Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
23 February 2005
Filed under:Positive uses of technology at12:49 pm

“Wired”:http://www.wired.com/ provocatively suggests that if we are going to crack global warming we need to go Nuclear Now! I’m inclined to agree – we should be investing in better energy saving practices first, working to improve the economic viability of renewables second but given the projected growth in energy demand – primarily in the developing world – I can’t see an alternative to working on better, safer and more efficient nuclear power plants. There are problems with them of course but the known problems with conventional coal powered plants are much worse…


  1. They are correct of course but the biggest problem is front end cost which is much higher than anyone is prepared to admit. While they will produce power at 1/2 the cost of some other sources , the cost even amortised over 15 to 20 years makes them uneconomic (unless the price of oil and gas and the cost of finding it keeps up at $50 plus. ) if that happens there are economic consequenses associated with that that are truly worrying.

    Comment by russ — 25 February 2005 @ 11:47 pm

  2. David

    This one has been around for about a year. James Lovelock (Gaia Thesis inventor) said that he thinks environmentalists need to wrap their arms around this one.

    China is launching a so-called 3rd Generation reactor which doesn’t require a containment vessel.

    However the life cycle costs of nuclear power remain prohibitive; the industry only works because of massive state subsidies re waste disposal (to which we have no good answer, yet), decommission and also a universal insurance policy re nuclear liabilities. The taxpayer makes nuclear power economic.

    A better solution would probably be a 20% tax on electricity use (the old VAT on energy argument) which would encourage more conservation, plus subisidies for expenditures to reduce energy consumption (better insulation etc.).

    Longer term, your home boiler may be converted into a small cogeneration power plant: 5000 homes could potentially put out as much as a new nuclear station.

    Sorry your flat seems to be falling in around your ears btw. We’ve been having a few of those experiences.

    (remove at to reply by email)

    Comment by John — 1 March 2005 @ 1:22 pm

  3. Hasn’t the Bush administration been saying we need to Nuclear Now? Or Nuculer. Whatever, haven’t they been saying that?

    And as far as waste disposal, don’t we have a huge mountain out west where we’re going to dump it all?

    Comment by kk — 12 March 2005 @ 8:11 pm

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