Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links! Thanks also to our blogger pals over at The Daley Gator for the link, and be sure to head over to Glibertarians.com to read my article on guns and gear for small game hunting.
Now, with all that said…
MIT has looked into what it would take to revitalize the flagging nuclear power industry. Not surprisingly, their solution involves a bunch of Imperial interference. Excerpt:
One way to make nuclear competitive with other kinds of power plants, MIT says, is by linking the cost of building new nuclear power plants to carbon emissions.
Currently, the electricity sector of the global economy releases 500 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour generated (gCO2/kWh), on average. If we want to limit the effects of climate change, MIT says, CO2 emissions from the electricity sector need to fall to 10–25 gCO2/kWh. Renewable energy can take us part of the way there, but in a heavily decarbonized world, adding more wind and solar generation to the grid will eventually become extremely expensive for each new unit of those kinds of energy added to the grid.
In that future scenario, grid operators have to add grid-scale batteries in massive quantities or undertake large-scale transmission line buildout to make sure there’s always power on the grid. That’s where nuclear comes in. The expense of building nuclear power plants becomes viable “when the allowable carbon emissions rate is reduced to less than 50 gCO2/kWh,” MIT writes.
In this future, nuclear finally has an opportunity to under-bid more common forms of zero-carbon electricity. In an extremely solar- and wind-saturated environment, nuclear energy may be the more reasonably priced zero-emissions energy source.
Here’s the punch line:
The scenarios run by MIT also assume that anything will be done about carbon dioxide releases. Fossil fuel-based sources of electricity have prices that don’t fully account for the cost of adding extra carbon dioxide to the air. If fossil fuel users aren’t made to pay for the external costs of climate change, then they’ll continue to underbid nuclear in a significant way.
Here’s my question: How are you quantifying the cost of adding “extra” carbon dioxide to the atmosphere?
There’s a lot of hot air (hah) being blown about the human impact on climate, and I’m willing to concede that there is some impact, although I question whether it’s a significant impact. Throughout most of the Earth’s 4.55 billion year history the planet has been warmer than it is now; also, we’re still recovering from the last Ice Age; further, it’s the height of arrogance to assume that we humans know what the planet’s “correct” temperature is. But all that aside: Why can’t we just let the markets decide which means of delivering energy is the most efficient, using that best of all possible means of determining value: Prices? If nuclear power, hopefully free of Imperial interference, delivers energy at a lower cost per kilowatt/hr than other energy sources, then more nuclear plants will be built.
And, let’s face it, the green movement’s vaunted wind and solar power aren’t going to win this competition – which is why the greens don’t want the market making this determination. Because, you know, consumers must not be allowed to make these decisions for themselves.