Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nostradamus at the IAEA

nostradamusPlatts has the story:

The share of nuclear power in world electricity supply could shrink over the next 40 years to 6.2%, half what it was in 2010, according to a recent analysis by the International Atomic Energy Agency's Department of Nuclear Energy.

This would be bad:

Although overall installed capacity will grow, nuclear power will lose ground to other energy sources like renewables and fossil fuels, Hans Holger Rogner, head of the Vienna agency's Planning and Economic Studies Section, told journalists in Vienna today. That would mean increased carbon emissions and higher fossil fuel prices, he said.

I don’t really doubt Herr Rogner nor the prognosticators at DOE’s Energy Information Administration when they put out the agency’s annual energy forecast. But forecasting is forecasting. It sets out some scenarios that may or may not happen and looks at the outcome of the scenarios – if time were to unfold as predicted. And Rogner has that right – if you ramp down nuclear energy, then natural gas and coal will provide baseload generation and carbon output will increase. That’s a reason to think harder about options – no doubt what IAEA would like to see happen. And maybe will happen.

So it’s worth reviewing these prediction as cause-effect exercises, to be added to one’s thinking about energy policy, but not as Nostradamus-like visions of the future. One might say, vis a vis Herr Rogner’s exercise, that it might be considered fashionable to imagine nuclear energy losing share, but fashion, as we all know, is changeable. I have the bell bottoms to prove it.

---

Also from the story:

The agency evaluates the overnight cost of new nuclear power units at between $2,500 and $3,500 per installed kilowatt for advanced nuclear countries, and between $5,000 and $6,000 per installed kW for developing countries, he said, adding that those were "back of the envelope" numbers.

That inspires confidence, doesn’t it?

---

Speaking of IAEA, Director General Yukia Amano addressed the organization’s 55th General Conference and referenced the report:

"Following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, there was speculation that the expansion in interest in nuclear power seen in recent years could come to an end. However, it is clear that there will, in fact, be continuous and significant growth in the use of nuclear power in the next two decades, although at a slower rate than in our previous projections. We expect the number of operating nuclear reactors in the world to increase by about 90 by 2030, in our low projection, or by around 350, in our high projection, from the current total of 432 reactors. Most of the growth will occur in countries that already have operating nuclear power plants, such as China and India."

I vote for 350, but that’s just me. About Fukushima Daiichi:

"Today, the Agency's assessment of the situation at Fukushima Daiichi is that the reactors are essentially stable. The expectation is that the 'cold shutdown' of all the reactors will be achieved as planned. The IAEA will continue to provide every possible assistance to Japan. Continuing full transparency on Japan's part will also be important."

I know this is a keynote speech, but Amano does have a habit of saying things in the most politic way. For example, also about Japan:

We will continue to send technical teams to Japan, as required. The most important thing now is to ensure transparency, build confidence, and meet the high expectations of the public. It is actions, not words, that count.

The right words can mean a lot, too, of course. Amano’s IAEA definitely has a less contentious manner than that of his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei. Better or worse – who knows? To quote Amano, It is actions, not words, that count. You can read the rest of his speech at the link.

Michel de Nostradame (1503-1566) became interested in the occult in the last 15 or so years of his life. He published his enduring work,The Prophecies, in 1555. Written as a series of quatrains, Nostradamus’ prophecies are open enough for anyone to dream in and make the prophecies into predictions. And many have, with sleazy tabloids especially heavy users of Nostradamus. But many people throughout the succeeding centuries have found Nostradamus astoundingly accurate if overly metaphorical. The only thing we know for sure that he predicted correctly was his own death. He told his secretary one night that he would be dead by morning and in the morning, dead he was, of dropsy. This site has the quatrains for your browsing pleasure.

No comments: