In late 2007, my wife and I bought a new Hyundai Sonata. Overall, I have been pleased with the car. I think that it offered the combination of features that I wanted for a reasonable price and the quality has been good. I have had only two relatively minor repairs since that time, and they were both covered under warranty.
Since I bought the Hyundai, I necessarily didn’t buy a Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Mercedes, Audi, Toyota, Kia, Subaru, Hummer, Saturn, etc. You get the picture. This phenomenon is known as opportunity costs. Since I decided on the Sonata, I couldn’t do something else with the money that I spent. I couldn’t buy another car, or it goes even beyond that. I couldn’t do anything else with the money that was spent on the car. I couldn’t go on a cruise with my wife, or save for my kids’ college education.
So, why am I telling you about my car? To illustrate a point.
When, as a society, we spend money on wind and solar, that money is not available to spend on anything else. It is not available to spend on advanced nuclear reactors that supply reliable, clean, safe, abundant energy 24/7/365, day and night, rain or shine. That is one of the opportunity costs of wind and solar.
When folks deny that opportunity costs are real, bells and whistles should be going off in your head. Take the US Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, for example. He is tasked with implementing Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. This is fundamentally irrational. Where in this world can you or I have “all-of-the-above”?
There is a battle for the future. The contestants are wind and solar (quietly but totally backed by natural gas) and advanced nuclear. Nearly everyone thinks that wind and solar are the future. The gas industry is happy for you to think this way because 5/6ths of the time it is gas that will be keeping things going. But wind and solar and intermittent energy sources cannot power the industrial civilizations of the future.
Then there is advanced nuclear, of which I would submit that the LFTR concept is the best example. This actually can power the industrial civilization of the future. It does not require gas, coal, or wind or solar to make it work. It is an entire solution. But almost no one thinks that advanced nuclear energy represents the way we will go in the future, despite the fact that the numbers actually back this up.
So there is a war in the present for the correct vision of the future, because whichever vision is chosen and believed, this is the direction funds and resources will flow. Wind and solar are winning this contest by a country mile. They get hundreds of billions of dollars of direct and indirect support. But their dirty little secret is that they can’t do it—they rely on gas.
Thus I wage my lonely campaign to convince the world that advanced nuclear energy (particularly thorium MSR) represents the vision of the future that should attract the resources and investments.