Re: Science Article: A Nuclear Solution to Climate Change?

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Mon Jul 09 2001 - 10:30:15 MDT

James Rogers wrote:
> On 7/5/01 4:31 PM, "" <> wrote:
> [...snip...]
> > Is it economically, competitive in the marketplace?
> Externalities included (more-or-less), nuclear is easily the cheapest dense
> energy source available to us today. Virtually all other energy sources are
> more expensive per kWh, even without taking externalities into account.
> The only power source that could trump nuclear price-wise is geothermal (in
> countries that have good geothermal possibilities), but there are some
> logistical and inertial difficulties involved with that.

Actually, wind power, given good siting, can deliver for 5 cents a kwh
or less (while nukes average about 9 cents/kwh or so). While each site
is intermittent (to varying degrees), enough sites of various
performance allows for a consistent low cost capacity. However, there is
a limit to how much wind we want (and the skyline issues as well are a
significant NIMBY factor) to exploit.

Renewables, like nuclear, have huge up front capital costs with low
operating costs. Unlike nuclear, they don't have significant end of life
costs. The externalities of nuclear power has been artificially inflated
by the federal government's refusal to fulfill its commitment to have a
long term high level waste storage site built by 1980. Additionally,
concrete used in construction of nuclear plants has contained
radioactive fly ash, a waste product of coal power plants which is not
properly paid for by coal consumers, which results in nuclear power
consumers paying for the externalities of coal power plants. This is not
an issue when utilities own both types of plants, but does unfairly skew
the numbers agains nuclear. As a result of all these issues, nuclear
externalities have been approximately two to three times higher than
originally estimated when consumer surcharges on nuclear power were
instituted, but it is still the only power source that is required to
pay its externalities. If coal were required to do so, it would easily
be four times more expensive than it currently is, while oil and gas
would be twice as expensive as current prices.

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