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View Diary: For electric power generation, the end of fossil fuel is in sight (215 comments)

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  •  Couple things ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    too many people

    1.  There are so many 'would've, could've, should've ...':  What if we had kept increasing CAFE standards? What if Carter's solar program had been kept at a steady research level of, let's say, $2.5 billion / year for the past 30 years along with a steady state $2.5 billion in Federal acquisition of renewable systems?  What if the construction/nuclear power companies had been more effective in project management and quality control such that power plants didn't have massive (MASSIVE) cost overruns that bankrupted the option of continuing nuclear power builds? What if ...  Yes, if we had a fleet of 300 nuclear power plants, we'd have roughly 60% of US power demand at extremely low carbon and, since the plants would be paid off, at very low price.

    2.  Putting aside pesky little environmental concerns (Fukushima, otherwise ...), the pricing is a key challenge going into the future.  There is not a nuclear power plant in the developed world that is pricing in below $0.15 per kWh (and, well, the bid structures are much higher than that).  Personally, I find SMRs far more interesting than large plants because uncertainties about energy markets/technologies (and climate change and ...) are making it incredibly difficult to commit $10 billion (or so) for a plant that won't generate an electron for perhaps a decade or more.  SMR development would enable 6-12 month decision-making/financial moves for adding power perhaps 25-100 megawatts at a time which is fiscally more palatable to utilities and helps match bump ups in energy production w/electricity demand growth.

    3.  Related to (2), very hard for that decade out purchase when there are quite plausible scenarios (suggested by Chu's targets w/SunShot) that solar will be delivering, to the household, electricity at <$0.05 within a decade (by the end of this decade) with perhaps a $0.01 additional cost for power storage/management to flatten demand curves.  No 'new' fossil fuel energy system can match this (the target of REHere is a path off coal that I originally laid out many years ago.  Nuclear power is part of this discussion -- a piece along with efficiency, solar, wind, CHP, ...  My big 'change' might be to add how we could drive down NG as well, making it truly only a fill-in when storage/renewables/power management aren't able to maintain the system.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 05:15:55 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

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