Here are links to all my discussions of nuclear power and its various limitations:
- Prohibitively high, and escalating, capital costs
- Production bottlenecks in key components needed to build plants
- Very long construction times
- Concerns about uranium supplies and importation issues
- Unresolved problems with the availability and security of waste storage
- Large-scale water use amid shortages
- High electricity prices from new plants
A good place to start is:
- Exclusive analysis, Part 1: The staggering cost of new nuclear power
- Warning to taxpayers, investors — Part 2: Nukes may become troubled assets, ruin credit ratings
- The Self-Limiting Future of Nuclear Power
- Nuclear Pork — Enough is Enough
- GOP wants 100 new nukes by 2030 while “Areva has acknowledged that the cost of a new reactor today would be as much as 6 billion euros, or $8 billion, double the price offered to the Finns.”
- Nuclear Bombshell: $26 Billion cost “” $10,800 per kilowatt! “” killed Ontario nuclear bid
My point in these posts is not to say nuclear power will play no role in the fight to stay below 450 ppm of atmospheric CO2 concentrations and avoid catastrophic climate outcomes. I am sure it will.
Indeed, I even include a wedge of nuclear in my 14-wedges “solution” to global warming (see “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 2: The Solution“). Based on my research in the past year, however, I am increasingly doubtful that a full wedge of nuclear — 700 new nukes plus 300 replacements plus 10 Yucca Mountains all by 2050 — is that plausible. It will be a very time-consuming and expensive proposition, probably costing $6 to $8 trillion. Still, none of the wedges is easy.
Fundamentally, the large and growing risks from climate change, particularly the real danger that failure to act NOW means we will approach a horrific 5-7°C warming by 2100 with catastrophic impacts “largely irreversible for 1000 years” means two things:
- We must seriously entertain any strategy that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- We must focus on the lowest-cost options first, because we simply don’t have an unlimited amount of capital.
My primary point is to shatter the widespread myth among conservatives — and others — that nuclear power will be a dominant solution to global warming. No.
It is extremely unlikely to even be 10% of the total solution. This is particularly true in the United States, where we have so many more cost-effective alternatives NOW, as I explain in my nuclear paper and throughout this blog, including energy efficiency, wind power, solar photovoltaics, and concentrated solar power.
- Turkey’s only bidder for first nuclear plant offers a price of 21 cents per kilowatt-hour
- Nuclear meltdown in Finland
- Nuclear power, Part 2: The price is not right
- Nukes, Part 1.5: Nuclear Bomb
- How much of a subsidy is the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industry Indemnity Act?
- Nuclear storage at Yucca jumps 38% — to $96B
- Nuclear cost study 3: Responding to Heritage’s staggeringly confused ‘rebuttal’
- Power plants costs double since 2000 — Efficiency anyone?
- What do you get when you buy a nuke? You get a lot of delays and rate increases”¦.