It’s Thursday in Palo Alto and that means there’s a cleantech talk being given at the Palo Alto Research Center
. Tonight’s talk was given by Dr. Rosa Yang, VP of Technology Innovation at EPRI.
, the Electric Power Research Institute, defines itself as an independent non-profit that does energy and environmental research. But the deeper truth is that EPRI is funded by their members and their members are, to a great extent, the energy producers in the U.S. -- the utilities. Most American utilities are coal, natural gas and nuclear-based, and they will be slow to change their energy mix.
Yang didn’t debate the reality of climate change and seemed to reluctantly accept its’ anthroprogenic source
But judging by the tenor of her talk I imagine that the EPRI offices look a bit like the war room scene in Dr. Strangelove. According to Dr. Strangelove, I mean Dr. Yang, nuclear is “near and dear to her heart.??? Her nuclear-powered heart.
Dr. Yang’s talk was entitled “Options for Reducing C02 Emissions in the Electricity Sector,??? and it looks like nuclear is one of the clear options according to Yang.
We interrupt this anti-nuke rant for some electricity stats from EPRI and EIA:
- 2007 U.S. electricity usage was 3,800 TWh
- U.S. electricity growth is estimated at 1.05 percent per year for the coming years, projected out to 2030
- That translates to 26 percent growth by 2030 = same amount of electricity now used by California, Texas, Florida and Ohio
Here are some nuclear tidbits:
- The U.S. currently has 104 nuclear reactors now in operation
- No nukes have been built in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island incident in 1979
- Nukes are the most capital intensive generation sources to construct at $5,100/kW -- compare that to expensive solar troughs at $4,600/kW. Both these options are much more expensive than coal or natural gas.
Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) normalized to 2007 dollars
- Solar thermal trough at $175/MWh
- $64/MWh for Coal
- $73/MWh for Nuclear which doesn't appear to include the cost to dispose of the nuclear waste
How can you entertain a LCOE figure that dose not include waste disposal? How do you conveniently externalize that small item?
"There is a renaissance in nuclear," said Dr. Yang. There are 34 units in the planning stages ready to produce 45 GW between 2015 to 2022.
And according to Yang: "Nuclear is on par with renewables??? in terms of life cycle C02 emissions analyses. Nuclear has "low land use" and "the cost of the fuel is very low and fairly steady.???
This is a blog and it allows me to profer my opinion unbound by the ethical constraints of actual journalism. I have a knee-jerk reaction to nuclear power because of Three Mile Island, Godzilla and The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Until there is a reasonable solution to the disposal of spent nuclear fuels, until there is a solution to the security aspects of a nuclear plant, until the costs of a building a nuke plant are lowered -- we should not build new nuclear plants.
Michael Kanellos reports on a nuclear resurgence in Sweden here
. Here's a piece on a nuclear startup
funded by Intellectual Ventures. And another Nuke startup, Hyperion
, in a piece by Jeff St. John.