It continues to frustrate me when people like Amory Lovins, Joe Romm or Craig Severance boldly claim that nuclear energy is “too expensive” despite all evidence to the contrary. Yesterday, World Nuclear News published another piece of evidence to add to the pile supporting the notion that many of the expensive cost drivers of nuclear energy are subject to human choices. That is in direct contrast to wind, solar, geothermal and hydro power, where most costs are related to the inherent challenge of building physical capital intensive collection systems that will produce a significantly less than their maximum design capacity for much of their operating lives.
Government policies abound that attempt to overturn the inherent physical limitations of popular renewable sources; when it comes to nuclear, most of the policies seem purposely designed to increase costs and slow schedules – which is essentially the same thing since money and time have an analogous relationship to mass and energy.
According to Huge nuclear tax on the cards in Germany, the German government has determined that it might reluctantly allow companies that own the 17 large nuclear plants that currently supply about 25% of the country’s electricity to continue to operate past their current legislatively determined limit of approximately 32 years of production. (The actual limit requires a bit of complex math and assumptions about performance for the entire fleet.)
However, the government has also determined that allowing the nuclear plant owners to continue to operate their assets would allow them to reap “excessive” profits because they are selling power into a market where the competitors have had their production costs increased as a result of carbon caps and emissions permit auctions. Obviously (NOT) the way to encourage companies to invest in technologies that do not produce any emissions is to levy an additional tax on them anyway to make the market more “fair” so they do not accumulate more resources that could be deployed in another round of new nuclear plant construction.
Maybe I should apply the same sentiment to Germany as I recently did to Vermont – I am sure glad I do not live there! (Actually, Germany would be worse than Vermont for me – I do not speak either German or Russian, which is likely to be their new language in the energy business.)
NEI Nuclear Notes noticed the head scratching German logic regarding nuclear energy economics and tax policies a couple of days ago Head Scratchers and Extorting Nuclear