“Funny thing, nuclear opponents turn free market when they complain that the technology is too expensive. And they double their double-standard when it is complained that new nuclear is too dependent on government subsidies to be sustainable.”
The debate over the role of nuclear power is running hot. But from a climate alarmists’ perspective, is nuclear the answer or a false solution?
A recent entry in the squabble comes from four nuclear-related specialists , which was published by POWER magazine, “Former Nuclear Leaders: Say ‘No’ to New Reactors.”
Free Market View
Before delving into the “No” statement, a classical liberal view of nuclear power in the energy mix can be presented.
From a technological perspective, nuclear power is the one scalable option for mass zero-carbon emissions. But nuclear is the most complicated, expensive, and fraught (these all go together) method of boiling water to generate steam to generate electricity. The technology has long been prone to construction delays and cost overruns.
Many free market advocates give nuclear a pass by complaining that it is regulation that makes nuclear expensive and slow to build. But nuclear projects around the world under a variety of regulatory regimes provide data that such capacity is ultra-expensive, not just expensive. And there is question whether new capacity can be built without special government preferences, including government-limited insurance.
Funny thing, nuclear opponents turn free market when they complain that the technology is too expensive. And they double their double-standard when it is complained that new nuclear is too dependent on government subsidies to be sustainable.
Aren’t these two issues exactly what is the problem of wind and solar and electric vehicles? And on the matter of scale, can wind and solar begin to compare to what nuclear can generate on a firm, long-lived basis?
Color me suspicious.
“Just Say No“
The Say ‘No’ to New Reactors statement follows:
The climate is running hot. Evolving knowledge of climate sensitivity and polar ice melt-rate makes clear that sea-level rise is ramping, along with destructive storm, storm surge, severe precipitation and flooding, not forgetting wildfire. With mounting concern and recognition over the speed and pace of the low carbon energy transition that’s needed, nuclear has been reframed as a partial response to the threat of global heating. But at the heart of this are questions about whether nuclear could help with the climate crisis, whether nuclear is economically viable, what are the consequences of nuclear accidents, what to do with the waste, and whether there’s a place for nuclear within the swiftly expanding renewable energy evolution.
As key experts who have worked on the front-line of the nuclear issue, we’ve all involved at the highest governmental nuclear regulatory and radiation protection levels in the US, Germany, France and UK. In this context, we consider it our collective responsibility to comment on the main issue: Whether nuclear could play a significant role as a strategy against climate change.
The central message, repeated again and again, that a new generation of nuclear will be clean, safe, smart and cheap, is fiction. The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm. Nuclear isn’t cheap, but extremely costly. Perhaps most importantly nuclear is just not part of any feasible strategy that could counter climate change. To make a relevant contribution to global power generation, up to more than ten thousand new reactors would be required, depending on reactor design.”
The specific drawbacks of nuclear are then outlined:
In short, nuclear as strategy against climate change is:
 The specialists are: