Friday, January 25, 2008

Not Cool

From It's Getting Hot in Here: U.S. Going Nuke-ular?
This Monday Congress agreed to guarantee loans for up to 80% of construction costs for new nuclear reactors. The legislation directs the Department of Energy to provide $20.5b for nuclear energy, $10b for renewables and $8b for “clean-coal” technology.

Numbers don’t lie. Only $10b of almost $40b in this bill is going towards the solution. What Congress is saying with this allocation is that renewables come in a distant second behind the already proven dangerous nuclear option.

What can be done to impress on Congress the need for real investment in real renewable energy? Focus the Nation teams have invited more than 140 members of the House and Senate to come to their campuses and discuss global warming solutions. That means about 400 of them still need to hear from you.

There’s another number of note here. Even if we generously assume that all the historical safety issues with nuclear reactors have been solved and that we can adequately secure them from terrorist attacks, nuclear power has a very low EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) ratio. Depending on whose numbers you use, nuclear plants may in fact take more energy to construct, maintain and deconstruct than they generate over their lifetimes, which is to say the EROEI is less than one.

Wind turbines have an EROEI between 18 and 25, and produce no emissions. Could it be any clearer?

Apparently it needs to be made a whole lot clearer to decision-makers in D.C. On Jan. 31, hundreds of local and state elected officials are already committed to engage with us on global warming solutions. It’s time to turn up the heat on Federal legislators and demand their attention.

This is seriously funny stuff, especially given the pro-nuclear website the author linked to to prove nuclear power is "dangerous." (Someone apparently never mastered critical reading.) On the other hand, the author's editorial policy towards skeptical commenters was trollish and embarrassing- he inserted editorial comments into their statements:
“Already proven dangerous nuclear option.” What information do you have to prove that nuclear power is dangerous? The following website lists the main energy related accidents since 1977; As you can see, the Russian Designed RBMK-1000 in Chernobyl was the only reactor to produce catastrophic results and fatalities, far less than the other popular forms of energy. [Editor’s Note: For a much more accurate assessment of the risk from Nuclear Energy - go here]
"Here" being the Union of Concerned Scientists' account of the issue. Given the initial post I must admit that I'm skeptical of the author's ability to evaluate the technical accuracy of contrasting assessments of nuclear power. (Also: pay close attention to what he says about EROI for nuclear in the comments.) Still, everyone's entitled to an opinion. But editing others' comments? Tackiest thing I ever saw. Not cool.

But I can't say I'm worried. As has been declared in the UK, "the debate has moved on."


djysrv said...

The UK major nuclear build has pushed Europe to reconsider its views on nuclear energy.

Sovietologist said...

Yes, I believe that the UK decision is a watershed in the nuclear power debate- and is also the stylish new answer to most objections to nuclear power.

"Nuclear power can't fix global warming."
Then why are the British doing it?

"Nuclear power is too expensive."
Then why are the British doing it?

"Private capital won't touch nuclear."
Then why are they doing it in the U.K.?

The one question I'd use a different answer to is:
"Isn't it unsafe? What about Chernobyl?"
Then why are the Ukranians, Belorussians, and Russians all building new nuclear plants?