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I heard it again yesterday in a webcast I conducted on overcoming obstacles to renewables.

One of the more than 300 energy folks who tuned in asked, "When will renewables be able to stand on its own two feet without subsidies?"

When will nuclear power be able to stand on its own two feet? Since the dawn of the nuclear age, the federal government had to provide backstop insurance to the commercial nuclear fleet in the event of catastrophe. To date, that has been a sound decision - since there has never been an enormous nuclear accident related catastrophe of a scale that only the federal government could address.

Now the next generation of nuclear, like wind and solar, needs more federal support - in the form of loan guarantees. It seems the kitty offered up to kickstart a new generation of nuclear is not sufficient to handle all of the first tier projects. So today's newspaper reports the Obama administration will seek $9 billion more on top of the $18.5 billion it announced in February for nuclear loan guarantees.

There is another track that nuclear proponents are talking to support nuclear. Exelon, the largest nuclear operator in the US, has said that the best shot in the nuclear arm would be to establish a carbon emissions price of $100 a ton. That would make nuclear viable relative to fossils. Problem: the Senate energy bill - which faces an uncertain fate - calls for pegging the price of carbon at $25 a ton.

If you like nuclear, you should be pushing carbon cap. Ditto if you like renewables.

And our poll of webcast listeners Thursday reveals that many of you believe renewables will surge in importance. I asked listeners what share of our electricity generation in 2020 will come from renewables? Just 10 percent of the respondents believe it would be under 5 percent. Today, it is around 1 percent. Close to 44 percent believe it will be between 5 and 10 percent, 38 percent believe it will be 10-20 percent and 8 percent believe it will be more than 20 percent.

I wonder when our policy makers and industry leaders will start connecting the dots - the headlines dominating our news. The coal mine disaster. The horror in the Gulf. Those are real world events with real costs - both human and financial. Those are costs after the fact

Getting proactive with our energy reality - pricing carbon - will allow renewables and nuclear power to take their place rightful place in the energy pantheon, lessening our ties to the fossil past and all that entails. They require we shoulder costs up front.

 

2203 Views Comments 8 Comments Comments Add Comment Author BioAuthor Bio
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member photo stop the subsidies to all energy, from coal to nuclear that have been getting paid for over 30 years and renewables will shine .

start having coal pay for the water and pollution and you will see a big change. Have nuclear stop importing uranium, yes 90% is imported and the change will be fast and sure.
# Posted By Jim Stack | 6/2/10 4:48 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo The demand for electricity will increase in the upcoming future in US and we think Nuclear energy will play a significant role to fulfill our electricity demands. Nuclear is a clean, safe, reliable and competitive energy source. It will also play an important part in reducing America's dependence on foreign energy sources. We should promote the more efficient use of energy, we should use renewable energies too, wind and solar wherever possible, and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Nuclear power should be deployed rapidly to play a role in providing energy for the nation's demand. An intelligent combination of energy conservation, and renewable energies for local low-intensity applications, and nuclear energy for base-load electricity production, is viable way for the future. Tomorrow's nuclear electric power plants will also provide power for electric vehicles for cleaner transportation.
# Posted By Muhammad Makki CEA | 6/7/10 3:22 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo There are many excellent reasons why nuclear power is only expansively applied in places where it's given huge government subsidies (like France, for example).

When offering nuclear energy as a 'low cost' solution, proponents - a few of our president's advisors included - rarely account for the actual costs of building nuclear plants (averaged over the comparatively short life of the plant), to include the vast and ubiquitous cost over-runs that plague any nuclear project of scale. The cost of the plant's decommissioning also goes unaddressed.

The monetary and energy costs and the biosphere impact of fuel mining and refining also are rarely discussed - as well as the cost and risk (again factored over the plant's short life) associated with safely and perpetually locking away all the deadly waste.

Also never mentioned is the enormous cost of plant insurance, nor is any detail factored in concerning the averaged fiscal impact of plant accidents, down-time and the environmental impacts of plant failures (or even of day to day operation).

Democracy Now reported this about a month back:

"In a book published by the New York Academy of Sciences, a Russian author and a Belarusian author say nearly one million people have died from exposure to radiation released by the Chernobyl reactor. According to the book, the disaster's radioactive emissions may have been 200 times greater than the initial estimate of 50 million curies, and hundreds of times larger than the radioactivity from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The authors based their findings in part on Slavic sources they say have never been available in English."

Also have a look here: http://2greenenergy.com/nuclear-power/2580/

The best nuclear reactor – by far – is 93 million miles away from us. It operates cost free and requires no insurance, and it'll be operational for another 5 billion years - when will we learn that we just need to plug into it?

It's been neatly identified that all of the country's present electricity requirements could be satisfied by a single source: A group of 100 solar thermal plants spread across the sunbelt, each one 10.5 miles on a side, using molten salt for energy exchange and storage, and transmitting power over DC lines. The molten salt component allows these plants to provide power all day, all night, all year, every year. Google has just completed a prototype mirror that could bring the cost of solar thermal power to 5 cents per kWh.

Want more data? Have a look here:

http://2greenenergy.com/solar-thermal-leader/2534/...
http://2greenenergy.com/utility-scale/2499/

Combined with innovations in EV and battery technology, this solar thermal technology will solve our transit and shipping demands for fossil fuel as well. Take a look here for more on that aspect:

http://2greenenergy.com/electric-vehicle-adoption/...
http://2greenenergy.com/epa/3003/
http://2greenenergy.com/paradigm-shift/2668/

If the costs and benefits of building such a sizeable solar thermal project and creating an EV transit infrastructure were both weighed against a truthful and all-encompassing account of the long-term fiscal economic impact that existing fossil fuel technologies are already having on the fragile network and balance that has long sustained us, and upon our standing in terms of geo-political security, we'd already be powered by current sunlight energy instead of the ancient sunlight we suck out from under foreign lands.

As our domestic oil supply amounts to a mere 2.33% of the oil reserves in the top 16 nations (where 80% of the world's oil resides - and two thirds of that in the fractious Middle East), we should be motivated in this change by very pressing national security concerns as well as by environmental issues. Note that I don't consider Canada's tar sands in this equation - that's because it's prohibitively polluting and energy intensive to extract oil there.

I'm genuinely grateful to energyblogs.com for giving us interesting and actionable information, and for opening a forum for public discussion and debate on that information - I think communication venues like this are the only path by which we'll ever arrive at a sustainable future.

Craig Shields, Editor, 2Green Energy.com
# Posted By Craig Shields | 6/12/10 6:19 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo One thing I have to ask about nuclear power that I have not heard addressed. Nuclear plants have a thermal efficiency of just under 34% roughly whereas combined-cycle plants are pushing into the 60% range. Which causes more global warming, a plant with no CO2 emissions that rejects 6600 to 6700 BTUs per KWH to the environment or one that does generate CO2 emissions but rejects less than 2500 BTUs per KWH to the environment?
# Posted By Mark Wooldridge | 6/17/10 7:16 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Nuclear can never be called 'clean' because there is the small matter of ' nuclear waste' . As soon as you mention it, then commentators begin to mambo. Sure, you hear how they just 'safely' dispose of it and zero out the radiation..do you ever hear anyone tell you exactly where its ' stored' ??
# Posted By Neville Appanna | 7/10/10 7:16 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Nuclear is not a long term answer. More plants more potential for accidents. One slip up could put the countries into flames.More solar and wind are the answers provided we crack the grid issues related to them.Unbalanced grids cause havoc.Why is not the world not talking about a pan world transmission grid?.Extra large solar projects in deserts like Sahara,Gobi (China) and Africa and cross country grids, extra large projects in gas producing countries such as Qatar, Oman, ,US and perhaps floating gas power plants in the sea - shale gas as well as normal mid sea gas could reduce costs as gas transporting, processing are costlier than electron transmission. I am from India and we are woefully short of resources and we need to look for innovative solutions.

The world will reach 10-12 billion population over the next fifty years . China and India who could be among the biggest economies also could contribute bulk of this poulation- I will not be surprised if these countries contribute as much as 6 billion of this populatiuon. Water and energy resources would be the most sought after resources and there would be wars to control the seas which perhaps could provide both.It is time we think of moving towards a world grid both for electricity and water so that the wars can be prevented. Electricity and energy resources can no more be economic commodities- they will have to become welfare commodities like food-Paddy8@gmail.com-visit me at www.energyblogs.com/paddy
# Posted By Swaminathan Padmanabhan | 9/4/10 11:22 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Nuclear waste and nuclear proliferation are the major threats to humanity.
# Posted By Dhananjay Jog | 10/15/10 5:59 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo [Why has this thread drawn Kalifornian concern ..?]

EVERY nuclear unit in the US has a fully funded decommissioning plan. [I have administered seven.]
The management of nuclear waste, both high and low level, is only a hazard concern when terrorism or gross human malfeasance is added to the equation. 99% of the time, it is a mundane and usually boring operation.
# Posted By peter snell | 1/2/11 12:32 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
 
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