Friday, June 12, 2009

Wall Street Journal confirms Nuclear Green Analysis

WSJ energy blogger Keith Johnson today posted a discussion of Democratic attacks on the Republican nuclear plan. Johnson catches Rachel Maddow, and Matt Yglesias engaging in Rush Limbaugh style foolishness over Republican approaches to nuclear power. One response to the bumper sticker slogans that Meadows and Yglesias substitute for serious thinking on nuclear power, is to contrast the silliness with facts. Joshson points to the myth of cheap renewables and expensive nuclear. he wrote:
why is the—admittedly high—cost of nuclear power such a stumbling block, when the admittedly high cost of clean energy such as wind and solar power is not? Both nuclear power and renewable energy play at a disadvantage as long as carbon emissions are free; both will benefit if carbon emissions are taxed.

In the meantime, wind and solar power are significantly more expensive than nuclear. T. Boone Pickens’ Texas wind farm, to pick one high-profile example, was meant to cost $12 billion for four gigawatts of power. Make that 1.6 gigawatts of power, since wind farm output rarely exceeds 40% of nameplate capacity.

That’s $7.5 billion per gigawatt—more than recent large-scale nuclear cost estimates, and a lot more than boosters of mini nuclear plants are promising: Under $5 billion per gigawatt.
Johnson, of course does not include in his cost estimates any of the hidden cost of renewable energy, the grid extensions costs, the load leveling charges, the cost of maintaining backup. Otherwise, Johnson's assumptions and cost figures are similar to mine.


Marcel F. Williams said...

Large 1GWe reactors could also take advantage of economies of mass production if 10 to 40 reactors could be built at one site. But such large centralized facilities would probably only be applicable for facilities that were mostly dedicated to producing synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.

I really don't like that idea of very small factory built nuclear reactors like the 25MWe Hyperion since I believe such reactors only give the illusion of dramatically increasing nuclear capacity (it takes nearly 100 Hyperions to match the electrical capacity of just two large 1.2 GWe reactors). However, a 125 MWe factory built reactor would only require only 20 to match that capacity.

I think the size of the B&W reactors is just right to take advantage of both economies of scale and mass production.

bobcat said...

I often listen to Rachel Maddow's program via podcast while at work and I must admit that she, like many liberal commentators, such as Thom Hartmann, have an irrational fear of nuclear energy and are also blind to some major drawbacks and hidden costs of renewable energy. That being said we must admit that when one goes over the figures of a nuclear power plant there will some major sticker shock. That is why I am hopeful of B&W's mPower project. It is scalable and does not entail the huge costs of a reactor the size of Areva's EPR. It will also consume much less resources, like water, that a standard commercial reactor would do. If the NRC gives its blessing to this reactor in a timely manner I predict we will be seeing many of them in the near future.

Charles Barton said...

When it comes to nuclear energy, Rachel Maddows has fewer brains that a trained jackass. What qualifies such idiots to describe themselves as liberals. She is no more a liberal than Rush Limbaugh and even dumber.

My LFTR advocacy is directly tied to conventional reactor costs. I cam to the conclusion two years ago, that we needed a lower cost nuclear power option, and the LFTR provided it. In addition the LFTR solves most of the problems of conventional reactors. That m,akes it a winner in my book.


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