Friday, August 13, 2010

Death Blow for the Nuclear Industry

Solar Energy Cheaper than Nuclear for the First Time

In a “historic crossover,” the costs of solar photovoltaic systems have declined to the point where they are lower than the rising projected costs of new nuclear plants...

This crossover occurred at 16 cents per kilowatt hour, they said.

The Green movement, environmentalists, antiwar and anti-nuclear campaigners have been right all along, for the past 30 or 40 years.

Nuclear power is costly, toxic, weaponable, non-renewable and not the answer. Solar not nuclear.

Actually its a stroke of luck that the sheer cost of nuclear power is going to kill it. Otherwise we would have to rely on environmental arguments about pollution or moral arguments about war and militarism. Unfortunately those arguments don't carry as much weight.

The luck is the other way around with coal however. It's cheap to burn to produce electricity, and there is lots of it. We are having to rely on environmental, pollution, and intergenerational moral arguments to defeat it: a tough sell. This is why it is of fundamental importance that a carbon tax (combined with a carbon dividend) on CO2 be introduced as soon as possible. The price incentive is the one thing that can get the system moving.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Stiglitz: Carbon tax a no-brainer

Putting a price on carbon is ''a no brainer'' and should be the first priority of any government, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says.

''I'm an advocate of carbon tax, because the general principle is that it's better to tax bad things than good things,'' he told a capacity crowd at the Australian National University's Llewellyn Hall yesterday afternoon, drawing a loud burst of enthusiastic applause.

''We don't know exactly what the right price of carbon is some say around $US60 to $80 ($A66 to $A88) a tonne, but what we do know is that zero is the wrong price.''


Stiglitz thus joins what appears to be a majority of economists from all schools who advocate the carbon tax over 'carbon trading'.

In theory, 'carbon trading' would work, if the licenses were auctioned on an annual basis, but then if it is so like a carbon tax, why bother?

In my view, 'carbon trading' is designed to fail. It's designed to make money for Wall st traders and to allow corporate-dominated governments to giveaway 'permits to pollute' to the big polluters.

An obvious and inevitable line of attack against the carbon tax is the 'great big new tax' and 'raise the cost of standard of living' arguments. To counter this purely at the political level a carbon dividend should be proposed. Either 50% or even 100% of the revenue raised from a carbon tax should be returned to each citizen on a per capita basis as compensation for increased energy costs.

Or 50% of the revenue could be invested in the building out of the new clean energy infrastructure. This would be a genuine 'nation building' project, not the farcical and murderous wedding-bombing operation in Afghanistan.