Rocky Mtn Institute: Nukes displace least carbon per dollar

FORGET NUCLEAR Rocky Mountain Institute,
April 28, 2008          

At the link above, RMI provides an excellent analysis of the problems with centralized power sources.     

This non-technical summary article compares the cost, climate protection potential, reliability, financial risk, market success, deployment speed, and energy contribution of new nuclear power with those of its low- or no-carbon competitors.

Some major points are:     
"The nuclear industry claims it has no serious rivals, let alone those competitors -- which, however, already outproduce nuclear power worldwide and are growing enormously faster.     

"the private capital market isn't investing in new nuclear plants, and without financing, capitalist utilities aren't buying. The few purchases, nearly all in Asia, are all made by central planners with a draw on the public purse. In the United States, even government subsidies approaching or exceeding new nuclear power's total cost have failed to entice Wall Street. In today's capital market, governments can have only about as many nuclear plants as they can force taxpayers to buy.     

"Nuclear power now accounts for about 2 percent of worldwide electric capacity additions, vs. 28 percent for micropower (2004- 07 average) and probably more in 2007-08.     

"Wind, cogeneration, and end-use efficiency already provide electrical services more cheaply than central thermal power plants, whether nuclear- or fossil-fuelled. This cost gap will only widen, since central thermal power plants are largely mature while their competitors continue to improve rapidly. The high costs of conventional fossil-fuelled plants would go even higher if their large carbon emissions had to be captured.     

"By beating all central thermal plants, micropower and negawatts together provide about half the world's new electrical services. Micropower alone now provides a sixth of the world's electricity, and from a sixth to more than half of all electricity in twelve industrial countries (the U.S. lags with 6 percent)."     

"Small, quickly built units also have far lower financial risks than big, slow ones. This gain in financial economics is the tip of a very large iceberg: micropower's more than 200 different kinds of hidden financial and technical benefits can make it about ten times more valuable ( than implied by current prices or by the cost comparisons above. Most of the same benefits apply to negawatts as well. Thus just cogeneration, windpower, and efficient use-all profitable-can displace nuclear's current U.S. output roughly 14 times over."