Wednesday, January 16, 2008
On Further Reflection
(Josh, I'm not sure of blog etiquette either so let's just make it up as we go along.)
After I posted my reply last night, I thought about the Yucca Mountain project, the intended home for spent fuel in the US. It's currently ten years behind schedule. The site is probably the most scientifically examined, measured, and analyzed piece of dirt on the planet. So far though, science can't quell the anxiety of Nevada state officials and others whose opposition has pushed the opening of the facility most likely into the 2020's.
On reflection, I agree with you that absent a politically and scientifically viable plan for fuel disposal, no private investor is likely to take investment in a new nuclear power plant seriously without "incentives" like the US loan guarantees you describe in your first post, tax credits and the like. Your point, that new nuclear construction investment should stand or fall on its own without government prop-up makes sense. Nuclear energy production competes in an investment market with other forms of energy production. The rationale for government intervention in this market in the form of loan guarantees for nuclear projects rests on the assumption that nuclear energy yields a public good relative to other forms that justifies public subsidy. On this question, the jury is still out, as they say.