No More Nucs - 'Say Hello To My Rewewable Friends'
An image of a windmill is made into a crop formation by Greenpeace and Iowa Farmers Union. Image credit:All American Patriots, by B.G. Johnson
Last year I laid out a case that we have nothing to fear from 'Clean Coal' a.k.a "CCS" because as a matter of process economics these are going nowhere fast. No matter how much taxpayer money they throw down the coal hole, financial risks are too high to get big lenders behind full scale development. See Carbon Capture And Storage Will Happen - Here's Why We Should Support It My money quote was "The faster "Clean Coal" economics are laid out with some accuracy, including both the capital and operating cost for liquid CO2 pipelines and the costs for residuals management, the more rapidly investors will see the wisdom of putting their money in renewables first."
A parallel case may exist for new nuclear plants. (No matter how much money the Federal government promises to throw at new nucs, it won't be enough to satisfy lenders and big customers.) In a recent example of this possibility, energy intensive industries in the US State of Georgia have decided to oppose two new nucs supported by $8,3 billion in Federal loan subsidies.Washington Post has it covered:
The [nuclear] plants are expensive, and construction tends to run late and over budget. The projected cost for a pair of proposed Georgia plants would be $14 billion; the Obama administration last month pledged to provide them with $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees.Background.
So utilities have turned to state legislators and regulators to help contain capital costs.
Since WWII, the standard economic development plan in the US South has been to lobby Congress for, among other things (such as huge military bases), cheap electricity supported by a labyrinth of man made coal-shipping canals. The water and power were incentives for heavy manufacturers to locate there. The strategy worked. Look at all the BMW and Toyota plants in Not-Detroit.
Now, however, because of direct state-level opposition by existing industries, this may no longer be a winning strategy:
The reaction of big businesses, as well as other consumers, has turned states that were bastions of support for nuclear power into hazardous territory.Welcome to the Tea Party.
Paying for the nucs before you even get the power is a "taking." Customers get that.
Developers can plan and install a big wind farm in a year or three, stay under budget, and pay it off far before any turbines need replacement. And then another project. And another. And another...
Say hello to my little friends. They are going to 'crop up' like corn in the fields before many new nucs are built.