Amory Lovins on Lessons from Fukushima

Writing at RMI Outlet, the blog for the Rocky Mountain Institute, Amory Lovins draws lessons from Fukishima, noting that the US has 6 plants identical to those and 17 very similar to them. And he notes that that pouring money money in the nuclear swamp will “reduce and retard climate protection.” Thus:

Each dollar spent on a new reactor buys about 2-10 times less carbon savings, 20-40 times slower, than spending that dollar on the cheaper, faster, safer solutions that make nuclear power unnecessary and uneconomic: efficient use of electricity, making heat and power together in factories or buildings (“cogeneration”), and renewable energy. The last two made 18% of the world’s 2009 electricity (while nuclear made 13%, reversing their 2000 shares)–and made over 90% of the 2007-08 increase in global electricity production.Those smarter choices are sweeping the global energy market. Half the world’s new generating capacity in 2008 and 2009 was renewable. In 2010, renewables, excluding big hydro dams, won $151 billion of private investment and added over 50 billion watts (70% the total capacity of all 23 Fukushima-style U.S. reactors) while nuclear got zero private investment and kept losing capacity. Supposedly unreliable windpower made 43-52% of four German states’ total 2010 electricity. Non-nuclear Denmark, 21% windpowered, plans to get entirely off fossil fuels. Hawai’i plans 70% renewables by 2025.

He further notes that:

Japan, for its size, is even richer than America in benign, ample, but long-neglected energy choices. Perhaps this tragedy will call Japan to global leadership into a post-nuclear world. And before America suffers its own Fukushima, it too should ask, not whether unfinanceably costly new reactors are safe, but why build any more, and why keep running unsafe ones. China has suspended reactor approvals. Germany just shut down the oldest 41% of its nuclear capacity for study. America’s nuclear lobby says it can’t happen here, so pile on lavish new subsidies.

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  1. #1 by Charlie Keil on March 21, 2011 - 12:54 pm

    This is the topic where the sheer weight of facts, not opinions, can eventually change minds toward affirmation of life and away from the many overlapping death trips we are on while waving the flag of “civilization and progress.”

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