Billionaire’s nuclear ambitions would make climate disaster worse
By Linda Pentz Gunter
In an interview for the Washington PostMagazine during his current book tour, billionaire Bill Gates, whom we are now expected to accept as an authority on climate change, said: “I’ll be happy if TerraPower was a waste of money.” TerraPower is Gates’s nuclear power company pushing so-called “advanced” reactors. His book is called How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.
Well, Bill, I have some good news for you. You can start celebrating! Because, yes, TerraPower is indeed a colossal waste of money. It’s also a waste of precious time. And the idea that nuclear power could “lift billions out of poverty” as the TerraPower website boasts, is on a par with any number of outlandish theories, conspiratorial or otherwise, that are making the all too frequent rounds these days.
Here are the prices that the eminent financial house Lazard calculated in 2019 for different ways to generate a megawatt-hour of electricity using new nuclear plants and other energy options, as laid out by Amory Lovins in his landmark Forbes article:
New nuclear power would cost $118–192/MWh (of which $29 is typical operating cost) while utility-scale solar power would cost $32–42/MWh and onshore windpower $28–54/MWh.
As Lovins has consistently pointed out: “To protect the climate, we must save the most carbon at the least cost and in the least time, counting all three variables—carbon and cost and time.”
And, “costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options. Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection.”
Gates wants to save lives conquering malaria. But he’s fine with exposing people to radiation and leaving a legacy of toxic waste with no known solution.