Thursday, June 5, 2008

Using Excel to Kneecap Nuclear Power

Amory Lovins is quite a character. On the one hand, he appeals to the techno-optimist inside of me. On the other, his sad devotion to the dying religion of the 1980's Anti-Nuke Movement is galling.

His Rocky Mountain Institute loves to churn out charts and papers "showing" how nuclear is a dead-end in regards to future power generation. Anyone with a knowledge of engineering and the relative power densities of fuels and a handle on the concept of capacity factors knows that nuclear has a place at the table - and probably quite a large place assuming no paradigm shifting energy technologies come along. Whether the big station solutions implemented in most places these days or the micro-nukes I think will be more feasible in the violent and uncertain decades to come, nuclear will be there - at least for those societies that wish to remain industrialized and electrified.

In response to another one of RMI's Excel Chart hit-jobs, David Bradish over at NEI has taken the RMI data and assumptions and done something very unfair in the eyes of the Anti-Nuke Religionists - he analyzed the data, took it apart and proceeded to shred it to pieces, revealing it for the "chartjunk" that it is.

Chart on Zero-Carbon Generation Sources for those who place their faith in RMI's staff

Amory Lovins and His Nuclear Illusion – Part One (The Art of Deception)
...Let’s sum up the apparent mistakes evident in just this one graph. First, RMI’s analysis erroneously uses twice the actual capacity factor for “non-biomass decentralized co-generation.” Second, RMI’s analysis distorts the actual contribution from nuclear’s “true competitors" with the use of chartjunk. Third, RMI’s analysis makes selective use of data in order to state that nuclear’s “true competitors” are turning “in a stunning global market performance” when in fact one their own sources actually says the opposite. Finally, RMI’s analysis misleads the reader by not stating that coal is included in this graph, when actually it is.This is about as much as I’m going to go into RMI’s so-called numbers and sources. The rest of my posts will focus on the following themes from RMI: centralized vs. decentralized energy; big plants versus small plants; energy efficiency and “negawatts;” nuclear and grid reliability; and costs...

Chart on Zero-Carbon Generation Sources after rigorous analysis. Huh.

This is important because we have to start getting reason and rational thinking back in the driver's seat when it comes to energy policy in the United States. We don't have the luxury of time or cheap energy any more to let us slack off.

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