Nuclear – Dueling Commentaries

Blog, Energy, Les Routledge

Lawrence Solomon and George Monbiot face off over nuclear power.

But even if nuclear accidents cannot inflict death and destruction on a massive scale, as I too believe, this hardly transforms nuclear power into a desirable way to generate electricity. By any reasonable measure, nuclear fails on economic, social, and environmental grounds.

The impacts and costs of renewables rise with the proportion of power they supply, as the need for storage and redundancy increases. It may well be the case (I have yet to see a comparative study) that up to a certain grid penetration – 50% or 70%, perhaps? – renewables have smaller carbon impacts than nuclear, while beyond that point, nuclear has smaller impacts than renewables.

I never thought I would say this, but Monbiot actually makes some valid points in his commentary.

While I can agree with Lawrence that nuclear is expensive, the more we learn about how expensive other power projects are becoming, the less convinced I am that its cost is out of the range of plausible alternatives.

One question I always have after reading an anti-nuclear opinion is “so what is your suggested alternative?”  To his credit, Monbiot has put forward an opinion on that question.

I would like to read Solomon’s opinion on what types of systems should produce electricity in the future.  If Smart Grids, renewable power and nuclear are out, what is in?