I have been writing on nuclear energy on this blog and have quoted Stewart Brand. I ran past this idea with Atanu Dey on why Amory Lovins from the Rocky Mountain Institute is against nuclear energy.
Atanu’s response was that as long as the full life cycle costs are taken into consideration and nuclear energy is cheaper than other forms of energy then we should go ahead with it. He provided me with a NPR newsstory of Lovins and Brand debating on this.
Lovins wrote an article on Grist.org claiming that nuclear is not cost-competitive compared to energy efficiency and micro power. Lovins does not even talk about the safety issues because since it is not competitive to other forms of energy than there is no need to go to the next step.
The world in 2008 invested more in renewable power than in fossil-fueled power. Why? Because renewables are cheaper, faster, vaster, equally or more carbon-free, and more attractive to investors. Worldwide, distributed renewables in 2008 added 40 billion watts and got $100 billion of private investment; nuclear added and got zero, despite its far larger subsidies and generally stronger government support. From August 2005 to August 2008, with new subsidies equivalent to 100+% of construction cost and with the most robust nuclear politics and capital markets in history, the 33 proposed U.S. nuclear projects got not a cent of private equity investment.
Nonetheless, Stewart rejects all non-nuclear options, for four fallacious reasons:
Baseload: Wind and photovoltaics can’t keep the lights on because they can’t run 24/7.
Footprint: Photovoltaics need about 150-175 times, and wind farms from 600+ to nearly 900 times, more land than nuclear power to produce the same electricity.
Portfolio: We need every tool for combating climate change, including nuclear power.
Government role: The climate imperative trumps economics, so governments everywhere must and will do what France did—ensure that nuclear power gets built, regardless of economics or dissent.
I believe each claim is unsupportable