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Cooling It! No Hair Shirt Solutions to Global Warming

by Gar W. Lipow

Hotter than the Sun: The Mandatory Section on Nuclear Electricity


Inexpensive sustained net-energy fusion would be wonderful if we had it; but we don’t.

The last time we built nuclear power plants in the U.S. their capital costs averaged over $3,000 per KW in mid-80s dollars[295].


The nuclear industry insists that modern plants could be built more quickly and would cost much less; they promise their plants won’t end up costing four to seven times budget as they have in the past.


The pebble bed reactor is one example often promoted of a new generation technology for producing less expensive, safer fission reactors. The consortium building a pebble bed reaction in South Africa has finally revealed the cost – just short of $9,800+ per KW in capital costs[296]; that cost has no chance of falling, but may yet increase.


We can build solar thermal with storage at two thirds of that price, fully dispatchable wind at one third – and not have to worry about uranium mining, waste transport and storage, and the liability issues (which in the U.S. are dealt with through the special privileges of the Price/Anderson act not given to any other power source).

End Notes


[295]American Society of Civil Engineers, 2001 Report Card for America's Infrastructure - Report Card ASCE -  Energy. 2001, American Society of Civil Engineers, 8/May/2003 <>.


[296]Steve Thomas, "Government Needs to Take a Brave Decision Now | Crunch Time for Pebble Bed Plan,". Cape Times 18/Sep 2003: Insight, The Cape Times & Independent Online (Pty) Ltd, 10/Apr/2005 <>.