TCA (my initials)

March 24, 2007

nuclear energy is dead

Filed under: Doodling — TCA @ 10:38 pm

Yesterday I wrote a bleak assessment of The WELL’s founder Stewart Brand, among others. Now I’ll pull back from the depths of fatalism. I’ll lighten up a bit. I’ll wallow in cynicism. I feel most comfortable wallowing in cynicism. When I’m in a good mood, I wallow in cynicism.

Pitzer College alum L. Hunter Lovins was named a Hero for the Planet by TIME Magazine in 2000. Her husband Amory Lovins has amassed a convincing case against nuclear energy.

In an interview published by the Toronto Star last year, Amory Lovins directly rebutted GreenPeace co-founder Patrick Moore’s pro-nuclear position. He steered readers to an article titled Mighty Mice. [PDF]

Here are some other comments made by him during the course of the Toronto Star interview.

“Let electricity and energy compete fairly at honest prices regardless of which kind they are–savings or production–or what technology they use, or how big they are, or where they are, or who owns them. If we did that, we certainly wouldn’t order more nuclear plants and we’d be phasing out the existing coal and nuclear plants because it’s cheaper not to run them than to run them.”

“Secondly, I would make sure that the distributors of electricity and gas in the province are rewarded for cutting your bill, not for selling you more energy. This could be done by well-understood techniques that decouple profits from sales volumes so the distributors are not rewarded for selling more, nor penalized for selling less. Then I would let them keep as extra profit part of what they save the customer, so that the providers’ and customers’ interests are fully aligned. The lack of this well-understood reform is the biggest obstacle to using electricity in a way that saves money.”

“I guess I would add a third bit of advice. If you believe as I do that climate change is a serious problem, then make sure you buy the resources that will save the most carbon per dollar per year, because otherwise you’re making things worse. If you buy a nuclear plant instead of cheaper efficiency and micropower, you’re getting less solution per dollar, less solution per year, and therefore reducing and retarding climate protection.”

“I happen to be a fan of liberalized markets, and market competition. So I find it very instructive that essentially all of the efficiency in micropower being bought in the world is financed by private risk capital, but I can’t find a single new nuclear project on earth that has a penny of private capital at risk. So what does this tell us? I think it tells us that investors perceive higher cost and higher financial risk in nuclear.”

“In other words, even paying for the whole construction of the plant has the same effect of defibrillating a corpse–it will jump but it won’t revive. This technology has died with an incurable attack of market forces. I’m sorry–it was done with good intentions, a lot of talented people devoted their careers to it, but like Betamax it lost out in a competitive market. Other better, cheaper stuff got to the customers first. By now, probably less than half of the world market in new electrical services is being met by any kind of central thermal power station. So let’s wake up, look at the data, and make sure we count both halves of the market; not just competition between traditional central thermal plants, but also how they are being rapidly displaced by faster, cheaper and more benign alternatives.”



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