After Fukushima: Fewer nukes most places; More in Georgia

Most countries are not building more nuclear power plants, and some are shutting down some of the ones they have, because Fukushima has confirmed what Chernoby and Three Mile Island already told us: maybe the physics is sound, but the business model leads to unsafe plants. But in the U.S. and Georgia, it’s full speed ahead for new nukes, regardless of the risks of radiation leaks or cost overruns.

Christopher Joyce wrote for NPR today, After Fukushima: A Changing Climate For Nuclear

“We don’t see Fukushima as having a significant impact on the U.S. industry,” says Scott Peterson, vice president of the industry’s Nuclear Energy Institute. “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was renewing 10 licenses for U.S. plants, extending them 20 years in operation. We were continuing to move forward in examining new reactor designs.”
Nevermind that those extensions mostly go well beyond the design lifespans of the plants extended.
Marc Chupka, who advises electric utilities as an economist with the Brattle Group in Washington, wonders who’s going to pay for them.

“Right now, just the plain economics of nuclear power are underwater,” he says. He notes that over the past decade, construction costs have skyrocketed and natural gas got more plentiful and cheaper.

“Things change significantly over relatively short periods of time,” Chupka says, noting that it takes about a dozen years to plan and build a new nuclear plant. “That makes it an incredibly challenging environment to plan for the long term. And that adds to the risk and it makes investors understandably skittish.”

So we could do what Germany is doing:
Germany says the same: The government will throw its weight and wealth into solar and wind energy to replace nuclear power.
Or we could listen to the same old excuse:
Nuclear’s strength is that plants run 24/7, unlike solar and wind generators. They provide continuous and reliable electricity, so-called baseload power.
Here in the south, peak load is on hot days when people have their air conditioners on, when the sun is usually shining. Use solar for that, add conservation and efficiency, and we don’t need any new nuclear, coal, or gas-fired plants.


George Perkovich, director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says if Germany succeeds, nuclear could be in even deeper trouble. … “If Germany comes along and figures out how to power a very big economy, including baseload needs, without nuclear, then that to me becomes a real, if not a death blow, a real challenge to nuclear, because it breaks the whole nuclear story that this is the only environmentally friendly way to provide baseload.”
So, we can get on with solar for peak load now, plus offshore wind.

Or we can proceed with Georgia Power customers already paying for Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) for the proposed Vogtle nukes, and has gotten GA PSC to let gapower also pass any cost overruns through to customers. Not to worry, last time Southern Company built nuclear reactors on the Savannah River they were supposed to cost $660 million and actually cost $8.87 billion.

Oh yes, this is the same Southern Company that claims it’s incompetent even to run a coal plant.

Suppose instead of CWIP for nukes gapower built solar farms for the same money. How much peak electricity would we get that way? Where has gapower or Southern Company or GA PSC done that calculation? Can we see it?

Here’s who to contact.


PS: Owed to a chatty clam.