I am curious what you guys think about Nuclear Power. It is clearly in bed with the government of any country it is operated in. It also has HUGE capital costs to create a nuclear power plant and find land to dispose of it's waste. Some of the capital costs are due to strict regulations placed upon them but I am curious if Nuclear energy can operate free of massive subsides and statutory liability limitations.
The capital costs in nuclear are large but so are the capital costs in oil production, which is why the market is supplied by some of the world's biggest companies. (Exxon may be the absolute biggest, I'm not sure.)
The fallacies of intellectual communism, a compilation - On the nature of power
Government intervention brought about nuclear power before the market would have. This not only reduced investment costs to energy companies, but also distorted the entire technology. After all, it is one of the very few technologies in which militaristic use preceeded peaceful use.
Of course, just because nuclear power requires huge capital investment today does not mean it is neccessary for nuclear power. Rather than government investment being necessary because of high cost, it is far more likely that government investment has contributed to raise costs. In the same way that subsidizing anything, from housing to schooling, raises costs.
The simple answer is that if the market is not able to support nuclear power as it exists today then nuclear power would take a different, and certainly better form, in a free market.
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Obviously the government shouldn't be subsidizing nuclear power plants, but nuclear power is a great energy source which we have turned our back on. Right now, given the extremely strict regulations, it's basically impossible to build a new nuclear power plant in the United States, which is why there hasn't been a new plant built since 3 Mile Island.
It's ironic, but libertarians may have the best solution to global warming (by deregulated nuclear power, respecting private property and legalizing hemp, which makes an ethanol that actually does lower emissions) even though many libertarians don't believe humans have anything to do with it. France produces 80% of their power through nuclear sources and they have the lowest emissions, cheapest energy in western Europe and are a net energy exporter. In addition, no one in the US has ever died from nuclear power while every other week we here of some coal mining accident or something of the like.
I would love to see Nuclear power be a viable option for a bunch of reasons but I was just curious because I read a few articles at the Cato Institute that seemed to imply that it was an industry that MIGHT make it on the free market but that it probably would not. It mentioned something about the lack of companies coming forward to apply for a license in the past 20 years but that must have something to do with the strict red tape they put upon these companies which drives up capital costs. Overall they seem to be sceptical about Nuclear energy on a free market.
Deist:I would love to see Nuclear power be a viable option for a bunch of reasons but I was just curious because I read a few articles at the Cato Institute that seemed to imply that it was an industry that MIGHT make it on the free market but that it probably would not. It mentioned something about the lack of companies coming forward to apply for a license in the past 20 years but that must have something to do with the strict red tape they put upon these companies which drives up capital costs. Overall they seem to be sceptical about Nuclear energy on a free market.
I don't buy it.
No one is building railroad companies, is that because railroads are not feasible? Just another example of someone trying to use our present reality of interventionism to describe freedom. And considering the source, I wouldn't be surprised if they were trying to wrap anti-nuclear activism in a pseudo-market package.
That's an exaggerated problem.
True it is overblown. The waste is a very very small compared to the waste of other energy sources. Plus it can be recyled but this is not allowed in the United States for some stupid reason or other.
JonBostwick:Just another example of someone trying to use our present reality of interventionism to describe freedom
ViennaSausage:I wouldn't want nuclear power because of the waste it produces.
The first step to ensuring more efficient use of nuclear power (which means less waste) is to allow the market to develop it.
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I work in Railway automation which uses the same SCADA software as the field of power transmission, so I have talked to a few power generation and transmission people about this topic.
The short version is that the contractors stay away from nuclear power like it was the plague. In a really free market the liability for damage to life and property would even be worse without the protective ownership of the state that exists now. Imagine running a nuclear power generation and transmission business and if the worst happens being liable for what could be the permanent destruction of land and the multigenerational damage to life? Not to mention the amount of customers one would lose outside of the disaster area.
They did talk dreamingly about fusion power and that it can be made with seawater....except that they cannot figure out how to stop it from exploding violently after running in test conditions for less than a second.
From what I know about this field, it seems that nuclear power (as we know it now) would be eliminated under a truely free market.
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In a really free market the liability for damage to life and property
would even be worse without the protective ownership of the state that
My first thought is: Good! You're saying that the state shields producers from the consequences of their actions--including the case that lives are lost. Nobody should be indemnified against the risk of killing people; if you kill people, you bear the consequences.
My second thought is: Good! Forcing producers to bear the cost will not prevent nuclear energy from being used, if it's the most economical choice and can be made safe enough, but it will force producers to make it safer. That might include siting plants in remote locations, or improving safety devices, or changing the design for greater intrinsic safety. Those are all wonderful things.
My third thought is: alas, you're probably wrong, or at least partly wrong. Government may indemnify killers sometimes, but other times they punish the innocent and forbid what they should allow. For example, Toshiba is working on a home nuclear reactor that promises to be a great stride forward. They talk about selling it in the US by 2009; I'm betting the entire idea will be outlawed and we won't see such a thing in the US before 2109.
It may be true that PCB filled transformers that could explode are "the same" as Nuclear reactors in risk, but when planning risk and possible liability and you look into the "worst case scenario" that scenario frightens the power generation industry.
Toshiba might be on the right track but I don't know about it. They are very closed in both their energy sector and their transportation sector. In other words: No one who is not Japanese has ever worked with a Japanese made SCADA (an Austrian colleague of mine...as in from Vienna..saw the computer screens of one once in Tokyo), so I never hear the power transmission and rail gossip like I do from elsewhere.