Greg Kats: Bill Gates has been lobbying Congress to secure federal financial support for nuclear power and for a nuclear company in which he is a large investor. This plea for federal largesse from a decabillionaire illustrates why further nuclear subsidies make no sense. Nuclear power is already a heavily subsidized 60-year-old industry with over half a trillion dollars invested in several hundred large operating nuclear plants, including 99 in the United States. The cost of nuclear power has soared while the cost for other low-carbon power options — including wind, solar, batteries and energy efficiency — have plunged. This is why no U.S. utilities want to build nuclear plants unless they can get large additional subsidies. Gates’ rationale for nuclear power can be summarized as follows: Given the reality and gravity of climate change, nuclear provides the only large-scale, very-low-carbon electricity source that cost-effectively can provide power at scale when needed. Other very-low-carbon options, such as wind and solar power, batteries and energy efficiency, cannot reliably provide power when needed — especially on hot summer afternoons when air conditioning loads are large. This same argument was made by nuclear advocates 30 years ago and is even less true today. At the time, I co-authored a widely referenced study comparing nuclear power and energy efficiency as alternative ways to slow global warming. Our work showed that because nuclear is far more expensive than energy efficiency, given limited energy investment capital, if investments in costly nuclear power displace cheaper energy-efficiency investments, it would have the net effect of increasing global warming. Nuclear remains a large and important source of very-low-carbon electricity but energy efficiency has delivered far more CO2 reduction at far lower cost.
Green Biz 7th Feb 2019 read more »
Dr Stephen Haraldsen is a Research Fellow at the University of Central Lancashire and a Cumbria County Councillor. He stood as the Conservative candidate for Copeland in the 2015 General Election. New nuclear developments in the UK are struggling. From the initial eleven sites suggested in 2008, to the nine later designated as suitable to be delivered by 2025, only one is now being built. In the past few weeks and months both the Moorside site in Cumbria, and the Wylfa site on Anglesey in North Wales, have had their Japanese backers pull out or halt development. The major obstacle for these massive nuclear developments is finding the significant amount of investment needed. The Hinkley Point C site is only progressing because George Osborne, when Chancellor, agreed to a 35-year guaranteed minimum price for the electricity produced. However, while very large reactors are struggling owing to their huge construction costs, there is another option which Government is keen to pursue: Small, or ‘Advanced’, Modular Reactors. These smaller, modular reactors are intended to use off-the-shelf components to provide much smaller amounts of electrical power and heat for industrial processes. Their smaller size should, in theory, enable them to be more flexibly located nearer to the demand for their output, minimising the need for expensive long-distance grid connections and the associated transport losses.
Conservative Home 7th Feb 2019 read more »