Monday, November 03, 2008

Nuclear and Geothermal in the news

Two interesting pieces floating in the medisasphere this morning: The Sacramento Bee takes up Arnold's renewed interest in nuclear, and the Los Angeles Times devotes a lot of ink to geothermal.

From the Bee:

Who knew nuclear power was the new green alternative?
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is now pushing that notion, suggesting that nuclear plants could help the state meet its aggressive long-term goals of reducing carbon emissions.
After previously dismissing nuclear power because of waste storage problems, the Republican governor this year has said it should be considered a serious option among alternative fuels.

"I myself think that nuclear power has a great future, and I think that we should look at it seriously again," Schwarzenegger said at a Santa Barbara conference in March. "I know there are people who are scared about it, and I know there are certain environmentalists that put the scare tactics out there, and they frighten everyone that we're going to have another blowup and all of those things. But I think technology has advanced so much."

From the Times:

Geothermal energy may be the most prolific renewable fuel source that most people have never heard of. Although the supply is virtually limitless, the massive upfront costs required to extract it have long rendered geothermal a novelty. But that's changing fast as this old-line industry buzzes with activity after decades of stagnation.

Billionaire Warren E. Buffett has invested big. Internet giant Google Inc. is bankrolling advanced research. Entrepreneurs are paying record prices for drilling leases in places such as Nevada, where they're prospecting for heat instead of metals.

"This is the new gold rush," said Mark Taylor, a geothermal analyst with the consulting firm New Energy Finance in Washington. He credits high fossil fuel prices and concerns about global warming with jump-starting the U.S. industry, along with federal tax credits and state laws mandating the wider use of renewable energy.

Global investment in geothermal was around $3 billion last year, Taylor said. Although that's a blip compared with the estimated $116 billion funneled into wind and solar, it's still a 183% increase over investment in 2006. In a difficult year for alternative energy funding, the industry snagged $600 million through the first six months of 2008, Taylor said.