June 25, 2008

Amory Lovins distorts nuclear energy and promotes air pollution

Amory Lovins wrote the nuclear illusion which looks at the data from 2000 forward or 1990 forward but he claims a decades long (plural so at least two decades and Lovins has been claiming nuclear collapse since the 1970s) collapse of nuclear energy.

Since 1980, nuclear power TWH has increased by over 400%. So Amory Lovins is wrong about nuclear energy being a collapsing industry.

The charts that Lovins uses are only looking at 2000 forward or look at "new additions" when the bulk of nuclear power generation increases was from operating improvement and uprates to existing reactors.

The "micropower" is mostly diesel, biomass and natural gas of small and big sizes. Natural gas has 4 deaths per TWH (Externe source). So 2500 Twh (to displace nuclear power) would be 10,000 deaths per year. The diesel (oil) portion is 35 deaths per TWH. The biomass about 10 deaths per TWH (35,000 deaths per year if diesel was the main source). The blended rate of deaths per TWH from micropower is over 12 deaths per TWH. Far higher than the 0.65 deaths per TWH calculated by Externe for nuclear power. Even if the micropower deaths per TWH was cut in half for lower distribution losses the number is still far higher. Diesel and natural gas are not renewable. Over 75% of the power that Lovins is talking about is diesel, natural gas and biomass.

Deaths per TWH for all energy sources
Natural gas is not renewable. So is Lovins advocating an increase of more than double the US military deaths of the 5+ years of the Iraq war every year from more natural gas air pollution and other causes ?

All energy build costs went up with the increase in commodity prices (steel, concrete, oil)

There are wind turbine shortages and backorders for several years for the large efficient turbines.

Nuclear operating costs and efficiency are on continuing to the improvements that they have made for decades.

Laser uranium enrichment 3-10 times cheaper and more efficient.

Existing nuclear power plants are getting 20 year extensions and power uprates.
MIT/Westinghouse commercializing new 50% power uprates for annular fuel.

Further analysis of deaths per TWH

Nuclear power build in China and the rest of the world

Feed in tariffs subsidies for renewables

Energy costs with externalities

Staffing an expanding nuclear industry

constructing a lot of nuclear power is not supply constrained

Nuclear forging bottleneck is being addressed

Idaho national lab plan to extend nuclear plants to 80 years of operation and increase build in the USA to over 10 reactors per year

New smaller and mass produced reactors will address the larger finance issues

Mass producable uranium hydride reactors

The Fuji molten salt reactor

David Bradish critique part 1 vs Nuclear illusion

David Bradish critique part 2 vs Nuclear illusion

David Bradish critique part 3 vs Nuclear illusion

David Bradish critique part 4 vs Nuclear illusion

Gristmill rebuttal part one

Gristmill/Lovins rebuttal part 2

Amory Lovins supports "clean coal"

Amory Lovins fossil fuel apologist


Cyril R said...

I don't agree with all of Lovins's conjecture either.

But one of the main arguments is highly valid: that the oppertunity cost of nuclear are higher than many Negawatt improvements.

That doesn't mean no government investment in nuclear. It just means more government investment to stimulate those cost-effective Negawatt applications, than for nuclear power. We should still invest significant amounts in nuclear power because it's of strategic importance to diversify the solutions portfolio.

Private investors should be allowed to do whatever they want. It's their money, after all. But governments do have to justify their subsidy budget, and oppertunity costs is a good method to base that on.