Maybe you are one of those folks who decided not to worry about the new wave of applications to build nuclear power stations. After all, nuclear plants have low carbon emissions which is good for stabilizing our grandchildren’s climate, right?
Time to think again, according to a new report from Environment Maryland entitled Generating Failure How Building Nuclear Power Plants Would Set America Back in the Race Against Global Warming. The report was announced at a press conference on the steps of Constellation Energy Group who is planning to build a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs with a French partner.
New nuclear plants are not the most cost effective way to cut carbon emissions. According to a new report from the Calfiornia Energy Commission:
But it gets worse. Not only is new nuclear a wasteful way to avoid carbon emissions, it’s actually counter-productive. Here’s why: delay and diversion.
Based on the historical record, it will take six to ten years to complete construction following permit approval. While we are waiting and waiting and waiting to turn on our shiny new nuclear plant, carbon dioxide emissions continue to built up in the atmosphere. CO2 “hangs around” for a hundred years or more. Having allowed the build-up to continue while we wait for new nuclear, we will be forced to make more drastic and costly cuts later.
Then there’s the diversion of funds. Building the proposed 100 new nuclear plants would cost upwards of $600 billion dollars. Regardless of whose budget this comes out of, resources devoted one task cannot be used for another at the same time. Public opinion remains confused about climate policy, it’s not reassuring to take the least cost effective route.
According to Moody’s Investor Service, “…nuclear generation has a fixed design where construction costs are rising rapidly, while other renewable technologies are still experiencing significant advancements in terms of energy conversion efficiency and cost reductions.”
Generating Failure also challenges myths about the reliability of nuclear plants.
…when power is supplied in huge blocks by large central station power plants, the failure of any individual power plant or power line carries a great risk of widespread electricity supply disruption. at another 35 reactors resulted in one or more outages of at least one year… it can take days or weeks for a nuclear reactor to return to full output after an emergency shutdown.