21st Century electricity development – nuclear power will not be able to stop this

In contrast to nuclear power, renewables have made much more progress, more quickly with much smaller subsidies, and there are good reasons to expect these trends to continue.
The number of jobs created by building alternatives to replace nuclear exceeds the number of jobs “lost”
Policy should not subsidize nuclear reactors, old or new. In the long run, their large size and inflexible operation make them a burden, not a benefit in the 21st century system.
 

POWER SHIFT: THE DEPLOYMENT OF A 21ST CENTURY ELECTRICITY SECTOR AND THE NUCLEAR WAR TO STOP IT,  MARK COOPER SENIOR FELLOW FOR ECONOMIC ANALYSIS INSTITUTE FOR ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT VERMONT LAW SCHOOL JUNE 2015

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of the ongoing battle between two very different visions for the future of the electricity sector:
 the 20th century model of central station, baseload/peak-load generation that passively follows demand,
 the emerging 21st century, decentralized model based on coordinating and actively integrating distributed supply with managed demand using advanced information, communications, and control technologies.
The paper demonstrates that the current conflict between the dominant incumbents, led by nuclear power on the one side, and the new entrants, on the other, has reached a crucial turning point that will deeply affect the speed of the transformation and the ultimate structure of the 21st century electricity system.
RESOURCE ECONOMICS ……..
Section III: The economic characteristics of the alternatives – size, construction period and cost – combine to make them much more attractive from the point of view of risk. With smaller, quicker to market assets with much smaller sunk costs available, a portfolio approach to acquiring low carbon resources that minimizes risk or price leaves nuclear power and “clean” coal out of the mix. Section III also shows that traditional measures of environmental impact and contemporary measures of sustainability indicate that the alternatives are vastly superior to nuclear power and “clean” coal……..
THE NUCLEAR WAR AGAINST THE FUTURE  Part III of the analysis examines the reaction of central station utilities to the powerful technological development of alternatives. Not surprisingly, utilities that are deeply invested in large central station generation see the distributed alternatives as a severe threat to their interest. They have responded by launching an all-out attack on the alternatives on several fronts. ………
  1. 1 General opposition to and specific cutbacks in renewable commitments.
  2. Includes shifting from “renewable” to “clean” standard.
  3. General opposition to and specific cutbacks in utility efficiency programs.
  4. Taxes on renewables, Minimum Offer Price Rules.
  5. Allowing subsidies and incentives for nuclear. Giving system benefits for reliability, onsite fuel storage.
  6. Must run rules/Take or pay clauses. Opposition to bidding demand response in wholesale markets.
The unifying theme of these two attacks is the claim that distributed resources cannot deliver sufficient, reliable power to meet the need for electricity. Section VI shows that the challenge of reliability, far from being the liability that the advocates of the central station model claim it is, can be a major advantage for the decentralized approach because it saves on vital resources. ……..
Section VII: Section VII examines two sets of issues that are tangential to the core evaluation of resources and used by opponents of the transformation as diversions. The analysis of subsidies shows that nuclear has been the recipient of much larger subsidies than renewables, with little to show for it.
In contrast to nuclear power, renewables have made much more progress, more quickly with much smaller subsidies, and there are good reasons to expect these trends to continue.
Subsidizing mature aging reactors is shown to make even less sense than subsidizing the construction of uneconomic new reactors. Claims by nuclear advocates that nuclear is a clean job creator do not withstand close scrutiny either. The alternatives are preferable from both the macroeconomic and environmental points of view.
The number of jobs created by building alternatives to replace nuclear exceeds the number of jobs “lost” due to early retirement over the first half decade. Factoring in decommissioning jobs, there is no net “loss” of jobs for well over a decade. Estimates of the potential for deployment of alternatives would exceed carbon reduction targets by a substantial margin, even if nuclear reactors are retired.
RECOMMENDATIONS In summary, the 21st century model has strong advantages over the 20th century model in a low carbon environment on every key policy criteria. It has lower resource and total system costs, less investment risk, a larger resource base, yields more macroeconomic benefits and is more environmentally responsible and sustainable. It is the equal of the 20th century model in terms of reliability.
Given the powerful economic trends operating against nuclear and central station power, the retirement of uneconomic aging reactors and the abandonment of ongoing new reactor construction can be a non-event.
An orderly exit from nuclear and central station power is not only possible but crucial to ensure a least-cost, low-carbon future that is economically more beneficial, environmentally more responsible and kinder to consumers and the nation.
This analysis leads to three interrelated recommendations for policymakers.
 Policy should move to quickly adopt the necessary institutional and physical infrastructure changes needed to transform the electricity system into the 21 st century model.
 Policy should not subsidize nuclear reactors, old or new. In the long run, their large size and inflexible operation make them a burden, not a benefit in the 21st century system.
 Combining the technological characteristics of central station power with the political efforts of central station incumbents to undermine the development of the 21st century system makes them a part of the problem, not the solution. ……………….http://www-assets.vermontlaw.edu/Assets/iee/Power_Shift_Mark_Cooper_June_2015.PDF
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