1. “Power for USA” is interesting for sure, especially the comments on some of the article posts. I read the comment section on “Why Wind Energy is a Bad Idea” and especially noted the comment by James Christopher Desmond @August 12, 2014 9:56 am. James has a wind/solar contraption. James makes the argument “What’s the problem if I do this with my own money, with no form of subsidies.” Then James makes an “A, B, C” argument. At a glance it looks convincing. Argument “A” states “I stay tied to the grid and pay an access fee”; but James doesn’t acknowledge by deciding to stay “tied to the grid” he made a choice to become a Utility. But he doesn’t want to play by Utility rules. Argument “B” states the amount of money the Utility is forced, by law, to pay him for his excess generation. But he doesn’t acknowledge that is a subsidy. Argument “C” is confusing, “I’ve consumed NO taxpayer or ratepayer subsidies (direct or indirect) in the process.”; and “Would you have any objection to that?”
    I think my answer is YES, he’s being heavily indirectly subsidized. On a technical note it appears his 80KW contraption occupies 1000 times the volume of a 8KW RV generator. Which I have had to use to back feed my house during a hurricane power loss to keep my beer cold.

  2. @Rod Adams, who wrote

    GE, Dear’s former employer, has made a strategic decision to become a premier supplier of wind turbines, gas turbines and equipment to support the natural gas extraction industry. They are not making any significant investments in marketing their already certified ABWR design and are barely keeping the ESBWR design certification effort alive.

    Um. Does Hitachi know? Last I heard ESBWR could receive final license approval within the next six weeks. Are you sure it isn’t S-PRISM whose design certification is on life support? My understanding is that GE-H suspended that one to put all their staff behind the ESBWR license completion. AFAICT (not a NE) ESBWR is an outstanding design into which GE and Hitachi have sunk a substantial sum. One might argue a company the size of GE could afford to burn such a bridge to avoid cannabalizing their wind and gas. One could also argue a company the size of GE didn’t get that way by being unable to do simple economic modelling. You seem to think otherwise?

    Sorry if I sound alarmed — I really want to see ESBWR out on the market.

    GE-H’s ABWR appears to be suffering teething pains. Some units have had reliability issues. Nuclear faces political opposition in Taiwan: Lungmen 1 will be completed and mothballed, Lungmen 2 construction suspended, both pending a plebecite approving re-start. The four units currently under construction are all in Japan, presumably suspended until whenever.

    ABWR is licensed only in Japan, Taiwan, and U.S., where it had been selected for the cancelled South Texas Project. South Texas is a merchant market in wind+gas country. With things at a standstill in East Asia, GE-H really needs market penetration in U.S. As nuclear here runs strictly base load, ESBWR is probably cheaper per GWh than the (slightly) smaller ABWR.

    1. As a retired GE executive, Dear might soon be having some irregularities with his pension checks.

    2. @Ed Leaver

      I never said that GE-Hitachi had abandoned the ESBWR, but they have not pressed forward with much vigor. The design was one of two supported by the Nuclear Power 2010 program, with the AP-1000 being the other. Compared to the investments made by Westinghouse to complete the design, line up customers, establish a supply chain, and finish the design certification, GE’s effort has been just barely adequate to keep moving. Even if they are awarded a design certification in six weeks, that will still be almost three years after the AP-1000’s often delayed receipt of a DC.

      GE has plenty of friends in high places. If they were pushing, the ESBWR would already be certified.

  3. I really have an issue with someone that refuses to look at the reality of climate change. Looking through some of his posts I see two main arguments:

    1) Climate change isn’t happening/CO2 isn’t a main contributor

    2) Even if CO2 does contribute to climate change, cutting emissions is useless because of increased emissions in other countries.

    Given the scientific consensus on climate change, from my perspective it’s actually damaging to promote someone like this, and can negatively impact people’s views on nuclear and your credibility for promoting such a person.

    We always make the argument that if people look at the science about nuclear, then they’ll be convinced. It’s hard to make this argument while we’re actively promoting people that don’t believe the science on climate change.

    I have the same issue with NEI promoting Dr. Patrick Moore, as he has similar views on the issue of climate change.

    1. @Nicholas Thompson

      Though I pointed to Power for USA, I don’t think there is anything in my post that is a ringing endorsement. Besides, science is not something one “believes” in; that is a word better applied to religion. I’m not a big GE fan; I’ve often been critical here about their decision to marginalize nuclear energy because there were other business lines with more immediate profit potential.

  4. “Believing” the results of scientific research boils down to believing the axioms of logic. Maths depends on these axioms, and science in turn depends on maths.

    If you don’t believe in the axioms of logic, then you are in agreement with Boko Haram and similar groups. But as they are axioms, they cannot be proved by logic or maths, as Godel showed.

    Believing in physics and maths is ultimately a bet. I think the odds are quite good.

    1. @Don Cox

      You misunderstand my comment. I accept the truths of logic, math, physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, material science, and biology. There are, however, some theories that have achieved a consensus that require a leap of faith in order to believe in them without question. One of the reasons that I learn as much as I can about the individuals who push those theories is so I can have a better idea of whether or not they are trustworthy. I’ve lived too long and worked with too many different people over the years to trust everyone, especially people who achieve high rank in a field with a large dependence on personality, popularity, or politics instead of achievement.

      There are also solid principles in all sciences that have been misused as sales pitches. Some have even been portrayed as near catastrophes in order to serve as a forcing function to close the deal for wavering customers who have to pay for whatever paths are taken, even the ones that turn out to be dead ends to inadequate solutions.

      I am concerned about the continued growth in CO2 levels in the atmosphere and about the continued growth in the rate that CO2 is being produced while consuming valuable hydrocarbons and atmospheric oxygen. The math of differential equations is inescapable.

      That does not mean that I believe in catastrophic global warming, the use of an “all of the above” strategy, or in the prescription of such nostrums as carbon trading or the EPA’s micromanagement of emissions reductions by unique requirements for each state.

      My philosophy is more complex. I like prosperity, which includes a sustainable environment, clean air, and abundant clean water. Energy in concentrated, controllable fuels is an important component of increased prosperity. There is nothing inherently bad about burning hydrocarbons where they are the most appropriate fuel source, but we should save as much of those valuable materials as possible for the use of future generations. We should be planning for an infinite number of those generations, not burning up everything we can reach in order to stave off nuclear energy development for a few more years.

      I advocate using nuclear heat as an ingredient in a process of upgrading natural hydrocarbons and carbohydrates that are easily accessible to use as liquid fuels rather than drilling in some of the most remote places on Earth in order to satisfy a growing thirst.

      I care greatly about people and understand the importance of having valuable, income generating work for people to do. That does not mean I want to eliminate tools that make people more productive, but I reject the idea that the best way for a business to act is to seek every possible automation tool in order to eliminate as many jobs as possible.

      1. Rod,

        In your next to last paragraph, I think you accidently left off simply carbon in your listing of “upgrading natural hydrocarbons and carbohydrates”. Carbon would seem to be the best way to classify coal as its primary component, which you also advocate upgrading/refining via nuclear heat, right?


          1. So, your listing of “carbohydrates” is the umbrella under which you include coal?
            Perhaps “ancient carbohydrates” could be one way to term it? Within simply carbohydrates, one might be inclined to think of recently-grown biomass, and having read your blog pretty consistently for over 5 years now, I imagine that your analysis would rank the prospects of upgrading coal into a more valuable liquid fuel as being considerably more economically-promising overall (sans subsidies) than the prospects of upgrading newly-grown biomass into a useful liquid fuel for transportation.

            1. @Joel Riddle

              In that listing, coal is in both the “hydrocarbon” and “carbohydrate” category depending on the grade of coal. There is a wonderful opportunity for upgrading coal to a liquid fuel that also varied depending on the grade of coal. Some of the best prospects are in high heat content, but also high sulfur content coal seams. The processes that produce liquids from coal also do a good job of separating the sulfur. They are processes that are best located near the coal source to reduce the transportation of materials that don’t contribute to the end product. That means they would be job generators in places where jobs would be welcomed.

          2. Sounds like something that Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia politicians should be all over.

    2. From the WSJ 8-18-14 –
      … several related papers in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine undermine these recommendations, and one even speculates that the official targets pose health hazards. In one of the most complete treatments of the subject to date, researchers followed more than 100,000 people world-wide for three and a half years. They found that those who consumed fewer than 3,000 mgs had a 27% higher risk of death or a serious medical event like a heart attack.
      It’s yet another example of confirmation bias, “consensus” groupthink, and the dangers of assuming scientific debates are ever “settled.”

      Likewise, until very recently, the 100% scientific consensus was that saturated fat causes obesity & heart disease and to eat low-fat carbs instead. Now disproven, the settled overwhelming 100% scientific consensus thrown out the window, low-fat carbs are bad, saturated [and unsaturated] fat good in moderation.

      Likewise for the 100% scientific consensus for over 50 years that peptic ulcers were due to stress or eating spicy foods, later proven to be completely false and instead caused by infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, and treatable with antibiotics not histamine blockers.

      There are hundreds of other examples in the medical and physical sciences where the overwhelming > 97% scientific consensus was flat out wrong. The bogus “97% consensus” on climate change will be next on this long list of “consensus” failures.

      Read more at: http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2014/08/wsj-another-example-that-scientific.html

      1. … aaaand cue the flood of persona-management sock puppet denialists.

        Please explain the loss of the Ross ice shelf and the radical shift in boreal freeze/thaw dates and vegetation types, if you are in fact real and serious.

        1. Volcanoes under the Ice Sheet.

          Where is the Proof that CO2 is the cause of 100% of the 2 degrees of global warming since the 1800’s? Oh, you say it is only XX% then WHAT percent is it and where is the PROOF for that?

          1. There’s nothing like sufficient volcanic activity where the Ross and Larsen ice shelves are/were to explain their decline.  We’d know; volcanic vents emit characteristic signature gases, like CO2 and H2S.

            You’re just throwing up items from a list of denialist talking points.  Your demand for certainty to a particular percentage, and demand for PROOF (capitalized, no less), is something not possible even in epidemiological medical studies without substantial error bars.  But the human signature on this thing is unambiguous:  C12 abundance rises faster than C13, the stratosphere cools as less heat radiates up to it, while solar activity is stable to declining.

          2. @E-P – It is obvious that man is placing CO2 in the atmosphere. My question is how much of an effect does CO2 have, just CO2? All I get is snarky answers like yours. Your answer is more of a non-answer than mine. Take time to read this and THINK about the questions I provide. I am aware of your nuclear background but I have no idea if you are of the Electrical, Nuclear or Mechanical persuasion. If you are a competent engineer working (have worked at) a NPP surely you have been exposed to the “skin effect” or boundary layer effect and the implications on heat transfer between entities due to this effect. Knowledge of this is needed to understand the core, the reactor, the heat exchangers, the steam generators and even the control systems for these components. Even an Operator is trained on this information. WHY do the IPCC Global warmest’s IGNORE The Atmospheric Boundary Layer??
            What portion of the temperature of the Earth can be explained by nothing more than the Boundary Layer effect? Even if the Earth was surrounded by a Non-GHG, how much warmer would it be simply because of the Atmospheric Boundary Layer trapping (slowing down the transfer of) heat? Dig out your Heat Transfer books and do the math! It is NOT ZERO. Why do the envirowhacos attribute all of this increased temperature to CO2 and ignore the boundary effect? What does the boundary layer effect have upon the cloud cover over the oceans? What effect do these clouds have upon global warming?
            This boundary layer effect is readily apparent in the smoke stack like columns of smoke coming from the volcanoes where these columns change direction by almost 90 degrees once the “smoke” gets above the boundary layer. This effect has even been observed on the moons of Saturn. You have probably witnessed the atmospheric boundary layer yourself from a camp fire, house burning or even a power plant stack. SO, WHY IS IT IGNORED? How a good engineer could witness things like this and accept the garbage they feed us without questi0ning their misinformation?
            Why don’t the IPCC “scientists” include and/or address the Milankovitch Effect? Why do they IGNORE the cycles of the Sun??? What other variables, mechanisms or regions of the atmosphere are omitted in the IPCC models? [Yes some environmental scientists; are looking at these things, but it seems to be excluded from the IPCC reports.] We know the models don’t work because their predictions (projections) have been wrong for over 15 years. That is why I am Skeptical about CO2 and the AGW crowd blaming all of Earths ills on CO2. I am not a denier about the temperature of the Earth increasing, even a moron has to accept the fact that the “global” temperature has risen by 2 degrees in the last 150 plus years. My question is why, EXACTLY, why?
            And what is two degrees? Even if you have a microprocessor controlled digital thermostat on your HVAC it ONLY controls the temperature to within ~ 0.75 to 1.5 Degrees! Cheap ones are even worse! And it will still show that the set and actual temperature are the same! Do you, as an engineer, feel that the Earth has a better control system than a highly sophisticated, multi-input, demand anticipating, computer controlled thermostat? Dream on! Now try and design a purely mechanical (no electronics, no microprocessors} temperature control system that will keep a system at exactly the same temperature, +/- 0.5 degrees, for 150 years with NO human intervention, maintenance, adjustment, etc.
            The fact that YOU dismiss these concerns, those of others and have none of your own speaks volumes about your intellectual acumen. Your snarky responses emphasizes this!
            Here is my 97 percent consensus fact. The fact that ~97 percent of those pushing the CO2 “Theory” are against nuclear power in any form whatsoever when their own data shows that a rapid, herculean, effort to replace all fossil fueled electrical power sources with Nuclear Power (where possible) is the only thing that could possibly prevent what they predict indicates that they are all, in my opinion, “Envirowhacos.” No better than those that burn SUV’s in the name of the environment.

          3. The enstupidation of your stream of near-free association and mistaken notions makes it painful to read, but I got this far:

            surely you have been exposed to the “skin effect” or boundary layer effect and the implications on heat transfer between entities due to this effect.

            First, “skin effect” to an electrical engineer (of which I are one, har har) is an electromagnetic phenomenon having to do with the generation of eddy currents in response to time-varying magnetic fields and the consequent exponential decrease in current penetration into a conductor with increasing depth, the exponent increasing with &omega.  This has much to do with increased resistance and power loss through conductors over what would be predicted by the bulk resistivity of the material at low to DC frequencies.  It has nothing at all to do with heat transfer.

            Second, boundary layers are very well-studied phenomena.  The change in direction of wind with altitude is due substantially to the Coriolis effect, and is widely known; this reaches down to the training of student pilots.  But the ΔT effects being seen aren’t limited to the boundary layer, they reach through the entire troposphere including an increase in the altitude of the tropopause.  So far as I know, there is no measured change in GHG effect or temperature lapse rate between the surface and the first few hundred meters of atmosphere, and this is where it would be the easiest to measure; sounding balloons are sent up twice a day from ground level at hundreds of stations worldwide.  No such changed effect is predicted from the climate models, so that is not a strike against them.  That you try to make an issue of this non-issue is a blow against you.

            You can calculate what the average temperature of Earth would be if there were no greenhouse effect.  The blackbody equation is trivial to work backwards; take the average insolation at 380 W/m^2, multiply by the albedo of about 0.7, divide by the constant 5.67e-8 W/m^2/k^4, then take the 4th root to get temperature in Kelvins.  It comes to about 262 K, some degrees below freezing.

            Last, heat transfer between the atmosphere and space is a radiative phenomenon, not convective or conductive.  It is not unlike the solar photosphere; energy transfer is convective until the gas thins out under gravitational force to the point where photons can escape to space, which is where the visible “surface” is.  Earth’s atmosphere consists of a great many more atomic and molecular species than the solar, and has few free electrons to scatter photons; its transparency is correspondingly different across its own thermal spectrum (roughly 1/20 the absolute temperature of the visible solar surface) and different radiative windows “open up” at different altitudes where the opacifying gases become too thin to reliably intercept photons they radiate outward.  If you increase the concentration of those gases, that window opens at a correspondingly higher altitude, and the depth of the convective part of the atmosphere gets deeper.  This is also why the stratosphere gets colder; it’s higher and thinner, receiving less heat in the bands where it has gases to absorb it.

            But all of this will go over your head, because you’re an ideologue who’s already made up his mind from a bunch of talking points.  Assuming you’re actually a real person, and not a sock-puppet managed by some paid troll with a persona management system.  No matter; I’m writing for the public, not you.

            Also, you deliberately confuse the climate scientists with the politically active environmental organizations.  The two are mostly disjoint sets.  The donors drive the activies and agendas of the latter, and among the wealthiest of the donors are… fossil-fuel barons.

        2. I apologize for using a term that was used in my heat transfer book and graduate level physics course and that it offended you. Your response reflects your extreme ideological attitude and lack of knowledge of heat transfer. In fact it seems rather childish to take a term that you do not understand and imply my use of it means I am an idiot or moron. A simple search on Google of – Heat Transfer “skin effect region” – (the quotes around heat effect region so that you will not be flooded with extraneous hits) will provide you a listing of quite a few college level texts and other use of the term “skin effect region” as related to heat transfer. I specifically used that term because I was concerned with the area less than 3 to 6 feet – which is below all of the weather service monitoring stations, and as far as I know not observed or studied by anyone looking at why the temperature of the Earth is what it is. Your, again rather snarky, comment confirms that at least you are also not aware of any studies also.
          I believe that even you will concede that this layer of air will maintain, or at least impede the transfer of, the heat absorbed during the day in the ground/ocean just like a blanket, and like you say NOT restrict radiation. Any homeless person knows that even a sheet of paper will keep them warmer at night. If you play golf, you know that this very thin layer of air helps make the ball go where you want it to go and that millions are spent perfecting this skin effect. Now please provide me with an explanation that answers the questions about what effect the warmer ground/ocean has on clouds, cloud cover, albedo effect and all of the rest of your beliefs.

          1. I apologize for using a term that was used in my heat transfer book and graduate level physics course and that it offended you.

            Well, Mr. Troll, you didn’t “offend” me and your insult-couched-as-an-apology lacks a little something.  That something is exactly how your “graduate studies” defined “skin effect” in the context of heat flow.  Wikipedia only has a definition in the electrical context.  There’s a different one from Schlumberger… but it is about fluid dynamics rather than heat flow.  Obviously, convective heat flow is changed by any effect which changes mixing.  A laminar-to-turbulent transition certainly does that.  But you don’t actually say that this has any effect which would influence the results of climate models, and you especially don’t offer any specifics where climate models (a) fail to incorporate it, and (b) are in error as a consequence.

            Aside from attempting to use it as a claim to superior knowledge, dragging it out is the rhetorical tactic known as the “red herring”.  It has no place in rational, fact-based debate.  FYI, one of the references that came up with your search terms states this:

            This thermal boundary-layer thickness is of the order of one millimeter for air in a laminar, parallel flow.


            I specifically used that term because I was concerned with the area less than 3 to 6 feet – which is below all of the weather service monitoring stations, and as far as I know not observed or studied by anyone looking at why the temperature of the Earth is what it is.

            In other words, your whole rhetorical gambit here is totally irrelevant to the measured increase in near-surface air temperatures, the decrease in stratospheric temperatures, the measured increase in downwelling IR from the atmosphere at the surface, and all the other things that climate scientists are actually studying.

            Your, again rather snarky, comment confirms that at least you are also not aware of any studies also.

            Pray tell how your little revelation from the graduate studies of which you are oh-so-proud has any illumination to offer to e.g. scientists studying atmospheric temperature profiles captured by radiosondes.  By the time their balloons are launched, they are already outside the millimetric region next to the surface in which the skin effect is relevant.  Please, share with the world just what they are missing… since you are so certain that people who’ve devoted lives of studies to it have it all wrong.

            Now please provide me with an explanation that answers the questions about what effect the warmer ground/ocean has on clouds, cloud cover, albedo effect and all of the rest of your beliefs.

            You’ve just asked for an encyclopedia.  You owe us an essay on skin effect first.

            Why don’t the IPCC “scientists” include and/or address the Milankovitch Effect? Why do they IGNORE the cycles of the Sun???

            There you’re just lying.  Reconstructing past solar activity, via measurement of cosmogenic radioisotopes and other means, is just one of the things done under IPCC auspices.

            And what is two degrees?

            A considerable difference in climactic zone and growing season for crops, and a substantial shift in amount and type of precipitation to name two.

            The fact that ~97 percent of those pushing the CO2 “Theory” are against nuclear power in any form whatsoever when their own data shows that a rapid, herculean, effort to replace all fossil fueled electrical power sources with Nuclear Power (where possible) is the only thing that could possibly prevent what they predict indicates that they are all, in my opinion, “Envirowhacos.”

            There you go changing the subject, from climate scientists to soi-disant “environmental” organizations.  I will be the last to argue that the positions of the majority of them are not “whacko”.  However, those positions are driven by the demands of their financiers, aka donors… many of whom get their wealth from fossil fuels and have sufficient wealth to avoid the consequences of climate change for themselves and their families.

          2. @EP
            Do some more research. Wikipedia is NOT the authority on all “knowledge” or the “proper” use of all terms. The fact that your only knowledge of the use of the term ”skin effect” is related to the electromagnetic properties of the flow of electricity does not mean that other educated people have used and still use “skin effect” in relation to the flow of material in a pipe, reactor, heat exchanger and the transfer of heat because of the phenomenon of the medium not moving as fast near the surface as in the rest of the process. This same terminology “skin effect” has been use by geophysicists in the analysis of heat transfer from the ocean to the air above the ocean (thus my original comment that you did not like.) Meteorologists also use this term in studying the transfer of heat from ground to air. Perhaps, in your mind they are using the term improperly. That is your problem. Find the studies, they are on the internet. Identify the authors and let them know they don’t know what they are talking about because, according to Wikipedia, “skin effect” only applies to the flow of electricity. It would also be to your benefit to look at the original search term that I gave you in that it identifies a text published by the Cambridge University Press the uses the exact term I used exactly as I described it. Or did you feel that you had to find things that supported your incorrect knowledge of the concerns I pointed out to make me look stupid. I see you are well versed in the tactics of Alinsky.

            1. @Rich and EP

              Please take your bickering on this specific issue related to a far larger topic to another venue. It is getting tiresome and filling up the thread with commentary that has little, if any, relationship to the primary post topic.

  5. Rod, I agree with most of what you say, particularly about prosperity.

    I think there are two levels of belief: one is belief in fundamentals, such as the axioms of logic, the existence of God, the existence of cause-and-effect, and so on.

    The other is more a matter of judgement, covering statements such as “I believe that climatologists are working honestly in a difficult field, and that their models do give some guide to future prospects”, versus “I believe that climatologists are a bunch of rogues who are putting out sensational stories in order to make money”.

    The word “believe” is used in the second sense when talking about the Linear No Threshold model. It is not a judgement about the scientific method as such, but about the quality and integrity of work on this particular topic.

  6. Could GE be exiting the field of nuclear reactor manufacture because it believes that Fukushima has irreparably damaged the image of BWRs as a reactor class?

  7. Think of the stages: Peat -> Brown Coal -> Black Coal.

    It starts as dead plants (and animals) in swampy conditions, where there is little or no oxygen in the soil. These corpses contain a wide variety of organic molecules, including cellulose, other carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Anaerobic oxidation by bacteria will slowly break down the material into molecules that cannot be oxidised in anaerobic conditions. That means mostly carbon (graphite) with an assortment of hydrocarbons. I wouldn’t expect to see carbohydrates in mature coal.

    The same basic process happens at much greater speed when charcoal is made from plants.

  8. George Carty
    August 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM
    >> Could GE be exiting the field of nuclear reactor manufacture because it believes that Fukushima has irreparably damaged the image of BWRs as a reactor class? <<

    It's not you, but this common statement makes me LOL till I cry! Here we have a powerplant that survived a mega quake and a tsumnai soaking without hurting 1 soul or any public property damage while its brother oil and gas plants were flaming waste and pollution and crisping and smoke poisioning lives all over Japan during that shake, not to talk about drownings by broken dams, and GE wants to bail out because nobody got killed by something it made??? Whoop Dee Doo Common Sense!!!

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