Vote in Economist Debate: This house believes that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.

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The Economist is hosting an online debate on the efficacy of subsidizing renewable energy technologies. Matthias Fripp who is a Research fellow, Environmental Change Institute and Exeter College, Oxford University is defending the motion, and Robert L. Bradley Jr. who is the Founder and chief executive officer of the free market Institute for Energy Research is opposing it. 

One is expensive and intermittent and the other is cheap and steady

Right now the vote is 49 percent YES and 51 percent NO. If you want to weigh in, go here

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  1. How is nuclear non-renewable? Especially if we are talking breeder reactors?

    1. if nuclear is non-renewable, then along the same lines, the sun isn’t renewable either. That big ball of gas will burn out eventually.

      Way to go greens, destroying the sun. *shakes head in disappointment*

      1. That’s fusion. Fission is impure. Fusion is good, because we don’t have it. If we had it, it would be bad, because we have to use technology to make it.

        1. Environmentalism is fun.

    2. Hydroelectric doesn’t even approach the renewability in the sense of longevity that nuclear generation has.

      1. Hydroelectric doesn’t even approach the renewability in the sense of longevity that nuclear generation has.

        Soooo….the rain will stop falling from the sky?

        1. Actually, many reservoirs have regular problems with low water levels. If the water is too low there is not enough potential energy to run turbines and get full power. There’s also the problem of erosion filling in basins, which alters water flow and generation capacity. Reservoirs often serve dual purpose for electric and water resources. Damming up a river and valley is a huge chunk of a resource to use up at once.

    3. A breeder reactor turns non-fissile material into fissile material that is then burned. After the burn the material is gone and never coming back.

      1. The non-fissile material (say U238) is gone, but you have more fissile material than you had at the start.

        Lets say you start with U235 and U238.
        The U238 absorbs some neutrons from the U235 fissioning and beta decays (twice):

        U-238+n=U-239-?>Np-239-?>Pu-239

        The amount of Pu-239 created is greater than the amount of U-235 destroyed. Yeah, you run out of U-238 eventually, but we run out of rivers to damn before that.

    4. “How is nuclear non-renewable? Especially if we are talking breeder reactors?”

      My first reaction as well. There are plenty of valid criticisms of nuclear power, being “non-renewable” ain’t one of them.

  2. Also, the sun has a limited time span, it too is gonna run out of fuel. And all the other renewables are driven by it.

    1. wow, ya think I could read one sentence down? na, never.

      replace my comment with “what robc said, verbatim”

      1. replace my comment with “what robc said, verbatim”

        This should be a general principle.

        You know, except on that once or twice a year in which Im wrong.

      2. replace my comment with “what robc said, verbatim”

        This should be a general principle.

        You know, except on that once or twice a year in which Im wrong.

        1. That is an odd twist on joez law right there.

  3. robc & Wylie: Great minds think alike and all that. Please go and vote.

    1. Is there an option for “these labels make no fucking sense”?

      I only vote 3rd party.

      1. Yeah, the symbol labeled “Nuclear” represents an extremely out of date model of atoms.

        1. You leave my 7th grade science fair project out of this!

  4. I used to read the Economist from cover to cover, oh how the mighty has fallen.

  5. Hath fallen? Fall being the operative word here.

  6. Pretty picture, but I would rather see a consolidated depiction, where the symbols were expressed as relative quantities, in terms of the total energy each represents. The point would be to put into perspective the expected energy required with the expected energy available from each source. A third dimension could then be added, representing the expected future availability of each with respect to time.

    My guess is that such a chart would produce emotional effects rather different than those which might be expected to be aroused by the simplistic one shown above.

  7. One is expensive and intermittent and the other is cheap and steady

    Hydroelectric is pretty damn cheap and if one follows hydroelectric prices over time compared to everything else it is pretty hard to call it intermittent.

    It is interesting though that dams, one exception to renewable chart, is also hated by environmentalists.

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