These have been busy months in the world of subsidies to nuclear power.
It's been a rough few months for nuclear power, with the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the US nuclear arm of Toshiba; continued cost escalation at both US reactor projects and the UK's Hinkley C; and the decision on Monday to abandon two in-process reactors at the V.C.
PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission operator (RTO) serving more than 60 million customers in 13 states and the District of Columbia. The service region is centered in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Incumbent base load generators within PJM have complained that subsidies to renewable resources have been cutting their ability to win capacity market auctions, stripping them of revenue, and harming them competitively. They have been proposing adjustment factors that would improve their competitive position by adjusting bid prices to exclude the subsidy.
1) Earth Track congressional testimony. Read Earth Track's testimony to the Subcommittee on Energy of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives: Federal Energy-Related Tax Policy and its Effects on Markets, Prices, and Consumers.
2) New work on subsidies: US public lands, European coal, Asian fossil fuels.
It was pure coincidence that the release event for my detailed review of US subsidies to nuclear power -- a document a couple of years in the making -- was on March 11, 2011, the day of the Fukushima accident. I was in DC for the launch, traveling in a cab to the event with David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who was also releasing a new report.
Although nuclear power is a source of low carbon electricity, it is by no means a clear solution to the challenge we face in reducting greenhouse gas emissions. This presentation discusses common metrics to assess the most cost-efficient source of ghg emissions and reviews multiple studies indicating that new reactors are an expensive option relative to alternatives, and getting more so each year. Cost escalation, lengthening delivery times on reactor projects, and oft-ignored concerns about proliferation create significant headwinds for the nuclear pathway. In contrast, competitors cont
Lot's happening with nuclear around the world -- mostly associated with continued problems with market-competitive delivery, seeking alms from taxpayers, and attempts by taxpayer groups and trading partners to block the largest of the subsidies.
Another roundup of interesting tidbits from the world of government subsidies.
1) Nuclear: A new age of nuclear energy is about to dawn? Optimism is a good thing, and Michael Brush of the Fiscal Times certainly exudes it. But optimism probably shouldn't lead you to invest your 401(k) in a bunch of nuclear utility stocks.
Two straightforward concepts drive the inevitable marketplace defeat of nuclear power in most power markets: incremental innovation and lot size. People are quite clever in making many things, but we also frequently screw up. We learn by educated trial and error, and we get better bit-by-bit over time.
1) Reuters attributes sunk costs of German nuclear capacity to renewables. Michael Marriotte of NIRS flagged this one. In a recent post, he pointed out that $75 billion Reuters implied was associated with Germany's transition away from nuclear was actually "for decommissioning Germany's reactors and building a permanent radioactive waste dump." This is a sunk cost, and will need to be p