The two problems to be addressed head on by nuclear power advocates

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Nuclear power advocates bring up the technology as a supposedly necessary part of a zero-GHG portfolio to address climate change. They insist that the “next generation” technology will be a winner if it is allowed to be developed.

Nevertheless, nuclear has two significant problems beyond whatever is in the next generation technology:

  1. Construction cost overruns are the single biggest liability that has been killing the technology. While most large engineering projects have contingencies for 25-30% overruns, almost all nuclear plants have overruns that are multiples of the original cost estimates. This has been driving the most experienced engineering/construction firms into bankruptcies. Until that problem is resolved, all energy providers should be very leery of making commitments to a technology that takes at least 7 years to build.
  2. We still haven’t addressed waste disposal and storage over the course of decades, much less millennia. No other energy technology presents such a degree of catastrophic failure from a single source. Again, this liability needs to be addressed head on and not ignored or dismissed if the technology is to be pursued.

6 thoughts on “The two problems to be addressed head on by nuclear power advocates

  1. drgenenelson

    These are typical “talking points” raised by opponents of nuclear power. Rather than repeat the rebuttals, please visit websites such as Californians for Green Nuclear Power, Inc. at http://CGNP.org CGNP is an intervenor before the CPUC. We have also been supplying detailed information as to how solar and wind are increasing California power sector emissions, instead of decreasing them. The key concept is the natural-gas-fired generation that “firms” the huge amount of California solar and wind must be dispatched intermittently and inefficiently. No wonder fossil fuel suppliers are finally running ads documenting the importance of natural gas fired generation to solar and wind. Obviously, fossil fuel suppliers are enriched by the deployment of solar and wind. Here’s what the Washington Post published in 2015. http://tinyurl.com/Natural-Gas-Secret

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    1. Richard McCann Post author

      Unfortunately, you have misread the Washington Post article and the referenced study. It discusses an increase in installed gas-fired CAPACITY, but does NOT show an increase in gas-fired ENERGY. Based on California data showing dramatic DECREASES in GHG emissions from 2008 to 2017, it is obvious that increased renewables is leading to decreased fossil fueled generation, including natural gas. This is why natural gas plants are retiring prematurely in California.

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  2. Sue Holt

    Geologists have told me that previous cost overruns may be due to the problem that sites were chosen first and then plants were designed to fit those sites. Imagine how much less costly it would be to chose a standardized design and then find compatible sites. In addition, a friend at Los Alamos states that new technology will permit plants in smaller sizes, ones that can be embedded in solid rock away from fault zones.
    On the second point, I understand that 4th generation nuclear designs use nuclear waste as a fuel source — solving the waste storage problem.

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    1. mcubedecon Post author

      We’ve been told many things like this in the past for decades, yet we STILL have huge cost overruns that are now bankrupting engineering firms, and we still have substantial waste disposal problems. The overruns are not insignificant, but rather multiples of the original cost estimates, and I have rarely ever heard that these involved site problems. The fourth generation designs have been promised for a decade or more and still aren’t here.

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  3. gwolfberg

    Yep!

    On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 8:20 AM Economics Outside the Cube wrote:

    > mcubedecon posted: ” Nuclear power advocates bring up the technology as a > supposedly necessary part of a zero-GHG portfolio to address climate > change. They insist that the “next generation” technology will be a winner > if it is allowed to be developed. Nevertheless, nucl” >

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