Nuclear Power: A Free Market View

Reposted from MasterResource

By Jane Shaw Stroup — September 9, 2021

Ed. Note: This interview with Robert L. Bradley Jr. by Jane Shaw Stroup appeared earlier this week at the Liberty and Ecology website of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research. Comments are welcomed, including new questions to clarify the role of nuclear power in a free economy.

Q1. What role should nuclear power have in the years ahead?

A. “Let the market decide” is the straightforward classical-liberal, free-market answer. This means government neutrality in terms of not subsidizing or penalizing one energy technology versus another to determine what, when, where.

The decision to build new capacity, or the decision to operate-versus-retire, should be based on stand-alone economics, without government favor or penalty.

Q2. Under this standard, what is the future of nuclear in the energy mix as far as new capacity?

A. Not good, at least here in the United States. New nuclear capacity creates output at costs far in excess of the market price of power. Far cheaper kilowatt hours are generated by natural gas combined-cycle plants that can be built to scale quickly with less risk. The revolution in producing natural gas from shale has added to the competitive advantage of natural gas versus nuclear, which was already substantial.

Q3. Has nuclear ever been competitive?

A. No, and this is a point to remember. The “Atoms for Peace” program that developed after World War II was entirely a governmental initiative. Not only did the government subsidize the development of nuclear plants, it provided crucial liability protection through the Price-Anderson Act. Private insurance was just not going to be available for such a new, risky technology.

Nuclear also got a crucial boost because states regulate power producers as public utilities. The high cost of nuclear plant construction would help utilities maximize (“swell” to critics) their rate base, leading to higher profits.

Q4. How exactly did this work?

A. Under cost-of-service regulation, a utility passes its “reasonable” costs to consumers and receives a “reasonable” return on invested capital. The higher the capital cost, the greater the potential return. Because nuclear capacity has always been much more expensive than coal- or gas-fired plants, the returns are higher.

For example, if a nuclear plant costs $100 million more to build than a similarly sized gas-fired plant, and the government-authorized rate of return is 15 percent, then the choice of nuclear creates $15 million more in annual profits, adjusted for depreciation.

Q5. Nuclear advocates say that the high costs stem from federal safety overregulation.

A. That is partly true. No doubt, regulators would err on the side of caution. But making a very complicated, dangerous technology foolproof requires a lot of infrastructure. Nuclear is “the most expensive way to boil water” because of this.

Q6. So how much regulation is necessary?

A. This should be a question for the private insurance market rather than the current setup of government-capped liability limits and pooled premium costs. The Price-Anderson Act would need to be repealed to find out, via insurers, what is reasonably safe or not.

Q7. What about existing nuclear capacity in the United States?

A. This capacity has been built, creating large sunk costs, and the operating (marginal) costs are low compared to most existing and certainly new capacity. And nuclear operations have become much more efficient, particularly with “deregulated” merchant plants (stand-alone plants that are free from public-utility regulation) that get to keep all profit. This advantage changes, of course, when a plant becomes run down and problematic to fix.

Unfortunately, otherwise competitive nuclear capacity has been (prematurely) retired because government has forced renewable energy on the grid, namely wind power and solar power.

Q8. Why has that nuclear capacity been retired?

A. Call it an unintended consequence of government intervention, which, by the way, works against the climate change agenda of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Because wind and solar do not have fuel costs once their infrastructure has been built, they have the lowest incremental costs. Thus, they get taken first to meet demand. This means that renewables not only idle gas- and coal-fired plants but lower the margins for nuclear, resulting in early retirements.

Keep in mind that the average cost of wind and solar is much higher than existing capacity from the so-called reliables due to very high infrastructure and integration costs. Such capacity would not have been built in the first place except for a raft of government mandates and favors.

Q9. So wind and solar are government-subsidized, and such subsidies have hurt nuclear power. Should victimized nuclear capacity get government support to cancel out this distortion to ensure grid reliability or to reduce carbon emissions?

A. Do two wrongs make a right? The answer is to remove the existing intervention rather than try to fix it with new intervention. It is ironic that renewables have distorted the carbon-free generation sector, but the policy reform should be toward markets, not against them. That points toward ending the outsized favor toward politically correct, economically incorrect renewables, wind and solar.

Q10. Michael Shellenberger, a “realist” environmentalist, advocates nuclear power as the middle ground in today’s contentious environmental debates. Do you agree?

A. No. I do appreciate his work toning down climate alarmism, as well as documenting the problems of renewables as an affordable, reliable, scalable resource. But I do not favor government “bailouts” of existing plants or subsidies to enable new capacity.

New nuclear plants are just not competitive or timely—by a long shot. Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle 3 and 4, still under construction, has been a nightmare of delays and cost overruns. Gas-fired capacity could have been built at one-tenth the cost and been in service years ago.

Q11. What are new-generation technology for nuclear that we hear about?

A. new design being promoted by Bill Gates’s TerraPower for Wyoming has already received $80 million in U.S. Department of Energy funds—and for a not-yet-started project that will take an estimated seven years to build. NuScale Power’s proposed project is greenlighted to involve as much as $1.4 billion of DOE money.

Q12. Without nuclear power, what are the chances of the U.S. reaching the stated goals of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030? 

A. First, this goal is impossible and pernicious. Second, with nuclear capacity retiring and with new capacity limited for political and economic reasons, nuclear is not going to make much of a difference by 2030 or a decade hence.

Q13. So what is the future energy mix in a free market? And how does this square with the goal of so many for a “carbon constrained” world?

A. Here in the U.S., natural gas-fired capacity is the consumer-friendly, taxpayer-neutral choice for new power generation. Coal has its place with state-of-the-art, low-polluting plants. Wind and solar, on the other hand, are not competitive sans government and have reached blackout (“greenout”) levels in California and Texas. More states can be expected to join this list too.  

Fossil-fuel-fired generation has a lot of room to grow in a true free-market setting.

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September 10, 2021 2:03 pm

then we should let the free market decide on windmills too?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  billtoo
September 10, 2021 5:03 pm

I’m pretty sure that this is the suggestion

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
September 10, 2021 5:54 pm

it goes unheeded. and living in chicagoland i paid .11 per KWH

Reply to  billtoo
September 11, 2021 3:11 pm

So how much should plant operators be fined every time a protected bird flies into a windmill (or over a giant solar mirror array) and dies? The market can’t put a value on wildlife when possession of that wildlife is a felony.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  billtoo
September 12, 2021 8:15 am

Yes, of course. Solar and ethanol too. Batters also.

the market share of carbon-based energies should probably be around 90 percent.

michael hart
September 10, 2021 2:12 pm

“So how much regulation is necessary?”

Just enough to make it uneconomic would be the honest ‘green’ answer. And then multiplied by ten.

michael hart
Reply to  michael hart
September 10, 2021 2:15 pm

sorry for the boldface. It came from cutting and pasting the quote.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  michael hart
September 10, 2021 5:07 pm

Not at all. I think it requires boldface.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  michael hart
September 10, 2021 8:38 pm

I don’t find it offensive. Emphasis is the proper purpose of bold face. However. You can edit your post if you act within a few minutes. Just highlight what you want changed and push the appropriate letter of symbol, below.

Reply to  michael hart
September 11, 2021 3:15 pm

Written laws and rules aren’t the only regulations of plant construction. There are eco-nut groups that exist in order to tie such projects up in un-called-for lawsuits, and so long as our country doesn’t have a loser-pays rule in place there’s no downside to filing them. It was those suits, beginning in the ’70s, that raised the price of going nuclear enough to make it non-cost-effective.

September 10, 2021 2:32 pm

“Let the market decide” is too simplistic.
For centuries governments have made strategic decisions not based on economics.
In 1911 the UK decided to change its key energy source from coal to oil for the strategic reason of building bigger battleships.

A current example is Korea.
Korea currently imports a diverse mix of energy sources.

September 10, 2021 2:32 pm

A basically silly argument. Arguing that free markets only apply to one portion of the electric market, when the rest is quite distorted by green mandates and subsidies is playing into the anti-nuke bigots game.
If and only if all the mandates for “renewable” energy, and the basically anti-nuke construction regulations go away is this a reasonable approach.
Again, failure to make the unreliable weather dependent sources pay for the required backup is the major cause of a distorted and unreliable electric grid.

Max More
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 10, 2021 2:48 pm

Not a silly argument. If we always respond to government distortions to markets by adding further distortions, we will never make progress toward a market economy. I’m a big fan of nuclear but cannot support subsidizing it through taxes. Level the playing field by opposing subsidies, not by adding new ones.

Reply to  Max More
September 10, 2021 3:01 pm

However, the anti-nuke greens want to oppose nuclear power, so having a level playing field would mean a balanced removal of subsidies, not unilateral surrender.
Mandating that the wind and solar subsidy miners pay for their choice of power supply unreliability would be fair.

Reply to  Max More
September 10, 2021 4:40 pm

Then stop crippling it through regulation

Max More
Reply to  Leo Smith
September 10, 2021 6:38 pm

Yes, of course. However, if the author is correct, that alone will not be sufficient to reduce the cost to a competitive level. I hope he is wrong. Not having dug into the complex details, I don’t know. The French experience suggests it can be done economically but I don’t know if they subsidized it (more than other energy sources).

Last edited 18 days ago by Max More
Reply to  Max More
September 10, 2021 10:25 pm

Modern French reactors have never been subsidized; they have zero military use so they aren’t even “defense subsidized” (if you consider it’s a subsidy for the old, military usable reactors, then Boeing counts as subsidized also).

Reply to  niceguy
September 11, 2021 1:47 am

The reality of France’s aggressive nuclear power push – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (

Further claims that French nuclear power costs are “the lowest in the world” can’t be substantiated because nobody knows the cost of the entire domestic nuclear program. For decades, the civilian program has profited from direct and indirect subsidies, in particular through cross-financing with the nuclear weapons program. 

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 5:11 am

However the French nuclear reactors got financed,the French are sitting pretty now. They have lots of nuclear electricity to sell to the windmill kingdoms, when the wind doesn’t blow.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 9:20 am

France’s nuclear power program was driven by the depletion of the Franco-Belgian coalfield and the physical impossibility of importing fresh coal supplies from overseas, regardless of how cheap the coal was.

Griff’s remark about cross-financing from the nuclear weapons program can be disregarded as typical antinuclear propaganda. Griff doesn’t want a solution to the supposed problem of global warming because that means nuclear, and Griff hates nuclear. All the enviro-radicals do.

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 11:42 am

You are 50 years late

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 9:36 pm

griff talking utter bollox again.
He knows sweet ZILCH about French nuclear as he has never lived there.

Relying on cuttings from British mass media is about as reliable as being able to boil an egg on the summit of mount everest.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 11, 2021 3:23 pm

All good points except that nuclear is not the only energy source that the greens distort economics to try to destroy. For example, before the big shale oil strikes in the US, greens routinely told us that the entire cost of our Middle East wars was a subsidy to the oil industry. When you tried to point out that the US could produce more but was prevented by overregulation, they’d shrug and say “prove it.” The big strikes provided that proof but have since been manipulated off the market. Biden stopped renewing a lot of oil leases on federal land (which the federal government has no authority to own) and then within two weeks was begging the Saudis to increase production. They laughed at him and I would too.

Reply to  jdgalt1
September 11, 2021 3:42 pm

It is also why the greens tell tall tales about fracking—it works, and the greens want scarcity.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 12, 2021 8:19 am

Nuclear is the fig leaf that a carbon tax will work. Let wind and solar try and die with nuclear cut down to size is another political strategy.

Rud Istvan
September 10, 2021 2:41 pm

I wrote my econ honors thesis(summa, also accepted as a PhD thesis) on the economics of nuclear power. Developed the mathematics of dynamic input-output analysis (my mentor Vassily Leontief won the Econ Nobel that same year for the static version he invented), then used US reduced sector Dynamic I/O to show that the high cost/long construction time of nuclear never paid back compared to subsequent fuel savings. Was true in 1972, and is true now as Gen 3 Voglte is proving.

The ‘right’ answer is CCGT for the next few decades, while we thoroughly analyze, then build two or three single Gen 4 versions to shake the bugs out. Then go nuclear with the ‘best’ Gen 4 design under simplified permitting as CCGT reaches design life at about 40+ years. Explained in detail in essay Going Nuclear in ebook Blowing Smoke.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 10, 2021 3:59 pm

Did your analysis look at the fact that the first dozen or so sold “turn-Key” fo between $60 and $100 Million? (The first six GE – BWR units at least.) Then the utilities decided that their engineers could do it for less – resulting in extensive Field Changes, delays, redesigns, delays, over-runs, improperly sized equipment, delays.
Most state Public Utilities would not allow the incorporation of the plant into the rate base while under construction thus the utilities were paying for the construction and the loan on the construction which was now 10 years instead of five years.
In 74, the NRC started turning the “Ratchet Wrench” on upgrades brought about by antinukes. Once one plant made an NRC required improvement it was a given that others would fold and be ratcheded by the NRC to make the same change to get permission to load fuel. etc. i was the Startup Engineer for two NRC required modifications that the Utility agreed to incorporate do simply to the fact that it was cheaper to make the modification than fight the government in court. Of course each of these delayed construction by more than six months. Thus, again more delays and more interest. I likened it to building your new house while living in your present house and paying the interest (not principle) on your construction loan with your credit card. And Carters 20% interest rates did not help much.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Rich Lentz
September 10, 2021 5:27 pm

You can look up my thesis and answer for yourself. Or, on short form was also published in two separate relatively contemporary anthologies.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 13, 2021 2:21 pm

Here is the real problem.
The probability of being killed by a stroke of lightning is 1 x 10 E -8. and ~30 people (average) per year (last ten years) died from a lightning strike.
From ten years before the TMI-II incident there were ten Operating nuclear reactors and from 5 years before TMI-II there were over twenty Operational reactors. Yetover that 10 year period no one, other than those that died from heart attacks’/Strokes from the stress created by the media hype, died as a result of the incident, The incidence of illis even lower. Proving that US NPPs were far safer, at least an order of magnitude safer, than the existing and today’s NRC Design Basis Accident requirements. Yet the NRC has ratched the plants int even stricter safety requirements on more system Increasing construction Costs and time, decreasing the probability to the point of absurdity at costs that basically cause bankruptcy. and do not save any more lives.

WHY, other than get rid of nuclear power plants.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 10, 2021 4:45 pm

Timing is everything. What conclusion would you have reached in 1973? 😉

Reply to  commieBob
September 16, 2021 8:06 am

My Brother was a District Manager for a utility covering about a third of the state of Ohio in the early 70’s while I was a Reactor Operator on a Navy Sub. Many times he told me that Nuclear Power is the future. The electricity is so cheap that we will not need meters, saving even more expenses. –
Then The NRC was established ~1975 and populated with Nader followers and ex members of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Added to this were the ex-naval officers that were aware of the USS Thresher (SSN-593) accident and that were trained by Adm. Rickover. They brought with them the zero accident requirements philosophy, which was necessary on an aircraft Carrier or in a Sub – as your life depended on it. Problem is, there is plenty of time to shutdown a commercial NPP if and when you have been trained properly and have proper procedures.
I was the Reactor Control System Engineer at TM-I and TMI-II. I was also on the team evaluating the TMI-II accident. We ran computer models in RETRAN that conclusively proved that if, like the ads you see for self parking cars, the operators had DONE NOTHING and just watched, there would not have been a “Melt Down” and TMI-II would be operating today (except for the GND caused Shutdowns).
Problem is, B&W blew the training of Operators, and training and procedures were insufficient and did not include fault tree type scenario advice. And TMI had some of the BEST procedures in the nuclear power industry at the time.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 10, 2021 4:46 pm

Tell that to the French – the lowest electricity prices in Europe, all nuclear.

I, too, have done the sums. There are two significant metrics in the cost of nuclear power.

One is the capital cost which is determined by the regulatory environment to the tune of 75% of that capital cost.

The other is the cost of capital. Which is determined by government economic policy.

In a cheap borrowing / relaxed regulatory environment – such as the one that is applied to ‘renewable energy’ – nuclear power would be far far cheaper than anything else, including gas.
Coal is cheaper than gas.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Leo Smith
September 10, 2021 5:11 pm

Tell that to the French – the lowest electricity prices in Europe, all nuclear.

Beware gfo the fact that France is very socialist. They probably subsidised it. They did this with the TGV (Very Fast Train, what an unimaginative name?). They had one of the fastest trains in the world for a while, but it was uneconomic.

Last edited 18 days ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
September 10, 2021 10:28 pm

Actually, nothing you write is remotely true. The first TGV line is almost the only one not subsidized. You are very uninformed.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
September 11, 2021 1:43 am

That’d be the French where EDF’s Flammanville reactor isn’t online after more than 10 years? France where half their nukes were offline for months over safety issues and they relied on German power? France where EDF may go bankrupt over decommissioning costs?

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 4:00 am

They are certainly now firmly in the ‘let’s kill off nuclear’ mode like Germany.

There is no reason that the Flammanville recator was started before the same units were started in the Far East, and yet has not been completed, while they have been, except for over regulation.
They are certainly now firmly in the ‘let’s kill off nuclear’ mode like Germany.

There is no reason that the Flammanville recator was started before the same units were started in the Far East, and yet has not been completed, while they have been, except for over regulation.

And of course decommissioning is a moveable feast. To what level? Again nothing works better to wreck a business than imposing yet more cost on it for purely political reasons. And then there is liability insurance. Again the government can impose a crippling figure if it chooses.

ALL the main costs of nuclear are in the final analysis political costs. In te same way that all the profits in renewable energy are political profits.

Last edited 17 days ago by Leo Smith
Reply to  Leo Smith
September 11, 2021 9:23 am

Don’t waste your time on Griff. He’s an antinuclear agitator with no substance to any of his speculations.

Reply to  Leo Smith
September 12, 2021 7:45 am

French law prevented EDF from starting a reactor w/o stopping another. So Flamanville couldn’t be started thanks for François Hollande!!!

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 11:48 am

France where half their nukes were offline for months over safety issues”


“France where half their nukes were offline for months over safety issues”


Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 9:40 pm

“France where half their nukes were offline for months over safety issues”
Griff the nutter talking bollox again.

Take a trip down the Rhone valley….(oh I told him that before, but I take it he doesn’t even know where the Rhone is!)..

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 10, 2021 5:51 pm

If nuclear electricity is too expensive to supply a nation, do you think that we should tell the French? Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
September 11, 2021 9:24 am

Not just France. Ontario gets two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear. Sweden gets a third of its electricity from nuclear. Belgium gets half its electricity from nuclear.

Reply to  cgh
September 11, 2021 9:42 pm

Lithuania were getting most of their electricity from Nuclear until the EU told them to turn it off and buy electricity at higher prices from those crappy neighbours Lukashenko and Putin.

Reply to  pigs_in_space
September 12, 2021 1:04 am

They said “RBMK bad”. But natural U is bad, enriched U is good

Reply to  niceguy
September 12, 2021 3:35 am

If you think the predecessor from Van de lamer was bad, imagine what it’s like to be blackmailed by the same EU nuts voluntarily to increase all your electricity prices by 50% as payment to enter the EU.
The RMBK (s) at Ignalina was/were totally safe and producing most of the country’s power.

The management at that site professed to be dumbfounded by the decision to turn the whole site to scrap, after spending several decades to ensure the system was totally safe and problem free.
Ignalina is the absolute proof of German idiotic (DIKTAT) NPP policy acted out as a pre-run to turning their own NPPs off, then increasing power prices to some of the highest in the world.

For Lithuania it was disastrous.
It will be the same for Germany, and heaven help the French if they try the same suicidal policies.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 10, 2021 6:50 pm

Ruds comment is totally valid for USA given it’s access to competing energy resources and regulatory/political environment.
France, Japan, Korea, India and Taiwan all import uranium along with other energy resources so it can’t be too cost prohibitive.

Reply to  Waza
September 11, 2021 9:25 am

The cost of uranium is a trivial portion of the total cost of nuclear power generation.

Reply to  Waza
September 12, 2021 3:56 am

France used to extract its own uranium from mines all over France.
sadly some idiots sold off the tailings for building roads and making building foundations.
Stupid does as stupid is….some of the roads in rural France are suprisingly radioactive.

One farmer who used “innocent” tailings for out-buildings found they were full of radon gas, and couldn’t sell his farm because the entire foundations turned out to be built on collossal amounts of uranium isotopes.

The French have made a right mess of the entire nuclear industry over decades c/w massive radiological accidents in the middle of the north african desert…which still blows on occasions active saharan dust over the whole of southern Europe.
“The “Béryl incident” was one, the third French atomic bomb test in the Sahara….
“Gaston Palewski would die of leukemia 22 years later, persuaded, according to Pierre Messmer, that this cancer was caused by the accident. Messmer also died of cancer, but at a very advanced age,”

“docudrama Vive la bombe!,directed by Jean-Pierre Sinapi in 2006 and featuring Cyril Descours, Olivier Barthelemy, and Matthieu Boujenah, recounted this event through the experiences of military men irradiated.

It was broadcast on Arte on March 16, 2007, then on France 2 on April 28, 2009, and again on Arte on February 10, 2010.

Just saying….
French NPP are models of cleanliness compared with the pathological lying on the part of the French gov & military about its past.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 10, 2021 7:00 pm

I remember the transition from cassette to CD to iPods. I don’t think you can predict the success of new technologies too far ahead.

What I don’t understand is Australia’s long game.
Are we drip feeding the world uranium while selling coal like there’s no tomorrow, in the hope that the time the coal runs out matches with advanced thorium reactors coming competitive?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Waza
September 10, 2021 8:21 pm

Did anyone foresee the dominance of VHS over the technically superior BetaMax format?

Nick Graves
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 11, 2021 2:24 am

Interesting one – the scale of distribution led to market domination and therefore the free(er) market solution was that the inferior product won the day.

Not quite the same as the collusion of The Big Three killing Tucker’s Baby, but it does happen a lot via market-capture. More volume; cheaper product, consumers switch as the superior product dries up.

I’m trying to do a thought experiment (imagining say, ‘cheap’ Rolls-Royce modular reactors) vs CCGT, but I so far conclude that it would have to be a ‘fashion’ thing for the reactors to win it on purely rate-of-return grounds.

It’s not really a true free-market in utilities.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 11, 2021 2:44 am

Didn’t that happen because the porn industry decided to go with VHS? And what is happening with BluRay? Again, doesn’t this depend on what the porn industry wants?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
September 11, 2021 5:34 am

Beta was more expensive than VHS.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 11:56 am

More expensive because more complicated and more fragile?

Mark L. Gilbert
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
September 11, 2021 7:50 am

LOL I was thinking the same thing before i saw your comment. the massive market power of porn killed BetaMax, as they refused to allow it. Now with the internet, that power has diffused for technology but there are many examples of previous technology driven by porn, Like the ridiculous Polaroid camera (no development needed)

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 11, 2021 11:55 am

How was Beta “technically superior”?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  niceguy
September 11, 2021 2:11 pm

On-screen resolution was higher. However, the tapes were shorter, originally you couldn’t record your own, and Sony wouldn’t license the technology.

All my personal recollection, so some wiggle room there.

Last edited 17 days ago by D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
September 12, 2021 1:07 am

Resolution is nice, but not being able to record the whole film means the resolution of the end is actually zero pixel.

September 10, 2021 2:59 pm

OK, first it must be determined once and for all whether CO2 and man made CO2 are causing any significant climate warming. I do not believe CO2 is any climate danger but in fact is a positive for the world’s agriculture and flora in general. The author described a “nuclear plant” without being specific. My opinion is that high pressure water cooled reactors using uranium fuel rods is old technology that has a record of man caused errors in operation resulting in meltdowns. The huge plants built on site are prone to cost over runs. There are many versions of thorium powered Molten Salts Reactors in various stages of development. The safety and smaller size offered plus the use of thorium make these reactors much more desirable than the old designs which were basically the nuclear submarine type increased in size. There is lots of information on MSRs available. The more critical question is how billionaire Billy Gates keeps sucking millions of dollars from the gubment for his crackpot ideas…that is the question. Why doesn’t Billy spend his own money?

Reply to  Anti_griff
September 10, 2021 4:56 pm

The costs of nuclear power are all in the interest rates and in the regulatory environment. It doesn’t matter a damn what technology is used – BWR PWR AGR FBR MSR – what matters is how you get around regulatory requirements designed to force nuclear out of business.

Nuclear has to wait for public demand. Public demand will only happen when ‘renewable’ energy has failed publicly, undeniably, and spectacularly.

Once that happens polticians will suddently discover that by changing the political stance on nuclear, people will rush to lend money to build it.

Peter W
Reply to  Leo Smith
September 10, 2021 5:36 pm

First paragraph exactly right. The French bypassed the regulatory nightmare, settled on a safe, workable design, included a process for handling and reprocessing the waste, and have safe, reasonable-cost power as a result.

Reply to  Leo Smith
September 10, 2021 7:57 pm

So far, it doesn’t matter how badly RE fails in various situations. It is always spun as FF problems and the majority of the public seems to continually buy it. The problem is with the media, not with the technology.

Reply to  AndyHce
September 11, 2021 4:11 am

I disagree. Questions are beginning to be asked in the UK about the cost of green wash. We lost part of the grid due to renewable energy, although it was dressed up as a gas power staion failure (shades of Texas). We are currently running a lot of coal – supposed to have gone from the grid. It’s made the main stream media.

The powers that be absolutely did not want Brexit, but in the end the people did, and we (sort of) got it. Democracy has some effect here. We have more than two political parties.

The mood is somewhat towards vurtue signalling renewables and passing subsidies to cronies whilst still keeping all the fossil and nuclear going because a failed grid is politically unacceptable.

In the end its not if the renewable grid fails, it’s when, and what then happens ….

Tom Abbott
Reply to  AndyHce
September 11, 2021 6:01 am

“The problem is with the media, not with the technology.”

I agree. The leftwing brainwashing going on today is unprecedented.

Most people depend on the Media to tell them what’s going on, since most people don’t have a clue about the climate. When the Media lie to the people, the people make bad decisions based on those lies and support things they should not support.

The Lying Leftwing Media is the most dangerous organization in Western society. We cannot govern ourselves properly based on lies and distortions of reality. That’s how we got Biden and the destructon he has caused and will cause.

Our Media, with a few exceptions, are a propaganda organ for the Democrats and the radical Left. They create a False Reality in which they want everyone to live. An ugly, hopeless false reality who’s ultimate goal is the destruction of our personal freedoms by undermining out society and taking our political power away from us.

I read where Ruppert Murdoch, and his many media outlets, including Fox News Channel in the U.S., is going to be getting on the Human-caused Climate Change bandwagon.

I wonder why? No new evidence has been presented. In fact, the only new things in climate science show the temperatures are not projected to be nearly as high as the IPCC claims.

So, it must be political. And Ruppert’s son says when his father no longer controls the corportation, he will push Fox News Channel to be more like CNN and MSNBC.

If that’s the case, I hope all the conservatives on Fox News Channel move to the Newsmax channel, and all the viewers will move, too.

Changing the Fox News Channel format will be a good way to lose a lot of money.

Last edited 17 days ago by Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 9:28 am

All media, not just the legacy liars. LinkedIn and Facebook are littered with antinuclear propaganda organized and orchestrated by the various components of the international antinuclear industry.

Reply to  Anti_griff
September 10, 2021 7:55 pm

Using other people’s money is frequently a very good business decision. That has nothing to do with ideology.

Reply to  Anti_griff
September 11, 2021 1:41 am

first it must be determined once and for all whether CO2 and man made CO2 are causing any significant climate warming

Well, duh! Of course it is.

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 4:20 am

Well, duh! Of course it isn’t. Not significant.

We know, because we are intelligent educated engineers who understand system theory, that the climate does not display any positive feedback – but the reverse – it is in fact stabilised by negative feedback. That reduces the effect of CO2 increase to an insignificant second order effect…

…Then we look at the graph of CO2 incease and see a monotonic almost linear increase with time: fir CO2 to be a the most significant driver of modern climate change, means that we should see a totally clear and dominant monotonic incearse in global temperatures. We simply don’t. Ergo whatever is ‘driving’ modern temperature changes is absoluteley not CO2.

The theory that fits the facts better, is more or less this

Climate has overall negative feedback which explains why it’s stable over millenia.
Climate is a chaotic system in which at any given time it will be orbiting some sort of attractor, but is capable of transitioning to orbit other attractors (ice ages for example, or warm periods).
Warm periods cause CO2 outgassing from the oceans.

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 5:55 am

The troll griffter cannot explain 1940 to 1980 when temp went down but CO2 went up 15%….and more recently temp has “paused” for 5 or 6 years while CO2 goes up. They were arguing about masks in 1918 during the Spanish Flu ….still arguing today.

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 9:47 pm

Griff the nutter.
It never occurs to such a total w..nker CO2 levels FOLLOW temperature not cause them…and that the Romans had a warmer UK than today.

..heh but I bet he never tried to drink a warm bottle of coke, as his kiddie’s brain is wired to treating anything full of Co2 as a deadly poison.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Anti_griff
September 11, 2021 5:49 am

“OK, first it must be determined once and for all whether CO2 and man made CO2 are causing any significant climate warming.”

Yes, that’s the first thing we should do. We haven’t done that yet. We are forging ahead trying to reduce CO2 emissions without a solid reason for doing so.

There are reasons for this forging ahead, but they have nothing to do with reducing CO2, and everything to do with acquiring money and political power, in the guise of reducing CO2 emissions.

I guess the only cure for these mass delusions about CO2 being the control knob of the Earth’s temperatures is colder weather. Logic and reason and pointing out there is no evidence showing CO2 needs to be regulated, doesn’t seem to make a difference to our leaders, and they just keep heading for the cliff edge at full speed.

Reply to  Anti_griff
September 11, 2021 8:52 pm

Bill Gates is a complicated question, and I’m no fan, but he does seem to have adopted some altruism in his later years.

But ask the question:
What would a nuclear reactor look like if Steve Jobs did it?

Reply to  Anti_griff
September 12, 2021 1:39 am

Please don’t promote the “current fission tech (PWR, BWR…) is bad and not popular but X or Y fission tech will be acceptable because less A and more B and safer C”. It won’t work, ever.

Any nuclear reaction will be considered unacceptable by the same enraged opponents.

These people can barely – if at all – see the difference between fission and fusion. They also just don’t care: it’s still “nuclear technology”.

You think you can change their mind? Dream on!

John K. Sutherland.
September 10, 2021 3:27 pm

Modular reactors. One accepted design. Cut red tape. Get government out of the way. Floating reactors. Once a reactor gets into its third decade, the costs are very much cheaper than everything except hydro, which can also go for decades. The fuel cost of nuclear and hydro are almost nil.

Reply to  John K. Sutherland.
September 10, 2021 4:58 pm

Fuel cost of a manufactured fuel rod is about 15% of the ex powerstation cost of nuclear power. Fuel cost of the raw unprocessed uranium is almost completely insignificant

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Leo Smith
September 10, 2021 5:13 pm

As I understand it, the average back garden in Australia has a greater concentration of uranium than the average gold mine does of gold. I didn’t believe it, so looked up the price of uranium. Iirc, it was $2 a kg.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
September 11, 2021 4:34 am

No, that’s not right, it was around $40/lb so $100/kg
It’s doubled recently to $42/lb

A UK reactor chews through 50 tonnes of moderately enriched uranium – I think about 150 tonnes of processed yeallow cake per year, for a power output of 1.2 GW give or take.

The cost of that 150 tonnes will be 150,000 x $100 or $1,500,000 = $1.5m

The number of elecricity units will be 24 x 365 x 1,200,000 = about £1TWh

That represents $0.0014 raw uranium fuel cost per kWh – a seventh of a cent.

Nuclear fuel prices are very insensitive to the raw cost of the uranium Even the processed enrich and manufactire fuel rods are estimated by EDF to represent 15% of the cost base of generation.

This is why reactors are the last generators to go offline. Even selling at well below cost of capital is better than not selling at all – since the fuel is almost free.

John K. Sutherland.
Reply to  John K. Sutherland.
September 11, 2021 6:38 am

I should have mentioned that I worked for decades at a CANDU, which uses Natural, not enriched Uranium.

September 10, 2021 3:41 pm

The real impediment is lawfare. No matter how well designed and sited there is no guarantee that you will *ever* get to build it. If built there is no guarantee you will *ever* get to operate it. If operating there is no guarantee that you won’t be prematurely shut down.

Aside from the absolute risk, the cost of litigation in terms of not just legal but especially protracted timelines does guarantee that the project will be uneconomical.

Sad. We could be working on Gen 5 or 6 by now; instead we are limping along with antiquated less safe technology.

September 10, 2021 3:51 pm

Compared with wind and solar with backup, nuclear is much more economical.

These days, when people advocate nuclear, it is as an alternative to renewables. The assumption is that natural gas is unacceptable because it creates CO2.

The hypocrisy of the activists is on full display because they won’t accept nuclear in spite of the fact that it creates no CO2.

It is abundantly clear that CAGW is a stick with which Marxists are attempting to bludgeon capitalism to death. Ever since capitalism was first described, reactionary forces on the right and the left have argued against it with every excuse they could muster. CAGW is just the latest, and perhaps the most effective, of those excuses.

Nuclear power will not be accepted precisely because it would solve the CO2 problem.

Reply to  commieBob
September 10, 2021 3:54 pm

… reactionary forces on the right … ie. monarchists back in the 1700s.

Reply to  commieBob
September 10, 2021 5:55 pm

In the politically correct spectrum, yes. In practice, the governing spectrum runs from least to most governance, from anarchy on the far right to totalitarianism on the far left. The left-right nexus is leftist.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  commieBob
September 11, 2021 6:17 am

“It is abundantly clear that CAGW is a stick with which Marxists are attempting to bludgeon capitalism to death.”

It’s clear to me.

molon labe
September 10, 2021 4:06 pm

The electrons must flow…..the manner of their generation will ultimately be decided the hard way or the really hard way. Watching the ebb and flow of the discussion regarding the different methods of generating electricity (along with subsidies, government mandates, etc.) misses the fundamental point that the overwhelming majority electricity will always be generated at an economically acceptable cost, delivered reliably, on demand. The “market” is a euphemism for a process driven by the iron laws of economics which applies equally to “free” and “statist” economies. Environmentalism distorts the decision process in “free” economies but has zero impact on “statist” economies, China’s current power plant construction program being Exhibit A. Like it or not, China is making the decisions that will set the course of power generation for the rest of the world for the next 100 years.

Reply to  molon labe
September 10, 2021 4:50 pm

fundamental point that the overwhelming majority electricity will always be generated at an economically acceptable cost, delivered reliably, on demand.

well that is plain wrong! Electricity today is being generated at an economically unacceptable cost and delivered unreliably – when it’s available.

To achieve this governments have taken the free out of the market. It is in effect communist command economy.

molon labe
Reply to  Leo Smith
September 10, 2021 5:53 pm


molon labe
Reply to  molon labe
September 12, 2021 11:54 am

There has never been a “free market” in the generation, transmission or distribution of electricity in any centralized power system. See the PUHA law. They are natural (and obvious) monopolies. Decentralized electricity generation through let’s say solar arrays on the one hand eliminates the monopoly but inserts market distorting subsidies and mandates along with power generation inefficiencies and natural fluctuations that cripple it (and all renewables) as an economically viable and practical source of electricity. My point is that over the long term electrons will flow at a price acceptable to society as a whole – not the cheapest price, not a “free” market price (it doesn’t exist) but at a regulated clearing price that the majority can swallow. Until we have fully decentralized, economically viable, reliable, dispatch-able electricity generation that’s the best we can do. One way or another people will resolve the political obstacles and they will receive the power they demand at an acceptable price, the method of generation be damned.

September 10, 2021 4:39 pm

Propaganda from start to finish.

Nuclear is expensive precisely because of government imposed regulations.
To do that and then say ‘let the market decide’ is disingenuous to the point of criminality

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Leo Smith
September 12, 2021 8:27 am

I hope this is not propaganda but a simple application of free market economics to one energy source.

Are you claiming that the nuclear power industry could started on its own without government subsidies and Price-Anderson. Price Anderson was enacted for a reason, right?

And how can nuclear compete against NGCC today?

Zig Zag Wanderer
September 10, 2021 5:06 pm

The Price-Anderson Act would need to be repealed to find out, via insurers, what is reasonably safe or not.

Doesn’t this person understand the insurance market at all? They merely go on previous events to set probabilities of risk. Then add whatever they think they can for some made-up future probability (eg CAGW) if they can get away with it.

Last edited 18 days ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
September 10, 2021 8:03 pm

did government ever spend a dime on insurance claims under Price-Anderson? I think not.

Reply to  AndyHce
September 11, 2021 9:35 am

Quite right. Essentially all of the world operates under liability principles identical to Price Anderson. None of them have spent a dime on liability insurance claims. That in itself says all anyone needs to know about nuclear safety writ large.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  AndyHce
September 12, 2021 8:29 am

Then repeal Price Anderson and let the market decide. Perhaps there is one or two existing reactors that have issues that the private insurer brings to light.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
September 12, 2021 8:28 am

Could be that nuclear is uninsurable …. Let the market decide ….

September 10, 2021 5:20 pm

A free-market ought to be its own decider. If not, the free aspect isn’t so much free. Government should regulate to keep the game free of the cheats and thieves, not dictate who gets to play the game.

Dennis G Sandberg
September 10, 2021 5:35 pm

The spokesperson claims, “Because wind and solar do not have fuel costs once their infrastructure has been built, they have the lowest incremental costs. Thus, they get taken first to meet demand”.

He should have added, and when they don’t have the lowest cost they still get taken first, or paid to curtail, because they have grid priority. Terrible omission. Without grid priority and mandates, even with all the subsidies and tax credits, it’s very questionable that there is a place for RE (Ruinous Energy) on utility scale grids, surely not beyond 25% as Germany, California and Texas have demonstrated.

Except for that one emission, he’s spot on, CCGT here in the USA needs to be maximized because its the most economically efficient.

But the political reality is that the low information crowd will ensure with their voting power that either wind/solar or nuclear/blue hydrogen with carbon capture and storage will be funded to solve the non-existing anthropogenic crisis caused by burning fossil fuels. New wind and solar w/ battery storage and or green hydrogen can not compete with new generation small scale modular nuclear and blue hydrogen. That’s the change we need, the 30+ year RE (including ethanol) experiment failed. We need to move on.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
September 12, 2021 8:31 am

Good point. PURPA requirement.

September 10, 2021 5:49 pm

There is a LOT of bullshit in this post. The first clue being the lack of hard data given on lifetime costs of energy by energy source.

Per the US EIA, the level used life cycle cost of nuclear energy (US dollars per megawatt hour) in 2020 was $68. While gas plants cost $92. Coal was highest at $114, and wind onshore was lowest at $50. This is the cost of construction capital plus operating and fuel costs.

Nuke plants are clearly more than competitive, being the cheapest of the fully despatchable plants with.virtually no government subsidies for the last 40 years.

Nuke plants have high capital construction costs, but capital interest costs are ridiculously low, and have been for many years now. Nuke fuel is not nearly as volatile in pricing as are fossil fuels. The principal cost of nuke plants is high licensing costs, but the new generation modular plants are driving down licensing costs.

Reply to  Duane
September 10, 2021 7:49 pm

If it’s not despatchable, it’s wasted money.

Reply to  pochas94
September 11, 2021 11:12 am

Baseload. Solved

Reply to  Duane
September 11, 2021 7:12 pm

Nuclear waste is not being safely disposed of. Highly toxic radioactive waste such as used fuel rods, are simply stored forever. That’s the plan. Thus the cost of nuclear energy slowly but surely increases as storage costs slowly build over time. A thousand years from now, we will still be paying the storage costs.

Reply to  Duane
September 12, 2021 5:08 am

The strike price for Hinkley Point C here in Britain was more of less doubled by the financing route chosen. If it had been funded directly by government borrowing, it would’ve been a lot cheaper per kWh and competitive with offshore wind and its associated energy storage.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Duane
September 12, 2021 8:34 am

I am less interested in what the experts and studies say than a let-the-market-decide environment. In a free market, do you believe investors would rush to build nuclear capacity rather than NGCC?

September 10, 2021 10:21 pm

France would want to have a word.

Reply to  niceguy
September 11, 2021 1:39 am

Two words ‘EDF bankrupt’

Joao Martins
Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 2:45 am

Yes griff, I can do better:

One word: “Why?”

Reply to  Joao Martins
September 11, 2021 9:38 am

It should be obvious by now that Griff loathes nuclear power because it solves his problem of CO2 emissions. No agitator ever wants to solve the problem he or she is most upset about; that would make their existence and occupation irrelevant.

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 9:53 pm

Griff is a nutter.
There’s no point even reading his crap.

He knows absolute ZERO about France, ad has never lived there.

Robert of Texas
September 10, 2021 10:38 pm

As in all big technology breakthroughs, Nuclear Power research should be funded by the government – no private industry has the capacity to fund the research which is at risk of producing nothing worthwhile for the investors.

Molten Salt reactors have a huge potential…not necessarily while gas prices are so low but when they begin to climb, and they will. We should have the MSR research completed by that time so that the next generation of stable electric power can be built.

Fusion is a joke in this same time period – even when they can produce enough energy they still have to turn some amount of that into electricity and deal with all the new technology issues that will descend upon them. Maybe in 100 years fusion can be realized commercially – maybe.

Intermittent power is already way beyond its useful capacity and should be stopped in it’s tracks before more blackouts and disasters are caused. Just remove the subsidies and it withers away.

Gas is likely to be the main power source for another 20 years…sometime after that it will grow more expensive as production flattens and demand keeps growing. Coal will take up a lot of this slack, and if there is one kind of power plant I do not want to be close to it’s coal.

If we sit around waiting for nuclear to be the only answer left, then we have waited too long. Research takes a lot of time,

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Robert of Texas
September 12, 2021 8:35 am

If Bill Gates has to get government money for his nuclear experiment, what does that tell you?

September 10, 2021 11:57 pm

Absolutely we should get rid of subsidies and let the free market decide. That’s not going to happen in my lifetime unless we re-elect Donald Trump, the only President in recent history pragmatic enough, bold enough, and uncorrupted enough by partisan political connections and the Washington bureaucracy to do something like that but that’s also not going to happen. So what’s the next best, realistic alternative? Forge ahead with small modular reactors that can potentiallly significantly reduce the high costs associated with massive custom-built nuclear power plants. And subsidize them. As long as subsidies aren’t going away, let’s advocate subsidizing the best technologies: incomparably efficient, clean, emissionless, reliable, with far less pollution than fossil fuel plants, though we definitely shouldn’t stop building coal and natural gas plants until they can reasonably be replaced with nuclear power.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  stinkerp
September 11, 2021 6:27 am

“So what’s the next best, realistic alternative?”

Elect Ron DeSantis of Florida as president.

Personally, I would prefer to see Trump running as president, and DeSantis running as vice president.

I would also love to see Trump elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives in January 2023, when the Republicans take control of the House. Trump could really get after those costly regulations from there! He could get after Biden from there, too.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 7:49 am

I have floated that idea, too. It would strip the leftards of their primary weapon, hatred for Trump, and Trump in Congress would be a bull in the china shop, gleefully destroying the lefts’ carefully constructed obstructionist structure. Make America Great and gut the left like a pile of fish.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  2hotel9
September 12, 2021 8:45 am

“Trump in Congress would be a bull in the china shop, gleefully destroying the lefts’ carefully constructed obstructionist structure.”

Yes, that’s the way I would picture it going, if Trump got the Speakership. Would love to see it.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 12, 2021 8:57 am

DJT on first day in Congress, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, I am all out of bubble gum”.

September 11, 2021 12:28 am

I reside in one of Exelon’s heavy nuclear generation areas.

Over the last 5+ years, Exelon has threatened to shut down plants if federal/state ‘relief'(i.e. cripple other generation sources) is not forthcoming.

A major state bribery scandal derailed the first set of relief rules.

Now Exelon is back at the feed trough. The first 2 X 1,250 MW PWR plant dropped off line on September 1. I can confirm this in that the hyperbolic cooling tower plumes are no longer visible. Exelon also states that another 2 X 900 MW BWR plant will shut down next Spring. This is corporate hostage taking at its best.

Recent costs have been in the $0.15 to $0.18 per kWhr range. Since I only use 300 to 700 kWhr per month, electricity is one of my lowest utility bills.

I am torn on this economic issue.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  RonPE
September 12, 2021 8:36 am

For already built nuclear, only subsidized wind and solar could (prematurely) retire it.

September 11, 2021 1:39 am

Nuclear capacity is retired when it can’t be safely operated any more… for example UK reactors are facing retirement due to cracking in the graphite bricks in the reactor core.

EDF in France has faced huge costs in maintaining elderly reactors and now faces possible bankruptcy in decommissioning them

EDF facing bankruptcy as decommissioning time for France’s ageing nuclear fleet nears (

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 7:46 am

Lying liar spewing lies, it is all you ever have, liar.

Reply to  2hotel9
September 11, 2021 8:28 am

Really? Not a shred of counter evidence, not an argument? Just ‘you are a liar’?

Shows climate skeptics in a poor light, I think.

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 9:41 am

No, Griff. You are just an antinuclear agitator opposed to the one method that would solve your problem with CO2 emissions. You’ve lied and been caught out far too many times here on WUWT to imagine you can get away with this crap.

Reply to  griff
September 12, 2021 3:18 am

We are not “skeptical” of climate, moron, we live out in it every day. You and all leftards have earned the derision and ridicule you receive, the only thing any of you lie spewing liars have ever earned in your entire lives, lie spewing liar. Every thing you post is a lie, no matter what you cut&paste. Why? Because you are a liar, it is all you have ever been and all you will ever be.

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 11:15 am

I thought the French were extending the life of their PWRs

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 9:56 pm

Griff, U know sweet F-A about science, sweet F-A about nuclear power, sweet F-A, about France.
All you can do is spew crap from newspaper cuttings.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
September 11, 2021 4:04 am

If all the crippling regulations and delays in constructing new nuclear were removed, would it then be economical? From the article, this is not clear, the author gives the impression that nuclear is still costly even with a level playing field.

We do know that wind and solar on a grid scale is insane and would not exist were it not for the subsidies and favorable regulations supporting it. What happened in Texas back in February never would have happened were it not for reliance on wind and solar. That cold snap was not that unusual and has happened in the past, will happen again in the future. The only reason for the power failures this time was because of foolish reliance on unreliable sources of power.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
September 11, 2021 6:37 am

“The only reason for the power failures this time was because of foolish reliance on unreliable sources of power.”

I think this is starting to dawn on a lot of people.

Several areas in our world have reached a point where their entire electrical grid is in jeopardy of failure because too much unreliable power generation like windmills and industrial solar are incorporated into the grid.

Any further additions of unreliable generation capacity will have to be backed-up by conventional power generation. In other words, more unreliables means building twice as much electrical capacity as is needed in order to cover for when the unreliables quit producing electricity.

Reasonable people would think it is a bad idea to double their electricity costs just to incorporate windmills and solar into the mix. And that’s what it amounts to.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 7:02 am

We can only hope that people are starting to realize that the “Green” solutions to our non-problem are neither green nor solutions. But first the general public needs to be educated about how electricity happens. Too many are clueless and that makes it easy for them to be swayed by emotional arguments about melting glaciers and dying polar bears.

Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 5:00 am

From the article: “New nuclear plants are just not competitive or timely—by a long shot. Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle 3 and 4, still under construction, has been a nightmare of delays and cost overruns.”

So, this guy seems to be saying it is impossible for anybody to build a nuclear reactor that is competitive and timely.

I wonder if Donald Trump could get a nuclear reactor built in a competitive and timely fashion given the proper regulatory environment?

Some people build things and lose all their money in the process, and then there are some people who build things and make lots of money doing so. Just because one group can’t accomplish something doesn’t mean that applies to other groups.

Georgia’s nuclear powerplant may have someone clueless like Biden running the show. Idiots do get into high positions some times. As we have learned recently with Biden.

If you get the right person on the job, the job will go smoothly and successfully. This guy doesn’t seem to think there is a “right person”, or a right circumstance, out there.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 7:43 am

As long as the never ending stream of unending frivolous law suits continues nuclear is doomed.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 8:27 am

EDF’s French nuclear reactor at Flammanville began construction in 2007 with its commercial introduction scheduled for 2012. As of 2020 the project is more than five times over budget and years behind schedule. Various safety problems have been raised, including weakness in the steel used in the reactor. In July 2019, further delays were announced, pushing back the commercial date to the end 2022.

The Okiluto reactor has been under construction since 2005. The start of commercial operation was originally planned for May 2009 but the project has been delayed and, as of August 2020, the latest estimate for start of regular production is February 2022.[2] In December 2012, the French multi-national building contractor estimated that the full cost of building the reactor will be about €8.5 billion, or almost three times the delivery price of €3 billion.

EDF has again revised the schedule and budget for the commissioning of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant under construction in Somerset, England. The start of electricity generation from unit 1 is now expected in June 2026, compared with end-2025 as initially announced in 2016. (Though to be fair, the pandemic did have some effect on this one!)

Reply to  griff
September 11, 2021 11:26 am

Flammanville is an EPR – if it ever runs. Everyone knows they’re a hopeless design, far too complex. I think that’s why Ed Davey, when Sectetary of State for Energy (I doubt he could tell you the difference between a kW and a kWhr) ordered one for Hinkley. It’ll never run and Eddie will have the country plastered with useless windmills and solar panels.

Meanwhile, the Chinese are building AP1000s on the double. And they’re running .

Reply to  Capell
September 12, 2021 5:05 am

EPRs are already running in China.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 11, 2021 9:44 am

Obviously wrong. UAE built and completed its new reactors on budget and ahead of schedule before the reactor operating crews were fully ready. As long as you insist on looking only at the United States, your vision will be as limited and useless as that of Griff.

Reply to  cgh
September 11, 2021 10:15 am

I think you need to look again at my post: plainly it isn’t only in the USA where delays occur – and the ones I listed weren’t due to court cases or regulation, but impacts on the build…

Dan DeLong
Reply to  griff
September 12, 2021 1:30 am

There are 57 large power nukes being built around the world today, with only two of those in the USA. Clearly, somebody thinks they are a good idea.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
September 12, 2021 9:00 am

I think you missed cgh’s point, Griff. He says the UAE built nuclear powerplants ontime and within budget. The point being that there *are* groups who are competent at building nuclear reactors.

I would suggest the UK hire some of those people from UAE. Get someone who actually knows what they are doing. And they are out there.

Dan DeLong
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 12, 2021 3:08 pm

The UAE power plants are being built by the Koreans, using local (to Korea) technology.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 12, 2021 5:11 am

The delays and cost overruns are almost all on the civil engineering side of the project, not the nuclear technology side. They come from having to build large concrete structures to standard (the same is true in the new European reactors). Basically, the US and Western Europe have forgotten how to build large structures effectively and efficiently. The Chinese still know how to do it, which is why they can build the same nuclear plants in a fraction of the time and budget.

This is not unrelated to the complaints in the US about its infrastructure — i.e., the state of its roads and bridges.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 12, 2021 8:40 am

I am “this guy.” I am all for the right persons, timing, and technology to make nuclear competitive. But I get back to the point that nuclear is the most complicated, dangerous, and expensive way to boil water.

Reply to  Robert Bradley
September 19, 2021 6:16 am

You’d have a lot more credibility if you didn’t keep quoting Greenpeace.

September 11, 2021 6:31 am

I would argue that 1) we have plenty of time to correct the problem if in fact it needs correcting at all, and 2) nothing now planned is going to make significant difference since we do not have a way to get all of our power from wind and solar which seems to be the only game the greens are interested in, and 3) if, in the long term, it turns out we actually need continuous CO2 free electricity, then nuclear is likely the best choice, all things considered. Nuclear would also have the additional benefit of obviating the need for all those solar panels and windmills.

Walter Horsting
September 11, 2021 6:52 am

USA, with CA’s Greens will not allow nuclear and are shutting down our last plant. CA and the Biden team now want to build 4.2 GWs of Offshore Wind off the coast of Moro Bay.

High pressure 2nd and 3rd gen nuclear has high costs to contain a 2,000 atmosphere steam explosion, 150 atmosphere plumbing, triple cooling redundancies, and a pressure dome.

I like the cut of’s jib:

September 11, 2021 7:41 am

If nuclear is to become a widespread electricity producer then the frivolous law suits have got to stop and those who keep filing them have to be punished severely, otherwise nuclear is going to die in western countries.

Paul Nevins
September 11, 2021 8:04 am

If you make the playing field crooked enough you can get what results you want. In other words Baloney completely divorced from reality.

September 11, 2021 8:52 am

The problem with this article is that the interviewee picks and chooses what costs and what government incentives he uses and then pretends that the “taxpayer-neutral” natural gas industry is operating in a free-market, unsubsidized environment. That is misleading to say the least.

Next he focuses only on the costs of building the plants and ignores the costs of and the subsides for providing the fuel, again pretending that gas drilling is completely free of government influence. Historically, the largest incentive from the federal government to energy companies is policies that allow companies to forgo paying taxes, with the oil industry receiving the largest amount, followed by the natural gas industry.

For all of his talk about free markets, he ignores that government intervention to encourage renewables (wind and solar) has produced distortions in the market that very much help natural gas. Wind and solar’s unreliability means that dispachable backup power is needed, and that power usually comes from natural gas plants. Thus, the natural gas industry is helped and baseload power plants are hurt.

Finally, Bradley pretends that, because of fracking, natural gas prices are going to stay at their currently low values forever. In a free market, however, there is incentive to build LNG terminals to export gas to overseas markets with higher prices. This will tend to equalize prices, so US gas prices should go up and world prices should go down in the long run.

Below is a link to a rather dated paper that discusses federal government incentives to energy companies. It covers the years from 1950 to 2003, which includes the years that the currently operating nuclear plants were being built, so it’s relevant to this interview.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Brian
September 12, 2021 8:43 am

I’m not for subsidies for any technology, natural gas or otherwise. It is just the fact that nuclear was an industry born for government favor, and new capacity is just not competitive with NGCC by a long shot.

Nuclear is not the panacea for the carbon taxers with sober evaluation, that ‘s all.

Reply to  Robert Bradley
September 19, 2021 6:20 am

Sure. You’re a paid shill — paid to ignore the facts and the vast amount of government money that has been given to oil and gas, all the while screaming for “Free Markets.”

You can’t complain about the history of one technology, while ignoring the history of its competitors, and be anything other than a hypocrite.

September 11, 2021 9:19 am

What’s happening now with the weather dependent generators is simply State sponsored dumping and the problem for consumers is the crowding out of dispatchables in general. For a free market you need a level playing field. That would require all tenderers of electrons to the communal grid to only be permitted to supply those electrons they can guarantee 24/7/365 along with FCAS or else they can keep them.

Immediately the unreliables have to invest in costly storage or else partner with dispatchables in order to lift their average tender. That solves the dumping problem but then the doomsters want to put their perceived social price on CO2 emissions defeating the purpose. Such a regime would naturally tip the balance in favour of nuclear until ever more onerous environmental barriers were put in their way too.

So the status quo prevails with dumping and CO2 penalties(RECs and carbon trading) encouraging ever more unreliables penetration. At the same time as it falls to cheapest capital gas to be the insurer of last resort driving up it’s price even further with consequent Industrial Devolution-
Soaring gas and electricity bills putting British steel jobs at risk (

Watermelon logic then points to expensive gas that sets prices as the culprit and argues more stridently for more cheap unreliables as the only solution. With some more subsidies to workers in steel aluminium cement etc industries to transition to all the green jobs they know are just around the corner with their cheap green power.

If collective brainfarts could power it all we’d be home and hosed but when did it become fashionable to pay productive industries to close down to conserve power when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow?

Reply to  observa
September 11, 2021 4:57 pm

…and as the resulting expensive power destroys industry and livelihoods naturally you have to keep up with the international green jobs subsidy league table-
660,000 jobs at risk as UK’s green investment lags (

Walter Sobchak
September 11, 2021 7:15 pm

Another libertarian fantasy. Who cares. A world of free market anarchy and salads and sun is not in the cards. Come back when you want to discuss the real world the one we have to live in that is run by the Democrat (a/k/a US Communist) party and the Chineses Communist Party.

Grow up.

Robert Bradley
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
September 12, 2021 8:44 am

Is does not equal ought. A simple free market framework with private property rights, voluntary exchange, and the rule of law is a realistic ideal to one worth keeping alive.

September 12, 2021 6:08 am

Is fusion considered nuclear power? If it is the greens have something new to worry about:

September 12, 2021 8:25 am

There are molten salt reactors expected to produce electricity cost competitive with coal. Some are waste burners that use existing nuclear waste for fuel. The reactors can’t melt down – physics, and there isn’t a build up of explosive gases as happened at Fukishima, To see plans and progress of companies involved, check the websites of Seaborg Technologies, Copenhagen Atomics, Thorcon, Terrestrial Energy, Moltex Energy, and Flibe Energy.

September 12, 2021 2:14 pm

The Price-Anderson Act was not the freebie to industry the author appears to claim. It was intelligently designed to create incentives for nuclear plant operators to operate safely. It essentially created a self-insurance fund to which all operators were required to contribute, making all of them financially responsible if any of them screwed up. It did not rely on taxpayer dollars.

The model used by conventional fossil-fuel plant operators was run it until it breaks, then fix it. That model isn’t a good one for nuclear plants. Eventually all of them were taken over by entities run by people trained in the nuclear Navy, and the watchword became the same kind of obsessive preventive maintenance that kept the 747s aloft for almost half a century.

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