Just The Facts
In an article for World Financial Review, Beyond Nuclear's Linda Pentz Gunter writes that nuclear is on the wane.
"While nuclear energy continues to play a role in political discussion and decision-making circles, the financial realities indicate it is a dying industry with no meaningful role in the future energy mix. Too costly, too slow to build, and too inefficient in an energy market heading away from the big grid system and toward distributed electricity generation, nuclear power simply offers too many serious drawbacks to remain viable."
In it, she cites the empirical evidence available today from sources such as Bloomberg and the World Nuclear Energy Status Report. An excerpt:
"All eyes instead were on renewable energy. The year 2015 saw unprecedented progress during which 64GW of wind and 57GW of solar PV was commissioned, an increase of nearly 30% over 2014, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.1Bloomberg noted that dollar investment in renewables globally soared to nearly six times the 2004 total and a new record of one third of a trillion dollars.
"These numbers are supported by the empirical data found in the independent World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR),2 produced annually and whose 2015 edition concluded: “There now seems to be general recognition that the falling production costs of renewable energy technologies, particularly solar photovoltaics (PV), coupled with the expected falling costs of electricity storage, will accelerate the transformation of the power sector.”3
"Indeed, it is the agility of renewable energy that is contributing to the poor economic outlook for nuclear power, as the 2015 WNISR points out. Large, centralised power stations that rely on baseload, such as nuclear and coal, “that cannot rapidly react to the resultant changing prices and/or demand will increasingly have to continue to generate when they are no longer needed or when they are operating at a loss. As solar or wind power have no fuel costs, they are able to produce power at lower cost and therefore will enter the market, unless obstructed, whenever they are able to generate,” the WNISR states.4"
Writing in The Ecologist, Beyond Nuclear's Linda Pentz Gunter addressed the cover-up in Japan where efforts are underway to "normalize" radiation exposure and move evacuees back into contaminated areas. Included in the myths is the concept that radioactivity can be "cleaned up" and areas decontaminated. This was debunked by WNISR author, Mycle Schneider, in the Beyond Nuclear article:
Of course radiological decontamination is not that easy. Nor is it reliable. It is more like “pushing contamination from one spot to the next”, as independent nuclear expert, Mycle Schneider describes it. And radiation does not remain obediently in one place, either.
“The mountains and forests that cannot even be vaguely decontaminated, will serve as a permanent source of new contamination, each rainfall washing out radiation and bringing it down from the mountains to the flat lands”, Schneider explained. Birds move around. Animals eat and excrete radioactive plant life. Radiation gets swept out to sea. It is a cycle with no end.
The story was also republished on Counterpunch.
Writing in The Progressive Populist, Counterpunch and The Ecologist, we took a look at whether those who deny climate change are doing so only for political gain but, like Exxon, know climate change is real. And we looked at those who are in denial about the dangers of nuclear energy, insisting it be included in climate change mitigation.
In the conclusion of the article, we suggested that those who claim nuclear is needed for climate change "need look no further than the empirical evidence found in the 2015 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, where we see nuclear energy continuing to stagnate and even decline while wind and solar energy soar globally. It’s time to follow the example of Germany and take nuclear power out of the energy equation. Continued nuclear irresponsibility will have only one, tragic outcome; allowing the climate crisis to slip beyond the point of no return."