Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cheap Shale Gas Undercutting Nuclear Power

From Via Media, "Shale Kills a Nuclear Plant" by Walter Russell Mead:
In that sense, the shale boom has been green. Natural gas emits roughly half the carbon that coal does, so to the extent that it displaces coal, it is decreasing US emissions. But the economic ripples are also hitting nuclear power—a zero-emissions energy source: This week a Vermont nuclear plant was forced to shut down.
But leaving aside the emotionalism of public opinion about nuclear power versus, say, coal, the Vermont [nuclear power plant] shuttering is a reminder that economics rules the energy roost. If natural gas stays dirt-cheap, we will see more nuclear plants close unless researchers figure out a way to cut down on the capital and operating costs of such facilities. Similarly, cheap gas will continue to undercut wind and solar, given current technologies. Leaders interested in weaning nations off of dirty-burning, high-emitting energy sources would do better to invest government dollars in research and development rather than fighting market currents with subsidies.

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