Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Is the Push for New Nuclear Power Plants a Gigantic Waste of Time and Money?

I'm anything but convinced that new nuclear power plants are a practical, cost-effective and safe solution to our climate disruption and Peak Oil problems.  This article, titled "No New Version of Nuclear Power", provides some up-to-date information, including links to recent reports, about why this is my current take on Nuclear Power.

Amory Lovins writes: "Every new reactor in history has been costlier, slower, and harder than projected." He continues: "IFRs (integrated fast reactors) might in principle offer some safety advantages over today's light-water reactors, but create different safety concerns, including the sodium coolant's chemical reactivity (sodium catches fire if exposed to airand explodes if exposed to water) and radioactivity."

Also from the report:

“2009 was the seventh year of the so-called “Nuclear Renaissance,” but it looks a lot like the US nuclear industry of the 1980s, a decade of no new orders, multiple delays and cancellations, hefty defaults, and emerging cheaper alternatives.” (Mark Cooper, Institute for Energy and the Environment, December 2009)

Right now, we really need to be investing our time and funding into low-carbon energy solutions that are cost-effective and can be deployed relatively quickly (like starting now, and up and running starting within the next 5 years).  I'd love for nuclear to work as an addition to our energy mix that really helps our transition off of the 20th Century sinking ship that is fossil fuels -- I really would.  Show me the numbers, the new plants that are being built quickly and cost effectively.  You can't!

Thus, this article certainly doesn't do anything to convince me that we should be investing billions of precious taxpayer dollars in nuclear right now, as President Obama seems to be approving of to achieve "bipartisan" support of climate change and clean energy legislation in the Senate. 

At a time when we need to get as many kWh of low-carbon energy sources in place as soon as possible, it's painful to watch as "bipartisanship" takes priority over "likelihood of success".  I don't give a whale's armpit if policy solutions are Democratic, Republican, bipartisan, or friggin Martian.  I just want them to successfully achieve our climate change and clean energy transition goals.

It boggles the mind how plumb dumb the politics of our transition to clean energy can be sometimes.

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1 comment:

  1. Actually, nuclear plants are being built quickly and cost effectively, in France and Japan.

    Other countries are trying to start up or resurrect new industries. It is a reality that the costs of anything new are always higher for the first few produced, owing to tooling-up and training. After the first few are built, costs always go down and the same will be true of nuclear plants.

    France and Japan just have the advantage of never having succumbed to pressure from extremist political groups.