Nuclear loans provide a false solution to climate change

I was on CNN yesterday responding to the nuclear loan guarantee announcement by President Obama.  We are seriously disappointed in this action and SACE released a statement warning against the risk loan guarantees will put on taxpayers.

As outlined in a blog entry from last week, we feel the administration is making a serious mistake by offering financing for nuclear energy. It appears to be an effort to reach out to Senate Republicans, who have perfected the art of saying “no” and derailed the President’s agenda, including cap and trade.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is working with Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Lieberman (I-CT), and continues to promise that if the President supports nuclear power and offshore drilling, he will deliver other Republicans to support a carbon cap bill.

Now, the President has $8.3 billion on the table with more to come and still no Republicans on board with climate change legislation. I do not believe that Senator Graham can deliver the support he promised; the partisan divide is now too great. The administration and the Democrats are in danger of continuing to negotiate with themselves, leading to a bill that looks worse and worse. This miscalculation has the potential to alienate the President’s base and create false solutions that do not solve the climate crisis.

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I really hope you’re wrong about the partisan divide being too great to overcome. I fear you’re not.

Comment by Matt on February 17, 2010 3:18 pm

Obama is giving away the farm for nothing. Massive taxpayer underwriting of new nuclear cannot fix the problems the industry has been plagued with for decades. New nuclear cannot possibly come on line soon enough, cheap enough or with solutions to the waste to really be a factor in our energy future. Obama is dangling nuclear in front of the Republicans but they won’t bite. In the meantime, we are fiddling while Rome, or the climate, burns. And when oil prices go back up, we will be in real trouble. We need to get on with the real way to fix our economy: energy efficiency, which SAVES us money and creates jobs, not puts us in debt or at risk with an industry with a fifty percent default record. . .

Comment by Susan Corbett on February 17, 2010 4:12 pm

I agree that nuclear power is financially inefficient. Governments have propped it up to make it viable. But declaring CO2 a menace is doing the same for wind. That’s the real reason wind is at all competitive. So, by accepting the artificial economy of wind/solar/bio-mass as subsidised by the govt you’re eliminating your main argument against nuclear. You’re saying my subsidy is better than yours. Well, seeing as nuclear can be used as a base load but wind and solar cannot, nuclear seems relatively better.

As for efficiency as a way to reduce power, businesses already have incentive enough to save on power because it saves on money. That’s capitalism at work. How much further can that go and wouldn’t it be offset by a growing population and economy anyway? So, what I am really hearing when you say *efficiency* is: shrinking the economy. In other words, all the old eco-leftism of getting back to nature and destroying the modern way of life to achieve some ideal. The environment thing is just an excuse.

Comment by Paul Clark on February 17, 2010 5:01 pm

Wind and solar power have much higher costs than coal as well, and have a much bigger footprint than nuclear. We need to stop using coal/oil ASAP since the amount of waste they pump directly into the atmosphere is many times more than the denser and easily stored nuclear waste.

Also, the advantages of thorium nuclear reactors are enormous. Waste storage time is reduced and you can use one to “burn” old nuclear waste. They cannot suffer from China Syndrome, since they need a sustained beam of neutrons to keep the reaction at critical.

They don’t lend themselves easily to building nuclear weapons, whereas conventional uranium reactor technology isn’t too hard to adapt to building of simple atomic weapons (“enrich more and build a donut and plug bomb”).

France gets over 75% of it’s power from nuclear plants.

Comment by Jose on February 17, 2010 6:45 pm

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Pingback by CleanEnergy Footprints » Archive » Nuclear loans provide a false … · on February 17, 2010 9:51 pm

In response to Paul Clark “As for efficiency as a way to reduce power, businesses already have incentive enough to save on power because it saves on money. That’s capitalism at work.”

I wish that were so; unfortunately there are a variety of federal and state regulatory barriers keeping businesses from making a straight ‘capitalist’ decision to use energy efficiency technology. All of these barriers are outdated and based on centralized energy generation, serving only to protect the big utilities and end up costing ratepayers more.

Take a look at the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, this will remedy the all-too-common lack of awareness of the obstacles to energy efficiency.

A recent study by ACEEE found that energy efficiency came at an average cost of $.025 per kWh saved versus new generation costing between $.07 and $.15 per kWh. Furthermore, most sources of new generation are commodities, making them subject to great volatility and a historical trend of increasing costs. Energy efficiency measures on the other hand are a financially stable, long-term investment.

A Duke University study showed that energy generation is at best 34 % efficient, while energy efficiency technologies range from 60% to 90% efficiency.

Just as important, energy efficiency can mean jobs. This same Duke University study pointed out that with effective policies in place, energy efficiency measures, specifically using combined heat and power, could produce a cumulative gain through 2030 of 1 million new jobs and $234 billion in new investment.

As for the cost of nuclear, when compared to renewable, it doesn’t compare. Data from FERC estimates costs for new nuclear construction to range from $4,500 to $7,500 per kW, while the same study concludes wind will cost $1,200 to $2,600 per kW and solar ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 per kW. Neither wind nor solar come with the burden of deadly waste that needs the highest level of security to protect it for the next 10,000 years.

Comment by Glenn Mauney on February 18, 2010 12:14 pm

Comment by Stephen Smith on February 18, 2010 11:09 pm

Glenn thanks for that info and pointing out the stifling of energy diversification and energy efficiency by the govt and utilities.

So, those energy costs you mention are without subsidy? Seems like an okay deal except that solar and wind can only really supplement the kind of base load that can be provided by nuclear and coal.

Comment by Paul Clark on February 19, 2010 2:17 am


I’m glad I could help. Yes, the construction costs are before subsidies.

Wind accounts for around 2% of electricity generation in the U.S., but could provide, and easily integrated into the grid, 20% to 30%. The smarter, safer use of those billions would be on efficiencies and renewables. Done properly, we may be able to avoid new nuclear construction altogether.

Comment by Glenn Mauney on February 19, 2010 9:29 am

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