Mark, wind is part of a package of delusions, which the critics of nuclear power are trying to sell.Karren Street, who is a supporter of Nuclear Power, feels that wind does have a place in the new energy order. She responded to my comment,
Critics of nuclear power tell us, "Nuclear power is too expensive." But they don't tell us more expensive than what. It turns out that nuclear is not more expensive than reliable wind. Critics say that the cost of nuclear power is going up, but the cost of reliable wind - wind generated electricity that can be delivered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without carbon emissions - is going up fast too.
Any way you try to design a reliable wind system, including a wind-solar combination, turns out to be more expensive than nuclear. Energy writers like you need to acknowledge this. You need to tell people that no matter how expensive the cost of nuclear power will be, the cost of wind will be higher. You need to tell people the truth about post carbon energy and its cost.
Charles, If you look at Sen. Alexander's proposal for nuclear, which Nuclear Energy Institute says is too ambitious, it doesn't get us to 50% low-GHG electricity by 2030, not even close. So we need other low-GHG electricity. While wind with fossil fuel backup with carbon capture and storage is more expensive than nuclear, it doesn't require NRC detailed oversight and so wind plus carbon capture and storage for backup can be added fairly rapidly, though perhaps not as rapidly as some wind advocates hope for. We need a number of ways to make low-GHG electricity in the short term because by 2030, we want electricity around the world to be totally decarbonized. In the longer term, 2030 successes will influence the direction of electricity creation for 2050. And whatever the subsidies for wind, it's not the same order of magnitude as solar subsidies, and wind is not, we hope, as bad for the environment as tidal and wave electricity are expected to be.I responded to Karen,
Yes wind is more expensive than nuclear, but as much nuclear as possible as fast as possible plus as much wind as possible as fast as possible still won't get us to where we want to be in 2030. Even if Congress were adding a steep price to GHG, and setting rational policy, the US, let alone the world, cannot respond fast enough. Let the market place take care of what happens after 2030, and support what look to be the better solutions for electricity today. Note: I do not advocate subsidies for renewables in lieu of good policy. I've heard a couple of policy wonks talk about the need for a $100/tonne cost for GHG. If we need to pay for GHG mitigation, we need to pay.
Karen, I have been saying for the last three years that we need a new nuclear deployment model. While people can recognize the flaws of the old model, they don't seem to realize that a better alternative model is possible, and indeed would allow the construction of far more reactors at a far lower price than the current model would allow. You hold out as the only alternative, the expensive and unreliable renewable generating systems, but surely we can do better than to invest money into low quality generating systems. For a smaller investment, we can build reactor factories that will produce reactors the same way Henry Ford Produced cars. I say put our investment in the technology mort likely to suceeed, not into technology we know will fail.I started writing about energy issues in 2007. My writing was inspired by an answer to a question about the future of energy. The question was how do we prevent energy poverty in a post carbon-world of 2050. I assumed that most of the energy sources currently used through out the world will have to change by 2050, either because of safety issues, human health issues, environmental issues, or supply issues. In many respects energy production is a requirement for the production and distribution of wealth.
it is far better to create a social order in which the average person is wealthy, than to make poverty a universal human condition. There are those who seem to believe that universal poverty is the natural human order. These include a number of people who post and/or comment on the Oil Drum who can be described as neo-Malthusians. My own view is close to that of Israeli economist Oded Galor, who maintains,
Unified growth theory suggests that the transition from stagnation to growth is an inevitable outcome of the process of development. The inherent Malthusian interaction between the level of technology and the size and the composition of the population accelerated the pace of technological progress, and ultimately raised the importance of human capital in the production process. The rise in the demand for human capital in the second phase of industrialization, and its impact on the formation of human capital as well as on the onset of the demographic transition, brought about significant technological advancements along with a reduction in fertility rates and population growth, enabling economies to convert a larger share of the fruits of factor accumulation and technological progress into growth of income per capita, and paving the way for the emergence of sustained economic growth.In order to to put the legacy of Parson Malthus to rest once and for all, we need to demonstrate that the energy resources available to the human population of the earth, is both abundant enough to give everyone wealth, and sustainable for millions of years. As Michael Lardelli writes, "Energy is Everything."
Lardell tells us that it is not money but energy but energy that makes the world go round,
It is fascinating to watch the behaviour of our political and business leaders as they attempt to cope with the world’s deepening financial crisis. It is becoming clear that they don’t have a clue what is actually going on. Their blindness is explained by confusion about what actually enables economic growth. The shared delusion is that money makes the world go round.According to Lardell, Energy should be the central focuse of any thinking about economics,
As share and asset values crash we hear talk of deflation. Many nations are trying to counter this by expanding their money supply. However, they seem to have forgotten the most basic fact about money that we are taught in school - that it is a medium of exchange. Money allows agreements on relative “value” (how much of one thing will be exchanged for another) but it has no intrinsic value itself. It is simply a mechanism that allows the distribution of real “stuff”. So if the economy is crashing what is this “stuff” that is disappearing? It can be summed up in one word - energy.
No living or manufactured thing exists on this planet without energy. It enables flowers and people to grow. We need energy to mine minerals, extract oil or cut wood and then to process these into finished goods. Without energy the goods would not exist so we can think of each product as containing “embodied energy”. So the most fundamental definition of money is that it is a mechanism to allow the exchange and allocation of different forms of energy. The economy is energy.Lardell is a nuclear skeptic, and much of his energy is everything essay is neo-Malthusian, with talk of a net energy cliff. Galor's process of development is dependent on energy of course. The Malthusian society was of a society that was embedded in an environment which contained abundant energy resources which people could not tap, because they had not reached a level of development that was consistent with taping the energy resources. In Malthus's own day, the use of coal as an energy resource began to bring society out of the trap that parson Malthus had identified.
As far back as 1943, Manhatten project scientists including Phil Morrison, Harrison Brown and Alvin Weinberg began to understand the energy implications of nuclear energy. Weinberg later wrote:
Phil Morrison could hardly contain his excitement as he showed me his calculations. If uranium were burned ion a breeder (reactor), the energy released through fission would exceed the amount of energy required to extract the residual 4 ppm of uranium from granitic rock.This constituted a virtually inexhaustable supply of energy, one which would keep humanity out of the Malthusian trap for millions of years to come. The deployment of nuclear power is not a liberal-conservative issue. Nuclear power will be the primary source of future human wealth. Without out that wealth, it will be impossible to meet either liberal or conservative socio-economic goals.