Craig Severance recently wrote a commentary that he calls analysis titled The Case Against Nukes. The piece has been picked up by EcoWorld.com and is currently prominently featured on the home page. Though the author blurb that follows the article claims that Severance was the co-author of a book published in 1976 titled “The Economics of Coal and Nuclear Power”. that might be one more example of an anti-nuke padding his resume.
I did a Google Books search with the following term: “The Economics of Nuclear Power” Severance.. The search results showed that Craig Severance is listed as “assistant” and described as a student studying Public Administration and Business Administration at Iowa State University (in 1976). This might be considered to be ad hominem quibbling, but most people in the academic world will recognize that there is an important difference between a student assistant and a co-author.
(Check out Amory Lovins’s Academic Career and Picking on the Jimmy Carter Myth for other examples of members of the anti-nuclear establishment who exaggerate their nuclear related accomplishments.)
Here is a quote from the Case Against Nuclear that provides a sample of the quality of analysis that Severance provides:
Making a leap from economical coal-fired plants, straight into buying a nuclear power plant is akin to shopping for a Rolls Royce, because your good old Chevy died. Sure, the Rolls Royce will get you around – but can you afford the payments? Will utility customers be happy to pay so much more for electricity?
At $9 billion for an 1100 megawatt nuclear plant, nuclear generating capacity is more than 12 times the price of the same power capacity in gas turbines, and 2 to 3 times more costly than comparable power output from wind farms. In addition to costing far more, the nuclear plants would not come on line for at least 10 years, delaying reductions in greenhouse gases by at least a decade.
Here is a copy of the comment that I added.
There are so many inaccurate statements in Mr. Severance’s “analysis” that is it hard to figure out where to begin.
Perhaps one place would be to share some facts about electric power production costs (in cents per kw-hr) in the US in 2007 from sources of electricity that together make up more than 92% of the market:
Coal (48.5%) – 2.47
Gas (21.8%) – 6.78
Nuclear (19.4%) – 1.76
Petroleum (1.6%) – 10.26
(note: taken together, wind, solar and geothermal produced about 1.1% of the US electricity supply in 2007. )
(The costs are from Global Energy Decisions, the market share portions come from the DOE’s Energy Information Agency (Table 1.1. Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), 1994 through May 2008. To break out details for “other renewables” I used table 1.1A)
Wind and solar are intermittent and diffuse. They require enormous collectors, reliable back-up power systems, new transmission corridors through scenic area, continuous subsidies, and mandated utility purchases through a back-door subsidy program called the Renewable Portfolio Standard. We all pay the excess costs NOW.
The Production Tax Credit by itself costs taxpayers more for each kilowatt-hour generated (2 cents) by wind or solar than EVERYTHING a nuclear kilowatt hour costs electric utilities to produce. The wind and solar industries just got an 8 year extension on this subsidy, and the beneficiaries are such tiny little companies as GE (largest wind turbine manufacturer in the US), BP (formerly known as British Petroleum and one of the largest solar panel makers in the world), and BP Capital (that is Boone Pickens’s venture capital fund and is not associated with British Petroleum.)
The “renewables” industry’s lobby group has been working for years to get that extension passed. Its expenditures in that area make those of the nuclear power industry look tiny.
One more thing that I found interesting about Mr. Severance – the author blurb states the following: “He and his wife, Dr. Avis Severance, DO, own a “Net Zero Energy” medical office building with a 10 KW photovoltaic system that supplies all the energy used by the facility.”
For those of you with decent computational skills, it might be interesting to determine just how much electricity one can obtain from a 10 kw PV system. I ran some quick numbers. I would have a bit of difficulty calling my own – rather modest – home “net zero” with just a 10 KW system during most months of the year.