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20 Comments

  1. Rod, Gordon, and Ben – thanks so much for making this recording available. I was delighted to find that Ben had connected to Gordon when he wanted to make sure his presentation got recorded, and that he left the audio recorder running during the question period and conversation time. And that Ben and Gordon made this audio available. Thank you!!

    Ben is absolutely right about moving the conversation to optimism and action. Another lesson is to record everything, and leave the audio recorder running to catch all the gems. I hope, Rod, that you’ll follow suit by getting reasonable recordings of your presentations to groups, with a recorder like the ones that Gordon uses. (He mailed a couple of them to Ben so that Ben could get the good audio that the videos always need.) I like to think that I helped get Ben thinking about the recordings by doing a video of his How Can Community Support for the Nuclear Option Be Achieved? last year. He didn’t have an audio recording of the talk, so I had to read the text.

    I’ve got some work history with video and media, plan to make some energy videos, and am finding out how I can get involved in pronuclear and pro-humanity activities. One thing I could try is editing the recordings of presentations like Ben’s, to become part of a network of people helping with the media generation. That would also take some of the load off Gordon as well. (Gordon says on his <a href="Patreon project that his main problem is the time it takes to edit.)

    And I second your suggestion about learning how to handle questions and have facts at your fingertips from Ben. He is an outstanding role model.

    Thanks again Rod, Ben, and Gordon.

    1. I’m going to get some cheap audio recording devices out to people. Rod Adams will get some, but if anyone else wants them please email me at gordonmcdowell@gmail.com and unless the response is overwhelming I should be able to mail them off.

      As for video… we all have mobile phones. They’re not perfect but combined with a portable mic a lot can be accomplished. That “thorium problem” video I edited was from super-crappy mobile phone and tablet shot footage. But the audio was good, so the video worked.

  2. Some follow questions/comments from the original video. France is the well known example of a developed nation, with very low emissions. I was unaware that the province of Ontario had such low emissions (g CO2 / kWh). A quick search finds Ontario also has the Bruce nuclear power plant (CA’s largest).

    Why was the Bruce plant not mentioned in the presentation? Are there other good examples of densely populated, industrialized areas with low CO2 emissions?

    John Kutsch, calmly brought to my attention (as I was also unaware) that Chicago is the France of America, getting 70% of its electricity from nuclear in this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUXmff5R_bI

    The population of greater-metro Chicago is 10 million, how does it compare to Ontario/Toronto?

    1. Looks like Toronto has either 2-1/2 or 5 million depending on how you slice it.

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

      Here’s a side issue. How about nuclear in New Zealand? It is an island nation like Japan or old England. Seems like a winning combination. (New nukes certainly would be redesigned for big waves.)

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-G-N/New-Zealand/

      There is an aluminum industry there. (New Zealand) The aluminum industry used to be big in the Pacific Northwest used to be big when there was excess power. Aluminum and newer nukes may make a good combination.

    2. Ontario is a province that has roughly the same population as the state of Illinois – it appears to me the two jurisdictions also have similar annual electricity use per household (~10,000kWh),and both have a vast majority of households heating with natural gas.

      1. Per wiki, the Illinois energy portfolio breaks down as:
        Nuclear – 48.7%
        Fossil Fuel – 49.4%
        Renewables – 1.9%

        I am not sure if emissions data (CO2 per kWh) is available for just the greater-metro area of Chicago, as it has a higher % of nuclear energy. The more geographic areas one could source as high density, highly industrialized with near zero emission, the more tangible nuclear becomes.

    3. No reason at all not to have mentioned Bruce. Just looked at the sites closes to Toronto and I had to limit my “destinations” in the presentation to keep it moving.

      I have a good relationship with Doug Boreham from Bruce, we have worked together before.

  3. I suspect when SMRs are actually deployed commercially, and proven safe, that places like NZ will warm up to the idea. The complement small grid wonderfully and can provide the needed load following other forms of energy can’t provide quickly enough.

    David

    1. That brings up a general point that I wanted to ask you all about. And that is, do we really think this SMR hype will help the nuclear energy situation all that much? I’m old enough to remember when we had “small” reactors operating, places like Shippingport, Big Rock Point, and Humbolt Bay. When things got tough those got the axe in part because they were “small” and “not economical”. I know they were site-built plants and not made in factories, but I’m not sure having nuclear plants built in factories will help all that much. I mean, Lamborghinis and Maseratis are built in factories, too, and last I checked those were pretty pricey. Out of my league, anyway. Seems to me, if you are in the business of making a product in bulk and want the unit cost of production to be low, economies of scale would figure large in your planning. I stipulate the point about flexibility in operation, but I wonder if, like the factory deal, that will be dispositive in moving forward with this strategy.

      1. @Wayne SW

        SMRs offer cost saving opportunities not because they are “factory built,” but because it is possible to build them in series out of interchangeable components. The economy of scale can be achieved if the vendors and customers cooperate to keep training systems, QA documentation, operating procedures, etc. common among a whole fleet of units so that each one does not need to carry the overhead associated with those facets of nuclear power plant ownership.

        It is, of course, possible to allow various customization pressures to force costs into the Lamborghini range, but my advice to businesses involved in SMRs is to resist those pressures so that their output more closely resembles the economics and quality of a good mass-produced Toyota or a Hundai.

        1. Let me say first off I believe in SMRs for reasons not included in this discussion. But in the current real world it is not as simple as “Standardized Designs” controlling all the cost drivers for a nuke utility. You have to factor in the Regulator, the regional Politics, the Intervenors, and the attitude of the Mother Company. If Vermont Yankee was a NuScale 12 unit – 600MW site, or a 2 unit- 600 MW mPower site, do you feel either would be running with substantially less than 600 employees? I think not, as the cost drivers for the “overhead” you cite as examples are mostly driven by the Regulator under the current LWR license rules and the INPO overhead. And as best as I can understand the shutdown of VY (which is not very well), all things considered, the plug would have been pulled even if the 600MW came from SMR units. The unit design specifics are immaterial if the whole process under which nukes must operate is flawed to the point the cards are stacked against them.
          As far as the Lambroghini price range, it is going to go there because of the current Regulatory Design Certification process, not the standardized design hardware or manufacturing costs. The NRC certifies a vendor design, but they regulate by licensee. The current regulatory structure would require 2 different utilities, owing 2 full SMR unit sites, to each have the duplicate overhead you site as examples. In order to realize the cost savings you cite, the regulatory structure will have to change. What’s going to make that happen?

          1. I agree with Mike that unless the current regulatory structure changes, SMRs are facing a pretty stiff headwind. If the per-unit license structure is retained, you start to lose money at some point because you’re basically paying for duplicate licenses for each reactor at your site. So you pay for six licenses to run a block of 200 MWe reactors, whereas you pay one license for a 1200 MWe unit. And that’s just the license. Each 200 MWe unit has to have inspectors, tech specs, operator licenses separate for each reactor, and so on. It makes no sense (the regulatory structure as it exists) to have to license an operator separately for each reactor, which is the way it is now. Better to have something like aviation licenses, wherein a pilot is qualified to operate a particular class of aircraft, not each individual plane. Until the regulatory apparatus is reformed, those are going to be issues in the SMR development and deployment.

    2. Yes. Note: Robert Hargraves at his Facebook page has recently promised that new information on ThorCon is soon to be available.

  4. “Why was the Bruce plant not mentioned in the presentation??”

    I can go one better. Cable TV “science” shows such as “How Things Work” and “Modern Marvels” that focus on Toronto’s clean energy and mass transit ALWAYS solely credit it all to Niagara Falls. Forget nuclear mentions. It’s such a blatanty biased omission on the part of the producers that one can puke. Nuclear energy’s pubic acceptence can only be won by media-countering aggressive public education and Ads, not the techie carrots.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  5. As Ben reiterates, electricity is not just a good but a service. I’d love to see this borne in mind by media reporting on renewable energy, for example “new X MW wind farm will produce enough electricity to power Y thousands of homes” when for all intents and purposes there is no correlation between modern home electrical use and the blowing of the wind.

    In stark contrast, reliable low cost baseload allows us to run refrigeration and modern telecommunications devices, wash clothes and charge devices when convenient.

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