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[en] The literature on energy technology costs, diffusion, and learning has been characterized by data limitations, partial or arbitrary data sets, apples to oranges comparisons, and imprecision in the use of key concepts and terminology. Two responses to our paper, Lovering et al. (2016), by Koomey et al. and Gilbert et al. reflect many of these problems, conflating learning curves with experience curves, trends in actual costs with the relationship between cost estimates and final construction costs, and component costs with total installed costs. The respondents use inconsistent definitions of demonstration, first-of-a-kind, and commercial deployment across different energy technologies. They also propose to compare final installed costs for nuclear power plants, encompassing construction and finance costs, across different national economies and time periods encompassing a wide range of macro-economic circumstances and finance arrangements that overwhelm any signal from trends associated with the actual construction costs of the plants in question. In this response, we address the specific issues raised in these papers and suggest better practices for comparing energy technology costs, trends, and technological learning. - Highlights: • Responds to arguments in and • Discusses shortcomings in broader energy cost literature. • Defends metric of Overnight Construction Cost (OCC). • Suggests better practices for comparing energy technology costs and trends.
[en] Is climate change more like an asteroid or diabetes? Diabetes is not benign. It is not a 'natural' phenomenon and it can't be cured. It is a condition that, if unmanaged, can kill you. And even for those who manage it well, life is different than before diabetes. This seems to the authors to be a reasonably apt description of the climate problem. There is no going back to the world before climate change. Whatever success we have mitigating climate change, we almost certainly won't return to pre-industrial atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, at least not for many centuries. Even at one or 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, the climate and the planet will look very different, and that will bring unavoidable consequences for human societies. We will live on a hotter planet and in a climate that will be more variable and less predictable. How bad our planetary diabetes gets will depend on how much we continue to emit and how well adapted to a changing climate human societies become. With the present one degree of warming, it appears that human societies have adapted relatively well. Various claims attributing present day natural disasters to climate change are controversial. But the overall statistics suggest that deaths due to climate-related natural disasters globally are falling, not rising, and that economic losses associated with those disasters, adjusting for growing population and affluence, have been flat for many decades. But at three or four degrees of warming, all bets are off. And it appears that unmanaged, that's where present trends in emissions are likely to take us. Moreover, even with radical action, stabilizing emissions at 1.5 degrees C, as many advocates now demand, is not possible without either solar geo-engineering or sucking carbon emissions out of the atmosphere at massive scale. Practically, given legacy emissions and committed infrastructure, the long-standing international target of limiting temperature increase to two degrees C is also extremely unlikely. Unavoidably, then, treating our climate change condition will require not simply emissions reductions but also significant adaptation to known and unknown climate risks that are already baked in to our future due to two centuries of fossil fuel consumption. It is in this sense that the authors have long argued that climate change must be understood as a chronic condition of global modernity, a problem that will be managed but not solved
[en] The existing literature on the construction costs of nuclear power reactors has focused almost exclusively on trends in construction costs in only two countries, the United States and France, and during two decades, the 1970s and 1980s. These analyses, Koomey and Hultman (2007); Grubler (2010), and Escobar-Rangel and Lévêque (2015), study only 26% of reactors built globally between 1960 and 2010, providing an incomplete picture of the economic evolution of nuclear power construction. This study curates historical reactor-specific overnight construction cost (OCC) data that broaden the scope of study substantially, covering the full cost history for 349 reactors in the US, France, Canada, West Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea, encompassing 58% of all reactors built globally. We find that trends in costs have varied significantly in magnitude and in structure by era, country, and experience. In contrast to the rapid cost escalation that characterized nuclear construction in the United States, we find evidence of much milder cost escalation in many countries, including absolute cost declines in some countries and specific eras. Our new findings suggest that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology. - Highlights: •Comprehensive analysis of nuclear power construction cost experience. •Coverage for early and recent reactors in seven countries. •International comparisons and re-evaluation of learning. •Cost trends vary by country and era; some experience cost stability or decline.