Reposted from jonathonporrit.com:
So much for the fossil fuel lobbies. What of our dearly beloved friends in the nuclear industry?
The industry has had a constant presence at the World Future Energy Summit since the start ten years ago, but this year (with the interesting exception of the South Koreans), I felt they weren’t really trying. The Toshiba / Westinghouse exhibit, for instance, was almost apologetic – just don’t mention Fukushima! And the EdF stand was at least as much about renewables as it was about nuclear.
That didn’t stop them rolling out the usual lies, of course. Astonishing that they still tout their promo crap all around the world describing nuclear power as ‘carbon-free’! On another exhibit, I saw nuclear described as ‘a nearly zero carbon emissions technology’! The lengths these guys will go to beggar belief.
But what you won’t see is a single dollar sign anywhere in any of the promotional literature: this is a technology driven today by politics and vested interests, and the case that is made for new nuclear (however spurious it may be) long ago escaped the bounds of economic rationality.
That said, there will of course be a number of new reactors around the world – not least in Abu Dhabi, where its first nuclear power station, at Baraka, is scheduled to come online in 2017, and there are plans for more reactors in the pipeline. And China is still intent on completing the most ambitious nuclear programme anywhere in the world.
But what does that all add up to? There was no real promise of a great nuclear revival for the industry in Paris. Nearly all of the governments that signed up to the Paris Agreement exclude nuclear power from their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear now costs so much more than wind and solar (with an upfront price tag per reactor starting at around $10bn), and has build times that are so hopelessly extended, that it will never catch up with the emerging paradigm of renewables + storage + efficiency. As Professor Peter Bradford, a former member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, puts it: “Climate change, so urgent and so seemingly intractable, has become the last refuge of nuclear charlatans throughout the Western world.”
All of which means that their illusions and lies will not disappear. Unfortunately, they’re still sustained by a handful of climate scientists – including Jim Hansen and Tom Wigley – who know a lot about climate change, but very little about nuclear power. They even sound a bit bonkers when they’re in full nuclear voice, with Jim Hansen recently suggesting that “the world should build 115 reactors a year through to 2050 in order to decarbonise the global electricity system”.
Such hand-waving frenzies make the likes of George Monbiot and Mark Lynas sound almost reasonable.