Thursday, March 27, 2014

Peace Proposal

Since it seems that a substantial, if not most, of the efforts of many environmentalists are focused on attacking nuclear (the pre-eminent of all low carbon energies) instead of actually trying to curtail fossil fuels, the true climate culprits, this is a Peace Proposal with the intention of achieving harmony in the quest for lower emissions.

The proposal is really very simple:

Let's remove ALL subsidies from ALL energy sources: Fossil Fuels (FF), Renewables (RE), Nuclear, what have you.

Once all subsidies / tax breaks are removed, let each energy compete on its own merits. Let's not try to pick winners / losers from our desk. 

Yes, it could be argued that carbon taxes need to be applied to FF to somehow internalize their externalities, but let's start by just eliminating their subsidies.

Also, it could be argued that for RE to have priority access to the grid is a sort of covert subsidy (and it is), but let's leave it this way for the moment.

Independent of other benefits, the mentioned proposal would cause energy to increase in cost in the short term and thus waste would be reduced.

Is this proposal acceptable to both camps that are trying to reduce emissions?

Thank you.

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At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Noel Christina Macpherson Wauchope said...

The hole in your peace plan is that nuclear would never have started, nor kept going, without subsidies. Similarly coal and gas would never have started without subsidy.

Renewable never got that start (fossil fuel lobbies saw to that).Until now. Now with climate change, renewables are needed. As they get established, they become cheaper. As the fuels are FREE, any loans could be more easily paid back.
Coal and gas lobbies are worried about renewables.
Nuclear is desperate, and unfortunately,is so linked to military/defense spending.

At 3:06 AM, Anonymous Francis v Staa said...

Hi Luis, in theory you are on track. However: how would you propose to have Nuclear pay for it's own insurance? (No commercial coverage available anywhere I think)? And there is Spent Fuel Storage: how do you propose it "internalize" that adequately for many eons?

Peace! Francis

At 10:52 AM, Blogger BilloTheWisp said...

Sounds reasonable to me.

Of course, there would have to be tax breaks/subsidies etc for any R&D but when a technology is mature enough to be actively promoted for large scale grid deployment then the subsidies should cease.

A production plant, whatever the technology should be able to stand on its own feet without major subsidies.

The only lee-way (i.e. price manipulation) I would put in this would be to ensure energy diversity on the grid.

But the level of subsidy required to ensure such diversity among viable technologies would be down to a few per cent difference only not the massive double/triple price kick backs we see today.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger TheTracker said...

Luis, I think your proposal would represent great progress, and recognizing the need to end this pointless squabble between advocates of different low-carbon energy sources is even more important than the specifics of the proposal.

Here are the amendments I would propose:

1. Acknowledge that just as there are environmentalists targeting nuclear when they should be targeting fossil fuels, there is also a large group of nuclear power advocates who bash renewables and the environmentalists who favor them almost to the exclusion of talking about the shortcomings of fossil fuel energy. This dispute was its warmongers on both sides.

2. For removing subsides to have the effect you want, the customers -- mostly utilities -- need to be responsive to market forces, which many are not. We need comprehensive utility reform such that the market is competitive, and customers can buy power from whomever they want to, across state lines and across national borders where possible.

3. We need a smart grid, with a backbone of HVDC cables. This should, by itself, save 4-6% of our electricity through greater efficiency. It will allow intermittent sources to play a greater role in the final energy playbook. It would also allow nuclear plants to be sited in friendly areas and ship the power to regions that would not allow a native plant due to NIMBY.


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