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Faster, Better and Cheaper Doesn't Happen Overnight

When I meet people for the first time and tell them that I work for NEI, I get a variety of reactions, and one of the most common is an extended explanation of why we need to give up nuclear power in favor of renewables like wind and solar.

Now, we have absolutely nothing against wind and solar power (and as a matter of fact, think energy diversity is vital), but when I try to explain about the need for increased baseload generation, how long it takes to plan and build it, and the economics behind all of it, I often am confronted with a look of disbelief and a claim that if we just roll up our sleeves it can be done, "faster, better and cheaper," than we're doing it right now.

Over at Knowledge Problem, economist Lynne Kiesling has come up with a pretty good comeback:

I find that sometimes when discussing economics with energy scientists and engineers I encounter a mindset of "well, just make it cheaper and people will adopt it and all will be hunky dory and in accordance with my theory/model/simulation". My question is, what is the process by which we make things cheaper? How quickly can that happen? What are the costs and benefits of artificially accelerating that process? We can't just snap our fingers or pass a new law and make solar energy "cheaper" in any kind of truthful, meaningful, realistic, long-term sense. Sure, I'd love to, just like I'd love to snap my fingers and have every house, store, and office outfitted with a smart 2-way communications-enabled electric power meter.

Wishin' don't make it so. Thought, creativity, initiative, drive, persuasion, investement, research, and striving do. But those take time and resources.


I'm going to print it out on the back of an index card and keep it in my wallet. For another discussion of nuclear from her archives, click here.

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