Friday, June 09, 2006

Nuke the Nukes

Ten years ago, when I wrote that the Nuclear Energy Industry would try to make a comeback on the back of the climate change issue, many folks considered that possibility quite remote, if not preposterous.

After all, the public was paying investor owned utilities billions of dollars for their nuclear plants because they were considered "stranded investments" in the language of Enron inspired deregulation.

Now, new nuclear generated electricity enjoys a production tax credit not unlike the credit extended to the wind industry and the biomass industry.

One needs to remember though, that the original wind energy credit was simply "a leveler", so to speak, because the fossil and nuclear industries already enjoyed substantial benefits such as the depletion allowance for oil and gas. The nuclear industry enjoyed, among other things, the socialization of their risks through Congressional statute.

Even though Uranium stocks are equal in size to and just as finite as natural gas, there are many who think that Nuclear Energy should be added to our portfolio of strategies for combating climate change.

They say we have no choice.

A bad choice IS no choice.

And here is someone who knows what he is talking about.

Gorbachev Warns Against New Nuclear Power Plants
by Jeremy Lovell
June 9, 2006

LONDON - Countries building new nuclear power plants to tackle global warming should think again, Mikhail Gorbachev, whose time in office as Soviet leader included the world's worst nuclear accident, said on Thursday.

From Japan to the United States, governments seeking an alternative to burning fossil fuels for power are reviewing the de facto ban on building new nuclear plants that followed the explosion at Chernobyl nuclear station in Ukraine in April 1986.

"Think again, think seven times again before you leap and start construction of new nuclear power plants," Gorbachev told a meeting of British lawmakers at London's Houses of Parliament, speaking through an interpreter.

"With my experience of Chernobyl I know what is involved. The explosion of one reactor required a superpower country to spend tens of billions of roubles. Still there was the longer pollution of the soil, the deaths of a number of people and consequences that will be far reaching," he added.


Gorbachev said climate change could only be stopped through a combination of developing new energy sources like solar and wind and increasing efficiency of energy usage.

Simultaneously, a new study from several environmental groups agrees.

New US Investment in Nuclear Power is Risky
by Scott DiSavino
June 9, 2006

NEW YORK - Energy conservation and renewable energy such as wind power would be a better investment for US taxpayers than subsidies for new nuclear plants, according to a study released on Thursday by several environmental, health and public interest organizations.

The organizations, including Friends of the Earth, GRACE Policy Institute and the US Public Interest Research Group, pointed to several problems that have plagued the industry, including higher-than-expected construction costs, terrorist threats and the unresolved issue of how to safely store spent radioactive fuel.

The US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion estimates of what it will cost to build the next generation of power reactors are "extremely optimistic and unlikely to be achieved" despite federal subsidies, the organizations said.

"Nuclear construction cost estimates have been notoriously inaccurate," the organizations said, noting actual costs for some operating nuclear reactors were two or more times their estimate.

Rather than throw money at the nuclear industry, the environmental organizations recommended the US invest more in conservation and renewable technologies, including wind power.


To date, nine companies have announced plans to file for licenses to build up to 20 new reactors. But none of the companies has made firm plans to build a new reactor.


Yesterday, a young girl came up to me and told me that soon, very soon, we would have power paints, nano based power paints that power everthing--our cars, our homes, our factories.

"My mother said you would know what I was talking about", she said.

I did.

And she is right.

We talked about tuning these paints, how we could use them to convert photons to electrons on the outside, and then use them in reverse to provide light, cooling and heating on the inside.

If She knows,

Why don't they know?

Or do they?


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a relief to have Gorbachev weigh in against the building of new nuclear power plants.

8:45 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

I made a couple of changes to the post on Saturday morning to make the sentences read better.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the grandma-running-for-governor responsible for our (Austin's) being chained to a vast debt created by the nuclear power project with Houston? If so why is the media, if not to mention the Democrat running for governor, not making more of a big deal out of the financial burden on our citizens, which (as always,) has a greater impact on the poor than on the wealthy?

12:32 PM  

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