The meltdowns at three nuclear plants at Fukushima, Japan almost three years ago were an economic disaster, but were these plants inherently unsafe? Did the Fukushima designs provide adequate safety during extreme circumstances?
The magnitude 9 earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 was its largest ever. However it was the enormous tsunamis that led to meltdowns. At Fukushima the spent fuel pools never leaked water in spite of the earthquake, its aftershocks, and tsunamis. Even Fukushima’s emergency power systems initially survived the earthquake, only to be soon destroyed by the tsunamis.
The nuclear plants at Fukushima were in an extreme … [read more]
Energy efficiency has been a lightning rod in the debate about the cost of addressing climate change, because it is generally seen as a least-cost approach to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. But the mere mention of possible “negative costs” associated with energy efficiency is enough to send shock waves across the profession of neoclassical economics. Experts continue to disagree about the magnitude, cost and possibility of managing demand.
Some say that the future potential for energy efficiency is limited because markets have already exploited all cost-effective opportunities, and there are insurmountable obstacles to further expansion. Demand-side resources may have played … [read more]
Earlier this week, H.R. 3826, the “Electricity Security and Affordability Act,” which I co-authored with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), advanced through the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, by a vote of 18 to 11. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation provides a reasonable alternative to EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas standards for new power plants and the agency’s planned regulations for existing power plants. It now moves to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.
Under EPA’s proposal, industry would not even be able to build the most state-of-the-art clean coal-fired power plant, because the technology required under the proposed regulation … [read more]
The boom in oil and gas production in the United States has largely been heralded as a strong economic stimulus for the economy. For example, in an August 2013 interview, McKinsey partner Scott Nyquist outlined huge economic returns through increases in capital investment and jobs in the manufacturing sector. “This is an exciting game changer for the US economy,” said Nyquist. “It can create jobs through investment in the energy sector itself and through the ripple effects in other parts of the economy. It will increase the overall GDP of the country, which will increase the overall wealth and … [read more]
A recent “60 Minutes” segment essentially called the cleantech industry a failure, eliciting a flurry of criticisms defending the green technology sector. “Hoping to create innovation and jobs, [President Obama] committed north of $100 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks to cleantech. But instead of breakthroughs, the sector suffered a string of expensive tax-funded flops. Suddenly cleantech was a dirty word,” said “60 Minutes’” host, Lesley Stahl.
One of the main criticisms against the CBS segment was that it conflated the cleantech venture capital sector of Silicon Valley with the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program. The critics have … [read more]