Atomic Show #217 – Michael Mariotte, President NIRS

At the suggestion of a long time Atomic Insights contributor and Atomic Show listener, I invited Michael Mariotte for a guest appearance on the Atomic Show. In the small world made up of active nuclear advocates and people adamantly opposed to nuclear energy, Mariotte and his organization are famous — or infamous, depending on one’s perspective.

The specific impetus for this show was a conversation on NIRS’s Greenworld blog titled Poll: Anti-nuclear presence at September 20 NYC climate march/rally?. Mariotte and his organization are planning to hold a nuclear free rally as part of a planned march in New York City to draw attention to the challenge of climate change. That seems quite illogical and counter productive to me.

Michael served as the Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) from October 1986 through December 2013. He is currently the president of the organization.

NIRS is not a fan of nuclear energy. In fact, their staff page includes the following subtitle “Working for a Nuclear-Free World.”

Michael reminded me that we have engaged — on opposite sides — in discussions about nuclear energy on the web since the early 1990s when we both had accounts in the walled garden called America Online.

In spite of our polar opposite positions on nuclear energy, Mariotte and I agree in several areas. We are both concerned about the effects of CO2 released from our massive fossil fuel industry. We are both worried about many other aspects of a continued dependence on hydrocarbons, including the political instability and income inequality that dependence is producing.

During this show, Michael explains his belief that it is possible to achieve a “Carbon Free, Nuclear Free” energy system and that the intentions and future plans of people like Elon Musk, companies like Google and NRG, and countries like Denmark and Germany are showing the viability of that goal.

Not surprisingly I disagreed with his belief; there are real limitations that make the vision closer to a mirage than an attainable goal. However, we kept the conversation civil. Unlike my talk with Arjun Makhijani, the author of Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free, Mariotte did not hang up. In fact, we left the conversation open as something that might be continued on another day.

I hope you enjoy the show.

Thank you, James Greenidge, for suggesting this discussion.

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30 Responses to “Atomic Show #217 – Michael Mariotte, President NIRS”

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  1. Eino says:

    Good program – very cordial.

    I think the nuke side had more pertinent facts. i was hoping for a better counter argument. Maybe next time.

  2. James Greenidge says:

    Thanks for this session, Rod, and thanks to Mariotte taking the challenge on an issue to vital to be limited to a one-night stand! On rematch please bring on Ben Heard to engage Mariotte!

    This issue is somewhat personal to me beyond a tea cup debate society because antinukers are doing their damnest to dig up every lame excuse to persuade African countries to turn from nuclear to instead raze pristine countrysides and savannahs with monstrous windmills and sprawling solar farms – for what, really? To deny them a proven zero-Co2 low footprint/environmental impact waste-contained energy source with a very low mortality and damage score worldwide over decades based on “If”s and fears??

    Why this mad frantic PC dash for so-called “alternative” Mother-Earth energy sources expensively re-inventing the wheel while spoiling our very natural heritage and scenery by looking a gift horse in the mouth that has a track record of far less harm? Is a feel-good I-saved-the-world medal waiting for those to proudly declare a “nuclear free” world? How is “nuclear free!” such a nice good noble thing anyway, really? To banish ghosts of “On The Beach” and “Fail Safe?” To avenge the kids at Hiroshima? Someone clue me in, please!

    Yes, Mariotte sounds sincere, but would he condemn antinukers sowing blatant lies and FUD to disaffect the unwashed about nuclear power like Arnie and Helen while pro-nukers are welded adhering to engineering and natural facts? Are pro antinukers sincerely more concerned about nuclear safety and health (denying the record) or in banishing what they perceive as the original sin and guilt of nuclear energy for the “unique” (evil?) way it incinerated Japanese children in two Japanese cities and endowed us sci-fi monsters fanning the imagination wild? Would they still be anti-nuclear if God himself made it less hazardous than oil or gas production?

    To deny nuclear power’s near nil mortality and damage scoreboard over generations compared rival industries borders bias and hypocrisy and ideological fanaticism – or maybe those as Mariotte DO know and accept these stats and facts, but they are prisoners of pride? Is it too much a step for someone as they to admit wrong over saving face from losing a legion of followers and activist stardom? If not, then how do you convince someone who has philosophical and ideological or corporate (Fat Cat) peeves and beefs against an apolitical power source whose record and facts contradict the speculative and imagined perils they espouse?

    For atomic energy to be behind the eight ball it is with all that it has going for it, largely because of a relatively small shrill crowd of people haunted by “if” fears is worst than maddening to me because they have the power to help sway and deny millions of compact clean power and water. We’ve seen what that kind of mob FUD slinging has done through recent history, much to the detriment of us all.

    My rants hurriedly, but hopefully lucid enough on a good show!! Encore!!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  3. Mitch says:

    Good work Rod! Definitely need a Round Two!! If you look their beef logically and historically, anti-nukers have no real leg to stand on. Their Doomsday fears never pan out yet the media believes them hook line and sinker! Ask WHY! I would’ve asked Michael if he condemned antinukers screaming “you’re all going to die” at Fukushima evacuees. There is intolerant hyper-hypocricsy about health and safety in Greenville and this one says it all it! http://decarbonisesa.com/2014/06/20/am-i-an-environmentalist/#comments

  4. John Chatelle says:

    @ James G: Your 2nd paragraph was an Eye opener for me. Weak intermittent sources of energy will tend to move population from Cities, back to the Countryside.

    Do people duped by Mariotte realize how much damage moving massive infrastructure and population *BACK* to the countryside will do? Massive buildouts of low power density systems will require lots of countryside, and people will follow these buildouts back to the country, for which other services will need to follow. The increasing spread human populations will have a larger impact on the land.

    Loss of important aquifers and pristine environment should be the forefront of environmentalism. Instead, they’re stuck on the same profitable agenda that is a marriage between Fossil fuels and intermittent energy sources.

    • Eino says:

      All of these distributed sources will require more substations, transmission lines, circuit breakers and controls. Although this market is smaller, more jobs are created for T&D people than would be the case with large central station generation. There is also more equipment to be maintained.

    • David says:

      @ John,

      I agree that Jame’s 2nd paragraph is the essence of the challenge. When you ask what is best for people and what is best for the environment overall (even apart from CO2 questions). Nuclear is superior in every way.

      I was teaching in a third world country, sleeping on tables and the electricity was in rolling black outs because a drought had lowered the level of the water in the reservoir so that the dam could not produce it’s full 80MW. This was long before I had an opinion about AGW. I realized that if the investment had been made in a Nuclear plant the people I was working with would have had 24/7 electric even in a drought. I was angry, realizing that people were suffering because others were determined to keep a good source of power off the market.

      In several areas of Southeast Asia plans are being made to put dams on various rivers that would flood the homes of poor people and damage the environment. Nuclear would prevent that.

      I simply don’t buy the “it’s too expensive” mantra. I watch Billions being poured down rat holes for projects that have little return to the economy as a whole – even in these poor countries. What I do see is business men who have something to sell – like coal, oil and natural gas, who want to make sure they have a market for it.

      Years ago I was at a New Year’s party and 2 of the men were in the Oil business in that country. They were buying oil at x and selling it for 2x in the southern part of that country. The stations were marking it up to 4x to sell to the public.

      I have no problem with profits. But I do have a problem when profits are made because people are lied to or cheated from using a possible competitor. In many Asia countries they distrust businesses and government so much they are very fearful of Nuclear because the know that short cuts are often made in construction. This is why SMR’s are so potential. They would be factory made giving great confidence in the construction.

      • Rick Armknecht says:

        David,
        While you are correct that “Nuclear is superior in every way” as a general rule, there are situations where other forms of power generation are superior. Look at what Greenland is doing with hydro power, for example. Similarly, there are many nations in Africa with vast amounts of underutilized hydro power. Hydro power, when available, is wonderfully clean and inexpensive (certainly as regards the “fuel-less” nature of hydro). Moreover, given the political instability in so many African nations, the added concern of nuclear power plants is not insignificant. Consider, for example, the disasters that could attend the capture of a nuclear power plant by Boko Haram. Dirty bombs aplenty (constructed by people who had no idea of the dangers associated with the radioisotopes, no less) — perhaps even for clandestine export.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Rick Armknecht

          In the right place, hydro can be clean and inexpensive. If fertile or settled land must be flooded, the economic argument becomes far more complicated. If the land that must be flooded is heavily forested, there are emissions concerns.

          From a safety and security point of view, I would be far more concerned about Boko Haram threatening a large hydro dam than by the notion that they might capture a nuclear power plant. A well designed nuclear plant is quite difficult to use to harm people, but a destroyed dam could result in tens of thousands of deaths and a wide swath of completely destroyed property.

        • David says:

          @ Rick,

          My preferred NPP for areas with weak Governments are Gen IV reactors especially pebble beds like Adam’s Atomic Engines. Which I know are not yet available. But even with standard Light Water Reactors – like NuScale the ability to damage them in a way that will actually threaten life, or to use the spent fuel or even stored unused fuel in a way that will actually threaten life is extremely small.

          Now, I grant you that the potential for hyperventilation is HUGE. Note Fukushima. But the potential to actually kill people is miniscule. Note Fukushima.

          The places where large scale Hydro is being proposed – like in Ethiopia today,

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

          there is no question but that the electricity will benefit the very poverty stricken country. But notice the many caveats in the article and the international conflicts this is producing. What if NuScale type reactors were available? They could be sited closer to Addis Ababa and the expensive transmission lines would not be needed. The whole project centers around flood control but is mainly – for Ethiopia – a power generation project and a way to exercise regional influence similar to the way that Russia uses natural gas currently.

          Note the 33% maximum capacity factor of the dam. In essence they are getting 2GW of power for about 5 billion dollars with the ability to load follow up to 6GW. A pretty good deal and with flood control and irrigation I can really understand the appeal. But also notice that objections have been suppressed and the quality of construction is not available for actual inspection. The massive failure of this dam would cause an amazing amount of damage down stream. Notice that the environmental impacts on the flooded region are not well studied. Finally, what happens to power production in a drought? Especially if the drought is long – multi year?

          If the Nations that surround Ethiopia were using SMR’s to generate power the need for the size dam they are constructing would be lessened. The number and length of transmission lines would be greatly reduced and the ability to use one control switch to “mess” with other countries would be greatly reduced. I admit that the upfront costs on SMR’s would be higher than Hydro, but the long term capacity factors for power generation, and the political stability would be much greater.

          This is why I believe in using SMR’s in politically unstable nations. They are safer than hydro and more reliable in producing electricity. Safer because in a massive failure of a NPP someone might get a small sunburn on the back of their leg (note Fukushima), while in the massive failure of a massive dam, thousands and at time hundreds of thousands of people will die. (google dam failure).

          But in practical terms – a dam is much easier to construct and they will be built. I look forward to the day when an SMR can be ordered and paid for far easier than a dam can be constructed.

        • Rick Armknecht says:

          Rod and David,

          You are both correct. Nuclear can be extremely safe (TRISO fuel is a big part of that) and the costs and dangers of hydro can be significantly understated. In some places, the reliability of hydro can also be an issue that nuclear doesn’t have. I will note, however, that many of the arguments in favor of SMRs can also be applied to smaller hydro plants (the “run of the river” method of development is of particular interest lately). Smaller hydro plants would, of course, threaten less property and fewer lives.

  5. wayne moss says:

    Don’t know how you do it Rod — how you maintain your patience while facing such self-satisfied and intentional contrariness. I cannot do it anymore. I just start screaming how their willful ignorance of factual evidence is playing right into the hands of Exxon. .

    …speaking of Elon Musk, here is the transcript of a PBS interview I found:

    MUSK: Basically it’s roughly one part emission, four parts heat of the energy in that gallon of gasoline.
    But in comparison, the electric motor is a far more efficient device. The energy efficiency of electric motors is on the order of 90 percent. So that even after you take all those charging losses and all those other things into account, just have a fundamentally more efficient engine — motor in the case of [unintelligible]
    But to answer your original question of what will charge — we need the energy to charge the batteries for the cars and are we not simply extending the tail pipe to the power switch, so it’s a long tailpipe to the power station essentially.
    And the answer to that is — well, first of all, electricity is the universal currency. You can generate electricity in many ways, including renewable ways such as solar power, wind, geothermal — and in ways which are less damaging to the environment such as nuclear and — and then even if you would generate energy with hydrocarbons such as coal or oil or natural gas, the energy efficiency of electric transportation is so much greater that you can still be twice as better off than you would otherwise be.
    WATTENBERG: Do you think we ought to be doing more to encourage the use of nuclear power in the United States. My understanding is that we have not built a new nuclear plant in about 25 years here.
    MUSK: Right. It’s true we’ve not built new nuclear plants in a couple decades. Although what most people don’t realize is that the existing nuclear plants have been massively upgraded. [Laughter]
    So, our percentage of nuclear power has actually not declined as much — [speaking over each other]
    WATTENBERG: About 20 percent total.
    MUSK: Yeah, we should build more nuclear power plants. I think that’s a better way to generate energy than certainly a coal power plant or a natural gas power plant.
    Burning hydrocarbons — I think people now recognize is a pretty bad thing. You know over time there’s a certain limit to the CO2 capacity of the atmosphere and the oceans…..

    http://www.pbs.org/thinktank/transcript1292.html

    Anyway, I give you credit, Rod (and another 10 $ donation for your patience!)

    • Rod Adams says:

      @wayne moss

      Thank you for the kind words. As one more bit of evidence backing the cliche “Great minds think alike,” earlier this afternoon I forwarded the link to that Musk PBS interview to Michael Mariotte.

      His response was interesting – he said he was unaware of the interview and then stated “Certainly not where he’s putting his money…”

      My own interpretation is that Musk is putting his money into an area that will benefit when nuclear energy expands. Cheap, clean electricity is a boon that makes electric automobiles competitive. Though many unreliables advocates claim that electricity storage is the holy grail that will make their energy collection systems competitive baseload suppliers, I’ve run the number to find that the biggest beneficiary of cheaper storage will be baseload nuclear plants that can charge the batteries whenever load drops and use the stored energy to supply peak loads.

      Most of the pumped storage facilities in the world were built to take advantage of low cost baseload suppliers like coal or nuclear plants. One of the larges systems in the US — Smith Mountain Lake — is within 40 miles of my house. It is also one of my favorite playgrounds.

      It was built to take advantage of cheap coal power from Virginia and West Virginia and to take advantage of the power output from the North Anna power station – which was originally supposed to be a four unit facility vice the two unit facility in operation today.

  6. Peter Sipp says:

    Hi Rod,
    Just listened to you and Mike M. In the Scientific American mag. Jan’y 2008 there is an article worth reading. The authors claim that 69% of our electricity can be made 24/7/365 from the Sun. The days are coming when wind mfgrs will be making electricity from the wind. As for your comments about Atlanta Ga. I lived in that state for 21 years. There is searing Sun from March to December.
    The wastes from nuclear power and all the radiated steel remains a colossal problem. Recently you commented to me that future generations will not appreciate us putting the valuable waste from nuclear reactors in a hard to get to storage place. That 95% of the waste was still usable. France has tried a breeder reactor. Called the Super Phoenix. It was a failure. Japan tried one too. (don’t know it’s name). It failed too. I understand your convictions about nuclear. Especially with your back ground. I am going to politely remind you that you are already powered by the Sun. You eat vegetables or animals that ate grass/grain that the Sun raised. We are just the right distance from from the Sun. Very much closer and it would be too warm here. Any further and it would be too cold. Cheers, Pete

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Peter Sipp

      Without even looking, I can bet that the Scientific American article that you are referring to is the one published by Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford University.

      His work is quite optimistic, uses low resolution assumptions regarding power demand and supply variations, and assumed that building transmission lines across obstacles like mountains, national parks, rivers, bays, and cities is easy.

      Atlanta, GA is certainly a hot place, but it is hardly a place where the sun is reliably shining from March to December. I’ve never lived there, but I’ve visited a number of times. It has frequent cloud cover and rainstorms; like most of the rest of the southeast, it is quite a verdant place, unlike the desert southwest.

      Your dismissal of technology because of early failures indicates that you have probably not invented or developed new technology. Early failures are learning experiences. The success of projects like EBR-II and the Russian BN-600 show that fast breeder reactors are quite feasible. TerraPower — backed by Bill Gates and Nathan Myrvold — believes that waste consuming reactors have a bright future. So does Transatomic Power and the Chinese government.

      Your comment about me being already powered by the Sun indicates that you think I have something against solar energy. I think solar is great and use it every day. I am also well aware of its limitations and am not willing to live in a world that meekly accepts those limitations and does not work to improve upon the productivity of the planet and its ability to sustain an increasingly prosperous human society.

      • Peter Sipp says:

        Hi Rod,
        The authors names in the Sc. Am. mag are: Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis.
        You assume that I have not invented anything. I, in fact have. I worked on the project for many years. I have figured out how to generate electricity in a fast, deep flowing river 24/7/365. I even won a patent on it. It cost me much $.
        About Ga. I worked outside the entire 21 years I lived there. I welcomed cloud cover. It gave a break from the searing Sun. Rain was welcomed too.
        As for dismissing technology, what are we to do with all the spoiled byproducts( irradiated parts/pieces) that are left over? Enough.
        Believing that fast breeders are quite feasible, is a 50/50 gamble. Again, what of all the irradiated parts/pieces??? I understand your mind set: ” I have all of this education, I want to prove how smart I am.” Nuclear requires lots of thinking.
        I am not advocating meekly accepting any limitations. I look forward to when we can generate electricity with nothing left over. We only have one planet to live on, creating irradiated by-products is not good enough. Cheers, Pete

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Peter Sipp

          I have all of this education, I want to prove how smart I am.” Nuclear requires lots of thinking.

          Actually, I do not base my support of nuclear energy on formal “book-learning” education. As a matter of fact, my undergraduate degree was in English from a school that is occasionally dismissed as a “trade school.”

          I’ve spent most of my career in hands on tasks — or at least in direct supervision of people working with their hands on real equipment.

          I do not know why you are so focused on “irradiated parts/pieces” when such a small portion of a nuclear power plant is actually irradiated and the part that is radiated is only lightly contaminated with an isotope with a 5.3 year half life.

          The only long lived residues from nuclear power plants are the actinides, which are also the part that is still potential fuel for breeders and high conversion rate devices. These technologies are not “unproven.” They have been demonstrated at a reasonable scale and for a long enough period of time to know that they work. There is certainly room for improvement and refinement, but that will occur with experience.

          As a nearly lifetime resident of the southeast US, I also welcome cloud cover and rain. I was merely pointing out that solar panels or those who are dependent on the output from solar panels are not so welcoming of those natural weather events. It interferes with the productivity of the devices — to the point of halting it altogether until the clouds have cleared.

          If you think that generating electricity with the wind and the sun leaves nothing behind, I would suggest that you take a closer look at the full production stream of the enormous collectors required to capture those unreliable and diffuse energy flows.

          By the way, has your invention made it to market? Do you have experience in manufacturing and setting up the supply chain required for profitable production?

      • Peter Sipp says:

        Hi Rod,
        The authors names are: Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis. I don’t see where Mark from Stanford is mentioned. The great part of generating electricity with the Sun is there is nothing left over. Quite optimistic- yeah. So was the concept of the Interstate hwy system.
        As for the weather in Ga., I worked outside most of my 21 years there. I welcomed clouds/rain, to get a break from the searing Sun.
        I have in fact invented. I figured how to generate electricity in a fast deep flowing river 24/7/365. I even won a patent on it. That project took many years and lots of $$$.
        About early failures: what is to be come of the irradiated parts/pcs?? A working fast breeder reactor is a 50/50 gamble. Again: what of the irradiated parts/pcs??
        Believing that waste consuming reactors have a bright future- 50/50. Again again, what of all the irradiated parts pcs?? The day will come when it is seen that the leftovers from nuclear are not worth the effort any more.
        You think solar is great and use it every day. Ok!!!
        I am not advocating meekly accepting any limitations either. I look forward to when electricity can be generated with nothing left over. Cheers, Pete

        • Rick Armknecht says:

          Peter, your repeated question emphasizes that you are very concerned about the irradiated steel produced by the operation of nuclear power plants. Rod has given you a great answer as regards the vast majority of the steel used in a nuke plant. As for the small portion of steel that actually is irradiated, recycling is an option. No, not for turning out spoons, but for new reactor pressure vessels. It would certainly be more expensive than disposal, but if some political mandate required recycling, then a mill could certainly be adapted for the purpose. More likely, it would be cheapest to make the steel into rebar that would be placed in prestressed concrete pressure vessels (Ft. St. Vrain style RPVs).

    • James Greenidge says:

      Adding to Rod’s comment to Rod, at the risk of sounding non-PC, I sense a pro-solar snottiness in Sipp’s tone. Few pronukers are anti-solar/wind in concept, but almost all pro-solar/wind folks are inherently anti-nuke. Some tolerance. Why is it sun-worshippers never mention solar’s drawbacks but get around it by citing cheats like pie-in-the-sky battery tech? If solar and wind were so Gaea-blessed ideal then half the world would’ve plugged into them long ago, and those that have dabbled in it are having serious buyers remorse. Safety aside, Sipp would be interested to know that FAR more people would rather live near nuclear plants than within horizon eye or earshot of monstrous wind farms and sprawling solar farms. Check aesthetic property values near each on Google. That aside, why even run there when a proven resource is at hand? Does fear reign over fact and reason that much in the stricken hearts of antis?

      The nuclear waste issue has never been a massive tech “problem”; 95% of it is political/media/and The Simpsons driven. Sipp should be tipped on just how tiny an amount it is that’s sealed from the world — like ALL waste idealistically should be! You talk waste, you start tabulating what the fossils can’t and DON’T store and nuclear’s a fire sale bargain issue. Unlike solar and wind folks, nuclear people have been far more responsible in being critical of the enivron and social ramifications and quality of their work, and nuclear’s multigenerational worldwide record of impossibly nil causalities and property damage and low footprint/low environmental impact quiet and clean power reflects it. This is not made-up or wishful thinking like antis jeer; it’s fact, just like that W.H.O. and the Red Cross and other reputable biomed institutions around the world aren’t even wringing their hands over Fukushima. Only antis in the grassroots and media are — who never cough up the examined beef that certifies their fearful claims that nuclear plants and radiation is making people all over drop like flies in their cellars.

      My sole request to those as Sipp is to cut the strings to anti-nukers and do your own clean fact-based research of nuclear energy and it’s real-life record and mortality and damage rates, free from from the blinding stain of FUD (There’s a fantastic YouTube pronuke series flick by this guy — I forgot!! — who logically and demonstratively deconstructs nuclear FUD — which has a beautiful piece on how deadly yellow cake is even just being near it!). You will will see that the shrill fears of antis hold no water save the “what if” bogeyman. But you have to be honest in going about it with a clear fair mind. Then gut-up and be prepared to be called a traitor and a moron.

      Nuclear has absolutely nothing to apologize for in its record and promise.

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

      • John Chatelle says:

        The trouble is, You wouldn’t be “pro nuke” if you didn’t think dynamic was important. By virtue of your view of the dynamic being important, that puts you at odds with the view of people who are pro sunshine and breezes as the upper dynamic of human power sources.

        Sunshine and breezes are felt to be the most innocuous power sources humanity ever used, and they’re correct. The problem is that they’re not very dynamic except that they scale down really well. It’s the scaling up part that is the comical speed bump (all comedies having an element of tragedy), and keeps bringing me back to this most important fight.

      • Peter Sipp says:

        Hi James,
        Pro-solar snottiness??? I simply mentioned some facts about the Sun. Re: nuclear waste, as of yet there is no solution for it. Just in the U.S. alone there is quit a huge amount. Spread all over. In pools. That must not run out of water. We all know what happens when they run out of water with the hot waste in them.
        Re: residing near a nuke. $ is probably why people want to live near one. The reduced property tax leverage. Renewable producing sites don’t cost as much to build. So their tax contribution is less.
        James, the irradiated parts/pcs that come as leftovers from a nuclear plant is a huge problem. We don’t need to pollute the steel supply chain with irradiated metals from nuclear plants. Unless you won’t mind using spoons, knives and forks with just a “little” radiation in them. I end with Cheers in a friendly tone, Pete

        • Joris van Dorp says:

          Peter, I think you need to educate yourself on the details of the nuclear power lifecycle. I notice that your comments on the issue of nuclear waste in particular appear to be based on anti-nuclear propaganda spin, rather than actual facts. You seem to be someone who has read some anti-nuclear rhetoric and believes that he can now debate the issue with people who have studied the details, not just pamphlets. I’m afraid that is not going to be enough to make an impression on the people here. Thanks anyway for your willingness to engage in the nuclear debate. I hope you learn something here and communicate it to those around you.

  7. ActinideAge says:

    Refreshingly cordial discussion and I had a lot of respect for the particular brand of emission-saving renewable advocacy of Mr Mariotte until he opined that to reach the levels of solar generation he advocates for PV installation on US homes would need to ramp up to a rate of one every 10 seconds, and I can’t see how that could be remotely achievable, given the low hanging fruit which has undoubtedly been picked already. Even if panel kilowatts fall further in price they still seem to be highly dependent on subsidy signals. I imagine that local government would have to resort to installing them on everyone’s roofs for free. (I will mention that I myself enjoy the benefits of a 3.5 kW system (mainly in the summer months) as well as super-efficient solar water heating.)

    If provision is ever made in these super renewable energy futures for the substantially increased electricity production required for conversion of car/truck fleets to EVs, the process heat for future desal demand as well as expansion of materials recycling, then I must have missed it.

  8. Sean McKinnon says:

    Rod,

    I have only had an opportunity to listen to the first 1/2 of the most recent podcast. I greatly admire your ability to stay calm, and collected with people like this. You have a great ability to ask the right questions and let the answers stand out on their own merits (or lack thereof)

    I really enjoyed the question about any solar or wind factory using it’s own product. That was a really great question!

  9. Joris van Dorp says:

    The main conclusion I draw from this extremely interesting podcast is that Mr. Marriot is heavily and conspicuously biased against nuclear power and for renewable energy. He manages for example to focus particularly on the inconsequential tritium emissions from the nuclear lifecycle, while totally ignoring the serious problems threatening the “Energiewende” in Germany. To me, this bias completely explains his conclusions.

    Mr. Marriot would do himself and everybody a very great service if he applied his attention to detail (like he does in terms of the tritium non-issue) to the far more serious issue of the mounting problems with the German Energywende. He would truly be a great person if he then returned to Atomic Insights to discuss what he has learned about the ‘succes’ of the energywende.

    Mr. Marriot could do worse than start his analysis of the Energiewende with this insightfull article written by the perceptive Will Boisvert, and the resulting debate with Osha Gray Davidson: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/green-energy-bust-in-germany

    It would be great if he could demonstrate a detailed understanding of:

    - the fact that minister of the economy Sigmar Gabriel has declared that the Energywende is “on the verge of failure”
    - the fact that the German government has been found to be essentially robbing the nuclear sector, and that the Court has obliged the German government to return the stolen billions
    - the fact that German electricity is the most expensive in Europe, even while zero progress has been made at reducing co2 emissions.
    - the fact that the EU commission is investigating Germany for illegal state aid through its massive market manipulation called the Energiewende.
    - the fact that neighbouring countries are investing in special equipment to isolate themselves from the German electric grid, in order to protect themselves against increasing large-scale, destructive power fluctuations caused by wind and solar overcapacity
    - the fact that serious climate researchers are pleading with organisation like NIRS to stop their dangerous anti-nuclear crusade.
    - the fact that hindering the increase of nuclear power implementation reduces humanity’s ability to quickly and cost-effectively reduce carbon emissions, as detailed in all major research institutes’ analyses on greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

    Please, Mr. Marriot, for all our sakes, please do you homework and come back here when you have something relevant to say about the German Energiewende. Please go much deeper into this crucial subject than you appear to have done thus far. As a European living in a German Neighbour country, it is excruciating for me to hear time and time again how (particularly) American anti-nukes don’t seem to understand the first thing about what is really going on here in Europe concerning Germany’s very problematic Energiewende.

  10. Sean McKinnon says:

    I think the statement that judging solar panel factories on wether or not they use thier own product to power thier manufacturing operations is unfair sais it all.

    Also server farms being the most important need for reliable power shows a lack of being in touch with reality. I mean hospitals are certainly important and need reliable power.

    What good is a deal to buy “green” power when they can use natural gas generation whenever they please also there is not a special set of wires to google all generation sources get dumped onto the grid just because you cut a deal to be billed by a certain company does not mean you are actually even getting thier power.

  11. Mitch says:

    From a debate example on another blog:: I’m not into turning a debate into a wolf-pack frenzy, but I think one can be too gentlemanly for your argument’s own good and give a “civil” welcome mat for the other side to run misinfo and FUD over you unrebuked all in the name of PC. Unlike them, if there’s another debate here please assemble several pro-nukers at one sitting to have a go at the any anti-nuker to cover all the bases, like having Will and Meredith and Steve along on the next anti-nuker confrontation. They’re getting too mean and ugly to use kit gloves on. Ready for round two!

  12. Jeff S says:

    Rod,

    (I’m not sure if you’ll see this – I didn’t get a chance to finish listening to this show until today, but it’s about a month after you posted this, but perhaps).

    There was a point in the discussion about solar panels, and utilities being required to pay full retail price for excess solar energy that owners of solar panels want to “sell back to the grid”. I have some questions about this.

    First, I come from Ohio, so my understanding of how the electric market works is limited to how it currently works in Ohio (and has for most of my adult life), and that too is limited, but. . .

    Here in Ohio, customers are billed separately for generation and transmission of electricity. We can buy our generation from a variety of in-state and interstate electric companies, but pay transmission to the local incumbent, who of course has a natural monopoly on electric transmission infrastructure.

    I have been wondering – I *think* (but I’m not sure, so that is why I ask), at least here in Ohio, the way it would end up working is that the local incumbent would pay a solar panel owner for the full retail price of the electricity, but they would end up turning around and selling it to another customer who would pay retail PLUS transmission. So, the utilities can still make a ‘cut’ off of solar panels in the form of transmission fees, can’t they?

    Is that the same across most states as well, or does that vary from state to state?

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Jeff S

      I’m not familiar with the regulations in every state, but in most cases, the transmission fee is a flat monthly amount that pays a reasonable share of the cost of the transmission and distribution infrastructure. It is not based on the amount of electricity used.

      • Jeff S says:

        Rod,

        Thanks for the response!

        Hmmm, well, maybe if solar is to become a greater share of grid power, more states need to move to a model similar to Ohio – we are billed on a per-kWh basis for transmission separately from generation.

        It seems a reasonable model that the electric utility would not be paid for electricity they did not generate, but WOULD be paid for transmission of that electricity from customer to customer. I don’t think the person with the solar panels would pay for transmission of the electricity, but rather the customer buying the electricity. User pays.

        Although, since they are doing metering and billing, I could see justifying a very small reduction paid to the “seller” of the electricity to cover those costs. Like maybe 1/2 cent per kWh to cover those “administrative” costs of delivering someone else’s products and billing for them.

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