Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

For that well-run land-of-Theory coal plant, you'll want to look at what the net costs of all that scrubbing and sequestering are on a per-MWh basis. While sequestering CO2 is possible, it also consumes a large share of the power output of the plant.

I'll share your assessment of the risks of plant damage -- in the case of coal, it's normal operations which are a risk, in the case of nuclear, it's abnormal operations which pose the greatest risk. We're starting to get sufficient baseline data to have a sense of nuclear's actual risks (though some, such as long-term waste storage still haven't been resolved).

The biggest risks, as I see it, with nuclear are actually organizational. Tepco, Hanford, and Chernobyl are all cases in point: managerial incompetence or malfeasance have resulted in hugely damaging events or consequences. A large part of this managerial threat can be attributed to the very high concentration of value that a nuclear plant poses. At roughly 18 GWh annual production rom a typical plant, that's $1-2 billion in annual retail electrical revenues -- a pretty substantial turnover.

I'm all in favor of nuclear power than eliminates or manages the maximal risk (some of the ideas floating around for household thorium reactors qualify) but we simply can't assess the maximum risk for nuclear power plants so we're comparing a known value to an unknown value, and the known value isn't so bad (ignoring greenhouse).

I'm not disagreeing with you about the lala land coal plant btw, just comparing apples to apples. I assume the well run perfectly engineered nuclear reactor might not be as cheap or efficient as the badly run stupidly engineered reactor.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact