Nor most of west Texas for that matter
Strong stuff is in this week from the staid OECD about nuclear energy and renewable energy. Also, Nuclear energy may be the solution to global warming, but someone has to pay for it writes Matt Wald, NYT reporter, in the December issue of MIT’s Technology Review
* * *
(via NucNet) Tackling climate change should include acceptance that nuclear energy “must play a central role in global base load energy”, a former secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has said in a speech Oct 8.
Donald Johnston, who is also a former Canadian science and technology minister, said those who disagreed with this view were “well intentioned but politically perhaps naive”.
And he told the 2009 congress of the International Nuclear Law Association on 8 October 2009 in Toronto, Canada, that he was pessimistic about the likelihood of any enforceable agreements being reached at next December’s 15th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Mr Johnston said:
So why aren't we following the French and investing in nuclear energy, the only proven technology which does not produce significant greenhouse gas emissions?
“Had the world embraced nuclear energy as a source of electrification as France did where over 80 percent of electricity is of nuclear origin, we would not be faced with global warming and climate change today,” he added.
However, Mr Johnston said a major expansion of nuclear energy must address a number of issues in order to satisfy the public and political leaders of its safety, including proliferation concerns.
He said: “There should be rotating international teams of experts to monitor and audit the running and maintenance of all existing and future nuclear facilities, and in particular reprocessing facilities.”
Greatest risks to nuclear energy are financial
While the OECD was tilting at windmills in Toronto, just a few hundred miles away, MIT’s Technology Review Magazine was publishing another of NYT reporter Matt Wald’s gloomy assessments of the future of nuclear energy.
Mr. Wald contrasts the costs to build various kinds of energy plants, and their time to market, and concludes, regardless of size, nukes don’t cut it. He writes
“If a reactor producer produces power at 10 cents/KwHr and a natural gas plant produces [electricity] at 12 cents, the reactor builder makes a killing. Reverse the numbers and the reactor builder gets killed.”
He writes that Congress has little inclination to expand the federal loan guarantee for new nuclear power plants. He also correctly points out the $18.5 billion made available is shrinking relative to the impact it will have on the industry. With prices rising to $4,000/Kw, it is unlikely the loan guarantees will support more than three-or-four new reactors.
Jim Miller, CEO of PPL, a nuclear utility, tells Wald, “Nothing is currently in place to move the industry along at the pace people perceived it would when the 2005 act was passed.”
Wald also puts a finger up in political winds, metaphorically speaking, and pronounces that “odds are not good enough for the nuclear industry to place a bet with its own money.”
Energy Secretary Steven Chu has called for an expansion of federal loan guarantees to $37 billion. And Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Lindsay Graham have written, a NY Times OP ED, that the Senate climate bill needs to include incentives for nuclear energy. But, if wishes were fishes, we’d be knee deep in flounder.
Right now nothing is in place. And what’s really needed are long term political and financial commitments that won’t be overturned by opportunistic whims by a future administration. That includes realistic thinking about fuel recycling and an end to endless bickering about Yucca Mountain.
In short, while some people are worried about safety, or risk, Wald points out the biggest risk to the future of the nuclear energy industry is financial.
# # #