Feed on

Via NIRS: the nuclear energy sector was the recipient of at least 96% of all funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress between 1947 and 1998 for energy related research and development. That’s roughly $200 billion in today’s dollars.

My point: despite the excellent safety record of nuclear in the U.S., and its still reliance on 50 year old technology, it remains the only low-carbon energy production method that can be scaled up in any meaningful way. For technical reasons we know that it cannot power 100% of all our energy needs, but it can get up to 40% or more and is a terrific source of baseload generation. Nonetheless, regulatory costs increased the per kilowatt hour cost of building a plant by over a factor of 10 since the 1970s and not a single new plant has been ordered (until recently) since 1978.

Go go government planners!

3 Responses to “Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Nuclear Energy Edition”

  1. J Storrs Hall says:

    Yes. To understand the harm this has caused, imagine they had formed a “computer regulatory commission” in the 70s. According to Intel, theequivalent of an iPhone then would cover a football field and cost 4 billion dollars. Imagine there had been no progress in computers in the meantime. No Internet, no blogs, no kindles, no cellphones (use a LOT of computation), no desktop publishing, no YouTube, no ipods, no email even. Just million-dollar machines in glass-walled rooms used to compute ballistics and payrolls.

    Now imagine the flip side world where the same advances did come, but in energy as well as computation. A world where what was a 4-billion dollar energy plant in the 70s could be owned by anyone and carried in a pocket. That’s what we could have had and what these goons have stolen from us.

  2. […] Contaminated Thinking Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Nuclear Energy Edition Getting ready for a wave of coal-plant shutdowns Federal Subsidies to Solar Up 626%, Subsidies to […]

  3. Michael says:

    I don’t know if there are technical reasons that it could not provide 100% of power, only economic. Nukes are a large sunk expenditure, but low variable expenditure. (I use “expenditure” to void confusion with “economic cost.”) So the owners want to keep them running at full speed ahead because it is the cheapest power on the margin because it’s mostly sunk. But my own experience from the navy shows that nukes can handle peaks and variable energy consumption very well (unless you’re designed like Cherynoble).

Leave a Reply