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The ur-problem, as I see it, is the global electric power system is a crazy patch-work, cobbled together with no sense of an over-all design.  Additions to existing power generation infrastructure are bought, built, and attached to the grid are decided using political and economic criteria (read: bribery, corruption, and corporate profit) with little thought given to engineering and system design.

A second problem is the manufacturers of goods and services using electric power are able to capture "externality" profit because they are not billed for the increase in electrical power their goods and services demand.  Thus they do not have any incentive to lower or limit the electric power needed to power their product(s.)

A third problem is illustrated by the ceebs' posted quote.  Supposed experts and objective commentators are incapable of critical thinking.  Nuclear power generating plants have never been forced to pay for the totality of all costs, from the medical costs for the increased cancer rates of the local population where uranium mining is done to the costs of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel.  Nuclear power is only "sustainable" (sic) IF these costs are excluded in the cost/benefit analysis.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:40:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear power generating plants have never been forced to pay for the totality of all costs

Also true for all the fossil fuels as well, of course.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:55:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When i was invited to the Reagan White House to debate tax support for renewable energy, and the technology of windpower, we were just in the first years of the Great Deregulation. Any number of industries were being deregulated, but of course not energy.

I told them we wouldn't need any subsidy if they deregulated energy while including all external costs, period. Further, i threatened to make a media circus of their exclusion of energy from deregulation.

They decided not to cut the renewable support. Not because they took may threats seriously, but because we were then just too small potatoes. At least that's my analysis.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 04:24:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would formulate now renewable power as a freedom issue. Freedom from centralized power distribution and astronomic investment interest. I know, it would hardly work at the moment like this. But if there is recognition that the current economy and technology is less than sustainable, renewable energy gives local opportunities to make living with less totalitarian control of political and financial sectors. (And never mind saving the whole world.)
by das monde on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 06:55:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - it's a point rarely made that corporate control is a form of totalitarian control.

You don't need dour people in grey uniforms to have a totalitarian state. When entire populations are forced to work, encouraged to get into debt, and inspired to consume, it's an odd kind of "freedom" that's being offered.

But that's exactly why renewables are unpopular. If everyone has a windmill or panels and is offered a feed-in tariff competitive with the subsidies offered to non-renewables, the effects are political as well as economic.

Distributed generation makes it impossible to Enron-ise the economy.

The people who benefit from Enron-isation don't see this as a good thing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 07:01:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
the effects are political as well as economic.

and thus social, the biggest kick of them all.

it should be a no-brainer that energy is being offered in mind-bogglingly copious quantities, but we insist on sucking it out of the darkest, riskiest, most complicated places, in the most cavalier of ways.

this has become the 'normal' and the daily barrage of propaganda ensures this myth's longevity.

cui bono? this cabal with its us military arm, has convinced itself (and then us) that there is no alternative.

they keep it so achievements like Jerome's are the exception rather than the rule.

Italy's papers headlined yesterday that all the world was hitting the pause button on nuclear, except Italy.

it's quite poignantly clear to me that the illusion that energy is just energy, no matter its provenance, is the chief culprit in our boundlessly ignorant complaisance to the corporate energy hegemony.

sure it runs yer espresso machine the same as it comes out the wall, but look out the window! what do you want decorating your skyline as you sip your fragrant brew, grateful to technology and ivory coast coffee beans for the convenience and luxury?

a bunch of windmills or a smoking monument to hubristic folly like in Sendai?

behold the power of propaganda to bamboozle millions into eco suicide, and look who's pushing it!

that koolaide trance, it's really something...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 08:47:27 AM EST
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