Zero Carbon Options for Australia – Support the Report and Help Promote Nuclear Energy Development

Ben Heard, one of the most effective nuclear energy communicators I know, has produced a report titled Zero Carbon Options – Seeking an economic mix for an environmental outcome in partnership Brown & Pang. It has been peer reviewed by energy and climate experts Professor Barry Brook (Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change at Adelaide University) and Mr Martin Nicholson (author of The Power Makers’s Challenge, available through Springer Press).

Ben is seeking crowd funding so that he can promote the results of his research. He is based in Australia; his crowd sourcing tool of choice is Pozible which is roughly equivalent to Kickstarter.

It is time for nuclear energy supporters to dig deep and arm ourselves with the same kind of tools that our opposition has been using for so many years with such harmful effect on our business prospects. I’ve added my pledge, please add yours. As is the case with Kickstarter, if Ben does not reach his goal, none of the pledges will be collected and none of the promotion will be enabled.

Aside: In this case, I am pretty confident that the pledges will be collected. After just a day of asking, Ben is already 1/3 of the way to the goal. So take that as a warning – if you pledge, the funds will leave your account and go towards a great cause. End Aside.



Also on my radar screen this morning was a terrific graphic provided by Andrea Jennetta at I Dig U Mining. It is a great answer to the false information promoted by John Douglass and the other people who are opposed to uranium mining at Coles Hill near Chatham, VA, just an hour’s drive southeast of my home.

Please go and read the associated post Radiation: How Does Living Near A Uranium Mine Compare?

BTW, I am pretty sure that Andrea is just as amused as I am by Douglass’s assertion that the people who are supporting uranium mining in Virginia are all “right-wing”. Douglass Rejects Right-Wing Push for Virginia Uranium Mining. Both of us consider ourselves to be quite liberal and love the idea of good family wage jobs being created in an area with a depressed economy that could use the injection of revenue to support good schools and effective infrastructure development.

There is something about Douglass’s campaign against uranium mining that confuses me completely – he has received campaign contributions from executives at USEC, the company formerly known as the US Enrichment Corporation. Can anyone help me understand why a company that process uranium and should favor an increase its local supply options would support someone who is so adamantly opposed to the beneficial use of a natural resource?

About Rod Adams

31 Responses to “Zero Carbon Options for Australia – Support the Report and Help Promote Nuclear Energy Development”

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  1. Kroll says:

    maybe USEC tried to bribe him… and he’s just telling them it was not enough.

  2. Brian Mays says:

    Less domestic uranium supply means less demand for domestic enrichment services, which means less economic incentive for a competitor (e.g., AREVA) to build an enrichment plant somewhere in the US (e.g., Idaho) and less incentive for the DOE to provide a loan guarantee to build such a plant.

    They already have competition from Urenco, why would they want more?

    Or perhaps the executives at USEC are just incompetent boobs.

    Both possibilities explain a lot, and they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive. ;-)

    • jmdesp says:

      USEC will most likely close Paducah next year :
      http://www.wise-uranium.org/epusec.html

      It sounds more like burning bridges behind oneself. Actually it starts to make a lot of sense, USEC will not start another unit in the US and want as few people as possible to have the advantage of a locally located production unit and local extraction.

  3. John Tucker says:

    Im glad people are starting to act on their own.

    I just noticed after reading this story ( http://www.thebradentontimes.com/news/2012/11/02/environment/groups_warn_region_s_wetlands_at_risk_if_levy_reactor_moves_forward/ ) anti nukes are becoming more active in fla – the article mentions this one ( http://www.ecologyparty.org/ )

    They are making statements that this power plant is going to “USE” vast amounts of water. Here also I think is where all that recent farmed media “Water Security” stuff from the UCS is being deployed ( http://www.synapse-energy.com/Downloads/SynapseReport.2011-10.UCS.Big-Risks-Better-Alternatives.10-037.pdf ).

    I have two questions if any of you in the business can help :

    1. This Florida anti nuke group claims its an “Intervener by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission” – What does that mean? Can anyone get it?

    2. What pro nuclear group options are there in fla – cant find much on the net.

    BTW: If you want to shine a favorable light on Uranium mining you may want to show how it can be conducted responsibly and in a more environmentally friendly manner than people are very used to seeing and reading about. (from what I have read there is some writing on this).

    • John Englert says:

      f you want to shine a favorable light on Uranium mining you may want to show how it can be conducted responsibly and in a more environmentally friendly manner than people are very used to seeing and reading about.

      Or show them satellite views of the Colorado-New Mexico boarder just south of Durango, Colorado. The “little” light colored squares are gas wells spaced about 600 meters apart. I estimate over a thousand of them. I can’t understand why people in the Southwest are so opposed to a uranium mine and mill, yet are perfectly accepting of all these gas wells.

      • George Carty says:

        85% of the cost of gas-generated electricity is the cost of the gas, while less than 5% of the cost of nuclear-generated electricity is the cost of the uranium. This means that mining uranium is much less profitable than drilling for gas.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @George Carty

          The discrepancy between the portions of cost associated with fuel between nuclear and gas does not necessarily equate to a difference in profitability for the activity of mining and producing the fuel. On a per unit of energy basis, mining for natural gas is far more expensive than mining for uranium. That leaves a lot more room for uranium miners to sell their product at a profitable price than there is for natural gas miners.

          I will grant that the discrepancy between portions of electricity price attributable to fuel does imply that the overall enterprise of suppling fuel will have to be far larger for a gas based power system than for a nuclear dower system. It just might not be more “profitable” unless the miners are somehow able to establish a far higher sales price than is currently available today.

          One way to do that, as I have often described here, is to force lower cost (nuclear) providers to add costs through excessive regulation and fear, uncertainty and doubt anticompetitive marketing campaigns. It is easier for gas suppliers to compete and to raise their prices if they can drive nuclear off of the already terribly slanted playing field.

  4. Ben Heard says:

    My sincerest thanks to Rod for drawing attention to this. The report represents 6 months of unfunded effort, so I sincerely hope the funding effort succeeds so that I can leverage the work. There will be plenty of great analysis in this report of relevance to nuclear discussions the world over. With luck (an a little bit of exceeding the target) the launch will be professionally filmed. I look forward to sharing the outcomes with the Atomic Insights audience.

  5. Daniel says:

    When I hear that Al Gore is now worth close to 100 million, US$ of course, with his insider knowledge of who would get green federal subsidies for wind and solar projects that are getting us nowhere.

    When I hear that Al Gore got his Nobel prize by a effortless cut&paste of Robert Socolow’s 7 wedges in An inconvenient Truth but leaving out nuclear, which was one of Scolow’s building blocks.

    When I hear Al Gore saying yesterday that Sandy is the sign of things to come if we don’t cut on the garbage that we put into the environment.

    Well, it ruins my weekend. I am really miffed.

    • Daniel says:

      OK. So its my chinese adopted daughter’s sweet sixteen today. It’s gonna be allright. Teenage boys everywhere.

    • SteveK9 says:

      Yes, and John Paulson, a hedge fund manager, ‘made’ $5B (that is not a typo) in ONE year. Stop fussing about Al Gore. By the way, his comment about Sandy is simply stating the consensus view of climate scientists as well as the National Science Academies of every advanced country in the world. There are many strong reasons to support nuclear power. Climate change is one of those reasons, if not the strongest.

      • Brian Mays says:

        I see. And is John Paulson a former Vice-President of the United States? Did he have substantial influence — first as a Senator, then as VP, and finally as a left-wing celebrity — on US policy and, more importantly, on US spending policy?

        As for Sandy and “global warming,” the “consensus” among those who actually publish in the area of hurricanes, mid-latitude weather dynamics, and climate dynamics is that science has not established a link between storms such as Sandy and global warming.

        You’ve been watching too much Current TV.

        • john tucker says:

          Knowing:with the formation of Tropical Storm Tony, this season marked the first known occurrence of three hurricane seasons in a row with nineteen storms.

          Also considering drought and the Russian heatwaves as well as several flood incidents were connected to Global Warming, what would the chances be of it occurring in a cooling climate?

          Additionally:

          “When hurricane hunter aircraft measured its central pressure at 940 millibars — 27.76 inches — Monday afternoon, it was the lowest barometric reading ever recorded for an Atlantic storm to make landfall north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

          But with tropical-force winds reaching out 580 miles, Sandy still was just the second-largest Atlantic storm on record. Hurricane Olga, another late-in-the-year storm, set the record in 2001, with tropical-force winds extending 600 miles, according to the National Hurricane Center”..( http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/30/us/sandy-records/index.html )

          There are multiple levels of “connection” here and many have parallels conclusively in climate change.

          There is really very little legitimate doubt here; a “climate” is a collection of weather events all existing within it by definition. We are in a warming one.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Knowing:with the formation of Tropical Storm Tony, this season marked the first known occurrence of three hurricane seasons in a row with nineteen storms.

            Yes, I realize that these types of “statistics” play well to the peanut gallery — i.e., the vast majority of the public who have no idea how trends work. Given any particular set of weather over any given set of years, I can, without too much sweat, generate a “first known occurrence” of some statistic or another. It’s all about which cherries you choose to pick.

            Also considering drought and the Russian heatwaves …

            The Russian heatwave two years ago was due to a strong blocking high that is not all that unusual. In fact, such a high is intrinsic to the natural variability of climate in that region during the summer. One doesn’t need “global warming” to explain that.

            … as well as several flood incidents were connected to Global Warming …

            Ah, that’s the great thing about “global warming”! It causes drought, it causes flooding, it persists even when the weather is normal. There’s nothing like being able to cover all of your bases at once. Global warming basically means never having to say that you’re sorry or that you are wrong.

            Once again, please let me point out that those who actually publish in the area of hurricanes, mid-latitude weather dynamics, and climate dynamics are not able to establish a link between storms such as Sandy and global warming.

            That’s what real, honest scientific opinion says.

          • john tucker says:

            “Global Warming” – greenhouse gas warming has been part of mainstream science for over 100 years.

            The Peanut gallery my friend is that part of you that for some reason refuses to accept reality. Evidence that the world is warming it is man-made and man made warming increases extreme events is undeniable.

            Im not going to listen to some bloggers opinion on reasonable proven science.

            As like I said probably as any weather event in a warming climate is by definition part of that climate I dont need “Proof.” Indeed if you actually read the “scientific” event proof they even are specific enough to say heating itself is related to the extreme event. (because on some level all weather events are of course related to climate and man made warming is about as settled as gravity).

            Blame blistering heat waves on global warming, study says

            “The research by a man often called the “godfather of global warming” says that the likelihood of such temperatures occurring from the 1950s through the 1980s was rarer than 1 in 300. Now, the odds are closer to 1 in 10, according to the study by NASA scientist James Hansen. He says that statistically what’s happening is not random or normal, but pure and simple climate change.
            “This is not some scientific theory. We are now experiencing scientific fact,” Hansen told The Associated Press in an interview.” ( http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/05/13129330-blame-blistering-heat-waves-on-global-warming-study-says?lite )

            You can find the journal articles on your own.

          • Brian Mays says:

            You need no “proof” to blame weather events, much like some people need no “proof” of God. You apparently prefer to rely on faith alone. Well, that is not surprising if your sources of information are Al Gore — who couldn’t even finish a theology degree, much less a science degree — and James Hansen, who has been more activist than scientist for over 25 years. I notice that Hansen chooses to publish in the PNAS, where he can avoid any kind of rigorous peer review.

            I don’t rely on faith and I don’t rely on random bloggers. I prefer to rely on the opinions of experts who actually publish respectable papers in the specific field. Thus, when it comes to hurricane Sandy, I rely on Martin Hoerling, a scientist at NOAA, who has stated that Sandy is “a storm that comes rarely but has come before.” He adds that the credible scientific evidence to support that climate change has affected the frequency, intensity, or tracks of hurricanes just isn’t there. Other climate scientists who publish on hurricanes, such as Kerry Emanuel, MIT’s hurricane/climate expert, agree with this assessment.

            When it comes to the Russian heatwave of 2010 that you referred to, rather than believe Al Gore or James Hansen, I rely on peer-reviewed papers, such as the paper published by a group of NOAA scientists in Geophysical Research Letters, which concluded (in the abstract, emphasis mine):

            Analysis of forced model simulations indicates neither human influences nor other slowly evolving ocean boundary conditions contributed substantially to the magnitude of this heat wave. They also provide evidence that such an intense event could be produced through natural variability alone. Analysis of observations indicate that this heat wave was mainly due to internal atmospheric dynamical processes that produced and maintained a strong and long-lived blocking event, and that similar atmospheric patterns have occurred with prior heat waves in this region. We conclude that the intense 2010 Russian heat wave was mainly due to natural internal atmospheric variability.

          • john tucker says:

            Your study says the extreme event was possible as an expression of natural variability. It says nothing of frequency and like events or questions the precepts of climate change. As a matter of fact in several places in the article they affirm them.

            “The improbability of purely natural causes of such extreme positive deviations was predicted by Hansen et al. (2) decades ago in the 1988 article in which he introduced the idea of “loaded climate dice.” ( http://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/14720.extract )

            Its settled and its a waste of time to argue event attribution as confirming or denying climate change. They are all occurring within a warming climate and on many levels attributable to it. A direct link to surface heat is tabloid fodder for the peanut gallery as you put it.

            Also sub-prime mortgages accounted for $600 billion in 2006 – its default rate was below 20 percent in 2007- 2008. It would have been impossible for it to have caused or significantly contributed to the collapse.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Brian Mays

          I have no idea what Paulson’s specific political influence has been, but you continue to ignore the fact that the US government has gradually become the best government that money can buy. A man who makes $5B in one year in an industry whose profitability is heavily influenced by government decisions probably produced some of that amazing return by investing in purchasing – or at least renting – a few money hungry politicians in positions to help tilt the playing field.

          Fabulously wealthy people have at least as much, if not more, ability to establish policy in the US as someone who served in the famously powerless position of Vice-President or one of 100 Senators.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – Paulson made his money by short-selling subprime mortgages. His fortune came from the collapse of the mortgage-backed securities market. Are you trying to tell me that this one person, perhaps with the help of some of his friends, was able to bring down the entire mortgage industry?!!

            If so, why is this person not in jail?

            Or is it more reasonable to assume that he had data and analysis that hinted at where things were going and decided to legally profit from this information?

            I don’t fault anyone for playing the market. Unless you have evidence that he somehow gamed the system, I don’t think that you have much to stand on.

            Meanwhile, we all can see the result of Al Gore’s influence, from the natural-gas-plant boom of the late Clinton/Gore era to the huge waste of government money for ethanol to the bankruptcy of Solyndra, his efforts and influence have had noticeable effects on the energy sector.

            While it is disappointing to see someone profit from a downturn in the market that has led to so much financial woe for so many people, at least Paulson was just playing the market. It’s almost like legalized gambling. The market will do what it will (influenced by government policy, yes, among other factors), and if things had gone the other way, he would have lost his shirt.

            Gore’s influence, however, has led to taxpayer money, my money, being spent on such worthless things as solar panels, wind turbines, ethanol plants, and carbon offsets, and I’m sorry if I get a little upset when I notice how much of that money ended up in Al Gore’s pocket.

          • Paul wick says:

            Speculation on future DOE secretaries in the next presidential term tends to substantiate the point that fossil fuel entities will have a hold on it, whether the administration is D or R. The Dems may have a bit of a wind/solar veil over it, but a veil it is. (Ineffectual energy sources are not a threat to coal and natural gas/oil; especially if they require “backup” natural gas generating facilities for the 70% of the time they are idle.)

            http://eenews.net/public/Greenwire/2012/11/01/1

            Just because the R’s scoff at the veil, doesn’t make them better. In fact, as AGW/science deniers, they tend to be worse.

        • jmdesp says:

          If you want more details about the strategy Gore used to make his investments bring him back 100 millions here’s a very detailed paper :
          http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/decision2012/al-gore-has-thrived-as-green-tech-investor/2012/10/10/1dfaa5b0-0b11-11e2-bd1a-b868e65d57eb_story.html

          It’s just stating facts, not actually taking position about what those facts means. But those facts, especially adding them all together, get really startling : some of his closest aides joining the Obama team after the election to shape the climate policy, his major investments into many of the companies that received the stimulus money not even a full year before it, and next quickly getting out of it after that, reselling all the shares at the highest price, before anyone could check if the investments really had been profitable on the long term or not.

          If Gore had believed in those companies and kept the shares, he would never have made so much profits, because many of the shares are now back to a level even lower than the one where he entered.

          His fund is now almost completely out of green business : http://www.thestreet.com/story/11727215/1/al-gore-walks-away-from-green-energy.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN

      • Daniel says:

        And is Al Gore pro nuclear ? Clinton and he have done so much damage to the nuclear industry in 8 years that the expertise in the field is going to the future powerhouses of the world.

        Energy is key. England rose thanks to what coal did for them during the industrial revolution. Watch what nuclear will do for India, China and Russia in the world wide middle class revolution.

        Just sit back and watch.

        • Paul wick says:

          Sure, Al Gore is a pedantic bore. Sure he and Clinton are not a friends of nuclear energy. But to suggest that Republicans are better, except for isolated examples like Lamar Alexander, is to miss the real problem. The USA has grown to its superpower status fueled by coal and oil (and natural gas, and some prescient hydro development by the federal government in the 1930s). The historical development of giant fossil fuel monopolies results in their capacity to buy both political parties. And the media via advertising. And even places like MIT through subtler methods. And to gum up the NRC. France? Not so much. Japan is similar to France, fossil-fuel-poor, and they will resume a pro-nuclear course as soon as they can figure out how to disentangle themselves from radiation-phobia. China and India? They basically lack the historical development of “Exxon-type” corporations to rule their political system. It is tiresome to see liberal-bashing on this subject, just because they are the biggest fools for green zealotry, i.e. stalking horses for natural gas. The conservative politicans tend to be directly in the pocket of oil and gas interests, a la Oklahoma and Texas, etc. The problem is rooted in the development of capitalist monopolies (coal, oil and gas especially) out of competitive capitalism. To blame individuals like Gore, as tempting as it might be, appears shallow.

        • Daniel says:

          @ Paul

          Your comment:

          To blame individuals like Gore, as tempting as it might be, appears shallow.

          My answer:

          I am talking statesmanship here. I am not that shallow.

          This board is all about standing for science and facts. I expect leaders of the free world, Clinton et al, to stand up as well. Gore also wraps himself around being green and against carbon emission. Talk is cheap.

          • john tucker says:

            Al Gore is the incorrect answer to a misunderstood question.

            But if we must – His big mistake so far is not being able to change his mind as facts dictate. He might yet still as he did to some extent on biofuels but im not holding my breath. He has little motivation to.

            Beyond his investments his ties to the anti nuke movement itself is more arguably part of a spiritual belief system than a legitimate environmentalism or scientific perspective. The mistake of associating the anti nukes with science based environmental conservation occurs even here with too much frequency.

            Al Gore put his money where his mouth was and invested heavily in areas that conformed to his beliefs at the time, and he profited. That wealth creates its own kind of conservatism. All that money may buy you “freedom” in this world but when it comes down to it, once you lose the ability to change perspective and the will/ability to change your mind, you are basically done as a person. At least one that is as correct as possible with respect to closeness to the truth.

          • Daniel says:

            @ John,

            You are digging deep into the psychology of sunk costs. Very complex matter. But in making corporate or state decisions, the ‘theory’ of sunk costs is pretty straightforward and Gore has no excuses. Facts are facts. Clinton says it all the time, simple arithmetic !

            When it comes to one’s personal life, the psychology of sunk costs is trickier. But this is not the domain at cause here at the state level.

            Of course, decision making in political science is another part of the equation and here Paul Wick discourse holds. It sucks, but it sticks.

          • John Tucker says:

            Thanks Daniel,

            “Sunk costs” – what an interesting term. While im digesting that –

            Motivation is in a way the most fascinating part of this to me. Art is my field and If nothing else the study of art is the study of the expression of motivation. The problem here is that, in the political arena , just as in the arts/social sciences unreasonable and non scientific perspectives/narratives are technically valid. We now have the mass capability to deplete easily accessible resources, destroy entire habitats, case extinctions, as well as inflict suffering and death on many especially the less fortunate . We are at a point that social contracts move beyond previous conceptions of “free markets” and the reasonings of simple standard economics.

            I agree with Paul Wick’s post although Im not so big on the liberal/conservative dichotomy he references. Not because I don’t agree with how it is superficially used there but because it has so many other implications/definitions/narratives. True Liberalism, by definition isn’t about incorrect decisions. Its about changing course based on the new ideas and the best information available – as opposed to conservatism which is by definition, a philosophy of maintained course and tradition. He is spot on, albeit diplomatic, with regard to established monopolies.

            But yes lets get back to the topic at hand.

            From what I see here Rod is requesting support for funding of just basic honest science on a energy matter, for someone that does outstanding professional work from what I looked at. That he feels he needs to do this doesn’t strike any of you as odd?

            I think its time to wake up and smell the coffee – Politically, looking at all the active PACs, especially in energy ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_action_committees#Energy ) do you see/know of a single one that is advocating for the development of nuclear technology? JUST ONE, even one where it is even a partial consideration? As much as many of you complain about the current administration, or shy away from saying anything political, what desirable future do you see emerging from a change in administrations when the alternative is the most economically simplified, and monetarily validated perspective out there ?

            As is looks like a colossal disaster to me, Id like to see the reasoning.

          • Daniel says:

            @ John,

            The psychology of sunk costs is not merely an interesting term. It is a widely documented phenomenon & valid science that has always fascinated me.

            Do read up on it. It branches out in a weird fashion when it deals with personal live issues as opposed to business decision making.

          • jmdesp says:

            @john : It’s misleading to think that Gore actually put his money where his mouth was. He only started to put big money in it after Obama was elected and some close aids joined the Obama energy team. We don’t know exactly how precisely he knew what would happen next but it can’t be said that he was taking a lot of risks at that point.

            And he has now completely left the business. See here http://www.thestreet.com/story/11727215/1/al-gore-walks-away-from-green-energy.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN
            So for many stocks instead of being a reliable partner, someone who invest in the company for the long term, he sold back everything when there was big profits to be made, before the shares fell back down, because the stimulus money has been far less effective than many expected.
            In solar, like First Solar, he stayed there until the end losing money, but with Johnson Controls and Iberdrola he made money by leaving early, after just a few very well selected months in the case of Johnson.

          • jmdesp says:

            As source for my other claims, timing of investments, former aides joining Obama’s climate change and stimulus teams, see the content of this paper :
            http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/decision2012/al-gore-has-thrived-as-green-tech-investor/2012/10/10/1dfaa5b0-0b11-11e2-bd1a-b868e65d57eb_story.html

            Correction for above comment : “know exactly how *much* precisely”.