Monday, April 25, 2005

Roberts vs. Huber on Peak Energy

On Saturday, the LA Times printed an email exchange between Paul Roberts, author of The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World and Peter Huber, co-author of The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy.

This comment from Roberts caught my eye:

As with other "silver bullet" technologies, nuclear is too often touted as the endgame, when, at best, it can be only a piece of the next energy economy.

"Silver bullet"? As far as I'm concerned, the nuclear industry has never touted itself as a complete panacea to America's, and the world's, future energy needs. What the nation and the world need is diversity of supply -- a situation where we don't become overly dependent on any one type of fuel to supply our energy needs. That's the situation we find ourselves in today, as overbuild of natural gas-fired electric capacity has placed intolerable pricing pressure on that marketplace.

Another aside: I've read Roberts' book, and while it provides a comprehensive examination of the "Peak Oil" theory, he hardly touches on nuclear energy at all -- including its critical role in displacing oil-fired electrical generating capacity after the 1973 oil embargo.

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1 comment:

monkeygrinder said...

Perhaps you in the industry haven't touted nuclear as a silver bullet, but there are those who do...

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.02/nuclear.html

How many nuclear plants would be a good amount - the fifty by 2020 number, or something more aggressive?

Projecting more than that is iffy, of course, due to the incredibly high capital costs.