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  1. It may be slightly old news, but I ran into an article by Amory Lovins in JFQ, Issue 57, 2nd Qtr 2010 while waiting with my youngest daughter to get her 1st DOD dependent ID card: http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/images/jfq-57/lovins.pdf . Another blog, http://dodenergy.blogspot.com/ has a three-part interview with him on why nuclear power should not be past of the future energy mix for the DOD, other than for subs and CVNs. (This blog does not appear to allow comments.) Based on this article at http://www.energybulletin.net/node/47008, I think that it’s safe to say that Andy Bochman, the dodenergy blogger, is an acolyte of Amory Lovins. 5 paragraphs from the bottom, “… The new energy order will be driven by our new Secretary of Energy Amory Lovins …”

  2. I posted this earlier on “Wind Power Challenges In Pacific Northwest” and received no feedback. It does not take a genius to figure out this will not work.
    Look at the before and after pages for the Elk River Project. Here -> http://www.macalester.edu/windvisual/elkriverinfo.html
    “Greenlight Energy of South Carolina and HMH Energy Resources of California joined in a partnership to develop the second large scale wind farm in Kansas. The companies planned to site one hundred General Electric 1.5 MW turbines on nearly 8,000 acres of private land. ”
    Do the math – 8,000 acres for 150 Mw of power (name plate) actual output would be closer to 50 Mw.
    Palo Verde generates 3,875 on 4,000 acres and they are designed for 6 or more as I recall.
    Let us assume that wind somehow becomes twice as efficient and you can put them twice as close together (which actually gives a factor of 4) then you can get 2 X 4 X 50 = 400 Mw in that 8,000 acres they have at Elk River. AND you would only need 24,000 acres to make the same power as Wolf Creek, and 80,000 acres (about 125 miles square, i.e., 12.5mi X 10mi, about 1/10 of Rhode Island) to make the same power as Palo Verde (numbers approximate.)
    When will people wake up?

    1. Rich – we agree, though I do not believe in being generous to wind developers – they rarely meet their promised power output and show no path forward for improving their already dismal performance. I have also visited a number of nuclear plant sites, though not Palo Verde. The developed infrastructure to support the units is a small portion of the land inside the site boundaries; most of them are surrounded by a large quantity of undisturbed land that is the habitat for wildlife that likes to avoid human intrusion into their homes.
      It is common to see photos of cows under wind turbines, but I have a feeling that they are not particularly happy cows. The low frequency thumps, gear noises and rapidly moving shadows just cannot be comfortable for any living creature.
      The only way I know to help people wake up is to keep repeating the truth along with the math.

      1. Gets even worse for cattle. It seems that because raptors cannot hunt through the turbines, ground vermin like prairie-dogs and such multiply, and their borrowing creates a hazard for large grazers like horse and cattle, which can break legs (which is fatal) moving in these areas,

    1. I would humbly offer that Mr. Lovins does not employ logic in his pronouncements, but rather uses an appeal to emotion (couched in technical and financial terms – so as to lend an air of credibility) through the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt formulation in order to advance his preferred policy positions.
      As to the financial angle, in a similar way that the climate change debate has undergone scrutiny – due in part to the email and data leak, the IPCC AR4 errors, the increasing number of credentialed scientists (even the Royal Society is re-thinking their statements), the lack of the models to predict the leveling-off of warming the past 10 years (according to Phil Jones) – the global financial turmoil tends to focus our attention on what really works and what is “boutique power” (as one blogger has aptly characterized it).
      Thankfully, nuclear power has the track record to demonstrate the facts as to its superiority for base-load power generation. The sooner the SMRs and mini-reactors can be brought into commercial use, the sooner villages, remote towns and mining operations can be even more productive and the environment will be better off, too.
      And a hearty “Thank you for your service and sacrifice” to all our military personnel this Memorial Day weekend.

    2. Bill – excellent. Request your permission to promote the comment into a quote on the main Atomic Insights post on the topic.

      1. Rod,
        Thank you for considering my rantings (including my own bad editing) as worthy of additional commentary. Feel free to use my commentary as you see fit. I would just like to provide some additional background here and I will send you some additional info for your consideration.
        My first post did not discuss several subtleties in Washington State due to length. An important fact of life for every utility in Washington State is I-937, The Energy Independence Act, which was passed in 2006 that directs/forces all utilities whether publically or municipally owned to acquire a progressively higher percentage of their power from

  3. Lovins has Part A correct – that moving generation closer to the edges of the grid using small, agile units – distributed generation – is a good idea for a wide variety of reasons, from CHP to improved resiliency. I agree with his diagnosis regarding large plants being less wieldy and tying up large amounts of capital. I agree that increased energy efficiency is good for society, as it allows us to do more with more. I agree with his characterization of the granularity of large units as being less than optimal in this age of agile energy.
    But, when Lovins starts talking about nuclear, Lovins clearly demonstrates that he neither knows his enemy, nor knows himself. Lovins is stuck in a 1960s-1970s paradigm that he views nuclear through.
    Lovins does not know his enemy (nuclear). “Nuclear only does big.” Wrong. Conventional utilities do big. Therefore, nuclear did what utilities demanded from it – they scaled up the LWR to very large sizes. Nuclear is not a one-trick pony; nuclear can do small and modular, too! In fact, I would argue that the potential for nuclear in doing small is a potential far greater than nuclear doing big, for several reasons:
    1. Cogeneration (combined heat and power)
    2. Modularity and mass production (a nuclear Model T that is highly engineered yet mass-produced, say shipping-container size, and can be deployed on a pour, plop, plug, and play basis)
    3. Nil safety risks (maximum feasible accident is guaranteed containable within limits of the highly-engineered module)
    4. High reliability combined with lack of fuel input stocks in the field – when you have a plant that can run reliably for 10 years without needing refueling – and the fuel is very low cost – why use ambient, inherently unreliable renewable power?
    5. Fixed cost combined with economy of scale – allows units to be handled on balance sheet, even on a leasing basis.
    In sum, small modular nuclear delivers a near nil environmental impact, similar to renewables, with extremely low land use, and high reliability exceeding that of renewables, and in many cases, fossil fuels.
    Lovins does not know himself (renewables):
    1. He fails to understand that ordinary people don’t really want to go into the electricity business. They don’t want to install large-scale (and by definition, very low density) battery energy storage units in their apartments. They don’t want to have to hose down the solar panels every day. They don’t want to tune their diesel backup generator. They don’t want demand response systems – or the weather – to control their lives. They don’t want to play power markets or arbitrage the spark spread in their living room. They want their electrical power to work, at a fixed, constant cost.
    2. He doesn’t understand that electricity is not a fungible commodity and storage of electricity is really near-impossible. He doesn’t understand the implications of keeping gas turbines turning whenever the sun ducks behind a cloud. He doesn’t understand that pumped hydro is meant to allow baseload to produce intermediate and peak load, not for inherently unreliable energy sources to pay into it, like some sort of energy piggy-bank.
    3. He fails to understand the outsize roles that government subsidies – tax credits and the like – feed-in tariffs – play in getting private capital to choose renewable energy. Renewables are subsidized coming, going, up, down, left, right, front, center, etc; those subsidies are very large, yet, we still await the generation of usable quantities of power – and usable qualities of power – from renewables, excepting biomass and geothermal (which are both inherently limited.)
    Lovins fails to realize that solar and wind are the bandwagon to end all bandwagons, and bandwagons have a tendency to crash. He also fails to realize that the nuclear industry – within the next decade or two – is entirely capable of producing a nuclear “Model T” – a small, modular unit, inexpensive, inherently safe, capable of being mass-produced and deployed anywhere, anytime, for a number of years, returned to the factory to be refueled – and, at that point, the party’s over and the battle becomes impossibly retrograde for the renewable folks.
    He knows not his enemy nor knows himself. But we know ourselves, we know our enemy, and we realize that being unconquerable starts with ourselves.

    1. Dave – excellent. Request your permission to promote this comment into quote on the main Atomic Insights post on the subject.

      1. Seconded.
        In fact, I move that Dave needs his own blog.
        His comments are getting to be too long for comments.

        1. Brian – I selfishly disagree. Dave’s comments (and those of many others including you) are a big part of the value of Atomic Insights.
          I would hate to see him branch out on an independent effort; I might lose too many readers.
          (Just kidding, Dave. Perhaps it would be a good idea for you to start your own blog. If you need a platform, I would be happy to add another author for Atomic Insights. The topic is too interesting and expansive for one voice to cover all aspects adequately.)

      2. Thanks Rod and Brian, I appreciate the kind words – Rod, feel free to promote and put up on the blog. I’ll think about becoming a blogger – thank you for your offer, Rod.

  4. There are two problems with distributed power systems that the idealists do not discuss assuming these distributed generators are big enough to feed back to the grid. One is the fact that the present power distribution system is designed to take power from a central source and spread it out to where it is used. It is NOT designed to do the reverse. The big feeder breakers and the fault overload timing sequence is designed to cut off the fault closest to the fault and keep everybody else with power. (That is why your main breaker does not trip when your saw binds up cutting a board and trips the breaker for the shop.) The protective circuitry is NOT there (for both equipment and personnel). To correct this problem will take a “genius grid,” a “smart grid” will not hack it. Each of these distributed generators will require protective circuits and controls with main dispatcher monitoring, control, and readout. Most existing substations would require an extensive overhaul, replacing all existing protective equipment with two-way protective circuits. Even then, IMHO reliability will decrease and power critical installations (e.g. hospitals, server farms, etc.) will get their own power and go off grid. The present control system is on the verge of overload now. This problem is not shown now because there are so few private generators feeding back on the grid.
    Secondly, the efficiency of a generation system drops drastically as you decrease the load from the optimum load, typically 90 to 100% of design, think of highway vs. city MPG in a big semi. Sending power from two areas where there is only 30% load to another area where there is 30% load to get one generator at 90 to 100% load heats up a lot of wire (I square R losses), not to mention the efficiency losses for the period of time until you can combine loads. You then have traveling maintenance crews, distributed maintenance facilities, warehouses, etc., etc. Look at the recent proliferation of high efficiency CCGT units – each that I have seen has more than one unit. No NRC B/S, so one crew can operate and maintain both, three, possibly even four. Put four single units on the four corners of your city and union rules will dictate four crews or work rules that would bankrupt you. Are we trying to save GAS? Electricity? reduce CO2? or create jobs? The only thing I see happening is creating jobs.
    Perhaps someone can get a government funded research grant for this problem.

  5. Daved, You are welcome to post on Nuclear Green too. in addition to what ever Rod offers you, I can offer liquid fluoride salt toothpaste, and all of the thorium you can eat.

  6. Amory Lovins has flip-flopped on the issues many times, but what he keeps coming back to is less about the method of generating power and more about his warped social philosophy. He takes his cues from the idea of “soft energy” basically he believes industrialization is inherently bad and that humans should live in small communities. His objection to nuclear energy comes largely from the fact that it involves a lot of science and technology. He really thinks we should burn stuff in our fireplaces or put solar collectors on the thatched roofs of our cabins.
    He has the false view that a non-global, locally-limited, non-mechanized world is some kind of utopia. His vision of such a “soft energy” future is one where a kindly craftsman lives in a tightly cabin in the woods and carves wooden blades to a windmill for the one-room schoolhouse where all the children are happy and healthy. All around him are dancing bunnies and deer and butterflys.
    It’s some kind of fantasy world that draws as much from Walt Disney as Ted Kaczynski.

    1. Rod might say, “Git yer own blog.” Oh. You’re Dr. Buzzo of Depleted Cranium. Big fan!
      Actually, from what I gather, Lovins just SAYS these things and gets people to agree. Like, say, VP Gore. It’s those charmed people that agree and give political power to politicians that can pass subsidies into law. The result is the status-quo. There’s my version of Rod’s “smoking gun,” It’s all the sureness that mankind is a blight on the earth leads to solutions like windmills, solar panels, dancing bunnies (Luddism), etc. and not the real solution for wide(er)spread prosperity: liberation of the bound energy of heavy nuclei.

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