclear capacity to renewables. Michael Marriotte of NIRS flagged this one. In a recent post, he pointed out that $75 billion Reuters implied was associated with Germany's transition away from nuclear was actually "for decommissioning Germany's reactors and building a permanent radioactive waste dump." This is a sunk cost, and will need to be p
The word out of Switzerland yesterday was that "Iran and and six world powers had agreed on the outlines of an understanding that would open the path to a final phase of nuclear negotiations but are in a dispute over how much to make public." What exactly is the dispute over? The AP noted that
1) Corporate happy talk 1: Hamming it up with frack water and earthquakes
Conventional industries have it easy. Make a good product; invest in technology and engineering to make it better and keep costs in line; then crank up the output and sell it wherever you can. Unit costs drop. Word of mouth bolsters your smart advertising campaign to millenials, creating feedback loops on social media, driving customers to buy still more of your product and fueling double digit growth. Grow production and sales, both in domestically and abroad. Grow brand recognition. Grow revenues. Grow profit. You are limited only by your skills and your imagination.
Renewable energies were compared with the nuclear option by looking at the quantities of power they can both generate and the level of financial support this requires. This mirrors the extra costs which must be borne by the end consumer or society. Five different renewable technologies were analysed: biomass, onshore and offshore wind, small-scale hydropower plants and photovoltaics.