Competitors To Nuclear: Eat My Dust  

Posted by Big Gav

Amory Lovins (who is worth reading even if some peak oilers don't seem to respect him much) has some caustic words for the effort to revive nuclear power. He notes that renewables are both outstripping nuclear power in terms of installed capacity and are also more effective from a financial point of view.

And (possibly even more importantly) the nuclear industry is in danger of fading away due to a lack of qualified workers (though the large Chinese building program along with the French and Japanese programs may make offshore recruitment a viable alternative).

The world's nuclear plant vendors have never made money, and their few billion dollars' dwindling annual revenue hardly qualifies them any more as a serious global business.

In contrast, the renewable power industry earns ~$23 billion a year by adding ~12 GW of capacity every year: in 2004, 8 GW of wind, 3 GW of geothermal/small hydro/biomass/wastes, and 1 GW of photovoltaics (69% of nuclear's 2004 new construction starts, which PVs should surpass this year). PV and windpower markets, respectively doubling about every two and three years, are expected to make renewable power a $35-billion business within eight years. And distributed fossil-fueled cogeneration of heat and power added a further 15 GW in 2004; it does release carbon, but ~30% less than the separate boilers and power plants it replaces, or up to ~80% less with fuel-switching.

...

No wonder the world's universities have dissolved or reorganized nearly all of their departments of nuclear engineering, and none still attracts top students—another portent that the business will continue to fall, as Nobel physicist Hannes Alfvén warned, "into ever less competent hands," buying ever less solution to any unresolved problem than in the days of the pioneers. Their intentions were worthy, their efforts immense, but their hopes of abundant and affordable nuclear energy failed in the marketplace.

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