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Clean Power solar power cheaper than nuclear

Published on July 12th, 2013 | by Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz

417

Review: “Nuclear 2.0: Why a Green Future Needs Nuclear Power,” By Mark Lynas

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July 12th, 2013 by  

This article was first published on Lenz Blog.

Mark Lynas just released an “Amazon short” title called Nuclear 2.0.

The book description at Amazon has this to say:

Lynas shows that with wind and solar still at only about 1 percent of global primary energy, asking renewables to deliver all the world’s power is “dangerously delusional”.

That got me interested. Maybe he’s talking about my “dangerous delusions”. I happen to think that it is the other way round. It is a delusion to hope for the nuclear bailout. Renewable energy will have to do the job alone.

It also claims in its sentence, rather arrogantly:

Everything you thought you knew about nuclear power is wrong.

How does Lynas even know what his readers think? And how is claiming everything disagreeing with his views is wrong anything other than extremely annoying arrogance?

The first clear error came a couple of pages in. Lynas writes:

“I had entirely overlooked the world’s most abundant source of low-carbon power.”

That is not nuclear. It’s hydro. According to the 2012 edition of the IEA Key World Energy Statistics, nuclear generated  2756 TWh in 2010, while hydro generated 3516. Of course, nuclear is down as a consequence of the Fukushima accident, clocking in at only 2346 in 2012.

That makes nuclear the most abundant source of low-carbon power generation reductions. I expect plenty of more reductions from this source.

He then claims:

nuclear power provides 15 percent of global electricity

Nope. Even in 2010, the percentage was at 12.9, and it has of course declined substantially after that, again according to the IEA report cited above.

Not a good start, considering this claim:

using the very latest factual data

Next, a whopping mistake that makes me want to stop reading right there:

our task is to generate thousands of terawatts of power per year.

Newsflash: Power generation per year is measured in TWh, not terawatts. And “thousands” doesn’t cut it either. How can Mark Lynas, a reasonably competent journalist, make such a simple mistake?

And right then, he writes something I agree with completely:

Most importantly, the pro-renewables and pro-nuclear tribes will have to join forces if we are to confront the vested interests which threaten to keep this planet on its current trajectory towards disaster.

I have my doubts, though, if calling the other side “delusional” and “dangerous” will contribute to such a goal.

I also completely agree with the analysis that fossil fuel has given humanity, on average, a much better life since the industrial revolution. If one could choose the ideal age to live in, right now would be a rather good choice. Still receiving the many benefits of burning fossil fuel at a rate of 5.3 million over its reproduction, but still not feeling the more unfortunate effects of global warming.

Lynas then writes a couple of pages on how solar and wind will never be enough to achieve anything, citing numbers about the share of primary energy supply (which is a great way to make solar look bad and nuclear look good, with all the heat energy completely wasted in nuclear plants, but conveniently included in the primary energy balance). [Editor’s note: check out CleanTechnica’s page listing studies that show a 70% renewable electricity mix to a 100% renewable energy mix is indeed possible.]

If Lynas is right, there will be no solution for global warming. It’s as easy as that. Nuclear certainly won’t come to the rescue. It’s in decline, and will decline further.

But Lynas doesn’t understand the beauty of exponential growth. If solar growth world wide goes down to the lowest value recorded in the past twenty years (30 percent), then it will take solar supply only until 2030 to top world electricity demand, as Eduard Heindl kindly explains in this recent post (in German).

Lynas is opposed to building new hydro, because of “fragile riverine ecosystems”. Newsflash: those will be destroyed anyway if global warming proceeds unchecked. China has installed 230 GW of hydro in 2012 and will increase that to 290 GW until 2015. That compares to world nuclear capacity around 380 GW in 2010. Would Lynas rather get rid of all that low-carbon Chinese hydro capacity to protect some “fragile ecosystem” or other? I certainly don’t think the world could afford this kind of luxury.

Remarkably, nothing Lynas writes about the German “Energiewende” is wrong. Of course, shutting down nuclear capacity will, all things equal, lead to more CO2 emissions. The new renewable capacity must make up for the missing nuclear energy before it can displace coal. That’s just common sense.

But it is also common sense that calling for nuclear in Germany is a fringe minority loser position. If your global warming strategy requires nuclear power in Germany, get used to a warmer planet.

Lynas acknowledges that nuclear has a cost problem. He fails to mention though the part of the problem that comes from a stronger renewable penetration. That means that nuclear power plants can’t be expected to run around the clock any more, and it also means that the days of high peak noon power prices are gone for good.

Around the end I find out that the title “Nuclear 2.0″ means limiting global warming to 2.0 degrees by using nuclear power (which is not what one would assume from reading the title on its face).

The main thesis of the book is that everybody opposed to fossil fuel should work together in an “all of the above” strategy, though strangely one that excludes the real largest source of low carbon power (hydro). That used to be my position, until I found out that most pro-nuclear people are trying to slow down renewable energy, since they (correctly) perceive that their dreams of playing with plutonium won’t get anywhere with viable alternatives in place, and with renewable eating their lunch and dinner in the marketplace.

The “all of the above” idea is nice, but it won’t work in practice. We are in another Great War of Currents, and people need to choose their sides. Someone advocating “all of the above” like Lynas will probably alienate everybody in sight.

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About the Author

is a professor of German and European Law at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, blogging since 2003 at Lenz Blog. A free PDF file of his global warming science fiction novel "Great News" is available here.



  • Chris Murray

    Below is my Amazon review of Lynas’s awful book. Hope it’s of some interest.

    Best wishes,
    Chris Murray.

    Same old unscientific nuclear propaganda and outright misinformation re low level radiation

    Mark Lynas, in “Nuclear 2.0″, commits the same errors he ascribes to the anti-nuclear movement, except that where anti-nuclear activists allegedly exaggerate, Mark Lynas relentlessly minimises.

    Lynas quotes UNSCEAR and others in an effort at scientific respectability, but the quotes are often selective and misleading. For example, re Chernobyl, UNSCEAR is correctly quoted as offering reassurance to individuals that the personal risks are low, but there is no mention whatever that UNSCEAR also clearly states “Although the numbers of cancers projected to be induced by radiation exposure from the accident are very small relative to the baseline cancer risk, THEY COULD POTENTIALLY BE SUBSTANTIAL IN ABSOLUTE TERMS” (my emphasis – even a “very small” increase of say, 0.5%, in baseline risk would cause, say, 10,000 extra cancers in a 10 million population, assuming normal cancer mortality of 20% of all deaths). This, from the very agency – UNSCEAR – that Lynas is using to establish credibility, is surely worth at least a mention, especially from someone claiming scientific objectivity. Nor is there any mention that earlier World Health Organisation reports put the eventual excess cancer death toll among the cleanup workers at 4,000, and in the most affected areas of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus alone at a further 5,000. And the harm is unlikely to stop there.

    Similarly, Lynas mentions UNSCEAR’s recent warning that collective dose should not be used to estimate future cancer deaths at Fukushima, without mentioning that the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the WHO, and many other scientifically reputable government agencies, have previously all used collective dose to estimate cancer deaths, or that ICRP and UNSCEAR are not saying NO risks/deaths, they are warning of UNCERTAINTY at very low doses. They even admit that this uncertainty could be in either direction – that lower dose radiation could, over part of the graph, be proportionately MORE damaging than higher doses ie supralinearity. This is completely ignored by Lynas. Re hormesis or a low dose threshold, the ICRP and many others have carefully examined the evidence, and have firmly rejected them in favour of LNT. The LNT “debate” is bogus. At every turn of the debate, Lynas presents the view that makes nuclear look best. UNSCEAR’s warnings of uncertainties re the MAGNITUDE of the risks, NOT their existence, has been elevated by Lynas into a complete dismissal of the risks, flying in the face of established radiological science. This magical thinking, designed to make inconvenient (for the nuclear industry) cancer risks disappear, may be a suitable approach for a propagandist, but one can hardly simultaneously wrap oneself in the science flag.

    Re a mythical 100mSV limit, Lynas, in the teeth of the growing evidence, fights a rearguard action to cast doubt everywhere except on the pro-nuclear position. However, as far back as 2001, the ICRP, in “Radiation and Your Patient: A Guide for Medical Practitioners” advised doctors that “The higher dose diagnostic medical procedures (such a CT scan of the abdomen or pelvis) yield an effective dose of about 10 mSv. If there were a large population in which every person had 1 such scan, the theoretical lifetime risk of radiation induced fatal cancer would be about 1 in 2,000 (0.05%).”

    So why is the evidence sufficient for patients exposed to 10 mSV (NB 10 mSV, not the 100 mSv claimed by Mark Lynas as some kind of threshold) to be warned of a 1 in 2,000 risk of fatal cancer, but not sufficient to clearly warn “a large population”, exposed to similar radiation levels from a nuclear disaster, of similar risks? Instead the risks are usually buried in specious technobabble about “insignificant” increases in the baseline cancer rate and misleading claims that “no health effects will be detected”, while admitting quietly that thousands or tens of thousands may actually die. Why are the risks from 10mSv enough to warn doctors and patients, but, according – sometimes – to UNSCEAR and the ICRP, not enough to even estimate, not even roughly estimate, overall cancer deaths from Chernobyl and Fukushima? Could it be that such clear, direct estimates give embarrassingly large – to the nuclear industry – estimates of 20,000 – 40,000 fatal Chernobyl cancers and 1,000 – 3,000 fatal cancers from Fukushima? Could this just possibly have some bearing? (There has recently been a spate of disgraceful articles by young, gullible ex-Greens claiming that the Chernobyl death toll is “only” about 50. How would those article have read if they were shouting “Hey! We got it all wrong about nuclear power! The dangers have been wildly exaggerated by those irrational, alarmist, anti-science eco-loons! Did you know that Chernobyl’s final death toll from cancer will be a mere 20,000 – 40,000???”)

    Lastly, Lynas gets his sums badly wrong. In a bungled attempt to discredit LNT, he quotes figures from Preston et al (2004) “Effect of recent changes in atomic bomb survivor dosimetry on cancer mortality risk estimates”, Table 3. He claims “……those receiving doses below 100 mSv had no observable increase in risk at all. Out of the 68,467 people in the below 100 mSv category, 7,657 died of cancer before 2000, out of an expected number of cancer deaths totalling 7,655. The difference* is too tiny to have any statistical meaning. This latter conclusion is critically important. No convincing evidence has ever been obtained, despite many hundreds of studies, showing a statistically significant correlation between cancer incidence and radiation exposures of less than 100 mSv. ” (* Difference is 2).

    There are actually other widely accepted studies showing excess cancer risk at doses well below 100mSv, from Alice Stewart’s work, from studies of radiation workers, from CT scans, even from background radiation studies, but forget about them. Just look up Table 3 yourself (You’ll have to register – free – at the Radiation Research Society web journal). It shows cancer deaths roughly as predicted by LNT in various dose bands from 2,000 mSv down. It does show only 2* fitted excess cancer deaths in a lower category, but it’s in the below 5 mSv (FIVE mSv, not 100 mSv) category, and it shows fitted excess cancer deaths in the 5-100 mSv category to be 44. These 44 sub-100mSv deaths have simply disappeared in Lynas’s account. It’s easy to draw “critically important” conclusions when you lose statistics that don’t suit. But don’t get caught.

    Mark Lynas is one of a number of naive people (George Monbiot, Michael Shellenberger, even Jim Hansen) trying to discredit LNT, and insulting the anti-nuclear movement as being ignorant, irrational and unscientific. There is a deluge of scientific evidence, some of it going back decades, supporting LNT. The evidence is increasing all the time that lower and lower doses have an effect consistent with LNT predictions. In contrast, the evidence for a threshold, never mind hormesis, is speculative, largely confined to laboratories, generally contradicted by real-world epidemiology, and has been considered and firmly rejected by the ICRP, BEIR etc.

    Lynas and co. might like to consider the following from “The radiobiology/radiation protection interface in Healthcare” (Martin et al, 2009), published by the Journal of Radiological Protection and available at the Institute of Physics website.

    “The 21st L H Gray conference gathered leading experts in radiobiology, radiation epidemiology, radiation effect modelling, and the application of radiation in medicine to provide an overview of the subject………

    Epidemiological evidence from the Japanese A-bomb survivors provides strong evidence that there is a linear relationship between the excess risk of cancer and organ dose that extends from about 50 mSv up to 2.5 Sv, and results from pooled data for multiple epidemiological studies indicate that risks extend down to doses of 20 mSv. Thus linear extrapolation of the A-bomb dose-effect data provides an appropriate basis for radiological protection standards at the present time…..

    The Japanese A-bomb survivor group provides data for a population with a wide range of ages who received relatively high doses primarily from external radiation……. The results have proved that there is a linear relationship between cancer risk and organ dose between about 100 mSv and 2.5 Sv (Hall 2009). If data from A-bomb survivors who received doses between 5 and 125 mSv are grouped together and the excess risk plotted against a mean dose, the data give a definite excess relative risk for cancer mortality and a value which agrees with the LNT extrapolation of the A-bomb survivor data for a mean dose of about 40 mSv (Brenner et al 2003)………

    Another area of study which is relevant when considering carcinogenic effects at low doses is the induction of childhood leukaemia in children radiographed in utero with doses of 10-20 mSv (Stewart et al 1956, Knox et al 1987). These studies provide further evidence that effects do occur at doses down to 10 or 20 mSv…….
    .
    Data from the UK, USA and Canada have been combined to give results for 95 000 radiation workers who received a mean individual cumulative dose of 40 mSv (Cardis et al 1995) and data from 15 countries pooled to give 400 000 workers with a mean cumulative dose of 19.4 mSv (Cardis et al 2005b). Results from both studies indicate an excess relative risk of leukaemia that is statistically significant………..

    Comparative studies on groups exposed to different levels of natural background radiation do not have the statistical power to detect effects on cancer incidence, because of the small numbers receiving higher doses (BEIR 2006, Hendry et al 2009). Based on current risk estimates a population of 10 million would be required in order to prove whether there was a high incidence of solid cancer in an area where the population was exposed to 10 mSv yr−1, whereas the populations that have been studied comprise less than 100 000 individuals. Populations that have higher doses from radon exposure provide the best indicator of a link between cancer and dose at lower dose levels. Results of a European project, which combined data from a number of individual case control studies in member states, show a clear increase in the risk of lung cancer among residents of homes with an enhanced concentration of radon (above 150 Bq m−3)……

    …the LNT dose-effect model is the most appropriate one to adopt to describe the risks of cancer and provides a workable practical framework for the operation of protection………….”

    In an earlier article, Lynas thanked “…..Professor Wade Allison for his help on the research”. Allison is a physicist, with no scientific expertise in radiobiology, who wants to increase the statutory radiation protection limits by a factor of 1000. It is worth considering what the normally understated and polite Dr. Keith Baverstock, who led the Radiation Protection Programme at the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Europe from 1991 to 2003, thinks of Allison’s theories…….

    “Back to Allison and his brand of pantomime biology: he is not a misguided crank, he understands the scientific process, he is surrounded with colleagues in Oxford he could consult and in two years he has not heeded the warnings of, I am sure, many experts that he is simply wrong. I don’t believe he is deliberately peddling untruths either. So what is his problem? One can only conclude that he is deluded. It seems that one can become so obsessed with an idea that any challenge to it is somehow expelled from consciousness. I believe on this issue Allison is a menace to society and I am not alone in that; he was, I understand, told as much by a senior radiobiologist at a scientific meeting in London last month: he still filed his evidence to the HoC S&T Committee though on 22 December and whether he realises it or not he is attempting to mislead them when he claims the scientific high ground and dismisses genuine scientific opinion as politics. He should either withdraw his book or re-title it ‘Radiation and Unreason’ and ask for it to be displayed in bookshops and libraries under ‘fiction’.”

    Mark Lynas’s dreadful book should join it.

    For anyone interested in a more scientific approach to the crucial low level radiation debate, Dr. Ian Fairlie’s site at http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/recent-evidence-on-the-risks-of-very-low-level-radiation/ is the best I’ve found so far (Dr. Fairlie, like Dr. Baverstock, is a professional in radiobiology).

    Chris Murray.

  • WilliamAshbless

    This is not a review. The OP has just picked the blurb for Lynas’ book and made up the text to say what suits him.

  • Chris Murray

    Hope you don’t mind if I add my own review of Lynas’s dreadful book:

    Mark Lynas, in “Nuclear 2.0″, commits the same errors he ascribes to the anti-nuclear movement, except that where anti-nuclear activists allegedly exaggerate, Mark Lynas relentlessly minimises.

    Lynas quotes UNSCEAR and others in an effort at scientific respectability, but the quotes are often selective and misleading. For example, re Chernobyl, UNSCEAR is correctly quoted as offering reassurance to individuals that the personal risks are low, but there is no mention whatever that UNSCEAR also clearly states “Although the numbers of cancers projected to be induced by radiation exposure from the accident are very small relative to the baseline cancer risk, THEY COULD POTENTIALLY BE SUBSTANTIAL IN ABSOLUTE TERMS” (my emphasis – even a “very small” increase of say, 0.5%, in baseline risk would cause, say, 10,000 extra cancers in a 10 million population, assuming normal cancer mortality of 20% of all deaths). There is no mention that earlier UNSCEAR reports put the eventual excess cancer death toll among the cleanup workers at 4,000, and in the most affected areas of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus alone at a further 5,000. And the harm is unlikely to stop there. A possible body count of 9,000 (from the most affected areas alone), cited by the very agency – UNSCEAR – that Lynas is using to establish credibility, is surely worth at least a mention, especially from someone claiming scientific objectivity.

    Similarly, Lynas mentions UNSCEAR’s recent warning that collective dose should not be used to estimate future cancer deaths at Fukushima, without mentioning that the ICRP, and UNSCEAR itself, and many other scientifically reputable government agencies, have previously all used collective dose to estimate cancer deaths, or that ICRP and UNSCEAR are not saying NO deaths, they are warning of uncertainty at very low doses. Re hormesis or a low dose threshold, both UNSCEAR and the ICRP have carefully examined the evidence, and have firmly rejected them in favour of LNT. The LNT “debate” is bogus. At every turn of the debate, Lynas presents the view that makes nuclear look best. This may be a suitable approach for a propagandist, but one can hardly simultaneously wrap oneself in the science flag.

    Re a mythical 100mSV limit, Lynas, in the teeth of the growing evidence, fights a rearguard action to cast doubt everywhere except on the pro-nuclear position. However, as far back as 2001, the ICRP, in “Radiation and Your Patient: A Guide for Medical Practitioners” advised doctors that “The higher dose diagnostic medical procedures (such a CT scan of the abdomen or pelvis) yield an effective dose of about 10 mSv. If there were a large population in which every person had 1 such scan, the theoretical lifetime risk of radiation induced fatal cancer would be about 1 in 2,000 (0.05%).”

    So why is the evidence sufficient for patients exposed to 10 mSV (NB 10 mSV, not the 100 mSv claimed by Mark Lynas as some kind of threshold) to be warned of a 1 in 2,000 risk of fatal cancer, but not sufficient to clearly warn “a large population”, exposed to similar radiation levels from a nuclear disaster, of similar risks, instead of burying such risks in specious technobabble about “insignificant” increases in the baseline cancer rate/”no health effects will be detected” (while admitting quietly that thousands or tens of thousands may actually die)? Why are the risks from 10mSv enough to warn doctors and patients, but, according – sometimes – to UNSCEAR and the ICRP, not enough to even estimate, not even roughly estimate, overall cancer deaths from Chernobyl and Fukushima? Could it be that such clear, direct estimates give embarrassingly large – to the nuclear industry – estimates of 30,000 fatal Chernobyl cancers and 1,000 – 3,000 fatal cancers from Fukushima? Could this just possibly have some bearing?

    Lastly, Lynas gets his sums badly wrong. In a bungled attempt to discredit LNT, he quotes figures from Preston et al (2004) “Effect of recent changes in atomic bomb survivor dosimetry on cancer mortality risk estimates”, Table 3. He claims “……those receiving doses below 100 mSv had no observable increase in risk at all. Out of the 68,467 people in the below 100 mSv category, 7,657 died of cancer before 2000, out of an expected number of cancer deaths totalling 7,655. The difference* is too tiny to have any statistical meaning. This latter conclusion is critically important. No convincing evidence has ever been obtained, despite many hundreds of studies, showing a statistically significant correlation between cancer incidence and radiation exposures of less than 100 mSv. ” (* Difference is 2).

    There are actually other widely accepted studies showing excess cancer risk at doses well below 100mSv, from Alice Stewart’s work, from studies of radiation workers, from CT scans, even from background radiation studies, but forget about them. Just look up Table 3 yourself. (You’ll have to register – free – at http://www.jstor.org/ ). It shows cancer deaths roughly as predicted by LNT in various dose bands from 2,000 mSv down.
    It does show only 2* fitted excess cancer deaths in a lower category, but it’s in the below 5 mSv (FIVE mSv, not 100 mSv) category, and it shows fitted excess cancer deaths in the 5-100 mSv category to be 44. These 44 sub-100mSv deaths have simply disappeared in Lynas’s account. It’s easy to draw “critically important” conclusions when you lose statistics that don’t suit. But don’t get caught.

    PS Dr. Ian Fairlie – who, unlike Lynas, is a scientist (radiation biology) – has an excellent site at http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/recent-evidence-on-the-risks-of-very-low-level-radiation/

  • Brad Gibson

    Not that I disagree with the sentiment of this article, but…

    “Next, a whopping mistake that makes me want to stop reading right there:

    ‘our task is to generate thousands of terawatts of power per year.’
    Newsflash: Power generation per year is measured in TWh, not terawatts.

    How can Mark Lynas, a reasonably competent journalist, make such a simple mistake?”

    A little lower down…

    “China has installed 230 GW of hydro in 2012 and will increase that to 290 GW until 2015.”

    I guess, now you know! :)

  • rgrdc

    It is funny how many people making comments don’t understand power generation as a whole. You need multiple sources of generation. It is not windy everywhere and the sun is not always shining. What is cheap today may not be cheap in the future. Natural gas is very cheap now. If we put all of our eggs in one basket, what happens in a few years when it rises again? We must have base load plants which wind and solar are not. I could go on forever but the point is we need multiple sources of power generation.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Boy, you got a lot of that right. But not all.

      Yes, we need multiple sources of generation. The more varied the inputs and the wider the “harvest zone” the less variability there will be in supply.

      But we don’t need ‘always on’ plants to give us the electricity we want when we want it. In fact, they make our electricity more expensive.

      Near term we’re using natural gas to fill in around wind and solar. As NG prices rise (which they are) we’ll replace it with storage technologies which are getting cheaper.

      Baseload generation plants, coal and nuclear, are going bankrupt. We’ve closed four reactors in the US this year and Australia is about to close 9 GW of their coal plants (a huge amount of capacity) because solar has made them unnecessary.

      • Dig Deeper

        How much utility experience do you have? Are you an engineer by trade?

        • Bob_Wallace

          It does not take an engineering degree to understand basic facts.

          Why do you not grasp them?

          • Dig Deeper

            Yes basic facts such as solar PV is more expensive than nuclear power according to the EIA, has a 3x the lifecycle carbon footprint according the IPCC, has 1/100th the energy density, and is non-dispatchable and unpredictable making interconnection of large penetrations of it impractical and uneconomical.

            I believe if you were in engineer or had any experience in utility generation you may well grasp these simple facts.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, if you’re talking about the EIA’s 2018 predictions for PV solar I hope you’re aware that they are badly wrong. They are predicting a higher cost for PV five years from now than current costs with solar prices continuing to fall.

            And you only get a 3x carbon lifetime footprint if you cherry pick the extremes of the ranges of values.

            It doesn’t take an engineer to understand facts. Apparently it is possible to be an engineer and present false facts. If you’re done here the site will be improved. You are a liability, not an asset.

            Oh, wind happens to be our least expensive way to bring new power to the grid except for natural gas and the price of NG is rising so that wind will be the clear winner. And solar manufacturers are predicting a ~30% cost decrease over the next 4-5 years. Margins are now fine.

            Bye.

          • Dig Deeper

            “They are predicting a higher cost for PV five years from now than current costs with solar prices continuing to fall”

            Let me guess, you are going to take the price from Macho Springs and claim that is the average price for PV? Well its not, the EIA price reflects AVERAGE price, and AVERAGE price of PV is currently not lower now than the 2018 projection of 14.6c/kWh as you have claimed. Also it must be noted that Rooftop solar is significantly more expensive than utility solar, and that utility solar today largely benefits from Government land grants and this practice will not go on indefinitely.

            “And you only get a 3x carbon lifetime footprint if you cherry pick the extremes of the ranges of values”

            Its IPCC compiled data. Are you suggesting the IPCC is cherry picking to favor nuclear over solar?

            “Apparently it is possible to be an engineer and present false facts”

            You just tried to claim above that the average price for PV is now lower than it will be in 2018. Who is presenting the false facts? This is becoming absolutely ridiculous. You are going to come back and say you weren’t talking about average price, when average price is the only metric that matters.

            Yes solar will drop to around 35-40c manufacturing costs as I had stated before, which is reflected in the EIA projections and will not get the average cost of solar to be competitive with nuclear before considering intermittency.

            Wind is cheaper but not quite scalable enough to replace coal due to land and transmission requirements as well as public opposition and intermittency.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, I’m going to take the Macho Springs and Palo Alto PPA prices, add back in the subsidies, and report that US solar is now hitting the 10c/kWh price point in sunny areas. That means that we are continuing to cut our costs for solar.

            Of course Europe, and even India, are ahead of us. Once we catch up with them our price for solar will be well under 10c/kWh in all the lower 48.

            “Wind is cheaper but not quite scalable enough to replace coal due to land and transmission requirements as well as public opposition and intermittency.”

            Wrong again.

            Look, wind is now producing new electricity at 6c/kWh and solar is now hitting 10c/kWh.

            What is your estimate of electricity from a new reactor built in the US and coming on line in the next 10 years? Full price, please. No subsidies or taxpayer liability assumption.

          • Dig Deeper

            “No, I’m going to take the Macho Springs and Palo Alto PPA prices, add
            back in the subsidies, and report that US solar is now hitting the
            10c/kWh price point in sunny areas. That means that we are continuing
            to cut our costs for solar”

            Yea well that is all good and fine but it doesn’t mean that collectively the average price of solar is 10c/kWh. In actuality it is well above that. According to greentechmedia the cost of this project is unusually low.

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/first-solar-macho-update

            The government provided land is one factor as to why the cost is so low. The other factor is likely to be First Solar making this price happen by heavily discounting 50MW of stock. If it were repeatable we would be seeing it in the southwest. It is an anomaly right now and we can only speculate as to how the cost became so low and if it will become more common.

            In either case a nuclear plant providing predictable energy for a longer period of time while disturbing less land area is a still a superior solution at the same price to the large variable solar plant.

            10c/kWh is a ballpark price for nuclear. The EIA doesn’t assume significant taxpayer liability because the Price Anderson act isn’t a significant form of liability assumption.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “The EIA doesn’t assume significant taxpayer liability because the Price Anderson act isn’t a significant form of liability assumption. 13 billion in required insurance per nuclear facility will be more than enough to cover any nuclear energy accident that will occur on nuclear soil. If you don’t believe so then please explain to me how a reactor failure is going to occur and cause more damage than this.”

            TEPCO is now admitting at least $53 billion for Fukushima. That’s just for the site cleanup, it does not cover other losses.

            $53b > $13b
            —————–

            “10c/kWh is a ballpark price for nuclear.”

            It’s a T-ball league ballpark price, but let’s use it.

            $10c/kWh for nuclear. We have to store about 1/2 of the output and move it from off-peak to peak hours.

            Pump-up storage is about 6c/kWh.

            50% @ 10c + 50% @ 16c = 13c/kWh

            Wind is currently 6c/kWh. The wind blows at least 50% of the time.

            By the time a new reactor could come on line solar will be below 10c/kWh, but let’s use 10.* The Sun shines about 20% of the time. We’ll likely get 30% of our electricity directly from the Sun since it produces during peak demand hours.

            So, 50% @ 6c + 30% @ 10c + 20% @ 12c = 8.4c/kWh

            8.4c < 13c

            8.4c < 10c

            *Notice that I biased the argument in your favor by accepting your very low nuclear estimate and not using what it's like solar will cost?

          • Dig Deeper

            “We have to store about 1/2 of the output and move it from off-peak to peak hours”

            According to who? This is ridiculous, where do you see an example of this in the real world? Also you would use thermal storage to store nuclear energy if you wanted to store it.

            You price for projection for solar is not based on any fact or funded research it is just what you personally hope for. The EIA projects the average price of solar to be 4c/kWh more expensive than nuclear in 5 years. Perhaps they will be wrong and you will be right, we will have to wait and see, but for now lets just leave it at that.

            its funny to note that you require storage into your nuclear cost calculation but not for solar. How can you even take yourself seriously by doing something like that, I mean come on man.

            You also stated earlier that solar is at an installed cost of 1.50 in europe when that is actually a best case price and the average price is still above $2/watt installed and rooftop solar higher than that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Clearly some amount would have to be moved from off-peak to peak. We built 21 GW of pump-up and CAES storage back when we were building reactors. Japan built even more.

            That aside, 8.4c < 10c. The cost of renewables including storage is less than your low ball estimate for nuclear with no storage costs.

            Europe is installing solar for roughly $1.50/watt. Can you tell me why we won't reach that same price point? Remember, we're talking several years before a new reactor could be brought on line. Years during which the cost of panels will drop and we'll track Europe's prices downward, following along about 2-3 years late based on our history to date.

            $1.50/watt gives a LCOE of 8.2c in the NE, 6.5c in the SW.

            $2.00/watt gives a LCOE of 10.7c in the NE, a LCOE of 8.3c in the SW. The median would be 9.5c.

            The EIA has been wrong before with their predictions. They make unreliable predictions.

            "its funny to note that you require storage into your nuclear cost calculation but not for solar. How can you even take yourself seriously by doing something like that, I mean come on man."

            50% @ 6c + 30% @ 10c + 20% @ 12c = 8.4c/kWh

            My storage costs are right there in the formula. Can you not see them? Wind at 6c + storage at 6c = 12c. For the most part we will store what is cheapest.

            But if you like I'll redo it.

            50% wind @ 6c + 30% solar @ 10c + 10% stored wind @ 12c + 10% stored solar at 16c = 8.8c/kWh

            8.8c < 10c, your price of nuclear with zero storage costs

            Best case solar is, according to Deutsche Bank, $1.20/watt in Italy.

            Average installed solar in Germany, utility, commercial and rooftop is $2/watt. Including rooftop pulls up the average.

            How about dropping the nuclear fanboy stuff and taking a hard look at the numbers? The world has changed in the last few years. Nuclear is no longer affordable and is getting less so every day.

          • Dig Deeper

            Haha your LCOE calculation is 4th grade arithmetic…. is that really how it works?

            Of course not. Variability means that capacity needs to be larger than 100% of peak demand, because there will be times of coinciding low solar and wind resource – Germany achieved a capacity factor of 4.8% for a three week period last winter. Then of course it helps to figure in land and transmission costs. and of course it helps to use costs that are realistic, and a storage capacity that is also realistic.

            No the US will not achieve 1.20 or 1.50 per watt installed on PV because we aren’t a going to give such heavy handouts to the industry. I’m all about desert solar thermal, but solar PV is a very expensive joke when it comes to fighting global warming. The current technology won’t make a difference in global warming it is just an expensive distraction. Wind, nuclear, and solar thermal are much better solutions. PV panels as you know them can’t decrease in cost enough or gain enough in efficiency to be practical outside of areas with optimal insolation like Arizona, and even there they are inferior to other solutions.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Haha your LCOE calculation is 4th grade arithmetic…. is that really how it works?”

            Not my math. The NREL does the math, I just plug in the numbers…. http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html

            I included storage costs. Transmission costs seem to be generally included in PPA totals.

            “No the US will not achieve 1.20 or 1.50 per watt installed on PV because we aren’t a going to give such heavy handouts to the industry.”

            You must not understand how business works. Europe got a head start on us because they used a more powerful subsidy system. But we’re largely past the point where subsidies are needed to build an installation industry. Market forces are starting to take over. Our costs are falling fast.

            And you clearly are off in crackpot land in your claims that PV won’t play a major role in our energy future. Wind will likely be a larger producer simply because the wind blows more hours than the Sun shines and used-directly power is cheaper than stored power. Nuclear is dying. Thermal storage has a very unsettled future, cheap storage would do it in. Thermal has already admitted that it can’t compete with PV and thermal storage has a hard time competing against non-thermal storage.

          • Dig Deeper

            Nothing about the adoption of Solar in Europe was achieved purely by market forces. It was all heavily sponsored by the government.

            You are right, I was wrong to say PV has no future. it allows distributed generation unmatched by any other source, and the fact that a home-owner can get a return on invesment for it cements its place in our energy mix.

            I just don’t expect it to make contributions that would require storage in the first place. There isn’t much room for cost reduction in the silicon wafering process as it stands, and no room for reduction in glass or frame making. Meanwhile labor and energy costs in China will likely go up. PV needs a major breakthrough to have a global impact. Not that it can’t happen but current tech wont get us there.

  • Bob_Wallace

    In another blow to recovery efforts in the prefecture hit
    hardest by the 3/11 tsunami and nuclear meltdown, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have estimated the cost of decontamination and cleanup to be more than $50 billion. Thecentral Japanese government has earmarked only $11 billion in aid to the struggling region.

    “The group has estimated that the decontamination in the no-entry zones will be at around $20 billion, while the other surrounding areas will cost another $31 billion,” said the Japan Daily Press.

    “The estimates are based on the unit costs that the government provided as well as information collected from the affected municipalities. It also includes the expenses that will be incurred in the removal, transportation and storage of radioactive waste like the contaminated soil and water.”

    http://thediplomat.com/pacific-money/2013/07/25/fukushima-decontamination-and-cleanup-will-cost-50-billion/

    The clean-up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster could cost five times more than estimated, figures have revealed, as Tokyo Electric Power said on Wednesday that steam had been seen again in a reactor building.

    It is the third time steam has been observed in the battered structure over the last week.

    The government-backed National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology said decontamination work in Fukushima prefecture will cost up to 5.81 trillion yen ($58 billion), far more than the 1 trillion yen the government has so far allocated.

    http://phys.org/news/2013-07-fukushima-nuclear-clean-up-bn.html

    “The Fukushima prefecture has a high population density as does most of Japan in comparison to the US.”

    The State of New York has rural areas. Indian Point Nuclear Reactor is not located in one of them.

  • Bob_Wallace

    I’m sure all those companies were very aware of rapidly falling prices. That you weren’t is neither here nor there.

    Many of us watched the price drop, looked the EIA predictions and wondered what the hell was going on with them. The prices were public and in ones face.

    And now the EIA is way off base with its 2018 wind and solar predictions. They are predicting higher prices five years from now than current prices with both solar and wind dropping in price.

    (Take your fibbing crap and shove it.)

    • Dig Deeper

      “I’m sure all those companies were very aware of rapidly falling prices”

      So you are saying that these companies knew what was going to happen with panel prices and silicon supply and deliberately made investments that would drive their companies to bankruptcy?

      Ok, that makes sense. Oh wait, that makes no sense at all. I won’t be shoving anything sir.

      • Bob_Wallace

        No, that is not what I said.

  • mds

    The cost problem for nuclear has been mentioned.

    The storage problem for nuclear has been mentioned.

    Two other problems:

    1. The commercial sector is necessarily concerned with, and driven by, short term gain, short term profit. They cannot be entrusted with the long term risks associated with nuclear power. (I had become very pro-nuke …until Fukushima …no more.) They will also corrupt their government overseers.

    2. Nuclear plants are no longer insurable. The financial risk is so great if there is a problem that no insurance companies will under-write a nuke plant. Only governments will do this now, which of course means we the tax payers have to pick up the bill. The worst kind of subsidy situation. “You mess it up and I’ll go ahead and pay for it.” No thanks! This is an almost undefined level of financial risk!

    A longer term problem with nuclear:
    3. Nuclear fission is not much different than fossil fuels in the sense that it is NOT renewable. We will run out of fissionable material in the future if we go that route.

    Solar, wind, and Energy Storage will return to exponential growth. They are disruptive technologies. Sorry, but we don’t really need nuclear to replace coal. In fact, it is a waste of money that could be better spent on solar, wind, or energy storage. That has become an economic fact of life.

    • Tony M

      Nuclear cheaper than PV by 3.4c/kWh in 2018 according to EIA

      Nuclear storage costs not exorbitant, many fitting geologic repositories exist, nuclear waste can be burned in fast reactors

      1. small modular reactor program addresses the high-capital cost of plants, making shorter term profits possible.

      2. Nuclear plants are indeed insurable and are mandated to cover the majority of insurance needs, with government subsidy in this area accounting for less than $0.003/kWh.

      3. Nuclear for all practical purposes actually is a renewable energy source. Fast reactors can run on an essentially closed cycle providing enough energy just from current reserves and spent fuel for thousands of years. Uranium is also extractable from seawater and since fuel cost is a fraction of nuclear electricity costs, the feasibility of doing so is not out of question. Thorium can also potentially be utilized and is quite abundant.

      Wind energy is now cheaper than nuclear in the US, but the fact that it is variable limits its contribution and it is not an economic reality that we can replace what a coal plant does with wind or solar at this point.

      • Bob_Wallace

        OK, Tony, you snuck back in. Let me lay it out for you. If you start posting a lot of claims and fail to respond to requests to back them up you will be banned again. And you will not be allowed a third chance.

        Clear?

        Now, if the EIA is correct about the 2018 price of solar, you would have a point. But clearly they are likely far high on their estimates of the price of solar since it’s already being brought on line for less. Five years sooner than their prediction.l

        Then –

        1. That is speculation on your part. Others who have studied the likely costs of SMRs find they could well be more expensive.

        2. Show us something to back your claim that reactors can be insured for full liability. What you need to find is the cost of an insurance policy for $500 billion to $1 trillion.

        3. The cost of building a reactor makes it too expensive to compete in open markets, regardless of the fuel. That is why reactors are only built with massive government (taxpayer) assistance.

        Wind is cheap. Solar is getting cheap. We fill in with storage, dispatchable generation and load-shifting. That provides us all the electricity we want at a very nice price.

        • Tony M

          Bob,

          Im not your enemy, you should stop considering me one. I really know a lot about solar and get excited when I see a field of PV. I just feel nuclear is getting a bad rap based on a lot of misinformation originally propagated by the FF industry.

          How many US locations have a cost of PV less than 14.4c? careful scrutiny of Macho in NM tells us that the true price is above 14.4c.

          First Solar may have a plant or two under that price, but on the large solar is a bit off from their yet, and rooftop solar is significantly more expensive than large-field utility owned installs.

          1. There is debate about the price of SMRs per KW cost comparison to larger plants, I will acknowledge that. The capital costs are the primary hurdle of nukes right now, and SMRs will inarguably lower that figure.

          2. Don’t see where the $500 billion requirement is coming from. And in fact the lack of an accident in the US has made Nuclear power plant insurance profitable for our government to be involved in.

          3. Yes nuclear plants require government assistance. So does solar, so does wind (without the PTC the wind market was projected to dry up).

          That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to build nuclear plants.

          In the end we can keep going back-and-forth about whether wind with storage is adequate to do the job, we can’t know until the storage arrives and the all-inclusive price is known. My guess though is that nuclear is more economic and fits better into the utility model, but I’ve been wrong before, we will see.

  • Others

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/china-pollution-cuts-5-years-off-life-expectancy-7jn5LLM0QAuJz3MA1tAIHg.html

    Pollution from Coal in China is cutting life expectancy by 5 years. Yes if coal related pollution from much cleaner plants in USA could kill 10,000 people, imagine how horrible it will be in China whose coal consumption is nearly 4 times that of USA and also the population is 4 1/2 times.

    Now we can understand why Chinese are building nuclear plants along with Wind and Solar at a record pace.

    • Bob_Wallace

      When China committed to building those nuclear plants solar was significantly more expensive than it now is.

      If we get affordable storage in the next couple of years look for China to cut their nuclear plans. It will make more sense to build renewables and storage.

  • Others

    Westinghouse owns AP1000 which is the World’s most advanced reactor and that company is controlled by Japanese who don’t transfer technology so easily and also charge a lot that makes nuclear power so expensive.

    So Chinese are designing CAP1400 which has 1.4 GW installed capacity and is Gen 3 reactor. They also intend to start exporting it. What Japanese did not do, the Chinese are doing. Thankfully.

    http://www.best-news.us/news-4613253-State-Nuclear-Power-Technology-Huaneng-involved-in-China-39s-first-demonstration-project-CAP1400.html

  • Others

    http://www.livescience.com/32066-melting-glaciers-raise-sea-level.html

    See this article on melting glaciers and rising sea levels. Some of our friends just want to shut down all nuclear reactors with in a quick span of time.

    Utilities will just start using a combination of Coal, Oil, Gas and pass the extra cost to the consumers and industries causing inflation.

    Nuclear power generation capacity is around 370 GW and they work at 85% run time. To produce that much power, we may need

    Either 750 GW of wind (since it runs @ 40 % capacity)
    1,250 GW of Solar (since it runs @ 25 % capacity).

    We should install more wind and solar to first take out the
    Oil fired power plants and heating systems
    then Coal
    then Natgas
    then nuclear.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Is there some reason we need to plow this field again?

      Close down coal and any hazardous nuclear planets. The NG. Existing nuclear will phase out as the reactors wear out.

  • Others

    As per bp stats, renewable energy excluding hydro and bio-fuels contributed to only 1.9% of the World’s energy in 2012. Increasing them to 100% in few quick years can never be done in any realistic way.

    And fossil fuels still command 87 % of the World’s energy. The part left by nuclear is picked up by Coal and Oil in a big way in Japan.

    Of course, the bp stats omits the solar water heating which is quite large and generates so much energy. Still this is a big guide line.

    So even by building few more reactors and dams will not dent the fossil fuel usage. We need to build massive number of nukes, 1,000 of wind mills (high capacity like 2 – 10 MW), millions of solar panels to capture the share from fossil fuels.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Building new nuclear plants will slow our move off fossil fuels.

      Much faster to install wind turbines and solar panels. Cost less too.

  • Others

    Specs of the World’s largest reactor under construction in Finland, France & China. It can increase the power output by 5% every minute, so they can adjust quickly according to increase / decrease in temperature load. Also it reduces fuel consumption by 15% to produce given amount of energy. It can also use different type of enriched fuels just like our Flex fuel vehicles can use Ethanol at different %ages.

    http://www.areva.com/EN/global-offer-419/epr-reactor-one-of-the-most-powerful-in-the-world.html

    While the Finnish and French were facing delays because of labor shortage, China is accelerating rapidly and seems, the placed the dome in just 2 years after concrete pouring. That’s record speed. It’s the same speed at which they brought down the

    http://www.telegraphindia.com/external/display.jsp?mode=details&id=28901

  • Others

    Nuclear power pricing system launched in China.
    It costs only 0.4 Yuan (US$ 0.065 or 6.5 cents) to generate 1 KWh of power in China and the benchmark nuclear power price is set @ 7 US Cents / Kwh.

    Just like China is able to make solar pv panels cheaply, they can also build nuclear reactors much faster since they have industrial labor and materials.

    http://coalworld.net/indexnews/info.jsp?id=75724

    Expect them to export domestically made nuclear reactors to other countries. They are going to supply 1 to Pakistan. This will force other companies like Areva, Westinghouse, Mitsubishi to reduce the price of their reactors as well.

    The days of over pricing will be gone soon.

  • Others

    Of the nearly 2 million barrels / day of extra Oil that was produced in 2012, nearly 1.1 million barrels / day came from USA. Also the declining US oil production in conventional wells is compensated by extra production from Shale oil. So at least some 1.8 – 2 million barrels / day of World’s Oil comes from Shale.

    And what does it cause : Minor earthquakes which could break roads and homes.
    please read this

    http://peakoil.com/enviroment/nature-energy-production-causes-big-us-earthquakes/comment-page-1#comment-49579

    Its high time, we move on to Electric based transport which is very efficient.
    For this, we have to include solar, wind, geo, nuclear in the mix.

    • Bob_Wallace

      As we move to electric transportation we need a lot more wind.

      Solar, not so much. Most people will plug in at night and wind is a perfect match.

      Nuclear, no. Makes no sense to put money into generation which will give us more expensive electricity and take too long to build. Plus we simply don’t have very many sites, probably none inland.

      • Others

        No more sites, there is land to build more highways, more strip malls, more golf courses, but only for nuclear power, there is no site.

        Any where you live, just drive 40 miles away from there and you will see plenty of free space. Nuclear power can be built there. Now we think its expensive because no nuke is built in the last 20 years and suddenly when they go for new materials and labor, its pricey. Once they start building, cost will go down.

        Also the current designs are modular and partly factory built, cost is going down. A costly bid will simply be rejected by the utility.

  • Others

    Here is 1 good news. After restarting 2 reactors and adding more coal fired plants, Japan’s 10 regional utilities consumed 27 % less fuel oil in June. Hope they save money in their oil bill and provide much needed power to the people who endured hot weather days with mild running AC. And the coal is not much worser than fuel oil which is a carbon rich hydro carbon. I guess Japan’s increased solar power usage also helped in this regard.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-12/japan-utilities-use-less-oil-on-nuclear-restart-new-coal-units.html

    Any where in the World the Oil consumption goes up, the price of Oil also goes up and every one has to pay the price. As we speak, the price of a gallon of gasoline is $ 3.58 and Diesel is $ 3.84. If Oil prices hit $120 / barrel, then the World’s economy will start sinking and I don’t want any one to suffer.

    • Bob_Wallace

      That is in no way good news. It’s just news of Japan getting by after a nuclear reactor disaster.

      Good news will arrive with the announcement that Japan has installed enough wind, solar and geothermal capacity to allow them to quit using all that fossil fuel.

      If you don’t want oil prices to drop then work to get more people into public transportation and electric vehicles and reduce demand.

      • Others

        Not only many Japanese use public transport, but they also use the Kei cars (Mini cars) with 3 cylinder 660 cc engine. No other country in the World uses such small cars. And Japanese buy lot more hybrids than any other country in the World.

        We in USA cannot keep buying Pickups with 5 liter V8 engine and lecture them to use more public transport. Japan is a very energy efficient country and people live in very small apartments, we cannot push them higher. The only other course for them is to jump into Pacific Ocean.

        With very high electricity prices, they reduced their Air conditioners and suffered in heat, soon it will go down with more nuclear reactors starting.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Japan is turning on, what, two out of 54 reactors? Some very small percentage of their overall capacity.

          Japan was very dependent on nuclear and it will take them a few years to get all their nuclear totally shut down.

          The US will switch to electrics pretty quickly once purchase prices drop and choices increase. EV and PHEV sales are doing quite well.

          • Others

            10 companies have applied for nuclear restart and they will come online starting in 2014 one after other.

            Other wise the higher Oil prices will bankrupt the country as Japan which used to have trade surplus already has run into big trade deficit by importing Foreign Expensive Oil.

            In fact the higher oil prices are going to bankrupt many countries and bring the World to recession. We already went thru it many times.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “10 companies have applied for nuclear restart”

            What does that mean? Does it mean that they will all get permission or that they just hoping?

            If you’re worried about oil prices then you should put this nuclear stuff behind you and get moving on solar and wind. Use solar and wind and we get more electricity for our dollars and we get it a lot sooner.

          • Others

            Its all fully built nuclear power plants, why keep them idle and consume more Oil.

            Japan can build more solar and wind – to replace the existing oil fired plants, not the built nuclear plants.

            In fact 1 of the plants that was under construction which was suspended, the construction activity has already restarted.

            Its true, Japan will have more solar and wind in the coming years, and at the same time will also be building more reactors to cut their Oil and Coal consumption.

            Their oil consumption increased from 204.7 million metric tons in 2011 to 218.2 million metric tons in 2012.

            Coal consumption increased from 117.4 MTOE to 124.4 MTOE.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’ll have to leave that decision to the citizens of Japan.

            I get the feeling that most of them are feeling like the Germans, Swiss and Belgians. Get rid of nuclear reactors as soon as reasonable.

            Coming off an immense disaster which caused them to close their nuclear fleet I think the Japanese did a stellar job if they held their fossil fuel spike to only 6%. That’s excellent.

            That probably means that they can get the renewables needed to permanently close reactors on line quickly.

            Remember, the citizens of Japan learned something important from Fukushima. They learned that their government had colluded with the Japanese nuclear industry to build reactors which the government and industry knew were not safe.

            Why would you want to trust any of the other reactors? Same sort of industry/government cronyism built them all.

          • Others

            Fossil fuel spike is reduced to only 6%, because they were operating their Air Conditioners at lower level which means they endured the heat.

            Japanese people are so disciplined that they listen to when their government asks them to suffer. Ask the Americans to reduce their Air conditioner usage or size of their Pickups. They will be up in arms talking about right to gas guzzling.

            Utilities increased the price of electricity and the industries told that the government that they will re-locate plants if they are asked to pay higher electric prices produced from foreign oil.

            Just restarting built reactors is much cheaper option to provide power for Japanese industries which runs round the clock.

  • Others

    My point is why not we first shut down all dirty coal and then bloody oil before we touch the nuclear. A category 1 Hurricane Sandy struck 100 miles south of New York City and shut down the city for nearly 1 week and sent a $60 billion bill. Imagine a level 2 or 3 hurricane going any where north of Trenton and what will happen to NYC and its skyscrapers.

    Does this make sense, do you believe in global warming or you think its hoax.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t disagree with you, up to a point.

      I think we should carefully evaluate our remaining reactors and close any that are “iffy”. And give serious thought to closing any that are located such that it would be impossible to evaluate the local population in the event of a meltdown. Indian Point is in a problematic location.

      We’ve built the reactors we have. Even if we close them today they are still going to be repositories of dangerous waste for decades/centuries. If we feel they are reasonably safe then we probably should use them for a few more years while we get renewables in place. Make fossil fuels our priority after we’ve assured ourselves of the safety of the remaining fleet of reactors.

      The Cat 5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO a couple years back wasn’t all that far from one of our reactors. After the tornado was over it was realized that while the reactor was likely to survive a direct Cat 5 hit the backup generator was in a standard, non-hardened metal building. A tornado would have taken down the grid and taken out the backup power leaving us with no ability to safely cool down the reactor.

      Could we have gotten a new generator there in time? Perhaps.

      Did the people running the site figure out this potential disaster and take preventative steps before the tornado? Nope.

      Like other meltdowns and close misses, humans screw up. And nuclear energy is very dangerous. Let’s not build any more danger into our lives.

      Especially since we have cheaper, faster ways to generate all the electricity we want.

      • Others

        Agreed Bob.

        40 years old Fukushima made all the global headlines even though it stood in tact after Level 9 Quake. But the neighboring Onagawa nuclear plant withstood both the Level 9 Quake and 40 foot (13 meter) high Tsunami, but this did not hit the headlines and this plant was commissioned in 1984.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/20/us-japan-nuclear-tsunami-idUSTRE79J0B420111020

        Every nuclear reactor saves $ 1 billion in Oil bill for Japan, where is the credit for Fukushima’s 6 reactors which saved $ 6 billion for the last 40 years.

        Meanwhile 2,000 people were dying in Chinese coal mines alone every year and if you include all other countries, toll may touch 4,000 +. These are direct toll in coal mine accidents. If you take the coal pollution related casualty its 10,000 + every year in USA and the World over, it may run into 100s of 1000s.

        http://www.china.org.cn/china/2011-02/26/content_22008017.htm

        Same is the case with Oil with Wars and Civil Wars and pollution related toll may be equally high especially with upcoming heavy dirty oil. Iraq war is 1 big case.

        But if 1 person dies in nuclear plant, it will hit the head lines in all the news papers in New York, London, Shanghai, probably Mars and Jupiter as well.

        Don’t you smell the hand of Big Oil and King Coal behind all this nuclear tirade.

        I fully support Solar and Wind and I drive a Prius and I enjoy reading all the achievements of Renewable energy in cleantechnica.

        If you want 1 good news on renewable, just read this

        http://www.airgenesiswind.com/

        • Bob_Wallace

          No, I doubt that big oil and coal are behind the public’s desire to get rid of nuclear.

          Big oil and coal can do math. They realize that nuclear is dying on its own without their help. Nuclear is failing for the same reason that coal is dying. New plants are too expensive to build and old plants can’t compete on the open market because of their fuel costs. Oil knows that electricity is going to eat its lunch. And breakfast and dinner.

          Most people realize that nuclear has never delivered what it promised – cheap, safe electricity.

          And they are realizing that we don’t have to make a “coal or nuclear” choice.

          People are aware of what happens when we lose control of a reactor. They’ve seen it at Chernobyl and Fukushima. They want no part of that in their back yards.

          People are getting more aware of all the ‘near misses’, the corrosive leak at Bessy-Davis, the sleeping security guards at Peach Bottoms, the reactor set on fire by an engineer crawling around with a candle at Browns Ferry, the automated safety system switched off at one of the California reactors that went unnoticed for over a year,….

          They’re seeing solar panels and wind turbines and realizing that there’s a third option. No need to suffer the dangers, problems and costs of fossil fuels and nuclear when we can move to safe, cheaper, fuel free renewable generation.

          • Others

            Without Oil and Coal campaign money, there will not be so much anti nuclear news. Do you read any where about the # of people killed in Coal Mines and Oil Wars and the pollution created by those 2.

            No, because that’s suppressed by Big Oil and King Coal.

            And again Coal is not dying, as per bp stats Coal consumption increased 2.5% Worldwide. Oil consumption increased 0.9% Worldwide. Please read the stats at

            http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/about-bp/statistical-review-of-world-energy-2013.html

            Numbers (#) Speak.

            If you think otherwise, please show some link.
            Only 1/2 the Chinese have come up to decent standards of living, the other 1/2 are living a very low life style and the number are even higher in India, even higher in Pakistan, even higher in Somalia.

            And their Coal and Oil consumption will never end.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s coal consumption for the world’s top users in 2011

            China 50.7%
            US 12.5%
            India 9.9%
            Russia 3.3%
            Germany 3.3%
            South Africa 2.6%
            Japan 2.5%
            Poland 2.0%

            Now, what do we know?

            China will return to 2011 levels by 2015. That still leaves them burning a lot of coal but less than now, not more.

            Furthermore the Chinese government has announced that it intends to be a world leader in combating climate change. They are now test driving some carbon pricing schemes in different parts of the country to see what will work best for them.

            The US is actively closing coal plants, the most inefficient go first. It will be physically impossible for the US to increase its coal use to any great extent, there simply will be no spare capacity.

            India has implemented a tax on coal use with the proceeds going to solar installations. India is starting to ramp up both their wind and solar installations and they have installed a lot of hydro in recent years.

            Russia? Who knows….

            Germany is lowering its ability to burn coal. They are replacing inefficient coal plants with a smaller total capacity of more efficient coal plants. In addition, the new coal plants will be capable of load-following which will also result in less coal being burned.

            South Africa and Poland, I don’t know. I do know that both are installing more renewables. SA seems to be quite serious about the task. Japan coal burning is likely a bump in the road while they get renewables in place.

            Now, if I punched the right buttons, that’s 86.6% of all the coal burned in the world. I can’t see where a lot more coal is going to get burned.

            Where do you see it happening?

          • Others

            You have given the share of Coal Consumption of various countries, not the rate of decline. Please give the stats to show by what %age the consumption is decreasing.

            See the latest stats in bp. Here are some

            China : 6.1%
            India : 9.9%
            USA : -11.9% (This year its increasing, because of rising natgas prices). Please see the link I sent earlier in http://www.eia.gov

            Indonesia : 2.8%
            Japan : 5.4%
            Germany : 3.9%

            Worldwide : 2.5%

            This clearly shows Coal consumption is increasing.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I have explained the coming decrease to you a couple of times now. And I have acknowledged the short term increase a couple of times. Don’t you think that’s enough?

            China will decrease. The US will decrease. Germany will decrease. Japan and India will likely decrease.

            BTW, do you understand what some of those increases mean?

            Indonesia burns 0.9% as much coal as China. A 2.8% increase takes that number to 0.94%. About a 0.08% increase for world coal consumption.

          • Others

            I showed the increase of various countries in Percentage in Number from Stats. You are just saying decrease without giving any source of data or number.

            Only 1/2 the Chinese have good life style, to increase the other 1/2, they are using more coal.

            And where does India stand, it has 90% of China’s population, yet its coal consumption is just 1/6 as much as China and it keeps growing at 9 – 10%.

            Did you download the bp stats and check, if not, please see for yourself.

          • Bob_Wallace
          • Others

            They want to cap coal, they want to tax coal, all these are want to.

            But by capping the taxing the Coal, where are they going to produce that extra power. They are still building Coal fired plants at the rate of 1 / week.

            By the way, China is only capping the production, but increases the imports and the consumption, that’s why if you see the bp stats, their production increased 3.5 % and consumption increased 6.1 %.

            Yes, part of it will come from Solar, Wind, Hydro, but part of it will also come from Nuclear.

            Yesterday, 1 of India’s nuclear plants attained criticality and China is building 28 new nuclear reactors. Some of them super large at 1,600 MW.

            http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/China–Nuclear-Power/#.UeHrlI2sh8E

            In the same webpage, its mentioned that
            “Coal accounted for 59% of the newly-added capacity in 2012.”

          • Bob_Wallace

            “And their Coal and Oil consumption will never end.”

            It won’t?

            Obviously it will because coal and oil supplies are finite.

            But long before that it will be very clear to everyone that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels. Why would anyone continue to pay more than they need to for energy?

            Wind reached grid parity years back. Solar has reached grid parity in several parts of the world and capturing more territory every day.

            It’s 3x or 4x times cheaper to drive with electricity than with oil. We’re just waiting for battery prices to drop and then we’ll be done with gasmobiles.

            I don’t see a future for fossil fuels that stretches out for all that many more years. More than 20. Less than 50.

  • Others

    US Coal consumption increased by nearly 10% in 2013 in the 1st 4 months compared to 2012.

    Go to this webpage

    http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data.cfm

    search on By energy source and see.

    The good news is Renewable sources also increased. But the coal took the share from natgas as the prices has steadily increased in the last few months.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Yes, 2013 coal use will be up a bit in the US.

      But it’s not going to climb very much. We’re cutting the capacity to burn. We’ve got around 100 coal plants on ‘close soon’ list. And as many as 200 more could get added to the list when EPA regulations are firmed up.

      Coal is dying. That is not to say that the down slope will be one straight, smooth line. There will be some bounces along the way.

  • Others

    Despite all the grown in renewable energy sources, the fossil fuels have also increased by 2 – 3% every year, especially with coal that has grown 67 % between 2000 and 2012. Seems no one is concerned about this.

    Last year both Japan and Germany increased their coal consumption. These are 2 very advanced countries and if they consume more coal, imagine the state of China and India which are still at the developing stage. Their coal consumption will never end.

    No wonder both the countries are accelerating on nuclear power. With more modular reactors it takes only 5 years to build.

    And China is building Gen 4 reactor which will never melt down and that has been proven. And they will start building this in multiples, probably to replace the coal fired plants which cost them a lot to import the coal.

    http://www.nucnet.org/all-the-news/2013/01/07/china-begins-construction-of-first-generation-iv-htr-pm-unit

    • Bob_Wallace

      Japan has shut down almost all of its nuclear generation. I suspect you know why. That has caused a temporary increase in fossil fuel use. Japan is working on installing renewable generation.

      Germany decided to close its nuclear plants after Japan melted theirs down. That’s caused fossil fuel use to increase a bit. Temporarily.

      China will cap coal use starting in 2015. The cap is set a 2011 levels, so two years from now China will begin cutting their coal use.

      Please give us per year net nuclear generation. With Germany, Japan and the US closing reactors I really doubt net generation is rising.

      China is not routinely building reactors in five years. It’s more like six.

      And we don’t know how many reactors China will build in the future. Recently they lowered their short term planned builds by one-third. Given the rapid decease in wind and solar prices and the problems of finding sites with adequate cooling water supplies China could as easily build far fewer reactors in the future, even cease building them altogether.

      • Others

        Temporarily, a fully advanced country like Germany is still increasing coal along with Japan. So think of developing countries like China, India and so many others.

        By the way, USA has increased coal fired power generation by 10% in the 1st 4 months of 2013.

        A combination of Quake/ Tsunami proved deadly for 1 nuclear power plant, but the neighboring one escaped unhurt. Just because 1 older station went down does not mean all will go down. And if they continue to use coal, there will be more heat waves and more hurricanes, ask them to get ready for it.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Germany’s new coal burning plants are replacing (not adding to) the older plants that either have been or will soon be decommissioned. These new plants were planned and construction was started prior to the decision to close nuclear plants.

          By 2020, 18.5 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be decommissioned, whereas only 11.3 gigawatts will be newly installed.

          Furthermore those plants will be more efficient, releasing less CO2 per unit electricity produced than are the ones they are replacing. And the new coal plants are partially load-following.

          China is capping coal use at 2011 levels starting in 2015. China’s coal use is on the way down.

          Actually several reactors melted down at Fukushima.

          Yes, if we continue to use fossil fuels we will have more heat waves. But those heat waves are already making us shut off nuclear reactors now. Right when we need the electricity the most our reactors go off line. Clearly nuclear is a bad choice for a warming climate.

          • Others

            If coal and oil causes heat waves, they are the culprits, not nuclear.

            See my earlier post, nuclear power plant will not go down just like that. The Fukushima went down because of some systems malfunctioning.

            After this event, the nuclear power plants all over the world have beefed up the safety systems. In fact its the failed diesel pump that’s the cause of problem. The batteries pumped water for 8 hours without any problem.

            We don’t need to keep worrying all the time about nuclear plants and giving a free pass to Coal and Oil. Think of the people who are suffering in pollution related diseases.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Coal and oil are causing stronger and longer lasting heat waves.

            Nuclear becomes a victim of those heat waves and is forced to shut down. Once down, a reactor might take days to come back on line.

            That makes nuclear an unreliable source of electricity. Right when we need power most, nuclear lets us down.

            Coal and oil are getting no free passes. We need to move past 20th Century energy and on to the 21st where our energy comes from renewable sources.

          • Others

            Whenever the nuclear goes down, more coal and oil take their place and causes more heat waves. Despite so much heat in 2012, nuclear power in USA produced 809 TWh of power and that’s just 2.9 % lesser than previous year. Different reactors have different operating cycles and + / – 2 to 3% is common.

            Right now 380 reactors are operating worldwide and not killing people in coal mines and oil fields and thru pollution every day. Starting in 2014, more reactors will come online and the worst will be over for Nuclear power industry.

            But the worst is not over for the World’s climate as a coal fired plant is built in China every week.

            Also 100,000 + , yes 100,000 + new vehicles are sold world wide every day with 60,000 in China, 25,000 in (Brazil, Russia, India) and the rest in other countries and this is increasing Oil consumption.

            Please read about the messy Sands Oil and the Shale Oil.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, the answer certainly seems to be to put our efforts into installing more renewables so that we can quit using fossil fuels.

            We’re not going to stop the heat waves we’ve already amplified. That CO2 is in the atmosphere and it’s going to stay there for a long time. The smart thing to do is to get as much renewable on line as we can, as quickly as we can.

            That will mean that we can at least slow global warming and slow the increase in the number of times heat waves cause us to turn off nuclear reactors. It will also give us more reliable energy when the reactors let us down.

            Let’s face it. Nuclear reactors, at least the ones that are located inland, are going to be less dependable as years go along.

          • Others

            The upcoming Plugins & Electric vehicles will slow charge at night at cheaper cost and that will favor nuclear power to run whole night at base load. Also wind will stand to gain since wind blows more at night.

            Also smaller 100 MW nuclear power and heat reactors are coming up and that will do district heating for small towns in addition to supporting the grid in large cities.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind can produce cheaper than nuclear at night. That means that nuclear will have to incur a loss since it can’t shut down and restart efficiently.

            Solar will soon be eating into peak hour demand and lowering peak prices as has happened in Germany. That wipes out nuclear’s ability to recover their off-peak losses.

            Nuclear having the floor cut out from under it and the ceiling dropped on its head.

            Smaller reactors don’t exist. we have no idea what they would cost and few urban areas would allow one to be installed anywhere close. They would only get placed in most US cities if we used the military to suppress citizen outrage.

          • Others

            China brought down the price of LCD TV/Monitor panels.
            China brought down the price of Solar PV.
            China will bring down the price of Modular Nuclear Reactors.

            These few western companies which mastered nuclear reactor technology priced them so high that nuclear power is also higher. But the upcoming Chinese competition will drive down prices.

            Especially Generation 4 reactor which does not require
            * Heavy Shielding
            * Pipes to carry water
            * Pumps to pump water
            will drastically alter the nuclear industry making western pioneers rethink about their own nuclear reactor technology.

            And the Generation 4 reactor is already under construction in China.

          • Bob_Wallace

            When and if someone makes a better reactor than what has been built to date we can look at the price and see if it makes sense to build more.

            Nuclear energy has a 60+ year history of promising much and delivering less. Nuclear promised to be safe and too cheap to meter. Neither promise was fulfilled.

            Many pro-nuclear people thought pebble bed reactors were going to be the big development that made nuclear world dominate. They did not work.

            Many people have watched a video on YouTube about the promises of Gen IV reactors. None have been built.

            We need to work with the tools we have right now. The nuclear technology we have right now is too expensive and takes too long to bring on line. Spending our money on new reactors would simply be foolish.

            If someone invents something better in the future we can start using that “better thing”. Makes zero sense to build something that’s sub-par now.

          • Others

            430 – 50 = 380 nuclear reactors are generating power without polluting, without causing oil price hikes, without killing coal miners, without causing spills, without having to go to Iraq / Iran.
            What more do you want.

            Many reactors for which the cost has been paid off are generating power at 2 cents / KWh here in USA.

  • Tony Montagna

    So Bob_Wallace bans me from the site (had to register my work email now).
    Please Bob offer an explanation for my banning? I didn’t say anything not supported by fact and i didn’t participate in insults or name calling or profanity as you in fact did.

    Face it guys, cleantechica is a biased site which is clear to any knowledgable person who would happen to read the comments section of this page.

    There are a lot of solar advocates, myself included, that have enough common sense to understand the benefits that nuclear technologies offer mankind. I hope Bob and Zachary can put aside their agendas and become enlightened rather than trying to censor others that have threatening points of view such as myself.

  • Bob_Wallace

    A trillion solar panels. Population peaks out at about 9 billion. That’s 111 solar panels per person.

    I’m going to start with a country which has a modern lifestyle and manufacturing.

    Germany (they lead a pretty decent lifestyle)
    544.5 billion kWh total electricity usage in 2012
    81.3 million people
    6,697 kWh/yr/capita
    18.3 kWh/day

    Now, let’s take it worldwide

    Assume at least 4 solar hour average per day worldwide. (That’s probably quite low. The lower 48 US averages more like 4.5 solar hours.)

    4.6 kW of solar panels required per person

    What size panels should we use?
    140W panels? 33 panels.

    250W panels? 18 panels.

    300W panels? 15 panels.

    • Tony Montagna

      But you didn’t account for the fact that transportation energy and heat now come from ff, whereas they will inevitably need to come from clean power plants in the future. Also the desalination of water will add quite a bit to energy consumption globally. I have the all inclusive energy usage for Germany at 47,000 kWh according to Wikipedia per capita energy usage.

      • Bob_Wallace

        We were talking about electricity.

        You now want to play ‘move the goalposts’?

        BTW, I used CIA numbers.

        Now, no one. No one except you nuclear fan-boys and friends of fossil fuels ever mentions a 100% solar energy supply.

        Would you please cut the crap?

        • Tony Montagna

          Yes we must move the goalposts because it is doubtful cars will be running on gasoline in 2050.

          I only stated 100% solar to demonstrate how many panels. I don’t think you guys are suggesting it.

          So lets say solar and wind can account for 50%, which is still a ton of panels and turbines and batteries, but how do you intend to create the remaining with geothermal and tidal etc when all indications are that nuclear will be cheaper?

          I suppose you would rather have coal and natural gas.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your price for nuclear electricity, Tony?

          • Tony M

            10c/kWh was a pretty good estimate huh? good thing you banned me for saying that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            When you “guessed” ten cents it was very clear that you were posting as if you knew things when you clearly don’t.

            You’ve seen a video, read some things here and there and are actually fact deficient.

            You’d do better to quit trying to sound like you’re informed and look stuff up before posting.

          • Tony M

            Well you were under the impression that the EIA projection was in reverse for solar and nuclear….

            so clearly Im not much worse than you.

            Lets just be nice please.

          • JimBouton

            For countries in South America, Africa, and even developing nations in southeast Asia, do you really think that these are countries need nuclear reactors with the lack of any type of power grid?

            Do you really believe that a typical Thai or Sudanese or Columbian uses enough energy to justify 100 solar panels?

            I seem to remember reading that even if every car becomes an electric car, that the increase in electricity would be a small percentage of the grid. Most people will not need to recharge the entire battery of their car every night. The average driver in the US goes about 30 miles a day. In fact, the batteries will be nice sources of power in the day to make some dollars as an energy provider.

          • Tony M

            electric transportation does not meet the needs of every automobile owner, let alone the needs of airliners, semi-trucks, construction ag and forestry equipment etc.
            All of these mentioned areas will need manufactured fuels which is a loss in efficiency compared to using gasoline. So even if electric cars are common, the overall per capita energy usage will not change much.

            Development of majority of global countries is an inevitability and most will be well developed by the end of the century. Citizens of these countries want Iphones and cars as bad as Apple and GM want to expand their market.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Once EVs get roughly a 180 mile range they will work for almost all drivers. There will probably be a small niche which need ICE or fuel cell range extenders.

            We will need some liquid fuel, whether that will be manufactured fuel or biofuel, time will tell.

            The cars we drive now are only about 20% efficient. EVs are about 90% efficient. Moving to EVs will mean a great improvement in energy efficiency.

            Developing countries will develop. And developing countries are installing renewable generation.

          • Tony M

            Yes I agree about EVs, but I dont think 180 miles is adequate as most people I know have to drive greater than that distance a dozen times a year. The Volt is a the likely model for future cars. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a legitimate fuel cell.

            Semi Trucks, airplanes, and construction/ag/forestry equipment account for a significant portion of overall fuel expenditures, and it is likely that all of these will require liquid fuels for quite some time.

            Yes renewable energy will be a component of energy infrastructure most everywhere.

  • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

    Nuclear fans (and probably employees), as much as it may hurt to admit it, nuclear power is simply not competitive anymore. The only places where new nuclear is being built is where it is being rammed through by Big Boys in politics on the backs of taxpayers or ratepayers.

    In the US, one of the industry’s leading proponents for years has now made that crystal clear:

    “Exelon’s 17-unit nuclear fleet is the nation’s largest. Rowe has previously said that new nuclear power units are not economically competitive in the US, and in 2009 Exelon abandoned plans to pursue an NRC license to build a nuclear plant at a greenfield site in Victoria County, Texas.

    The Calvert Cliffs-3 project is “utterly uneconomic,” Rowe said after a speech at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

    Exelon “operates in a merchant environment. We can’t make a long-term decision that’s uneconomic because we have no regulatory protection for that,” he said.

    http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/Washington/New-Calvert-Cliffs-nuke-almost-inconceivable-6659340

    • Tom K

      Yeah – long live fossil fuels for making nuclear uneconomic.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2013/06/16/fracking-not-wind-killed-exelons-nuclear-upgrades/

      By the way, implying that “nuclear fans” must be industry shills is just inane. The insults here are ridiculous, particularly as we have been trying to engage civilly. If this is what “choosing your sides” looks like (as in the last paragraph of the article), then I can only conclude that division, not progress, is the main goal here.

      • Tony Montagna

        This website is not pro-clean energy as much as it is anti nuclear. Just a few uninformed individuals who never worked in the solar or wind industries and don’t fully understand the limitations.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Bull shit.

          • Tony Montagna

            You never did work in solar bob. I do. Solar is great but saying it can easily replace what the Palo Verde generating station does for instance, is just a bunch of hype at this point. Great if we are adding solar and wind to the grid, but really stupid of us to push down nuclear energy in the process. Just doesnt make any sense.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Little do you know.

            Actually you do know little….

          • Tony Montagna

            Good response Bob.

    • Tony Montagna

      Nuclear power obviously has a future in China and the developing world where energy growth will be greatest.

      And I have news for you: all clean energy sources come in on the backs of taxpayers at this point.

      You must feel threatened by nuclear energy because this is quite certainly an anti nuclear web site

      • Bob_Wallace

        No, Tony. I’m annoyed when someone who clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about shows up here and starts spouting crap.

        I certainly am not threatened by nuclear and I really doubt Zach is either. We both know how to do math and we can tell that nuclear is too expensive. We both know a little history and we know that nuclear can be really messy when it melts down.

        Mark Lynas is a wrong. Badly wrong.

        Top policy makers around the globe are walking away from nuclear. Pay attention to current events.

        • Tony Montagna

          The most powerful man in the free world and the fastest growing country in the free world are not waking away from nuclear.

          You and Zachary never worked in solar. You never did reliability assessments or field maintenance. You assume plants go up problem free and there are few issues. It’s not the truth. Most panels on the market today come from suppliers cutting corners on construction materials, they will have a hard time meeting the warranty.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tell me, Tony.

            Exactly what has the most powerful man in the free world done to help more nuclear come on line?

            (And we are totally aware of quality issues in the solar industry. As well as the steps being taken to assure quality. But, thanks for your concern.)

          • Tony Montagna

            Well PBO assigned two DOE secretaries that were nuke advocates, he backed the georgia and SC plants, pledged half a billion to the small reactor program, and just recently mentioned it in his climate change speech.

          • Bob_Wallace

            $450 million for research. Not a ton of money.

            PBO did not back the Georgia and SC plants. He gives nuclear a bit of lip service in his speeches just like he included clean coal, knowing very well that carbon capture coal could never meet market prices.

            Your nuclear electricity cost?

          • Tony M

            How did PBO not back the new nuke plants?

          • Bob_Wallace

            What did PBO do to back the new nukes, Tony?

            I expect an answer.

          • Tony M

            On February 16, 2010, President Obama announced $8.33 billion in federal loan guarantees toward the construction cost.

            I’m assuming he did that and appointed pro-nuclear DOE secretaries out of free will.

          • Tony M

            Signed off on the Govt backed loans

          • Tony M

            he signed the loan guarantees

          • Tony M

            He signed the loan guarantees

          • Tony M

            he signed the loan guarantees

    • Others

      Except in Germany and Italy, nuclear is built every where and the new countries in the list are Vietnam, Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and so on.

      For base load electricity nuclear is very efficient and economical. The capital cost is very high, so in the beginning year, the price of electricity will be high, but later the cost goes down. Its just like when you buy a new home, the mortgage will be high, but once paid, you live with little maintenance charges.

      Many countries are still using expensive fuel oil for power generation and they get rid of that.

      Secondly the price of coal has increased 3 fold since 2000 because of higher Diesel prices which were used for mining trucks, earth movers and so on. Also the coal exporting countries like Australia, Indonesia, South Africa are utilizing the fact to raise the prices.

      If carl rowe says nuclear is expensive, its because he is friend of many oil men. Do you want to believe in Oil.

      BTW very few people work in nuclear power industry, so there is not many to support nuclear on selfish means. We are just households who are end users and we don’t want expensive Oil, Coal and Natgas.

      Thats the reason I support Nuclear. I bought wind energy for 10 years thru clean wind energy.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Don’t give us the nuclear “perhaps” list. We know that in many countries the idea of building a new reactor is floated. Then what often happens is that people start looking at the actual costs and wiser heads prevail.

        The US list has dropped from around 30 to no more than 5.

        The price of coal is getting impacted by low demand. There was a price spike in 2008. During the last two years the price of coal has been on a slight downward path. Coal in the US and Australia is looking for a market, look for prices to go down.

        Nuclear is expensive and stays expensive. If one adds in subsidies then nuclear is very expensive.

      • Bob_Wallace

        It’s not a nuclear, oil, or coal decision we have to make.

        We can choose none of the above, build our future grid with renewables, and have cheaper/more reliable electricity.

        Nuclear is not cheap. That’s simply not the case. New nuclear would generate expensive electricity which would make our utility bills increase. Even old, paid off reactors are being shut down because they can’t compete with grid prices. We’ve closed four so far this year and as many a three dozen more are at risk of closing.

        If you look around you will find that the world is choosing renewables. Countries are closing coal plants. Countries are closing nuclear plants. The few places that use oil for electricity are replacing it with renewables.

  • Matt

    Even if we leave waste storage and accident out of the Nuclear question (both very big issues). There is several other big issues:
    1) 8-15 year construction – cost overrun a interest risk
    2) Cooling risk, unless placed on the ocean and use salt water for cooling. With the warming of the planet rivers and lakes are getting warm for use in Nuclear cooling. ANd on the ocean you have the whole really big wave risk.
    3) The units are to large. The impact of going of line is too big. WHen a wind turbine stop you loose 1-5 MW; when a Nuclear unit stops its .5-3 GW which is much harder to deal with.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Where would we find an adequate number of coastal sites to build reactors?

      That is, without using the military to remove the local inhabitants…..

      • Tony Montagna

        they are called rivers and lakes
        Obviously we will have wind and solar and some natural gas too so we wont need nuclear plants everywhere.

        • Bob_Wallace

          We’re already closing reactors during heat waves both in the US and Europe. That will only increase as the climate warms. Droughts will make the problem much worse.

          China has decided to no new reactors inland. They recognize that they have significant problems with water supplies coming their way.

      • Matt

        Bob, I was not saying coastal was a good spot. Just that because of their cooling issues it is the only place you can get enough cold water to support a them. While at school in the 70-80 I was pro-nuc; but I learns since then I don’t think any of the current plants a good bets. And anywhere with a big heating issue you would be better to pump cold water up from the ocean and use it for cooling. Runs pipes in your city and have all the building use the water for chilling instead of running air based heat pumps (AC).

        • Bob_Wallace

          I understand.

          I was just adding that we don’t have many coastal areas that would permit construction of a nuclear reactor.

          I can’t imagine it being possible to build one on the West Coast. Or the Northern Seaboard. Or probably Florida.

          That leaves just a few states along the southern and Gulf coasts.

    • Tony Montagna

      and judging from 50 years of nuclear power plant operation how significant is the risk of plants going offline?

  • Tom K

    “The new renewable capacity must make up for the missing nuclear energy before it can displace coal. That’s just common sense.”

    How is that a common sense strategy? Even if you accept or assume that nuclear will play no part in Germany’s long-term decarbonisation strategy, surely it is still common sense to replace the coal generators *before* the nuclear generators? No matter how much you dislike nuclear, you cannot with a straight face say it is actually *worse* than coal?

    Additionally, while Germany’s annual CO2 emissions remain approximately stable at the moment thanks to increased renewable penetration, new “cleaner” coal plants *are* being built as nuclear is phased out. So while they essentially cancel each other out at the moment, high-carbon energy sources are being locked in for longer a time period than they would if renewables were to replace existing coal and then existing nuclear – the coal plants being built now will still be generating energy in 40 or 60 years time.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The people who live in Germany decided that they did not want to live around nuclear reactors. Remember, Chernobyl was in their neighborhood. And when the very competent Japanese melted a few down they said “Enough”.

      Nuclear is more dangerous than coal. Nuclear has a significantly lower carbon footprint than coal.

      Wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, hydro, biomass and biogas do not present the dangers of nuclear and have low lifetime carbon footprints.

      Germany is still on track to cut their carbon emissions to essentially zero by 2050. The rest of us should be doing as well.

      • Tony Montagna

        Nuclear is not more dangerous than coal.
        That is an outright lie which no statistics support. As a moderator you are better than making such baseless claims.

        Modern reactors have very little in common with Chernobyl which was built without even a containment dome. To condemn modern nuclear because of Chernobyl is like saying we shouldn’t fly on modern jets because early flying contraptions crashed and burned.

        Fukushima didn’t kill one single individual, and it hardly has much in common with modern reactors either.

        Solar PV actually kills more on a per/kWh basis. The threat is negligible.

        Germany having zero emissions by 2050 without exorbitant energy costs is questionable at this point.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The choice is not coal vs. nuclear. That’s just another nuclear straw man.

          I’m quite sure the Germans are much smarter than you.

          • Tony Montagna

            I never said the choice was nuclear vs coal. I want wind and solar too.

            “Im sure the Germans are smarter than you”

            -what kind of statement is that even? You are avoiding logical discussion above and going instead for insults.

            This site needs to be more fair and balanced.

          • Tom K

            Hilarious… by accusing Tony Montagna of a straw man argument where there wasn’t one, you employed a non-sequitur (the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise) *and* a straw man (Tony never said it was only coal vs nuclear, so you attacked a false position).

            Additionally, if Tony really had implied that the only choices were coal or nuclear, this would be a *false dichotomy*, not a straw man.

            Perhaps it’s time for a refresher on logical fallacies, man: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logicalfallacies.aspx

          • Bob_Wallace

            Keep up with the discussion, Tom.

          • Tony Montagna

            Admirable word-smithing and grasp of terms there my friend.

      • Tom K

        “Nuclear is more dangerous than coal”? You have to be kidding me? What is the basis for that claim?

        The empirical data suggests precisely and dramatically otherwise:
        http://www.externe.info/externe_d7/
        http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es3051197?source=cen
        http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

        “Germany is still on track to cut their carbon emissions to essentially zero by 2050.”

        Okay, so are you suggesting that the ~12 GW of new coal plants that are due to come on line by 2020 in Germany will be forcibly closed within 30-40 years, well before the end of their economic lifetime?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Nuclear energy creates a different type of danger than does coal.

          Both are too dangerous for us to continue to use since we have safer and cheaper alternatives.

          I expect the 11.3 GW of new coal plants being built to replace 18 GW of less efficient plants stand a good chance of still being available for use 30-40 years from now.

          Germany does not have a supply of natural gas that it can use for deep backup. It’s very hard to predict how much clean generation and storage will be built in the next 40 years, but I can imagine that Germany might have those coal plants in mothballs “just in case”.

          But if we get “cheap as dirt” storage such as Ambri’s liquid metal batteries then I can see the coal plants being gone 40 years from now.

          40 years is such a long time. 40 years ago we didn’t have personal computers.

          • Tom K

            You completely dodged my question. For Germany to get to near zero emissions with renewables by 2050, Germany will have to close the new coal plants well before the end of their economic life.

            I’ll ask again: do you think this will forcibly happen?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think that within 20 years Germany will be burning almost no fossil fuels for electricity.

            I don’t know how to deal with the word “forcibly”. If you mean will coal be forced off the grid by lowering renewable costs along with possible carbon costs, then yes.

            And I answered your question.

            “I expect the 11.3 GW of new coal plants being built to replace 18 GW of less efficient plants stand a good chance of still being available for use 30-40 years from now.”

          • Tony Montagna

            Ok, so then if the coal is still operating 30-40 years from now wouldnt it be better to instead have kept the nuclear?

            You would think one would say yes, but then you would have to assume that that person actually cares about the environment rather than lobbying for an industry.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Don’t try to put words in my mouth, Tony.

          • Tony Montagna

            You still didnt answer the question – would you prefer the nuclear plants or an equal amount of coal?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I would prefer that we carefully study existing nuclear plants and close those which are less safe than they should be. I would also prefer we close any plants which are located where it would be impossible to evacuate the local population.

            Then turn our attention to closing coal plants. ASAP.

            I certainly think it makes zero sense to build any new nuclear reactors. Anywhere.

            I’m not going to tell the citizens of Germany how they should run their grid. Especially as they are so far ahead of us in getting greenhouse gases under control.

          • Tony Montagna

            Actually Germany is not far ahead of us in getting guy under control, I believe their emissions are higher. And you are entitled to your unsubstantiated fear of nuclear power. Have a good day.

          • mds

            …and you are entitled to your lack of understanding of economics. $100 spent on solar will replace more coal and do it sooner than $100 spent on nuclear. This will increasingly be the case. This will increasingly include storage.

          • Tony M

            haha well according to the EIA you are wrong now and in 2018…
            nuclear LCOE 2018: 10.8c/kWh
            solar LCOE 2018: 14.4c/kWh

            http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

          • Bob_Wallace

            haha back at you.

            The price of utility scale solar in the US is already lower than the EIA’s 2018 prediction.

            The EIA is not good at predicting solar prices.

            Solar is already being sold for under 11 cents/kWh. That is a non-subsidized price.

            Solar will continue to get cheaper. It is considerably cheaper in Europe where they used better subsidy policies to drive down costs faster. We will catch up to where they are now.

          • Tony M

            please cite the amount and specific occurrences of solar PV currently being under the 14.4c price projection

            In Europe they spent a boatload of money. 130 billion on PV in Germany in the last decade to accomplish an annual kWh production equal to a 15 billion dollar nuclear plant.

          • Tony M

            Well unlike Germany, the majority of Americans support nuclear:

            WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 19, 2013—A solid majority of Americans continue to hold favorable views of nuclear energy and believe that electric companies should prepare now for new nuclear energy facilities to be
            built.

            In a national telephone survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, 68 percent said they favor nuclear energy, up from 65 percent in September 2012, while 29 percent opposed. Those strongly favoring nuclear energy outweigh
            those strongly opposed by more than a two-to-one ratio, 29 percent versus 13 percent.

            The survey was conducted Feb. 8-10 by Bisconti Research Inc., with GfK Roper, and includes some questions trending back 30 years. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

            More than 80 percent of the survey respondents give reliability, affordability and clean air top importance for electricity production, and three-fifths strongly associate nuclearenergy with those attributes.

            “The survey found double-digit increases since 2012 in Americans who strongly associate nuclear energy with clean air and seven other attributes, and these changing perceptions pushed overall favorability
            up near historical peak levels,” said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research.

            Seventy-three percent of respondents believe that nuclear plants operating in the United States are safe and secure, with 24 percent thinking they are not. Also, 65 percent believe that “nuclear power plants in this area are able to withstand the most extreme natural
            events that may occur here.”

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            It’s not about what one of us would prefer or not. New nuclear (Mark’s thing) is too expensive. Old nuclear is being shut down in places where massive %s of the public saw what happened in Fukushima & Chernobyl & don’t want to risk that in their backyards. That’s the reality.

          • Tony Montagna

            I didn’t ask what the general public wants. Most of us are advocates here, and Im sure many of us influence the general public to one extent or another. So I turn the question back to you:

            Do you want the German coal plants in the event that they are still operational in 10 to 20 years, or Germany’s nuclear plants?

            Likewise, do you want the emissions-free energy from SONGS, or dirtier energy from a mix of Nat. Gas, and new wind +solar?

            I want to know what the agenda is here with this site. Are you guys concerned with cutting emissions or cutting nuclear?

          • ThomasGerke

            In Germany renewable energy sources do have priority on the grid – that means when ever the wind blows or the sun shines (every day) coal & gas power stations are forced to reduce their production (denied the ability to generate revenue).

            The German power sector is not organized as a regulated monopoly. Those power stations were market driven investment decisions by private / independent entities… the market has changed significantly since then, so they’ll have to write off their losses.

            Coal power stations have been build and are optimized for about 6000 full load hours annually – the days when this was possible for mid load power plants are gone. (they are more in the range of 3-4000 today)

            Fewer load hours reduce the cost competitiveness of centralized power stations.

            Will those coal power stations still be around in 2050?

            Nope. It is not written in law (yet) but a coal power station still being in operation when 80% renewables are on the grid would generate massive losses.
            (O&M could not be covered by the few load hours)

          • Tony Montagna

            That is Germany, I think America will go in a different direction within a decade. Net-metering is mostly an assistive program to help RE transition onto the grid and help achieve Renewable portfolio mandates, but it won’t go on indefinitely at the expense of other power providers. At least not in most states.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            @tonymontagna:disqus: the conversation was about Germany.

          • Tony Montagna

            Ok my bad

        • ThomasGerke

          Current law is even worse for operators of unprofitable power plants… they are prohibited by law to close their power stations immediatly.

  • SecularAnimist

    When the last nuclear power plant in the world has been decommissioned, and ultra-cheap, ultra-efficient, mass-produced distributed photovoltaics are producing more electricity than the entire world uses, pro-nuclear zealots will still be declaring that nuclear power is “THE ONLY SOLUTION”.

    • Tony Montagna

      You do realize that photovoltaics can’t improve significantly on the efficiency ratings due to the shockley queisser limit right?

      Due to this fact of physics the world would literally need over a trillion panels plus a whole lot of batteries to completely satiate its energy needs with terrestrial solar PV. Just not going to happen.

      • Bob_Wallace

        And Tony hauls in another straw man.

        Look, Tony, your junk just won’t fly here. No one except you nuclear fan-boys talks about a 100% solar or a 100% wind grid. Not even about a 100% wind and solar grid.

        But if solar was all we had here’s how much land it would take up. And that’s with less efficient panels that we are now installing.

        • Tony Montagna

          Notice I didn’t say anything about land, just about the amount of panels. 200 panels per person is not feasible because of maintenance requirements and raw material constraints alone. Then we consider storage and transmission and it a world powered by solar just isn’t going to happen.

          I am very well-versed in this area, Ive seen this over-simplified map before. Nuclear fission isnt going to power the entire world and neither is solar. They will both have a share.

          Your name calling and mentioning of a straw man are unneccessary, lets stick to the facts.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What! We’re going to run short on sand? OMG!!!

            Your math is wrong Tony. 200 panels per person is way over the top. And you’re back into silly land with your 100% solar crap.

            I think you’ve used up the typical nuclear fan-boy talking points. Check your list and see if you’ve forgotten something.

          • Tony Montagna

            200 (300W) panels for 100% solar yes that is what I was basing my number on because the person I was responding to above, SecularAnimist, suggested that PV could produce much more power than the world needed.

            Never suggested we run out of materials, although the battery issue would have to be examined, and their would certainly be better ways to use aluminum.

            instead suggest that producing and maintaining that many panels isn’t the best use of human capital, nor would it be environmentally friendly. And obviously price volatility of raw materials is an inevitability at that scale.

          • Hans

            A PV system requires very little maintenance. A heating system requires more maintenance, yet every house outside the tropics has one!

            In your way of thinking it is impossible to have cars. They require an enormous amount of resources, they require expensive fuel, they need at least half-yearly regular maintenance, plus frequent unplanned repairs, they require a complicated expensive infrastructure that is for a large part paid with public funds (road tax only covers a part of the cost), and they only have lifetime of ten to fifteen years. Yet, there are over a billion cars in the world.

          • Dig Deeper

            PV low maintenance huh? A half gigawatt natural gas turbine can operate with a staff as small as 25 people. To get an equivalent amount of on-demand energy from PV you would need to install over 7 million panels AND some type of storage system. How many people do you think would be employed on the maintenance staff of such an installation? Keep in mind that PV does not have the best reliability reputation:
            http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/business/energy-environment/solar-powers-dark-side.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

            Automobiles are an economic necessity, as is energy, but PV is not even close to the most economic way to provide our energy, therefore your argument makes no sense. It is like saying that the entire world will switch to steam powered locomotion when evidence clearly shows that steam powered locomotion is not remotely competitive with the ICE.

            Energy needs to be delivered to meet demand requirements 24/7/365. Making this happen solely by means of PV takes multiple times more labor and raw material than doing the same with some combination of coal, natural gas, nuclear, geothermal, and hydro electricity. The economic case for national scale PV simply doesn’t exist, using PV as you have suggested would only mean people are paying more per unit of energy with less income to spend in other ways. Its economically a total net loss which is why it won’t happen. You can mention externalities of other energy sources, but these externalities are not going to be as prominent in the minds of consumers as the excessive cost of baseload PV energy is.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, your claims just don’t hold up.

            PV solar requires almost no labor once it’s installed. For the most part panels don’t even need washing.

            You are correct that PV is not our cheapest way to produce electricity, but it’s on it’s way to be the cheapest way. Along with wind.

            And you are correct that PV solar does not produce 24/365 (and neither does wind). But a combination of solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, tidal, wave, biomass and biogas is where the world’s grids are going to get their future power. And they will fill in the gaps with storage. That’s what’s happening. Adapt.

            PV solar has broken below 10 cents per kWh in the US and is being installed in Europe for prices (~$1.50/Watt) which would give us electricity in the 6c to 8c/kWh range in the US if installed at those prices. We’re on our way to $1.00/Watt and cheap solar electricity.

          • Dig Deeper

            My claims absolutely hold up, yours do not.

            The EIA projects no such grid incorporating a majority combination of solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, tidal, wave, biomass and biogas. That is something you wish for, not something projected by those who are in the know, take a look at the projections for 2040:

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/can-renewables-grow-fast-enough-to-make-a-difference

            PV solar does require labor once installed. panels do need to be cleaned to maximize energy, bird droppings alone can significantly drop the output from a string of cells and an overall panel. Panels regularly blow diodes, have burned cells or other issues. Inverters fail. Maybe a small residential rooftop of PV panels could go 10 years with out needing major attention but a plant of 7 million panels required to equate one average CCGT would need more than 25 full time maintenance staffers. Check with any company that holds more than half a GW of deployed capacity and ask what their headcount is for O&M staff.

            PV in the US is still well above coal, natural gas, wind, and nuclear in average cost, and this is before considering the fact that it is a variable energy source. 10 cents is not a number reflecting average cost.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The EIA is a very poor predictor of the future. Right now they are predicting the cost of utility scale PV electricity in 2018 at $0.14/kWh when it is now $0.10/kWh.

            Their renewable energy predictions have simple been very wrong multiple times.

            There are now two studies (three if you count Google’s) that find unwashed panels do not require cleaning. Yes, the person who provides onsite security might need to take a walk around and wash off any bird poop. That’s about it.

            Panels regularly blowing diodes, burning out cells, inverters failing is a low of hogwash.

            PV in the US is more expensive than wind.

            It is more expensive than natural gas, but the price of solar is dropping and the price of gas is rising. They should pass each other in less than five years.

            PV in the US is cheaper than new coal and cheaper than old coal if we do full accounting.

            PV in the US is cheaper than new nuclear and closing on the cost of old nuclear for some reactors.

            10c/kWh is not the average cost of solar in the US and I did not claim that it is. Please don’t twist my words.

            10c/kWh is the price we are seeing solar hit in the Southwest for utility scale installations. It’s a road marker telling us how we’re progressing on our route to cheap solar electricity.

          • Dig Deeper

            PV is not 10c/kWh on average now.
            I will take their word over yours thank you very much.

            The EIA renewable energy predictions have only been wrong recently because like the rest of the developed world they simply didn’t anticipate China gifting their domestic PV manufacturers with infrastructure to the tune of 30 billion USD between 2010 and 2012. Such a repeat will not happen in light of dumping tariffs and most expect PV per Watt manufacturing cost to stabilize somewhere around 35-40c, leaving PV as a generation source still well above the cost of nuclear before considering its variability.

            “Yes, the person who provides onsite security might need to take a walk around and wash off any bird poop. That’s about it”

            and when you are talking about 7 million panels to equal the output of a ccgt one person wouldn’t even be sufficient just to wash off bird poop, let alone correct other technical issues.

            “Panels regularly blowing diodes, burning out cells, inverters failing is a low of hogwash”

            Not really, if you had actual experience with PV you would know that blowing diodes, burned out cells, and failing inverters happen often enough that you need a maintenance staff of over 25 for 7 million panels.

            Gas has recently dropped in price, it is at an all time low. The idea that PV will be equal to gas in 5 years is completely delusional and isn’t supported by any reputable source. The EIA projects PV to be above 14c/kWh in five years.

            PV is not cheaper than new nuclear. Once again, look at the EIA LCOE cost figures.

            “Please don’t twist my words”
            you compared the 10c figure to the EIA projection for average cost, so no I wasn’t twisting your words and yes you were wrong to do so.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “PV is not 10c/kWh on average now. ”

            Again, no one claimed it was. Do you have a problem with reading comprehension.

            “I will take the EIA’s informed projection over yours thank you very much.”

            You are free to do so. That you take a projection which has already been proved incorrect says something about you.

            “The EIA renewable energy predictions have only been wrong recently because like the rest of the developed world they simply didn’t anticipate China….”

            No, the ‘rest of the developed world’, those involved in solar looked at the rapidly falling price of solar panels (including those made in the US) and at the EIA predictions of price and installation rates and shook their heads in disbelief. It was very clear that the EIA was massively wrong to anyone who was watching what was happening in the real world.

            Birds don’t poop on solar panels as often as you fantasize.

            ” if you had actual experience with PV”

            I’ve been off the grid with solar for over 20 years. I have many friends who have been off the grid for that many years or longer. We simply do not experience panel or inverter problems.

            “Gas has recently dropped in price, it is at an all time low”

            Sorry, wrong. Natural gas prices bottomed out in March of 2012. They are now up about 75% off that bottom and the futures market is anticipating continued price increases.

            http://www.tradingeconomics.com/commodity/natural-gas

            “PV is not cheaper than new nuclear. Once again, look at the EIA LCOE cost figures.”

            The EIA LCOE for 2018 does not include subsidies provided for new nuclear. Add in the cost of loan guarantees, liability assumption and long term radioactive waste disposal and you will understand.

            “you compared the 10c figure to the EIA projection for average cost”

            No. I stated the EIA average and then reported that solar is being installed for 40% less than their prediction in the US and for far less than that in Europe. To accept the EIA prediction that solar will be more expensive five years from now is silly.

          • Dig Deeper

            “It was very clear that the EIA was massively wrong to anyone who was watching what was happening in the real world”

            The entire financial world was massively wrong about solar pre 2011, nobody saw the enormous Chinese subsidies coming hence the huge exodus of EU and US manufacturers from the solar industry via bankruptcy, insolvency etc. A repeat of the dramatic price drop won’t happen again and the EIA projections for 2018 will be accurate given projected manufacturing cost stabilization at 35-40c/watt.

            “We simply do not experience panel or inverter problems”

            and you simply don’t maintain the 7 million panels it would take to equal one ccgt plant either. I reassert that the maintenance staff for such a PV plant would surpass the staff required for a ccgt plant producing an equivalent amount of energy. And that is without factoring in storage considerations.

            I was wrong about nat gas prices, they are at a 5 month low, but nobody is predicting PV will be even close in price to gas in the US within 5 years based on what we know about either today.

            Nuclear waste storage costs and liability costs are included in the EIA projections as they are covered by nuclear operators and usually passed on in rate charges with the exception of the Price Anderson act which provides a modest subsidy to nuclear power plants in the case of an accident, to cover whatever damages might exceed the required ~12bn insurance per nuclear facility. Nuclear subsidies are currently less than 1/3 of wind and solar subisidies, though the energy generated by nuclear power annually is nearly 5x as much.

            The US DOE just last week announced that a new department, the Nuclear Waste Administration, would be created to find fully consented storage sites within the decade since Yucca Mt is no longer a possibility given opposition by the state government.

            EIA does not include land and transmission costs for solar, nor does it consider the cost for variability.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, many of us saw what was happening to panel prices. It was a common discussion.

            Manufacturing at ~35c/W will mean panel prices at ~50c/W. Europe is installing 50c panels for $1.20/W, including the panels. You think we won’t catch up with Europe’s prices? We trail and track Germany by 2-3 years historically.

            ” nobody is predicting PV will be even close in price to gas in the US within 5 years based on what we know about either today.”

            I am. Live with it. Check back in five years and let’s see who was right.

            “Nuclear waste storage costs and liability costs are included in the EIA projections”

            No, they are not. The nuclear industry carries a limited amount of liability coverage but nothing that would approach covering a full meltdown. Long term storage is on the backs of taxpayers.

            How much of that Yucca Mountain costs have been covered by the nuclear reactor and how much by taxpayers?

            “Nuclear subsidies are currently less than 1/3 of wind and solar subisidies, though the energy generated by nuclear power annually is nearly 5x as much.”

            Right now renewable subsidies are at an all time high and nuclear is lower than its historical level. That’s because we are installing a lot of renewable capacity and almost no nuclear.

            During its first 15 years nuclear energy received 10x times as much support as renewables did in their first 15 years. Fifteen times as much.

            Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received average annual subsidies of $3.50 billion. ($185.6 billion.)

            Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion. ($5.5 billion.)

            http://www.dblinvestors.com/documents/What-Would-Jefferson-Do-Final-Version.pdf

            Wind farm owners get a choice between a 30% Investment Tax Credit or a $0.023/kWh Production Tax Credit for the first ten years of production.

            Utility solar array owners get a 30% ITC and can use accelerated depreciation over a five year period rather than the longer depreciation schedule used for capital equipment.

            Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 a new reactor would receive “a production tax credit of 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 6,000 megawatt-hours from new nuclear power plants for the first eight years of their operation, subject to a $125 million annual limit.

            The production tax credit places nuclear energy on equal footing with other sources of emission-free power, including wind and closed-loop biomass.” Wiki

            I assume that number inflates up as does the wind subsidy which has now risen to 2.3 cents in 2013.

            So. That’s pretty equal, isn’t it? Same PTC as wind.

            In summary – nuclear has received many, many more billions in subsidies and the price of nuclear produced electricity keeps climbing.

            Solar and wind have received only a small fraction of what nuclear has received.

            The price of wind-electricity has dropped from $0.38 to $0.06 over the last 30 years. A 6x decrease.

            The price of solar panels has decreased from over $100/W to under $1/W over the last 30 years. A 100x decrease.

          • Dig Deeper

            The nuclear subsidies you linked to encompass military as well as medical nuclear technologies, and are not specific to nuclear energy. The NRC required liability coverage is just short of 12bn for each nuclear facility. Fukushima cleanup efforts are estimated to total less than 13bn.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_disaster_cleanup

            Covering the additional damages of a Fukushima-like incident in the US via the Price Anderson act would amount to a modest subsidy on a per kWh basis to the nuclear industry as a whole given the rarity of such an event throughout the operating history of US nuclear reactors and the immense amount of energy and revenues generated by nuclear facilities in the US on an annual basis.

            “On April 23, 2009, Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and eight other senators introduced legislation to provide “rebates” from a $30 billion federally managed fund into which nuclear power plants had been paying, so as to refund all collected funds if the project was in fact cancelled by Congress”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_repository

            The cost of building a repository that can store decades worth of waste is not significant compared to the revenues generated nation wide by reactors over that same time period. Simply stated the cost of waste storage has a negligible impact on the LCOE of nuclear energy, and is not a detriment to it as you had suggested. All current on-site storage costs are covered by the nuclear industry.

            So in actuality the LCOE provided for advanced nuclear by the EIA does consider liability and waste storage, as well as decomissioning. But the LCOE for wind and solar do not consider land and transmission costs which can significantly change the economic viability of these technologies.

            Nuclear plants should receive an equal if not greater PTC than variable generation sources, because nuclear is clean, and unlike wind or solar it is predictable and dispatchable.

            We will check back in 5 years and see that electricity produced by natural gas is still a fraction of the price of the average cost of PV produced electricity in the US. I can easily live with someone else’s uninformed opinion. No worries ;)

            The US will not continue to follow the German price of installed solar because the US government is not intervening with the affairs of utility providers and municipal permitting processes as Germany has, and the US has no Feed-in-tariff to allow such heavy involvement and competition in the installation sector. In addition the majority of US utilities will require an interconnection fee for all variable generation sources in coming years as we are already seeing in Arizona and Georgia. Net metering is a special and temporary concession provided to work toward achieving Renewable Portfolio Standards, its existence cannot be taken for granted.

            German installed PV acheived a capacity factor of 11% in 2012, well below the estimated performance. Usage of PV in Germany has been in no way economical. Poland and Czech Republic are currently taking legal action to block German Wind and Solar power surges from entering their grid and the destabilizing affects that this power is having on their grid and energy markets:

            http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2013/01/23/germanys-green-energy-destabilizing-electric-grids/

            http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/17/czech-germany-grid-idUKL5N0D43LA20130417

            If only you could remove yourself from a place of such unreasonable bias you could see that technical and economic constraints are real limiting factors when it comes to the widespread adoption of wind and solar. No amount of blind enthusiasm is going to remove these realities, only substantial innovation from where things currently stand can do that.

            If you knew anything about the C-Si cell wafering process and Chinese involvement in this area you would realize that although solar PV has seen rapid drop in cost lately, the technology and manufacturing processes are now mature and such steep costs decreases cannot be obtained, which is why those in the know predict manufacturing costs to level off around 35-40c/watt. Only substantial innovation in PV substrates and cell manufacturing married with unprecedented breakthoughs in energy storage can make solar PV viable as a grid integrated energy solution on a global scale.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Even TEPCO and Fox News admit that Fukushima costs are going to be at lease $58 billion.

            The government-backed National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology said decontamination work in Fukushima prefecture will cost up to 5.81 trillion yen ($58 billion), far more than the 1 trillion yen the government has so far allocated.

            http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/07/24/fukushima-nuclear-clean-up-to-cost-58-bn/#ixzz2bIiKv1RJ

            Independent groups have stated that the cost could be as high as $250 billion.

            And that’s for a nuclear disaster than happened in a largely rural area. The cost of a reactor such as Indian Point melting down could run into the trillions.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “So in actuality the LCOE provided for advanced nuclear by the EIA does
            consider liability and waste storage, as well as decomissioning.”

            Pure bull.

            Decommissioning costs may be covered. We’ll have to see if there’s enough money in those funds. Just a year or so there wasn’t due to the stock market decline.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your post is packed full of misinformation. Let me see if I can point out some.

            “although solar PV has seen rapid drop in cost lately, the technology and
            manufacturing processes are now mature and such steep costs decreases
            cannot be sustained, which is why those in the know predict
            manufacturing costs to level off around 35-40c/watt.”

            A drop from 50c to 35c is a 30% drop. That’s a steep drop over a 3 year (projected) period. And would bring panel prices low enough to permit $1/watt solar.

            “German installed PV acheived a capacity factor of 11% in 2012, well
            below the estimated performance. Usage of PV in Germany has been in no
            way economical.”

            Germany saved $5 billion in wholesale electricity costs in 2012 and avoiding $8 billion in fossil fuel imports. That was done with solar in place so those savings will be carried forward with no additional investment required.

            “The US will not continue to follow the German price of installed solar
            because the US government is not intervening with the affairs of utility
            providers and municipal permitting processes as Germany has”

            More bull. The competitive process has kicked in within the US. We’ll likely quickly catch up with Germany. Subsidies are all about kick starting an industry.

            Except with nuclear where they are needed to keep the industry afloat. Or, more accurately, to keep it from sinking quicker.

            “Nuclear plants should receive an equal if not greater PTC than variable
            generation sources, because nuclear is clean, and unlike wind or solar
            it is predictable and dispatchable.”

            Nuclear has a dirtier lifetime carbon footprint than does wind. And nuclear is not dispatchable. Gas turbines and hydro are dispatchable. Nuclear is even further from dispatchable than is coal.

          • Dig Deeper

            Nope, but asserting that installed costs will be $1/watt by 2017 is certainly misinformation. If you want to put a disclaimer that “Bob_Wallace projects” then that is fine, but no reputable consulting firm or government agency believes that solar PV will be $1/watt installed by 2017, especially not in the US.

            “Germany saved $5 billion in wholesale electricity costs in 2012 and avoiding $8 billion in fossil fuel imports. That was done with solar in place so those savings will be carried forward with no additional investment required”

            Sure fuel savings happen due to PV, but the savings don’t come close to overcoming the ammortized capital cost of PV performing at a pitiful 11% capacity factor. This is purely uneconomcial by any measure. You are trying to play politician by avoiding the comprehensive economics and focusing only on fuel savings.

            “A drop from 50c to 35c is a 30% drop. That’s a steep drop over a 3 year (projected) period. And would bring panel prices low enough to permit $1/watt solar”

            No, I believe the averaged installed cost in Germany is still $2/watt, a 15c decrease in panel manufacturing cost is not going to drop the installed cost by $1, especially not in the US.

            manufacturing costs are projected to drop to 35c by virtue of automation and decreased waste. There is little room to cut costs further with current technology and gradually rising regulatory costs in China, which is why PV panel cost stabilization is predicted around 2017.

            Yes according to the IPCC nuclear does have a slightly dirtier carbon cycle footprint than wind, but is three times cleaner than PV and this doesnt consider storage.

            Nuclear is in fact dispatchable. The French EPR reactor changes output at a rate of 50-80 megawatts per minute—almost as nimble as a gas plant. The CANDU 6 sports similar stats. And the AP1000 reactors under construction in GA and SC can also vary output according to demand, though they don’t quite have the agility of the plants mentioned above. I think you are a little behind on your knowledge of nuclear plants.

            And yes the data you provided on nuclear subsidies did include military and medical funding, not just nuclear energy. Dig a little deeper.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Solar is now being installed in Italy at $1.20/watt.

            I did not say that we will reach $1/watt in three years. I really don’t appreciate having my words twisted. Europe is going to get there faster than the US. We trail their prices by a couple of years.

            Germany may have somewhat low solar resource but they are making it work for them. $5 billion over 30, 40 years is a significant piece of change.

            Nuclear requires storage. Or you can dial back the output during off peak hours which drives the price up even higher.

            Remember, the LCOE for nuclear assumes full output, 90% of 24/365. And drop in production spreads capex and finex over fewer MWh.

            Show me data that supports your nuclear subsidy claims.

          • Dig Deeper

            “Germany may have somewhat low solar resource but they are making it work for them. $5 billion over 30, 40 years is a significant piece of change”

            Germany’s feed-in tariffs disguise the fact that intermittent wind and solar power isn’t cheap at all

            I believe the 5 billion you are referring to was saved by renewables as a whole, not just solar PV. PV accounts for ~1/5th of renewables production in Germany. So you could say that solar PV saves Germany ~1 billion in fuel costs per year. Germany spent over 130 billion on their solar PV fleet in the past decade, and this number will increase every year due to compounding tariffs.

            “Nuclear requires storage. Or you can dial back the output during off peak hours which drives the price up even higher”

            Modern nuclear power plants can vary output to flexibly meet demand, they don’t require storage. All newly constructed plants will have this ability.

            “Remember, the LCOE for nuclear assumes full output, 90% of 24/365. And drop in production spreads capex and finex over fewer MWh”

            This is true, but why would any power-plant which produces dispatchable clean energy be taken off-line in favor of any other source? The data from US operated Nuclear plants tells us that they are usually run near capacity, with capacity factors between 86-94%.

            We have a wind fleet operating at 17% capacity factor in Germany, and a solar fleet at 11%. These numbers will only decline over the years with turbine wear and panel degradation. At times of the year this fleet of renewables delivers nearly half of German demand, at other times it provides essentially nothing. This means that overall installed capacity in Germany must be well above double of peak demand – quite an excessive infrastructure cost. And even when RE production is peaking, there is a large capacity of idling coal and natural gas plants releasing emissions while they wait to ramp up according to the wind or sun.

            Most of us dive into wind and solar with great enthusiasm, but then scrutinize scalability issues and realize that neither can be an adequate solution in regards to global energy demand. Of course, to those without energy industry experience, a sound engineering background, or common sense, the barriers are not fully understood and solar seems like a great option.

            Have a good day.

          • Bob_Wallace

            FiTs come into play after electricity is generated. They do not change the cost of production. (Except for speeding price drops.)

            You could read the link which clearly states a 5 billion euro savings due to solar. Solar has dropped peak wholesale prices in Germany to about the level of late night wholesale electricity.

            When you drop the output on nuclear plants you increase the cost of electricity produced. You have to spread capex and finex costs over fewer MWh. Take your choice, install storage or cut revenues.

            Do you not understand that if you load-follow with nuclear your lower realized capacity?

            “These numbers will only decline over the years with turbine wear and panel degradation.”

            Turbine capacity falls little, if any, over many years. Solar loses about 0.5% per year so a 40 year old panel will still produce about 80% of its original output.

            “This means that overall installed capacity in Germany must be well above double of peak demand – quite an excessive infrastructure cost.”

            It’s simply a financial decision. Overbuild capacity or use more storage/dispatchable generation.

            It’s the same for wind/solar and nuclear. A ~100% nuclear grid would require massive overbuilding for off-peak hours or storage/fill-in generation.

          • Dig Deeper

            “It’s simply a financial decision. Overbuild capacity or use more storage/dispatchable generation.

            It’s the same for wind/solar and nuclear. A ~100% nuclear grid would require massive overbuilding for off-peak hours or storage/fill-in generation”

            http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/mwg-internal/de5fs23hu73ds/progress?id=si7ZsFyfo6
            Last year’s capacity factor for Germany’s wind and solar fleet was as low as 4.8% for several weeks during the winter, and was half of this during a few days, and essentially zero during some smaller time-frames.

            Any fleet of generation that is capable of capacity factors as low as 4.8% for a three week average needs to have backup of near equal capacity, assuming that backup is dispatchable. This means double the investment in generation capacity, adding cost onto an already costly technology. The backup also needs to be idled even when solar and wind are producing, this adds cost and emissions.

            100% Nuclear powered country would need capacity to be ~110% (perhaps a little more or less) of peak demand to account for maintenance outages and demand surges. Though as you had said before, it is best to run nuclear plants at or near capacity to get the best return on the asset, and therefore it doesn’t make much sense economically to scale nuclear generation beyond 50% if substantial amounts of hydro, geothermal, natural gas, and renewables can account for the remaining capacity.

            It makes little sense for anyone who is concerned about the environment to be so opposed to nuclear power, but I don’t need to change your mind so we can end this conversation now.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Overbuilding wind and solar and adding storage is cheaper than new nuclear. And quicker to bring on line. And doesn’t bring the danger and radioactive waste problems introduced by nuclear energy.

          • Dig Deeper

            Actually adding solar and storage is not cheaper than nuclear by any measure. We have an example of this in Germany where the energy created by the entirety of their solar fleet in one year would be equaled by the output one average modern nuclear facility costing less than 1/8th the price. This is without considering the cost of extra capacity that Germany has maintained in backup coal plants which wouldn’t be needed for nuclear.

            Even in Arizona solar and storage is still more expensive than advanced nuclear.

            Your arguments are just becoming silly and completely unsubstantiated. Solar in best case is still a bit above the EIA price for nuclear (without factoring in subsidies for either), and again this is without considering storage. And this is without considering the longer production life of the nuclear facility.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I thought your took your ball and went home. You mean we’re going to have to put up with your faulty claims some more?

            How about we use the non-subsidized price of nuclear and solar. Is that fair?

            OK, solar is easy. It’s now dropping below 10c/kWh and will be 8c or less by the time a new nuclear plant could be brought on line.

            Nuclear, we’ll have to guesstimate. No federal loan guarantees, no taxpayer liability assumption so full liability insurance to cover at least a quarter trillion in damages, and an endowment fund to cover the cost of used fuel storage for the next 100,000 years.

            Oops, nuclear is now mega-expensive. Well over the 8c + 6c in pump-up hydro storage if we stored every single kWh of solar.

            You do realize that the EIA has published some crap in their 2018 projections, do you not? Both wind and solar are already cheaper than what they predict for 2018. And their nuclear price is a subsidized price.

            (You don’t even know that Germany started building those coal plants long before they decided to abandon nuclear and once in place old efficient plants will be closed which will drop Germany’s coal capacity by 7.2 GW.)

          • Dig Deeper

            10c/kwh is not the average cost for PV generated electricity in the US. The EIA projects average cost.

            8c/kwh is a bob wallace prediction

            no nuclear accident costs a quarter trillion dollars, that notion is just bonkers. Investigate what happened at Fukushima (where cleanup costs are an order of magnitude lower) and explain to me how the same scenario will be repeated in the US.

            oops the EIA estimates include the costs of on-site storage, insurance liability, and decommissioning for advanced nuclear reactors. The NRC requires 13billion in insurance, and decommissioning funds to be provided usually included in /kWh rates.

            The AVERAGE price for wind and solar currently are not cheaper than the EIA predictions for 2018. Duh. How hard is it to understand the difference between average and best case cost of resource dependent generation sources. This is like arguing with a child.

            I know all about Germany’s use of coal in favor of nuclear and it is utterly ridiculous as are you continuing to repeat that false information that the average price of solar is now cheaper than the 2018 EIA projections. Just plain untrue.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m getting tired of your f-ing lie about me claiming 10c was the average cost of solar. And, yes, I am predicting solar costs of 8c and lower by the time a new reactor could come on line in the US. That is an average of 8c for utility scale solar in the lower 48. Clear?

            Europe is now installing utility scale solar for about $1.50/watt. That price in the not-sunny Northeast would produce electricity for 8c/kWh. For 6.5c in the sunny Southwest.

            Fukushima is currently estimated for $53 billion to as much as $250 billion, all costs included. Fukushimia melted down in a somewhat rural area. We have reactors in much more urban areas where the cost would be extremely higher. Were Indian Point to pop we most likely wouldn’t even be able to evacuate most of the population.

            The EIA estimates do not include load guarantees, extended liability insurance and long term radioactive waste storage costs.

            “The AVERAGE price for wind and solar currently are not cheaper than the EIA predictions for 2018.”

            The EIA states 8.6c/kWh for wind in 2018 when it is 6c/kWh right now.

            http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/11/us-wind-power-prices-down-to-0-04-per-kwh/

            “I know all about Germany’s use of coal in favor of nuclear and it is utterly ridiculous ”

            That’s fine. How about giving us the start date for Germany’s new coal plants and their decision to close nuclear reactors?

          • Dig Deeper

            Ok Bob, you are entitled to your cost prediction, we will see.

            Can you tell me how a US reactor is going to melt down in similar fashion to Fukushima?
            Any new nuclear facility will be sited to avoid any dangerous proximity to population centers according to current NRC guidelines.

            The AVERAGE LCOE for wind is not 6c/kWh right now.

            I don’t care when Germany’s new coal plants will come online. The fact that they are maintaining old coal plants to push nuclear offline is not environmentally sound. Despite their unprecedented investment into renewables they have little if nothing to show by means of emissions reduction thus far. The whole thing is a charade. The French meanwhile get no credit for having such low emissions for decades.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If we knew how the next meltdown will occur we could get busy and work on preventing it. That’s the point. It’s the unknown that bites us in the butt.

            Like how we discovered that our backup generators were not protected from flooding post Fukushima and from tornadoes after the Joplin (?) tornado.

            “The AVERAGE LCOE for wind is not 6c/kWh right now.”

            Sorry, the average LCOE for wind being brought on line now is 6c/kWh. 6.2 if you want to carry it out another decimal place.

            “The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy.”

            $40/MWh = $0.04/kWh. Add in the $0.022 PTC. (It’s actually less than 6c since the PTC applies to only the first ten years production.

            “I don’t care when Germany’s new coal plants will come online. The fact that they are maintaining old coal plants to push nuclear offline is not environmentally sound.”
            Closing nuclear plants now is not the greenest thing Germany could have done. But they are the ones who have to live with the danger of a meltdown and they simply don’t want that danger in their lives any longer than necessary.

            Since Germany is a leader in GHG emissions I suggest we cut them some slack over their nuclear decision. They’ll get to carbon-free probably faster than any other country.

            The French are pretty carbon low. They are also starting to install wind and solar and have made plans to close nuclear reactors as well.

            Look, if we didn’t have cheaper, faster to bring on line, and safer options then nuclear would be better than climate change. But why buy your can of beans for $1.50 from a grocery store in a dangerous neighborhood when you can walk down the block in safety and buy from your local market for $0.75?

          • Dig Deeper

            “If we knew how the next meltdown will occur we could get busy and work
            on preventing it. That’s the point. It’s the unknown that bites us in
            the butt”

            Well there are these things called science and engineering. We can, believe it or not, investigate the root cause of engineering failures and correct for them in the future. Fukushima is a case in point where a pretty straight-forward failure of back-up generator function led to a radiation leak costing billions. Its not as though we are completely clueless as to how such accidents occur and how we can correct them.

            It is safe to say that the NRC has been pressured to go to extreme measures to assure that no such repeat of backup generator failure will occur at existing nuclear plants and that cooling faculties will work in even such an extreme incidence. New nuclear facilities (which this discussion should be about – new clean energy capacity) avoid this problem altogether by incorporating passive safety systems.

            Germany is impressive as far as per capita energy consumption for sure, but as far as GHG emissions per unit of energy is concerned they aren’t that impressive. I’m not cutting them any slack for being stupid.

            It is good that the French are looking to diversify. I have no problem with wind and solar contributing, but a big problem with those that don’t acknowledge how useful nuclear power is.

            Thanks for not including links with your wind cost quotes. Here an NREL publication on the matter:
            http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/57841.pdf

            “Look, if we didn’t have cheaper, faster to bring on line, and safer options then nuclear would be better than climate change. But why buy your can of beans for $1.50 from a grocery store in a dangerous neighborhood when you can walk down the block in safety and buy from your local market for $0.75″

            What are you talking about here? in comprehensive costs accounting for intermittency, land, transmission, operating life, etc Nuclear is by far more economical than wind or solar.

            Lets stop arguing about it and see how the world meets its energy demand in the coming decades. The sad part is that much more coal and natural gas capacity will be added globally than nuclear or renewables in coming decades. The way things are going right now, significant global warming is an inevitability and geo-engineering may prove to be far more practical than any of the discussed solutions, if any solution is to be provided at all. The ITER scientists seem to be pretty confident that Fusion is achievable by 2020. Lets hope they are right.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Well there are these things called science and engineering. We can, believe it or not, investigate the root cause of engineering failures and correct for them in the future.”

            Absolutely. After Humboldt Bay we spent more money on geological studies to make sure we weren’t constructing on an active fault. After TMI we spent billions on automated systems and worker training. After Fukushima we are spending billions on emergency backup generation.

            After, after, after. Wonder what the next “after” will be? Sleeping guards like Peach Bottom or a terrorist event like was just demonstrated in South Carolina? Will it be someone crawling through the reactor guts with a lit candle and settin it on fire like Browns Ferry? Will it be an undetected leak like Davis-Bessy? Will it be a POS construction like Rancho Seco? Will it be a switched off (for over a year) automated emergency system like Diablo Canyon? Will it be forged safety certificates like South Korea? Or will it be an unknown unknown?

            I didn’t realize that you needed data on wind costs. Zach just published the latest data on the site yesterday. If there’s data you need, just ask.

            “What are you talking about here? in comprehensive costs accounting for intermittency, land, transmission, operating life, etc Nuclear is by far more economical than wind or solar.”

            Except it is not. Even using your low ball 10c estimate nuclear is not cheaper. And that is before adding in liability, loan guarantee and long term waste disposal costs.

            It’s very simple math. 8.4c < 10+c.

            "Lets stop arguing about it and see how the world meets its energy demand in the coming decades. The sad part is that much more coal and natural gas capacity will be added globally than nuclear or renewables in coming decades."

            I'd love for you to quit arguing against the numbers that are looking you straight in the eyes.

            The world is closing reactors faster than it is building them.

            The world is slowing its use of coal. The US is about to close more than 50% of its coal capacity and we are the #2 user in the world. Australia, a major producer of coal, is closing coal plants. China, the #1 consumer of coal is capping coal use at 2011 levels starting in 2015. That means that they will be burning 6% less per year than they burned in 2012.

            Even if fusion is proven by 2020 it would take another decade or so to prove it out on a commercial level and then more decades before it became a major contributor.

            It's time to get cracking with wind and solar and push hard on storage to replace NG. That's our cheapest, fastest and safest route away from fossil fuels.

          • Dig Deeper

            “After, after, after. Wonder what the next “after” will be? Sleeping
            guards like Peach Bottom or a terrorist event like was just demonstrated
            in South Carolina? Will it be someone crawling through the reactor
            guts with a lit candle and settin it on fire like Browns Ferry? Will it
            be an undetected leak like Davis-Bessy? Will it be a POS construction
            like Rancho Seco? Will it be a switched off (for over a year) automated
            emergency system like Diablo Canyon? Will it be forged safety
            certificates like South Korea? Or will it be an unknown unknown?”

            How many deaths has commercial nuclear energy caused in the US? The answer is zero, but from your list above and the level of fear you exhibit you would think that number would be tens of thousands.

            Listen, the risks associated with nuclear power are not that great compared to many other routine activities that humans participate in routinely. Among energy options it is low risk.

            The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis carried out on modern reactors are unlike anything available in previous decades. Your fear is just ignorance, in fact I’m pretty sure you are not really afraid of a nuclear accident happening in the US because you have enough common sense to see that its not going to happen, you just really like solar energy and nuclear threatens you for some reason.

            “It’s very simple math. 8.4c < 10+c"

            no its not that simple, providing stable and demand following energy from wind and solar is much more involved than you realize. Im going to take the informed opinion of the EIA over Bob Wallace's hopes and dreams.

            "The world is slowing its use of coal."

            Umm… no thats false, if you mean the rate at which we are building new coal plants could slow a bit, that could be partially true, but the fact remains that we are still building more new coal capacity annually than any other source as a planet and that trend is likely to continue due to economics:

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/can-renewables-grow-fast-enough-to-make-a-difference

            The part about China capping coal is a goal which I somehwat doubt will be met unless they begin domestic fracking or economic growth slows greatly.
            Solar PV is way down on the list as far as maximizing emissions reduction per $ invested. Energy efficiency (appliances, insulation etc), electrified transport, natural gas, nuclear energy, and wind energy are all much more practical options than solar PV.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We going to play the deaths game now?

            We can’t. We do not have data for the number of people killed constructing and operating nuclear reactors. (A least two deaths, one in the US and one in Canada, in the last year.)

            Yes, we haven’t killed anyone in the US (ignore other countries) with radiation lately. We did early on. But we have yet to kill a wind farm worker with wind or a solar farm worker with sunshine.

            “no its not that simple, providing stable and demand following energy from wind and solar is much more involved than you realize.”

            I know a hell of a lot more than you realize. I’m feeding you simplified arguments in hope you can understand them.

            You can doubt China’s decision to cut coal use if you like. So far China met, no, exceeded every renewable energy goal they’ve set. If you need to believe that won’t meet this one that’s up to you.

            It’s very unlikely India will increase their coal use to any extent. Shipping costs are too high and India’s solar and wind industries are taking off. India just killed its most recent coal plant proposal.

            I’m not going to spend time playing the coal game with you. You are poorly informed and just grasping for straws.

            If you believe that nuclear is the world’s future then you should invest your future in it. Personally, I expect you’d end up among the homeless begging for coins.

          • Dig Deeper

            “I know a hell of a lot more than you realize. I’m feeding you simplified arguments in hope you can understand them”

            Do you have a linkedin account? I would like to see your credentials.

            Sorry but based on some of the strange things I’ve been reading from you, and the totally non-sensical arithmetic you are providing I’m not buying that you know very much at all about large scale electrical generation and distribution. I doubt you know much at all about basic electrical principles. You need to have at least an introductory education in electrical engineering to understand how variable generation sources can affect the power quality of a modern day grid system, and also how they affect the profitability of dispatchable generators and the rates for the consumer base. You don’t have such an education or related experience and you don’t have the background to understand the full scope of what interconnecting large amounts of solar entails, do you? Your opinion that it can be done so seamlessly hasn’t been demonstrated on a large scale anywhere in the real world, in fact the opposite has been shown thus far:

            http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/instability-in-power-grid-comes-at-high-cost-for-german-industry-a-850419.html

            http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/17/czech-germany-grid-idUKL5N0D43LA20130417

            If you want to say electric cars are a sensible approach to urban transport, or that widely adopted veganism could reduce emissions immensely I’m on board because the data supports both of these ideas. But the idea that a GW of solar panels as we know them can be as economical to produce on-demand electricity as a GW of nuclear power (which is already prohibitively expensive in the free market), well thats just totally false. You and the rest of the nation would be best advised to invest our money into solutions that maximize emissions reduction per dollar spent. Solar is near the bottom of the list in that regard.

            Thank you for your unsubstantiated projections about the future cost of solar at 8c/kWh within 6 years, a false figure for the current LCOE cost of wind (wholesale price is different than LCOE), and a bunch of non-sense about how storage capacity is used.

            You can have the last word, I don’t plan to respond.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” But the idea that a GW of solar panels as we know them can be as economical to produce on-demand electricity as a GW of nuclear power (which is already prohibitively expensive in the free market), well thats just totally false.”

            Making up a claim for someone else is not acceptable behavior, regardless of your field of education.

            You are right, solar can’t produce “on-demand” electricity.

            Oh, wait, neither can nuclear. It takes many hours/days to turn on a nuclear reactor. Most likely the Sun will shine before you can crank up a reactor. If you want on-demand electricity from either solar or nuclear it has to be stored power.

            “Thank you for your unsubstantiated projections about the future cost of solar at 8c/kWh within 6 years, a false figure for the current LCOE cost of wind (wholesale price is different than LCOE”

            You are welcome.

            And thank you for letting me use your silly 10c/kWh for electricity from new nuclear when there is no record of anyone being willing to build a new reactor for less than 15c/kWh.

            And thank you for letting me predict that utility scale solar will be installed in the US for 8c/kWh five years from now, the price now seen in Europe. That we would catch up with Europe’s efficiency in five years wouldn’t be seen by many as a stretch.

            And that you for claiming that I posted a false claim for the LCOE of wind when, in fact, I clearly posted the current wholesale price of wind.

            Yes, wholesale price is different than LCOE so when someone reports the current average PPA price they are reporting the wholesale price.

          • Bob_Wallace

            BTW, you wind cost link predicts 6c/kWh in 2012-13 which is what the cost of wind has been recently. 6c/kWh.

          • Dig Deeper

            Nothing to be sorry about.

            Check with any big PV installation outfit and ask how many full-time staffers they have in their maintenance department per MW of installed capacity. You will see that my claim that CCGTs have far fewer staff per unit of produced energy (particularly in construction) holds up.

            Check what the EIA projects for energy generation by source for 2040 and you will see that your claims about a future energy mix don’t hold up.

            Check with the EIA on the LCOE cost of PV now and in the near future and you will see that 10c/kWh is not the average price for PV generation.

            Have fun with your lies and misinformation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Since you posted the same ‘stuff’ a few minutes earlier I’ll just copy my reply. Sorry about the line feed stuff, but Disqus has a problem….

            The EIA is a very poor predictor
            of the future. Right now they are predicting the cost of utility scale
            PV electricity in 2018 at $0.14/kWh when it is now $0.10/kWh.

            Their renewable energy predictions have simple been very wrong multiple times.

            There are now two studies (three if you count Google’s) that find
            unwashed panels do not require cleaning. Yes, the person who provides
            onsite security might need to take a walk around and wash off any bird
            poop. That’s about it.

            Panels regularly blowing diodes, burning out cells, inverters failing is a low of hogwash.

            PV in the US is more expensive than wind.

            It is more expensive than natural gas, but the price of solar is
            dropping and the price of gas is rising. They should pass each other in
            less than five years.

            PV in the US is cheaper than new coal and cheaper than old coal if we do full accounting.

            PV in the US is cheaper than new nuclear and closing on the cost of old nuclear for some reactors.

            10c/kWh is not the average cost of solar in the US and I did not claim that it is. Please don’t twist my words.

            10c/kWh is the price we are seeing solar hit in the Southwest for
            utility scale installations. It’s a road marker telling us how we’re
            progressing on our route to cheap solar electricity.

        • Tom K

          Do you actually know what a straw man argument is? It has a very specific meaning in formal logic.

          Here’s a good example: “What! We’re going to run short on sand? OMG!!!”

          Tony never suggested that we would run out of sand, but you are attacking a position that suggests he did. That is a straw man.

          (However, I disagree with Tony that we will run out of any materials for solar PV).

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tony suggested we would run out of materials for solar panels. Sand. We get silicon and glass from sand.

            Here’s my entire reply. Hopefully you will notice that there is no mention of a straw man in it.

            “What! We’re going to run short on sand? OMG!!!

            Your math is wrong Tony. 200 panels per person is way over the top. And you’re back into silly land with your 100% solar crap.

            I think you’ve used up the typical nuclear fan-boy talking points. Check your list and see if you’ve forgotten something.”

            Now please get back on topic Tom.

          • Tony Montagna

            Never suggested we run out of materials, although the battery issue would have to be examined.

            instead suggest that producing and maintaining that many panels isn’t the best use of human capital, nor would it be environmentally friendly.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Tony, what solution are you proposing? Clearly, we’re not going to be 100% powered by PV. There’s also wind, hydro, geothermal, perhaps tidal, wave, and OTEC. But, clearly, nuclear as we know it today won’t compete.

          • Tony Montagna

            I was only discussing 100% PV in response to the originator of this thread, see above. I work in the PV industry it will certainly contribute but I think it is good for people to know about the practicalities of each and not assume that the world will be entirely solar powered because other industries need support as well.

            Clearly smaller reactors would be an improvement, but how can you say nuclear as we know it will not compete when what is happening in China, the middle east, and other parts of the developing world clearly contradicts that statement.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Where did Karl suggest we would build a 100% PV grid?

          • Tom K

            “When the last nuclear power plant in the world has been decommissioned, and ultra-cheap, ultra-efficient, mass-produced distributed photovoltaics are producing *more electricity than the entire world uses*”

            (emphasis mine)

            Supplying more power than the entire world uses is >100% of demand. Tony never actually said anything about a 100% PV *grid*… he’s referring to 100% of current demand, as brought up by SecularAnimist.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you not know that we have more generating capacity than we actually use at any one time? That this has been the case before the first wind turbine or solar panel came on line?

            Do you understand that we must have the ability to generate more power than we use in order to deal with capacity outages?

          • Tom K

            Which has nothing to with what we were talking about…

          • Tony Montagna

            It was secularalarmist saying PV would provide more energy than the world needed” that I was replying to with the whole 100% PV thing

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, Tony, let’s do this a different way.

            Give us what you think is the best kWh/MWh price you think a new nuclear reactor could deliver in the United States.

            Be sure to include taxpayer supports including loan guarantee, liability assumption, and waste disposal.

            Give us an “all in” number. All external costs covered.

            Let’s see if we’re anywhere on the same page.

          • Tony Montagna

            Idk the US is really peanuts in the large picture.

            But anyway I think modular reactors could get to 10c eventually. We will see.

            Nuclear was once called ‘too cheap to meter’ for a reason. If you don’t understand the how’s and whys about how cost increase then you hardly have enough information to right it off because there is certainly room for cost reduction in nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Thank you, Tony.

            Now we know that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            Tell you want I’m going to do. I’m going to give you a little time out. Why don’t you take a day or two and figure out how expensive new nuclear might be. I’ll even help you out.

            Here’s a couple of places to get started. And remember to use a search engine to find more….

            http://www.vermontlaw.edu/Documents/Cooper%20Report%20on%20Nuclear%20Economics%20FINAL%5B1%5D.pdf

            http://energyeconomyonline.com/Nuclear_Costs.html

            Read up. Check back first of the week. I’ll try to remember where I left you….

          • Tom K

            If you’re going to talk about the US, EIA LCOE estimates for 2018 put advanced nuclear at 10.8 c/kWh. Solar PV is estimated at 14.4 c/kWh. This does not include the costs of additional transmission infrastructure in a distributed high-renewable-penetration grid, or (alternatively) large-scale storage.

            Decommissioning and waste management are already included in nuclear LCOE calculations. “Tax payer supports” (loan guarantees or subsidies) are part of *income generated* not cost incurred and, as such, are not (and should not be) included in LCOE estimates.

            http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

            I await your dismissal of the EIA figures…

          • Bob_Wallace

            I await your inclusion of the cost of loan guarantees, extended liability, and long term waste storage.

            You can find estimates on line of what 100% liability coverage insurance would cost.

            Nuclear does not pay the cost of spent fuel disposal. That’s on taxpayers.

            And taxpayers are at risk for Southern Company getting another year down the line, realizing that they would totally lose their shorts if they finish Vogtle, and walk away as has happened with so many nuclear projects.

            We, the taxpayers, have to pay the loan if they default.

            As far as solar, the EIA has a track record of underestimating the future price of solar. They continued to predict high prices while it was obvious to everyone else that panel prices were falling very rapidly.

            Right now PV solar is being installed and selling for about 10 cents/kWh. That is the selling price with subsidies backed out. Actually ‘with subsidy’ prices are far lower.

            Right now large scale solar is being installed in Europe for around $1.50/watt. We can do that. We almost certainly will be doing that before 2018. In fact, solar will probably close to $1/watt by 2018. No subsidies included.

            $1.50/watt in a ‘not so sunny’ part of the lower 48 would produce a LCOE of 7.3 cents per kWh, using the same financing terms that the EIA uses. Add in their 1 cent O&M and their 4 cent transmission costs and they are at least a couple pennies high. Based on only $1.50/watt.

            $1/watt would make it 4.9 cents plus 5 for O&M and transmission. Ten cents.

            $1/watt in the sunny Southwest would mean electricity at 3.8 cents. Add in the 5 and we’re under nine cents.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            You probably meant to say just the opposite: “As far as solar, the EIA has a track record of underestimating the future price of solar.”

            As in the EIA always overestimates the price of solar and underestimates the prices of industries that are controlled by monopolies.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yeah, that, thanks.

            The EIA does a good job of laying what has already happened. But I suspect that being a government agency they have to be pretty conservative about calling the future. They pretty much have to play it safe or run into funding difficulties.

            Their predictions see to me to be based “if things continue as they have been going…”.

            Whereby we are free to look at the fact that there are multiple routes for panel prices to drop by a third before 2018. And the fact that solar is being installed at much better prices in Germany, England, Spain and Australia than in the US right now. Those prices will spread to the US, we can purchase parts at the same cost and we’re a competitive economy once we get going.

          • Matt

            So if the government pays all the costs then the LCOE is free? What world do you live in, where do think the free government support comes from.

          • Tom K

            It doesn’t matter who funds the construction or O&M costs, it is all still expenditure. So even if it is 100% government funded, the LCOE remains the same (it would obviously be much, much more profitable for the operators in this case – but this is irrelevant to LCOE calculations). There is no such thing as a “free” LCOE.

          • Tony M

            You likely misunderstand nuclear subsidy realities, see my comment above ^

          • Tony M

            Solar advocates claim that nuclear generation carries heavy subsidies as well, including waste disposal costs, decommissioning costs, and liability limits on nuclear accidents, that result in nuclear costing substantially more than its sticker price. These claims are, however,
            either incorrect or exaggerated.

            The NRC requires plant operators to accumulate decommissioning funds over the operating life of the plant. Some utilities collect the money for decommissioning through ratepayers, while others set aside a lump sum at the beginning of operation. All nuclear operators in the US are required to pay into a federal fund to handle spent nuclear fuel deposition, and most utilities pass this fee on directly to ratepayers. According to an MIT analysis, the all-in costs of decommissioning amount to just $0.001-0.003/kWh. Similar funds are required of nuclear operators elsewhere around the world. These costs are included in EIA and IEA estimates of the levelized cost of new nuclear power generation.

            Limited liability, via the Price-Anderson Act, likewise can be considered a subsidy. However the value of the subsidy is extremely modest. Nuclear power operators are required to purchase private liability
            insurance, which covers $375 million for offsite damages. In addition, every reactor operator must pay into a second tier of insurance in the event of an accident up to $11.6 billion. Only after these insurance
            pools are depleted does Congress have the authority
            to allocate federal money to cover damages. It is this guarantee that some consider an implicit subsidy, which given a Fukushima-type accident, would infer a subsidy of about $2 million per reactor per year, or $0.0003/kWh.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve explained multiple times why the EIA forecast for solar is wrong. Both in this thread and on the other site where this discussion occurred.

            And you are misrepresenting the EIA 2018 price of solar. Transmission is included.

            Storage and backup is never included in either LCOE or ‘total LCOE’. All generation technologies require backup and we built massive amounts of storage in order to incorporate nuclear on our grids.

            Continuing to post this claim on your part without acknowledging my response is spamming.

          • Tony M

            But I did know what I was talking about, as supported by the US EIA…

            http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

            So thanks for banning me Bob.

          • Peter Gray

            To answer the question you asked many times below, Tony – for what it’s worth, I’d prefer that remaining fossil-driven generators be nuclear rather than coal or even gas, given the choice. But I don’t see the sense of building new ones of either kind unless they can truly pay their own way, including externalities, waste disposal, and risk. Nuclear has had its chance for more than half a century.

            You’re going to quote “too cheap to meter” as evidence? Really? Might want to check your history on who, why, and when that was said.

            WHEN: 59 years ago. With 6+ decades to work on it, has this or anything remotely close happened? Anywhere? No, and it’s not just because of citizens’ irrational nuclear phobias.

            WHO: AEC chairman Lewis Strauss, an all-nuke advocate if there ever was one. He was referring to fusion power, which he thought was just around the corner. Guess what? It’s still just around the corner, except the corner is farther away than ever. He wasn’t talking about fission plants.

            WHY: Strauss was trying to sell nuclear energy to a skeptical public. Maybe he believed it, maybe not, but surely he was deafened by spending a lot of time in the AEC secret echo chamber.

            Those are the reasons nuclear was once called too cheap to meter. Not because there was any truth to the notion.

          • Tony M

            Thanks for correcting me on the too cheap to meter quote, that’s an interesting piece of history.

            (btw Im using a different name because Bob banned my other user name. I dont think it was fair given my civil behavior but whatever)

            As far as nuclear externalities you might actually be a bit misinformed about the actual costs and how they are covered…

            Solar advocates claim that nuclear generation carries heavy subsidies as well, including waste disposal costs, decommissioning costs, and liability limits on nuclear accidents, that result in nuclear costing substantially more than its sticker price. These claims are, however, either incorrect or exaggerated.

            The NRC requires plant operators to accumulate decommissioning funds over the operating life of the plant. Some utilities collect the money for decommissioning through ratepayers, while others set aside a lump sum at the beginning of operation. All nuclear operators in the US are required to pay into a federal fund to handle spent nuclear fuel deposition, and most utilities pass this fee on directly to ratepayers. According to an MIT analysis, the all-in costs of decommissioning amount to just $0.001-0.003/kWh. Similar funds are required of nuclear operators elsewhere around the world. These costs are included in EIA and IEA estimates of the levelized cost of new nuclear power generation.

            Limited liability, via the Price-Anderson Act, likewise can be considered a subsidy. However the value of the subsidy is extremely modest. Nuclear power operators are required to purchase private liability insurance, which covers $375 million for offsite damages. In addition, every reactor operator must pay into a second tier of insurance in the event of an accident up to $11.6 billion. Only after these insurance pools are depleted does Congress have the authority to allocate federal money to cover damages. It is this guarantee that some consider an implicit subsidy, which given a Fukushima-type accident, would infer a subsidy of about $2 million per reactor per year, or $0.0003/kWh.

          • Peter Gray

            Thanks for that information, Tony. I have no grounds for disputing you on the nuclear subsidies, and I may have been listening to too much of the anti-nuke gospel. However, I don’t automatically trust the version you’re hearing, either. If it’s true that the subsidized portion of insurance is so tiny, then why not charge each reactor $2M/yr, put it into an invested fund, and be done with it? I don’t think that’s the whole story, either. For one thing, we need to look carefully at how those risks are calculated, on which assumptions, which incidents are conveniently left out, etc..

            I don’t think it’s fair for you to be banned from this discussion, and I’m surprised/disappointed to hear it. It’s a moderator judgement call whether someone is being a disruptive troll, but I’ve seen no indication that you are. Banning someone for arguing with the moderator, or not sticking with the prevailing site sentiment, is unhealthy, leads to blind spots, and ultimately reduces the comment board to nothing but a lefty version of Fox News.

          • Tony M

            Yes it is worth a careful look, that is for sure, and I have not done that to the full extent yet. The asserted figures are also dependent on the real costs of such an accident, the total of which is subject to much debate. This specific figures are based on the projected costs of the Fukushima accident and how they would be covered in the US system with mandated coverage minimums.

            Yes, we could allocate 2M/year from each reactor into a fund and be done with it, but holding that money may be more messy logistically than just having the government immediately provide assistance. I think the other issue is that the real extent of such an accident is unknown, and there is possibility for such a pool of funds to be insufficient. I believe action can be taken more expediently with the Price-Anderson Indemnity act than through other allocation methods.

            Nonetheless the deeper you dig into this issue the more baseless the claims about enormous nuclear liability subsidy become.

            I am not here to say we shouldn’t use wind or solar, to the contrary I believe we absolutely should. I am only here to point out that there is a lot of crap being propagated about nuclear energy that doesn’t stand up to careful scrutiny.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Fukushima melted down in a rural area with only some villages in the evacuation/exclusion zone. Fukushima is projected to cost $250 billion or more.

            What would the cost be were one of our reactors located to a high density population area melted?

            How much money should the industry be putting away each year to assure taxpayers wouldn’t end up paying the majority if the cost?

            Please answer the question, Tony.

          • Tony M

            Oh the Physicians for Social responsibility estimate huh? Because the wikipedia page (which of course references several reputable sources other than just wikipedia) says this about clean up costs:

            “First estimates included costs as high as 13 billion $ (1 trillion yen),as cited by the Japanese Prime Minister at the time, Yoshihiko Yoda. However, this estimate was made before the scope of the problem was known. It seems that the contamination was less than feared. No strontium is detectable in the soil,[1] and though the crops of the year of the disaster were contaminated, the crops produced by the area now are safe for human consumption.”[2]

            Since the exclusion zone is 11 square kilometers of semi-rural land, it is hard to imagine that an estimate of $250 billion is at all realistic, especially given what we know now about the less than anticipated extent and severity of radiation spread.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, since TEPCO, the company that owns the reactors, is estimating at least 11
            trillion yen ($137 billion) to cover costs we discover that, yet again, you mislead. Perhaps out of a lack of knowledge, perhaps intentionally.

            And, again, you fail to answer a direct question.

            This is the sort of stuff that got you banned before, Tony. And it is the sort of stuff that can bring on a return performance.

            There is no room here for someone who dilutes the conversation with non-factual input.

          • Tony M

            Yes Bloomberg seems to report Tepco estimated they would need 137 billion a year ago, not sure where that stands today, and how those costs are different than the clean up estimates of 13 billion.

            So please divide your assumed cost by the amount of kWh’s produced by collective US reactors over several decades, because that is what we have with the Price-Anderson legislation. The probability of an accident is low, but the cost of one occurrence has been demonstrated to be high (even 10 billion is high) but the amount of revenue generated by reactors collectively is so massive that the cost of such an accident doesn’t effect the economic viability of nuclear power. Only natural gas does really.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, TEPCO stated *at least* $137 billion to clean up a rural area.

            You still to refuse to answer questions, don’t you Tony?

            Here, I’ll answer it for you.

            If all our reactors were located in rural areas similar to Fukushima then the nuclear industry would either need to have at least $137 billion in liability insurance or at least $137 billion sitting in the bank to be used to reimburse the cost of a meltdown. $137 billion, possibly $250 billion, possibly more.

            Since some of our reactors are located near urban areas that number should be not “at least” $137 billion, but trillions.

            So, who is assuming the liability that the nuclear industry is failing to shoulder?

            Taxpayers, Tony, taxpayers.

            It’s a very expensive subsidy we provide nuclear. And it is uniquely a nuclear subsidy.

          • Tony M

            Well based on the specifics of how the accident occurred, I feel that the likelihood that such an event will happen in the United States is very very very low.

            Also I would say that new nuclear reactors should be built in rural areas to mitigate the risk further. I believe all new reactors will be sited carefully to consider this.

            Given that an Earthquake and Tsunami occurred as well it is hard to discern the real-cost of the meltdown without solid data. Much of the money TEPCO was borrowing from the Government was for an operational bail-out as they had their entire nuclear fleet shut-down and the country wanted to maintain the workforce.

            This whole idea that nuclear is unviable because of liability costs is completely unfounded. Fukushima was horrible, but a repeat occurrence certainly can be prevented, that much is clear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Very low but greater than 0.

            Potentially very, very, very expensive.

            That’s why private insurance companies are not providing nuclear reactors with liability insurance.

            You have to build reactors where cooling water is available. They could be cooled but that would take their cost from too expensive to very much too expensive.

            Just try to find a significant number of coastal sites which would allow a reactor to built. It would be a fool’s errand.

            It’s not just Fukushima. And it’s not just Fukushima and Chernobyl…

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank#data

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank#data

          • Hans

            What caused the Fukushima melt down was a grid failure and a failure of the back-up power. In this case these failures were caused by the tsunami.

            Because of the instability of the outdate US-grid a grid failure is not a rarity, if during such an incident the back-up generators fail (for whatever reason) you have a second Fukushima.

          • Dig Deeper

            and so as you might expect, operators of nuclear fleets around the globe have taken extensive measures to reassess their safety protocol in light of what happened at Fukushima, especially on the topic of reliable back-up power.

            Even more important to note is the fact that all newly constructed nuclear reactors incorporate passive cooling mechanisms which require no active power to prevent meltdown.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I don’t think he deserves a ban for this. Especially when you beat the crap out of him with facts that let us bystanders understand the issues better.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If a kWh of nuclear -produced electricity costs more than a kWh of wind-produced or solar-produced electricity then that’s a good sign that nuclear isn’t the best use of human capital.

            Since the footprint of nuclear is large, if one includes area used for mining fuel, then there’s a bit of environmental unfriendliness going on.

            When we have to avoid large areas post- nuclear meltdowns, hummm…., more unfriendliness.

            Then there’s the issue of all that hazardous waste we are leaving in the environment of future generations. That’s not a nice thing for us to do….

          • Tony Montagna

            Of course PV usually doesn’t beat nuclear. And it’s still a variable generation source. Just like to conveniently avoid those facts huh?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Last chance, Tony.

            Give us your all-in price for electricity from a newly built nuclear reactor in the US.

          • Tony Montagna

            Its not about running out of materials for PV (silicon glass and aluminum)
            its about the environmental and economic effects of having that much PV produced in the first place.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tony, you are now pushing the boundaries of a reasoned discussion.

            Your value as a community member is running seriously low.

          • Tony Montagna

            Bob, you’ve insulted me how many times now, and I don’t believe there has been a valid reason for it once.

            Producing a trillion panels does indeed pose consequences. That is what the OP of this topic was discussing -more than a trillion of panels to produce more power than the human race would need.

            It is valuable to discuss this topic. I bring value.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Producing enough renewable generation (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, etc.) would be less expensive than producing nuclear.

            It’s math. Figure out how it works.

          • Tony Montagna

            Math according to who?

            Thats just not reality Bob.

          • Tom K

            That is a perfectly reasonable comment to make. The material requirements of renewable energy infrastructure are vastly greater than what are required for nuclear energy on a lifetime kWh to kWh basis, even including fuel. Which makes a lot of sense when you consider the energy density of each of these sources.

            http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/18/tcase4/

          • Tony Montagna

            Yes and the labor required to install and maintain an equivalent amount of PV is far greater than Nukes. We would be dedicating a much larger portion of our workforce to the energy industry with PV and wind compared to other alternatives, which would be a step backwards in my opinion. Energy solutions of the future should be abundant and allow more people to do something else for a living.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your nuclear electricity cost estimate, Tony?

            Answer the question or go away.

      • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

        There is no issue with the limit of how much of the world’s electricity could be supplied by solar. Please don’t bring in complete myths and nonpoints to this discussion.

        http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/01/current-solar-module-efficiency-nowhere-near-its-potential-especially-thin-film-solar-cpv-chart/

        http://cleantechnica.com/70-80-99-9-100-renewables-study-central/

        • Tony Montagna

          So producing, installing, and maintaining a trillion solar panels would not cause any issues?

          How much more human labor would be dedicated to the energy sector if this were the case compared to what we have currently?

          • ThomasGerke

            Simple answer: nope.

          • Tony Montagna

            Umm the real answer: yepp
            You haven’t considered the labor or reliability, the variability, the volatility in raw material prices, the amount of batteries needed.

            Saying moped means nothing, you’ve hardly considered the implications of the question.

          • ThomasGerke

            The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Research and the Association of Electrical Engenieer say: nope. I read their extensive studies, made sense – where is your strange worry coming from?

            Today: We spend 5-10% of our GDP to run the world on ever more expansive fossil fuels that destroy the enviroment.

            Just consider how many people & assets will no longer be dedicated to exploration, extraction, transportation and refining fuels…

            BTW: 150-250 jobs per GW are currently dedicated for PV-Solar O&M in Germany.

            (The state of the scientific debate in Germany when 100% renewable energy systems are concerned, does usually exclude bioenergy from electricity generation, because it is mainly dedicated for the use in Biorefinery to substitiute petro-chemical products)

          • Tony Montagna

            Transportation cannot rely on gasoline forever, this burden will fall on power plants in addition to heating out homes, desalinating large amounts of water, and providing energy for billions who currently do not have it.

            We are talking trillions of solar panels and many many batteries. Not even the strongest PV advocate is saying we should power the world on Pv.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your nuclear electricity price, Tony?

          • ThomasGerke

            Like I said, people who know their craft have studied this extensivly.

            The numbers aren’t that shocking actually.
            Turning 50% (300 billion km per year) of the total car travel distance electric requires about 50 TWh.

            BTW: Did you know?

            To quote Hermann Scheer “Where is the problem?”

          • Tony M

            yea well 30-50% is a whole hell of a lot different than 100%

          • ThomasGerke

            The combination with other renewable energy sources (mainly wind) makes more sense in Germany compared to pushing solar to 100%.

          • Tony M

            Hydro Geothermal or some other constant dispatchable source is undoubtedly included in the mix as well. There has to be some means to rapidly compensate for variable wind and solar.

            Yes of course a 100% renewable grid is a possibility, but what are the costs? Hydro is cheap but not expandable. Germany now relies mostly on coal to balance out their generation. For them to replace this with storage or renewable sources will likely add costs onto their already very high utility rates.

            Meanwhile France has produced 3/4 of their electricity through clean nuclear for decades and their utility rates are much lower.

            We will just have to wait and see how things play out.

          • Bob_Wallace

            An “always on” source does not serve as a fill-in for changes in supply and demand.

            We deal with those issues, whether they are caused by changes in wind output, a coal plant breaking, or a millions of people turning on their TVs for the Super Bowl with storage, dispatchable generation, and load-shifting. —

            France built those plants some time ago. Can’t go back in time and build reactors and pay them off “yesterday” so that they provide affordable electricity today.

            Have to build new stuff and pay for it. That pushes nuclear and coal off the table. Capex and finex costs are killers.

          • Tony M

            http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/instability-in-power-grid-comes-at-high-cost-for-german-industry-a-850419.html

            Plenty of nuclear plants still being built and financed world wide.

            You know you don’t have to insert yourself in my conversations with others, right?

          • Zedicus

            Your ‘trillion solar panel’ number is based on current tech. You didn’t even look at the links. Keep plugging your ears and singing “I’m not listening” all the way home, Tony.

      • Zedicus

        The theoretical limit of efficiency on CURRENT solar PV technology is 29%. The best available commercial PV units get about 22% efficiency. An increase of 7% from 22% is an 32% is power produced per square inch.

        There is a lot of room for this tech to grow yet.

      • mds

        Wrong on both counts:

        1. The Shockley Queisser limit is based on one electron resulting from one photon. It has now been demonstrated that more than one electron can be produced. This means the SQ limit may turn out to be like the Sound Barrier, i.e. no limit at all.

        2. “Just not going to happen.” That is close to what IS going to happen. Solar is available on-site where most people live. It will continue to drop in price, as will energy storage costs. The resulting cost advantage will cause exponential, disruptive growth of solar to resume. In a few decades solar will be the largest source of power. You’d think a free-market libertarian might get that.

        There are no limits in materials (quartz sand, lithium, etc) or anything else that will prevent this. That is unfounded Chicken Little nut-ball talk. If there were a resource limit, there are more than one alternative approach that could substitute.

        100% solar power, with storage, is feasible but unlikely and unnecessary. Nuclear is not needed.

        • Tony M

          as far as point number 1…..How close are we to production of any quantum cells as you have described?

          Quantum dot, quantum well, I am familiar with the idea in which the vibrational/thermal energy is harnessed and the electron is limited to 2 dimensional movement. Practical use of this is well quite far away.

          How do you figure solar prices will continue to drop significantly when raw materials such as aluminum, glass and silicon needed to make them have essentially no margin as it currently stands? How can you be so sure that battery storage will be cheap enough to carry the burden when chief investors in promising battery companies such as Aquion also have their hands in nuclear?

          I think there will be billions of solar panels deployed globally, but nuclear will still be around because it simply requires less labor and less raw material per kWh produced. Also it has been proven to be safe.

          The EIA statistics show nuclear being lower in cost in 2018:

          http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

          Solar advocates claim that nuclear generation carries heavy subsidies as well, including waste disposal costs, decommissioning costs, and liability limits on nuclear accidents, that result in nuclear costing substantially more than its sticker price. These claims are, however, either incorrect or exaggerated.

          The NRC requires plant operators to accumulate decommissioning funds over the operating life of the plant. Some utilities collect the money for decommissioning through ratepayers, while others set aside a lump sum at the beginning of operation. All nuclear operators in the US are required to pay into a federal fund to handle spent nuclear fuel deposition, and most utilities pass this fee on directly to ratepayers. According to an MIT analysis, the all-in costs of decommissioning amount to just $0.001-0.003/kWh. Similar funds are required of nuclear operators elsewhere around the world. These costs are included in EIA and IEA estimates of the levelized cost of new nuclear power generation.

          Limited liability, via the Price-Anderson Act, likewise can be considered a subsidy. However the value of the subsidy is extremely modest. Nuclear power operators are required to purchase private liability
          insurance, which covers $375 million for offsite damages. In addition, every reactor operator must pay into a second tier of insurance in the event of an accident up to $11.6 billion. Only after these insurance
          pools are depleted does Congress have the authority to allocate federal money to cover damages. It is this guarantee that some consider an implicit subsidy, which given a Fukushima-type accident, would infer a
          subsidy of about $2 million per reactor per year, or $0.0003/kWh.

      • Hans

        the Shockley Quiesser limit is only valid for classical, non concentrating, single junction cells with a single bandgap.
        There are already many types of solar cells that exceed the limit

        • Dig Deeper

          Yes, yet all commercially viable solar cell designs are currently single junction and non-concentrating.

          Multi-junction solar cells are multiple times more expensive than C-Si cells, and also more toxic.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Too true….

      • Tony Montagna

        which part is true?

        certainly not this one, because it isn’t practical:
        “mass-produced distributed photovoltaics are producing more electricity than the entire world uses”

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Thank you for this good article Karl-Friedrich. I’m not sure if it is worth the time though. Nuclear pundits are not taken seriously except in their own echo chambers. Giving them visibility encourages them. Fighting well funded corporations which fund the nuclear monopolies distracts from more important news. Leave them to their own sites where they ban anybody who presents the truth.

    • Tony Montagna

      Energy collective doesn’t ban anybody, but conversely moderators of this site are known to ban those with differing opinions.

      President Obama and the US DOE are certainly taking Nuclear pundits seriously. Maybe you are not, but then again, what do you know?

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Uh huh. I know from personal experience “The Energy Collective” does indeed ban people for saying similar things that Karl-Friedrich has just written. Perhaps you don’t realize that once a person is banned they can no longer say anything? (Should be obvious.) Perhaps that why you don’t see banned people objecting to “The Energy Collectives” bans.

        • Tony Montagna

          Are you banned from energy collective? because Ive seen you post there and you are very pro RE and anti nuclear.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Yes. I’m banned there. JJ banned me for saying about the same as this article said. He called it something along the lines of propaganda which has no place there. Despite me using references.

          • Tony Montagna

            Well what did you say? perhaps it wasn’t based in fact?

            If it was I apologize, we shouldn’t be censored for honest debate about important issues.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I agree. We should not. I’m glad to give my time and energy in the pursuit of this hobby to CleanTechnica and leave The Energy Collective to themselves. Here you can even ask questions and actually get references and answers.

            And when I post about discrepancies the worst I will usually get here is the silent treatment.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            We do try to fix any discrepancies or incorrect statements. Sometimes we don’t reply in the comments, though. :D (Or perhaps miss things.)

          • Ivor O’Connor

            You do a fine job Zach.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Tony, did you just change your mind on banning policy?

            “Energy collective doesn’t ban anybody…”

            1 hr later: “Well what did you say? perhaps it wasn’t based in fact?”

          • Tony Montagna

            Maybe they do ban people, to my knowledge most the people are fairly nice there and will acknowledge that solar wind and nuclear can all contribute.

            You guys seem stuck on denying that nuclear can contribute despite 50 years of history to the contrary, positive developments in the developing world, and potential innovations on the horizon.

            It is good that we both want clean energy, but I ask very kindly: Are you concerned with creating emissions free energy, or with eliminating nuclear plants?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Of course they do. The Energy Collective allows only people who agree with them to post.

        The only people who have been banned on this site for expressing a different opinion are rapid climate change deniers who do not engage in rational discussion.

        People are routinely banned for spamming, for advertising. Especially for advertising tennis shoes, term paper writing, and stuff like that.

        People have been banned for being too un-civil (a bit is tolerated).

        No one has been banned on this site for expressing a different opinion as long as it was done in a reasoned fashion and they were able to back up their position with facts.

        The current administration has made it possible for a limited number of reactors to be built in order for the nuclear industry to prove their claims. (They’re failing.)

        • Tony Montagna

          The US is only a small part of the picture, in fact in regards to the expansion of energy generation and energy demand the US is insignificant as far as domestic generation goes, but very significant as far as research and development goes.

          And further, whether nuclear is declining in the US or not has little to do with the practicalities of powering a global population with low emissions.

          You can go ahead and post all of the pro solar and pro wind things you want on energy collective, no one will ban you and most will treat you kindly. In fact some of the articles and contributors are very pro renewables:

          http://theenergycollective.com/silviomarcacci/241816/breakthrough-nrel-lab-could-solve-renewables-grid-integration-problems

          there are several other examples.

          Cleantechnica however lacks any such balanced approach and nuclear is instead treated as the plague of man-kind.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tony, it’s not just the US.

            Europe is finished with nuclear. They’re closing reactors and planning to build few, if any, in the future. Even France is turning their efforts to renewables and planning on closing a portion of their reactor fleet.

            Japan is finished with nuclear. They will run a few of their fleet only as long as they have to while they bring renewable generation on line.

            China has cut their new reactor plans by one-third. At the same time they have greatly increased their wind and solar build plans.

            Africa and South America aren’t going to build nuclear.

            As for the Energy Collective, you are wrong. I am banned from posting there.

            I was banned for pointing out that the prices of solar were less than what Charles Barton was claiming. There was nothing insulting or uncivil about the way I commented. I just posted information that someone found inconvenient.

            This site attempts to present factual information about energy. The facts are not friendly to nuclear.

          • Tony Montagna

            I agree EU is weak on nuclear, but saying they’re finished is a not quite true.

            UK is pushing hard for a new one at Hinkley.
            Russia certainly not through with nuclear. Poland, Turkey, Czech, all making pushes for large and very expensive nuke plants. Just imagine how much greater the demand will be for smaller plants without the problematic huge cost in capital.

            France would be wise to close a portion of their reactor fleet for renewables. Just like in investing, diversity is good in energy as well.

            Japan is going to begin operating the closed nukes shortly. The nuclear industry there (with Toshiba/Westinghouse) is quite strong globally and the ruling party is very pro-nuclear to say the least. I don’t think proposal for new reactor construction within a decades time is out of the question. With the population density of Japan, switching to a majority of renewables would be difficult.

            South Africa will begin nuclear plant construction within this decade:
            http://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/south-africa-reaches-for-nuclear-power-to-avoid-energy-shortages.htm
            http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2013/06/27/sa-ready-for-nuclear-say-energy-companies

            And other parts of Asia and the middle east have big nuclear plans
            http://www.greenprophet.com/2013/07/nuclear-middle-east-conference-mena/

            Obviously many of these regions also have big solar and wind plans as well. My point isn’t to bury one source or the other, but to point out that it is pretty undeniable that all 3 will be around (barring nuclear fusion) in coming decades. We should be more focused on how they can surpass fossil fuels than to champion one source or another.

            I am sorry you were banned from EC. Solar is getting cheap and we should be happy about it, not threatened by it. But as I pointed out EC has several contributors who are pro RE. Cleantechnica has not one who is pro nuclear. I feel this is unbalanced, like FOX news for instance.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The UK is offering to guarantee 12 cents per kWh for every kWh a new reactor can produce. For the next 20 years.

            The building says that they can’t do it for that price. They are demanding 15 cents per kWh.

            The UK just installed a new solar array for $1.59/watt. In the sunnier parts of the UK that would produce electricity at about 10 cents per kWh.

            And those prices will fall. Spain has just started a new projected which is expected to cost $1.41/watt.

            If Europe is closing plants faster than they are building them, well, you do the math.

            Spend some time watching those new plans for nuclear. What you’ll see is that when prices get discussed, plans fade.

            Will a few get built in places like Russia where no one is free to argue with the government? Probably. For a while.

            Turkey’s strongman is in trouble. I wouldn’t count on him forcing reactors down the public’s throat.

            South Africa has decided to greatly increase their renewable use.

            You need to understand that the cost of wind and solar have only recently become very attractive and that is causing major rethinking about energy futures around the world.

            It does not mean that no new reactors will be build, but I’ll be very surprised if any new starts happen ten years from now. The only reason would be that some country wants to produce bomb material.

          • Tony Montagna

            The UK are likely to get their price, they have been involved with EDF for sometime, but Westinghouse is on the sidelines saying they will do it for the requested price:
            http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jul/05/davey-minister-nuclear-power-hinkley-point

            Solar is great, but comparing it directly to a large nuclear plant isn’t appropriate.
            For one thing subsidies are in play that can favor one or the other depending on politics of the area.
            Secondly solar resources vary and you are citing best case for UK.
            Thirdly a typical Nuclear plant produces baseload power, and at least 1000 MW of it, to do the same with solar PV would not be price-competitive.
            Fourth, the solar PV industry has rising concerns of reliability problems, and we know for certain that a PV plant will not be operational for 60 years.

            I think Turkey will get their plant, Poland and Czech may have to hold, but the ability for small modular reactors to solve the capital cost problem is undeniable, and will make nuclear installations much more common.

            Producing Plutonium for Bombs has very little to do with producing nuclear energy.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            1- “Westinghouse is on the sidelines saying…” yes, companies are always eager to quote lower prices on the sidelines. but we all know where it heads with nuclear. don’t act like you don’t. major cost projection increases and then cost overruns.

            2- solar vs nuclear in UK: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/19/solar-power-cheaper-than-nuclear-in-cloudy-old-england/

            3- “baseload power” — please get off that. no one sensible is taking that as a serious plus on nuclear’s side anymore. nuclear takes a long time to start up and shut down. that is one of a few reasons why it can’t compete. http://cleantechnica.com/2012/01/03/baseload-power-gets-in-the-way/

            http://cleantechnica.com/2012/04/15/renewables-driving-electricity-prices-to-negative-some-afternoons-cutting-into-baseload-power-plants-market-share/

            4- solar vs nuclear in UK: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/19/solar-power-cheaper-than-nuclear-in-cloudy-old-england/

            5- i live in Poland. the whole thing is corrupt and is only moving forward bcs of Big Government’s connections with the industry and the propaganda they put out together about energy issues.

          • Tony Montagna

            Do you work for a utility? I think any utility exec is serious about baseload power. Not many utilities have much storage capacity yet. The utility model in most parts of the world still favors centralized power. Thats not always a good thing, but I don’t think its a foregone conclusion that it will change like you do. In California and Germany it clearly will, but other parts of the world I very much doubt it, and as long as the power is clean, and cheap it doesnt so much matter.

            As far as the UK plant, well time will tell, we can only speculate at this point.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            1st of all, I’m confused why we are even discussing Energy Collective on here…?

            2nd, I’ve had several people mention to me that it’s a complete waste of time to comment over there because of the way people are able to run loose with propaganda, myths, nonsense, and so on.

            I’m sorry if you work in the nuclear industry and feel threatened. I sincerely and truly am. However, the world changes, and industries that can’t compete fade into oblivion. It has happened many times. It’s 100% clear that nuclear cannot compete at the moment… and probably never will again. Many (honest) nuclear enthusiasts will tell you the 1st part of that sentence.

            We post on nuclear very infrequently. Show me some promising and uplifting news about nuclear and we’ll post it.

          • Tony Montagna

            I work in the PV industry Zach. I am a reliability Engineer.

            If you don’t believe me, try me.

            Nuclear reactors being constructed for $2/kW in China. Thats quite uplifting.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I see a lot of articles there I would like to comment on. I suppose I could if I made another ID. However I’ve learned my lesson and, quite frankly, think their articles now are simply propaganda and written to bait people into replying. If I could change my RSS filter to avoid articles coming from “The Energy Collective” I would do it without a second thought. As it is now I click on my RSS feed and then see it is from them and close the window knowing full well what they are about.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            you can’t delete the site? or is this a google alert feed?

      • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

        We are in the business of publishing useful and correct information aimed at helping the world. We are not in the business of providing more megaphones for people who are focused on intentionally or unintentionally misinforming as many people as possible.

        Use whatever term you like, but I treat this like a university classroom, not a place for nuclear or coal or natural gas propagandist to confuse more people.

        • Tony Montagna

          If you do not want to misinform people then tell your moderator Bob_Wallace not to state that “Nuclear Power is more dangerous than coal” which is misinformation by definition.

          • JimBouton

            Nuclear power is more dangerous than coal.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Very good points.

  • Tony Montagna

    @Karl Friedrich Lenz

    Care to comment on the following?

    Mark Lynas claim that wind and solar cannot practically power the entire world is actually quite substantiated.

    In combination with Storage, Hydro, Biofuels, Tidal, and Geothermal it is a possibility, but a possibility not supported by economics as Nuclear is much cheaper than all of these latter mentioned energy options.

    Here is the Math for solar powering the globe*:

    83,000 kWhs per person/365 days/24 hours/0.18 capacity factor = 52 kWs real time PV generation per person

    52 kWs/ 300 W panel = 175 panels per person

    175 panels x 7 billion people = 1.2 trillion panels

    But wait, we need to somehow store this energy and meet electrical demand during cloudy days and at night while maintaining power quality, guess capacity will have to increase as well to account for storage losses and worst case solar resource….. and wait the world population is also increasing to 9 billion by 2050…… and wait desalination will be necessary and incur a significant addition to the per capita energy usage……….

    [*Assuming that the developing world will eventually work its way to a standard of living similar to the US (annual US per capita energy usage 83,000 kWh), and that transportation and heat energy will eventually also come from powerplants (whether through synthesized fuels or electricity) rather than from oil.]

    But I guess we can utilize wind to provide at least half global demand so that we only need 750 billion PV panels instead……Oh wait, it turns out that scaling up wind energy to such an extent affects regional and even global winds and subsequently climate……..http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2013/02/rethinking-wind-power

    Oh well, I guess we can just use hydro for to meet the rest of the need…..Oh wait hydro isn’t expandable enough and has its own environmental consequences anyway….

    Ok we can use biofuels then…..shucks the land footprint is too high…..

    Ok how about tidal and geothermal…….oops turns out they are much more costly than nuclear fission…..

    Guess Mark Lynas and the Obama administration aren’t so full of it after all by suggesting an “all of the above strategy”.

    • Bob_Wallace

      First, who in their right mind would suggest that we get all our power from only solar? Or only wind?

      The only people I’ve seen do that are anti-renewable (pro-coal or pro-nuclear) who set up that straw man so that they can demonstrate their skill with a stick.

      Assuming that the world will move to the US average electricity consumption level would be a mistake. Not even the US is going to consume at that level in the future. Efficiency. Get some today.

      You are badly misreading Keith’s wind article. There is no way we would ever need to build wind turbines on a scale which would significantly modify the climate.

      Tony, you’re poorly informed. You’ve bought into the anti-renewable propaganda.

      Were we to power the entire US with 100% wind (not what we would ever do) it would take only 141 square miles of land.

      The US has an area of 3,794,083 square miles. Plus many thousand square miles of excellent offshore wind area.

      We can put most of the solar we would ever need on existing rooftops, over parking lots, landfills, brownfields, and waste lands.

      Geothermal is significantly cheaper than new nuclear. Tidal may become so, it’s too early to price tidal.

      We don’t have the available land to grow biofuels for personal and public ground transportation. But we probably can grow what we need for long distance air travel. Electricity works great for ground travel.

      Stick around, Tony. Learn some stuff.

      • Tony Montagna

        You can point to efficiency but my numbers are still an underestimation given that i didn’t account for population increase (9bil by 2050) or the need to desalinate water which is undeniable and requires huge amounts of energy. Given the capitalistic nature of the world I wouldn’t doubt that the standard of living rises in the undeveloped world quite rapidly. Look at the rate of industrialization in China for instance. China will mature and the world will find the new epicenter for low cost labor without delay.

        I never made an argument about land coverage regarding wind, but rather the unacceptable alteration of winds that would be a consequence of scaling it up to say 50% of energy demand. That is detailed in the Harvard piece:
        http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2013

        Geothermal is only significantly cheaper than nuclear where the source is easily accessible. To access new Geothermal sites has proven to be prohibitively expensive and it is in fact much more expensive than nuclear. There is also the earthquake problem:

        http://www.npr.org/2013/07/11/200515289/wastewater-wells-geothermal-power-triggering-earthquakes

        Bob, we are largely in agreement here. I fully think that rooftop solar, wind, and biofuels will be large contributors.

        I am just pointing out that it will be hard to meet excessive energy demand as cleanly and cheaply as possible without nuclear energy. Its hardly even arguable.

        • Bob_Wallace

          No, we are not largely in agreement.

          You are spouting a lot of nuclear fan-boy trash.

          The Harvard paper does not say what you think it does. Read it. Pay attention as you do.

          Geothermal works where it works. Nuclear cannot be installed away from cooling water sources. Same-same.

          There is no significant earthquake problem with geothermal. You don’t understand what you posted.

          Including nuclear in our future mix will make electricity more expensive and will slow our movement away from fossil fuels.

          • Tony Montagna

            Lets be respectful mr moderator.

            What have I said that isn’t true?

            From the Harvard paper:
            If we were to cover the entire Earth with wind farms, he notes, “the system could potentially generate enormous amounts of power, well in excess of 100 terawatts, but at that point my guess, based on our climate modeling, is that the effect of that on global winds, and therefore on climate, would be severe—perhaps bigger than the impact of doubling CO2.”

            Says pretty much exactly what I have said.

            Nuclear needs water cooling, that is correct. Where water isn’t available we can turn to other alternatives including wind, solar biomass.

            Including more nuclear would not be more expensive than using storage to make wind and solar on-demand, and nuclear is already more cost effective than geothermal biofuels etc. hydro isnt scalable enough to do the job.

            Your assertions aren’t based in fact, just opinions.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “If we were to cover the entire Earth with wind farms…the effect of that on global winds, and therefore on climate, would be severe”

            Do you realize how idiotic you have become, Tony?

            To power the entire US, 100% of our electricity would take only 141 square miles out of more than 3,794,083.

            0.004%

            You simply are fact deficient, Tony. And it appears you can’t grasp concepts very well either.

          • Tony Montagna

            For the third time, lets be more mature and stop with the name calling.

            I realize we wouldn’t have to literally cover every inch of land with turbines to produce the required energy, but nonetheless research suggests we cannot produce the majority of our energy from wind without negative effect on climate.

            and also does that 141 miles account for wind shadows, and the need to build over-capacity due to wind fluctuation?

            The Harvard paper wasn’t concerned with footprint of turbines, Keiths modeling suggests that pulling large amounts of TWhs from the wind will effect climate negatively, possibly worse than CO2.

            141 miles of wind-turbines is likely to have extreme effects on regional winds. Its just not an environmentally friendly proposition.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That is the land needed. Clearly 0.004% is not covering the entire Earth with wind farms.

            If you want to add in the space between turbines then multiply by 50.

            0.2%

            0.2% < 100%

            There are no regional effects caused by wind farms. There is slight temperature mixing inside the farm but it does not extend past the farm.

            You're posting crap, Tony. Stop posting crap and I'll quit telling you that you're posting crap.

            Deal?

          • Tony Montagna

            nobody is suggesting we need to cover the earth with wind turbines to provide all of our energy.

            but the point still stands that we as a nation or a global population cannot rely on wind to produce even 50% of our energy without adverse climatic effects, let alone 100%.

            “Our findings don’t mean that we shouldn’t pursue wind power—wind is much better for the environment than conventional coal—but these geophysical limits may be meaningful if we really want to scale wind power up to supply a third, let’s say, of our primary energy,” Keith
            adds.

            My quote is from a renowned Harvard physicist based on his climate modeling. If you want to call it crap that is your own prerogative.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I did not call David Keith’s paper crap.

            I called your bullshit on your misusing it.

          • Tony Montagna

            Please Bob, lets be more respectful.

            I am saying that wind turbines at a very large scale have a measured effect on winds and potentially climate, and this could even be applicable to the global scale, which is exactly what Keith posits based on his work:

            “Our findings don’t mean that we shouldn’t pursue wind power—wind is much better for the environment than conventional coal—but these geophysical limits may be meaningful if we really want to scale wind
            power up to supply a third, let’s say, of our primary energy,” Keith adds.

            I just prefer personally to avoid affecting regional winds to a large extent. In my opinion having 100 sq miles of wind in the US is entirely unacceptable from an environmental standpoint, and thats well, just my opinion which I am entitiled to without being called names.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m not going to be respective to idiotic statements.

          • Tony Montagna

            Which statement was idiotic now?

            Who runs this site? I would like to converse with them about your behavior here.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Zach.

            Bottom of the page.

            “Contact…”

          • Tony Montagna

            Ok I sent him an email, we will see if he cares.

            Thank you.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            If David Keith says turbine’s will alter the earths climate then I’m calling his paper crap. Turbines are no worse than the large forests that had been on this planet before we paved them over with asphalt.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I suppose if the trees would grow back to where they had been before the virus called humans depopulated them the trees would cause severe effects on global winds too.

            I’d say this Harvard study has been paid for by an energy monopoly against wind.

        • Peter Gray

          There seems to be a lot of crap flying around in all directions here. Maybe we need a reality check? First, is it plausible that 140 sq.mi. of wind farms could supply
          all U.S. electricity? Eyeballing the Wild Horse wind farm, just down the road from where I live in Washington State, it looks like at least 10 sq.mi., and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t supply 7% of the country’s power, since all the wind farms put together don’t come close to that. Turns out it’s rated at 273 MW, and covers 10k acres, 4,000 ha, or 15.5 sq.mi.

          At a capacity factor of 36%, that comes to 6.5 MW/sq.mi., or 2.5 MW/sqkm Continuous-equivalent U.S. demand is about 0.5 TW, so that translates to 77,000 sq.mi. of wind farm. That’s 2% of U.S. land area, still not much, but 500 times more than Bob’s number. Does 141 sqmi refer to the area of all the pylon bases added up? Let’s be realistic and use actual windfarm land area, even though a lot of that area can be used for other purposes.

          Now, is it reasonable to worry about wind turbines’ effect on the atmosphere or climate? I don’t think so, because turbines operate in a very thin boundary layer of moving air masses, and even if they cover 2% of the land area, or 4% to generate all U.S. energy, they’re microscopic compared to mountains, forests, canyons, and other features that remove energy from wind.

          But let’s do the numbers. The local Vestas turbines put out max power at 31 mph, or 50 kph. Typical moving air masses are at least 3 km deep, so let’s use that, ignoring wind gradients that make higher-altitude wind stronger. Average air density for that column is about 1kg/m^3, so the air above a 1km square piece of wind farm contains 82 MWh of energy. At 50 kph, it moves across the wind farm in 1/50 hour, so if we extracted all that energy by slowing the wind to zero, it would put out about 4.1 GW – compared to 2.5 MW/km^2 extracted by the turbines. Assuming 85% turbine efficiency, the windfarm would extract 0.07% of the energy in the air passing over it (again, ignoring all the air above 3km altitude). Above the 2-4% of land covered by windfarms, this would reduce the air velocity from 50 kph to 49.982 kph (31mph down to 30.9888 mph).

          Even if the entire land surface were covered with wind farms, would anyone notice or be able to measure a wind velocity drop of 0.01 mph? This would cause severe climate effects, perhaps worse than a doubling of CO2? Bull! Shit! (Never mind the idiocy of putting in 25 times more wind turbines than necessary to supply country’s entire current energy demand.)

          I don’t care if Dr. Keith of Harvard is “eminent.” He’s out of his depth and talking through his ass.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Peter, you’re including the space between the turbines in your estimation of now much land it would take to power the US with only wind.

            If you were to measure Wild Horse you’d likely find that less than 2% of the area is taken out of original use by turbines. The average is 1/4 acre per turbine for footings, access roads, etc.

            If you’re a farmer and you lease out your farm for wind turbines you still get to graze your cattle or plant your wheat on the other 98% of your land.
            If you decide to put solar on your roof and the panels cover half the south slope but none of the north slope then panels are taking up 25% of your roof area, not 100%.

            I suppose it could be useful to calculate the total area of wind farms to answer the question of how many square miles of the US would be needed for wind farms (not wind turbines/generation). That could be useful in determining if we could fit them into the available ‘good wind’ areas.

          • Peter Gray

            Point taken, Bob, about the vast majority of windfarm land being still usable for other purposes, at least for ranching and farming. I should have been clearer that I was thinking more in terms of total area with high-quality wind resources, and even then, I’d be surprised if less than 4-5% of U.S. land has such resources – and that’s about what it would take to meet all current energy demand, not just electricity. Of course, this energy is not in convenient forms for driving airliners or trucks – but neither is nuclear.

            What do you think of my calcs about the effect of wind turbines on weather or climate? I wonder if there’s some way to comment or call out Dr. Keith on that nonsense. Reminds me of this: http://www.theonion.com/video/in-the-know-coal-lobby-warns-wind-farms-may-blow-e,20876/.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I read Keith’s paper (not just the press release) a couple of months back and don’t remember it all that well.

            Seems like he calculated that if we really filled up the planet with wind turbines there would be a measurable effect on weather/climate. But I think he pointed out that there would be no reason to go to that extreme.

            I could be mis-remembering but I think people are taking his study out of context and using it to make anti-wind statements.

            Did you read his paper or just the press release?

            As far as how much “wind real estate” the US has check this map. And take a look at how good our offshore resources are. Much better than the Texas, CA, Midwest areas we’ve now got hooked up.

          • Peter Gray

            Thanks for the wind resource map. I’ve seen some earlier NREL versions a while back. Yes, it does look like offshore has more potential, but that doesn’t account for the surely much higher capital and transmission costs from ocean-based turbines. Off the west coast, they’d have to be floating, right? I’d bet on S. Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, OK (if they ever get rid of Sen. Inhofe) becoming economical long before offshore does. And I think you’re still off by a factor of 10 with that 140 sqmi figure. Even with your 50x multiplier, I get 2% and you get 0.2%. But even if 1,400 sqmi (37 x 38 mi.) are taken out of other use by wind, that’s a trivial speck of land on this continent.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Higher installation costs but probably lower transmission costs when you look at how much closer much of our population is to the coast than, say, Wyoming.

            Floaters are being built. Europe is ahead of us. Japan is starting with them. We’ve got a scaled down test version in the water off Maine right now, just got launched.

            OK has a bunch of wind farms. They’re selling wind-electricity to Tennessee and a couple other SE states.

            If you think my math is off please show me where I made the error. I’ll put them up in a separate reply.

          • Peter Gray

            Yes, I’m aware that floating turbines are in the works. I’d bet good money, if I had any, that they’ll be more costly, and not just in the short term.
            You’re at least partly right about shoreline populations, but transmission cost is not only a function of distance. Again I’d bet that carrying big voltage under or across water will be persistently more costly than on land.
            The fact that we’ve developed far more onshore wind than offshore, even with a considerably poorer resource, suggests that overall costs are several times higher on water (esp. open ocean).
            I was kind of kidding about Oklahoma. Inhofe is a real obstacle, if only by fanning and legitimizing the AGW Hoaxer loony fringe, but I’m sure he’s more than happy to help himself to any federal subsidies that become available.
            I don’t know where your math error occurred, because I’ve seen no calcs, only results. I figued fairly loosely, from one wind farm with known power density, that on eyeball inspection seems to have about the same turbine density as other modern farms I’ve seen. Extrapolating from that is what gave me estimates of wind farm area to supply all U.S. electricity, etc.. After the 50x multiplier, your estimate is still 10x smaller than mine. I could be off by a factor of 2, but I doubt I’m off by a factor of 10.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Costly is relative.

            I would suspect an offshore wind rig will be more expensive than an onshore. But look at the difference in off- and onshore wind strength. And remember that offshore wind blows more during the day than US onshore wind. Daytime generation is valuable as that is when most of our demand occurs.

            I recently saw a piece about a cheaper floating design. I’ll see if I can find it again.

            I don’t know what happened to my other post. Perhaps it’s somewhere in this very long thread.

            On my mod screen it says that it was posted in reply to your comment six hours ago. Perhaps Disqus screwed up, it does once in a while.

            I’ll copy it here –

            Here’s where I started…

            In 2010, the US used 4,143 TWh (terawatt hours) of electricity. (11,300,000 MWh per day.)

            Since we’re just guessing what our future grid would look like, let’s assume we get 40% of our electricity from wind, 40% from solar, and 20% from hydro, geothermal, tidal, wave, etc.

            4,143 TWh x 40% / 365 days = 4,520,000 MWh needed per day from wind.

            The average wind turbine is around 3 MW in size and median capacity is now 43%.

            So, 3 MW x 24 hours x 43% capacity = 30.1 MWh per day from each 3 MW turbine.

            4,520,000 MWh / 30.1 MWh per turbine = 150,166 3MW turbines.

            The footprint of a wind turbine is typically around 0.25 acres. This includes the tower foundation, roads, and support structures.

            150,166 wind turbines x 0.25 acres = 36,040 acres required for our wind turbines.

            The land needed to install all those 150,166 turbines would take the space of about 2.4 Manhattan Islands, 1.4 Disney Worlds, or 0.0015% of the US.

            Of course we’d spread them out so they don’t bump into each other….

            That’s for 40% of all our electricity. To get from 40% to 100% multiply by 2.5.

            36,040 x 2.5 = 90,100 acres for 100% wind. Divide by 640 to get 140.78 square miles.

            See a problem?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s where I started…

            In 2010, the US used 4,143 TWh (terawatt hours) of electricity. (11,300,000 MWh per day.)

            Since we’re just guessing what our future grid would look like, let’s assume we get 40% of our electricity from wind, 40% from solar, and 20% from hydro, geothermal, tidal, wave, etc.

            4,143 TWh x 40% / 365 days = 4,520,000 MWh needed per day from wind.

            The average wind turbine is around 3 MW in size and median capacity is now 43%.

            So, 3 MW x 24 hours x 43% capacity = 30.1 MWh per day from each 3 MW turbine.

            4,520,000 MWh / 30.1 MWh per turbine = 150,166 3MW turbines.

            The footprint of a wind turbine is typically around 0.25 acres. This includes the tower foundation, roads, and support structures.

            150,166 wind turbines x 0.25 acres = 36,040 acres required for our wind turbines.

            The land needed to install all those 150,166 turbines would take the space of about 2.4 Manhattan Islands, 1.4 Disney Worlds, or 0.0015% of the US.

            Of course we’d spread them out so they don’t bump into each other….

            That’s for 40% of all our electricity. To get from 40% to 100% multiply by 2.5.

            36,040 x 2.5 = 90,100 acres for 100% wind. Divide by 640 to get 140.78 square miles.

            See a problem?

          • Peter Gray

            My numbers are quite similar, except for one minor item and one major. Minor: 3MW for “average turbine” seems high. Maybe for newly installed ones, but even then I’d want to see some data. I think Vestas is still selling their flagship 1.8MW model, and that seems closer to average for in-place wind farms.
            Major, but still not too important: you should have used 500, not 50, as a multiplier to get from a 1/4-acre road and base footprint to the overall windfarm area. 0.25 acre each seems on the tight side and maybe unrealistic in terms of how roads and pylons could disrupt plowing, harvesting, etc.. A bare-minimal access road for each turbine would take about 0.12 acre, so maybe it’s not too far off…

          • Bob_Wallace

            “This calculator estimates land-area requirements for wind power systems. The results indicate a “footprint” of land that has to be taken out of production to provide space for turbine towers, roads, and support structures.

            The “footprint,” which is typically around 0.25 acres per turbine, does not include the 5-10 turbine diameters of spacing required between wind turbines.”

            http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/power_databook/calc_wind.php

            I didn’t calculate an overall wind farm area.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I enjoyed the onion piece.

          • Peter Gray

            That’s a classic, isn’t it? I show it to my Econ 101 students as we get into the chapter on externalities.

          • Tony M

            As far as the potential effect of turbines on climate…well your point about mountains and canyons is kind of irrelevant because these features are proven to have large effects on regional climates.

            Thermal Transfer is quite a complex subject from what I remember of it in my college days. It is an established fact that small wind farms of today caused localized effects on surface temperature and obviously wind speed. Dr. Keith and Dr. Adams are not the only ones involved in climatology or physics to express the same type of concern. Their work has also been dismissed by the WEA, and other RE advocates. I can’t say they are right but I don’t think your simple calculation proves them to be wrong either.

            The larger point is that powering a nation entirely or even by majority with wind-turbines is not so practical if even possible. We have to consider that 33% of the US is forest, and much of it isn’t within reasonable transmission distance of population centers. Then there are protected and private lands (which would probably lease for a hefty dollar if wind ever reached such a scale), bird migratory routes, and vast regions where local politics won’t allow for turbines to obstruct skylines. Then of course the fact that wind is variable plays a role in cost of electrical distribution.

            Meanwhile we have nuclear plants in the US generating emissions-free electricity at $0.03/kWh.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palo_Verde_Nuclear_Generating_Station

            I will continue to support wind and solar and no doubt a ton of turbines and many many panels will be deployed, but I see no reason to kill nuclear. Based on demonstrated history it is a very legitimate solution the the energy problem.

          • Peter Gray

            From what I’ve read elsewhere, the observed fact is that wind farms can sometimes cause a tiny temperature increase in the local microclimate. As the Keith paper acknowledges, that can only happen when there’s a temperature inversion, nearly always in the winter. Is this effect harmful? Maybe in certain special cases, if it causes orchard trees to flower early and then freeze. This kind of effect can ONLY come from mixing warmer air down to the ground – exactly what fruit orchards do now with those little fans (so maybe this is actually a benefit?). Wind turbines cannot increase temperatures overall, because they never add energy to the system (agreed?). Aside from winter, or at any time when there’s convection, wind turbines would have no measurable effect, since mixing on a far greater scale is already happening. The Adams/Keith paper seems to agree with that.
            Now you seem to be arguing that wind power would have scary effects on the environment if it were installed everywhere and produced 25x more power than we can consume – but on the other hand, the amount of land where turbines can be installed is severely limited by all those factors you list. Which is it? What’s the problem?
            I agree that all those siting issues exist. But if wind could supply our entire electricity demand, including transmission losses, from something like 40×40 miles, scattered in little pieces all over the place, it’s not at all difficult to imagine finding that much turbine-hospitable land. That’s a tiny piece of territory. The gigantic windfarms modeled in the paper may be a useful academic exercise, but to interpret their results as having anything to do with reality or policy is silly. The paper acknowledges as much.
            I stand by my calculations as being relevant. Yes, I know that mountains, canyons, etc. affect regional climate, but that doesn’t make my comparison irrelevant. My point was to put wind farms into their microscopic perspective by showing that they can have no meaningful effect on large or even medium-sized weather patterns. In my view, the soundbite sentence that you, the Harvard website, and RE opponents like to cite is sloppy to the point of being irresponsible. If you read the actual paper, they surround that statement with the strongest of caveats, but naturally those don’t make it out to the quotosphere.
            I see no reason to kill existing nuclear either. And I don’t dispute what’s shown on that page about Palo Verde. But a couple of questions: 1) if nuclear consistently produces $0.03/kwh power, why go the most nuclear-dependent parts of the country pay the highest utility rates? I really don’t know the answer. Do you?
            2) If it’s true that plants like Palo Verde produce power cheaper, safer, with lower emissions, than any other source but hydro (and use wastewater for cooling, too!), then why not just build more of those? They sound pretty perfect already. This is a non-rhetorical (though possibly naive) question.
            More to the recent point, what’s the problem that breeders and fancy modular pebble-bed or molten salt reactors are supposed to solve? If we can get all the clean 3-cent kwhs we want already, what’s the need for new, risky technologies, other than to keep engineers and national labs employed?
            The original and still often-cited justification for breeders was uranium scarcity, but that’s not a pressing issue. E.g., from calculations I remember from some years ago, if Japan had put the cash it wasted on Monju into a uranium stockpile instead, it could have fueled all its conventional reactors for the next 100-150 years.
            The other breeder excuse was the magic waste disposal notion. But you’ve claimed that waste disposal is only a political, not a technical issue. If so, why do we need new kinds of reactors to solve this non-problem? That’s aside from the findings discussed in the report I linked, and elsewhere, indicating that reprocessing generates more waste/kwh, not less.
            Can you help us get the pro-nuke story straight, Tony? I don’t mean that sarcastically.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Couple of additions….

            There’s some data that shows a slight drying effect immediately under turbines. That might reduce graze/crop yield a bit in dryer locations. But it doesn’t extend past the wind farm.

            Then, based on a report by the NYT many of our reactors have operating costs considerably higher than the claimed 3 cent figure.

            “According to an internal industry document from the Electric Utility Cost Group, for the period 2008 to 2010, maintenance and fuel costs for the one-fourth of the reactor fleet with the highest costs averaged $51.42 per megawatt hour.

            That is perilously close to wholesale electricity costs these days.”

            This is the article published last fall which foretold the closing of the four reactors we’ve seen shut so far in 2013.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/energy-environment/economics-forcing-some-nuclear-plants-into-retirement.html?_r=1

          • Tony M

            Thanks for the reply,

            I have to admit that I don’t have the least bit of expertise to tell you whether or not pulling TWhs of energy from the wind can affect climate or not. Obstructing thermal transfer to such an extent seems like it would surely have some measurable effect to me but that is not based on any sound reasoning just intuition. But whether or not Dr Keith was misquoted or mis-spoke he is documented as having said this:

            “Our findings don’t mean that we shouldn’t pursue wind power—wind is much better for the environment than conventional coal—but these geophysical limits may be meaningful if we really want to scale wind power up to supply a third, let’s say, of our primary energy,”

            “What’s not clear—and this is a topic for future research—is what the practical limit to wind power would be if you consider all of the real-world constraints. You’d have to assume that wind turbines need to be located relatively close to where people actually live and where there’s a fairly constant wind supply, and that they have to deal with environmental constraints. You can’t just put them everywhere.”

            As far as nuclear, yes US and Canada have plants that produce electricity at very low prices, but there are other less exemplary plants as well. Each nuclear plant was essentially custom built, some much better than others. The support and or opposition each site received varied greatly as well. Also the regulatory requirements of the time-period changed greatly. We can’t consistently produce nuclear electricity at 3c/kWh now because the regulatory environment has changed and much “ratcheting” (an important term) has occurred – primarily much more skilled labor and regulatory review is required. If you want to learn about how nuke prices have escalated here is a great resource:

            http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

            I don’t want to dive deeply into this topic now, but it is obvious that if we achieved economic success with nuclear in the past that it is not out of the question we can do it once again. Thinking so is not some crackpot idea, many prominent people in energy and technology share this viewpoint.

            I just want to let you know I am not some nut nuclear supporter, I fully understand the viability of wind and solar and am actually relatively new to researching nuclear energy. I am a contrarian by nature, which led me to work in the PV industry where I am now. Immersed in a majority of PV supporters my contrarian nature made me start to question some of their common arguments, and obviously having inside PV experience gave me a bit more insight as to what the market was really like and what the reliability was really like.

            As far as development of fast reactors or different nuclear designs…. Well that answer is pretty obvious. Fast reactors can allow for a nearly closed fuel cycle because spent fuel can be reused multiple times with only a small amount of fissile material introduced each time. This makes uranium a nearly inexhaustible fuel for all practical purposes. And of course it circumvents long-term storage for the most part (a tiny fraction of waste with a much shorter half-life will still need to be stored). Other reactor types like the pebble bed seek to run on abundant thorium instead of uranium. Other designs (including the Integral Fast Reactor) promise to have no potential for melt down at all. The pros and cons of all of these types is quite complicated. And as you surely know developing a design is very very expensive and requires government approval/sponsorship. because of this nuclear fission innovation is still quite immature.

            Essentially, if large groups cooperate you are not going to find an energy source (aside from non-existent fusion) which requires less labor or raw materials per kWh than nuclear energy. If it is possible for the costs of safety and regulation to be contained (which is the current problem) then there is no energy source with a better case economically.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” You’d have to assume that wind turbines need to be located relatively close to where people actually live and where there’s a fairly constant wind supply,”

            Clearly Keith gets this wrong. People simply don’t live in our most windy areas in large numbers. In fact, no one lives where our best wind resources are found. Offshore.

            Hooking those areas to urban centers will cost, but it’s a cost whose return stretches over many decades, if not centuries. The upfront costs of route planning, land acquisitions and permitting are one time costs. Most towers are going to function for over 100 years. There will be some O&M costs but they will be insignificant once the system is paid for.

            ” it is obvious that if we achieved economic success with nuclear in the past that it is not out of the question we can do it once again”

            It is not at all obvious to anyone who has been paying attention.

            Construction costs are vastly higher than they were in the 1970s. Safety requirements are (necessarily) higher than they were in the 1970s. There is more public opposition which drives up cost. There are fewer acceptable sites since inland cooling water is very limited and our seacoast areas are more densely developed.

            Renewable energy and natural gas generation are extremely cheaper than they have been in the past. Renewable energy will almost certainly be even cheaper by the time a new reactor could be brought on line.

            In the 1970s nuclear had only coal as a competitor and it made a false promise of being too cheap to meter. Now nuclear has very strong price competition and we’ve developed a distrust of nuclear’s promises.

            Obviously you refuse to read the paper Peter linked for you. Or you read it and choose to ignore it. Breeders are kaput.

            It does not matter what the fuel source for reactors might be. It is construction cost and financing that make them unaffordable on the free market. Honest inclusion of taxpayer subsidies make nuclear energy horrendously expensive.

            You continue to post the same old crap after people point out your errors to you over and over.

          • Tony M

            Bob, you don’t think nuclear can be cheap. Good for you.

            It was cheap. It is currently cheap in China. There is a large contingent of prominent scientists and entrepreneurs globally that think it can be cheap again. Renewable energy is not the only area that is garnering private and public investment interest.

            Your opinion means little to me as I’m sure mine means little to you. So lets just leave it at that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear is nowhere as cheap in China as some want us to believe.

            Overnight cost, which is what pro-nuclear people like to quote, is inadequate accounting. Either financing or opportunity loss must be included.

            China has a very strong central government. That means that their projects are not delayed by public opposition and if they want a site, they simply move the locals out of the way.

            That is not possible in the US. One can not take the cost of building a reactor in China and apply it in the US.

            Why don’t you leave off posting stuff that simply is false? By now haven’t you started to realize that your opinions lack substance?

          • Tony M

            I said nuclear is cheap in China.

            Since we know operating costs of nuclear is rather low compared to the total, then $2/kW overnight which has been documented still leaves the overall cost quite low.

            Cheap is a relative term, but for a clean energy source nuclear is most definitely cheap in China.

            Have a good day.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You continue to account for only part of the costs of nuclear in order to maintain your claim that nuclear is cheap.

            That is dishonest.

          • Tony M

            Yes so please estimate what the all-inclusive cost is beyond the $2/kW based on demonstrated history.

            You will find that it still qualifies as a very cheap clean energy source.

          • Peter Gray

            I think you have enough expertise to say something about whether “pulling TWhs of energy from the wind can affect climate.” Just do your own kinetic energy calculations, as I did. Any problem with how I found that in the worst case, a tiny fraction of 1% of airmass kinetic energy could be extracted by turbines?

            One might even claim that because higher temperatures are part of the problem we face, to the extent that some of the turbine work output becomes embodied energy in products, they’ll benefit the climate. I’m not going to say that; instead assuming all the energy will end up as dissipated heat, just as the wind’s kinetic energy will. A wash on energy and a wash on weather.

            “You’d have to assume that wind turbines need to be located relatively close to where people actually live and where there’s a fairly constant wind supply, and that they have to deal with environmental constraints. You can’t just put them everywhere.” Really? Yet we have huge hydro dams in the PNW. Why not big wind farms in South Dakota, closer to Chicago, Denver, and Indianapolis than Grand Coulee is to Los Angeles?

            What’s your evidence that ratcheting of labor and regulatory costs apply particularly to nuclear? More to the point, how will new, untested reactor types solve that problem?

            “Fast reactors can allow for a nearly closed fuel cycle because spent fuel can be reused multiple times with only a small amount of fissile material introduced each time. This makes uranium a nearly inexhaustible fuel for all practical purposes.” Yes, we’ve heard that claim countless times, and earlier I addressed it as, for the foreseeable future, a solution to a non-problem. When fuel and maintenance contribute $0.0013 to the marginal cost of nuclear power, why do we need to spend even more $Bs to develop ways to reuse uranium?

            Your standard industry answer: “And of course it circumvents long-term storage for the most part (a tiny fraction of waste with a much shorter half-life will still need to be stored).” is so far a fantasy. Reprocessing is an enormously messy, costly undertaking that typically multiplies the volume of waste, and it creates proliferation risks that up to now are inescapable.

            Thorium sounds good at first glance, but it wasn’t discovered just yesterday, and there are good proliferation reasons why it’s been off the table. You think having thousands of tons of weapons-grade fissile material in commercial circulation is a good idea?

            “…developing a design is very very expensive and requires government approval/sponsorship. because of this nuclear fission innovation is still quite immature.” Ha-ha! Still immature after 75 years of heavily funded R&D? Still 20, 30, 40 years ahead before these new designs can be commercialized? (according to the more realistic optimist proponents) Maybe something more fundamental is going on that we should pay attention to.

            Again, if we have at least a few reactors that have made cheap, safe power for decades, why not copy more of those, instead of spinning off into la-la land? Not standing behind that option would seem to be an admission that those plants aren’t so great after all.

            It’s funny how nuclear enthusiasts (not you, but the sources you’re reading) are quick to claim that nuclear is still an infant in the cradle and needs open-ended support. And they’re just as quick to imply that we know everything we need to or ever will know about wind and solar, and “they only provide x% of our energy,” and they should be dismissed out of hand. Never mind that PV has lately been growing faster than nuclear ever did.

            “If it is possible for the costs of safety and regulation to be contained (which is the current problem)…” Yes, IF. There are good reasons for those costs to be high. Are you unaware of them, or do you think they can be wished away?
            The thing is, we’ve been through this debate, over and over and over again for the past 30+ years. While I don’t share Bob’s knee-jerk opposition to nuclear, I can understand his frustration with having to plow the same ground again.

            On the other hand, I think the best case for nuclear, that you’re sometimes making, is that we have some reactors for which a good cost and safety case can be made. If you want to reduce CO2 emissions quickly (kind of – still at least a 10-year lag, right?) and have the best chance to minimize oversight/NIMBY costs, building more of those would seem to be the best option. I would advise sticking to that program instead of wandering off into breeder and thorium land.

            And I’ll leave it to you to explain why most pro-nuke folks don’t seem to be on board with what I just described.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “While I don’t share Bob’s knee-jerk opposition to nuclear”

            Peter, I do not have a knee-jerk opposition to nuclear.

            My opposition to nuclear is based on years of reading and considering the pros and cons of nuclear energy.

            I few years back I held the opinion that nuclear was our route off fossil fuels. And that we would have to accept the possibility of a meltdown and the problem of radioactive waste because climate change was a larger, much more serious problems.

            But then as I watched the price of wind and solar generation drop, as I watched advancements in storage, and ass I read studies showing how an all renewable grid is not only feasible, but cheaper, safer and quicker to install – I developed a new opinion.

            If that’s a knee-jerk conversion, it’s one that took a couple of years, if not longer.

            Were you fresh-born with knowledge of the problems with nuclear energy?

          • Peter Gray

            Sorry I used “knee-jerk,” Bob. That was uncalled for.

            I worked for a number of years on the effort to end nuclear weapons testing and production, so I got more than an earful of anti-nuclear energy arguments from my colleagues – some of which I agree with, some I don’t. The relationship between weapons and energy production is complicated. they’re not so identical as the antis would say, nor can they be cleanly separated, as proponents would like us to believe. And I too have done a great deal of reading about all of it.

            At this point I have mixed feelings about nuclear power, as you seem to have had, although I lean toward your position a lot more than Tony’s, as should be evident from my comments. By the way, though, I still think your side of the flamefest has been markedly less civil than his, and I don’t agree with trying to block his comments.

            In my ideal world, largely as an economist, I’d like to see all the significant identifiable externalities internalized – for all energy sources. No free ride for anyone. This means a hefty carbon tax on all fossil fuels as they are extracted, a tax based on some reasonable estimate of expected damages from nuclear, and a fee for bird kills by wind turbines, at some fair societal value for those. While we’re at it, though, we should tax cars, skyscrapers, and powerlines for all the birds they kill – and cats. Yes, I’m serious. That would at least put those issues in proper perspective. From what I understand informally, cars kill a lot more birds than turbines do, depending on how measured. At Wild Horse they make some kind of comparison on the order of saying that you’re more likely to kill a bird during your drive from Ellensburg and back than the whole wind farm is during the day of your tour. And don’t get me started about cats…

            I’m not imagining we could ever do this perfectly, but any step in the right direction would help. A carbon tax would eliminate the need for renewable subsidies, carbon footprint calculations, vehicle efficiency mandates, and all sorts of other complicated workarounds. Markets would take care of the details. Same thing about declining wind/solar/storage prices. No need to worry about that; just let them do their thing.

            Again in my fantasy world, I’d like to see all serious responsible parties agree on a method for estimating those external costs, on appointing a balanced commission or agency to do the calculations, and commit to accepting the results.
            If it turns out that the /kwh damage estimates for nuclear are lower than you or I expect or want, that’s life. So we operate some plants longer than expected, or build a few more. Maybe we’ll live to regret that. But if RE is as promising as you and I believe, it will win out soon enough.
            On the other hand, without dealing with externalities, we’re doomed to endless rounds of inefficient regulations, fruitless “your subsidies are bigger than mine” arguments, and little progress on reducing emissions. That’s just what the fossil fuel industries want, which is why they’re so opposed to a carbon tax. By the way, I co-wrote a paper comparing carbon tax to cap-trade a few years ago, and I’d be glad to send it to you if you’re interested.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Peter, I see a very low probability of either a significant carbon tax or charging for externalities in the US. Especially with the sort of people who wear the label ‘Republican’ in our Congress.

            You can crank through the numbers, but there is not sufficient political will/power/whatever you want to call it to make it law.

            We are going to get some portion of coal pushed over the cliff by PBO’s use of his regulatory power. In fact, about 20% of our existing coal capacity is on the way out, soon.

            Wind and solar will take market share away from natural gas, especially as the price of NG rises and the price of solar continues to fall. Utilities are starting to understand that a sweet PPA for wind or solar locks in a fixed price for 20, 30 years and protects them from fluctuations in fossil fuel markets.

            We, and a few other countries, will probably build a new reactor or two just so that we, once again, be reminded that the damn things cost a fortune, always come in way over budget, and well over schedule. And then when they are up and running they require very large amount of cooling water and they have to be shut down when it gets really hot. Which is when we need power the most.

            We’re kind of stupid. We let Lucy talk us into letting her hold the ball over and over and over.

            Now, stick around on this site and you will see a self-replenishing supply of Tony’s who have seen a video on YouTube and read some nuclear industry junk and know it all. Absolutely know that thorium/MSR/molten salt/Gen III+/Gen IV/breeder/fast/what the Chinese are cooking up reactors are the answer.

            They saw the Video!!! We must watch the Video so that we Understand!!!!!

            You apparently teach at the college/university level. If you teach any entry level courses you much get your annual supply of students who arrive with “The Real Truth”!!!

            Doesn’t that get tiresome? (It did for me which is a major reason I gave up my professorship and went off to do other things.)

            Ah, I run on. I’m still vibrating from an hour or so spent with a 2 cycle weed-eater on a steep slope.

          • Tony M

            Thanks again for the response,

            The chief problem with simply doing kinetic energy calculations is that the thermal component is not accounted for. The other problem is that it assumes the modeling work of a reputable physicist and a reputable climatologist to be completely wrong. They could be overstated, but to be so completely off seems unlikely, though admittedly possible.

            In regards to having turbines close to population centers – this is an economically imposed need. Transmission costs are more expensive than you might realize and a byproduct is power loss.

            My evidence for ratcheting of safety requirements in nuclear energy:
            http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

            Of course we should continue to use LWRs, that of course is the general plan behind the Small Modular Reactor program that the US DOE is funding. If you pay attention to the middle east and China (among others) the plans for LWRs are quite formidable, and the costs in China quite low ($2/kW constructed).

            I don’t at all dismiss the potential of wind and solar.
            Air-borne wind turbines such as those being developed by Makani could be a game changer by avoiding 90% of raw materials, 20 MW turbines are also on the Horizon and these could greatly improve the costs of wind energy. For solar cells there is the potential for vapor deposition of C-Si which NREL is working on which could avoid substantial wastes of Si in the wafering process. Many ways of using cheaper substrates are also being developed. With wind energy and photovoltaics we have the Betz limit and and the
            Shockley Queisser limit respectively which give us a pretty good idea of achievable
            efficiencies. It is a matter of fact that the potential efficiency gains in
            nuclear energy are far greater, though possibly more difficult to achieve.

            The fast reactor concept isn’t something that will happen soon in the US, but I don’t doubt Russia will achieve their own domestic plants in a decade. Thorium may be la-la land, but the fast reactor doesn’t quite qualify for that description,the Integral Fast Reactor program in the United States has quite a
            backstory that spans over a decade, the plug was pulled for political reasons with the influx of the Clinton administration (Clinton was a huge coal supporter at the time). The idea isn’t a pipe-dream that can be so easily dismissed. The concept will continue to be on the radar because it minimizes – waste storage, new uranium mining, and the potential for meltdown. There is no fuel processing barrier that you refer to. Providing a 20% mixture of highly enriched uranium has been demonstrated and accounted for in the design. The pitfalls of the Megatons to Megawatts program is a different issue altogether.

            I don’t take the Thorium reactor people so seriously because commercialization is decades away at best and no legitimate group seems to be on the path to get there. China and India are doing some research, but neither has any real history of bringing reactor designs to market, especially not with a new fuel.

            If you want to doubt that nuclear is rather immature that is you own prerogative. But the fact that most powerful entrepreneur in the world, Bill Gates, has to go outside of the United States and is entirely reliant on the cooperation of China, Korea, or India to develop his company’s reactor design has to be some indication of how difficult it is to even begin development of an innovative design. Constructing a new wind turbine or solar cell prototype requires a fraction of a fraction of the up-front capital, and no government approval. The photovoltaic concept is older than the nuclear energy concept, and while substantial amounts of funding have been spent on nuclear energy technology, it hasn’t been allowed to deviate from the early path it was set on by military need. It doesn’t need open ended support, just reasonable support.

            “There are good reasons for those costs to be high. Are you unaware of them, or do you think they can be wished away”?

            http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html
            Take a look at the link above for starters. You are a bit uninformed on this part. There are many many non-critical components in nuclear reactors that are regulated as having critical safety function. This adds a tremendous amount of cost. The amount of skilled labor in construction and operation is also excessive. Aside from inflation, material costs for reactors have risen very little, it is the cost of required skilled labor that has made nuclear reactors so expensive. The opinion that regulatory costs can be cut without sacrificing safety is not misguided and is quite common.

            Obviously building units modularly rather than custom can cut costs. So can building more components in a factory setting rather than on the construction site. Incorporating less components, building reactors smaller to avoid excessive capital costs etc. There are many ways outside of regulatory reform to cuts costs and these are being worked on by players in the industry.

            No there hasn’t been such substantial chatter about cutting costs of nuclear the past 30 years. Global warming has changed the game entirely so much so that the US DOE is even involved in the cost cutting effort. I wouldn’t doubt if wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal advancements could all make this a moot point, but no one really knows yet and that is why those with enough honesty subscribe to the ‘all the above’ strategy.

          • Peter Gray

            “The other problem is that it assumes the modeling work of a reputable physicist and a reputable climatologist to be completely wrong. “The chief problem with simply doing kinetic energy calculations is that the thermal component is not accounted for.”

            Huh? What thermal component did I not account for? Wind turbines extract kinetic energy from the air, transmit something like 90% of it as kinetic energy in the form of electricity, and the rest becomes heat. But the kinetic energy in wind would eventually be dissipated as heat anyway, sometimes through friction, sometimes through evaporating water. That’s what I said in the first place. Show me what’s wrong with it.

            Wind turbines don’t add any energy to the system, so they can’t be adding thermal energy.

            “The other problem is that it assumes the modeling work of a reputable physicist and a reputable climatologist to be completely wrong.”

            I didn’t assume or say anything of the kind. Read the paper, and reread my comments. According to their modeling, which I did not dispute, under specific wintertime “worst case” conditions, with a laughable wind turbine density 25 or 50 or 60 times greater than plausible, they show that there could be slightly higher surface temperatures in some regions. That’s not at all comparable to global warming, which does add tremendous amounts of energy by trapping it in the atmosphere.

            The mistake that I objected to was in their wacky comments equating the local temperature effects of mixing slightly warmer air from above, down to ground level, to mentioning “maybe even worse effects than from doubling CO2.” No matter how reputable they are, that’s a stupid and highly misleading statement – that should take their reputations down a hefty notch if there’s any justice in the world.

            Orchard owners all over the country run fans by the millions every Spring, purposely mixing warmer air down to the ground. Is that a problem for the climate? Of course not, or at least no more than from anyone else who burns the same amount of energy. Even though they add a tiny amount of heat to the system when they do it. Wind turbines don’t even do that.

          • Tony M

            Obstruction of thermal transfer is the issue, winds are thermal transfer, simply calculating the extent to which they are slowed does not quantify the impact that slowing them has on regional temperatures or weather patterns.

            I am fairly certain that powering an industrial nation with a majority of wind power would cause very measurable regional climatic alterations at the least. This is based on the effect that comparatively small wind plants have now, and also on the findings of this modeling. Perhaps this will be acceptable to society, perhaps not.

          • Peter Gray

            “Obstruction of thermal transfer”?
            “winds are thermal transfer”?

            Any idea what you even mean by those phrases? Like, specifically? Maybe even with an example or two?

            “[Your whole second paragraph]”

            Wow, that’s a compelling argument! What do you actually have beyond hand-waving and making things up? Did you read the actual paper? Can you cite a shred of evidence that wind farms could have areal effects within 1% compared to deforestation, reforestation, irrigation, planting crops or not planting them? How about building cities or paving thousands of square miles of land? Strip mining for coal or uranium?
            Each of those activities can cause significant effects on heat absorption, reflectance, evaporation and humidity…none of which can be attributed to wind plants. The only exception might be slight increases in evaporation in some local areas – but only in the winter, when there’s little evaporation in any case.

            Yet none of those other activities are considered to have weather/climate effects anywhere close to that of AGW, and we don’t much worry about any of them, except maybe continent-wide rainforest destruction.

            From what I read in the paper, the effects they found in modeling were limited to small transient temperature increases, strictly limited to conditions with little or no convection, which usually means high lattitudes in winter. And of course this can only happen when there’s a good bit of wind. Which means that the same kind of mixing will be caused by fixed objects such as rocks, trees, canyons, ridges, buildings… Can you point to any evidence that we’d be better off by wiping out all those things and grading the land to a smooth polish? To avoid that little temperature mixing thingy? Of course not. There can be no cumulative effect, or broad climate effects, because wind plants do not add energy to the system. Period. You know that, right?

            With no energy addition, a slightly higher temperature in one spot will be balanced by a slightly lower temp somewhere else. Maybe by as much as 2 or 3 degrees F in each direction, in the most extreme possible case! Sure, that might sound like the effects of doubling CO2 from pre-industrial levels. But AGW increases T all over the planet, year-round. It’s not even close to a valid comparison.

            Sorry you’re hung up on this, but you might want to find a sturdier anti-wind straw to grasp. There must be something out there, or is this the best the antis can scrape up?

          • Tony M

            “Consensus on how to combat climate change cannot and will not ever be
            reached; there is no one ‘rational’ path to take … Any apparently
            inclusive agreement and rational discussion is rather a trick of power
            that disguises exclusion and inequality.”

          • Peter Gray

            What’s the point of this quote? Even if we knew who it came from, it looks kind of pointless, a recipe for throwing up our hands and giving up. Seems to me the writer is confusing both “consensus” and “rational” with “perfect.”

            The same kind of contentless observation could be made about any moderately complicated or interesting political or economic question. It’s just more obvious when the scale of the problem is the largest imaginable.

            This is the same kind of con that the coal & oil lobbies and Koch Brothers have been successfully working for 20-30 years. To caricature only slightly: “We don’t know exactly how much damage will be done by carbon emissions over the next several millennia, so we shouldn’t do anything that might harm some sector of the economy [i.e., us]. Let’s study the situation for another 20 years before we do anything drastic or threatening to the status quo.”

            Guess what! Twenty years later, we still won’t be any closer to a final, perfect, definitive answer about the damages, let alone who should make which sacrifices to reduce them.

            I never cease to be amazed at how easily people are persuaded that there’s an option of not putting a price on fossil carbon. We (U.S.) are putting a price on it that just happens to be zero (or less, depending on how you count subsidies). We know that’s the wrong price, so any step in the right direction – upward – would be progress.

            To hell with worrying about perfect consensus or finding the one clear shining rational path. Life is never perfectly fair. The point is to try making it less unfair.

            Without knowing the source or context, I’d call that statement a load of BS that plays right into fossil industry hands, if it didn’t come directly from there.

            I see this as part of a well-rehearsed script, with some stages overlapping:
            1) It’s not happening. Hoax, conspiracy, socialist plot to destroy the economy. Scientists on the take! Show us your email!
            2) Maybe it’s happening, but it’s not our fault. Sunspots, natural cycles, “It’s been warm before!”
            3) Okay, it’s happening and we’re causing it, but it’ll actually be good for us. Plants love CO2!
            4) Well, it’s bad alright, but we don’t know how bad. It would be rash to try to do anything about it without knowing exactly what the effects will be – from now till forever. More study! Clean coal!
            5) Oops. Now it’s too late to do anything. Might as well get used to it. Adaptation! Geo-engineering! Move to Mars!
            We seem to be well into Stage 4, with overtones of Stage 5.
            We’ve been through this sequence before with smoking, leaded fuel, leaded paint, acid rain, ozone, you name it.

          • Tony M

            Sorry, I think you are misunderstanding, this isn’t a denier or Koch Brothers quote. But it helps of course if you had the context: the context was a response to an Australian environmentalist who was suggesting that a panel of experts should supercede parliament in mandating combative action toward global warming. That democracy won’t work with the global warming problem as it has been a failure so far.

            The point is that quantifying the true effects of global warming is nearly impossible and the motivation is going to vary greatly among members of society. Also government mandated solution for global warming is likely to favor one group who will benefit greatly from the selected solution.

            The point is that consensus on the issue will never be reached and making change is totally dependent on the complicated political process as we know it, no amount of scientific evidence is going to change that further.

            Essentially we all have to work together, and that mostly means that only the free market will decide how global warming is fought.

          • Peter Gray

            Sorry to put it bluntly, but this is pure nonsense and claptrap. Please see my offline reply and attached paper. To others who may be thinking the same way, please educate yourself on what a negative externality is, before looking like a fool in the comments.

          • Tony M

            I’m not saying we shouldn’t tax carbon, I am just saying that the likelihood of the US or China doing so to a significant extent in the next two decades is essentially zero.

            Globally speaking, any country that decides not to implement a carbon tax has a significant advantage economically. The costs of immediate externalities don’t necessarily effect the major corporations who heavily influence national policy, but rather they fall on the backs of private citizens and the government.

            The Obama administration has already set about to greatly reduce the amount of coal used by incorporating stricter regulation to make coal uneconomical compared to natural gas. Externalities with coal are relatively easy to quantify and many studies have done so with respiratory ailments and fatalities directly related to its release. The externalities of Natural Gas are much much more ambiguous (possible extreme weather? unknown temp rise?), and getting the US to agree on a carbon tax for an energy source which is essentially carrying the economy out of recession seems unrealistic at this point.

            BUT….The US will not have to put a price on externalities of natural gas in order to slowly phase it out because the economic case to do so already exists based on its historic volatility. Utilities will increasingly make independent decisions to invest in non-fossil generation to hedge against future volatility of natural gas. How quickly this happens is entirely dependent on how much costs can be cut in non-fossil generation methods.

            Right now wind is already a fairly legitimate means of hedging (though limited in crucial ways). The economics of Nuclear make it a fringe case for hedging dependent on price projections of nat gas. We don’t need a technology that is cheaper than nat gas (though that would be fantastic), we just need one that is close enough to make the economic case for hedging. Then market forces will drive the widespread adoption of said technology and prices will continue to fall.

          • Tony M

            I’m not saying we shouldn’t tax carbon, I would be for it. I am instead saying that the likelihood of the US or China doing so to a significant extent in the next two decades is essentially zero.

            Globally speaking, any country that decides not to implement a carbon tax has a significant advantage economically in the short term over a country that decides to do so. The costs of immediate externalities
            don’t necessarily effect the major corporations who heavily influence national policy, but rather they fall on the backs of private citizens and the government.

            The Obama administration has already set about to greatly reduce the amount of coal used by incorporating stricter regulation to make coal uneconomical compared to natural gas. Externalities with coal are relatively easy to quantify and many studies have done so with respiratory ailments and fatalities directly related to its release. The externalities of Natural Gas are much much more ambiguous (possible extreme weather? unknown temp rise?), and getting the US to agree on a carbon tax for an energy source which is essentially carrying the economy out of recession seems unrealistic at this point.

            BUT….The US will not have to put a price on externalities of natural gas in order to slowly phase it out because the economic case to do so already exists based on its historic volatility. Utilities will increasingly make independent decisions to invest in non-fossil generation to hedge against future volatility of natural gas. How quickly this happens is entirely dependent on how much costs can be cut in non-fossil generation methods.

            Right now wind is already a fairly legitimate means of hedging (though limited in crucial ways). The economics of Nuclear make it a fringe case for hedging dependent on price projections of nat gas. We don’t need a technology that is cheaper than nat gas (though that would be fantastic), we just need one that is close enough to make the economic case for long-term hedging. Then market forces will drive the widespread adoption of said technology and prices will continue to fall.

          • Peter Gray

            You still don’t really get it about a carbon tax. Please read the paper I sent you.

            “Globally speaking, any country that decides not to implement a carbon tax has a significant advantage economically in the short term over a country that decides to do so.”

            There’s no good theoretical or empirical evidence for this statement. To the contrary, the two nations I know of that have implemented a C tax, Denmark and Costa Rica, happen to be thriving compared to their neighbors. I’m not claiming that their success is a result of the tax, but it sure doesn’t seem to have hurt them.

            Do you have the slightest clue what you’re talking about? Government revenue must come from somewhere, so the most basic principle of taxation should be that we start by taxing harmful activities – the ones that create negative externalities. It’s not as if the govt. sucks up the money and dumps it in the ocean. When we tax an externality, we internalize it, reduce the harm, AND raise revenue. Win-win.

            If you had a basic understanding of taxation, you should also grasp that by shifting taxes away from income, which provides the great majority of U.S. federal tax revenue, and toward fuel, the economy will _benefit_ in the form of smaller deadweight losses. That’s before we even count reductions in the more local coal-related health externalities that you mention, and it’s particularly true in the short run, before ramped-up carbon taxes get very high.

            In the longer run the net economic effects of a much higher carbon tax aren’t so clear, but by then most of the transition away from fossil fuels should be over. Revenue, and broad economic effects, would be small. And we’d have to switch to other tax bases. So what?

            In any case, the dire predictions of heavy economic impacts from a carbon tax have been grossly exaggerated by people such as the Koch brothers. _They_ would feel the effects, but contrary to what they might imagine, they do not constitute the entire economy.

            Think about it by example. Let’s say we put in a revenue-neutral carbon tax by collecting all the taxes, dividing by the population, and sending equal “green dividend” checks to everyone. In the U.S., a moderately high tax of $20/tonne of carbon ($73/tonne CO2) would generate revenue of about $106/yr. per capita. We each get back a $106 check to spend as we like. A family of 4 gets a $424 annual refund. In what sort of imaginary world could that wreck an economy, even if the cash were dumped in the ocean or spent on digging holes and filling them?

            For reference, this tax translates to US$0.18/gallon, or $0.05/liter. Enough to notice, but hardly enough to take food out of any babies’ mouths.

            By the way, poor people spend less on energy, even though they spend a bigger fraction of their income on it. The average poor person thus comes out ahead on the deal, and richer ones get back less than they put in. Unless and until they reduce their fossil carbon consumption.

            Now you have a choice. You could spend your family’s $424 on fuel for your gas-hog SUV, at those slightly higher prices. Or you could invest it in roof insulation, PV panels, a more efficient car, LED lighting… And you’d have the incentive to do that, to avoid the tax. Which is the whole point.

            In the long run, as global CO2 concentrations go up, so do the marginal damages, and so should the tax. If new research shows that the harm is greater/less than we thought, the tax would be adjusted upward/downward.

            “I am instead saying that the likelihood of the US or China doing so to a significant extent in the next two decades is essentially zero.”

            This too is a convenient myth promoted by Kochs et al., and taken for granted far too widely. It may be true that U.S. politicians promote taxophobia for their ends, but several opinion polls (that I can’t link to offhand, dammit!) have shown that when Americans get even a minimal and honest explanation of the rationale for such a policy, strong majorities support it. See the ’09 Mellman Group poll we cite near the end of the paper. What’s missing is education and articulate leadership. Sadly we’re missing those, even in Obama, who has abjectly failed to do his job in this department.
            As for China, check this out:
            http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/02/26/carbon_tax_treasury_nominee_jack_lew_says_obama_won_t_propose_one.html

          • Tony M

            Its a response to an Australian environmentalist who believed that democracy couldn’t be effective at addressing global warming, and so a group of experts should supercede paliament in mandating climate action.

            The point is that the effects of global warming are on a sliding scale, the value in and willingness to fight it is going to vary from individual to individual. A Government mandate is likely to heavily favor one group or industry and lead to exclusion, while also being rather slow and expensive.

            Using the free-market and democracy to address the problem is more difficult at first, but the free-will of society would not be underminded, and all groups have the opportunity to pitch in as the market dictates. Having a solution that is cheap is undoubtedly the key to rapid and widespread adoption (ie the expansion of natural gas in the US) rather than implementing policy that requires expensive solutions to the lament of both those in power and those struggling to get by.

          • Tony M

            Not able to reply for some reason

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Finally somebody willing to call this bs for what it is. I have no idea how anybody can be fooled by such stupid statements but, well, apparently they can. Thank you Peter Gray for putting some numbers on it so those lacking common sense can understand how idiotic this idea about severe weather change due to wind turbines is.

          • Peter Gray

            Thanks so much, Ivor! I think it’s healthy all around to call BS on that kind of thing from any direction. I’ve committed some of it myself, and I appreciate it when someone points it out soon enough to help me avoid being a total jackass…

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” That’s 2% of U.S. land area, still not much, but 500 times more than Bob’s number. Does 141 sqmi refer to the area of all the pylon bases added up?”

            Yes, Peter. If you read what I wrote my 141 square miles refers to the quarter acre required per turbine for tower footing, access roads, transmission and ancillary buildings.

            I based my number on 3 MW turbines since I was projecting future turbine installations. You based your numbers on smaller turbines. The size we’re now starting to take down and replace with larger turbines as we upgrade our wind farms. Your ‘per turbine’ calculation ended up about twice as large as mine because you assumed we would return to smaller turbines in the future.

            I said nothing about the *area* of wind farms because it is irrelevant. Other than the quarter acre used by each turbine the other 98%+ of the wind farm area is still available for original use.

            Your argument that we should focus on total wind farm area is misleading.

            Suppose we put a nuclear reactor up in the northwest corner of Washington, one down below San Diego, one south of Miami, and one at the northeast tip of Maine.

            Would the area used for nuclear energy production now be 3,119,884.69 square miles (8,080,464.3 km2) or 779,971.1725 square miles per reactor?

            If the question is whether we have enough wind resource to provide 40%/60%/whatever percent of our electricity, then area comes into play. But that is entirely different than rebutting the erroneous claim that “We’ve have to use up all the land in the country” type comment to which I was responding.

          • Peter Gray

            I think I fully understand all your calculations.
            To say that wind farm area is irrelevant is not true in all cases. I brought it up because it IS relevant to the discussion we got into about how turbines might affect climate, for one thing. For another, the 141 sqmi figure kind of suggests that we could put one square mile in the suburbs of Chicago, another next to St. Louis, etc.. What I mean is, the other 98% of the land may be unaffected IF we’re talking about ag land far from any towns. Otherwise it often doesn’t apply. I wouldn’t mind having a turbine near the house, but I doubt we’ll see them installed in many suburban areas.
            It may be true that people who claim their health is affected by the horrible noise from turbines a mile away are making things up – I wouldn’t put it past them. But the fact remains that local opposition is a real obstacle. We’ve seen it right here over the view impacts. And no, they don’t seem to whine so much about the big power lines strung around the valley. I’m happy and proud to see rows of turbines on the horizon, but not everyone shares that view, so to speak. And I must admit that the the wind farm is a lot more eye-catching than the power lines.
            My other point was to use actual wind farm area in an effort to consider worst-case scenarios. I thought I made it pretty clear that even when we consider the entire occupied area, we’re still only talking about 2-4% of U.S. land area – to cover all our electricity or arguably all our energy demand. A far cry from using up all the land in the country. And we can’t so easily be accused of trying to fudge or deceive with numbers.

  • Matt

    I would agree that most of the great spots for damn hydro are taken. The future for hydro will be low head in exists navigation damn. These were installed to keep the level of rivers navigational. And flow hydro, this is placing turbines in the natural flow of water without a damn; be that in the ocean or a large river.

  • Victor Provenzano

    First, hydro is not a “low carbon” source of power in the tropics, where the net carbon emissions of hydroelectricity can be more than twice as high as those of coal because of the amount of methane that is created by the rotting plants and soil matter under the hydroelectric dam’s reservoir (see http://www.clf.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Hydropower-GHG-Emissions-Feb.-14-2012.pdf.) I am a big fan of Clean Technica and hope that all of your staff and guest writers will soon be more informed about this issue. Second, nuclear is not only not a cost-effective option compared to onshore wind or solar PV, it takes many years (as many as 10 or more) to build a nuclear plant, which leads to significant cost overruns; there is still no effective long-term storage option for nuclear waste; and the costs of decommissioning a nuclear plant are immense. Nuclear power leaves behind a widescale radioactivity problem for tens of thousands of years and hence, in the long term, it may be the worst single ecological choice that one can make. Over time, during the transition to a renewable economy, nuclear plants should be decommissioned, little by little, perhaps in this order of priority: first, those atomic plants whose designs are unsafe and that are the most vulnerable to natural disasters because of their location; second, all other atomic plants whose designs are unsafe; third, those atomic plants whose designs are more safe but that are still vulnerable to natural disasters because of their location; and, fourth, those atomic plants that are at the end of their shelf life.

    • Tony Montagna

      Storage of nuclear waste is a purely political, not technical issue. Also spent fuel is actually a resource that can be utilized in breeder reactors which are already in existence and will become more prevalent in the future with commercial deployment planned by Russia (investing billions in this area). Costs of decomissioning plants are usually included in fees or kWh upcharges to consumers, and on a per kWh basis do not make nuclear uneconomical compared to other clean baseload generation sources.

      Secondly, your claim that solar PV is beats nuclear in price is unsubstantiated. It is true in some cases but totally dependent on the solar resource and government incentives available in a given area. Of course neither solar PV nor on-shore or off-shore wind currently compete with nuclear as a baseload energy source. Even if they could the global scalability comes into question as I thoroughly demonstrate in a comment above to the author of this article.

      Thirdly, the cost of nuclear power plant construction in China is a fraction of the US, and export of Chinese assembled, US/Japanese engineered (Toshiba/Westinghouse) reactors is on the horizon.

      So whether you like it or not nuclear fission will certainly be common in the future, and so will wind and solar.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Storage of nuclear waste is a real issue. One for which we have no good solution. If we had one, we would be using it.

        The price of solar has clearly dropped below the price of new nuclear. Solar is now being installed for less than 10 cents per kWh. That includes no subsidies. No one suggests that new nuclear generation would produce for less than 12 cents per kWh and that number would not included taxpayer subsidies.

        China can build for a bit less than the US. They are a command economy. The citizens of China have little power and companies/the government can build reactors where they like.

        That is not possible in the US.

        Furthermore, the cost of new reactors in China used by pro-nuclear people are overnight costs. They do not include the cost of financing which roughly doubles the cost.

        BTW, China is having trouble completing their reactors on schedule. Just like is happening in Europe and the US. It looks like the two new Georgia reactors will be as much as four years late coming on line and that could put the owners in financial trouble.

        Nuclear won’t play a larger role than it now is. The nuclear fleet is aging and reactors are closing faster than new ones being built. The only places where reactors are being built is where governments are providing massive aid. Even China has cut back on the number of reactors that they planned on constructing.

        Thermal plants, coal and nuclear, are encountering problems with cooling water. This is going to become a larger and larger problem. We’re already seeing reactors being shut down during heat waves, when we need the electricity the most.

        The price of wind and solar continue to drop. We’ve got affordable storage coming on line. Nuclear simply doesn’t make financial sense.

        • Tony Montagna

          The US is of little importance to the global energy growth issue. Costs and conditions here are by and large not applicable to the rest of the world. So the fact that nuclear capacity will decline here isn’t significant. US R&D on the other hand is important (for export of our tech) which is the main reason we are involved in nuke research.

          As i said above, solar at 10c/kWh has happened, but it is only best case at this point, not the rule. Nuclear less than 12c/kWh is certainly happening in China, and China will soon be exporting US/Japanes engineered tech to enable the same low cost in other developing nations.

          China put a temporary hold on some reactor construction post Fukushima to assess safety issues. Since then officials have publicly announced intentions to grow nuke capacity to at least 58 GWe by 2020, then possibly 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050. An AP1000 reactor is about to come online with construction costs ~$2/kW. This price is hard for Chinese erected wind-turbines to meet, let alone Chinese erected turbines providing baseload power.

          How exactly was Yucca Mt technically unfeasible?

          You only paint part of the picture. Solar and wind are a great part of the solution, nuclear is too.

          • Bob_Wallace

            10 cents is where solar is now, best price. That is where we are headed. There and lower.

            I think if you check you will find your China prices are based on overnight prices and do not include financing. But that doesn’t matter. We clearly can’t build new nuclear in the US for 12 cents or less. Especially if you include taxpayer subsidies.

            China cut their nuclear build plans by one-third.

            Yucca Mountain was judged to be not viable over the life of the radioactive life of the waste. Besides it would soon be full. More reactors would mean we’d need more Yuccas and we can’t find even one.

          • Tony Montagna

            The numbers I stated for China’s nuclear aspirations are up to date, I believe this was announced a few months ago. Of course a goal is a goal, not a certainty.

            China prices are overnight, no financing needed because the loans are govt backed, which has happened in the US in the past and happens currently for solar and wind. Nonetheless this cost is extremely low and very competitive. Costs are expected to continue to drop on these 1000MW modular reactors, and the coming small modular reactors from China will only decrease the costs further:

            http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2013/05/17/westinghouse-and-china_1920_s-snptc-sign-mou-to-develop-and-deploy-small-modular-reactor-technology-_2d00_051703.aspx

            Nuclear has a cost problem in the US, which is exaserbated by Nat Gas and Wind energy. Since wind energy is essentially free once a turbine is erected, the wind kWhs take precedence over anything else, and this increasingly causes problems for nuke plants which are hard to ramp down and have a higher kWh cost. The ironic thing though is that a small amount of wind generation can cause a much larger portion of nuke generation to be uncompetetive in cost and go offline. The result is only an increase in emissions so I’m not sure it makes much sense. The wind should be used to displace something dirty, not something clean. Germany is pretty silly in my opinion to aim at taking their nuclear offline first rather than an equal amount of coal. Really makes no sense.

            Soon is a relative term, but Yucca MT would not “soon” be full. The entirety of nuclear waste produced by the US for energy generation in the past 50 years could quite easily fit inside an industrial wharehouse. The large majority of radioactive waste will be burned in future breeder reactors and will not require long term storage.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tony, you need to understand finances a bit better.

            Borrowing money costs you money. You get that. But what you don’t seem to get is that using money you have means that you can’t invest that money into something else. That also costs you money.

            Loss of opportunity.

            The Chinese are paying the capital expense/overnight cost of new reactors plus loss of opportunity costs.

            Using overnight costs to calculate cost of electricity is dishonest.

            You do understand that nuclear in the US is failing because wind and natural gas produces for less money. Good.

            You also need to realize that solar is also hurting nuclear.

            Wind and natural gas lower the floor price with merit order pricing. Solar lowers the ceiling.

            Nuclear loses money at night because wind and NG are cheaper. And it can’t make up those losses during the day because solar eats away demand and drops peak hour prices.

            Give this a read…

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/energy-environment/economics-forcing-some-nuclear-plants-into-retirement.html?_r=1

            It will give you a feel for the trouble existing – paid off – reactors are in. Since the article was written last fall four paid off reactors in the US have closed.

            If breeder reactors were the answer we would have built some and we wouldn’t have a fuel waste problem.

            I think you’ve spent too much time at the Energy Collective and bought into Rod’s and Charles’ line of bull.

          • Tony Montagna

            I never used overnight costs for the costs of electricity, I simply claimed that to be the cost of constructing the plant. Operating costs of a nuclear plant are not high to begin with, especially in China. And as I stated the cost of capital is negligible due to the government.

            There is a cost in unavailable capital, but this isn’t numerically included in cost estimates. It is a partial reason that the small reactors are coming.

            I understand that wind and solar hurt nuclear, but I don’t think it makes much sense financially or environmentally. For one we are using clean sources of energy to displace a very large clean source of energy. Makes absolutely no sense.

            Secondly, not only are wind and solar not punished with a grid regulation fee for being variable, they are actually accomodated and given pricing precedent over everything else. Doesn’t make much sense since smaller amounts of clean wind are kicking much larger amounts of clean nuclear off-line when the wind should be replacing coal or Nat gas. Its a broken system and I don’t think it will continue indefinitely in the US or other parts of the world. It is just there to help wind and solar get off the ground.

            “If breeder reactors were the answer we would have built some and we wouldn’t have a fuel waste problem”

            thats an illogical, “im set in my ways” kind of statement. you could just as easily say “if energy storage were the answer we would be using it by now”

            As with any developing technology there is an insane amount of detail behind the progress and viability of something. Breeder reactors aren’t some cooky idea that we don’t already know how to utilize. The US has full knowledge of fast-neutron reactors, the hurdles to market are regulatory and take considerable time and effort to overcome.

            But a country like Russia can and will overcome these same hurdles in a decades time as they plan to do with their own fast-reactor developed for desalination and electricity production:

            http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/russia-plowing-32-billion-into-nuclear-over-next-two-years/19417

            I don’t think I am full of Bull. I am making an effort to be factual, lets try to be civil here.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tony, you simply do not know what you’re talking about.

            You are badly misinformed. You’re claiming that there are things in papers you link which are not there. And you are claiming that you did not say what you have clearly said.

            You’re a waste of time.

            Here’s the bottom line. Nuclear is too expensive. Nuclear takes too long to build. Nuclear brings a type of danger into our lives which is just not present in any other technology and it carries its danger into future generations.

          • Tony Montagna

            Bob,

            What am I claiming that isn’t in my cited sources?

            Here are the real facts:
            -Nuclear is not too expensive in China or other parts of the developing world where growth in energy demand is the highest. it is currently the cheapest on-demand clean energy option.

            -France largely decarbonized their electrical generation in a matter of two decades with nuclear – not too slow.
            -Nuclear safety record on a deaths per kWh basis is impeccable and second only to wind energy.

          • Todd

            If nuclear is chosen to be decommissioned, I hope burning of fossil fuels does not increase, as seems to be the case in Germany. http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/London/German-coal-fired-power-rises-above-50-in-first-26089429

          • Tony Montagna

            Yes doesn’t really make sense to displace a large amount of clean energy with a smaller amount of another clean source, but that is where we are at with wind kicking nuclear offline.

          • JimBouton

            I always find it sad when people start talking about bringing nuclear into developing nations. I could just imagine all of the corruption taking place on those bids. I seriously doubt you will find any Japanese workers willing to go into a core-melted reactor in a country they don’t consider home.

            I notice that you haven’t mentioned the shining example of South Korea for nuclear. How come you haven’t brought them up? Maybe due to the corruption and people going to jail over forging fake certificates for safety? Or, that almost half of the reactors have violations or are shut down due to problems?

            How much was Yucca going to cost, again?

            Always amazed at how the pro-nuke club talks about Fukushima like it was a fender-bender.

          • Peter Gray

            Good points and well stated, Jim. Fukushima the fender-bender…LOL. Yes, amazing, but hardly surprising to see how that one’s being dismissed.

            Also fascinating to see the logical/rhetorical pretzels the pro-nukers tie themselves into. That would appear to be a sign of…well, fill in the blank.

            A: “Pay no attention to Chernobyl – that was just the stupid, irresponsible, corrupt Soviets.”

            B: “Hey, look! Russia and China are putting $billions into new reactor construction and breeder research. That must mean it’s a good idea. And their low cost projections prove that we should reduce burdensome regulation everywhere.”

            A: “To visualize the bright future of nuclear, look at where they’re really doing it right. France! Japan!”

            B: “Pay no attention to the cost and unreliability of French breeders; just remember how much promise they were supposed to have. Never mind that with the money it wasted on Monju, Japan could have stockpiled 100+ years of conventional reactor fuel. Fukushima? Special one-off case of cronyism, corrupt/ weak regulation, and bullheaded refusal to consider new information. Anyone coulda told you that (after the fact). Trust us, it couldn’t possibly happen anywhere else.”

            A: “Reactors have a wonderful safety and cost record, at least if you look at these over here and ignore those over there. The fuel is dirt-cheap and plentiful, only $0.00000003/kwh! Waste disposal is a political, not a technical problem.”

            B: “We really, really, really need to put $billions into developing fast-breeder reactors and modular ones and pebble beds and liquid sodium-cooled, and… This is urgent so we can: (1) Avoid the high cost and iffy safety of those primitive old-style custom-built reactors; (2) Re-use uranium to reduce cost; and (3) Burn up all the waste to avoid those intractable disposal problems (never mind that reprocessing increases waste volumes instead of reducing them).

      • Peter Gray

        Yes, breeder reactors exist, but based on their operational and cost history, only a fanatical advocate could conclude that they “will become more prevalent” anytime remotely soon, if ever. In the most rosy theory, breeders could be far more efficient uranium burners and also dispose of nuclear waste. In reality, despite tens of $B spent and 6 decades of effort – it hasn’t happened.

        Read this: http://fissilematerials.org/library/rr08.pdf, or at least the overview and the actual French and Japanese experience, since those are the main “success stories” breeder enthusiasts like to point out. Worldwide, breeder reactors have been a story of failure and unfulfilled hopes. This has been going on for 65 years, so there appears to be a pattern developing. I’d guess that breeders have a brighter future than fusion, but that’s not saying much.

        Whenever nuclear fails in economics or safety in one country, advocates are quick to point to another one and say “It’ll be cheaper (or safer) over there.” Next up: China, supposedly. Cheaper because of less oversight. And how has that worked out elsewhere? No amount of whitewash can cover up the fact that Fukushima was a full-on disaster, on par with Chernobyl, and pure luck as much as anything else kept it from being worse than Chernobyl. The spent fuel pools contained far more nasty stuff than the reactor cores, and several of them came very close to full meltdown/burnup. It could very easily have been Chernobyl times 50.

        All that said, I agree with Tony that spent fuel disposal is at least as much a political as a technical problem, and by some reasonable measures, nuclear has caused fewer deaths/kwh than most alternatives. [Bob, if you have better data, why not present it instead of dodging the question and calling names?] And yes, people often have an irrational radiation phobia and lack of perspective.

        But still, time after time, in country after country, nuclear has fallen far short of expectations on cost, even before we account for waste disposal, risk borne by taxpayers, and lavish R&D subsidies. For a realtime nuclear/solar comparison, look at which U.S. states have the highest installed solar intensity: not the ones with the most sun, but the ones with the highest utility rates – because of their high nuclear dependence.

        • Bob_Wallace

          On name-calling. My fuse was burned a bit short recently by an onslaught of spammers and trollers. If I called you a name I apologize.

          As for deaths per MWh of electricity produced we don’t have that data for nuclear.

          We do have records of each person who was killed while working on wind farms. That data includes someone who hit a turbine while hang gliding, someone who ran into a wind farm fence on their snowmobile, someone who snuck onto a wind farm and committed suicide, a group of Chinese officials who were setting up a display for wind and the display fell over on them, people delivering materials to wind farms and a dozer operator who was cutting an access road. Along with the legitimate falls and electrocutions.

          There is no comparable database for all the people who might have been killed/were probably killed while building nuclear reactors. I’ve found no database for people killed while operating nuclear reactors. (There were at least two deaths in the last year which were in the news.)

          People get killed doing big projects. We’ve got nothing to tell us if wind or solar project death rates are higher than nuclear project deaths.

          Nuclear fans like to claim that almost no one has died from radiation. Of claim that no one in the US has died from radiation during a meltdown. But that’s not meaningful unless they also report that no one has been killed by the wind or the Sun in a wind/solar farm.

          • Peter Gray

            Nice summary, and you’re exactly right about the hazards of building or operating any large industrial equipment. I’m curious where you got the info about someone killed by hitting a wind turbine with a hang glider. I’ve been flying hang gliders for 30+ years, and I’m pretty aware of what’s gonig on worldwide, but I’ve never heard of such an accident. I’ve flown near some turbines in Japan, and fairly close to them here in WA, and they’re nothing to take lightly, but everyone knows that – just like powerlines.
            As for nobody dying from radiation, yes, that claim is a lot like saying that no one has gotten lung cancer from smoking, just because we can never be 100% sure that tobacco caused any individual case. But the manmade radioisotope loading in the environment, mainly from nuclear weapons testing, has a pretty well-estimated risk, and some credible estimates put the toll at about half a million worldwide since 1945.
            Nuclear power has surely killed far fewer, but the death toll from Chernobyl and Fukushima are surely more than zero. A few dozen? Few hundred? Far fewer than the annual toll from coal, surely. The potential for far worse is always there, which is why nuclear plants can’t get private insurance. Wind and solar farms probably can.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m sorry, not hang gliding. Sky diving. As I was typing that something seemed wrong but I ‘shook it off’.

            There’s a guy who keeps a database of every death which could possibly be tied to the wind industry. I printed it all out a year or so back and went through it death by death to see which most people would consider a wind turbine/farm death and which were “stretches”.

            http://www.wind-works.org/cms/index.php?id=402&tx_ttnewstt_news=164&cHash=286b80c2e2af695492a9bb1d94513821

            No, the claim that some will make is that no *Americans* have died from radiation during a US meltdown. But they don’t say it that clearly. When pushed with Chernobyl, etc. they try to brush that aside. And when the issue of workers being scaled to death by steam leaks in nuclear plants they try to brush that aside as not being due to radiation.

            They attempt to define a very small domain for nuclear while holding renewables to a very large one.

            The bottom line is that nuclear energy is dangerous. That’s why we have things like containment domes and armed security guards.

          • Peter Gray

            Okay. Big difference between hang glidng and skydiving. This past Sunday I took my 17-year-old nephew for a hang glider flight from a 3,200-foot mountain down the road. We climbed to 9,600+ feet, then flew 10 miles back to the valley where we live, with great views of wind farms to the east and west. They make good wind direction indicators.
            Yes, I’ve seen a lot of that selective quoting of stats to make the safety argument, and I agree with your points. But we need to set a better example, and keep our credibility, by not falling prey to the urge to exaggerate or shade the facts. Like by being clear and realistic about things like the amount of land, number of turbines or panels, resources/energy needed to produced them, actual energy produced, etc.. For one small example, the first CFLs were oversold based on theoretically being 4x as efficient and lasting 10x longer, but few if any of them performed that well, and many burned out early or flickered or quickly dimmed. By now CFLs actually perform as advertised, but to this day, a lot of people remember that first experience and are reluctant to buy them.

          • Tony M

            Yes, I think that the PV industry has had that same hiccup and will continue to have it based on real and widespread reliability issues:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/business/energy-environment/solar-powers-dark-side.html?pagewanted=all

          • Peter Gray

            “The bottom line is that nuclear energy is dangerous. That’s why we have things like containment domes and armed security guards.”

            Okay, let’s follow this logic. How about taking a tour of your local international airport, or jumbo jet factory. What do you see? Tremendous attention to and expense on safety and security. Armed guards? Check. Redundant systems everywhere in sight? Check. Rigorous safety testing of every conceivable component? Check.
            Someone could look at all that and say “Wow, flying in an airliner must be really dangerous.” Over at least the past 15-20 years, that person would be obviously, provably wrong.

            Come on, Bob. That’s the sloppiest kind of reasoning, and you should know it. The existence of safety measures, or the occasional high-profile accident, proves nothing about the level of risk after the safety measures have been implemented. Note that I am NOT claiming that the existence of safety features proves that something is safe. Pointing to them as evidence for either conclusion is silly.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Come on, Peter. You can do better than that sort of reasoning.

            We put guards around airplanes because they are terrorist targets. Mess with one can you can kill a lot of people.

            We put guards around nuclear reactors because they, too, can be messed with and call immense damage.

            There’s not a lot of need for security around a solar farm other than preventing malicious damage and theft.

            Wind turbines need to be hard to climb so that people don’t fall and hurt themselves.

            We have many safety measures built into our airplanes in order to reduce the frequency in which they kill lots of people when something fails. (Like the pilot recently in SF.)

            We have many safety measures built into our reactors in order to reduce the likelihood of a failed system or operator melting the reactor down.

            We spend lots more money on safety measures for dangerous technologies than we do for low danger technologies.

          • Peter Gray

            Maybe I didn’t make my point clear enough, Bob, or I was too harsh in criticizing your logic, but I stand by my point.

            Of course I understand the reasons we need guards around nuke plants but not around wind turbines or solar farms. We all get that.

            My point is that you can say that extraordinary safety/security measures are good evidence that the technology is dangerous WITHOUT those features in place. But once they’re in place, why does it matter to anyone how safe the thing would be without them?

            Did I neglect to say that? I don’t think so. Please re-read my last paragraph.

            Just as it would be a misleading red herring to make the claim I suggested about airliners, your “The bottom line is that nuclear energy is dangerous.” is unsupported by evidence. It would have been accurate to say “Without elaborate safety and security measures, nuclear energy would be dangerous.” But so what? We don’t do it that way.
            I used to work in underground coal mines. Without serious safety efforts, they’d be extremely dangerous. Even with best practices, they’re somewhat dangerous, but a lot safer than they used to be (U.S.). But describing what they were like back in the 1920s contributes little to our understanding.
            Even with current safety features, it might still be true that nuclear is dangerous – but you didn’t give evidence for that. And it might be true that the cost of all that safety and security stuff makes nuclear uneconomical (same could happen with coal mining). The bottom line, to use your phrase, is how it all nets out WITH those measures in place. Pointing out what things might be like without them is a distraction at best.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Peter, you are playing word games.

            My statement somewhere back in history is that nuclear is more dangerous than wind or solar.

            We put reactors in containment domes, we install multiple emergency systems to minimize the chances of a meltdown and we surround the plants with armed guards.

            Now, by doing all those things we reduce the frequency of reactors melting down on us and so far we’ve kept the bad guys on the outside. But the fact that so far we’ve only melted a few does not diminish their ability to wreak havoc.

          • Peter Gray

            No, I’m not playing word games, Bob. I’m making a legitimate analogy that you still haven’t refuted or even addressed. Your statement way back in history was two discussion rounds ago.

            I know all that stuff about what we do with reactors. If we have any sense, we also do lots of stuff to protect ourselves from the very real dangers of gasoline. And chlorine gas in industrial processes. And airliners. And on and. What matters in every single case, including nuclear reactors, is how dangerous they are AFTER we implement the safety measures. How can you not get that?

            “But the fact that so far we’ve only melted a few does not diminish their ability to wreak havoc.” Sorry to say it, but that’s unalloyed bullshit. Containments and backup cooling and emergency generators and so on have unquestionably dimished their ability to wreak havoc, which is exactly what “reduce the frequency of reactors melting down on us” means. Like it or not, a reduced frequency of meltdowns, to a very low level, is the reality. Whether we’ve reduced the risk ENOUGH (by your lights or someone else’s) is a different question.
            According to both of our understanding, solar and wind plants don’t need such stringent safety/security efforts, thus they don’t have them. Chances are, that laxness contributed to the handful of fatalities from a falling display blade, mechanics falling out of nacelles, or whatever else appears on the silly list you cited earlier. Chances also are that more stringent regulations would have saved a life or two. And made wind power more costly.
            We accept that, don’t we? In any endeavor, it’s never worth reducing risk to absolute zero, because that’s infinitely expensive.
            You and I accept that fact of life in the case of wind, solar, and hydro. Why is nuclear any different? I don’t dispute that in some pure essential form, nuclear energy is more dangerous, per kwh or per capita, than wind. But we don’t find nuclear in that imaginary form, at least not since Marie Curie and the radium watch dial painters. We find it in a heavily regulated form, surrounded by safety systems. And that form is the only fair basis for risk comparisons. Risks from wind or solar should be based on how they are currently managed *in practice*, not on some imaginary situation where nobody cares about safety at all, or where they’re excessively regulated and safer than they really should be.
            One more time, in case I didn’t get it across on the first 4 attempts: I am NOT claiming that nuclear is safer than some or all other energy sources, although I’m open to the possibility that it might be. I am saying that it’s only fair to compare as these things are used IN PRACTICE. Please stop pointing to safety features as evidence that a system is dangerous with safety features included.
            What you’re doing is exactly the same as pointing to a car and saying, “Cars are extremely dangerous because they frequently get out of control and roll down hills and kill people. How do I know? Just look: they’re big and fast and heavy…AND they have BRAKES!”
            Why is this so hard to grasp?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Peter, this is the second time you’ve done this with me.

            You’ve taken a statement I’ve made and used it in a context different from that in which is was made.

            Here’s my statement:

            Nuclear reactors and nuclear energy are dangerous. They require elaborate and expensive measures to minimize that danger.

            Solar panels and wind turbines do not create the level of danger created by nuclear energy.
            —-

            Now, if you wish to talk about the effectiveness of those safety systems/measures you are free to do that. But that has nothing to do with the point I was making.

            Understand?

            (You did the same with wind. You took my measurement comment about the actual land required by turbines and started talking about wind farm area. Two different things.)

            You’re free to change the topic, but please don’t start ragging on me because I’m talking about something different that what you want to talk about.

            Especially when I make my comments before you join in.

          • Peter Gray

            Bob, maybe we just need to call a truce, but I searched this long, unwieldy comment thread and I cannot find the statement you refer to here. I do see this, posted just above my original reply:

            “The bottom line is that nuclear energy is dangerous. That’s why we have things like containment domes and armed security guards.”
            That’s the statement, complete and making up its own paragraph, that I responded to. Are my comments only legit if I go all the way back through hell and gone to find some other statement you made along similar lines?
            If you’re now claiming that you had no intention of implying that the domes and guards indicate that nuclear energy is more dangerous than other resources, in practice, I could accept that. But you haven’t said this at any point.
            Instead you’ve given a repeated litany of all the potential dangers of nuclear. They’re potential if they’re adequately managed or contained, and real otherwise. I’ve agreed to that right from the start.
            I’m not trying to split semantic hairs, and I still say that it’s disingenuous to imply that kind of connection between safety devices and risk, when it simply doesn’t follow in logic or in the real world (see airliner example).
            How did I try to change the subject? I responded directly to a clear statement you made. Seems to me you’re the one trying to change the subject to some other comment you made, that I can’t even find, verbatim or otherwise. Maybe it’s hidden.
            “Doing this to you again?” To me, the land area thing was a useful discussion about different ways to consider wind farm coverage, neither of which applies universally. Both of which can be useful. I learned something from considering your perspective. For one thing, if the 0.25 acre figure is accurate, and I don’t believe it’s far off, you could use something like 99.8% as the remaining usable land, rather than 98% (thus the 500x rather than 50x rule of thumb). I would have thought you might be happy to see that minor 10x correction in favor of your argument.
            Why take all this so personally? Isn’t this site supposed to be a place where people can discuss and learn? Not just to lap up feel-good propaganda and dodge the trolls? If I’m wrong about that, I’ll be glad to go elsewhere.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m more than ready to leave this thread behind.

            It’s got so many twists and turns that I lost ability to keep track of everything long ago. I didn’t have a good memory even when I was young.

            Stick around, I’ve learned things from you. I’ve got the breeder reactor paper on my short list of things to read. (I’ve made it through the summary/whatever it’s called but not the individual write ups.)

            We don’t agree on everything. I think the fact that we’ve had multiple reactor meltdowns and ‘outside’ people have died tells us that nuclear is more dangerous than wind and solar, but you see it differently.

            This site is, I hope, a place where people can discuss and even argue. But a place where people are expected to base their discussion/arguments on facts. Things that appear to be speculation/opinion but presented as fact are likely to be challenged. There’s little tolerance for misinformation.

          • Peter Gray

            ” I think the fact that we’ve had multiple reactor meltdowns and ‘outside’ people have died tells us that nuclear is more dangerous than wind and solar, but you see it differently.”

            I don’t believe I ever said or implied that, and it’s not my position. E.g., see my recent reply about Chernobyl. If somewhere in the middle of the very wide range of excess cancer estimates is true, that disaster swamps everything else in sight, except coal, which emits significant radioactivity, on top of everything else.

            Coal is an important exception, and it’s why I’m unwilling to totally dismiss future nuclear, although I’m highly skeptical of it.

            Of course, pro-nukers are quick to claim that Chernobyl was a one-off, graphite-moderated, no containment, blah-blah-blah that could never happen anywhere else. Yet we had 9 reactors of nearly identical design merrily churning out plutonium at Hanford up until the ’70s, with one of them operating until 9 months after Chernobyl. And Fukushima came extremely close to being Chernobyl times 10 or 20 or 50 (not accounting for the likely mitigating outcome of most of the nasty stuff falling in the ocean).

            On the other hand, it seems true that we have quite a few reactors operating safely for decades at relatively low cost. I’m not fully convinced that we shouldn’t build a few more of those in exchange for shutting down coal plants. As I’ve said in debates with Tony, I don’t quite understand why nuke proponents don’t want to stick with what they say works beautifully. Instead of high-risk, high-cost bets on breeders, etc..

            Yes, that breeder study is a good counterweight to the latest wave of propaganda. The best handy reference I know of on the topic.

            About the basis for argument and discussion…I think we’re on the same page there, but basing everything on “facts” is not so simple. There can be legitimate differences among careful thinkers about what constitutes a fact.

            I’ve read quite a bit lately in this area, and you might enjoy one or more of the following books: “Nonsense on Stilts” is an entertaining, thought-provoking study of what qualifies as sound science vs. pseudoscience; “Merchants of Doubt” is a bit polemical, but a great expose’ of a group of physicist/whores who have been on the wrong side of issues from tobacco to acid rain to global warming, badly undermining science along the way; and I’m halfway through “Being Wrong,” which is a nice exploration of the role of error in science, life, psychology, etc..

          • Peter Gray

            Hi Bob,
            This is not to continue that endless thread, but on a peripherally related topic – a minor point that’s been bugging me. Thanks for the http://www.gwec.net/global-figures/wind-in-numbers/ site. Even with their pro-wind bias and perhaps selective data reporting, those are very useful, not to mention encouraging, numbers.

            But one item puzzles me – this statement:
            “Wind power farms generate between 17 and 39 times as much power as they consume, compared to 16 times for nuclear plants and 11 times for coal plants.”

            I can’t figure out what that’s supposed to mean. It looks like they’re saying that wind farms consume between 2.6% and 6% of their generated power on-site, which frankly sounds high. And coal plants consume 9% on-site? That sounds high as well. More to the point, who cares? All that should matter for wind is how much comes out (maybe per $ spent), right? And what do we care about for coal, other than MWh out per ton in?

            I might be missing something, but it looks like a pointless comparison.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I took that as an awkward way of talking about EROEI (energy returned on energy invested).

            That wind turbines/farms have a 17:1 to 39:1 EROEI. I’ve read energy payback time varies between 3 and 8 months depending on how windy the site, so that spread seems about right. (39/17=2.3 8/3=2.7)

            Nuclear plants have a 16:1 EROEI and coal an 11:1 EROEI.

            You might search for EROEI for nuclear/coal to confirm.

          • Peter Gray

            Ahh! That makes some sense. It was stated so awkwardly that I didn’t recognize it as EROEI, but I’ll bet you’re right.

            Again I must be missing something, but I don’t follow the point of your arithmetic here: (39/17=2.3 8/3=2.7).

          • Bob_Wallace

            When I look at the “between 17 and 39″ and remembered the “3 to 8 months” it hit me that those numbers were both somewhere in the 2x to 3x range of each other.

            In best wind sites a wind turbine pays back the energy invested in 3 months. In the worst sites, about 8 months.

            In the best sites a wind turbine returns a 39:1 ration, etc.

            Best sites produce about 2.5x as much power as worst sites. I’m guessing.

          • Peter Gray

            Got it. I think. But if a turbine lasts for 20 years, wouldn’t the 3mo/8mo translate to an EROEI range of 30 to 80? I wouldn’t think transmission lines and maintenance would account for half the total EI…

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve tried to figure out the EROEI for wind and solar and have come to the conclusion that it’s of no importance.

            The EROEI of fossil fuels is important because (largely) we are using a finite source of energy to bring us more finite energy that gets harder and harder to obtain. At some point it makes no sense to use oil/coal to produce more oil/coal.

            Our “fuel” for wind turbines and solar panels is, for all practical purposes, infinite. At least for the next few billion years. (And after another billion years or so we may figure out how to use fusion.) We can build turbines and panels without fossil fuels.

            And we’ve got far more wind and sunshine that we would ever use to produce electricity. Way, way, way more than enough.

            So we can use huge amounts of wind and sunshine to produce more turbines and panels without running short on “fuel”. We don’t need to worry about what the EROEI is for turbines and panels.

            The important measurement for wind and solar is LCOE. It’s the cost of materials, labor and the cost of energy, not the energy input, per se.

            I know it’s kind of splitting hairs, but I just don’t see the EROEI of turbines and solar as important.

          • Peter Gray

            Right! I totally agree, and almost wrote some along those lines in my earlier reply. EROEI makes a lot more sense for coal and oil, and as you say, if we’re using wind power to make more turbines, EROEI doesn’t tell us anything.

            Not to split hairs, but we might get to the point where the EROEI for oil is zero or less, and it could still make sense to extract it, because the value of a convenient, dense liquid fuel is not simply its energy content. I remember some people claiming that this was already true for Canadian shale oil processed with gas, but I don’t think that turned out to be accurate. Yet.

            On a different scary topic, did you see this? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=arctic-methane-release-could-cost-60T.
            For perspective, courtesy of an continuing debate with Tony M., I did some numbers on a fairly steep $20/tonne carbon tax applied to China. Supposedly that would be a crushing burden for a developing economy, not to mention the world’s leading coal hog. Yep, devastating to industry, exports, quality of life…
            And it would come to:
            2.5% of current govt. revenue, or $40/capita-year, or 0.4% of GDP.
            But still enough to almost double the price of coal.
            Those economic impacts assume that all the revenue is dumped in the ocean, instead of making the tax revenue neutral by rebating it or offsetting it with reductions in other taxes. Compare that to the expected damage from near-term methane releases.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Hadn’t seen the SciAm article but had seen the same info in multiple other places.

            A 0.4% of GDP loss should be more than offset by improved worker health. And by health care savings.

          • Peter Gray

            I had read a fair amount about methane release, but hadn’t seen the damages from this one discrete event summarized so neatly.
            Yes, a carbon tax is not the best tool for reducing those other losses (it’s kind of like using a gasoline tax to reduce traffic congestion), but it would give that kind of side benefit.
            And keep in mind that this 0.4% is a beyond-worst-case fantasy scenario. Basic taxation theory tells us that when a relatively small new tax is offset by cuts in an existing large tax (like income in the U.S.), total deadweight losses will go down, benefiting the economy.
            It’s arguable whether this still applies when the tax reaches 50% of the price of coal, but $20/tonne is equivalent to about 5% of the U.S. price of gasoline.
            One of the biggest, most widely swallowed common wisdom myths of all time is that a strong-incentive carbon tax would be a net economic burden at all, never mind a big one.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We could implement a carbon tax and do nothing to damage the economy. Take the revenues from carbon producers and give them back at the monthly bill level.

            China is doing a version of this by taxing coal and giving the revenue to solar (IIRC).

          • Peter Gray

            Right. And it wouldn’t be a subterfuge or whitewash to call it an “environmental dumping ground users’ fee” instead of a tax. It’s actually more accurate and reflective of the intent and effects.
            Furthermore, naively taking cap-and-trade as an equivalent substitute for a carbon tax is a huge mistake. (discouraging news just today: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/25/business/global/a-carbon-tax-by-any-other-name.html?_r=0)

            I co-published a non-technical paper on this comparison several years ago, and I’d be glad to send you a copy. You might already know, but its peter underscore gray at wsu dot edu.

          • Peter Gray

            [Sorry if this comes up twice – the first time seems to be lost.]

            Right! I almost wrote about some of that earlier. EROEI makes a lot more sense for coal and oil, very little for renewables. As you suggest, when we’re using wind power to make more turbines, EROEI tells us just about nothing.

            Not to split hairs, but we might get to the point where the EROEI for oil is zero or less, and it could still make sense to extract it, because the value of a dense, convenient liquid fuel is not simply its energy content. A while back I saw some suggestions that Canadian shale oil processed with gas was already at that point, but I don’t think it turned out to be true. Yet.

            For some other scary news, did you see this? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=arctic-methane-release-could-cost-60T

            Thanks to a continuing debate with Tony M., I did some quick arithmetic on a moderately high carbon tax of $20/tonne, applied to China. Supposedly, such a tax would be an unbearable burden for any economy, but particularly a developing one, not to mention the world’s leading coal hog. It would devastate industry, make the country unable to compete in world markets, destroy the quality of life…
            Here are the results of a $20/tonne carbon tax:
            $40/capita-year, or 2.5% of total govt. revenue, or 0.4% of GDP. (but still enough to nearly double coal prices)
            That might approximate the “impact” of the tax IF all the revenue were dumped in the ocean rather than being rebated or offset by cuts in other taxes.

            Compare this to the expected effects (article linked above) of just _one_ of the phenomena that we’re setting in motion right now.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Peter – this is off the current topic but as an economist I thought you might appreciate reading it…

            It’s in a piece called “Why 100% renewables? Because it is inevitable.”

            “The Economic Case

            Investments in renewable energy are primarily investments in long-term price stability. Fossil fuels suffer from both generally increasing costs and severe price volatility. While most focus only the monetary price of fossil fuels, numerous studies have shown that it is
            the price volatility of fossil fuels that is most damaging to economies.

            Renewable sources of energy, because they have low to zero cost for fuel, offer fixed and—more importantly—predictable costs for the many decades that the renewable generators will be in operation. Even when
            renewables appear more expensive than fossil fuels in the short term, they are a hedge against future fossil fuel price uncertainty. Averaged over the long term, most renewables are cheaper today than fossil fuels, when long-term price increases and price volatility are accounted for.

            Fossil fuels are less universally abundant than renewable sources of energy. Fossil fuels, like mineral resources, are highly concentrated geographically. In the current fossil-fuel economy, regions that are not endowed with their own abundance of fossil fuels must import fossil
            fuels from other regions. The importer of fossil fuels sends its wealth outside the region to pay for its imports. In doing so, the importer loses the opportunity for its wealth to continue circulating within the region, creating additional value in the local economy directly
            benefitting its citizens.”

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/why-100-renewables-42697

          • Bob_Wallace

            Now, to your topic…

            ” Chances are, that laxness contributed to the handful of fatalities from a falling display blade, mechanics falling out of nacelles, or whatever else appears on the silly
            list you cited earlier. Chances also are that more stringent regulations would have saved a life or two. And made wind power more costly.”

            Yes, there are deaths on the database Iinked for you that are not what I would call silly like charging wind with the death of someone who rode a snowmobile into a fence.

            Were you to read through the list you would find that deaths from falls and getting tethers caught in spinning parts were more common early on. Apparently the wind industry has learned and improved. Killing people does not make wind energy cheaper.

            Many of the solar deaths, perhaps almost all of them, have resulted from falls off roofs. We now have very good tethering technology and the only reason someone should take a fatal fall is if they failed to use their safety equipment.

            And, no, safety tethers do not make the cost of solar higher. They lower the cost because they lower liability insurance costs.

            ” I am NOT claiming that nuclear is safer than some or all other energy sources, although I’m open to the possibility that it might be. I am saying that it’s only fair to compare as these things are used IN PRACTICE.”

            Shouting is unappreciated.

            OK, let’s compare “in practice”.

            TMI melted down. Only a small amount of radiation was leaked.

            Chernobyl melted down. Only a handful of people died and only 9,000 or so children got thyroid cancer.

            Fukushima melded down.

            “27 patients with severe medical problems such as end-stage renal failure or stroke were transported more than 100 km to Iwaki city. At least 12 of them were confirmed dead at 0300 h on March 15, ten of whom seemed to have died in the vehicles during transportation. Later, it was reported that more than 50 patients died either during or soon after evacuation,
            probably owing to hypothermia, dehydration, and deterioration of underlying medical problems.”

            http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2812%2960384-5/fulltext

            We won’t know for a while how many cases of cancer will be caused by radiation from Fukushima.

            OK, now let’s look at wind and solar.

            One wind turbine in Scotland did catch on fire when its braking mechanism failed to set in high wind and it spun itself to death. No one was injured nor did the area have to be decontaminated.

            One turbine unexpectedly fell over somewhere, I forget where. No one was hit, not even a cow. The cleanup was quickly and safely completed.

            I’ve never heard of a solar panel blowing up. There apparently have been a few fires involving solar panels in Australia due to inappropriate installation. No injuries or fatalities.

            Now, you calculate the difference in practice.

          • Peter Gray

            I’m happy to move on from this thread, too, and I acknowledge learning from it. I didn’t mean to shout with all caps, but haven’t found a way to underline, bold, or italicize in this comment editor.

            Now the above is the kind of comparative evidence in practice that I was talking about. I still don’t think it’s valid to use the existence of safety measures as evidence of in-practice risk, but I think we’re done with that part.

            Some of what you cite is a bit anecdotal, and a better comparison might be had by normalizing everything to /kwh, but I accept your take on it. I might make a minor quibble about your assertion that safety measures don’t increase costs. Liability and consequent insurance are a way of externally imposing safety standards, so they’re not what I would consider a “natural” cost of doing business. Still, I’ve worked in enough high-risk industries to agree that cutting too many safety corners is not a good business practice, even without legal liability. But it’s also true that every industry makes a trade-off at the margin between cost and safety. Liability is a way of raising the cost of accidents and increasing investment in things like tethers.

            I too make a distinction between deaths/injuries of bystanders vs. industry employees. Turbine workers are presumably paid a premium for whatever remaining risks they face.

            Re Chernobyl: there were 31 worker radiation deaths in the first several months, and some 216 during the next decade or so. More than I would call a “handful.” The thyroid cancers were high-profile and easy to trace, but mostly survivable, right? I wouldn’t ignore estimated likely deaths from scattered radioisotopes. UCS estimated 27,000 excess cancer deaths, and other, less well supported guesses have ranged up to 985k by 2004.

            Aside: amazing and sadly amusing how those few wind accidents have been hyped up by opponents. My wife received a chain email from some acquaintance, all hysterical over those showy turbine fires, the dire threat of transmission oil failure, whatever. To be fair, I think there’ve been 2 or 3 such fires – out of what, 10k turbines? One of the circulated photos implied that a truck had been hit by a falling blade, when obviously what happened was that the driver had driven the windshield into a blade hanging off the truck ahead.

            I learned about that Aussie solar panel fire hoo-hah from the incomparable, brilliant, hilarious Ronald Brakels. Do you follow his posts? Not to be missed.

          • Bob_Wallace

            10K? More like 225,000 at the end of 2012.

            http://www.gwec.net/global-figures/wind-in-numbers/

            Number of catastrophic wind turbine failures. Half a dozen out of 225,000? 0.002%

            Number of catastrophic nuclear reactor failure. Five out of less than a thousand? 0.5% 250x

          • Peter Gray

            Thanks for the data, Bob! I didn’t know the turbine numbers, and figured I was way lowballing it to make a safe point.

            A few picky points…

            1). It’s pretty obvious that the actual or expected number of injuries or fatalities from a catastrophic wind machine failure is far lower (maybe 0.1/incident?) than for nuclear.

            2). These raw numbers still don’t tell us much, given the huge disparity in per-plant output, time in operation, etc. between the two. A valid risk comparison should have kwh as the denominator.

            3). Unless there’s a valid excuse for ignoring Chernobyl and Fukushima, it would seem that nuclear is far more dangerous by any reasonable accounting. And that’s before we try to guess at the eventual human toll from the India/Pakistan and other nuclear arms races that have been or will be closely coupled with nuclear power.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There’s no way to compare wind, solar and nuclear deaths.

            As far as I know no data is available for those deaths which occurred during reactor construction. We don’t even have data for deaths which have occurred during operations.

            We can’t do a deaths/MHh type number because the data is simply not available.

            Clearly radiation is deadly. That’s a simple fact.

            I suppose we could say that people could die from sunstroke or get killed in a violent storm, but that somehow doesn’t seem to be equivalent.

          • Peter Gray

            I’m not convinced that because precise data may not be available, we can’t make valid estimates and comparisons. But I also think there’s not much to be gained from the exercise, and recent opinion polls elsewhere on cleantechnica show that strong majorities of people perceive the much higher overall dangers from coal, oil, and nuclear. Not that common wisdom is a reliable guide to the truth, but it doesn’t seem that we need to convince many folks about the benefits of RE.

            I think it’s more important to educate them about the need to pay for the external damages from all energy sources as we use them. All of them, including wind and solar.

            Kind of a side topic, but when we subsidize RE as a workaround to compensate for the huge implicit subsidies to the really damaging resources, we cause general overconsumption of energy. Is this really what we want to do? I can’t see why. As an economist, the only reason I see for subsidizing any good or service is to compensate for its positive externalities. I can’t think of any RE that qualifies.

            “Clearly radiation is deadly. That’s a simple fact.”

            No, it’s not. Sorry. I think that’s too blanket a statement to be useful. Exposure to ionizing radiation in sufficient doses is obviously deadly, but that doesn’t apply to radiation contained behind a foot of lead or six feet of concrete. Concentrated solar energy would kill you if you put yourself at a reflector focus, but we don’t do that, so it’s irrelevant.

            It’s also a simple fact that life as we know it, or even remotely close, wouldn’t exist on Earth without nuclear energy. But that too is irrelevant to considerations of reactor and nuclear fuel cycle hazards.

            As I’ve said in reference to Chernobyl and Fukushima, I’m with you that _public_ safety/health risks (as opposed to the private risks that tend to take care of themselves) from nuclear are incomparably higher than from solar or wind. But I’m not convinced that this is true with coal.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “I’m not convinced that because precise data may not be available, we can’t make valid estimates and comparisons.”

            OK, people have been killed by the fuel in nuclear reactors. And people have been killed when being evacuated away from a nuclear meltdown.

            No one working on and wind farm has been killed by wind and no one working on a solar array has been killed by sunshine. And no one has had to been evacuated when a wind turbine caught fire or a solar panel cracked.

            Bob: “Radiation is dangerous.”

            Peter: “Radiation is not dangerous if we take significant measures to protect ourselves from that danger.”

            Bob: “No, radiation remains dangerous. That is obvious when our protective measures break down as happened at Chernobyl and Fukushima. It’s further demonstrated by our problem of finding a safe way to deal with nuclear waste.”

            (I’m tired of this….)

          • Peter Gray

            Sorry this annoys you, Bob. That’s not my intention. Just in case you have a bit more patience, I’d like to offer a few points.

            1). You seem to focus heavily on the 5-10% area of disagreement, without noticing the rest, where we’re in close agreement.

            2). It’s the way of thinking, of using and explaining evidence, that I’ve mostly been concerned about here, rather than the conclusions. We all need to work on the thinking part, our whole lives, and we never get it completely right.

            3). I’m highly skeptical of nuclear based on its record so far. Why else would I keep bringing up Chernobyl and Fukushima? However, past performance (good OR bad) doesn’t guarantee future results. I remember the DOE-funded large Westinghouse wind turbines of the 1980s. That project was seen as a monstrous, costly failure by many RE-friendly people. It showed that economies of scale didn’t really work up to multi-MW levels. At least it proved that Westinghouse, with its nuclear and huge-project background, was the wrong firm to be doing the work. It meant we should build lots of smaller machines instead, killing more birds and occupying far more land/watt. Some of those things appear to still hold. Others do not. Now we’re installing reliable, cost-effective 3-MW turbines all over the place. Some experts back then thought Westinghouse proved that large-scale wind would never be practical. If we had listened to them, it could have been a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            4). I get the difference between nuclear and wind, with the enormous disparity in external consequences of a major accident. At the least, nuclear should always be under strong oversight and regulation. I don’t see the sense of building more reactors before we have a clear waste disposal solution. On the other hand, I don’t believe waste disposal must be 100% perfect. Nothing else is. But some of what we’re doing already (WIPP in NM) is pretty close.

            5). The quote you attribute to me is out of context at best, and a little distorted (I didn’t suggest that “significant” protective measures are enough), but it’s still largely accurate. And it doesn’t contradict your point about failed safety practices, nor did I suggest that what we’ve done so far is good enough.

            6). Fire is dangerous stuff, and in the not-so-distant past huge numbers of people were killed by residential and urban fires. It was that way for centuries, so it would have been easy to conclude that it would continue forever. But we kept working on it, and now, in the developed world, we’ve tamed fire to the point where it’s very low on our list of mortal dangers. Fire engines sit around all day waiting for a chance to serve as ambulances. I’m not convinced we can do the same with nuclear, but neither do I believe that the first 60 years’ experience entirely rule it out.

          • Tony M

            Wow, ever have any close calls hang-gliding?

            I don’t think the insurance is as big of an issue as people make it:

            The mythology associated with nuclear plant insurance is difficult to stamp out. Here is a link to a fact sheet about the structure of the industry funded insurance pool that was enabled by federal legislation called Price Anderson:

            http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/funds-fs.html

            The federal government got involved in the earliest days of the industry primarily because the US government had declared a 13 year long
            monopoly on nuclear knowledge following WWII whose penalty for violation ranged as high as death for treason. The insurance industry thus was not ALLOWED to even START developing technical knowledge or actuarial tables before 1954, but there was a need to start building new nuclear plants.

            By 1956, the US government really got interested in having an alternative to oil from the Middle East during the Suez Canal crisis. Eisenhower even sent an emissary named Robert Anderson to King Saud to
            tell him not to back the Egyptians. The emissary was directed to inform the Kind that such an action would encourage the US to unleash atomic energy into the world market to give customers an alternative to oil.
            (Source: Daniel Yergin’s The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, pg 488.)

            The concept of mutual insurance pools and shared liability was developed. That arrangement also required federal dispensation to allow an exemption from antitrust laws – just like Major League Baseball needs
            that kind of exemption to function properly.

            Price-Anderson has continued to be a good deal for the US taxpayers. We have never spend a dime for the coverage. Managing the insurance pool for nuclear plants is a profitable business. Here is a quote from an
            email received yesterday from a USNA classmate who has been in that business for more than 20 years:

            “All claims have been paid by the reserve fund – 75
            percent of annual premiums set aside to pay claims. On a rolling 10 year basis anything not used is returned to the plant owners. The annual premium paid – less 25 percent for profit and expenses – has never been insufficient to cover claims (meaning no insurer has ever had to dip into its coffers to support the industry). Sorry for mislead – they do pay 3 to 4 claims per year, and TMI is largest with 75 mil over about 15
            years. Incidentally, insurers get all interest on the reserve fund and count that toward additional profit.”

          • Peter Gray

            I’ve had a couple of incidents, one when I was a test pilot for a company I should have avoided – nothing notable in the past 18 years. If you’re interested, hang gliding is a discussion we’d best take offline, or we’ll give Bob a good reason to gripe (Hi, Bob :-) ). You can contact me at peter underscore gray at wsu dot edu.

          • Tony M

            Ok, Im curious how one gets into it. I will take it offline.

          • Tony M

            Actually the data on nuclear, wind, solar, coal and gas is all available and sources are cited here:

            http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

            The amount of deaths from wind solar and nuclear are all negligible on a per Wh basis.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “Whenever nuclear fails in economics or safety in one country, advocates
          are quick to point to another one and say “It’ll be cheaper (or safer)
          over there.” Next up: China, supposedly. Cheaper because of less
          oversight. And how has that worked out elsewhere?”

          Yesterday I saw an interesting survey of Australians. It broke down support for various technologies by age and gender.

          Turns out the only group that supports nuclear is older males.

          Same group, I would imagine, who rail about crappy Chinese products.

          http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/graph-of-the-day-women-prefer-solar-old-men-like-nuclear-48452

          Another site I read the day before was talking about how safety measures have been cut in some of China’s reactors and how China could be on its way to a meltdown.

          I have no idea if there is any truth to this, but China does have a significant quality control and corruption problem.

          Corruption/collusion between the nuclear industry and government in Japan is why reactors melted down at Fukushima. Both the industry and government were aware of the tsunami danger and history and both shut up and allowed inadequately protected reactors to be built so that the job wouldn’t cost as much.

        • Tony M

          No, it doesn’t take a fanatical advocate to conclude that fast-reactors will be prevelant (thats a relative term) when Russia has announced a 32 billion USD commitment to developing them over a two year period….

          http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/russia-plowing-32-billion-into-nuclear-over-next-two-years/19417

          And in more highly publicized stories Bill Gates and Nathan Mhyrvold’s Intellectual Ventures group has formed a start-up called TerraPower who plan to construct a fast-reactor prototype in the 2020’s with the aid of China, Korea, or India (don’t think that part is settled yet).

          And of course GE-Hitachi is capable already of building an IFR.

          IFR’s have higher operating costs right now, in the future who knows. They can certainly lower storage costs overall.

          Fukushima was not Chernobyl. It was an awful accident, but was caused by unsound operation, and not inherent faults with the reactor itself. TEPCO elected not to build the recommended seawall. The back up generator was not maintained as it should have been. Had these mis-steps not occurred there would have been no meltdown as was demonstrated by the nearby reactor in Onagawa that took the brunt of the quake and Tsunami with no safety issues:

          http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/20/us-japan-nuclear-tsunami-idUSTRE79J0B420111020

          This entire issue is just much more complicated than people realize. Too much polarization and not enough facts.

          • Peter Gray

            Yep, I agree about too much polarization and (sort of) not enough facts. But already in your post I see a fair bit of cherry-picking and even distortion of those “facts.” The article you link to as evidence for the healthy future of breeders comes from a site that looks to me like a hybrid of nuclear-painted-green and Popular Mechanics. A reliable guide to the future? Check out some of their other puff pieces, like this: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/breakthrough-newfangled-reactors-will-slash-costs-of-nuclear-power/24306?tag=main;featured-stories and this: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/to-mars-in-30-days-on-nuclear-fusion/17394?tag=search-river. They’re also big advocates of thorium power – another idea that sounds great at first take, if you’re willing to ignore its extremely serious weapons proliferation issues.
            I assume you have a sense of how to distinguish credible publications and sites from others. SmartPlanet may be entertaining, but it doesn’t pass the smell test or the laugh test. Who feeds them the nuclear stories? Until they demonstrate otherwise, I’ll assume it’s the nuclear industry.

            Even discounting for that site’s iffy credibility, the article says that the Russian-govt.-controlled news agency reports $32B spent on nuclear in the next two years, and ‘Much of that will come from “fast reactors” -‘. How much? No idea.

            If you believe that the Russian government pouring a lot of cash into something proves it’s a good idea, I won’t try to dissuade you, but please look at the record as shown in the serious, well-documented report I linked to earlier. The U.S., UK, Japan, and France have already dumped $10Bs into breeders, for the past 60 years, and none of them have come up with anything economically viable, or remotely as clean (reprocessing-wise) as advertised.

            “They
            can certainly lower storage costs overall. ” ? Certain according to who? That’s been the pie-in-the-sky theoretical promise from the beginning, but in practice reprocessing has greatly expanded the volume of highly radioactive waste, even if not its total radioactivity.

            Fukushima was not Chernobyl, but about 50 Chernobyls worth of extremely dangerous material were at very high risk during the event, in uncontained spent fuel pools. My wife is from Japan, and I followed the accident rather closely. A lot of luck can be credited for Fukushima not being many times worse than it was.

            “[Fukushima] was
            caused by unsound operation, and not inherent faults with the reactor itself.” Come on!! Who in his right mind could care whether the fault was with the reactor itself? The plant failed, and that’s obviously enough. As you note, TEPCO “elected” to be obtuse and stupid. But it’s worse than that. Due to inadequate oversight (China’s and Russia’s nuclear future, anyone?), TEPCO willfully ignored very strong evidence, after plant construction, of Mag-9 quakes and mega-tsunamis at regular intervals, with the next one due just about now.

            “Had these mis-steps not occurred…” everything would have been rosy. Sure. But they did occur! And the more we trust private firms, or other entities, to handle nuclear power without strong, consistent oversight – which is what it will take to make it cheap – the more these “mis-steps” will happen again. Count on it!

            Nuclear’s historical record, along with engineering common sense, indicates that it won’t be cheap and safe at the same time, no matter what the newfangled technology flavor of the month.

          • Tony M

            Yes I am aware of the prevalence of nuclear articles on Smartplanet, no I do not think it is the best source, I was just being lazy…..

            Since this is Russia, I have only the state owned media to point to:

            http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/725350.html

            And since the know how for fast neutron reactors has existed for sometime, I have little doubt that Russia will pull it off. They are looking to turn heavily toward nuclear so that they can earn more on Nat Gas exports.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You anti-dam in the tropics people should work out some lifetime footprint numbers for methane. I suspect you’re taking methane release numbers for the first couple of years after vegetation is covered and implying that methane continues to be emitted at that rate for the 60+ years of the productive life of the dam.

      If so, it’s a dishonest argument and has no place in a reasoned discussion.

      • Tom K

        At least one study found that CO2e emissions from a hydro plant in Brazil were 3.5 times what they would have been if the power had been generated from oil combustion – 13 years after construction. The author suggested that these emission levels would remain stable over time.

        The paper also indicates that initial emissions from dam construction are mainly CO2. The methane is released gradually afterwards, and is exacerbated or increased by the act of the water passing through the turbines.

        I agree with the need for a lifetime footprint figure – has anyone done this?

        http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs11027-005-7303-7.pdf

        • Bob_Wallace

          The only way I can see that happening is if the reservoir was so shallow that it was essentially a wetland.

          It would take significant annual plant growth to replenish the vegetative matter that rots away each year.

          If there’s a hydro facility like that in Brazil then building it was a mistake and they should build no more.

          That has nothing to do with hydro facilities where water levels are adequately deep.

  • JamesWimberley

    I agree with your diagnosis. Nuclear has a negative learning curve: each generation works out dearer than the one before. It’s not just green activists dumping it: ABB and Siemens have quit the industry, and GE has offloaded its nuclear interests to Hitachi.

    However, you are too sanguine about big hydro. All the sites are known, and the good ones have already been taken. Each new dam is less efficient and more damaging ecologically. Brazil’s latest superdam under (much criticised) construction, Belo Monte on the Xingu River, will have a capacity factor of only 40%. That’s no better than modern wind – and Brazil’s windiest and sunniest regions are near centres of population in the Nordeste, not thousands of km away in the Amazon. The economics are shifting rapidly away from new hydro, thankfully.

    The transition can be done with solar (CSP as well as PV), wind, pumped storage, biomass and geothermal alone. Batteries will be nice but are not essential. Forget about the past.

  • Tony Montagna

    @Karl Friedrich Lenz

    You are doing nothing but contributing to energy tribalism with this article.

    Nuclear and Renewables will work together.

    Saying Nuclear is on the decline is ignorant of what is going on in China, the middle-east, and the developing world in general. Construction costs of modular Toshiba/Westinghouse reactors in China is considerably low (~$2/kW and dropping), plans for export are on the horizon.

    Wind and solar on the other hand are scaling up very rapidly, especially in developed countries where the installed costs of wind beat nuclear and the capital burden is much less. These technologies will continue to drop in price and will certainly account for a significant portion of global energy production within a decade.

    But it remains to be seen if wind and solar can ever be married with storage to provide baseload energy that would be economically competitive with nuclear. I’m quite skeptical this would ever happen in a country like China where the cost of nuclear is already quite low.

    We will see.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The “all of the above” wasn’t what you make it out to be.

      Coal is included, if coal can sequester its carbon. Which it can’t do and compete financially.

      Nuclear is included, but companies building nuclear have to put more of their assets on the line in order to get federal loan guarantees. Nuclear is getting no special help from the administration. They’re just being given enough rope to hang themselves with.

      The Vogtle reactors are now 21 to 48 months behind schedule. Just like what happens with nuclear plants. They fall behind schedule and costs run up. The owners of the new builds are probably in financial trouble, if the timeline moves more definitely toward 48 months then they will face a financial downgrade.

      (China is also running over schedule on their new reactor builds.)

      Nuclear is simply too expensive. It’s more expensive than any renewable generation technology other than offshore wind and the cost of offshore wind will drop as we build the needed infrastructure.

      Nuclear takes too long to build. While we dick around trying to bring up a new reactor we can install wind and solar and cut back on fossil fuel use.

      Nuclear brings safety issues to the table unlike any other generation technology. It creates immense amounts of radioactive waste. It exposes us to a nuclear meltdown. Only coal is as dangerous as nuclear and we can do without both.

      We will use nuclear where it is the most appropriate technology. Submarines and aircraft carriers. End of list.

      • Tony Montagna

        As stated before, Solar PV only beats nuclear in price in best-case scenario. A solar plant constructed in Seattle WA or Minneapolis MN is not going to be cost competetive with a nuclear plant without special govt programs. And again this is in the US, likely the worst location to build a reactor as far as costs are concerned.

        And nuclear provides baseload energy, which is a separate issue.

        Construction delays are a huge problem for nukes. Many believe smaller reactors could solve this and many other problems.

        “Only coal is as dangerous as nuclear”

        Actually this is false, Natural gas, coal, and even solar PV are more dangerous than nukes on a deaths/kWh basis:
        http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

        Your opinion that nuclear tech will only be used on submarines and air-craft carriers just isn’t based in fact.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Put the panels where it’s sunny.

          Put wind turbines where the wind blows.

          You do realize that reactors don’t work in the middle of the desert, don’t you? They have to be located at sources of cooling water.

          And other people who have worked through the numbers have found that small modular reactors would probably produce more expensive electricity than large reactors.

          Baseload is an outmoded concept. It’s about the power we need, when we need it.

          No, your death data is bogus.

          • Tony Montagna

            Yes you can put the panels where is is sunny and turbines where there is wind, but then you have to account for transmission costs and losses as population centers are not usually in these best-case areas.

            Reactors do need water correct.

            According to whom would modular reactors be more expensive? Not the US DOE. Not China. Not Russia. and Not Japan.

            How is my death data bogus?

            Call it baseload or on-demand energy, whatever the name nuclear can provide it and wind and solar cannot as of right now. Storage will be practical in some situations, but as I continue to say nuclear will be part of the picture going forward as the world energy-demand is so immense and we need to meet it cleanly.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Not going to continue to play whack-a-mole with you any longer Tony. I’ve played this game too many times with nuclear fan-boys.

            You show no signs of being able to take on new information or recognize when you are incorrect. You simply move on to another pro-nuclear talking point.

          • Tony Montagna

            I think the opposite is true, you continually dodge the arguments and instead resort to name-calling.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I agree. Tony is going around in circles.

            I wonder if there would be any money in a book that addressed all the mole holes?

          • mds

            Roughly one third of electricity in the USA is used for air conditioning. Storage of cold water or cold sand/rock while the sun shines and PV is generating electricity will work to supply 24/7 air conditioning. All you need is a minimum of battery power to drive a fan and move household or night business air over the cold water pipes or rocks. That is a decades old, low cost thermal storage trick. You can’t get much cheaper than rocks.

            Solar, wind, and storage are continuing to drop in price. Nuclear is not. You are wrong. Renewables with storage and without nuclear will work just fine.

  • geoffderuiter

    Thanks for the article. I am VERY much pro renewables (I own a share of a wind turbine that makes all my electricity!). I am pro nuclear as well, but because of the tremendous need for displacement of fossil fuels with low carbon power sources and if we don’t use it it will be exponentially harder to do it with straight renewables. I have not read the book but it does seem like the author is being disingenuous and biased towards nuclear. I think in the very long run fusion nuclear will become a major power player, but that is a long way off. In the medium term fission nuclear does have the potential to help our cause of avoiding the worst effects of climate change, but there are the regulatory and cost issues. I am not trying to defend that these are not an issue, just that it’s a bit too bad that they are delaying our potential action. With that all said, I really don’t mind at all that there is such tremendous growth in wind and solar (especially) and that the cost for each continue to drop! I actually think that solar has the potential be our saving grace, all the cards line up for it to be everywhere (once economical everywhere, e.g. Northern BC). Obviously this is a complex issue, with many models showing we can decarbonize in multiple ways. I just hope we start moving fast enough!

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