Severance: Nuclear Power Makes No Business Sense

At a quiet lakeside retreat house in Potsdam, Germany, 35 people met this month to discuss the future of nuclear power.

Guest blogger and nuclear economics expert Craig Severance was one of the attendees.   He discusses his presentation in this repost.

Severance is co-author of “The Economics of Nuclear and Coal Power” (Praeger 1976) and a former Assistant to the Chairman and to Commerce Counsel, Iowa State Commerce Commission.  Last year, Severance did an Exclusive analysis for CP on the staggering cost of new nuclear power.

Among us were representatives from governments, academia, think tanks, the nuclear power and utility industries, and independent writers and researchers.  We came to talk, and not necessarily to agree.  Nevertheless, the discussions were brisk and a wealth of valuable information was shared.  The Brookings Institution and the Global Public Policy Institute with support from the European Commission sponsored the conference, entitled Towards a Nuclear Power Renaissance?  Challenges for Global Energy Governance“. (The insights I share below are my own perspective.  The conference followed rules where each of us is free to publish our own talk and perspectives but cannot report on what others said, so as to promote the free exchange of ideas.)

Potsdam Historically Significant. Potsdam seemed particularly appropriate for such an important conference.  Though it is a relatively small community 24 km southwest of Berlin, it has served an important role in history.  It was the home of the Prussian kings until 1918, a place where decisions could be made in an idyllic setting.   These same qualities attracted the Allies after WWII to meet in Potsdam to determine the future of Germany and postwar Europe.  Today, it has become an important scientific and research center.

Nuclear Power Decisions Will Determine Much. Though nuclear power may seem a limited issue — related only to energy, and only one of several energy sources at that — the decision whether to pursue nuclear power may prove to be the most important decision now before world leaders.    Consider the following:

  1. Capital Needs. Expanding nuclear power requires enormous amounts of capital,  For instance, some members of the U.S. Congress have said the U.S. should build 100 more new nuclear power plants.  Yet, building 100 new nuclear power plants would require a capital investment of at least one trillion dollars, and this would still meet only only a fraction of U.S. energy requirements.  In the throes of a world financial crisis, will economies have the resources to devote such enormous resources to just one industry?  Where will the funds come from?  Will other energy priorities such as energy efficiency, the Smart Grid, and expansion of renewables be eclipsed by nuclear power’s needs?  Even more broadly, is it ethical or wise to devote so much of an economy’s total resources to just electricity production?  For instance, do we really want the elderly who now struggle to pay $100/month electric bills to now have to find a way to pay $200/month?  Or, would it be better to limit the share of resources devoted to electricity by helping electric customers cut their usage?  Also, on the societal level, capital is limited.  In many developed countries key needs such as roads and bridges, public water and sewer systems, basic scientific research and development, and schools are all falling into decay because of a lack of capital investment.  In developing countries, these key infrastructures are not yet even in place.
  2. Climate Change. Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute has said for many years that the pursuit of nuclear power will make climate change worse because adopting it as a climate protection strategy simply won’t work.  It will be too expensive and too slow to get the job done.  This would not be such a disaster (many things don’t work) if nuclear power didn’t take all the money away from doing the things that actually do work.  Also, as Dr. Benjamin Sovacool of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy published here in 2008, nuclear power “is in no way carbon free or emissions free” even though it is better than coal, oil, or natural gas.  Because of carbon emissions needed for uranium mining and milling, uranium enrichment etc., Dr. Sovacool concluded after reviewng 103 studies on the topic, that nuclear power produces significantly more emissions than renewable energy technologies.  Putting most of your money into a technology that is more costly, slower, and less effective is a strategy for failure — and climate change is an issue where the world cannot afford to fail.
  3. Employment. Finding a solution to crippling unemployment is now an urgent matter for many countries.  We cannot “stimulate” forever — it is crucial that limited capital resources are invested most effectively.  Investments in efficiency and renewables will create more jobs than investing in new nuclear power plants.  The jobs created in new nuclear power are so highly technical there may not even be a trained nuclear work force available to fill those jobs.  As reported by the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2009, the nuclear industry is already facing critical shortages of the nuclear engineers needed to keep today’s existing fleets of nuclear power plants operating safely, let alone having the added staff needed to expand.  It is not nuclear engineers who are out of work — there aren’t even enough ot them — but the construction workers we all know in our own families and communities.  Jobs are needed in every community, not just a few concentrated locations where a massive new power plant may be built.  Efficiency and distributed power sources spread more new jobs, to those who need them, in more places.
  4. Economic Dependence . America, most of Europe except Russia, and in fact most countries of the world other than oil exporting nations are all suffering from a major drain on their economies due to the need to pay for imported energy.  Nuclear power won’t help most countries become energy independent,  because only a handful of nations in the world possess significant uranium resources.  Nuclear power is actually just another form of imported energy.  Is it wise for a country to invest tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in new power plants that depend on fuel imports from often unstable countries, and countries within the former Soviet sphere of influence?  Efficiency and renewables (and for some nations natural gas) utilize a country’s own resources.  Keeping dollars from leaving a country can create just as much economic activity as bringing new dollars in.
  5. Military Security. America and the EU nations have invested major military resources to protect access to imported oil.  Nuclear power does little or nothing to reduce oil dependence to lessen the need for the military resources devoted to oil.  Far worse, however, is that nuclear power creates stark new military security threats of its own that may require investment of major military resources to keep terrorists and weapons-intent countries from building nuclear weapons.  Nuclear power grew out of the nuclear weapons program, and the nuclear fuel cycle still produces the elements — uranium and plutonium — which can be used to make nuclear weapons or radioactive “dirty bombs”.  The nuclear industry argues that any nation or terrorist does not need a nuclear power plant to make a bomb,  they just need uranium enrichment.  This is true.  However, the only “legitimate” reason to enrich uranium is to use it in a nuclear power plant. The continued promotion and sale worldwide of “civilian” nuclear reactors thus gives nations the excuse to operate uranium enrichment programs, as we have seen in Iran.  In addition to this looming threat of new nuclear states, an even more frightening prospect is that weapons grade material will fall into the hands of terrorists. Terrorists are not deterred by Mutually Assured Destruction as are nuclear states.   Some nations are separating out the plutonium from spent nuclear fuel and mixing it into new fuel, and also stockpiling huge quantities of plutonium.  The unused fuel containing plutonium is shipped to nuclear plants, making it vulnerable to attack in transport.  The large plutonium stockpiles may also be attacked with the purpose of either seizing the material for bomb making or contamination of populations with radiation.   Western nuclear plants cannot explode with an atomic Hiroshima-style blast.  However, the continued sale and use of nuclear power plants may allow those intent on creating such horrendous destruction to gain access to exactly the  materials they need..

Nuclear Power Makes No Business Sense. The above problems are very serious in nature.  To address them however may require some simple common sense.  What is the purpose of nuclear power: simply to boil water to make kWh’s.  It is not the only way to make kWh”s.  Thus, if nuclear power makes no business sense, and there are alternatives to nuclear power, the problems noted above can be avoided except for existing plants.  We won’t need to make things worse by builiding new nuclear power plants.

Free market economies eventually pick winners and losers. There are clear indications the financial markets have already picked new nuclear power as a loser.  Those who watch the financial news on nuclear power have seen major institutions state again and again that new nuclear power makes no economic sense and is too risky to garner private investment or the support of private lenders.   Major cautionary reports have been issued by Moody’s, Citi, and Simmons & Co, among others.

Remember: Promoter’s Business Plans Always Look Good. Some may wonder why they can hear nuclear promoters’ numbers that show new nuclear power is economical, yet the financial industry remains so skeptical.  The reason is simple:  all promoters in any industry know they must develop business plan proposals that look good.  That is the job of the promoter.

Due Diligence Asks the Right Questions. It is the job of the lender or investor to be skeptical of any promoter, and to put a proposal to the test by a process known typically as the “Due Diligence” process.

Core questions asked in the Due Diligence Process include:

  1. Does the proposal actually meet customer needs?
  2. Can the company afford the project?
  3. Are Cost Projections Reliable?
  4. Assessment of the Competition
  5. Are Revenue Projections Reliable?

Due Diligence for New Nuclear Power. This was my contribution to the Potsdam Conference — a paper showing a sample analysis of new nuclear power as a “business proposal”  and applying the five “Due Diligence” tests above.  The presentation is posted here.

The conclusion is that new nuclear power does not meet any of the five tests, so it would fail as a business proposal.  The financial institutions mentioned above seem to have come to the same conclusion.   New nuclear power likely cannot succeed as a business proposal and thus would require massive government support.

This begs the question however — should not Due Diligence also be applied to the proper use of taxpayer monies?  If so much is at stake for the U.S. and the world, should the U.S. really be leading the way in throwing taxpayer monies at an industry without asking the right questions?

Related Posts:

24 Responses to Severance: Nuclear Power Makes No Business Sense

  1. Rick Covert says:

    Then there’s this reason for not building new nuke plants and shutting down the current ones.

  2. Icarus says:

    …building 100 new nuclear power plants would require a capital investment of at least one trillion dollars…

    Any way of producing the same amount of electricity is also going to cost an awful lot of money – the question is, how much? Maybe 100-nuclear-power-plants’ worth of (for example) wind electricity will also cost one trillion dollars. How much does it cost to install 100,000 turbines, plus the electrical grid to connect them, plus some kind of storage to smooth out the intermittent nature of wind energy? Is it practical to produce the many millions of tons of steel, concrete etc. required to make them?

    Inexhaustible sources of power such as wind, wave, tide, solar etc. seem appealing but it may be that nuclear power is the only *practical* way to produce the electricity we need without fossil fuels. If that’s the case then we need to use it.

  3. Jay Turner says:

    Icarus: You make a good point about the material resources required to build enough renewable generation to be equivalent to 100 nuclear reactors. My guess is that renewables would require more labor and less materials than nuclear. However, it seems pretty obvious that investing the same money in efficiency, demand-management and storage ought to produce results more quickly and more cheaply than building new nuclear plants. It’s just that today’s politics favors nuclear plants and other centralized megaprojects over millions of smaller, decentralized projects. It may be easier to build the nukes than change the politics.

  4. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Craig, thankyou for this very succinct assessment of the nuclear delusions.

    The questions that you see arising from your conclusion for me stop short of the pivotal question that must be answered if the nuclear dead end, and its genocidal climate consequence, are to be avoided.

    “The conclusion is that new nuclear power does not meet any of the five tests, so it would fail as a business proposal. The financial institutions mentioned above seem to have come to the same conclusion. New nuclear power likely cannot succeed as a business proposal and thus would require massive government support.

    This begs the question however — should not Due Diligence also be applied to the proper use of taxpayer monies? If so much is at stake for the U.S. and the world, should the U.S. really be leading the way in throwing taxpayer monies at an industry without asking the right questions?”

    Extremely bright people in Washington have the fully authoritative reports of the nuclear option’s failures regarding each of the five tests, and still nuclear is getting money hosed at it much faster than it can assimilate it.
    The core question for me is this :

    What is the nuclear option’s hold over the US establishment, and over those of many other developed nations ?
    Access to weapons grade material might once have been a motive, but no longer.
    Ditto access to low GHG energy – the fraudulence of this is too well documented.
    Ditto access to low-cost energy or commercially profitable energy- the fraudulence of these claims is too well documented.
    And the nuclear lobby’s grip would, IMHO, have to be much too widespread for it to be simply personal corruption/menaces worldwide.

    One hypothesis that may have some merit is that the nuclear lobby has demonstrated a capacity to largely stymie non-fossil energy technologies over several decades
    (with the most intermittent option: Wind, as the token exception, which has been a poisoned chalice for the greens).
    In view of this blocking capacity, Obama’s staff, and those of other nations’ premiers, have been persuaded that unless nuclear power is given more loan guarantees than it can use, non-fossil energy will not be allowed to advance at a rate commensurate with the climate predicament.

    I suggest that until we nail just what it is that empowers the nuclear lobby, it will remain difficult to pull the plug. Therefore I’d much appreciate your views on the hypothesis above, alongside any alternative that you find more credible.



  5. Eileen Kinley says:

    Did the issue of Indigenous Peoples come up at all? It seems that
    most of the uranium mining activities and uranium exploration
    that has, or is, taking place on aboriginal peoples’ traditional lands, does so with with little true consultation and little
    respect for the sovereignty of those nations.

  6. PurpleOzone says:

    Nuclear power was subsidized 60 years ago as an embryonic industry that was thought to need a kick start but would eventually yield great dividends.

    It never has. It is still the most expensive by far and requires huge federal subsidies, as well as kicking the consumer in the teeth. AND the cost of waste disposal is not included. In fact, permanent disposal of the radioactive waste is still unsolved. Worse, Obama, due to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, cancelled the plan to place the nuclear waste in Yucca mountain because the voters of Nevada don’t want the waste in their (long) back yard. Now the waste stays in your back yard.

    Including the cost of nuclear waste, I am doubtful that nuclear plants yield much more energy than they require to operate. Considering the fossil fuel require to acquire and process raw ore into nuclear fuel.

  7. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Eileen at 6/.

    It is a little unclear whether you want to draw attention to the plight of indigenous peoples,
    or whether you propose the promotion of their plight as an effective argument against nuclear power.

    If the latter, then Kissinger’s response on being told that further US nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific could cause the deaths of over 100,000, may be informative.
    His response was:
    “So who gives a damn about them ?”



  8. Gregory J. says:

    There is more than one kind of nuclear plant operating today. Are the proposals all for the same kind of new plant? Of variations on what existing plants?

    Are these only considerations for traditional U235/U238 plants?

    Are there any proposals for new types: pebble bed, thorium, etc. Sure, those are not ready to go big times 100 locations, but how many years out? Are they more efficient to offset mining and processing costs (both in dollars and carbon)?

    Maybe old style nuclear needs a big NO to make room for a new style. While I’m no fan of radiactive wastes, we need a wedge here. We need all our wedges.

  9. There is a multifaceted discussion here, commensurate with the scope of the article and the overall impacts of the decisions regarding nuclear power.

    Perhaps most intriguing is the question posed as to why the nuclear lobby is still successful in obtaining support from politicians (if not from financial institutions).

    It must first be said the nuclear lobby has spent enormous sums of money on political efforts, so one cannot assume their political support is necessarily based upon facts. Political loyalties often do not follow consistent factual arguments. For instance, the Obama Administration successfully resisted efforts to include massive nuclear subsidies in last year’s Stimulus Bill, yet Obama is now caving to Republican nuclear demands apparently to gain votes for a climate bill.

    If not a strong factual case, there nevertheless have been three Myths (overarching rhetorical themes) promoted by the nuclear industry. All begin with a core of real truth but leap from that truth into a Myth:

    1. The Myth of “We Must Do it ALL”. This is the cry of a loser technology. This Myth begins with the truth we have a stupendous task to find alternatives to fossil fuels. The desperation of this crushing task leads many to fall into the trap of thinking we must “Do it ALL”. However, it is only possible to do ALL options if one has unlimited funds and an unlimited amount of time. Our reality is we have limited funds and very little time, so we need to focus on the winners — those technologies which accomplish the most, do it quickly, and for the lowest cost. See “Do it All for Energy?” here:

    2. The Myth that “Nuclear Power is the ONLY Choice”. Again the cry and complaint of an uncompetitive loser — claim there simply is no competition. The nuclear industry is keen to promote nuclear power as the ONLY way to keep the lights on. This is not only untrue, but nuclear plants do not even meet the needs of today’s utilities very well (see the Due Diligence presentation). While renewables are “hard” to implement they are gaining ground much faster than new nuclear power and are proving themselves. The argument will be oompletely over within five years — before even the first of any new nuclear plants begun today can even come on line.

    3. The Myth of the “Sacred Fire”. This Myth is embedded throughout rhetoric which promotes the seeming miracle of fission energy in converting so little matter into so much energy. The wonder of it all can lead to a zealotry for nuclear energy that defies all practical realities of costs, or concerns about radioactive discharges or the responsible disposal of radioactive wastes. For nuclear zealots, the “tail wags the dog”: The main goal is not about how best to generate kWh’s, but about making sure civilization uses this miraculous energy source.

    If you talk with a nuclear supporter, you will hear one or all of these Three Myths repeated. The article above, however, provides a different mental framework to evaluate the nuclear option based upon society’s most important needs and the true strengths or weaknesses of this technology.

  10. Stephen Watson says:

    And the waste issue wasn’t even addressed in the article as a reason to abandon nuclear!

    Again nuclear is part of our fixation with meeting demand, however insane that demand may be. So we use all these nuclear plants to generate electricity which is then just used to power advertisements on the underground, displays in estate agents’ windows, and a seemingly endless succession of new products requiring electricity. Of course this means that the economy continues to ‘grow’ maintaining the delusion that this is sensible …

    What we need to do before we build more generating capacity whether (heaven forbid) it’s nuclear, coal, oil, wind or solar is to ask “What are we using it for? Do we need to use it? Could we cut our demand?” and many others. Also, nuclear power, being centralised has transmission losses to add to its other issues.

  11. Icarus says:

    I’ve yet to be convinced that there is any practical alternative to nuclear power. Of course we need to reduce demand but that’s irrelevant to how the electricity we *do* need is produced… and of course there are problems with nuclear power but there are problems with other sources of energy too.

    Things like wind, wave and solar power are inexhaustible but they’re also very low energy density – my understanding is that they require much more space and a far greater quantity of materials than fossil fuel or nuclear plants need to produce the same amount of electricity. Also, they’re intermittent and therefore need storage and backup from other sources of energy… and so on.

    What I’d like to see is a completely unbiased assessment of all the issues, rather than articles which highlight only the problems and costs of one solution, and only the benefits of another. There is no point in telling us what 100 new nuclear plants would cost without telling us what it would cost to get the same energy production and the same reliability from wind, solar or whatever else is being contemplated as an alternative.

  12. This is from ENDS Europe Daily , a very recommendable one-stop source of information on European environmental policy and law. The underlying trend for nuclear is still down, on the way to phase-out:

    ENDS Europe DAILY, Tuesday 2 March 2010
    Decarbonising Europe’s power generation while maintaining reliability of supply is achievable but action within the next five years is crucial to making it happen, according to a multi-stakeholder study to be released in April.

    Presenting its findings off the record* at a Chatham House conference in London on Monday, one of the authors told ENDS that political will and practical challenges, rather than cost and reliability, were the main obstacles to Europe cutting its CO2 emissions by 80% against 1990 levels by 2050.

    The study finds that the cost of decarbonised power is roughly the same whether renewables make up 40%, 60% or 80% of total supply. Increasing transmission interconnections across Europe is the key to dramatically reducing the need for back-up supply and balancing services.

    The short-term investments required could see a 0.02% reduction in the growth rate of the European economy. GDP growth rate in the longer term could rise by 0.07% above business-as-usual by 2050, according to the study.

    Relying on existing technologies, Europe would need to import only 7% of its energy by 2050 against the 35% it imports at present if it generated 80% of electricity from renewable sources, 10% from fossil fuel plants equipped with carbon capture and storage, and 10% from nuclear.

    *Chatham House does not allow reporters to disclose the identity or affiliation of speakers or other conference participants.

    Follow-up: Chatham House conference

  13. SecularAnimist says:

    Icarus wrote: “What I’d like to see is a completely unbiased assessment of all the issues, rather than articles which highlight only the problems and costs of one solution, and only the benefits of another.”

    I commend to your attention a 2008 study by Marc Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University:

    Jacobson has conducted the first quantitative, scientific evaluation of the proposed, major, energy-related solutions by assessing not only their potential for delivering energy for electricity and vehicles, but also their impacts on global warming, human health, energy security, water supply, space requirements, wildlife, water pollution, reliability and sustainability …

    The raw energy sources that Jacobson found to be the most promising are, in order, wind, concentrated solar (the use of mirrors to heat a fluid), geothermal, tidal, solar photovoltaics (rooftop solar panels), wave and hydroelectric. He recommends against nuclear, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol, which is made of prairie grass.

    I also recommend a November 2009 article by Jacobson and University of California researcher Mark Delucchi which mapped out a plan for providing 100 percent of the world’s energy from clean renewable sources by 2030:

    Most of the technology needed to shift the world from fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy already exists. Implementing that technology requires overcoming obstacles in planning and politics, but doing so could result in a 30 percent decrease in global power demand, say Stanford civil and environmental engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and University of California-Davis researcher Mark Delucchi.

    To make clear the extent of those hurdles – and how they could be overcome – they have written an article that is the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American. In it, they present new research mapping out and evaluating a quantitative plan for powering the entire world on wind, water and solar energy, including an assessment of the materials needed and costs. And it will ultimately be cheaper than sticking with fossil fuel or going nuclear, they say.

  14. Icarus says:

    Thanks – I will read those with great interest.

  15. Kaj Luukko says:

    Information about the need of raw materials and land use for nuclear and renewables here.

    “Investments in efficiency and renewables will create more jobs than investing in new nuclear power plants.”

    How can it cost LESS to create MORE jobs, and vice versa?

  16. mike says:

    I agree that “today’s” price for new nuclear power plants make them uneconomical and unaffordable. Add to this the “future” costs which nobody is talking about because they are relatively uncalculable and passed on to future generations: decommissioning of old reactors (costing much more today than original construction costs), high level spent fuel current storage and ultimate repository storage, burial of huge low level waste volumes, decommissioning and clean up of all the supportive infrastructure for nuclear reactors (from uranium mines to enrichment and fuel fabrication facilities.) Then there’s the “touchy, feely” costs to the environmental, to terrorism and nuclear proliferation, and the ultimately possibility of another serious accident…this is economic insanity!

  17. mark says:

    I just started reading the book

    “American Ground zero, the secret nuclear war” by Carole Gallagher.

    Anyone who still thinks nuclear energy is a viable way to produce power, should read it. It is very disturbing.

    President Obama should read it. He might change his mind about nuclear power.

  18. John Morgan says:

    Eileen, #6

    Australia (for instance) mines about 10 000 ton of uranium each year, and I hear much protesting about the impact on aboriginal peoples.

    Australia also mines 800 million ton of coal each year. I have never heard of any protesting against coal operations on the basis of indigenous peoples issues.

    What this says to me very clearly is that the issue of aboriginal rights is not being raised out of concern for aboriginal rights. It is being raised as an emotive pretext to oppose nuclear power. It rather disgusts me to see aboriginal peoples used like this. A fair minded assessment of the impact of nuclear power on indigenous peoples would see us roll it out just as fast as we possibly could.

  19. Kaj Luukko says:

    Someone might change his/her mind reading this. At least you should give it a try.

  20. A lot of interesting comments above. I just quickly jotted my own:

    Summary of GW reality and nuclear power.

    For detail see several articles on my blog:

    1. GHG are already so high we have little time to slow them down; if we do not, the likelihood of catastrophic climactic events would increase markedly.

    2. Fifty percent of the electricity in Germany and the US, and 80% of China is generated by coal, the biggest polluter of all. Even if CCS would work it would take many years to install on a wide scale, and it is risky technically and environmentally.

    3. With all the conservation and efficiency we could achieve realistically, the demand for electricity is increasing in all the developing world. I am all for cutting our use, but the rest of the world is increasing theirs. They are not bound by our ways and situation.

    4. The increasing world population coupled with the increasing demand for higher standard of living by the developing world, especially India and China, [with three billion people in several decades,] outstrip any thing we do elsewhere in the developed world combined.
    That is: IT DOES NOT MATTER WHEN AND HOW THE ADVANCED COUNTRIES REDUCE THEIR USE, the emerging nations are on a current path to have some five to ten times the total GHG emissions of all the other nations combined.

    5. Let’s grasp the magnitude of the energy the world will need: we essentially need the equivalent of one new nuclear plant on line every day for the next forty years!!!

    6. We must eliminate all coal-generated electricity in the world if we want to survive the increasing GW.

    7. It does not matter what the US and Europe do in nuclear power. There are 440 nuclear plants globally, 104 in the US and about a hundred in Europe. The China/India and rest of Asia have the majority and are building more. Chain is planning 10 more in the next few years and a faster rate later.
    What we feel, what we plan, what we like, does not matter at all to the rest of the world. They have their own agenda, they have completely different needs.

    8. The capital cost per kWh produced of photovoltaic in an efficient industrial setting is twice the cost of expensive nuclear plant at ten billions dollar each.

    9. We must have human-controlled electrical power to overcome, to supplement the power obtained from nature.

    10. Several technologies must be used globally to generate the immense demand for energy, nuclear power will be part of the mix in the rest of the world. The US may as well participate and make this technology safer and available at lower cost. If we do not participate, the outcome may be worse since the rest of the world dos not have the luxury of being over concerned about safety and reliability as the US is. Be a leader or stay to the side.

  21. percetakan says:

    I was great interest for this topic. nuclear energy should be used very wisely. dont be misused by those who are willing destructive and devastated the earth

  22. Ross Hunter says:

    #21, Dr. Ginosar, you may be correct, but all that will happen is the continued externalization of true costs as countries bring nukes online. So the footprint has a delayed impact. Maybe GW is cooled, but the patient dies from the poison? Sorry, I don’t have the analysis to say more about this. Your point No. 8 about cost for example – what’s the measure of that cost? Does it include waste as discussed above?

    In our part of the world only – not to be provincial but just from a political viewpoint – thanks #10, Craig Severance himself, for this: “The argument will be completely over within five years — before even the first of any new nuclear plants begun today can even come on line.”

    I agree and I think anyone touting nuke here in the west today is mostly using it as a crutch during rehab from the other fossil fuel dependence. It DOES serve to break the mind-set on oil and coal. It serves to show you’re still a he-man not afraid to drill if you need that political credential.

    But even the U.S. in its heedless insanity of today wouldn’t keep writing the checks for this bogus industry to miss all deadlines year after year. (That would actually cut into the revenues of the rich!)

    The rest of the world ultimately may prove that nuclear is viable, but to do so it will have to overthrow the hidden costs of the externalities developed in the western model.

  23. John Morgan says:

    Ross, we’ve already externalized the cost of burning fossil fuels, and the patient is dying from that poison, and will die unless we completely decarbonize the energy system. You’re comparing possible, unlikely and limited future risks with a real, currently actualized existential threat. You’ve got the balance of risks completely bass-ackwards.