[ RadSafe ] What's Killing The Nuclear Industry?
Clayton J Bradt
CJB01 at health.state.ny.us
Wed May 15 12:53:52 CDT 2013
The economic arguments in Thomas Potter's post are compelling, and probably
correct(what do I know about economics?). However, the nuclear industry is
subject to federal regulation to a far greater degree than the fossil fuel
extraction sector. But even if all the economic signals are favorable for
new plants to be built, a license is still required and the potential for
political forces to intervene in that process is very real. Unless the
current trust deficit is mitigated somehow, it will be nigh on impossible
to garner public support for licensing new plants. That being the case, new
plants will only come on line if the federal government is prepared to
ignore the will of the majority of citizens. Fortunately for the nuclear
power industry, present indications are that the government does not regard
the thwarting of the people's will as much of an obstacle.
NYS Dept. of Health
Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 23:28:16 -0400 (EDT)
From: THOMAS POTTER <pottert at erols.com>
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] What's Killing The Nuclear Industry?
To: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
<3854357.48409884.1368588496614.JavaMail.root at md03.rcn.cmh.synacor.com>
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I am also a supporter of nuclear power and am mostly retired after a long
health physics career. I share Bill Lipton's frustrations about many of the
posts on RADSAFE. However, I do not agree with Bill's sense that the only
( or even the most important) question the public cares about is, "Can the
nuclear industry be trusted to manage the technology?" ?
The collapse of the rapid expansion phase of the nuclear power industry
development predated both Chernobyl and TMI and had everything to do with
economic fallout from the Arab oil embargo and nothing to do with loss of
trust. Resulting reduced power demand, high inflation, and high interest
rates?drove new ?nuclear power out of the market.
Uncertainty about need for power was also important in this collapse. A
significant part of? nuclear's economic problem, shared with renewables, is
that a large fraction of the ultimate cost of its production of electrical
power comes up front when the plant is built. A significant part of fossil
fuel plants' ultimate cost of production is deferred as fuel costs, which
can be avoided later in the event of investment misjudgment.
Fukushima is not the most imp ortant recent development ?influencing the
future of nuclear power.?Cheap natural gas is. Cheap n atural gas?is
rapidly replacing even coal for electric power production, while
simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.? In the continuing absence of a
substantial price for carbon emission, it is virtually certain to be the
option of choice over new nuclear or renewables for electric power
Fukushima was certainly a substantial blow to public trust. We may see how
important public trust? is to nuclear power in the near term by watching
what happens to currently operating plants. Sweden is not even pretending a
new phase-out, probably chastened ?after its earlier phase-out resulted in
the closure of only a single unit. Germany is planning a phase-out by 2022,
but only three units are scheduled for closure prior to 2021. Japan is
already considering reopening at least some currently shut down plants.? Of
course all of these nations are looking for cheap gas .
The focus on trust is misplaced. If it was all about trust,?how does BP
survive ? ? It has little to do with? trust. It's all about need.
Thomas E. Potter?
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