Clean Power

Published on December 27th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Why Are So Many Redditors Obsessed With Uncompetitive Nuclear Energy?

December 27th, 2013 by  

Update: Interestingly, this article didn’t go big on reddit yet still somehow attracted a huge swarm of nuclear-obsessed commenters. How would that be possible if such people weren’t coordinating in order to swarm any major anti-nuclear posts? The amount of old, repeatedly debunked misinformation posted in the comments of this article swelled tremendously as a result. So, rather than wasting my time dealing with it all yet again, I’m going to recommend a handful of articles not previously included in this piece. If you genuinely want to learn more about the energy sector and how it relates to nuclear, I recommend these pieces:

IEA: Renewables Will Exceed Natural Gas And Nuclear By 2016

$1 Billion Nuclear Power Project Abandoned In Iowa

Hinkley C Nuclear Power Plant To Get Twice The Rate As Solar PV From UK Government

Germany Solar PV Report — A Must-Read For Any Energy Reporter

Nuclear Energy Verdict: Very Disappointing

Double Standard For Nuclear Energy & Wind Energy In UK?

TEPCO President: Fukushima Was “A Warning To The World”

France To Shift Faster To Renewables Through Tax On Nuclear & Fossil Fuels

Coal Plants Out Of Style In Germany

Debunking Common Myths About Nuclear & Coal Power In Germany

Renewables Deploy Fast

100% Renewable Energy

The Intermittency of Wind and Solar: Is It Only Intermittently a Problem?

Baseload Power “Gets in the Way”

Renewable Energy Big Pic

Clean Energy Is Needed Now (Climate Scientists & Climate Economists Agree)

Shell Sees Solar Becoming #1 Source Of Energy (But Its Forecast Is Still Biased)

Mini Nuclear Reactors Earn Golden Fleece Award For Government Waste

Solar Power Cheaper Than Nuclear In Cloudy Old England

Macquarie Group: Rooftop Solar Is Unstoppable

Shale Gas Won’t Kill Solar & Wind, Renewable Growth Unstoppable (Citigroup Study)

The Cost Of Nuclear Is Still Unknown, But The Cost Of Solar Is Known

Nuclear Waste Storage Facilities “Intolerable”

How Much Does Nuclear Waste Processing Cost The UK?

High Nuclear Power Outages In 2012 (Driven By Global Warming–Fueled Sandy, Flooding, & Repair)

Nuclear Energy’s US & Global Exit

23 Nuclear Plants Vulnerable to Tsunamis

Benefits of Thorium Are ‘Overstated’, UK Report Finds

7 Arguments Against Nuclear Power (Why It Should Be a No-Go)

Nearly $1 Billion in Vogtle Nuclear Reactor Overruns (So Far) — Who’s Surprised?

Nuclear’s Tremendous Economic Risk (Put on the Backs of Citizens)

Retiring CEO of Largest Nuclear Energy Producer in US: New Nuclear Doesn’t Make Any Sense Right Now

Nuclear Sunset — The Last Straw of the Nuclear Lobby?

Original article:

I’m not a big reddit user, but I like the site and find it quite useful at times. Of course, reddit is humongous and the users span the social spectrum. Furthermore, there are hundreds if not thousands of subreddits, each with their own unique subculture. However, time and time again, I see a highly unrepresentative sample of nuclear enthusiasts over there, or in the comments of our posts when someone submits one of our stories to reddit and it does quite well there.

Nuclear supporters are far outnumbered by solar power supporters amongst the general population. Within the overall energy world, the general consensus is that solar power will grow tremendously around the world; nuclear power… not so much. Yet, on the /Energy subreddit, a popular solar or wind power story is sure to get swarmed by nuclear enthusiasts. Actually, it’s rare to even see a solar or wind story do well there despite the massive growth of these industries around the world. Renewable energy stories submitted there have a history of being immediately downvoted by redditors who simply don’t want to hear any positive news about renewable energy.

Interestingly, in the sidebar of the /Energy subreddit, where it’s routine to post links to related subreddits, there’s a link to /Renewable but not a link to the much, much larger /RenewableEnergy subreddit. And, above that, there are links to two nuclear subreddits + a subreddit that includes nuclear energy: /NuclearPower/ThoriumReactor, and /HardEnergy. /HardEnergy, which covers fossil fuels and nuclear, is the top subreddit included there, despite having hardly over 1,000 readers (a small number for a subreddit, especially an overarching subreddit).

The /Energy subreddit isn’t the only one where the prejudice seems to be widespread. I’ve noticed it on the /Technology subreddit (to a lesser extent), and elsewhere. Recently, Elon Musk tweeted one of my solar energy stories (yes, bit of a nice surprise for me), and someone subsequently posted it to the /Futurology subreddit, one that I’d never even heard of but has quite a following. Sure enough, the same thing as always happened in the comments of the original post as well as on the /Futurology post to some extent.

The comments from the nuclear enthusiasts are almost always the same. They attack irrelevant matters related to solar energy. They make mistakes in their overall conclusions. They don’t seem to understand why solar power is growing so fast and why even Shell thinks there’s a good chance it will dominate the entire energy industry by the end of the century. They don’t seem to get that solar costs have fallen tremendously and are projected to keep falling, while nuclear is going in the other direction. They don’t seem to understand why there are massive campaigns against solar and wind funded by fossil fuel and utility industries. Or maybe the do?…

The cynic would likely conclude that many of these fanatics are indeed paid by the nuclear industry to spread misinformation and attack renewables on major sites like reddit. Such campaigns by various industries have been uncovered in the past. Frankly, I don’t think that’s the case with the majority of the nuclear commenters, and wouldn’t even contend that it’s happening at all. Rather, I think people who have worked in the nuclear industry and people who have been mesmerized by the idea of insane amounts of cheap energy from supernatural nuclear (you know, the “too cheap to meter” stuff) have simply been too enclosed in a nuclear-enthusiast bubble for too long and simply don’t have a good sense for where the energy world is today.

The bottom line for nuclear is that it’s far too expensive, hugely unpopular amongst the masses, and poses large financial and environmental risks. It is only really pushed through by corrupt or very confused governments. The private market won’t touch it and projects have no chance where legislation doesn’t ensure profit and put the financial risk of the projects on taxpayers or ratepayers. The following graph and quote from one of the commenters on my solar story (in reply to some of the nuclear enthusiasts) captures the financial absurdity quite well:


It compares the guaranteed pricing for the planned Hinkley Point C nuke in the UK with the current feed-in tariff for large scale solar in Germany. One gets less than 10 Eurocent/kWh for 20 years without inflation correction, the other gets 10,6 Eurocent/kWh for 35 years with inflation correction (plus free 3rd party liability insurance provided by the British People, plus cover for the long term disposal of the waste). Guess which is which. BTW, wind power is even cheaper than large scale solar. New nuclear is not cheap anymore!

Now you will say “but what about at night or when it rains”. The last thing we need then is a base load power plant that can meet above costs only if it runs 8000+ hours per year, regardless of demand.

The summary of the graph above from the website where it was first posted is also quite good (translated from German):

The details of the proposed UK new nuclear power station Hinkley C were announced in October 2013. The nuclear power plant to power with a fixed payment of 92.5 lbs / MWh (10.9 ct / kWh) are paid in the base year 2012 with full compensation for inflation. Thus, the nuclear power plant would be more than twice as expensive as photovoltaic systems in Germany.

The UK story is a long one, but what it’s showing is that nuclear energy is a complete ripoff in the medium to long term.

But the nuclear enthusiasts don’t seem get this no matter how many ways you explain it to them. I’ve been in numerous comment threads trying to illuminate them, but you can debunk the pro-nuclear/anti-renewable myths repeatedly and they just keep coming back, even by the same commenters.

So, the question remains, why is such a small portion of the population so obsessed with nuclear energy despite the fact that it’s no longer competitive? And why are they so opposed to the rapid growth of solar power? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that it certainly gets old.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Thread has become troll bait.

  • greenthinker2012

    It is vital to understand the difference between intermittent and base load power and to understand the physics-differences between Diffuse and Dense energy sources.
    Without these concepts this discussion will never resolve the question posed.

  • Bob_Wallace


    This thread has become very long and Disqus has a history of losing comments sent in by email once the thread gets long.

    I’ve had to chase a couple down and repost them. Any more problems and I’ll close this thread. The topic will show up again, I’m sure.

    • Translation: I’m losing the debate and need to cobble together an excuse to cut and run…

      Note: Screenshot taken of this comment for future article.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I’m leaving it open so you can lie some more Russ.

        Maybe you’ll get the need out of your system and become a better person.

        • I have a new year’s prediction. Clean Technica will eventually ban you from commenting. Give that some thought.

  • Lilly Munster

    It is dogmatic among some people and they will trot out the same flawed arguments over and over again. This is not based in scientific thinking where new evidence should cause one to consider review instead of digging in your heels. This is not the mindset that will bring about needed change and improvements to society. Sadly I see this backwards obsession with nuclear power among the geek and techie types and it is really a bit by peer pressure. It seems to be the thing (nuclear)and is pushed in many educational and technical settings. Going against that is like being the guy in a pink shirt among a bunch of macho guys. So instead of thinking for themselves they keep repeating the same garbage to keep in good standing among their peer group. People in the nuclear industry like to talk a ton of BS about how super intelligent you have to be to understand the concepts or technology but that is really a load of bluster. It really isn’t that complex but they like to make the masses think they are gods. Sadly they have bought their own propaganda and have some of the worst groupthink there is.

    As for paid nuclear industry shills online trying to sway conversation, They are out there too. I have run into a few industry accounts where coordinated efforts to get others in the industry to go flood polls or comments sections get out beyond a private lists. It does happen. There was an incident in 2011 where members of the nuke navy bombarded an anti-nuclear group on Facebook with garbage, threats and harassment until someone closed the group. So it does happen.

    • John Tucker

      “This is not based in scientific thinking where new evidence should cause
      one to consider review instead of digging in your heels.”

      Like leading scientists, journalists and energy industry experts recently publicly expressing support for it?

      Your post has absolutely no reference or basis in reality. Its invokes a criticism of nuclear on a perceived gender bias conspiracy? A facebook name calling incident? Comical and probably what passes as argument in environmental discussion far too often.

      • A Real Libertarian

        “Like leading scientists, journalists and energy industry experts recently publicly expressing support for it?”

        Argument from Authority. Invalid.

        P.S. The scientists aren’t experts in this field and the energy industry “experts” are experts in selling their reactors, do you honestly think they’ll give you honest advice?

        • John Tucker

          They are climate experts. Founders of the science even.

          As opposed to the “studies” originating from people selling and advertising wind and solar power? Or the fossil fuel companies required to back it up?

          • A Real Libertarian

            “They are climate experts. Founders of the science even.”

            Climate science isn’t energy policy, dumbass.

            “As opposed to the “studies” originating from people selling and advertising wind and solar power? Or the fossil fuel companies required to back it up?”

            But the schematics of nuclear reactors were found in that old book bound in human skin and written in blood with that dedication to “All they that shall be It’s soul-sheaths when the stars are right”.

            I keep thinking that might be a bad thing.

      • Bob_Wallace

        You mean when three climate scientists made a foolish statement about nuclear being the only way to get fossil fuels off our grid?

        Look, even people in the nuclear industry say that nuclear is too expensive to be a player.

  • heinbloed

    If Cuba put up an atomic energy suply chain the USA would nuke it.
    That’s the answer to the title’s question.

    Murder comes from the nation of the USA where 20% of the adults can not read and write.

    Pay for a few atomic power plants in Afghanistan and keep shut ’till then, o.k.?

  • John Tucker

    You should be asking why so many distinguished scientists are. Its probably because it is the only long term, small footprint, dependable and proven effective means of addressing pollution from the energy sector.

    To those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power ( )

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t wonder. It’s clear that when someone says that nuclear is our only solution for avoiding the worst of climate change they are renewable energy ignorant.

      Just because someone has expertise in one area does not make them an expert in all.

      You don’t take your cardiac problems to a neurosurgeon.

      • John Tucker

        Really so my followings of Germany’s increase for three years running of CO2 emissions from ELECTRICITY GENERATION are examples of MY ignorance?

        Or the fact that around 70 percent of their “clean energy” is from biofuels -AKA forest pellets?

        Or that the capacity factors of their installed solar and wind run just under 10% and 17% on top of being totally intermittent?

      • …or your energy engineering to Bob Wallace.

    • Have you read George Monbiot’s latest nuclear energy post?

    • Zach’s use of Musk’s Tweet in the above article is known in the debate world as an appeal to authority, Nice counter with your photos of pro-nuclear scientist/environmentalists.

      Interestingly enough, the Breakthrough Institute just used the same technique with a big picture of another charismatic businessman in an article titled: “Virgin’s Richard Branson Defends Nuclear”

      • John Tucker

        That picture came up automatically when I posted the link.

        These men are publishing atmospheric scientists; a field related to air quality.

        In logical argument a appeal to authority also can carry validity when expertise is involved. Richard Branson makes his own arguments in his article.

        But from two of the NASA experts:

        Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power ( )

        “….global nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution related deaths and 64 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions….

        ….Based on global projection data that take into account the effects of Fukushima, we find that by mid century, nuclear power could prevent an additional 420,000 to 7.04 million deaths and 80 to 240 GtCO2 emissionsdue to fossil fuels, depending on which fuel it replaces. By contrast, we assess that large scale expansion of natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and
        would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power….”

        • A Real Libertarian

          And if renewables are doing much greater displacing?

          And if yet more “one-in-a-million, completely unique, never going to happen again” disasters happen?

          • John Tucker

            Where no one/very few dies from radiation?

            How many die form coal, oil and gas. Two kids died in a wind turbine fire earlier this year. Not to mention the toll from the backup sources of power.

            Its still by far the safest means of power generation as well.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “Two kids died in a wind turbine fire earlier this year.”

            So? It not like that’s wind energies fault, when people are killed in fires at nuclear plants that’s not included, so why should this be?

            “How many die form coal, oil and gas.”

            Too damned many.

            Are you going to support the solution that goes into action faster and cheaper thus preventing this shit. Or are you going to support the “solution” that goes into action slower and dearer thus sacrificing their lives on the alter of the atom?

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Two kids died in a wind turbine fire earlier this year. ”


          • Bob_Wallace

            BTW, there were two deaths from falls in nuclear reactors this year in North America. One in the US and one in Canada.

          • OMG …shut down nuclear now! Radiation burns …or did they fall off a ladder? Link?

          • Disasters happen on this planet every day.

          • A Real Libertarian

            So why make more?

        • Nice …

      • AAron Hinman

        Branson is wrong on one major point. We don’t need to use less energy. We need to use (and generate) more. Much, much more. As much as we possibly can.

        There’s a reason why the Kardashev scale measures how advanced a civilization is by the total amount of energy it generates.

  • JamesWimberley

    You are quite right that the nuclear enthusiasts in the blogosphere are powerless cranks. Most of the world’s financial and political elites wrote off nuclear as a lost cause a decade or more ago.

    That leaves three standouts. I don’t count France, which is glumly managing a decline, or India, which can’t build its fantastic and incredible stated plans.

    China is building a lot of reactors started before Fukushima, but has only ordered two since. The current policy is “wait and see.” If the hugely ambitious Chinese plans for wind and solar pan out, and prices keep falling as expected, nuclear won;t get a third wave of orders.

    The bizarre UK decision on Hinkley Point – which is currently stuck in a competion-policy review in Brussels – can best be understood from reading David MacKay’s online book on energy sustainability: He’s now science adviser to the British Department of Energy, and his thinking underpins its online scenario-building calculator: In a nutshell, he makes pessimistic assumptions about the political acceptability of mass onshore wind and rural solar farms, the scope for efficiency gains in solar panels, and about general energy efficiency gains in industry. It’s quite difficult then to get to UK sustainability without nuclear. Where this analysis isn’t wrong, it’s dependent on peculiarly British circumstances – low insolation and a land shortage in the half-sunny south combined with very strong NIMBYism..

    Then there’s Iran. If you think that the real purpose of its nuclear programme is power generation, I have a nice bridge to sell you.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The UK has tremendous off-shore wind resources. And tidal are not to be sneezed at.

      Much of the UK “mess” seems to be based on the idea that the UK should be stand-alone independent of other countries. That is not where Europe is headed. Let the UK harvest a lot of off-shore wind and trade it to sunny Southern Europe/North Africa and to hydro-rich Scandinavia.

      Aside from any desire to make weapons, there seems to be a desire on the part of many countries to have a nuclear reactor (and a space program) to show to themselves that they have ‘arrived’. Bolivia just put their first communications satellite in orbit (on someone else’s rocket) and it’s been the reason for great celebration.

      • turnages

        “The UK has tremendous offshore wind resources.”

        At a very high price.

        The offshore Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel (recently abandoned) was to have installed 240 5MW turbines for a project cost of about 4 billion pounds sterling. A capacity factor of 40% over an average year was expected.

        This corresponds to an installation cost of £4000 per faceplate MW. Taking capacity factor into account and converting to USD gives about $13,500 per average MW.

        The scheme was trumpeted as creating “hundreds of long-term jobs”. Let’s be conservative here and say 200 jobs at £100000 pa incl overheads. This gives about 0.75 cents wage costs per kWh. Mind you, for the offshore jobs, the overheads are likely to be much higher. So let’s round this up to 1.0 cents.

        I don’t know about the overheads related to maintaining very-large rotating plant in working condition in a hostile marine environment, so I will ignore those.

        If we optimistically assume that the money is available at 3.5% interest, and the array’s value depreciates to zero over 25 years, and that it maintains a capacity factor of 40% over this period, this gives the capital cost plus interest of £6 x 10^9 to be repaid by the sale of 4.3 x 25 x 10^9 units, this gives about 9 US cents per kWh for the capital depreciation component.

        I don’t know about decommissioning costs, so I will ignore those.

        Also payable for such a project, in order to get despatchable power like a conventional fossil or nuclear plant, is the capital cost of approximately 1.2 GW of fossil backup capacity, plus the fuel purchases for same. Shall we add about 5 cents per unit for that.

        That brings us to a wholesale cost of about 15c per kWh, ignoring offshore maintenance overheads and decommissioning.

        Hmm. I’m beginning to see why RWE decided to give up on the project.

        • A Real Libertarian

          Let’s see:

          240 turbines x 5 MW per turbine = 1,200 MW.

          £4,000,000,000/1,200MW = £3,333,333.33 per MW.

          8760 hours x 0.4 capacity factor = 3,504 effective hours per year.

          £70 per MWh x 3504 effective hours per year = £245,280 per MW per year.

          £245,280 per MW per year/£3,333,333.33 = 13.59 years to pay off.

          Add a lifespan of 30-40 years and it isn’t so bad, huh?

          • turnages

            But you have ignored
            – cost of financing
            – cost of operation and maintenance of offshore plant,
            – cost of decommissioning,
            – cost of dispatchable backup.

            And your presumptions of 30-40 year service life in a marine environment are highly questionable. I’ve read of nacelle assemblies having to be completely replaced after 10 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That ten year stuff is a load of bull pushed by an anti-wind guy names Gordon Hughes.

            He just flat out lies about offshore wind.

            The longest lines are from the oldest offshore wind farms. They’re doing fine. And those turbines were not designed for offshore use. New turbines designed for offshore work are now being installed.

          • Yeah …except no wind turbine lasts that long in reality.

          • Bob_Wallace

            They are just now taking down the 30 year old turbines at Altamont Pass. Partially because maintenance costs were starting to rise and partially because they wanted to get more power out of the area by using taller, higher capacity turbines.

            Those were Gen I turbines. Over the intervening 30 years we have learned a lot about turbine design and developed some outstanding sensors that helps spot problems before them become significant. Forty years is a likely a safe prediction for current turbines.

          • Not true.

      • Basically, a nuclear reactor boils water to make steam …from that point on there is little difference between a nuclear and a solar thermal power plant. Creating the fuel takes first world economies and technology, but that can all be bought, in fact, it can all be bought.

        • A Real Libertarian

          At what price?

          Is it more or less then solar thermal per MWh?

          Based on previous trends is the price going down or up?

          By how much?

          How about solar thermal?

          Based on previous trends is the price going down or up?

          By how much?

          • At what price? If you ignore external costs, fossil fuels are the cheapest way to make energy today. If you want to account for external costs, you will have to decide to pay more for energy …nuclear or renewables. When renewable energy enthusiasts pull the cost card with nuclear energy enthusiasts you get the classic pot calling the kettle black scenario. Stupidity ensues.

          • Bob_Wallace


            We pay the external costs for coal and nuclear. We just pay them with our taxes and not at the meter.

            How about we try being honest? You able to do that?

            Both wind and solar are cheaper than coal and nuclear if we’re honest with ourselves. And that’s with paid off coal and nuclear plants.

          • Here come the ad homs …

          • A Real Libertarian

            “If you ignore external costs, fossil fuels are the cheapest way to make energy today. ”

            Then why is wind driving coal and gas out of the Midwest? (including the Powder River Basin A.K.A. coal central).


          • Wind is a hybrid component of a natural gas power plant. It serves to reduce its fuel costs, which is good. Without natural gas, wind is as worthless as rooftop photovoltaic without a grid connection. You need gas to take over when the wind stops blowing. The two are inseparable.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wrong. And even you should understand why.

    • If you think that the real purpose of its nuclear programme is power generation, I have a nice bridge to sell you.

      If you think you need a nuclear power plant to make nuclear weapons, I have a bridge to sell you. Some nuclear powers don’t have nuclear power plants. They built reactors that produced no electricity to do the job. The conflation of nuclear energy with nuclear weapons is effective only on the uninformed.

  • AAron Hinman

    I think Mr. Shahan here takes, if you’ll forgive the expression, a naively sunny view of solar power. Nuclears cost issues are largely political and artificial. It takes on average ten years and a billion dollars just to jump through the various legal and regulatory hoops for a nuclear power plant before you run the very first shovelful. On the other hand very few religious solar advocates appreciate solars crippling drawbacks. Solar is very diffuse. It’s vulnerable to weather and shuts off completely for half the day. Climatologist Barry Brook points out that to go head to head with a nuclear plant, a solar facility will require 15 times as much concrete, 75 times as much steel and more than 2,500 times as much land.

    The rosy projections of solar do not take this into account. While solar has had a very good (but heavily subsidized) run, it’s nearing the limits of it’s potential. But it started from nothing and now after a couple decades is producing next to nothing. You can easily double or triple “next-to-nothing” but to provide more than a thin sliver of our energy production solar needs to grow thousands of times over. And unless you believe that we can pave the Earth to save it, that’s just simply not going to happen. It’s solar that is uncompetitive.

    We’ve built modern technological civilization on the backs of energy supplies that are very high in density and high in capacity factor and reliability. Unless we regress to an earlier stage in our development, higher density is the only direction we can go.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “Climatologist Barry Brook points out that to go head to head with a nuclear plant, a solar facility will require 15 times as much concrete, 75 times as much steel and more than 2,500 times as much land.”

      That’s simply incorrect.

      Look at the cost. Nuclear is >15c/kWh. Solar is now close to 5c/kWh.
      There is now way that nuclear could use tiny amounts of materials and end up being 3x as expensive.

      • AAron Hinman

        I don’t know where you got your numbers Bob, but they are incorrect. Nuclear is below 10 cents per kw/h while solar is 30 to 40 cents per kw/h.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Tell you what, Aa. I’ll show you mine and you show me yours….

          The announced strike price for the proposed Hinkley Point reactors has been announced as £0.925. This includes UK provided loan guarantees. When the value of these guarantees are included the price rises to £0.10.

          16 US cents/kWh.

          This means that regardless of how cheap other sources of electricity might be the French and Chinese owners of the reactors will be paid 16 cents for the electricity they produce. They are further guaranteed that their electricity will be purchased first meaning that it is likely that cheaper sources will be curtailed.

          This is a guaranteed price for all electricity produced for the next 35 years and the price will increase with inflation.

          “The cost of large-scale solar projects has fallen by one third in the last five years and big solar now competes with wind energy in the solar-rich south-west of the United States, according to new research.

          The study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled “Utility-Scale Solar 2012: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States” – says the cost of solar is still falling and contracts for some solar projects are being struck as low as $50/MWh (including a 30 percent federal tax credit).”
          “Another interesting observation from LBNL is that most of the contracts written in recent years do not escalate in nominal dollars over the life of the contract. This means that in real dollar terms, the pricing of the contract actually declines.

          This means that towards the end of their contracts, the solar plants (including PV, CSP and CPV) contracted in 2013 will on average will be delivering electricity at less than $40/MWh. This is likely to be considerably less than fossil fuel plants at the same time, given the expected cost of fuels and any environmental regulations.”

          “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 means 4 cents/kWh. Add back in the $0.022 PTC (which lasts only ten years) and it’s 5.1 cents/kWh for a 20 year PPA.

      • ColinG

        Or, alternatively, your cost figures are wrong.

        Bob, you cite 15c/kWh presumably based on the strike price for Hinkley C in the UK.

        In the UK the strike price for onshore wind is similar to nuclear; solar is considerably higher, and offshore wind (which will contribute most to the UK’s renewable plan) is even higher.

        By the 2020s the UK National Grid expects average baseload electricity to be 15c/kWh (9-19p/kWh). See figure 4 p16:

        All the solutions in the UK are expensive (compared to the US).

        Citing the price for Hinkley in the UK and comparing it to your “self-calculated” figure for solar (where?) is getting old. Some evidence for your figures would be welcome.

      • John Tucker

        And on dark still nights?

        • AAron Hinman

          Don’t forget cloudy, rainy or overcast days.

          Oh… and what happens to the output of a nuclear reactor if you do not go over it with a pressurized water stream every 48 hours or so?

          And what does 1 inch of snow on top of a reactor containment vessel do?

  • Why Are So Many Redditors Obsessed With Uncompetitive Nuclear Energy?

    I suspect the answer is mostly that bloggers at environmental websites start to develop a skewed perspective from preaching to the choir. Reddit has a much more diverse choir than this site.

    Building a new nuclear powerplant is more expensive than building the equivalent fossil fueled powerplant. It is not more expensive than building the equivalent in wind or solar. If they were competitive, they would not be so heavily subsidized.

    The NREL does not think renewables can do it all. Why do you?

    Why are you wasting your time attacking nuclear energy instead of promoting wind and solar, which need it?

    • A Real Libertarian

      “If they were competitive, they would not be so heavily subsidized.”

      And that’s why nukes are failing, they just aren’t competitive.

      • I would think that a true libertarian would be pro fossil fuels, simply because they are cheaper to capitalize than a new nuclear power plant and because they are cheaper than wind and solar.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You might.

          If you didn’t know that wind and solar are cheaper than new coal.

          And if you didn’t realize that we pay a fortune in taxes and health insurance to cover the external cost of coal.

        • A Real Libertarian

          An intellectually consistent capitalist libertarian would oppose fossil fuels due to the pollution of other peoples property.

          A real libertarian would support whatever brings down the capitalist system fastest and with the least damage.

          P.S. Where is that chart from?

          • Where are your charts from?

          • A Real Libertarian

            Then give me a name and I Google it.

            Jesus, YouTube commentators have mastered that tech and you can’t?

            Christ, man, just… Christ.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It looks wrong enough to be from Forbes or Fox.

          • Thanks Bob, for providing me another opportunity to provide some solar installation cost estimates by hard working, innovative American contractors. I have, and remain a big fan of solar. I stop short of being an ideologue:

          • Bob_Wallace
          • A Real Libertarian

            So how outdated is it exactly?

            P.S. Apparently it was written by an oil industry consultant.

            So what’s this about Big Oil pushing renewables to rob nukes of their totally deserved Renaissance?

      • Consider reading environmental journalist, George Monbiot’s recent article:

        Nuclear scare stories are a gift to the truly lethal coal industry

        • Bob_Wallace

          Oh, you mean the one in which he trots out the tired old pony of “If not nuclear, then coal”.

          Why would one read anything this dis-informer writes?

        • A Real Libertarian

          Monbiot is pulling a Hitchens.

          “You’re either with us, or with coal” and all that.

    • Bob_Wallace

      In the US nuclear is subsidized more than are renewables.

      The cost of new nuclear is roughly 3x times that of wind and solar.

      Are you going to continue to misrepresent what the NREL stated?

      • Are you going to continue to misrepresent
        what the NREL stated?

        You are referring to the recent mega-study that showed it may be possible to produce 80% of U.S. electric power with a massive expansion of hydro, biomass, geothermal, storage, wind, and solar, by 2050, which, because electricity generation accounts for about 40% of our power needs, equates to 0.8 x 0.4 = 0.32 of our total power generation?

        In the US nuclear is subsidized more than are renewables …The cost of new nuclear is roughly 3x times that of wind and solar … let’s cut the bull and go straight to price.

        Fair enough …some recent bids to put solar on homes:

      • In the US nuclear is subsidized more than are renewables

        Reality check ….note the 50% subsidy for photovoltaic…

        • A Real Libertarian

          Where are you getting these prices?

          When are you getting these prices?

        • Bob_Wallace

          50% subsidy for solar? Certainly not at the utility level. Solar doesn’t get an ITC.

      • Are you going to continue to misrepresent what the NREL stated?

        You are referring to the recent mega-study that showed it may be possible to produce 80% of U.S. electric power with a massive expansion of hydro, biomass, geothermal, storage, wind, and solar, by 2050, which, because electricity generation accounts for about 40% of our power needs, equates to 0.8 x 0.4 = 0.32 of our total power generation?

        • Bob_Wallace

          The one that says –

          – Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.

          And, yes, you continue to misrepresent what the study found.

  • Rod Adams

    @ZShahan3:disqus – As a former nuclear submarine engineer officer, founder of a now defunct company named Adams Atomic Engines, former member of a small modular reactor design team and current independent publisher of Atomic Insights, one of the oldest pronuclear blogs on the web, I suppose I qualify as slightly obsessed with the technology. (As a submariner, I quite literally lived inside a nuclear-enthusiast bubble for a major portion of the 1980s.)

    I admit that some of your points are valid; nuclear energy is — currently — quite expensive, quite unpopular with investors, and not poised for near-term growth in any place outside of China, India and the UAE.

    However, I have a different point of view on why that is true and whether or not it will remain true. Your own post exposed part of my thesis when you mentioned in the same paragraph that Shell (one of the supermajor oil companies) says that solar will dominate the energy industry AND also claim that massive campaigns against solar and wind are being funded by the fossil fuel and utility industries.

    The reality is that nuclear energy has been a competitive threat to coal, oil and gas hegemony since its inception. In fact, the world’s established energy industry was warned about the prospects for being replaced by atomic energy as early as the World Energy Conference of 1930 in a keynote address. By 1990, US nuclear power plants were producing more electricity than the entire US grid produced in 1960.

    The roots of the antinuclear movement correspond almost directly to the growth nuclear electricity generation. It started to move off of zero on a graph of energy sources in 1970; the Friends of the Earth was funded by a donation from the CEO of Atlantic Richfield Co (ARCO, an oil company) in late 1969.

    Sure, the World Bank won’t finance nuclear projects. Doing so might unleash enough new energy supply into the market to cause a price collapse. That would have dire consequences for trillions of dollars of bank loans backed by physical capital assets that are tied directly to fossil fuel extraction, transportation, refining, storage, and delivery.

    Solar and wind projects are featured in ads from Chevron, Shell, and BP because they are not competitive threats. Fossil fuel lobbyists have lent their support for the subsidy programs that have enabled the rapid capacity growth seen in the past decade BECAUSE that capacity does not produce enough energy to change the market dynamics that result in continuing growth in demand for fossil fuel.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic insights

    • Bob_Wallace

      “The reality is that nuclear energy has been a competitive threat to coal, oil and gas hegemony since its inception.”

      No, Rod. Nuclear was not competitive in countries that didn’t have to import fossil fuels. That’s why we quit building them in the US.

      “Sure, the World Bank won’t finance nuclear projects. Doing so might unleash enough new energy supply into the market to cause a price collapse.”
      That’s an amazing lie even for you Rod. And you do tell some big ones.

      • Rod Adams

        @Bob_Wallace:disqus – Exactly which part of my statement are you calling a lie? It is a matter of public record that the World Bank has financed exactly one nuclear project in its history, and that was a small BWR in Italy in the 1950s.

        It is also a matter of simple economics 101 that additional supplies of a commodity like energy that exceed demand leads to a drop in price. What do you think caused the wonderful period between 1986 and 2000 when the price of oil was generally less than $20 per barrel and sometimes dropped below $10 per barrel.

        Part of the credit goes to the 12 million barrels of oil per day energy equivalent that was produced in the world’s nuclear power plants, a supply that did not exist before about 1970 and which grew rather steadily from zero to plateau sometime around 1996-1998.

        • A Real Libertarian

          “What do you think caused the wonderful period between 1986 and 2000 when
          the price of oil was generally less than $20 per barrel and sometimes
          dropped below $10 per barrel.”

          Jimmy Carter.

        • Bob_Wallace

          This –

          “Doing so might unleash enough new energy supply into the market to cause a price collapse.”

          You can’t flood the market with power that costs >15c/kWh and cause a price collapse.

          You can make claims like that and cause people to collapse in laughter.

          • Rod Adams

            Though I disagree with your cost assumptions for a number of reasons, think hard about the effect of the World Bank (or other major financial institutions) supporting and completing several large nuclear projects. As is well proven by numerous operating plants, nuclear plants that run can have very low marginal operating costs. That is especially true in places where security guards do not make in excess of $100K per year including benefits and overtime.

            Sure, the owners might have some problems paying off the loans, but they will have a much harder time paying off the loans if they don’t operate and sell whatever they can produce at whatever price the market will bear.

            Besides, there are quite a few large fuel consuming nations where $150 per megawatt hour electricity that is reasonably reliable would be competitive.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Rod, let’s cut the bull and go straight to price.

            New nuclear runs >15c/kWh. You know exactly where the most recent prices come from.

            Any place where $150/MWh electricity would be attractive would find $50/MWh electricity 3x as attractive.

          • turnages

            And how attractive would this wind energy be when the wind wasn’t even blowing??

          • Bob_Wallace

            As attractive as nuclear power when the reactor is shut down.

            In fact, a lot more attractive because it’s so cheap. I suspect you don’t realize that the wind blows a lot of the time in our best resource areas.

          • turnages

            But 99.8 times out of 100 we _know_ when the reactor will be shut down. For routine, scheduled maintenance. For the other 90% of the time, it will be reliably humming away.

            I suspect I do realise that “our best resource areas” still only give about 40% utilization. Furthermore, we _don’t_ know when or how much, with anything like the reliability that dispatchable generators give as a matter of routine. A few hours ahead maybe, to a margin of +/- 10%, with rapid random variations of that amount in the space of minutes.

            So in order to give “like for like” generation despatchability, you will need an equal or greater amount of fossil backup, probably OCGT at about 700g CO2 equivalent per kWh.

            From the way you talk, it sure doesn’t sound as if you ever worked in a grid-control centre, where supply and demand must be exactly balanced at every minute of the day and night. Floods of really cheap wind electricity are a pain in the arse when they’re being rammed down your throat by the idiotically-mandated priority despatch order, and randomly bumping the other generation up and down to compensate.

            At such times, cheap = worthless. In fact, it’s costing you money in wear and tear of the other generators.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “But 99.8 times out of 100 we _know_ when the reactor will be shut down.”

            Nope, nukes are generally shut down because the cooling water is too hot (great problem for a climate change fighter by the way), or something breaks, or jellyfish attack:


          • turnages

            You’re quite good at blowing smoke, and not so good in your power systems knowledge.

            Even when things go wrong, we almost always can schedule reserve.

            See the comments further down in the jellyfish article you quoted for some hard numbers:


          • Bob_Wallace

            Weren’t you the guy claiming that reactors work except when they are down for refueling and scheduled maintenance?

            Were the jellyfish scheduled?

            Of course we need reserve. We never know when a reactor will drop off line.

          • A Real Libertarian

            I see a lot of “go back to sleep, everything is fine”, but no knowledge or honesty.

            So “we almost always can schedule reserve”?

            Are you admitting that “But 99.8 times out of 100 we _know_ when the reactor will be shut down.” is bullshit?

          • Bob_Wallace

            My favorite was the engineer who was using a candle to find a leak at Browns Ferry and set the reactor on fire.

          • A Real Libertarian

            But don’t worry!

            This Gen4+++ liquid metal osmium freshwater reactor that’s all worked out and can be built as soon as someone watch’s my YouTube video is totally fireproof!! And burns sadness for fuel!!! And can be built for 3* easy payments of $19.99**!!!!!

            *May or may not be 7!!!!

            **May or may not be Billion***!!!!!!

            ***OK, it’s Trillion!!!!!!!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Fort Calhoun is about to come back on line after being shut down for two years.

            The two North Anna reactors went off line in an earthquake a couple years back.

            One of the New York reactors went off line due to flooding during Sandy.
            SONGS crashed due to a grid disturbance a couple years ago. SONGS never recovered and is gone.

            Shearon Harris nuclear plant went offline in May 2013 due to a crack in a reactor sensor.

            Palisades Nuclear Power Plant went offline in May 2013 due to a leak.

            Plymouth went offline in July 2013 due to heat.

            Salem County Nuclear Plant Shut Down in August 2013 due to a leak.

            North Anna went offline in August 2013 due to an equipment failure.

            Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station went offline in November 2013 due to a fire.

            Entergy Corp.’s Arkansas One reactor went offline on Dec 9, 2013 due to a fire.

            There’s likely more. I got tired of looking….

            Reactors go off line all the time.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “But 99.8 times out of 100 we _know_ when the reactor will be shut down. For routine, scheduled maintenance. For the other 90% of the time, it will be reliably humming away.”

            Davis-Bessie went down due to a corrosive leak eating away the containment dome. The leak was discovered only by accident.

            Fort Calhoun is about to come back on line after being shut down for two years. A fire took it out.

            The two North Anna reactors went off line in an earthquake a couple years back.

            One of the New York reactors went off line due to flooding during Sandy.
            SONGS crashed due to a grid disturbance a couple years ago. SONGS never recovered and is gone.

            Shearon Harris nuclear plant went offline in May 2013 due to a crack in a reactor sensor.

            Palisades Nuclear Power Plant went offline in May 2013 due to a leak.

            Plymouth went offline in July 2013 due to heat.

            Salem County Nuclear Plant Shut Down in August 2013 due to a leak.

            North Anna went offline in August 2013 due to an equipment failure.

            Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station went offline in November 2013 due to a fire.

            Entergy Corp.’s Arkansas One reactor went offline on Dec 9, 2013 due to a fire.

            There’s likely more. I got tired of looking….

            Reactors go off line all the time.

    • All good points, Rod. The picture below is from the Pandora’s Promise documentary. It is a pro-solar flyer, distributed by The Oil Heat Institute at an anti-nuclear rally.

      • A Real Libertarian

        Again, Pandora’s Promise?

        Would anyone seriously be surprised to find out it was funded by Lightbringer Industries and the Sovereign Wealth Fund of R’lyeh?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Pandora’s Promise is a product of the Breakthough Institute.

        Piece of garbage.

      • A Real Libertarian

        When did that happen exactly?

  • JdGeier

    Actually I’m pretty sure that the energy subreddit use to be infested with propagandists with an extreme right-wing energy agenda. Users like mkk144 and uvdiv_blog basically controlled the that sub-reddit at one time with an army of bots that they used to promote junk energy science that sounded technical but ultimately ended with them being banned by the admins. I still don’t trust that subreddit to this day and would am still highly suspect of comments on stories originating from there.

  • SecularAnimist

    The most ridiculous part is when the nuclear zealots go on and on and ON ranting about how “next generation” nuclear vaporware is supposedly “THE” solution to global warming — talking about stuff that does not even actually exist yet, not even as a design let alone a functioning reactor, that is little more than a concept — technologies whose actual developers (as opposed to the fans) acknowledge are YEARS away from even the first functioning prototype, and DECADES away from any possible commercial application.

    So even if such technologies might ever be built, we will need wind and solar as a “bridge” to generate clean electricity until that day comes, which will be the second half of the 21st century at the earliest.

    Well, the good news for everyone is that wind and solar are more than capable of doing that. The bad news for the nuclear fans is that by the time their dream reactors have any chance of becoming real, wind and solar will be generating more electricity than we can possibly use, at costs too low to meter, and there will be no reason to build nuclear power plants.

    • GRLCowan

      The most ridiculous part is when the nuclear zealots go on and on and ON
      ranting about how “next generation” nuclear vaporware is supposedly
      “THE” solution to global warming”

      I find some of those zealots annoyingly prone to present next-generation nuclear vaporware as the solution to present-day nuclear energy flaws that don’t really exist, but which the fossil fuel interests like to present as such — weapon proliferation and waste being the big ones that come to mind.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Well, toss aside both unrealistic nuclear proponents and unrealistic coal proponents. Leave 20th century energy back in the 20th century.

        Renewables are cheaper, faster to install and safer.

    • Zach Seven

      Integral fast reactors, traveling wave reactors, Molten Salt Reactors, Pebble bed reactors – these things are not vaporware – they have each been demonstrated to a different degree just not licensed and commercialized.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Unicorn farts.

  • Zach Seven

    In the comparison of Hinkley C and Wind, Neglecting to acknowledge the fact that the nuclear plant has a minimum operational life of 60 years and provides a steadyu predictable output rather than weather dependent output is a problem. The premise that instead building 3.5 GW of wind in the UK would provide the same benefit to the UK is ridiculous and shows a lack of understanding of electrical generation and supply in general.

    Redditors support nuclear energy for the same reason that world leading climatologists and environmentalists do – because they have a shred of intelligence and common sense.

    “Nuclear supporters are far outnumbered by solar power supporters amongst the
    general population. Within the overall energy world, the general
    consensus is that solar power will grow tremendously around the world;
    nuclear power… not so much”

    Excuse me, but according to whom? Both the EIA and IEA predict that Nuclear and renewables (wind, solar and others combined) will experience similar expansion in the coming decades. Furthermore world leading climatologists have stated in plain English that a nuclear renaissance is a requirement for any large scale reduction in global emissions.

    Just who the heck is Zachary Shanan and how can he make a living being so blatantly biased and dishonest?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Read polls. They will tell you public opinion of nuclear and solar.

      Zach has read the polls. He’s published the polls.

      • Zach Seven

        What polls? Of course if solar panels could provide on demand power for the average residence at an afforable price we would all be for it, but that isn’t what solar does. You need a storage system for that and its not affordable at this point.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Know how to google?

      • ColinG

        YouGov poll: “Thinking about providing for Britain’s future energy generation needs, which of the following do you support the MOST?”

        Nuclear 26% (1st)
        Solar 16% (4th, after wind and wave/tidal)

        • A Real Libertarian

          Renewables (combined): 52%

          “Do you think the government is right or wrong to pay energy companies more to help develop the following forms of energy generation?” Margin:

          Nuclear: +5%
          Wind: +30%
          Solar: +48%
          Tidal: +53%

  • SecularAnimist

    Look, I understand what it is to be a “fan”. I am a fan of solar energy in part for “rational” reasons, because of objective merits of solar technology, and of solar energy itself, that can be spelled out in objective economic and environmental terms. But I must admit that in addition to all of that, I just think solar is REALLY, REALLY COOL.

    And although I don’t understand it myself, I can see that nuclear power has a large “fan base” of people who for some reason think that nuclear energy is REALLY, REALLY COOL. I don’t get why, but I understand the sentiment. I understand what it is to be a “fan”.

    The difference that I see in the public discourse between “fans” of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources on the one hand, and nuclear “fans” on the other, is that the nuclear fans have a tendency to be belligerent and even abusive towards anyone who questions their often ill-informed and irrational “arguments”. Among the variety of fans of different energy sources, they tend to be the “soccer hooligans” of the gang.

    • GRLCowan

      I don’t get why …

      You could check with Lonnie Dupre ( ).

      When Greenpeace researchers want to get to the north pole predictably, safely, and without burning bunker fuel, they turn to nuclear energy.

      • Bob_Wallace

        And that has to do with powering our grids how?

    • Zach Seven

      Well nuclear energy advocates support nuclear energy because
      a) it produces electricity around the clock which is a very important factor
      b) nuclear plants are long lived assets operating 60-100 years
      c) according to the IPCC nuclear power has less than 1/4th the lifecycle carbon emissions of solar PV
      d) a thimble full of uranium has as much energy as a ton of coal
      e) in terms of raw materials, land, transmission, and staffing nuclear power is by far the leanest clean energy technology in terms of overhead
      f) despite media propaganda, nuclear power has lead to very very few fatalaties since its inception in comparison to other energy sources and is only becoming safer
      g) nuclear technology provides the potential to increase efficiencies over 40%, more than any other energy source
      h) Nuclear power is fully proven and scalable, providing the vast majority of carbon free energy on the Earth at this point.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Zach, you continue to post things which are clearly incorrect.
        a) comes with problems
        b) is a lie. There are no 60 year old reactors.
        c) the lifetime CO2 footprint for nuclear is only slightly less than that of solar.
        d) doesn’t matter. It’s the cost of electricity that is important.
        e) wrong, and reflected in the very high cost of nuclear electricity f) clearly incorrect
        g) efficiency only matters in terms of final cost
        h) wrong

        You have no value to this conversation.

  • GRLCowan

    It has occurred to me that nuclear energy haters deserve to be banned from energy fora, like climate science haters. Here, too, it might be surprising how few they turn out to be.

    There is a widespread perception that renewable energy enthusiasts are pawns or collaborators in the fossil fuel interests’ campaign to delay the nuclear future as long as possible.

    Polling on matters of basic science and engineering combined with nuclear polling would divide respondents into four groups: innumerate and pronuclear, innumerate and antinuclear, numerate and pronuclear, numerate and antinuclear. Might give some interesting results.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Let me point out that even if one is numerate they also need accurate numbers in order to arrive at a correct conclusion. Being able to add doesn’t help if you don’t know the numbers to add.

      You can’t take the cost of electricity from a reactor built and paid off years ago and use it in a comparison of the cost of nuclear and renewables.
      You can’t take the cost of wind/solar from years ago and use it in a comparison of the cost of nuclear and renewables.

      If you want to do some numeratin’ best to use 5 cents for wind, 6-8 cents for solar and 16 cents for nuclear. Then numerate the hell out of that and see what you get.

      (Don’t forget, at any sort of significant (>30%) level of penetration both renewables and nuclear need storage. Both.)

  • Eduardo

    It is not a subjective matter. Solar or wind is not apt to supply base energy demand…period… When it comes to reliability all other non renewable sources are in fact more reliable because they can be used ON DEMAND. Of course, not one single environmentalist like to experience energy shortages and live without air conditioning or a fridge or whatever if there is no sun or no wind… So I guess the ones that get paid to preach non sense are environmental fanatics…educate yourself beyond the blogs…Diversification of the energy portfolio is needed to reduce and decrease the cost of electricity anywhere you go. So nuclear will always be an important part of the energy soup. get over it. Nuclear power is safe, reliable and environmentally friendly. It might not be renewable but its benefits outweights its risks which so far has the best safety record of any industry to date. And germany will turn on its nuclear powerplants sooner than later I bet my life on it, is just simply supply and demand.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Wind, solar and storage have zero problems fulfilling the “baseload” role.
      Wind, solar and storage are cheaper than nuclear. And safer. And faster to bring on line.

      • eduardo

        Not really brother. Nuclear power behaves better under baseload power flow. Eolic and Solar are more apt to come online at peak power loads due to their ability to handle reactive power flow better than that of nuclear. And the figure of merit of a nuclear plant, a quantity that dictates the order of entrance of an energy source to the grid, will always rank it higher than any renewable, therefore entering first to the grid, just because it can supply energy regardless of external variables (such as claudy skies, no winds)…It is just the way it is. And it also packs more GW per m2 of land use than any power source so you dont need to destroy the landscape with eolic turbinews, modify bird migration patterns, or be worried that your solar panels are dirty and modifying the surface temperature of the terrain and the animals that live near by. I don’t see where it goes wrong besides once everyone understand that nuclear, and renewables sources are both needed. Nuclear will not be discarded ever.

        • Bob_Wallace

          No brother of mine would make a statement like that.

          Nuclear has no advantages over renewables and storage. In fact, nuclear is a problem for grids because it can (and does) suddenly go off line without warning causing great grid problems.

          The only reason nuclear gets grid priority is because it can’t be quickly turned on and off.

          When you do your land use calculations be sure to add in mining, refining and waste disposal area. You’ll find nuclear uses more land than wind and solar.

          Nuclear is on its way out in Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the US. France is cutting back on the percentage of electricity they get from nuclear.

          Don’t forget, the cost of wind and solar have become very affordable and nuclear has been very badly undercut.

          • eduardo

            I hope you realize and agree to the fact that in the past nuclear was a very competitive energy source, now it is not as competitive, in the future it might or might not be. Market conditions are transient not static. When oil price goes down nuclear and renewables are not as competitive and the opposite is true as well. Thus we can all point out pros and cons, yet we cannot talk about 100% cutting nuclear energy. It is just nonsense. Nuclear is reliable and is very efficient and is a long term solution as well. Thorium cycle is almost proliferation resistant, it is an evolving and complex technology whose contribution spams well beyond energy. So Yes, renewables are getting more competitive “today” tomorrow its open to speculation and that’s pretty much about it. also, If fukushima had not happened we will not be questioning that much of its merits today.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m very aware that we at one time thought nuclear would bring us cheap electricity. That was never the case, nuclear was never as cheap as coal.

            And over time nuclear became more and more expensive rather than becoming cheaper as we had hoped. We essentially quit building reactors because they were too expensive.

            I highly suggest you read this paper in order to understand why nuclear has failed.


            The world had quit building nuclear plants at a replacement rate long before Fukushima. Take a look at the graph below.

            Think about how old some of those reactors now are. Stuff doesn’t last forever. Most of those reactors were designed for 40 years use. We’re now pushing some to 60 year but along the way some are going to need major repairs (Oyster Creek, SONGS, Crystal River) and the cost of repairs will force them to close.

          • eduardo

            I am aware of its history. It became expensive because regulations made it so in order to control nuclear proliferation, and risk minimization. US open fuel cycle is even more costly because of its disposal practice, look at yuka mountain site the most expensive nonsense caused by politics. The licensing process is very expensive and risky by design. The insurance costs during the licensing process are so rediculously high to adjust for the riks of default of the project, having in mind you haven’t even laid down a single brick and you already are in the hundreds of millions of investment in. So, nuclear problems is an economically political problem because the US made it so. China is building, india too. Technically, academic research are far beyond their commercial applications but their approval time is so painfully slow and costly that there are Gen IV nuclear reactors yet mostly gen 2 are built as of today. Have in mind that for instance in the US the capacity of the nuclear plants in the 60´s and 70’s were designed to supply the loads we have today!! even at their aged conditions. nuclear energy consumption increased but their construction did not, that is a result of small retrofits that allowed them to cope easily with tenfolds in energy demand! I conclude, nuclear is a political problem, not a technical one. If the US regulatory practices were not that outdated and adopted a closed fuel cycle instead just as france and japan, nuclear energy economics worldwide would be much different today.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A few years ago the permitting process was streamlined.

            Which safety systems would you eliminate in order to cut the cost of nuclear energy by two-thirds in order to make it competitive?

          • Omega Centauri

            I would go as far as saying the real problems with nuclear stem from horrible PR. The perception of danger drives costs and project delays and cancellations. The problem is that we can’t do nuclear with the public attitudes and regulatory environment you want, but have to deal with attitudes and regulations as they are today and are likley to be in the future.

            Trying to add enough nines to the safety estimates as the public demands leads to exponentially increasing cost. And the way human emotions work, no number of nines will ever be enough.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Cost kills nuclear.

          • Zach Seven

            Nuclear actually isn’t on its way out in Japan

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’re simply trolling the site, Zach.


          • …says the troll.

          • Greg Barton

            No, he’s simply correct.

  • Corbin Holland

    They may be trying to get people interested in nuclear again because the nuclear industry’s labor force is dwindling. With half of it’s labor force eligible to retire in the next 5 years, the nuclear industry will be facing even tougher times than they are now. Nuclear is not economical now and with a labor force that will not be as skilled the cost will only rise. They like to bash renewable energy, but they don’t see the writing on the wall. Since 1990, the average construction time start to finish (doesn’t include time on permits) is about 15 years. With PPA’s from renewable energy beating out natural gas prices, it would not be logical to build a nuclear reactor in the US when renewable energy is less expensive and holds none of the negative consequences of nuclear like the risk of a meltdown or having to store nuclear waste.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I read recently on a nuclear industry site about a movement within the nuclear industry to push for lower “record keeping” requirements so that plants could be run with fewer workers as a way to low costs.

      I’m not sure what record keeping is being done by people. Computers are going to keep the data. Perhaps they are trying to eliminate the requirement that humans take a look at the data once in a while.

      • Zach Seven

        The nuclear industry is looking to lower labor requirements.

        NRC imposed regulation is set according to influence from many sources including the fossil industry. After three-mile island, ratcheting of regulation was severe and included excessive requirements for the staffing overhead and credentials.

        SMRs go much longer between refueling. They cool through passive mechanisms. They are constructed underground meaning much lower security overhead. There are numerous reasons why staffing can be cut back significantly.

    • Zach Seven

      boy oh boy the ignorance is strong in readers of this blog.

      How many industrial nations are powered by wind and solar?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Zach, you post a lot with little knowledge to back up your comments. I think we understand that you are one of the nuclear fan-boys of which we talk.

        Here’s what’s happening in the world when it comes to nuclear.

        Nuclear energy in the world plateaued some years ago and has started to drop. And what is not shown on the graph is that electricity consumption has continued to increase.

        Year after year nuclear falls further behind in terms of market share. It’s a dead industry just waiting for the last twitches to cease.

        1990. The year nuclear became a senior citizen and ceased to grow. It’s now on its way to the nursing home.

        • Zach Seven

          And that is a problem because Nuclear power still provides a vast majority of carbon free power globally. We need to qualm back unreasonable fears that the fossil fuel industry has propagated about nuclear power and revive the industry.

          Just as James Hansen, Ken Caldiera, Tom Wigley and Kerry Emmanuel have pointed out.

      • A Real Libertarian

        “How many industrial nations are powered by wind and solar?”

        About as many as are powered by nukes.

  • Senlac

    I am all for solar and I believe the future needs many clean energy sources, solar, wind and many others. I also hear a lot about Natural Gas as a bridge energy source which really rattles my tree. It is not nearly as clean as claimed and our ground water is our greatest resource, and fracking is a great threat to our water supplies. But the WAMSR nuclear reactor makes sense as a bridge technology, and if success could reduce the amount of nuclear waste. Shouldn’t this kind of idea be entertained, given it “actually does what they claim”. It could reduce a huge environmental risk and does not need additional fuel sources.

    • I definitely feel the same about natural gas. I think a lot of people are shooting society i the foot by trying to optimistically claim that natural gas is cleaner than it is. The widespread claim that it is 50% cleaner than coal is the source of the problem. Methane leaks that can’t easily be tracked but are huge is a problem that is not included in that equation.

      As far as WAMSR nuclear being a bridge, I just don’t see how that’s possible given how long it would take to get these to a point where they are actually commercially viable. Furthermore, I’m yet to see any proof that any form of nuclear is cheaper than renewables.

      • Senlac

        Indeed there is much that needs to be proven. But the nuclear waste issue is real. Japan knows that all to well. They also have less land for solar, although off shore wind could really helpful, given the shape of their island, it could be a great solution. If WAMSR proves viable, it is a consideration. I just don’t think we should have a collective knee jerk reaction against nuclear energy, except when it comes to Light Water reactors which have been made as much for making bombs as energy.

        • Agreed on all fronts. My two main issues related to most nuclear proponents is: 1) they act as if nuclear is an economically competitive option today; 2) they attack renewable energy with all sorts of off-the-wall, incorrect talking points. I do genuinely hope that there will be competitive types of nuclear down the line that can help us with the waste problem (rather than adding to it).

          • Senlac

            It is funny how so many people have not learned the lesson of the computer revolution. Semiconductors, the cpu, memory and storage have grown along the high technology path, becoming more efficient and less expensive for the last 30+ years. Solar is a semiconductor, and as the market grows and innovation continues toward affordable mulit-juction cells and many other forms, solar will continue to become cheaper more efficient and more useful. Solar’s cost curve is different, and it has an efficiency ceiling at 100%, but I’m not worrying about that any time soon. I think we may have a leap forward above 30% in the 2020s or perhaps sooner.

            If one thing we can take away from the computer revolution, they just keep getting better and better, and renewables like solar are on a similar path. The future is bright and I have complete faith in it, because I have faith in humans spirit of innovation. You can bank on that.

          • Zach Seven

            Do you realize that we have reactor designs that can improve greater than 40% in efficiency? No such solar PV cell or wind turbine offers the same potential, which is why philanthropic heavy-weights such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, and renowned environmentalists and climatologists such as Stewart Brand, George Monbiot, and James Hansen are saying that nuclear energy is absolutely essential to fight climate change and poverty.

            Take this site with a giant grain of salt. These guys aren’t engineers or scientists. They are involved in special interest lobbying, they aren’t open to the science of the matter.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Efficiency does not matter except that it is one factor in determining final cost.

            Bill Gates and Richard Branson, and renowned environmentalists and climatologists such as Stewart Brand, George Monbiot, and James Hansen – all of these people are talking outside their areas of expertise.

            And clearly they don’t know much about renewables or they wouldn’t be making those foolish statements.

            Ever hear of Linus Pauling?

          • Senlac

            Well perhaps your right about efficiency, but cost and risk are very important factors, and nuclear has a bad track record. That is why I am interested in seeing how something like WAMSR develops. There are also thorium reactors of similar designs which could be alternatives. I think getting away from Light Water Reactors is very important. Ask Japan about nuclear waste, they have a real serious problem now, and I personally would like to see a cost effective way of managing waste, after all it’s like leaving your gas tank 95% full. Solar will gain higher efficiencies soon and can be everywhere in many forms the sky is the limit, and if balanced with wind will be a large part of the solution as storage becomes more affordable.

            I want an EV coated with muti-junction solar that will charge my car as I drive. And I don’t think that is Science Fiction. I think it’s around the corner and up the road a bit.

            I am for common sense and using “clean energy solutions that work”. Our base load demand will continue to be a challenge, so the new nuclear reactor designs are worth developing, and may very well play an important role. We will see. There is still a lot we really do not know, but give a few more years we’ll be able to have a much more informed conversation on these matters.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If a cheaper (safe enough) generation technology is proven then we should give it a go.

            But at this point all the WAMSR/Gen IV stuff is nothing more than ideas. And many ideas don’t prove out.

            Remember pebble bed reactors? They were going to be the answer. They did not work.

            Just think a bit about nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is a heat source. Same as fossil fuels.

            You need a safe way to turn fuel into heat and a system for turning heat into electricity. The “fireplace” costs money. The steam plant costs money. Both cost lots of money. They take a long time to build. They accrue a lot of interest.

            New nuclear and new coal (even without their external costs) are roughly 3x the cost of wind and solar. Three times more. It would take massive cost cutting to match the price of wind and solar.

            Thorium would slightly reduce the current fuel cost of nuclear energy ($0.0075/kWh) When fuel is now only 3/4ths of a penny there’s not much room for reduction.

            Thorium might be safer. But the cost of safety is not really built into electricity cost. It’s a cost born by taxpayers.

            Even the ultimate dreamer solution, fusion, would still take a “fireplace” and steam plant.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “I am for common sense”

            I’m against it.

            After all “Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the mind before you reach eighteen”.

          • Rod Adams

            @disqus_3eyb3nF59d:disqus – I’ve been involved in the computer revolution as a user since before the IBM PC was released. I admire the rate of innovation.

            However, you are missing a basic difference between microprocessors and photovoltaic semiconductors. Microprocessors can become almost infinitely more capable by making them smaller and more densely packed. Photovoltaic capacity is completely dependent on the 1 kw/m^2 intensity of solar energy hitting the surface of the Earth at noon on a clear day at the equator.

            I’ve run the numbers with 100% efficient solar cells. If you cover the roof of a minivan, you will only be collecting enough energy to give that vehicle a 5 horsepower motor if you want to power it from solar energy. That is a pretty wimpy power plant.

            When I was in grad school, I designed a solar water heater for a swimming pool. Even though the pool was hypothetically situated on the California coast with excellent solar resources, the collector was larger than the pool in order to keep the water temperature at a moderate 75 F in the winter.

            The sun is a pretty weak source of energy, especially in winter and especially on cloudy days. It requires very large collectors that are idle most of the time.

          • Senlac

            Hi Rod, if one has a 30-40% multi-junction solar coating of 4-5 squares meters, it could add a meaningful amount of energy to an EV. Clearly not to run it completely, but if the cost is low enough it would be great to have. Park your car get some coffee, and then have enough juice to get you to the next fast charging station. It is not meant to handle all the power an EV needs but I personally wouldn’t mind having that margin to keep me going in my EV.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s the bogus energy density argument Rod. You’re doing a good job of working your way down the list of bogus talking points.

            Energy density (like efficiency) matters only to the extent it figures into the final cost of electricity.

            Wind and sunshine are very energy non-dense compared to uranium. But by the time you turn those energy sources into electricity the cost of “dense” uranium is 3x that of wind and solar.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “Energy density (like efficiency) matters only to the extent it figures into the final cost of electricity.”

            Or for very space-limited areas, vehicles for instance.

          • dgaetano

            “I’ve run the numbers with 100% efficient solar cells”

            The roof of a minivan would be about 5 m3, which is about a 5kw system (at 100% efficiency, which is silly but whatever). About 5 hours would fully charge a Leaf (24kWh battery). Pretty certain their engines are greater than 5hp.

            Far more relevant, running the numbers with real values will show that 15m3 (about the size of a parking space) of modern solar panels on the roof of your garage will allow an EV to drive about 12k miles per year (and they’ll last 30+ years).

          • Yes, I don’t think there are many people high up in the energy industry who don’t get this. But I could be wrong…

          • GRLCowan

            You agree that “Light Water reactors which have been made as much for making bombs as energy”?

        • Zach Seven

          Nuclear waste is not a large issue because the volume of waste created from in the commercial fission sector is actually quite small. The entirety of waste produced from several decades of providing 1/5 of US electricity from nuclear fission could fit inside a single industrial sized warehouse without question.

          All of these scare stories about waste etc are propagated by the fossil fuel industry. You are being had sir.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You have no idea how much nuclear waste we have.

            We have millions of tons and millions of gallons of low level nuclear waste in addition to the very large amount of used fuel which will remain deadly dangerous for thousands of years.

          • GRLCowan

            Fossil fuel *interests*, not just industry.

            Western governments are major fossil fuel interests.

      • Zach Seven

        The proposed Manzanar CA solar PV project:

        200 MW @ ~20% Capacity factor
        680 million USD
        2 square miles

        Vogtle additions 3 & 4

        2.23 GW @ ~85% – 95% Capacity Factor
        14 billion USD projected (let’s assume 15 billion due to overruns)
        0.25 miles

        So adjusting for capacity factor nuclear power is clearly cheaper and does not include the large externalized costs associated with weather dependent generation. Also this comparison doesn’t consider that the nuclear plant has an expected operating life 2x as long as solar PV.

        Perhaps the title of your post should have been “Why are world leading climatologists insisting that nuclear energy is a necessity to global decarbonization?”

        And perhaps you should have listened to what these people are saying.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Now list the cost of electricity produced.

          • Zach Seven

            Comprehensive cost of electricity is a function of all the grid generation assets called upon. In comprehensive cost nuclear is by far a cheaper baseload option than other low carbon technologies, excluding of course existent hydro or geothermal.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Zach, you are simply making stuff up.

          • …says the Zen Master of making stuff up to the grasshopper.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Russ, you’ve been caught out making stuff up.

            You probably shouldn’t accuse others unless you can back up your claim.

        • Grad

          Decommissioning of plant and handling waste is large part of costs which you didn’t include.

          If you include full costs (and also O&M) nuclear is more expensive than solar.

          • Zach Seven

            Decommissioning and waste storage costs are both covered by the industry usually through the /kWh price as mandated by the NRC.

            If you include the full costs (the costs of intermittency), solar PV is most definitely an important part of the solution, but still impractical to provide the majority of on-demand power that we need.

          • Amy Clavero Real

            Batteries are getting very cheap. When deployed at each residence there will be no need for supermassive baseload capacities. Batteries will become cheaper before nuclear power reactor does.

          • dgaetano

            “Batteries will become cheaper before nuclear power reactor does.”

            Probably the most important and prescient sentence in this entire comment section.

          • A Real Libertarian

            And obvious.

            But then there’s no such thing as “too obvious” when dealing with fallout boys.

      • Rod Adams

        @ZShahan3:disqus – we agree on the myth of “clean natural gas” and probably on the myth that there is plenty of “cheap natural gas” to supply all of our energy needs for the foreseeable future.

        Light water reactors built in places where the government is not actively opposing their development by imposing ever changing regulations, even after the plants have been completed, are quite competitive with wind and solar energy. That is especially true if you make an honest comparison and pit nuclear energy against a similarly reliable suite of renewable and fossil fuel power systems.

        I hope you are honest enough to admit that no wind or solar system can ever stand on its own without a well connected grid or backup generators to supply power during the majority of the time when the wind and the sun are not available at their maximum intensity.

  • Jamie Clemons

    Its a small group of paid nuclear supporters. Most of the public want nothing to do with nuclear power after Fukushima and would like to see it all shut down.

    • Zach Seven

      Fukushima killed no body. A natural Gas plant in the NE US had an accident that killed 17 people. Should we ban natural gas?

      The Banqiao Dam in China burst and killed over 170,000 people and forced the relocation of over 11 million more. Why aren’t we picketing against hydro power?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Many people were killed while evacuating. Please don’t try to lie to us.
        It’s too early for the radiation caused diseases to start appearing.

        • Rod Adams

          True. However, many reputable scientists have come to the conclusion that the evacuations were driven by an irrational fear of radiation, even in doses that were far too small to cause any negative health effects. The doses that governments forced people to avoid were within the normal variation in background exposure.

          Said another way, the risk from exposure was in the noise of everyday living. Evacuating, especially from undamaged homes in the face of a huge natural disaster in during occasional snow storms was a far larger health risk.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sure, what we should do is to sit by to see if the reactor is really going to go mega-sour and start spewing radiation all around the neighborhood.
            You are simply foolish Rod.

          • Rod Adams

            @Bob_Wallace:disqus – I am a self admitted nuclear enthusiast, but I am hardly foolish. I have held a number of responsible positions involving risk management and been influential in making life and death decisions that turned out pretty well for all concerned.

            Nuclear reactor accidents, as demonstrated by the long running reality show called Fukushima, don’t happen very quickly. There is plenty of time to take measurements and to give good advice to people with regard to their need to evacuate or shelter in place.

            It might be worth your time to read up on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s recently released State of the Art Reactor Consequences Analysis. (SOARCA)

          • Bob_Wallace

            So, in your opinion, the people living around Fukushima, Chernobyl, and TMI should have just waited around to see if they started glowing in the dark and then moved slowly away?

          • Rod Adams

            Nope. The people living outside the fences at all of those places should have remained in their homes. At Chernobyl, they should have been taught some very basic protective skills based on time, distance, shielding and filtering. After the short lived radioactive materials like I-131 had dissipated and decayed, they should have gone about their normal living.

            At TMI, there was never any reason for protective measures. At Fukushima, there were some places where the precautions listed above would have been warranted.

            Radiation is quite simple to detect at levels far below that will cause harm. We should teach people a little more useful information and stop trying to impose fear and trembling.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Nope. The people living outside the fences at all of those places should have remained in their homes.”

            Rod, let me simply say that you post idiotic stuff.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “The people living outside the fences at [Chernobyl] should have remained in their homes.”

            Oh, you’re definitely affiliated with Doctors for Disaster Preparedness

          • heinbloed

            “I am a self admitted nuclear enthusiast,..”

            Does your health insurance cover that?

          • A Real Libertarian

            You don’t happen to be affiliated with Doctors for Disaster Preparedness by any chance?

      • heinbloed

        Rubbish again, the official count is now above 1,600 deaths:

    • asdf1296

      The claim that some of these people are ‘paid nuclear supporters’ is partly true, but they’re not paid as shills. They’re paid as engineers, and are passionate about their chosen vocation. Do you think Exelon and EDF give bonuses for wasting time on reddit? They have PR agencies for PR, and those mostly haven’t even caught on to the existence of television (seriously, try to think of a single nuclear power advert on TV other than Areva’s funkytown one)… Say what you like about the nuclear industry, but it’s absolutely abysmal at self-promotion.

  • Todd

    This report from the International Energy Agency doesn’t seem to show good numbers for renewables in Germany, seems GHG emissions are rising, page 16.

    • Grad

      This doesn’t show emissions but generation.

      But it is true that emissions in Germany are steady, because renewables are at the moment mostly replacing nuclear.

    • First of all, for some good perspective on which energy technologies are most effective for cutting GHG emissions, I recommend:

      Second, the issues in Germany that you are referring to are largely due to the fact that: coal has become more competitive against natural gas in Europe; and nuclear power has been shut down in mass, resulting in more fossil fuels being started up in the short term to fill in for that.

      Neither of these points gives any validity to a constant attack on renewable energy, which is our cheapest option for low-carbon energy (and our cheapest option for energy in general if you account for externalities).

      • Zach Seven

        I wouldnt recommend cleantechnica for any objective study on which technology reduces emissions best. Cleantechnica is not a reputable site. The credentials of the writers are not acceptable for the subject matter discussed and the assertions are quite plainly biased and misleading.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I would recommend that you take your fingers off your keyboard and learn some facts.’

          You’re simply posting crap.

      • Todd

        Thank you for that link, Zachary, maybe similar to this?

        From a GHG-emission perspective, I wonder if Germany could have shut down coal generation first, then nuclear? Also, I wonder how long “short term” will be? (“more fossil fuels being started up in the
        short term”).

        interesting tracking site here on solar electricity generation in
        Germany (but only includes solar installed before June 30, 2013)

        • Bob_Wallace

          Germany is busy replacing its dirty coal plants with much more efficient load-following coal plants. They don’t have natural gas and don’t want to be dependent on Tzar Putin for their supply. Germany intends to have all their coal shut down by 2050.

          • asdf1296

            Why is it better to build expensive new lignite plants instead of running existing nuclear plants?

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, you didn’t get it. Let’s go slow.

            Some years back, well before 2011, Germany decided that they would need some fossil fuel capacity during their transition to renewables. Since they had no natural gas of their own and since Russia had jerked them around with the supply they decided that they had to stick with coal.

            So Germany made the decision to build new “super critical” coal plants that produce more electricity per ton of coal than did their older plants.

            By 2020, 18.5 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be decommissioned, whereas only 11.3 gigawatts will be newly installed and they would still get the same amount of electricity. And they may have recently reduced the 11.3 to about 8 gigawatts.

            Got that? Nuclear was not involved in this decision. It was purely a more efficient use of coal.

            Then on March 11, 2011 (long after the decision to build new coal plants) Fukushima melted down.

            German citizens, haven’t lived with Chernobyl melting next door said “Enough” (but in German) and decided to close their nuclear plants. If the so very safety conscious Japanese could lose control of their reactors then no ones reactors were safe.

            A decision separate from that of replacing their inefficient coal plants.

        • heinbloed

          The German law demands a final “Endlager” for atomic waste, since this doesn’t exist first comes first to close down.

          The most expensive form of electricity generation has to go first in the Energiewende.
          Freeing resources for the other plans.

          Bt.w.: has anyone here noted the bankruptcy of the last USA-uranium enrichment plant?

          Shopping in Iran now? I thought there was a boykott ?
          I’m sure with some Russian banking tricks there is a way …)

        • Thanks, yeah, good stuff. And, yes, I have used SMA’s site in the past:

    • Bob_Wallace

      Mostly due to rising natural gas prices causing more coal to be burned. Along with a cold winter.

      A small wiggle in the downward line.

    • heinbloed
  • Omega Centauri

    I can’t find where I saw the comment (I think it was on RealClimate), but someone commented about reddit (pretty sure it was reddit) banned climate change denialists, they were amazed how few there actually were. They were flodding the comment sections, and giving the impression they represent a huge number of people, but the actual number of people doing this was seen to be quite small. Maybe the pro-Nuke siutuation is similar, a small number of highly motivated individuals commenting a great deal.

    • this piece?

      yeah, the number is not at all proportionate to the noise.

      and that’s a sign of either 1) money being behind the noise, or 2) people simply getting involved with a topic in an obsessive and evangelical kind of way.

    • Zach Seven

      James Hansen, Terry Emmanuel, Ken Caldiera, and Tom Wigley all recently stated that nuclear was essential to any meaningful global decarbonization.

      With the pedigree of these individuals you would be crazy to think that there isn’t a strong contingent of people with a scientific background who wholeheartedly agree. I do not see any equal-credentialed people offering a legitimate counter-argument.

      • Bob_Wallace


        Learn some facts. You’re bringing the stupid.

  • Michael Berndtson

    Subreddits are the 19th century mining camps of the internet. The shady stuff that happens at the end of the dirt path. Also, there’s a fanboy style gorilla marketing push going on with Thorium as a fuel source for elec. generation. Bring up nuclear power on any environment and energy blog and the number of comments explode. The discussion morphs into a discussion style common of 14 year old boys arguing which gizmo is better. This may be done with special interest backing, I can only assume.

    From a number of comments and posts on nuclear power, there’s a pernicious interest to pull nuclear power in general and Thorium specifically out from under NRC and EPA regulation. Many of the comments from nuke fanboys are close to dangerous. Some even claim something like this: “environmental and health impacts are overblown from nuclear power and waste – those pesky regulations are holding it back.” It’s really scary. There’s also a libertarian Ayn Rand-y thing going on. I’d assume there is big corporate backing behind much of the nuclear push: on redit or elsewhere on the internet.

    • Yeah, I’ve seen the fanboys flood numerous such sites now. It’s hard not to assume that it’s funded. But I also know people who have simply been confused by the propaganda and then push it further.

      “There’s also a libertarian Ayn Rand-y thing going on.” Yes, have gotten that impression.

      All of it is actually a sign of some broader issues, such as: a widespread lack of awareness regarding the benefits regulations provide, a blanket hate for government that doesn’t recognize the fact that the citizenry (who could run the govt) have large decided to disengage (and thus get screwed), a fascination with flipping a switch to solve all of our problems rather than actually owning up to the fact that we need to be less wasteful and more responsible, stealth campaigns by “Big Industry” to create and spread misinformation and invade the media, and so on…

      • Greg Barton

        Your paranoia is funny and concomitantly sad.

        • A Real Libertarian

          Yeah Zachery,

          Big Business using PR campaigns to misled the public is a myth, just like the military-industrial complex.

        • Haha, i’m far from paranoid. 😀 These campaigns have been uncovered numerous times in the past. It’s nothing new. But note my comments regarding the fact that I don’t think most of the nuclear fanboys are.

        • 😀 that’s funny. i’m not paranoid. 😀 i think most nuclear fanboys are not paid by the industry to spread misinformation. but this tactic has been uncovered numerous times, and there’s plenty of possibility that it could be a part of the reason why nuclear enthusiasm in comments on big websites doesn’t match the situation in reality.

    • SecularAnimist

      Michael Berndtson wrote: “There’s also a libertarian Ayn Rand-y thing going on.”

      Which is ironic given that nothing could be more ANTITHETICAL to libertarian values than nuclear power, which has always and everywhere been created and sustained by Big Government and absolutely requires a massive, intrusive national security state to protect against its severe dangers. Indeed nuclear power is a Soviet Stalinist dinosaur of an industry if ever there was one.

      Whereas nothing could be more CONDUCIVE to libertarian values than solar energy — particularly distributed, end-user solar (with storage) which enables almost everyone to produce their own electricity and liberate themselves from dependence on both government and corporations.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I’ve found that interesting as well. Right-wingers/Republicans who are so much against socialism in any form they can imagine have so largely embraced nuclear which is only built as socialized power.

        Blinded by hippie-hate….

        • mtracy9

          Libertarianism is basically fake populism. It is funded by guys like the Koch brothers (with their think tanks). The main reason libertarians hate government is because they do not like regulation, especially when it comes to things like environmental regulation. Mostly it’s a power thing. Guys like the Koch brothers are opposed to anything that limits their power to do as they see fit, which includes the power to pollute as they see fit.

          • Bob_Wallace

            More accurately, libertarians dislike any regulations that get in the way of their greed.

            Try opening a body shop or recycle yard next door to their houses and watch them run to the courts to get regulations enforced.

          • A Real Libertarian

            I believe Kim Stanley Robertson put it best:

            “That’s libertarians for you, anarchists who want police protection from their slaves.”
            – Green Mars

          • Bob_Wallace

            A couple of my favorites –

            Libertarians are what conservatives call themselves when they’re trying to get laid.

            The “libertarian” label allows mean-spirited right-wingers (who are not remotely “conservative” in the traditional sense of the word) to pretend there is a consistent theoretical basis for their me-first-and-pull-up-the-ladder approach.

            Libertarians demand that other people surrender their rights in order for the Libertarian to do anything the fuck they want.

        • A Real Libertarian

          “Blinded by hippie-hate….”

          You’re assuming that wasn’t the point.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It seems to be the driving force for the right. If the left is for it then it must be opposed.

            “Obamacare” was a right-wing idea. It comes right out of a right-wing think tank. But once the left adopted it as a (partial) solution to our health insurance problems the right went rabid.

            The right has hated on wind and solar. And they seem to have built love for nuclear simply because greens opposed it.

            If the left came out in favor of oxygen many on the right would be likely to stop breathing…..

          • A Real Libertarian

            I meant as long as someone’s whipped up into a frenzy of hatred about “the evil socialists!” they’re not looking at what socialists advocate.

            And if they’re not looking at what socialists advocate, then they can’t decide they like what they see, now can they?

      • A Real Libertarian

        “liberate themselves from dependence on both government and corporations.”

        That’s the rub.

        All this “capitalist libertarian” BS was nothing more then an attempt to appropriate the working-class philosophy of self-governance and twist it into a slavish ode to the very people who inspired it with their brutality and callousness.

  • Chatteris

    Renewable energy technology is fundamentally simple but some of its opponents are hostile to simple solutions because they think that simplicity is an insult to their supposed intelligence. They also hate its limits which discipline us to work with what nature gives us according to her daily and seasonal rhythms, whereas they dream of being able to manipulate nature to produce unlimited power whenever they wish.

    • Wow, great statement there. Best summary of that argument that I think I’ve ever seen.

    • Zach Seven

      We can produce unlimited, abundant power whenever we wish. Nuclear fission allows us to do that and it allows us to do it safely.

      The world at large is not going to regress, we are going to progress. Environmental stewardship is strongest amongst energy intensive societies.

      • mtracy9

        There’s a reason that private insurance companies
        will not insure nuclear power plants without liability exemptions.

    • A Real Libertarian

      “Renewable energy technology is fundamentally simple but some of its
      opponents are hostile to simple solutions because they think that
      simplicity is an insult to their supposed intelligence.”

      It’s like the morons who gave the M16A1 to American troops in ‘Nam and sneered at the “primitive, commie AK47”.

    • Josh

      Except it’s not so “fundamentally simple” when you actually want to use it to provide reliable power for the grid. Elaborate potential schemes are concocted with massive amounts of duplicate capacity and an enormous number of new high-capacity transmission lines because…”well, most of the time the wind will be blowing or the sun will be shining somewhere!..” Either that or a massive number of pumped storage stations and large battery banks…

      Or we could always go with the really simple solution and just keep burning fossil fuels as “backup” – like we’ve been doing.

      The big oil/gas and coal companies know this, which is why you see them promoting wind/solar. They know that, unlike nuclear, these “renewables” will never eliminate the demand for their main product!

      • Bob_Wallace

        Do you not understand that we built storage in order to use nuclear?

        • Josh

          A limited number of pumped storage stations were built in some areas that had surplus power at night. It wasn’t necessary but was economical to do so.

          This is quite different from trying to go with wind/solar alone and having to build an enormous amount of storage to last for days or even weeks of short cloudy winter days with little wind.

          • Bob_Wallace

            20 GW of pump-up hydro. 1 GW of CAES. Hardly “a limited number”.

            “was economical to do so” Yes, because without storage the solution for “can’t turn it off” nuclear would have been even more expensive.

            Read the paper I linked. You misunderstand the length of time we go without sunshine and wind.

      • A Real Libertarian

        “Either that or a massive number of pumped storage stations and large battery banks…”

        Ya mean like nukes?

  • Mark Osborne

    Nice piece Zach and highlights to me past engagements and
    experience I have had in my attempts to highlight to nuclear supporters that
    the growth in PV will continue as cost reductions in relation to cost-per-watt at
    the manufacturing (upstream) and LCOE (downstream) have already passed key inflection points against any existing energy source. That said, we have had significant government support for nuclear for over half and century in the Western world, supported by the mainstream media and that has only recently started to wane.

    Part of problem was the belief but lack of evidence that nuclear was ever a cheap source of energy, a myth perpetuated due to the dreams of governments.

    Therefore the ‘confusion’ of governments and therefore the
    public will take time to come around to renewables, not least the ‘disruptive’
    attributes to utility industry business models (many state owned) before the
    transition becomes a fate accompli and attitudes in the main will eventually

    • Agreed. Just such a shame that these guys pick up incorrect or slanted anti-renewable talking points and throw them all over the place.

  • jburt56

    Perhaps it’s a death cult like Aum Shinrikyo.

  • Robert Levesque

    It doesnt matter what they think. Economics will determine the winner. And we know which one that will be…

    • Indeed.

    • Josh

      At this point in the US, if you take away all subsidies and leave it up to “the market,” most generation will be gas, since that’s cheap at the moment and corporations these days are focused more on short term profits than large long term investments.

      One thing is certain – if you take away all the subsides and mandates there wouldn’t be any large scale wind or solar projects going up since it’s simply not reliable power. A power company is not gonna want to pay to build an unreliable non-dispatchable generating source and have to also pay to maintain a reliable fossil fuel plant to generate the power when it’s not running.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Yes, and no.

        Utilities are starting to sign long term wind and solar contracts because they see them as better deals than gas, which is expected to rise in cost.
        And I think you are quite wrong about wind and solar installation ceasing if subsidies were stopped. Slowed, yes, for a while. But both wind and solar are very close to the point of needing no subsidies.

        Remove subsidies from all generation and wind and solar would be among the cheapest.

        • Josh

          Again Bob, you need to look at the system-wide costs. You might be able to calculate a certain price per kwh for wind production, but how much is the cost to also be running the fossil plant on standby for “backup” – fully staffed but producing less power?

          • A Real Libertarian

            “but how much is the cost to also be running the fossil plant on standby for “backup” – fully staffed but producing less power?”


            That’s generally how much imagination costs you.

          • heinbloed

            As said above already:
            Modern gas power plants need no permanent staff. They can be switched on and off from any point in the world.

    • JdGeier

      Actually I’m pretty sure that the energy subreddit use to be infested with propagandists with an extreme right-wing energy agenda. Users like mkk144 and uvdiv_blog basically controlled the that sub-reddit at one time with an army of bots that they used to promote junk energy science that sounded technical but ultimately ended with them being banned by the admins. I still don’t trust that subreddit to this day and am still highly suspect of comments on stories originating from there. I also think /u/the_capacity_factor is the same person with a new account.

  • Ross

    They haven’t got their heads around the fact that renewable energy has displaced nuclear as the best alternative for obtaining energy. For a long time they had to defend nuclear against not entirely fair arguments against its risks. Since then Global Warming and economics have moved on. They are essentially still fighting a battle that has been lost. They still associate high tech with the nucleus rather than with more modern fields like materials science that will create better renewable technology.

    • Great summary.

    • Marion Meads

      In fairness, no one hasn’t truly funded the newly designed small scale neighborhood thorium reactors that they have been proposing. I haven’t seen any government nor investors willing to try out these newer and hopefully a lot safer nuclear technologies that they claim can use nuclear wastes and the technology itself produces benign wastes. I haven’t seen their numbers either, to see how economically viable they are in the recent prices of energy from renewables.

      • Bob_Wallace

        In fairness, the nuclear industry has the capital to build newly designed small scale neighborhood thorium reactors. Duke, Exelon and all the other companies that own reactors could pool a few billion and open this market if they believed in it.

        It really does not make sense that smaller reactors would be cheaper than large reactors per MWh. There would be far to much redundancy.

        One big reactor needs one front door and one set of security guards.

        Ten little reactors need ten front doors and ten sets of security guards.

        • Zach Seven

          Its about licensing first, capital second.

        • Marion Meads

          Small reactors wouldn’t need any guard as they have argued and would not require a large facility overhead just like the large reactors. It is not worth to steal the small amounts of nuclear wastes that are being used as fuel, just bolt the system down to discourage opportunistic theft. Electric substations for example have no guards nor offices. There is a huge advantage to widely distributed small baseload power source.

          But of course, the fact that the proponents did not consolidate their resources to build a working prototype makes me suspicious about the technology. It seems that they wanted the general public to shoulder the learning curve.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wouldn’t need guards?

            Are you kidding? What we would be doing is creating lots of “dirty bomb” opportunities.

          • Marion Meads

            Anyway, we have remote cameras, armed drones, neighborhood watch. Nuclear wastes are easily tracked, especially with newer technologies that we have nowadays. How many dirty bombs exploded in US Soils really?

            Don’t get me wrong. You and I are strong supporters of nucear energy. The one that is filling us with radiation from about 93 millions miles away.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Did you know that we have special forces units that stage mock terrorist attacks on our reactors to ensure that they are prepared for the real thing?
            Did you know that we have jet fighters standing by to intercept large planes that might go off course and head for a reactor?

            Remember the right-wingers who tried to set off the propane storage facility just to the east of you in Elk Grove? Or Oklahoma City? Or the first World Trade Center attack?

            Increasing the number of targets is not exactly a wise move. It costs money to secure targets.

          • asdf1296

            OK, let’s ban tall buildings. While we’re at it, we’ll ban mosques, pubs, public transport and nightclubs too, because they’re all much more common targets for terrorists. The only vaguely successful terrorist attack against a nuclear facility was the RPG attack against superphénix, by an anti-nuclear activist (and green party politician!) which caused damage requiring minor repairs to the unfinished building…

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your silliness has been noted….

          • Lilly Munster

            I am pretty sure the NRC would have something to say about this. There is no way they are going to allow unguarded nuclear facilities and no local community is going to allow it either.

          • heinbloed

            ” How many dirty bombs exploded in US Soils really?”

            How many ‘clean’ ones did?

      • Lilly Munster

        Thorium was explored by the US and dropped as providing no improvements over other nuclear options. Thorium suffers the same fuel cycle problems as uranium nuclear and has higher proliferation risks due to needing highly enriched uranium to make the process start. India has been trying to make thorium work for 40 years. Germany had one thorium reactor that failed and got dumped on the taxpayers to decommission when the company went under. All the talk about thorium is largely based around a couple of companies trying to find sucker investors to give them money.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I find that many nuclear fans are data-lite.

      They often use the cost of electricity from paid off reactors in place of the cost from new reactors. They don’t know that wind is now selling for 4 cents and solar for only a bit more and all the recent prices we have for new nuclear are >15 cents. They don’t know that any sort of significant use of nuclear would require storage, the same as renewables.

      Many of them seem to have watched a YouTube video about thorium reactors and have come away with the impression that we would couple build thorium reactors right now and produce cheap electricity. They don’t realize that the cost of fuel in a reactor is only $0.0075/kW. Thorium might be cheaper, but there’s not a lot of fuel cost to cut.

      • asdf1296

        Most renewables fans ignore data entirely. They ignore the additional costs of transmission (estimated to be about €500 billion across Europe by 2030). They ignore the costs of building fossil fuel backup plants and running them at low load factors. They ignore the cost of maintaining additional spinning reserve and thermal plants in hot standby. They ignore the additional wear and tear on these plants due to thermal cycling. They ignore the costs associated with maintaining reactive power. They ignore the abysmal record of above-inflation increases in the cost of wind power capacity, and the rapid reduction in good sites left for development. They ignore the fact that increased intermittent generation in Europe drives expensive, efficient CCGT and hard coal plants off the market and leaves behind the inefficient, dirty OCGT and lignite plants. They ignore the fact that increasing electricity prices is completely incompatible with increasing electrification of heating and transport, instead claiming that it encourages efficiency. They ignore the examples of rapid reductions in CO2 emissions from France, Sweden, Switzerland (and even Germany) when nuclear capacity was increased, instead pointing to Germany and Denmark, where overall CO2 emissions have hardly budged and electricity is more expensive than anywhere else in the continent. They point to the collapsing wholesale market as evidence of superior economics and claim grid parity for residential solar, while ignoring the huge taxes they pay. They provide illegal subsidies to their heavy manufacturing industries, and are yet still unable to prevent the move of energy-intensive industry to coal-loving China. They claim that high prices are only temporary and will inevitably fall with technological progress, yet in the same breath state that the first new nuclear plant in the UK for 25 years is uneconomic despite being cheaper than the cheapest renewable option today.

        The renewables lobby is a horrific alliance of neo-luddites who would like to see industrialised society fail, combined with the worst of rent-seeking crony capitalism. Only somebody infatuated with the religion of environmentalism could possibly support the socially regressive policies that lead to the poorest in society subsidising landowners and people with large houses and spare cash, at the threat of being cut off from a vital public service.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Well, that’s one big….

          Nuclear requires transmission, storage and backup. No difference from renewables except the cost of electricity is 3x higher.

          Nuclear also has limited sites available. And the number of sites is shrinking as we deal with more and more heat waves and floods. Not to mention the sites ruled out by citizen opposition.

          Yes, the move to renewables will be disruptive for utilities operating on the old economic model. We’re seeing coal and nuclear plants abandoned before their useful life is over. Assets will be stranded. But in the long run we will enjoy cheaper electricity.

          To say that people who back renewables are Luddites is ignorant. People advocating for renewables are advocating for the most advanced technology available. Not for 20th Century thermal power.

          • asdf1296

            The point isn’t that the requirement for transmission is unique to renewables, it’s that much more is required when the intermittent and physically dispersed nature of these sources is included. There are clearly enough nuclear sites in France to supply the majority of electricity requirements, and allow for significant exports and electrification of heating. Other countries are not particularly different.

            I’m not claiming that renewables will hurt utilities (although this may be true). What I’m saying is that renewables require the thermal plants to be present as well, but run at lower capacity factors and in a regime that increases wear and tear. Yes, fuel costs are reduced (or one would hope they are at any rate, since burning less fossil fuels is meant to be the whole point), but the capital and O&M costs are still substantial and must be recovered through the sale of less energy. The market won’t naturally lead to this, so it’s likely that capacity payments to gas and coal plants (AKA more subsidies for renewables) will be needed instead. This isn’t some ‘us and them’ thing – in the end, all costs are borne by the consumers. You’ll only escape these costs if an alternative can be provided, and all proposed alternatives (storage, vast interconnections, rationing etc) are just as expensive, if not more so.

          • Grad


            It costs about 35-70million euro per year to run 1GW gas plant in Germany only for couple of hours in November evening without wind.

            It is a minor cost.

            Numbers have been extensively studied in Germany, they are transparent and well known.


            In the long run, power-to-gas will deliver carbon neutral gas and these gas plants will provide backup during those few hours without Sun and wind. Germany know very well what are they doing.

          • heinbloed

            I did not write that !

            How many heinbloeds are now taking part here at the moment?

            (But it seems to be correct anyhow)

            The gas powerplants in the Netherlands had been purchased by German electricity companies last year who run them now on stand-by, remote controlled from Germany and Poland. No staff at all. And no gas used so far.

          • Grad

            I was replying to asdf who is saying that costs for backup are ignored, which is not true.

            Agora document clearly states in “Insight 5” that securing supply at times no low wind and Solar is cheap (using OCGT gas turbines): about 35-70mio euro per year (per GW capacity).

            This backup cost is accounted, but fossil nukes are ignoring the facts.

          • heinbloed

            So we are only 2 by now?

          • A Real Libertarian

            “The market won’t naturally lead to this, so it’s likely that capacity payments to gas and coal plants (AKA more subsidies for renewables) will be needed instead.”

            So that’s why you fallout boys keep insisting renewables are massively subsidized.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind will require more transmission than would new nuclear. Solar, being largely dispersed over existing rooftops will require less.

            The cost of wind + transmission is allowing wind to be sold for 4 cents per kWh (2011 and 2012 US average) which is lower than the generation cost for some paid off nuclear reactors.

            Nuclear actually requires more standby generation than do wind and solar. When a reactor unexpectedly goes off line it creates a major problem for the grid. Wind and solar come and go in less abruptly ways and they are highly predictable.

        • A Real Libertarian

          “They claim that high prices are only temporary and will inevitably fall with technological progress, yet in the same breath state that the first new nuclear plant in the UK for 25 years is uneconomic despite being cheaper than the cheapest renewable option today.”

          $0.15 is cheaper then $0.04?

          Let me guess, the cost analysis was done by Rogoff & Reinhart, right?

          P.S. Inflation.

      • Lilly Munster

        The fuel cycle itself is an expensive and massive endeavor. You have mining, transportation, processing, use and storage as radioactive waste forever. The US is already having problems with the existing highly subsidized uranium fuel cycle. USEC is broke and can’t even keep their plants operating. The money it would take to create a thorium fuel cycle even if they modified some of the existing uranium facilities would be ungodly expensive. Buy some solar panels and be done with it. Or better yet add more wind. That can be built out in a matter of a few years.

    • Ed

      … the condition of “best alternative” is not a static one, it is a transient one…

  • mtracy9

    Let’s face it. Once some people become wedded to and idea — like nuclear — it becomes almost like a religion to them and it is very hard to talk them out of it, despite counter-evidence.

    • That may be the essence of the matter.

      • GRLCowan


    • Zach Seven

      insert solar PV for nuclear – and you have a better idea. Becoming a nuclear engineer is quite rigorous and most of us are quite objective. No industrialized nations are powered by wind and solar, however nuclear power can do the job, and as demonstrated by France it can be quite economical.

      • Bob_Wallace

        France is installing renewables and getting ready to shut some of its nuclear reactors.

        You are a very ignorant individual.

        • mtracy9

          Zach Seven is not just ignorant, he is willfully ignorant.

          • asdf1296

            How about looking about what has actually happened, rather than what people would like to see happen. In reality, France hasn’t shut any reactors. In reality, the capital cost of all their existing reactors was about $100bn (inflation adjusted), with total costs including decommissioning and supporting infrastructure less than €200bn, while Siemens have estimated that Germany’s 2030 targets will cost €1700 billion. In reality, France has some of the cheapest electricity in Europe while Germany has amongst the most expensive (beaten only by wind-heavy Denmark). In reality, France has amongst the lowest per MWh CO2 emissions, while Germany and Denmark have amongst the highest. In reality, Germany is still digging up villages to get at brown coal, while France has the luxury of not even needing to exploit their shale gas. People may be ignorant of your fantasies, but renewables activists seem to be burying their heads in the sand completely.

          • heinbloed

            Allmighty, learn a European language.
            And read the press:


            Atomic alarm on the 23rd of this month, shops and houses closed, doors and windows taped. Thanks Santa, for the tape ….
            10 km from the center of Paris, at windforce 100km/hour.
            Warning time for Paris ? Zero
            So no warning was given to Parisiens, only 30.000 ocals in fear.
            Thanks heaven it did not leak, did not start a chain reaction.
            Cheap atomic electricity is forcing the industry out of France:




            So this needs to be stopped:



            Every sentence you have written above contains at least 2 lies, asdf.

            There are just to many to bother anymore with you 🙂

          • Jeremy David Thomson

            The derailment was merely that, the car left the rails. There’s a picture of the rail car upright, container of radioactives sitting nicely unperturbed. The article is an excellent example of the hysteria associated with anything nuclear. If the paint on the container got scratched would someone order evacuation, after all a container of radioactive material was DAMAGED!

          • heinbloed

            Pictures do not make people brighter, Jay. Therefore Catholics refer to them. Read the article, the whole thing happened at a so called “Seveso railway station”, the term used by the railway workers who opose such shitty practice.

            Where depleted uranium/tungsten armunition is stored next to petrol, hydroflouric acid next to fertilizer.

            A standard French industrial cargo railway station.

            Learn French before you talk about it’s press.

            (There is also a video, for those short of words.)

            And there is the English speaking media, of course with nothing …..

            From Belgium:


            And from the atomics industry’s mailorder press:


          • Jeremy David Thomson

            Speaking of hysteria…

            “Where depleted uranium/tungsten armunition is stored next to…”

            So… what?
            Am I supposed to tremble in fear at the word Uranium?
            Depleted uranium, U-238 a very mildy radioactive substance. How mild? It has a half life of 4.468 billion years, Thats more than the life of the planet. Rough guide, the longer the half life, the lower the intensity of radioactive emission. It does make excellent radiation sheilding, sit inside a barrel of u-238, you’d receive less backround radiation.

          • Jeremy David Thomson

            “Thanks heaven it did not leak, did not start a chain reaction.”
            Woops! Missed that one.
            Stop telling me to learn French, you need to learn about reactors. The reason why they remove the fuel and send it off to reprocessing is that it no longer efficiently supports a fission chain reaction. The build up of many fission products acts as a neutron-poison, they absorb the neutrons needed to sustain fission. Nothing short of an exquisitely designed implosion explosive is going to get that spent fuel to fission.

          • greenthinker2012

            An implosion explosive would not do it either.
            Depleted Uranium has even less of the fissionable isotope U235 in it than natural Uranium.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You cannot build reactors now for what it cost France to build them “back then”.

            Just look at the Hinkley Point reactor price. That is to be built by French and Chinese nuclear builders. 16 cents/kWh.

            If anyone could build nuclear cheaper they would be jumping up and down with a lower bid.

            This a common problem with nuclear supporters. They try to use prices from decades ago and prices from paid off plants as current costs. That and the false dichotomy of “nuclear or coal?” make them some of the most dishonest people one can encounter.

      • France is moving away from nuclear and towards renewables. There are reasons for that.

        • Rod Adams

          France’s recently elected prime minister SAYS that the country is moving away from nuclear energy. So far, no plants have been shut down and new nuclear plant construction is continuing.

          As I have acknowledged, nuclear energy is not very popular right now, especially among the moneyed interests on Wall Street. Perhaps it would be worth your time to apply a little critical thinking to the task of figuring out why that might be true instead of acting like a right-winger who believes that “the market” is always right.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Pay attention to France’s renewable projects. They can’t start shutting down reactors until they have replacement power in place.

            (But you knew that, Rod, you just want to spread the FUD.)

          • Josh

            @Bob_Wallace – “They can’t start shutting down reactors until they have replacement power in place.”

            Bob – You’re correct, but you’ve made an important omission. Since there’s not always wind or sun in France, reducing their nuclear capacity while maintaining a reliable electric supply would require construction of new fossil fuel power plants.

            Wind/solar simply cannot provide the reliable baseload supply that fission generation can. A nuclear phase-out in France would mean a lot more fossil fuels being burned, which would be great for the oil/gas and coal industries, but not so good for those concerned about carbon emissions…

            (Ever wonder why companies like Shell are so bullish on “renewables”?…)

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, France does not stand alone.

            France currently buys and sells power across Europe. When the Sun is not shining in France other systems (wind, thermal solar, hydro, tidal, storage, etc.) will provide the power.

            Read up on eHighway 2050.

          • Josh

            @Bob_Wallace:disqus – I’ll believe that when I see it. The reality we’ve seen is that less nuclear means more fossil fuels burned. Germany has already constructed new coal-fired plants as it phases out fission generation and more are under construction and in the pipeline. For all the hype about Germany’s wind/solar, the country’s remaining nuclear still produces more power annually then all of its wind/solar combined.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, Josh. Germany started building replacement coal plants well before the decision to close nuclear plants.

            Get your facts straight.

            Germany got 23% of its electricity from renewables in 2012. And 17.5% from nuclear.

            Furthermore, Germany has only recently started building renewables. They started building nuclear 50 years ago.

          • Josh

            “Germany got 23% of its electricity from renewables in 2012. And 17.5% from nuclear.”

            How much of that 23% actually came from wind and solar though?

            What I said was that “For all the hype about Germany’s wind/solar, the country’s remaining
            nuclear still produces more power annually then all of its wind/solar
            combined.” Which is very much true.

            Much of their total “renewables” percentage includes hydro (which is already pretty maxed out in Germany) and “biomass,” which is largely burning wood and is not very scalable or environmentally friendly. Biomass accounts for the largest recent growth in “renewables” in Germany though because, unlike wind/solar it’s dispatchable and can even be burned in existing fossil plants (and then counted towards the “renewables” percentage).

          • Bob_Wallace

            First half of 2013 8.6 percent of Germany’s electricity was from wind and 6.9 percent from solar. So 15.5%. And nuclear got more than a 40 year head start.

          • heinbloed


            Learn to read, Josh.
            And learn a few languages.

          • heinbloed

            It is 24.7% RE for electricity generation 2013 in Germany:


            With a good chance (due to recent storms) to top that up by 0.1% .

            See also


          • heinbloed

            Rubbish, Josh, the Mafiosis from the atomic-fossile industry in Germany are reporting the absolute opposite.
            They want help.
            From the tax payer.

            Similar to the US-stinkers


            most German/European coal power plants face a very quick end,long before their anticipated life time.


            The French atomic electricity price can’t compete anymore with that of neighbouring nations, the French government therefore fines the leaving heavy industry:


            Studying atomic science didn’t result in anything future proof.
            Thefore the whincing and whining now.

            Languages are more sustainable,opening a world of reality.

          • heinbloed

            ” I’ll believe …”

            That’s a statement suitable for Z’s spendid article!

            When others know, you ‘believe’ :):)

            ” Mom, the devil made me ….”


            Believers aren’t allowed in scientific circels anymore:


            Be glad you’ve found this site.

          • Lilly Munster

            Wrong. Germany replaced aging coal plants with new ones. They did not build new coal capacity. Germany’s solar and wind has been increasing year after year. The biggest fear in the US among the nuclear industry is that people here will see the success in Germany and want it here. This will turn the power sector upside down and that is a good thing that is long overdue.

          • greenthinker2012

            Germany’s CO2 emissions are rising.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Small temporary blip caused by an increase in natural gas in Europe.

            Halfway decent concern trolling on your part.

            “Utilities in Europe need to shut more than 30 percent of their total gas, coal and oil-fed power capacity by 2017 to counter a drop in prices caused by the boom in renewable energy sources, UBS AG (UBSN) analysts said.

            Producers must close 49 gigawatts of capacity to stabilize profits at 2012 levels, analysts led by Paris-based Per Lekander wrote in an e-mailed report. That includes 24 gigawatts of “mainly cashflow positive capacity” on top of the 7 gigawatts that utilities already plan to shut and an additional 18 gigawatts of closures expected to be announced, he wrote.

            Germany’s next-year electricity contract, a European benchmark, has fallen 21 percent in the past year as power produced from sources such as the sun and wind boost supply and push down wholesale prices.

            “The most important driver has undoubtedly been the remarkable increase of renewable capacity, and in particular solar, mainly in Germany,” Lekander said.”


            I believe a 30% closure of fossil fuel plants will more than make up for a small single digit one year increase.

          • greenthinker2012

            Right Bob, because when you show concern it is “real” concern, but others must be dismissed as trolls.

          • Bob_Wallace

            People who spread FUD are trolls.

          • greenthinker2012

            Then I was right about you.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “(Ever wonder why companies like Shell are so bullish on “renewables”?…)”

            No, we actually research this shit before lecturing on the topic.

            It’s because if they denied renewables work they’d have the credibility of the nuclear industry. So they say “Oh renewables can work someday, but now we have to use existing sources, so give us your money”.

            Ya know, effective propaganda?

          • Lilly Munster

            Baseload is a myth perpetuated by the nuclear industry. France has plenty of sun and wind as does the US.

          • greenthinker2012

            If base load is a myth then why is Germany continuing to build new coal fired power plants? Why wouldn’t they just install more solar and wind power?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Because they need some fossil fuel capacity while they work out storage solutions. And they don’t want to be dependent on Russian natural gas.

            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.

          • A Real Libertarian

            And they’ve cut it down to 8.something GW and those are going to close way before their lifespan expectancy due to cheap renewables.

          • greenthinker2012

            The question was…If base load is a myth why are they building base load coal plants instead of just building more wind farms and solar installations?

          • A Real Libertarian

            “acting like a right-winger who believes that “the market” is always right.”

            You’re the one screaming about how renewables have subsidies and therefore are useless, but say you deserve your much larger subsidies because you’re Special.

          • Josh

            @A Real Libertarian –

            I can’t speak for Ron, but my critique of “renewables” has less to do with their subsidies than with their reliability, though they do receive quite a bit more subsidies per unit of power generated.

            If we could subsidize wind/solar construction and then have reliable base-load generation that allowed us to completely shutdown the fossil fuel plants then its backers might have a case.

            The fact is that with wind/solar alone, maintaining a reliable power supply for a large industrialized nation will always require “backup” fossil generation, which (despite its label) will actually run a majority of the time. If we’re actually serious about reducing carbon emissions then we need to include reliable replacements for fossil generation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Josh, new nuclear in the US will receive a great deal more subsidy per kWh electricity produced than do wind and solar.

            Nuclear requires backup and storage as well. Grids have to constantly be ready to replace supply if a nuclear plant goes off line. And we’ve built a lot of storage in order to use nuclear on our grids.

          • Josh

            Again Bob – I would disagree. We could easily triple the nuclear capacity in this country. France runs on about 80% fission power and ranks among the best countries in the world in terms of carbon output per kwh. A lot of plants in the States are still base-load coal. These would be the first to shut down and replace. The newer reactor designs that are being built today can actually load-follow quite well and will start doing this more once enough of the fossil capacity is shut down and replaced by fission generation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We could build a lot of reactors. And that would greatly increase the cost of electricity in the country and collapse the economy. Nothing like tripling the wholesale cost of power to take us out of the market.

            Do you understand that load-following makes the electricity produced even more expensive? Need that explained?

          • Josh

            Bob – France has some of the lowest electric prices in Europe. Nuclear has fairly high up-front capital costs (though these can be reduced though better standardization and mass-production) but low operating expenses. It’s a long term investment that produces for decades.

            If our main concern is costs and not carbon emissions then we should forget about wind/solar and just go full speed ahead with fossil fuels – no need to worry about climate, right?

            And I would love to see some system-wide cost estimates for powering the USA with renewables only – no fossil backup. How much would it cost for all that redundant capacity, the thousands of miles of new transmission lines, the new storage systems, etc.?…

          • Bob_Wallace

            Josh, if we had solar panels and wind turbines that were installed decades ago and were now paid off our electricity cost would be about 1c/kWh. In comparison France pays huge costs for electricity.

            One cannot compare the cost of electricity from a paid off plant with the cost of a plant still paying off its capex and finex costs.

            There are two things operating here. Utilities are making decisions based on cost, not on climate change. Many of the rest of us are pushing for climate change minimization.

            New nuclear is too expensive for utilities to use. But if it were the only way to get fossil fuels off our grids then we would need to pursue it. Thankfully we have excellent alternatives.

            “I would love to see some system-wide cost estimates for powering the USA with renewables only …”

            Budischak, et al.
            As you read the paper remember that wind and solar are already cheaper than what the authors were expecting in 2030.

          • greenthinker2012

            Actually Bob, if you had solar panels and wind farms that were installed decades ago, you would need to replace them shortly. Their lifespan is only about 20 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Actually you are very wrong.

            We’re just now taking down the 30 year old turbines at Altamont Pass.

            And there are solar panels on the grid that are 40 years old and still producing 80% of their original output.

            Nice trolling. Clever disguise.

          • greenthinker2012

            WOW! 30 years.
            It seems that everyone who disagrees with you is a troll.
            That kind of makes you the troll Bob.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “The fact is that with wind/solar alone, maintaining a reliable power supply for a large industrialized nation will always require “backup” fossil generation, which (despite its label) will actually run a majority of the time.”

            The fact is the evil underpants gnomes are stealing our kitty litter with their mind control laserz!!!

            Hey would you look at that, saying “the fact is” doesn’t automagicly make the next thing you say true!

            Who’da thunk it, huh?

          • heinbloed


            Socialism is Lenin plus atomic energy.

            Who said that?
            Come on, you know this one, at least ….

            Mighty heaven, if you do strip you do it here.

          • Lilly Munster

            Speaking of nuclear industry shills here is one I recognize. Zachary was wondering if they show up to sway comments. This guy (Rod) works in the nuclear industry and runs one of their main propaganda blogs.

        • Lilly Munster

          People do not want nuclear power. Anywhere objective polling is done people would rather have safer smarter options. This is why the nuclear industry spends so much time trash talking other energy sectors. If you can’t sell a product based on the merits and instead have to smear your competitors you probably already have lost the battle.

          • greenthinker2012

            According to polls in Britain, 63 percent of respondents agreed that nuclear generation should be part of the country’s energy mix.


            I looked up other countries and they show similar results.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Try putting a reactor in someone’s back yard and see how that polls.

          • Bob_Wallace

            While back in the US of A…

          • greenthinker2012

            Is this discussion only about the USA?
            I see lots of comments about Germany, France, Spain, on this thread.
            Maybe you should go and call them all trolls for trying to derail this discussion.

      • Jose Juan Sanchis

        In Spain, in present 2013 year, wind and solar energy has provided 26% total electric production. Nuclear energy has provided 21%

    • Russell

      Yes I also think it has something to do with always looking for evidence to support your beliefs, thats human nature and the continual gradual advancement of renewable tech. Like the frog in water that slowly gets hotter and never jumps out, they keep insisting clean-tech is cold because it once was. I think they would finally be accepting if there was widely accepted to be a tech breakthrough, e.g. solar suddenly 3* more efficient. Then they could give up and save face. However as we know tech often doesn’t work that way it get incrementally better.
      Very few people know about the significant LCOE improvements in wind recently because they are still the same spinny things.

      • Bob_Wallace

        That’s an interesting thingie.

        How does someone who has taken a strong position but has seen their position undermined by facts over time reach the point at which they admit to others that they were wrong?

        (Man, I said that poorly.)

        I’m convinced that some of the climate change deniers now know that they were wrong, but that’s the position they took, and like good debaters, they don’t give up.

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