Pushing the Limits Interview with Amory Lovins (Part II).
Of course, that’s the point. So how can they afford the most uneconomic, capital-intensive, long-lead-time technology? How do they pay for it? Won’t they risk a “death spiral” of rising prices and falling demand?
I think the saviour of the Ontario electric system is likely to be the private capital market, which will wisely decline to put its money where the government’s mouth is.
Another lesson to be drawn from nuclear history, of which I’ve been a student for over four decades, is that whenever a government, and particularly a US president, tries to push the technology and make it the centerpiece of energy policy, that tends to be very bad for nuclear power. It relaxes market discipline—the only thing that has ever made nuclear power better. It tends to suppress bad news and lead to sloppy regulation and bad policy. This ultimately causes major mistakes, hence, costly setbacks and financial losses for all concerned. If I were in the industry and understood that history, I would be very concerned about the enthusiasm emanating from Washington and Toronto.
Lovins’s analysis is documented in his Dec. 2005 Nuclear Engineering International article “Mighty Mice” at www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid171.php#E05-15, its backup paper at www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid171.php#E05-14, and his UK Royal Academy of Engineering lecture at www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid171.php#E06-04.