Monday, June 15, 2009

Is Nuclear the Green Solution?

nationaljournal Not our question – because we know the answer – but that of the The National Journal, which has set up a forum for invited parties to grapple with the question. When we checked, some of the pro-nuclear sources had weighed in -

  • Paul Sullivan, Professor of Economics, National Defense University
  • Elizabeth Moler, Executive Vice President for Government & Environmental Affairs & Public Policy, Exelon
  • Bill Johnson, CEO, Progress Energy
  • Marvin Fertel, President and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute

Presumably, the folks with somewhat less sanguine views toward nuclear will be showing up as the week goes on. Here’s the introduction:

Senate Republicans want to build 100 new commercial nuclear power plants over the next 20 years. Over the last two years the industry has applied for licenses to build 30 new reactors, and Babcock & Wilcox Co. recently unveiled a new mini-nuke plant aimed at supplying power to small electricity users, such as municipal districts or individual industrial customers. But critics say nuclear power is too expensive and so risky that Wall Street won't finance the new plants. Opponents are critical of proposals for a federal loan guarantee program for low-carbon energy projects that could help finance the new nuclear plants.

We won’t quote any of the responses here, pro or con, especially since the thread will grow as the week goes along, but check over there a couple times to see who’s mixing it up. Hopefully, we’ll get some counterintuitive and interesting perspectives rather than boilerplate.

1 comment:

perdajz said...

In the past several years, "Wall Street" (R.I.P.) destroyed itsef because it could not manage risk, while the nuclear power industry managed risk flawlessly. The idea that people who gorged themselves on mortgage backed securities or who entered into agreements with AIG as a counterparty, are now in a position to judge the riskiness of the nuclear power industry is silly. The nuclear power industry is so good at operational risk that worker injury rates in the nuclear power industry are comparable to those in banking and finance. This must be absolutely stunning to anyone who manages operational risk in the banking industry.

The financial center of the universe has moved to Washington. When the political will is there, Washington will cajole the financing of nuclear power. Unfortunately, we will need a boom and bust cycle in "renewable" energy before this comes to pass.

In the meantime, please spare me the idea that the major banks are any source of wisdom or perspective. The major banks are busy reworking their risk analysis models because they were sloppy and greedy for years. The nuclear power industry needs no such thing because the nukes got it right the first time.