If you take the problem of climate change at all seriously, it’s obviously necessary to consider what, if any, role nuclear (fission) energy should play in a response. I discussed this not long ago and concluded that “it may well be that, at least for an interim period, expansion of nuclear fission is the best way to go.” However, on the basis of my rather limited survey of the evidence, I suggested that, as a source of electricity, nuclear energy is about twice as expensive as coal or gas. If so, conservation is the first choice, and we should only move to alternative sources of electricity when the easy conservation options are exhausted.
By contrast, Mark Kleiman says that “Nukes, if run right, are fully competitive with coal, and a hell of a lot cleaner”, and Brad DeLong says “He’s 100% completely correct”, and Matt Yglesias takes a similar view.
Kleiman cites the example of France, which I don’t find entlrely convincing, since the French have always given substantial subsidies to nuclear energy. He argues that the US made a mess of nuclear energy for regulatory reasons, but doesn’t say anything about the British experience, which didn’t have the same problems and was still an economic disaster. I’ve looked briefly at Canada’s CANDU program, where experience appears to be mixed at best.
Can anyone point me to a reliable source of comparative information on this? Is there general agreement, or a partisan divide between pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear advocates ? I’d also be interested in comments on the general question raised in my opening sentence.