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Best headline of the year from World Nuclear News

By Joe Romm  

"Best headline of the year from World Nuclear News"


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Money no object for Indian reactor plans

That is certainly the attitude you need to have if you’re planning to build a bunch of nukes:

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4 Responses to Best headline of the year from World Nuclear News

  1. Jim Beacon says:

    I protested at Three Mile Island in 1979 and predicted back then that it meant “no new nuclear power plants are going to be built in the United States in the future.” I was right about that, but I should have said “foreseeable future” because today we have a new concern that trumps all of our old concerns about nuclear power. Realistically, they are the only way we can *quickly* reduce the coal we now burn in our existing power plants — we simply cannot build up the other alternative power sources fast enough to get coal out of the picture fast enough to do us any real good by 2030. The best estimates for the other alternatives is that all we can do with wind, solar and water combined is to increase the current 3% of electricity they generate in the U.S. to perhaps 10% to 15% within the next 20 years. But burning coal for electricity currently produces 48% of our electricity. We have to be honest with the science — and with ourselves — and face the facts: The only way out is nukes.

    Yes, I find it disturbing and very distasteful to reverse my position on this after 30 years. All of our concerns about nuclear power are still valid, even though we are now much closer to a national waste repository (which has concerns as well, but is still far better than continuing to inject all those coal-burning pollutants directly into the atmosphere). Also, we have to admit that we have continued to generate 19% of our electricity with nukes for the past 30 years and have had no more Three Mile Islands. Many other countries get a much higher percentage of their power from nukes and have also been accident-free. The modern designs for nuke power plants are much better than long ago, even if they are more expensive.

    As for the cost, in 2003, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued a report entitled, “The Future of Nuclear Power”. They estimated that new nuclear power in the US would cost 6.7 cents per kWh (see http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/ ). I think that was too low, but, hey, right now I’m paying an average of 13 cents per kWh at my house in Florida and the rates are scheduled for a 30% increase this year. Since I also have a nice 1 kWh solar panel array on my roof, I know for a fact that the solar electricity I love so much costs me a *whole lot* more than that — about $2.19 per actual kWh generated even when I average it out over the entire 20-year lifespan of the my solar panels. A nearby friend with a good wind turbine on a 60-foot tower doesn’t do much better.

    [JR: That was 6 years ago. Nuclear costs have tripled since then. Read the links.]

    So, continuing to be realistic, at 6.7 cents per kWh… or 15 cents… or even 30 cents or more per kWh… new nuclear power is by far the most economically viable alternative to coal — particularly since one nuke plant can generate so much power (again, lots of power is what we simply must have to replace that 48% of coal-burning within 20 years).

    Besides CO2 emissions from coal-burning power plants, the other big global emission reduction must come from switching personal vehicles away from hydrocarbon fuels. Biofuels are great, but we simply cannot grow enough biofuel to meet today’s vehicle needs, much less those of China and India going forward. Biofuel is a great supplement, but can’t possibly achive the drastic reduction in vehicle CO2 emission we need over the next 20 years. Electricity is the only viable way to do that quickly, but as long as 70% of our electricity is generated with hydrocarbon fuels (coal and natural gas combined), we would not make any serious reductions in CO2 with electric cars, only swap one CO2 source for another. Which brings us back to the need for lots clean green electricity from lots of new nuclear plants.

    It’s time for everyone to honestly answer one simple question:

    Do we stick with coal (for electricity) and oil (for vehicles_ for the next 20 years or do we bite the bullet and go for the nukes in a big way — right now — and really solve the problem?

    I would love for there to be a truly viable third alternative, but it just ain’t there.

  2. Jim Beacon says:

    Oops… my bad… a decimal point slipped. The estimated cost for a kilowatt hour of electricity from my solar array is $0.219 — call it 22 cents per kWh. Still considerably more expensive than new nuclear would be — and I only get 6 hours of peak sun per day here in Florida. A nuke plant generates peak power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  3. Bob Wright says:

    Areva: Think Airbus

    Westinghouse: Think Boeing

    Think super safe cost effective nukes everywhere, and serious cost competition.

    Problem 1 is an aircraft accident can only take out a few hundred people. Even 3 planes commandeered by terrorists only took out a few thousand. A nuke…

    Problem 2. Will we reach a limit of world wide actinide pollution? A parallel to CO2 or Dioxin… when we have to turn nuclear off?

    Part of the solution, but the stakes are very high.

  4. Bob Wallace says:

    “I would love for there to be a truly viable third alternative, but it just ain’t there.”

    You’re right. At least you’re right in your own little personal reality world.

    Try looking at the cost of wind and thermal solar. Look how prices are falling for both CSP and PV solar.

    Consider the time (several decades) it would take to bring a significant number of new nuclear plants on line. Weight that against how quickly wind is being installed.

    Expand your reality by including more facts and less dogma….