Investors Business Daily has an interesting editorial touting nuclear energy in terms of interest to their readers: the pocketbook.
Until recently, there was no domestic capacity to manufacture the huge components needed to build nuclear reactors. Global nuclear giant Areva and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding are partnering to start building heavy nuclear components. The U.S. had very little enrichment capacity. Now, two new facilities are under construction, with two more planned.
Westinghouse, for one example, has already created more than 3,000 jobs and expects to add 2,900 for a development in Louisiana that will be used to construct modules for new nuclear plants.
Each new reactor will employ 1,400 to 1,800 people during construction, rising to as high as 2,400 jobs as the facility is built. During operation, a nuclear plant typically has a skilled work force of between 400 and 700 employees.
They’ve got this about right – jobs, jobs, and more jobs is certainly the topic of the day - and we certainly don’t disagree. The name of the editorial, however, is Bailing Out Wind and a big part of the argument is that wind and solar power are big financial soaks for not very much return:
Wind power is currently uncompetitive. … to "invest" in wind and solar to replace fossil fuels will be expensive. … to achieve even modest amounts of wind energy in [Texas] would cost rate- and taxpayers at least $60 billion through 2025. … green subsidies will cost German electricity consumers nearly 27 billion euros in the next two years. … Each of the 35,000 solar jobs in Germany is subsidized to the tune of 130,000 euros.
You get the idea.
We view this with a somewhat fishy eye and wonder whether what drives the newspaper’s embrace of nuclear energy is strictly on the merits or enhances a disdain of traditional “green” energy – maybe on ideological grounds. But they’re not exactly wrong, either. The differing amounts of energy a wind or solar farm can produce versus a nuclear plant is pretty stark.
But still, it seem a narrow approach – the rise of hybrid-electric cars and a smart grid or grid overlay to enhance energy transmission to service them, and the ramping down of fossil fuels and foreign-derived oil, argues in favor of keeping all options open – and keeping government in the loop. Neither wind nor solar energy seem to us industries that have yet become government-sustained sinkholes. (But let’s check in again after a few years of the Obama administration.)