Monday, January 24, 2011

Solving Global Warming with Nukes

The calculations

An engineer for Google costs out how much it would be to replace the US reliance on coal and other fossil fuels with nuclear power, and comes up with a pretty doable numbers:
Result: In this future, we need 7.7 kW per person, provided by $3/watt capitalized sources with 8% cost of capital and 35% surcharge for O&M. The cost of this infrastructure: $2,550/person/year or 5% of GDP.

Alternate assumptions:
Chinese nuclear plant costs of $1.70/watt
Higher efficiency in an electric future were most processes take about 1/2 as much energy from electricity as they used to take from combustion. 1.3 kW from old electricity demands (unchanged) + 3.2 kW from new electricity demands (half of 6.4 kW). And fuels (where still needed) are produced using nuclear heat-driven synthesis approaches.

Alternative result: $844/person/year or 2% of GDP.
Now, I am a limited skeptic of "Global Climate Change".  While I believe that anthropogenic CO2 emissions and land use changes have contributed to natural cyclical warming trends, I think the doomsday scenarios being being widely espoused are highly overwrought, as I think that a warmer earth is probably a friendlier earth; far more people die annually of cold than heat, and food is easier to grow at higher temperatures and higher CO2 concentrations.

Even without the impetus of Global whatever, I think we would be far better of with a nuclear future than a coal powered future.  I've lived within 3 miles of a nuke for years, and I've visited the insides of relatively well run coal fired power plants.  I'd much rather have a nuke as a neighbor.

No comments:

Post a Comment