The Miami Herald recently covered the fact that FP&L's request for its nuclear power facilities to qualify for renewable energy credits, or RECs, was denied by the state of Florida:
I say kudos to the state regulators for seeing through all this hogwash about nuclear power being clean just because it does not emit conventional air pollutants.
Thanks to the highly radioactive waste produced by nuclear fusion, nuclear is one of the dirtiest ways to produce electricity known to mankind. And what's worse, it's one of the costliest.
Ask the average American why they don't power their house with solar panels, and they'll tell you it's too expensive. Ask an expert, and they'll explain that the up-front cost of buying and installing solar panels, amortized over the life of the panels (30 to 50 years), devided by the total amount of electricity the panels will produce, will give you in the range of $.25 to $.35 per killowatt of electricity produced, compared to $.07 to $.12 per killowatt for natural gas and much cheaper for coal. According to many experts, nuclear power is even cheaper than that.
I'm an MBA student, and one thing we learn at McCombs is how to build financial models that incorporate expenses and revenues over time. We usually build these models out 5, maybe 10 years. Anything past 30 years is just too unpredictable. After all, how can you estimate costs that far into the future?
The problem with nuclear is that, in order to incorporate the full costs of producing nuclear power, you have to try to calculate the cost of managing the nuclear waste going out 3000, 4000, or 5000 years into the future. No one can do that, so no one does do that. Looking at this time horizon, it seems obvious that nuclear is outrageously expensive, and that's because it's incredibly dirty.
And if such a dirty source of energy can qualify for renewable energy credits (an eventuality which would fit nicely into Dr. Webber's characterization of current U.S. energy policy), then we find ourselves in a hot, steaming pile of trouble.