Lovins on Whether Nuclear Power Is a Climate Fix or Folly

NPEC releases "Nuclear Power: Climate Fix or Folly?". Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, summarizes why nuclear power cannot, in principle, deliver the climate-protection or energy-security and reliability benefits claimed for it.

May 13, 2009
AUTHOR: Amory B. Lovins, Imran Sheikh, and Alex Markevich
Lovins - NuclearPowerClimateFixorFolly_0 (PDF) 102.44 KB

Nuclear power, we’re told, is a vibrant industry that’s dramatically reviving because it’s proven, necessary, competitive, reliable, safe, secure, widely used, increasingly popular, and carbon-free —a perfect replacement for carbon-spewing coal power. New nuclear plants thus sound vital for climate protection, energy security, and powering a vibrant global economy.

There’s a catch, though: the private capital market isn’t investing in new nuclear plants, and without financing, capitalist utilities aren’t buying. The few purchases, nearly all in Asia, are all made by central planners with a draw on the public purse. In the United States, even new 2005 government subsidies approaching or exceeding new nuclear plants’ total cost failed to entice Wall Street to put a penny of its own capital at risk during what were, until autumn 2008, the most buoyant markets and the most nuclear-favorable political and energy-price conditions in history—conditions that have largely reversed since then.