Sunday, August 10, 2014

Reality of energy - now that we have some experience

I am educated as a Nuclear Engineer who barely worked in the industry.  Like many, I left the nuclear industry twenty two years ago.

It was clear back then that the focus on nuclear in the US was non-existent, new plant costs were skyrocketing, with regulatory burden on maintaining and restarting existing ones, becoming cost prohibitive.  There has not been much future in nuclear industry in the US.  Even Mr. Bill Gates is developing the next generation nuclear options with Korea, versus in the US for the above reasons.  Even Georgia Institute of Technology closed its Nuclear Engineering program back in early 1990s, I think I may have been the last graduate!

Here is an article that takes the numbers on various alternate and existing energy sources, and showcases the work of Dr. Paul Joskow of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. Charles Frank of Brookings Institute.  The conclusions are interesting.

"If all the costs and benefits are totted up using Mr Frank’s calculation, solar power is by far the most expensive way of reducing carbon emissions. It costs $189,000 to replace 1MW per year of power from coal. Wind is the next most expensive. Hydropower provides a modest net benefit. But the most cost-effective zero-emission technology is nuclear power. The pattern is similar if 1MW of gas-fired capacity is displaced instead of coal. And all this assumes a carbon price of $50 a tonne. Using actual carbon prices (below $10 in Europe) makes solar and wind look even worse. The carbon price would have to rise to $185 a tonne before solar power shows a net benefit."

Read the complete article here.

I would be remiss in not mentioning a few rebuttals.  Unfortunately, I have not found convincing numbers from any that covers multitude of energy sources, hence, not linking them.

Yet one thing has remained constant in all the rebuttals, they have missed the point; that Schumpeter's Creatively Destroying technologies require value realization in a breakthrough fashion; that the investments in alternate energies must continue for them to be viable one day; and that declaring one way over another as the perfect way has always been a fallacy and detrimental to innovation.

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