It ain’t just ‘beat coal’
The Oil Drum has a long and technically rich piece on the pros and cons of nuclear power (updated and reposted from last year) by Martin Sevior, an Associate Professor at the School of Physics in the University of Melbourne. It’s more sanguine about nuclear energy than I am, but it’s dense with great info.
I have but one quibble. Here’s how he starts his conclusion:
Technically, there appear to be no show stoppers for a considerable expansion of Nuclear Power throughout the world. It is a low carbon energy source with abundant fuel supplies. The technology works and has much potential for improvement.
Fair enough. But then there’s this:
Whether or not a large scale expansion eventuates depends on how it competes with Coal on economic grounds and with the public on political grounds.
No. It depends on how nuclear competes with renewables and efficiency in a carbon-constrained environment.
This in turn will be determined by the performance of the nuclear industry over the next few years as these purportedly cheaper and safer plants are built.
All the nuclear industry can do in the "next few years" is permit and build plants. In ten years they’ll be up and running.
Let’s think about 30 years out. For nuclear, the first 10 were spent planning, permitting, and building plants. For the next 20, they produced power.
For R&E, that’s 30 years of efficiency improvements, grid upgrades, R&D on thin-film solar and wave energy and batteries, deployment of solar thermal and solar PV and geothermal and offshore wind, domestic job creation, and behavioral changes as communities adjust themselves to increasing energy independence.
If you were an investor, where would you put your money?
Perhaps you think nuclear will win that race, but is there any good reason we’re pouring billions of dollars into the first option and a pittance into the latter?