Posting in Energy
A non-profit science based public advocacy group has published a report concluding that the nuclear power industry would never have been viable without a plethora of taxpayer financed subsidies.
Nuclear power was supposed to be too cheap to meter, but a science-based nonprofit that advocates for environmental and public health issues has published a new report that casts doubt that it was ever really economically viable.
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which views nuclear power subsidies as a risky investment, published its latest report on nuclear power, “Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable Without Subsidies,” today.
The UCS said in a press release that the U.S. nuclear power industry has been “propped up” for over 50 years by a “generous array of government subsidies that have supported its development and operations.”
The report finds that taxpayers have subsidized the nuclear fuel cycle through every stage from mining to long-term storage of radioactive waste. It identified a total of 30 different subsidies that when combined have repeatedly exceeded the average market price of any power produced.
It estimates that energy subsidies introduced by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 can be worth up to 200 percent of the projected price of electricity when plants are built. Past subsidies have exceeded 7 cents per kilowatt-hour (¢/kWh), according to the report.
UCS explained that the subsidies are not cash payouts; instead they were devised to shift the risk of building and operating nuclear power plants from the plant owners onto ratepayers and taxpayers.
Notably, taxpayers will be on the hook for the cost of any nuclear accident via a 1950’s era law called the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act and other mechanisms, according to the report.
“These hidden subsidies distort market choices that would otherwise favor less risky investments,” UCS said.
Recently, nuclear power has experienced a resurgence in popularity among key Congressional leaders and the Obama administration. President Obama’s FY2011 budget proposal allocates an additional $36 billion in federal loan guarantees for the construction of new nuclear reactors.
Industry advocates including the Nuclear Energy Institute -- and even some university studies -- have stated that nuclear energy is a competitive technology once the initial engineering costs are absorbed. The debate over the case for subsidies is well established.
UCS is cautioning that taxpayers will be footing the bill if the nuclear industry ever defaults on its loans. The total amount of loan guarantees paid by the federal government will be $58.5 billion if Congress consents to the President’s proposal.
Carbon is the key
Instead, UCS is urging Congress to take devise a more holistic clean energy policy by placing a tax on carbon.
“All low-carbon energy technologies would be able to compete on their merits if the government established an energy-neutral playing field and put a price on carbon,” said Ellen Vancko, manager of UCS’s Nuclear Energy and Climate Change Project.
“Investing in nuclear power carries the unique risks of radioactive waste storage, accidents, and nuclear weapons proliferation that must be fully reflected in the technology’s costs, which is not the case today,” Vancko added.
In 2009, UCS derided proposed nuclear loan guarantees as a potential “Taxpayer bailout ahead.”
UCS was founded in in 1969 by a group of scientists and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to promote the use of science for public interest. It is strongly opposed to any political interference in scientific research.
Dr. James McCarthy, a biological oceanography professor at Harvard University, is current chairperson of UCS. The group has supported a moratorium on new coal power plants, and advocates for the development of new technologies to combat climate change.
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Feb 23, 2011
rod, I've been thinking about your last paragraph: "When it comes to energy - the USA needs to invest in sources that can win championships, not try to level a playing field in a competition where nature gave uranium 2 million times as much energy per unit mass as oil and made wind powered ships uncompetitive with ships driven by primitive coal fired engines in the 1850s." ...and want to clarify where I'm coming from in order to try to at least give you an idea that I'm not just an anti-technology luddite that rejects progress outright. Where I'm coming from is based on a closer look at how energy is collected, stored and transformed within the planetary biosphere, a process which we have an incomplete knowledge of but is something that is immensely important to have a scientific grasp of if we have any hope of having a human culture that will be sustainable in the long run. The broad picture of net energy balance is pretty well understood--see this for details: http://okfirst.mesonet.org/train/meteorology/EnergyBudget2.html Now plants and other photosynthetic organisms fix the incoming diffuse energy at around 1% efficiency, something that seems incredibly inefficient when compared to what we've been able to accomplish with fossil fuels and nuclear energy. But what is left out of this perspective is the fact that all of these concentrated energy sources have their source from those biologically and geologically based "inefficient" processes. A quick aside: I'm not even excluding uranium and other nuclear fuels; the economically minable deposits that are extracted and refined into fuel were biologically concentrated through the food chain of biological organisms early in the earth's history, so without living organisms, even uranium deposits would be too diffuse to extract. In fact in some of the richest veins in Africa, there was the start of some naturally occurring chain reactions in these deposits, leading to the speculation that if life began earlier in the history of the earth, biological concentration through the food chain would have concentrated uranium into deposits that could have resulted in enough chain reactions that life could have been wiped out! But back to the main point: it is through the "inefficient" processes of biological concentration via the food chain that that has created the surpluses we use, ranging from metal ore deposits, fossil fuels, biomass, wood, limestone (concrete) and pretty much everything you see and use in our built environment. If we as humans can learn to better utilize these same "inefficient" processes that the planet has used, then your path to a sustainable future is limitless, because you are living on the income and not the savings of our planet. You can't live on the savings forever, and the incredible diversity of living species on our planet shows what is possible by living on the income, so why not join the rest of the planet?
Don't get me wrong; I think the technology of the modern nuclear powered submarine is a triumph of modern engineering that was not even imaginable even a few decades ago. But at what price? The Virginia type nuclear submarine costs 2.6 billion dollars each, and the newest generation of nuclear submarines are looking at cost overruns of around 1 billion dollars each, so that initial estimates of 7.2 billion/submarine will probably be upped to 8.2 billion dollars per, with the first of its class estimated to be completed for 13 billion dollars. These numbers prompted Defense Sec'y Gates to say: ?We have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 billion to $6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines and $11 billion carriers,? Gates told the annual Navy League conference. ?It is reasonable to wonder whether the nation is getting a commensurate increase in capability in exchange for these spiraling costs.? (from May 21, 2010 Bloomberg) We just keep coming back to the reality that this is the biggest corporate socialist project going, and we can no longer afford to keep playing. New wind generated electricity is coming in at around 9 cents/kwh while new nuclear power will cost over 17 cents/kwh. That's why it will continue to grow, and the nuclear power industry will continue to founder on finding customers not only to finance the outrageously huge investments, but also to find customers who will buy the electricity. No offense to your metaphor, but the renewables are like investing in children who will grow up and support you in good time, vs. putting your money in only the very best, top of the line hired help, available to do your every whim at exhorbitant hourly rates, even though you yourself are on a limited budget. Most folks will take their chances with raising family, and be feel much more enriched than the best that money can buy.
@klassman6 The reason that nuclear attracted so much attention and so much investment is that it has such incredible capability that the very smartest people on the planet decided that solving its problems would lead to machines with amazing capabilities that could not be achieved any other way. Just think about the "magic" involved in operating a powerful, fast machine deep underwater for years at a time without needing new fuel. I used to be the engineer officer of a nuclear powered submarine - I will grant you that there was a significant amount of money invested in making the technology work reliably, but the the shining potential was always there and understood. Today, the Navy is building submarines that do not even have any provisions to allow them to be refueled. The initial core - something that could easily fit into a suburban walk in closet - will power those ships as long as the hulls will last. Can you imagine? 33 years without producing any emissions and without needing any new fuel. Those ships will be able to go wherever the national command authority tells them to go. Think about the fact that a 1000 MWe power plant can run for about 13,000 hours in a row at full power and then only need to replace one third of its core - a shipment that requires only 3 truckloads. Then compare that to the fact that a similarly powered coal plant needs a train pulling 100 cars each weighing 100 tons EVERY single day! I stand by my characterization of wind and solar energy as weak and intermittent. Those are facts that cannot be denied. If you invest a huge quantity of money into very large and capital intensive collection systems that will be idle 70-80% of the time, you can produce some electricity, but can you drive a ship, provide the heat required to melt metal, or produce power inside city limits from an underground power station? Why spend money on working hard to capture 20% of the electric power market if that is close to the absolute maximum penetration that the system can accept from power sources that cannot be controlled? What good does it do? No matter how much money you paid me, you could never train me to dunk a basketball. Consider me a weak and intermittent basketball player not worthy of investment if you want to win an NBA championship. When it comes to energy - the USA needs to invest in sources that can win championships, not try to level a playing field in a competition where nature gave uranium 2 million times as much energy per unit mass as oil and made wind powered ships uncompetitive with ships driven by primitive coal fired engines in the 1850s.
rod, I am not all that familiar with the production tax credit as it is applied to nuclear and while I thought the total cut-off was on megawatt hours produced per plant, you could easily be right that it applies to total generating capacity for all new nuclear power plants produces as a kind of incentive to be one of the first plants up and running. I really don't know and if you or anyone else could point to a clarifying reliable source, it would be much appreciated. However, to be mad about subsidizing "weak and unreliable" technologies instead of investing in reliable return technologies such as nuclear is to completely forget the history of how nuclear power came into existence and to turn the concept of subsidies on its head. How many billions of dollars for how many decades has the taxpayer footed the bill for research into nuclear energy and its commercialization, from developing nuclear submarine engines, to converting them into power plants, designing parameters for safe designs that minimize accidents and environmental contamination, and on and on? How many universities developed engineering schools based on federal grants? How many billions were spend of taxpayers money to try to address the fuel cycle, from mining, refining, producing fuel, storing spent fuel, and dealing with long term solutions? The reason that investors are easy to be swayed from investing in nuclear power has almost nothing to do with the Union of Concerned Scientists lawyers and everything to do with the take-your-breath-away gamble that investors must take to finance nuclear power despite a huge effort to try to make that investment a safe one, with federally backed loan guarantees, limits on accident liability, production tax credits, and on and on. Now on to subsidies. It seems that these are designed to give financial stability to attract investors and users of a technology in order to grow it into a mature technology that will attract investors on its own. Nuclear energy and fossil fuels have all had massive subsidies, much more in total and much more stable over time than any of the renewables have had, and you know it. And in terms of what has actually been coming on line the past few years, do you want to compare the new coal, new nuclear and new wind generation that has been installed? It's hard to compare something with nothing, isn't it? Furthermore, the installed wind and upcoming solar is coming online at a rate that the existing grid is easily absorbing it without the much talked about issue of intermittency being a problem, with upgrades in transmission in the works to address any future issues. The Energy Information Admin. sees no insurmountable obstacle to receiving 20% of our total electrical needs by 2020 if we make it a priority.
Oops - I should have done a better job of proofreading. The following statement is what I really meant to write in the second to last paragraph of the above: "We also could be powering every ship on the sea with atomic fission and using electricity instead of oil or natural gas to heat homes in the midwest and northeast." in the midwest and northeast.
@klassman6 - yes, I am well aware of what 6000 MWe is. Your response indicates to me that you are a bit confused. A MWe is a unit of power, not a unit of energy. It represents the instantaneous amount of work that can be done. With 4-6 large nuclear power plants, you can generate 6,000 MWe. The 4 units whose sites are being prepared at Vogtle (Georgia) and VC Summer (South Carolina) will each produce about 1120 MWe, while the unit that is under consideration for Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 can produce 1600 MWe and the two units at South Texas can each produce about 1350 MWe. As you can compute, with just four widely distributed projects involving a total of 7 units, the finalists for the loan guarantee program could completely use up the 6,000 MW that is eligible for the PTC. In fact, they would have the capacity to produce 8780 MWe if all of them were operating at full power. If they each achieve the ability to operate as well as the average nuclear plant in the US, those four projects would produce about 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, which is very close to the amount of electricity produced each year by every single wind turbine operating in the US today. Those four projects, however, were once just the leading edge of a wave of planned new construction that included about 18 projects with 32 total units. Those later units would not need any hand up because the manufacturing and design infrastructure to support them would have been installed to support the first few units. That is why I am so angry about the efforts of organizations like the Union of Concerned Lawyers to discourage investment that provides a return instead of the subsidies for weak and unreliable sources of energy that cannot compete and cannot take markets away from fossil fuel without continued injections of taxpayer money. I strongly suspect that the force behind the antinuclear movement is the fossil fuel industry - it hates the idea that every single large nuclear plant removes a market for about 5 million tons of coal each year or about 200 million cubic feet of natural gas each day. Every single reactor-year of delay that the opposition inserts into the nuclear revival represents at least $365 million in additional sales for the natural gas industry under present decision making trends. That extra insulation you added reduced your consumption. However, actions to halt nuclear plant construction during the 1970s and 1980s stopped the US from continuing a path that would have eliminated coal from the power market by 2000 and gas by 2010. We could, by now, have an electric power system that resembles the one in France, with nearly all of our power from emission free, non fossil sources. Instead, we are burning a billion tons of coal and consuming about 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the act of producing electricity. We also could be powering every ship on the sea with atomic fission and using electricity instead of oil or natural to heat homes in the midwest and northeast. Dumb. Short sighted. Exceedingly profitable for the coal, natural gas and oil industry.
Nuclear power vs renewable energy is the wrong issue to debate. It's oil vs renewable energy. Oil imports are a, if not the, primary focus of US foreign policy. And the cost of that is not just billions & billions of dollars, it's lives & compromise with scum-of-the-earth dictators.
power plants are not viable without subsidies.coal and oil plants are the receipients of tax subsidies called depletions deductions and probably others.. they are also paid for by the user. the price of electricity includes the cost of building the plant. what kind of nonsense is this group putting out.
rod, Do you realize how much 6000MW is? You make it sound like it's a drop in the bucket, but when compared to a 2.5 MW windmill, you're talking about virtually the lifetime of that windmill. Those really are equivalent and a wash. One of the main issues for both wind and solar is that the subsidies they have received have come and gone and change in nature and degree. This is not true with fossil fuels and nuclear power. The oil depletion tax is another example of sacred cows that are as dependable as the sun rising in the east. What that does is create a stable investment environment, which makes it so much easier for investors to lay their money into the project and get a guaranteed return on their money. With the one-three year window patchwork of subsidies, renewables have really struggled until of late to try to get a both a stable development and production infrastructure that will stick around. In fact, most of the wind power industry left the US after Reagan pulled the rug out from under it and went to Denmark, which provided the stable base of support that it needed. One of their national heroes is an American expatriot who left for this reason! And as far as my free energy, I got it when I used those incentives from the 70s to put extra insulation in my attic. Energy conservation is still the best way to "produce" energy per dollar investment.
...this problem will ultimately solve itself. The closer we get to the reality of $200/barrel oil alone will change both behavior and investment. Inefficient or unworkable boondoggles directed by politicians fed by lobbyists and special interests using focus-group- derived buzzwords will lead us no where except embarrassingly behind. I'm still waiting for all of the "free energy" my tax dollars supposedly invested in back in the '70s.
@Klassman6 Your information is leaving out a lot of details. No operating nuclear plant obtains any production tax credits - the 1.8 cents that you mention from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 only applies to a limited amount of power generated from new plants. Only the first 6,000 MWe will qualify. The idea is to stimulate the restart of a nuclear construction industry that has been essentially dead for 30 years. Wind and solar projects have been getting production tax credits for many years without any limit on the number of megawatts that can qualify. When the market for the tax credits dried up when companies suffered large losses in the financial crisis and no longer needed any tax write offs, Congress came up with a 30% investment tax credit in lieu of the PTC. Since 2009, new solar and wind can get 30% of the project cost within 6 months of closing the deal directly from the federal government. They also qualify for more than 50 billion in loan guarantees that are not available to nuclear. In the loan guarantee program available to nuclear, the projects are assessed a Credit Subsidy Cost fee, which is analogous to the Private Mortgage Insurance fee that people without down payments have to pay to get an FHA loan. Again, there is a difference because the nuclear project developer ALSO must provide a 20% capital investment as a down payment that insulates the lender in the case of a default. The CSC for renewables is paid by the taxpayers; in the case of one nuclear project, the OMB determined that the fee would be $880 million, nearly 12% of the loan amount and that fee was due when the loan closed - probably 5 years before the project would be complete and earning revenue. The company offered that "deal" rejected it and quit trying to build a new nuclear power plant in the US. Loan guarantees are a hand up, not a hand out. They were created by Congress in recognition of the fact that clean, reliable energy has long term value that the market will recognize as soon as we can prove that we will not suffer another Shoreham Syndrome financial debacle. So far, the NRC is not taking any actions that would reassure investors that even a well run, well engineered, well constructed project will be allowed to operate in any reasonable time frame in the United States. That is an incredible tragedy for current and future generations who are stuck with a power system that is dependent on burning explosive and hazardous coal, natural gas and oil instead of producing emission free fission power.
Bad Policy Drives Out Good Policy I was talking to a friend last week about turbulent economics and upside-down tax policies. The conversation led from one thing to another and I shared with my friend that the perfect survival stash would be a $1,000 bag of pre-1965 silver coins which would cost in excess of $20,000; the perfect currency to have when the dollar collapses and the economy tanks. My friend thought I was being a bit paranoid. However, the history of all currencies not backed by gold or silver is that they eventually become worthless. ?Bad money drives out good money? is the old saying. And the perfect example is pre-1965 silver coinage. In the normal day-to-day transactions how often do you see a coin minted before 1965? Never! The bankers and collectors have combed the money supply clean of these 90%-silver coins. They have become much more valuable than their legal, face value. Now let?s say you have 2 dimes in your hand, one a pre-1965 coin and one minted last month. One is 90% silver and the other is mostly copper. You owe a dime debt to be paid today; now which coin do you use to pay the debt? Of course, you pay with the nearly worthless copper clad-dime and hold on to the silver. Each is legally worth 10 cents. But one is ?bad? money (copper) and one is ?good? money (silver). Why would anyone pay more than the debt requires and the copper clad dime must be accepted as legal tender? The money is subsidized by the good-faith credit of the government. This is why most economists realize any subsidy, for any endeavor, is bad policy. The goal may be worthwhile but the result is economic disaster. The subsidy attracts capital that would normally be used in a more worthwhile economic activity. Cheap money gets used instead of expensive money, but even worse, a more favorable economic activity is not done because it?s now cheaper to do a less favorable economic activity. The less favorable activity drives out the more favorable activity. It?s called ?Lemon Socialism.? All subsidies for corporations for any reason are bad business. All subsidies, in the form of tax deductions, exemptions or credits, for the individual are also bad business. Behavior shouldn?t be manipulated by offering cheaper money. ?Bad money drives out good money.? Green energy subsidies drive out better economic energy policy. The consumer pays more for the same output and the better energy dies from a lack of support. Bad policy drives out good policy.
>>Notably, taxpayers will be on the hook for the cost of any nuclear accident via a 1950?s era law called the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act and other mechanisms, according to the report.
The real problem with Nuclear Power is Politics. Back in the 1970's when I was in college, I majored in Nuclear Power for 3 semesters. Right after the basic course in the physics of reactors, We had a class in Operations, where we looked at the cost data for an actual running reactor. I was with the group that analyzed the construction costs. That was when I decided to change my major. over half of the cost for building that reactor was legal fees. No industry that pays out over half it's manufacturing costs in legal fees will ever be profitable. The same is true for why US manufacturing has been fleeing overseas since the mid 1970's. That reality is still with us. Regulatory and legal costs are crippling to the Nuclear industry. France has gone totally nuclear for the electric industry. China is going that way, so is India. Pakistan and Iran see Nuclear Power as the only viable post petroleum future. Our choice is to get on board, or to sink in the quagmire of 'alternate' solutions of the week. Wind, Solar and Bio-fuels are not workable solutions. Each has associated ecological costs that are being swept under the rug. The revolutions in the Middle East are happening against a backdrop of bio-fuel induced famine. Solar and Wind power cannot produce the Gigawatts we need without major climactic impacts. The materials for solar are already facing shortages. Think rare earth elements. There is also the impact of large "Heat Islands" created by the plants. If you think the impact of all the asphalt for a large city is an environmental impact, wait until you see the footprint for a 1000 MW Solar plant. With the required energy storage for cloudy days, and nights, that would only deliver about 250 MW. We'd need at least 400 of those babies to seriously consider replacing the existing nuclear plants. Wind power directly kills birds, bats and insects. It also reduces the natural water cycle. I would not like to see the American Great Plains become the new Sahara. That balance is closer than you might think. Look at the Great Sand Dunes area of Nebraska. All of the short grass prairies are at risk. Put a few thousand wind farms in Texas and Kansas, and the reduced rainfall might just start expanding things. Add more wind farms along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and we could be in for a long dry spell. Right now, it is being blamed on "Global Warming", but the parts of Northern Europe that have the most wind power have lower rainfall too. There are always impacts to energy production. Any thoughtful evaluation of US power needs comes to the conclusion that it is time to rethink Nuclear. We should be trying to come up with new designs, with a closed fuel cycle. Plutonium isn't waste, it is fuel for another reactor downstream. Our great "Nuclear Waste Problem" is really just an abundance of fuel we aren't using. We should be using it up, not stockpiling it. That's what the French do. We should also be looking at Thorium, instead of Uranium. We have more Thorium, and it works just as well as Uranium. Fusion is the long term solution. It's too bad that after 50 years of trying, we are just not there. Fusion has been 20 years away from commercial reactors since 1937. It is still just 20 years away. Don't count on being saved by Fusion. It will be great if it happens, but...
HI, John, I'm with you both on this one--but given the fact that there is probably no energy source in any country on this planet (outside of wood, and even then some countries probably give wood a subsidy!) that doesn't get some kind of government subsidy, the question in my mind is what fuel sources should we be looking at? My sense is that since subsidies are pervasive, at least we should be promoting locally owned, controlled and produced energy sources. How 'bout you?
...from the group where one need not be a "scientist", but only "concerned" to join. But they unwittingly the point I've been making for the last quarter century: Sooner or later, subsidies make it literally impossible to know what anything really costs. And without knowing real costs, it's impossible to make rational, intelligent decisions. Nuclear is subsidized. Wind is subsidized. Oil is subsidized. So everything dependent upon them is as well. All we really know for a fact is that we're going bankrupt subsidizing everything. And I agree with HI above; it would really be novel reading an article here on something that either is not subsidized or is seeking a subsidy. Alas, that's not likely. After all, how any anything not subsidized every compete with everything that is?
Solar and wind power are not viable without corporate welfare. Every project ever covered on this site includes the words GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES.
Look up production tax credits that nuclear power gets--1.8 cents per kwh. It equalizes nuclear power with all of the solar and wind subsidies--it's a wash. Level playing field. Except for the fact that nuclear industry has loan guarantees--8.3 billion this year, 36 billion next year, because in the past the defaults on loans taken out by utilities who went nuclear approached 50 percent and no banker in their right mind will make a loan to build a nuclear power plant without the federal loan guarantee. No longer a level playing field. And except for the liability limits of Price Anderson that keeps the nuclear industry liability below their pooled insurance fund you mentioned. Is an accident likely to exceed the self insurance amount? Reuter's puts the expense of Three Mile Island at around 56 billion in today's dollars: http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2010/06/11/bps-crisis-is-no-three-mile-island/ What happened to that level playing field? Looks like a slippery slope to me, and we taxpayers are at the bottom of the hill. You don't need to read a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists to figure out that you better be holding onto your wallet when someone starts to talk about nuclear power.
The fact is that a new nuclear plant will run for 80 to over 100 years. Since the cost of running and fueling a nuclear plant is minimal compared to the upfront cost of building a reactor it is only a matter of time before a new nuclear plants overall cost will be cheaper than any other form of energy.
US subsidizes are what the solar and wind industry must have to survive. Nuclear loans are what the US Treasury will eventually make money on. Who can honestly listen to anything that Ellen Vancko or the Union of Concerned Scientist has to say. They continually release report after report with biased statistics. This group feels that it is okay to lie to the public in order to promote their anti nuclear agenda.
The UCS claimed that the nuclear plants constructed in the 1970s were too expensive and that there was a grave risk that they would cause widespread damage. Those plants are now paid off, will continue operating for 20-40 more years, have had no fatal accidents involving radiation, and produce 806 billion kilowatt-hours per year of emission free electricity. That is more than 10 times as much electricity as is produced by all of the wind turbines, solar power systems, and geothermal power systems in the United States COMBINED. There may be some kind of computed risk assumed by taxpayers in the exceedingly unlikely case that a completed nuclear plant would stop operating before paying off its loans. There may also be some kind of computed risk assumed in the even more unlikely case that a nuclear plant would have an accident that caused enough damage to exceed the 10+ BILLION in pooled insurance that the industry provides for itself. However, in the case of wind turbines, we KNOW that the taxpayers are spending tens of billions in current money. Before the economic crisis, wind turbines qualified for a tax credit that provided $20 per megawatt hour - even if the power came at a time when it was unwanted. Now, projects can qualify for a 30% up front cost share by the federal government in lieu of the tax credit. That is not a risk of an unlikely payout; its is a budgetary fact involving real money.
YetAnotherBob. Just reading through these comments yours appears the most incorrect. What materiel shortage are you talking about that will affect wind and solar plants? Which type of solar plant are you referring to, Photovoltaic? Do you know of solar power been harnessed and stored via concentrating solar power with thermal energy storage options? (CSP/TES) (I'm sure by now you would have heard about this technology). At this very moment there are companies that are installing 300MW CSP/TES plants, which are about 1/6 the size of an average nuclear reactor. CSP offers zero carbon emissions, baseload electricity 24 hours a day, and zero change of a catastrophic 'melt-down' scenario occurring. I don't need to spend any time describing how thermal heat and electricity can be generated in the sunbelt regions of the world, (look at the Desertec Initiative in the MENA zone). Using dry-cooled plants the "high water usage" argument against CSP plants is invalidated. I think the 'heat islands' you mention don't exist. I.e., your estimation of the environmental impact associated with solar (PV/CSP) is misguided. You state also that, "Wind power directly kills birds, bats and insects. It also reduces the natural water cycle." - firstly, do you know how many birds and bats are killed every year by domestic cats/antenna/cars/planes/trains/buildings/windows etc? The amount killed accidentally by wind turbines is minimal in comparison. How do wind turbines affect the "natural water cycle"? Wind turbines use no water, and have little affect on the vapour saturation of the surrounding air. Please show me scientific papers concluding that wind turbines reduce rainfall levels... You are also a proponent of nuclear fuel, but you seem to have ignored the discussion in the article and comments on this page which shows (as numerous other research bodies have also) that nuclear requires massively large subsidies to be viable. You would also like to see nuclear waste been reused. Have you ever been to a nuclear reactor and seen what kind of safety measures and waste-handling protocols are in effect to move high-level nuclear waste anywhere? It's ridiculous and there feels like a sense of insecurity about the danger associate with the waste. You are right that spent fuel can be reused, but you are talking about using it in present day reactors which would need to continue to run using the recycled fuel. I.e., more reactors would need to be built, more money (subsidized) would have to be spent, continued danger of accidents would exist, etc, etc. Uranium extraction is also not carbon neutral. Do you not want to live in a world where there is zero change of a nuclear melt-down occurring? The sun is the main energy feed to our planet, - it would be wise to start gathering our energy needs from the original source, and not continue messing around with fossil fuels, (coal, oil, gas, nuclear).