Thursday, July 26, 2007

Black is red; yellow is brown

The following headlines are a bit hard for me to take.

Renewable energy wrecks environment, scientist claims.
Renewable energy could 'rape' nature.
Study: Renewable Energy Not Green.

Especially from a guy that argues in favor of Nukes!

Well he got his headlines, which from Jesse Ausubel's flawed critique of solar and wind power (and what about geothermal, wave/tide power, efficiency? etc.) is all that he cares about.

It seems to me the the Nuclear lobby is getting desperate when they see that their arguments are not winning over many supporters. (They are getting more people to at least consider how nuclear may need to be a part of our future energy supply.) Or at least not winning enough supporters fast enough.

And Climate Change is a big, big problem. Unfortunately disposing of nuclear waste, proliferation concerns, finite uranium supply, and financial/investment viability of nuke plants, are all growing problems rather than diminishing ones. Meanwhile the wind and solar solutions that Ausubel bashes become more efficient and more cost effective and less "nichey" every year.

We already get ~1% of the US's total electricity from wind power and the industry is growing fast. If the cost/price of solar drops by 50% in the next ten years, as I expect it too, it will be too late to convince the public to invest in nuclear (plus in ten years time there may be more realistic--read higher--estimates for the cost of building plants, waste storage, and plant decommissioning). So nuclear proponents need politicians to commit now to building plants that won't start operating for 8-15 years (they expect a minimum of ~4 years to get permits and ~4 years to build, and x? years to fight nimby lawsuits) at which point the wind and solar industries will be far more established and efficient and people will be more comfortable with them.

I don't envy them their fight. The days of big centralized power solutions are fading. Will more nukes be built? almost certainly. Will they ever earn a return on their investment? Perhaps...but it seems iffy to me.


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