TED Conversations

Bill Barhydt

CEO, Founder, Boom Financial


This conversation is closed.

Nuclear Energy vs Other Non-Fossil Fuel based energy sources

I believe that we need to invest in and deploy nuclear energy. We have a much better chance of innovating and surviving our way through a nuclear energy era than we do through the current fossil fuel era extended for a couple of hundred more years. What do you believe?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 25 2011: To be clear, I agree with the original poster's premise. I have looked over this thread, and reviewed a few of the comments in depth, but not all. There are two points I think missing. First, who pays? Electricity is generated and sold as a business. Electricity is not a "government program", a "right of existence", a "community service", or a charity. The corporation selling electricity has to profit. (And the customers want the product at the lowest price). Thumbrule of business - Big factories make widgets cheaper per unit than small factories. That suggests big baseload will be cheaper than distributed production.

    Second, anyone reading this thread is doing so on an expensive computer of some kind. We are the rich. Who are we to be deciding what the rest of the world has to pay for their energy?

    My point? Cost matters, and you can not escape that. Right now, wind is more expensive to build and get return on investment than either coal or nuclear, and there are reliability issues. Solar is hugely more expensive.

    Continue the R&D. Push hard. Fund some projects in wind and solar. (Let T. Boone Pickens make a pile on his wind farm and show us how to do it). But keep the costs in view. Personally, I think for now, nuclear will be a needed.
    • thumb
      Mar 26 2011: Dewey, one point for clarification. Electricity production is not always run by corporate entities. There are municipal, state, and even country run electric companies. Furthermore, even when managed by private corporations they are often heavily subsidized by governments in one form or another. For example, government money is spent to fund research or building power stations.
      • Apr 5 2011: Adam: OF COURSE power can be supplied by coops or other "not for profit" entities.......And the business model applies equally to them as the investor owned for profit corporations. With a couple of tweaks possibly. At the low end, I submit they are even more profit driven than the big guys. They are not as worried about their "corporate image"..........At the higher end, they may not be as worried about "big mistakes" as the corporate entities. They can simply raise rates or taxes to compensate. Their buffer is not falling stock prices but public backlash, which is generally less responsive.

        And, no I'm not saying that subsidization is bad - In fact if you read my original post I support it. IN AN INCUBATOR capacity. Not as public policy.........Public policy needs to weigh all factors balanced. Cost is one. Risk is one. Reliability is one. And so on. Have a happy.
    • Mar 26 2011: Hi Dewey,

      may I ask you, whether your conclusions and assumptions are based on any actual statistics?

      I know the stats and I've postet links to them in some of my earlier postings.
      Because I draw different conclusions from them, I would very much like to get to know the data upon which your argument is based.

      In case you don't have such, I would kindly ask you to question your own beliefs.

      Thank you!
    • Apr 3 2011: "Big factories make widgets cheaper per unit than small factories. That suggests big baseload will be cheaper than distributed production."

      > not true. This would only be true if the 'big' and 'small' suppliers were making the same technology.

      "Right now, wind is more expensive to build and get return on investment than either coal or nuclear, and there are reliability issues. Solar is hugely more expensive."

      > actually, this is also not true. Wind and solar are both (right now!) cheaper than nuclear energy, and are rapidly approaching cost-competitiveness with coal. It won't show up on your electricity bill, but as taxpayers, our tax dollars subsidise nuclear (and coal!) for exploration, mining, research, insurance, liability for major disasters (like Fukushima...), security, regulation, decommissioning, and for (eternal) storage of nuclear waste.
      • Apr 6 2011: Well Anna, you certainly can have your own opinion on business issues. It IS however true that in general, economy of scale mean lower cost to produce. I'm sorry you don't understand my message. Cost matters.

        And you don't have it right on electricity production costs either. From low to high (USA numbers) ......Hydro, Natural Gas, Nuclear and Coal are about equal, Wind, Off Shore Wind, Solar Thermal, and finally Solar PV. For the US market, Natural Gas is hugely undervalued right now, utilities making base load Natural Gas are going to have a price shock when the laws of supply and demand come into play.

        I think you have it upside down on the subsidy issue too. Right now, wind is being built only because of huge subsidies. (If I could get 65%-75% of my capital costs covered by the taxpayer, I would build wind towers too). Some subsidy is fine of course. There are indications on solar PV that are encouraging. It may be soon that for new construction it would make little sense to build a house or commercial building without solar PV panels. But. The technology is NOT there yet.

        In fact, I will leave you with this riddle....IF solar and wind were that promising, why did the USA not adopt it from the 1973 energy shock? Carter ranted and raved about becoming less dependent upon foreign energy. Just where are we now??????? (The answer is that the technological issues of cost and reliability have not been worked out.)

        Cost matters.
        • Apr 6 2011: The fossils are going to run out - and on the way there they are going to become more and more expensive. It's pure economics. A limited good with an increasing demand.

          Because of this, some renewable technologies - that do not rely on the use of fossils in their production too much - are going to become more and more competitive.

          But in the mid-term it is only going to be about one abstract thought only: where energy is and how we can harvest it in a way that doesn't cost us more than it brings in. And obviously every day unimaginable amounts of energy from the sun are wasted. Just think about it. Take an astronomy class.

          The time of complete transition is going to come, because it has to.

          My argument is that we have to embrace research and investment in renewable technologies instead of waiting until it is too late and we run out of energy, or others have the technologies.
          There are good reasons to invest in renewables and it doesn't matter that much whether those investments are private or public, because the latter simply is a gigantic economic force that exists. What matters is only that those investments are taking place. Why?

          Imagine the world without fossils. Cities and societies would collapse.
          Imagine a world with efficient technologies to harvest the energy of the sun, opening gigantic opportunities of growth.

          Now in what world do you want to live in?
          And do you want to be the one with the key to this world, or do you prefer to wait and sit around, hoping that eventually someone opens that door for you?

          Sure we don't know if it is possible - but that doesn't mean we'd know that it isn't.
          Cost matters. I agree, but draw different conclusions.

          Anyhow, now that the discussion is over in a few hours, I'd like to say that it was a pleasure talking to you as well as everyone else throughout the course of this discussion. I hope that I was able to inspire some to rethink established beliefs through my postings..

          Let the sun shine with you. ;-)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.