Friday, June 19, 2009

Efficiency Produces Cheaper Electricity Than Nuclear

And the sky is blue too. So what? We need efficiency AND nuclear power in order for America to have the electricity it needs to be the leading economy in the world. This is particularly true considering that China will favor the production side for the next 50 years the way America did for the last 100 years. Efficiency is the low hanging fruit, but it will not prevent the relentless increase in electricity consumption. It does help in keeping consumption as effective as possible in terms of utilization of our natural resourses. Yet electricity use will grow at about 2% per year. And you can take that to the bank (or the Fed).

A new report by the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, "The Economics of Nuclear Reactors," states: The likely cost of electricity for a new generation of nuclear reactors would be 12-20 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh), considerably more expensive than the average cost of increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energies at 6 cents per kilowatt hour. The report finds that it would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors than it would to generate the same electricity from a combination of more energy efficiency and renewables.

The study notes that the required massive subsidies from taxpayers and ratepayers would not change the real cost of nuclear reactors, they would just shift the risks to the public. Even with huge subsidies, nuclear reactors would remain more costly than the alternatives, such as efficiency, biomass, wind and cogeneration. Efficiency is receiving significant subsidies now too in order to get it jumpstarted in the marketplace. We place nuclear power and efficiency right up there with airports, highways, the electricity grid and railroads in terms of importance to the American way of life. In a global climate changing world, nuclear power pays for itself many times over in terms of bang for the buck in helping the meet the 2% annual increase in electricity use. In fact, its contributions to mitigating global climate change would be so great that they probably cannot be calculated. And this does not even include the mitigating factors related to smog. Combined with plug in hydrogen fuel cell lithium ion battery electric vehicles, nuclear power is clearly a priority technology. And please, let us also be as efficient with our natural resources as possible. Let us also utilize technological innovations to find practical reuses for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases [see EDR Program]. (Earth Times)

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