California’s “fix” for global warming is one step forward, two steps back
The March/April 2016 issue of Mother Jones includes a thoughtful piece by Gabriel Kahn titled Dreamers of the Golden Dream: Does California have a blueprint to fix global warming?.
Regular Atomic Insights readers will not be surprised to find that I’ve already decided that California’s chosen path for reducing CO2 emissions and dependence on fossil fuel is misguided, doomed to fail if not altered, and only marginally successful so far due to certain uniquely Californian characteristics. Kahn’s piece did little to change my mind, but the way he approached the subject and the stories he shared intrigued me enough to learn more about the man who wrote them.
Summary of Golden Dream
Kahn begins his piece by focusing on the people and areas that have benefitted from the construction jobs and the factory investments that have been made to deploy a large number of renewable energy collection systems in the areas of California where there is abundant sun and wind. Most of those installations have be put in the desert or the downwind side of mountain ranges where temperature cycles cause pressure variations and commercially viable wind velocities.
Some of the areas where wind and solar installations are booming turn out to be places that have experienced economic distress as a result of the effects of drought on agriculture, challenges in the housing market, or the ups and downs of the oil and gas business.
Aside: Many people forget that oil and gas has been a mainstay of California’s economy since the early part of the 20th century. (Upton Sinclair’s classic novel titled Oil was set in California in the 1920s.) That fact is an important part of this story. End Aside.
Immediately following his stories of the beneficiaries, however, Kahn moves directly to Sacramento to give credit for the boom to decisions made by elected officials that provided enormous incentives aimed at attracting the investments described.
All of these advances have undercut a fundamental tenet of economics: that more growth equals more emissions. Between 2003 and 2013 (the most recent data), the Golden State decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by 5.5 percent while increasing its gross domestic product by 17 percent—and it did so under the thumb of the nation’s most stringent energy regulations.
That achievement has made California the envy of other governments. At the climate change summit in Paris last December, Governor Jerry Brown floated about like an A-list celebrity. Reporters trailed after him, foreign delegations sought his advice, audiences applauded wherever he spoke. And Brown, reveling in the attention, readily offered up California as a blueprint for the world.
Kahn acknowledges that continuing the progress will not be easy because many of the most obvious changes have already been made. He points out that the best wind locations are rapidly filling up, that there is growing opposition to grid-scale solar installations in the desert, and that electricity storage still needs massive development to support growth in unreliable power sources.
Aside: He doesn’t mention that nearly all of the gains tallied between 2003 and 2013 disappeared when the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) was forced to shut down. End Aside.
He is, however, an optimistic Californian who appears to believe that there is a technological Moore’s Law for all industries, including energy production. Though his journalistic skepticism shows through on occasion, he appears willing to believe that government regulations can effectively spur continuing technological innovation. He gives credit to an unusually empowered pair of officials, one appointed to a key position and one elected.
Mary Nichols is serving for the second time as the head of the California Air Resources Board; Jerry Brown is serving, for the second time, as Governor. Through their lengthy and repeated service, each of them has made an almost immeasurably large impact on the state’s energy and environmental policies. Kahn frequently points to their unabashed use of the “coercive power of government” to implement rules that have the effect of stimulating some businesses while penalizing others. It’s no real mystery why they have been able to attract sufficient support to implement many of their ideas.
Despite her unimposing presence, Nichols is supremely confident about the righteousness of her and Brown’s mission. “We made these arguments for a long time, but we weren’t too effective because there weren’t many economists on our side. Traditional economic models view all forms of regulation as costs without benefits.” She adds, “I think we’ve demonstrated that you can grow your economy and seriously slash global warming.” I ask if she looks to any other state or country as a model. “No, unfortunately, no,” she says. “We’re it.”
Kahn also introduces a number of the rent seeking innovators that see opportunity in the market disruptions that are occurring as a result of attempting to meet the ever tangling web of rules coming from Sacramento. Near the end of his article, he points out that there are opponents, unrecognized costs, and big challenges ahead. He also provided one more quote that hooked me on the idea that I needed to try to talk to him.
“Who opposes any of our work on climate? There is no question that everywhere you turn it all goes back to the oil industry,” says Nichols.
“I’m not opposed to nuclear power”
Kahn agreed to chat with me on Friday, March 18. After a few pleasantries and and a brief history of Atomic Insights, we had a good discussion about his observations of the energy/environment/economic/political landscape in California. He explained how many businesses in the technology sector see opportunities to take advantage of their core competencies in communications, sensing and computation to solve some “really interesting engineering challenges” associated with supplying electricity from weather-dependent sources like the wind and sun.
We talked about how disappointing it was that opponents managed to push SCE into deciding to close San Onofre rather than to repair it. Kahan also mentioned that he had heard talk about smaller reactors several years ago, but then he asked “whatever happened to that idea?” I let him know there was a growing interest in both smaller and advanced reactors, but that it takes too much time to move from concept, through approvals to construction.
We touched on the fact that the sole remaining nuclear plant in California, Diablo Canyon, is being targeted by the same forces that successfully attacked San Onofre. He did not realize how big a step backward that would be in trying to achieve the aggressive CO2 reduction goals that have been established by the people controlling the “coercive power of government.”
I introduced my theory that much of the opposition to nuclear energy, especially in California, has come from competitors that are seeking to protect or expand their markets. He acknowledged the strong possibility that the theory was correct, but then dismissed the behavior as something that all businesses do.
We agreed that California has a long history of political and economic influence from the oil and gas industry, but he was not aware of any impact that might have had on attitudes about nuclear energy. He observed correctly that the antinuclear movement began to gather strength in the 1970s. That is the same time that oil and gas prices were skyrocketing and great attention was being paid to finding ways to address serious air pollution issues in both California and around the country.
My goal in our conversation was to plant seeds that could be nurtured into strong enough curiosity to stimulate future engagements or investigations. Therefore, I gently explained the intellectual disconnect I see between growing concerns about vulnerable imported energy supplies and air pollution being coincident with a growing, organized opposition to an emission-free, non-petroleum, domestically-developed power source.
He explained that he was just a journalist who occasionally wrote or edited stories about energy and environmental issues, that he did not know much about the history of the antinuclear movement and that he had no real dog in the fight.
Gabe — that is what he asked me to call him — concluded our phone conversation with the following thought. “Getting Californians to change their mind about nuclear is about like trying to convince people in Boston to root for the Yankees. There are better ways to spend your time.”
I guess he would consider me to be either a strange bird or somewhat quixotic. I cannot think of a more productive way to invest my time than in seeking ways to convince people who oppose nuclear energy that they have been misled, often by corporations or individuals with strong financial motives for hamstringing a technically formidable but politically naive competitor.
One way that appears likely to assist in my quest is to continue finding and engaging with people like Gabe Kahn who has both an open mind and an audience. Though he currently claims that he has no dog in the fight and that he is just reporting on the politics that he has observed, he also made it obvious during our conversation that he cares deeply about the environment, that he has no love of the fossil fuel industry, and that he appreciates technological advances.
He also has repeated several times that he is not personally opposed to nuclear power.
Perhaps I’ll be able to provide installments about our future conversations.
He doesn’t know anything about nuclear power, except that it is pointless to try to get people to like it. I commend you, Rod, for being “gentle” with such … biased individuals.
One thing that not all businesses do is deprive government of large amounts of broken-window revenue.
I guess that’s an obscure metaphor, since it builds on the broken-window economic fallacy by supposing that government gets a much larger share of the money the owner spends to replace it than it would have of the same money differently spent.
What if what’s broken, by rough-handed regulators who won’t ignore “concerned citizen” protests, is not a window but the carbon-freeness of the production of an exajoule of heat, and it costs $1.6 billion to have miners mine the methane-and-radon that provides the carbon? Versus a $115-million uranium mining bill if the breakage had not occurred?
That makes $1.5 billion of so-to-speak broken window revenue. A royalty/severance tax rate of 18.75 percent, times $1.6 billion, gives government $300 million of it. Imagine how much phony citizen concern even a small fraction of that $300 million could buy.
From Mr. Kahn’s perspective as a journalist/reporter, I can understand the comment:
“Getting Californians to change their mind about nuclear is about like trying to convince people in Boston to root for the Yankees. There are better ways to spend your time.”
He is in the business of reporting what the landscape in front of him as he sees it not advocate any particular position.
However one thing is disconcerting.
Mr. Kahn is a reporter who is in the energy reporting business and I assume has spent considerable amount of time researching this and other energy articles. How can he not have run into historical accounts of anti-nuclear activism and its effects? I find that curious. Is it a case of tunnel vision regarding his current and next reporting assignment or a case of casting aside the effects of anti-nuclear politics as inconsequential?
The first is understandable depending Mr. Kahn’s backstory on how he started in the business of reporting on energy issues. The second possibility is not. Reporting on nuclear issues is no different then reporting on the business dealings of Chevron, Shell or the other large fossil fuel companies. Politics of oil is always part of the story for reporters even when reporting on the latest price swing of a barrel of oil. Politics of nuclear should be part of the reporting background as well. Both sides not just the anti side.
Of course that would require more activism on the part of the nuclear industry which seems to be doing its best to avoid political fights for a variety of reasons. Most of the reasons appear to be short sighted or even worse, some reasoning I have heard over the years has been based on the anti’s talking points.
It’s intriqueing seeing Rod’s approach, as opposed to the approach already manifesting itself in the comments. The knee jerk reaction is to see this reporter in an adversarial light. I believe Rod sees an opportunity, which is a bridge, while a couple of commenters see an obstacle, which is a wall. One can sssume this reporter, after his conversation with Rod, will examine this website.
So….will an opportunity be taken advantage of, or will the usual suspects, and others, attack and allienate a potential asset? After just three comments, the answer, unfortunately, is apparent.
You’d know all about adversarial, wouldn’t you, poa?
If POA really believes there is anything adversarial about my comment, he should explain how he can see it that way.
“Mr. Kahn is a reporter who is in the energy reporting business and I assume has spent considerable amount of time researching this and other energy articles. How can he not have run into historical accounts of anti-nuclear activism and its effects? I find that curious. Is it a case of tunnel vision regarding his current and next reporting assignment or a case of casting aside the effects of anti-nuclear politics as inconsequential?”
So, are you calling him dishonest, or just ignorant?
First, the comment you quoted is mine, not G.R.L. Cowan’s.
Secondly, reporters have deadlines and defined guidelines they are required to follow by their editors. A freelance reporter lives and dies by their relationship with editors, i.e., paymasters. No different then any other freelance fill-in-the-blank-here.
A story is pitched, both sides agree to the outline and the story is written, edited several times for content and length then published.
Mother Jones is not known to be friendly to nuclear power whereas they are known for supporting wind and solar, usually on the home scale. Therefore, I suspect Mr. Kahn had boundaries within which to write his article as agreed between him and his editors. Those boundaries can create a situation of tunnel vision. If the information he is digging up to write his article does not automatically fit within the boundaries then that information is either filed away for a possible future story or just not even considered as relevant.
Finally, through reading many energy related articles written by reporters and the subsequent follow-ups regarding those articles such as Rod does in this forum, I have learned there is a new generation of reporters who are not familiar with the politics of nuclear energy. They have not had the exposure. Therefore, they do not consider the politics. They understand the FUD of Three Mile Island or Chernobyl and now Fukushima but not the politics of a having an individual such as Jaczko running the NRC. In fact I have seen a different reporter, not Mr. Kahn, attempt to deny that politics is limiting growth of nuclear power and attributed the decline of US based nuclear power strictly to natural gas prices. That is a reporter in serious need of an education regarding the politics of our electrical generation and delivery system.
So if my comments come off as adversarial to you, then the context above should provide some background as to why I come across that way.
Mother Jones is so far to the left that they even fired Michael Moore back in the day.
POA – Which way do you see it?
Is this an opportunity to help an unbiased journalist tell a story? I hope he sees that often only one side of the story is being told. There are a lot of good facts scattered in the posts on this website.
Rod has enough source material for a good book.
I honestly think that rather than engaging in the Sisyphusian task of trying to win an easily scared public over to accepting 3rd gen nuclear plants, you may as well just try and build melt down proof 4th gen plants like Moltex Energy’s SSR that will bedevil opponents of nuclear energy.
I don’t think there is anyone here who is not a proponent of Gen IV nuclear. But have you any idea how long it will take to get the first one’s fuel cycle qualified, and the first prototype licensed and built? Assuming an easily scared public will allow them at all?
The climate crises is here now. Gen III nuclear is here now. The need to help an easily scared public better educate themselves about the urgency of the former and the safety of Gen III nuclear is here now.
Based on Chinese MSR progress (they are farthest and have a real big project team), I estimate 2035.
The issue then is the widely predicted much cheaper (>50%) alternative in 2030: wind+solar+storage (P2G, Battery).
While MSR’s cost price will be higher than LWR/PWR’s.
You may well be right. Thorcon, on the other hand, thinks they can do MSR before 2025 — perhaps well before — and cheaper than coal in volume production. We’ll see. Pretty much depends on what value we as a society place on reliable clean energy.
The most detailed study I’ve seen so far, the US Department of Energy’s Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States 2050 Report modeled P2G as the least cost storage in this country on the scale required. They selected three or four more-or-less representative scenarios for their integrated assessment model. The scenario with most wind and solar was the most costly. That with the most nuclear was the least. YMMV.
The Thorcon site doesn’t address the real problems. It’s PR. Shown by a.o. the one year for: “Build two module, 2 x 250 MWe Prototype. Long run non-nuclear tests.”.
French government agency ADEME compared 4 scenario’s for 2050: baseline and 95%, 80%, 40% renewable.
Their report (shortened English version) shows that 80% renewable is the cheapest solution.
Remarkably in line with:
– the 2050 German target of 80% renewable.
– the new nuclear reduction and renewable increase laws in France.
Eh, just what are the real problems? How do the nuclear reduction laws in France (and Sweden, and the US for that matter) address them?
Few main issues with MSR:
– There is no steel (yet? may be ceramics) which can operate decades with molten salt of ~700°C.
– No stable molten salt mix (yet?) which allows to lower the temperature towards 650°C (which would make Hastelloy N feasible). China has a special team for that.
Anyway, China misses its milestones despite being supported by USA/ORNL since 2011. For the status a year ago, check the presentation of O’Sullivan (at 3h20) at my university, Delft, NL.
We can conclude that Weinberg did a very good job with his MSRE team. Difficult to improve his results.
“How do the nuclear reduction laws … address them?”
I stated the French government ADEME report in response to your second paragraph, with its indirect link to the US PDDR.
I did that because the cost conclusions in the PDDR are strikingly different compared to many other reports, suggesting nuclear bias.
It shows that even France now seeks another solution.
It wasn’t I who brought up MSR. And as I said you may well be right. Or not — I have a bit more faith and experience with materials science types. The claim is the ceramic and alloy issues uncovered in the MSRE have been resolved. I wouldn’t know, but either way there is far more to Gen IV nuclear than MSR. We needn’t put all our eggs in one basket, and don’t. Nor in Gen IV at all, for that matter.
Generation III LWRs are certainly sufficient unto the next few centuries, though I personally doubt they’ll need be. Too much progress in fast neutron and high-temperature technologies.
Whether US Deep Decarbonization Pathways 2050 Report reflects nuclear bias or nuclear reality is a matter of objective analysis, nothing more. Whether our DOE conflicts with analysis done in France or Germany is completely irrelevant. I might as well claim that those studies reflect anti-nuclear bias more than economic reality. But not having read them I shall not do so.
For all I know the French study might have restricted its nuclear consideration to Areva/EDF as presently organized, while US DOE takes a somewhat broader perspective of our Gen III economics. Could make a difference.
Didn’t see DOE commitment regarding the Deep Decarbonization Pathways 2050 Report (DDPR)? How does the DDPR relate to the US NREL Future study report?
Seems that the NREL report is more in line with the ADEME report.
In past decade major price decreases of (solar, wind, battery, P2G). Those are widely predicted to continue (~5%/a). E.g. the Agora/Fraunhofer study predict 2-3cnt/KWh for PV-solar in insolation poor Germany in 2050.
Now new nuclear is already >2times more expensive. So new nuclear needs higher price decreases to become cheaper. Alas no indications, only dreams.
Hence my remark about nuclear bias regarding cost estimations in the DDPR.
“Few main issues with MSR:
– There is no steel (yet? may be ceramics) which can operate decades with molten salt of ~700°C.
– No stable molten salt mix (yet?) which allows to lower the temperature towards 650°C (which would make Hastelloy N feasible). China has a special team for that.”
This doesn’t apply to Thorcon. The entire Thorcon primary loop “can”—reactor, pump and heat exchanger—is designed to be recycled every eight years. The can generates power for 4 years, is taken off line and allowed to cool for 4 years, and then is shipped back to the factory and replaced with a new can. So the steel only has to weather 4 years of molten salt at 700 C, not decades.
That’s the whole Thorcon design philosophy: the rapid, throw-away recycling of the nuclear primary loop means you don’t need high-performance materials.
A curious question. and good. Interestingly, DOE’s Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States 2050 Report seemingly does not relate to NREL’s Our Renewable Electricity Future 2012 study. NREL is also a DOE national laboratory, authored that fairly extensive (800 page) 2012 report, yet were apparently not party to Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States 2050, a product of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (which has some connection to nuclear energy), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (which does not).
Rather, US Deep D 2050 appears to have grown out of methodology, models, and results published in 2011 by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of Maryland, and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Nuclear power does play a dominant role in the latter’s cost-optimized global economic models for greenhouse gas abatement.
I’ve commented (at some length) on the NREL report at The United States: Renewable Electricity Futures Study 2012, and more accessibly on the 2011 PNL/Maryland/PBL Netherlands EAA studies at The World: Pathways for Stabilization of Radiative Forcing by 2100.
As I see it the difference is this: despite having an optimized model and the requisite cost analysis, NREL made no attempt to find a least-cost solution to the carbon problem in the United States. NREL’s charge is — apparently — Renewable Energy only, and they specifically excluded new nuclear builds going forward in their optimization scenarios. Quite a bit can be gleaned from their volumes anyway, but I personally found Renewable Electricity Futures Study frustratingly incomplete.
They had their optimization programs and their cost models. Any particular reason not to lift the “no-new-nukes” constraint? Or publish the results if they did?
There are some other differences: NREL did not consider Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), as they felt the technology unproven and immature. Nor did they consider energy storage (beyond a 50% increase in domestic hydro) for the same reasons. These constraints are both valid within the bounds of the study.
Within those bounds our Renewable Electricity Future is constrained by availability of hydro and biomass: the 50% hydro increase is the maximum EPA thinks we can get away with, and would prefer 30%. The study calls for 15% U.S. electricity generation to come from biomass, the upper limit that DOE thinks feasible for their “high demand” scenario.
These things are relative. In the NREL study “low demand” projects a 7% increase in electric utilization; “high demand” 40%. The LBNL/PNNL Deep Decarbonization study authors held no such constraints: major use of CCS is considered in one of their scenarios, and two other reduction scenarios rely heavily upon Power-to-Gas: both hydrogen and synthetic methane. Their “high renewable” scenario held US nuclear to its present capacity, and in that respect closely (but not identically) resembles the earlier NREL study. “High nuclear” increased nuclear capacity to 40% of total generation which, without storage constraint, is found to double in all scenarios to meet society-wide demand for low-carbon energy.
The “no storage” capacity constraint isn’t really a shortcoming of the NREL study. Its what they chose to impose as a representative possibility and a simplification. Electric energy storage is gaining traction quickly, is going to happen, and is happening. The U.S Deep Decarbonization Pathways finds considerably more storage necessary for high renewables than “high” nuclear, with concomittant requirement for synthetic methane in addition to hydrogen in P2G, but this surprises no one. U.S Deep Decarbonization Pathways apparently considered only Gen III nuclear.
Other NREL results are the expected rise in net generation capacity as generation shifts from reliable high Cf fossil sources to intermittent low Cf wind and solar. Final electricity costs rise along with wind and solar.
The 2011 PNNL/Maryland/PBL NEAA doesn’t consider storage much either. But their GCAM is an optimizing model, and their optimum generation mix places wind and solar at about their capacity factor, again as one might expect. However, they do allow CCS on all carbon emitters — coal, gas, oil, and biomass — to take up the slack not filled by nuclear, which their optimization pegs at about 40% global generation in both their RPC4.5 and RPC2.6 scenarios.
This with their global assessment model projecting global electricity demand to quadruple by the end of the century.
That is a tall order. It is a very tall order if CCS does not pan out. Global climate action really does require careful consideration of all low-carbon resources if our mission is to succeed.
Study their WEB-site. I think that Thorcon made no real progress in the past year. But me be you can show differently?
In addition, I (other investors probably too) find Thorcon extremely risky:
1- No indication about how they will revive the reactors at the central facility. That can be more costly than a new reactor. Despite that they also know that this is important for the feasibility of their idea;
2- No indication of improvements compared to Weinberg’s MSRE of the sixties.
No better materials, etc. Neither an indication that they may use the TAP solution for the graphite poisoning, etc.
And Weinbergs MSRE is not suitable to run fully for >2years;
3- They look for a country without strict nuclear regulations. Apparently Canada is not pliable enough. So may be a banana republic. Don’t know how they think that they then can import their reactor in better regulated countries, such as USA.
3- Little nuclear engineering know how at the small team (ship building yes; so they may end up building ships). Do they employ anybody?
Why do you think that a reactor can be profitable when it has to written off in just 4years?
Would you buy from a team with so little nuclear know how, operating in a banana republic?
Well, in addition to a banana-friendly climate — just wait, the deep greens are working on it — and innovative policy process innovations toward tar sands, our northern neighbor does have a proven track record of producing low-carbon, low-cost, reliable electricity generation from locally-sourced designs and material.
1. OK, so we have established that your original criticism of MSREs upthread, that they require steels or other materials that resist 700 C molten salt for “decades,” does not apply to the ThorCon design.
2. “No indication of improvements compared to Weinberg’s MSRE of the sixties. No better materials, etc. Neither an indication that they may use the TAP solution for the graphite poisoning, etc”
They don’t need better materials. The ThorCon design philosophy is to use only materials that are already available, not to try to find improved materials. As you have tacitly agreed, they only need the steel and graphite to last 4 years under power. The MSRE ran almost two years at full power, much longer at partial power, and the Hasteloy N showed no significant corrosion.
3. Will the ThorCon be profitable? ThorCon thinks so, but who knows. They can find out by building them.
4. “They look for a country without strict nuclear regulations….Don’t know how they think that they then can import their reactor in better regulated countries, such as USA…..Would you buy from a team with so little nuclear know how, operating in a banana republic?”
To be honest, yes. A molten salt reactor is intrinsically quite safe. It operates at low pressure, and the fuel salt tightly binds all the radionuclides of concern–iodine, cesium and strontium.–so they cannot volatilize for an airborne release. It’s basically impossible to get a serious accident with an MSR. It’s hard to see much harm coming form one, no matter where you build it.
Then when they have a working model to test, that may smooth the path for licensing in the US, etc. Or not. Even if they only build them in banana republics, that will still have benefits for the climate and for electricity supply in banana republics.
“basically impossible to get a serious accident with an MSR”
That’s similar to the statements made in the sixties about PWR/LWR.
An attacker may think different about that.
Thanks for your response.
Let’s see whether Thorcon will produce something useful.
Sorry, saw that I put my response in the wrong thread.
” DOE’s Pathways to Deep Decarbonization … Report …” (DPPR)
I tried to find the relation of the PDDR with DOE but couldn’t find.
No DOE in the name, no DOE sponsorship or so stated…
Why do you think that it’s a DOE report?
“Any particular reason not to lift the “no-new-nukes” constraint?”
Based on the high costs & subsidies, NREL may have estimated that new nuclear won’t become significant.
Thank you for the explanation of the studies.
I’m looking forward to more recent studies which take the major price changes of the past 5 years, and expected price changes into account.
Thank you for your interest in Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States 2050. Indeed, from the frontispiece:
“Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States is published by Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3), in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).”
Lawrence Berkeley and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories are operated, administered, and largely funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, as is NREL. Particular laboratory projects and/or researchers might obtain funds from other sources as well. But here LLBL and PNNL are clearly listed as collaborators, while Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc is first author. I was remiss not to include them — thank you for bringing this to my attention.
The link to PBL Netherlands is there, just not so obvious. The paper I most cited, RCP4.5: a pathway for stabilization of radiative forcing by 2100 (Thomson et al. 2011) was written by authors at PNNL and University of Maryland. Most of that issue, Climatic Change (2011) 109, was devoted to a collection of papers submitted by various combinations of frequently the same authors. I was most interested in the results for RPC4.5 and RPC2.6, and cited the Thomson et al. RPC4.5 paper as it contained what I thought were the more informative figures.
Another article in the series, included in my references, is RCP2.6: exploring the possibility to keep global mean temperature increase below 2°C Detlef P. van Vuuren et al., with addresses
D. P. van Vuuren (*) : E. Stehfest : M. G. J. den Elzen : T. Kram : J. van Vliet : S. Deetman : M. Isaac : K. Klein Goldewijk : A. Hof : A. Mendoza Beltran : R. Oostenrijk : B. van Ruijven
PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, PO BOX 303, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
e-mail: detlef.vanvuuren AT pbl.nl
D. P. van Vuuren
Department of Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
The Thomson et al. RPC4.5 paper cites three others wherein Prof van Vuuren is principle author. So I consider the series to be a collaboration between authors at PNNL, University of Maryland, and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Hope that helps.
The NREL Renewable Electricity Futures study does not consider subsidies. None of these do. They are concerned with total societal costs. For whatever reason, REF 2012 does not consider new nuclear builds either. Not surprisingly, it was rather popular when published in this country.
I too look forward to new studies — particularly studies using the same basic assumptions and models as older ones for comparison — that include updated cost projections, both for wind and solar, as well as transmission, storage, natural gas, and nuclear. Price changes work all ways, and there is international interest in how future costs e.g. of AP1000 can be estimated as the first unit goes online in China later this year, and particularly as first U.S. construction completes late this decade.
There will also be more experience with export builds from Canada, Russia, China, Korea, France, and various Franco/US/Japanese consortia. Russia’s export program is looking pretty stable. The rest are fairly new – they’ll either match Rosatom offerings or they won’t. China’s first HTR-PM reactors should come online in 2018 and 2021. These will probably be the worlds first Gen IV reactors, and will open up new applications both for coal boiler replacement and for thermal energy storage should they prove successful. Mid-temperature (500 – 800 C) liquid-metal and MSR’s can also take advantage of thermal storage — solar salt reservoirs of the type deployed at Andasol — whenever we get around to building them.
Thanks for the extended explanation.
I forgot to mention how bad it is that these researchers didn’t check with more advanced countries regarding electricity infra. Such as Denmark and Germany.
They missed the spreading of virtual power plants (which produce cheaper with same high Danish/German reliability standards), which make these reports already obsolete.
Developed in Denmark (~2006), virtual power plants are one of the reasons Germany’s biggest utilities are moving fast out of the classic power plant business. The biggest, E.on separated the plants already into a separate company (Uniper) which it wants to sell this summer.
Until shown otherwise, It is not obvious how the concept of Virtual Power Plant differs substantially from the diverse generation sources and energy storages actually modeled by these researchers. It seems to me the VPP business model does no more (and hopefully not much less) than obtain a real-world optimization corresponding to the mathematical optimizations in the integrated assessment models. These folks do strive for their models to reasonably reflect possible future realities, for futures extending far further than the few years a VPP planner might reasonably project his own business capabilities and needs. (Without resort to such model projections, of course. And even there any given projected trajectory is based upon assumptions, not all of which might last over the projected time scale.).
As elsewhere, E.on either structures its business to operate profitably in the market environment it currently faces, or it does not remain in business. Energy markets are determined and structured by our respective societies to meet our perceived respective needs. None of them are “free”, and all are subject to change.
Virtual Power Plant (VPP’s) are no longer a concept. Check at Denmark and Germany. It’s highly relevant as it is predicted that those will end classic central power plants.
I believe that they, together with similar developments (power communities), will at least compete important part of the classic power plants off the market. Doubt whether the big ‘steam generator’ – ‘steam turbine’ – ‘electricity generator’ combinations will survive in Germany.
Probably only in a museum at the end of the century.
That combination is too expensive.
Honestly, the opponents of nuclear energy are not interested in safety. They are on an ideological crusade to remake society. Control or limit energy availability and you control people. Same with their war on the automobile.
Look at the nuclear waste disposal issue. The opponents are not interested in “solving” the issue as a solution would remove an obstacle to new nuclear development. Having spent fuel accumulate at reactors helps them make their point.
The nuclear industry would be much better off focusing on increasing the speed of construction deployment and reducing construction costs.
Good point about reducing costs. Not only for new construction but existing plants, to the extent possible. This is the issue that the anti-nukes are beating us with, and for proof of that just look at the closure of perfectly functional plants, Kewaunee, Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim, and Fitzpatrick. You can argue that CR3 and SONGS were broken, but there is nothing wrong with the plants I listed. Entergy is becoming the leader in plant closures with three of the four. On the new construction side, I am very concerned that Vogtle may go under if they have any more sticker shocks like the last one. And I’m not sure that SMRs with factory-assembled modules is the magic bullet, either, because those costs can easily balloon as well. The industry really needs to focus on delivering a product on time and at lower price. Easy to say, I know.
Impossible to do if the regulators are free to hold you up or require changes at whim. The hand of regulation needs to be backed off a long way.
Of the candidates running for POTUS (and theoretically able to alter the regulatory trajectory of the past several administrations), which one seems most interested in taking on that task?
Trump appears to be the most pro-nuclear candidate in the field. Cruz hasn’t said much and is from Texas which is fracking country.
Initially, I was very skeptical of Trump. As he broke one PC taboo after another and made some positive comments about the foolishness our “invade the world, invite the world” foreign policy, I warmed up to him.
Then he appeared before AIPAC and gave a speech that McCain, Graham or even Satanyahu could have delivered. The only way he could have outdone himself would have been to give the speech in Hebrew.
So now I am as skeptical about Trump as I was at the outset, if not more skeptical.
Sanders is the most anti-nuclear candidate in the race.
Fortunately for the nuclear industry, he hasn’t got a prayer.
But he’s also the candidate that seems most likely to be willing to listen and learn from people. He’s also the one who is most concerned about pollution, climate change, petroleum oligarchies, and the negative influence of the billionaire investor/banker class.
Rod – You’re kidding, right? Please tell me that you’re kidding.
Do you actually believe that the guy who honeymooned in the “workers’ paradise” of the Soviet Union and still today calls himself a “Socialist” is the one who is “most likely to be willing to listen and learn from people”?!
What in the world makes you think that?!! Heck … the guy can’t even learn from history.
Of all the candidates running, Bernie is in a dead heat with Cruz to be the most ideological candidate left standing.
So was Sanders listening to and learning from the “Yes Vermont Yankee” people? You do realize that they closed up a perfectly good nuclear reactor right in Bernie’s back yard, and Bernie is perfectly OK with that, don’t you?
The reason I call Sanders the most anti-nuclear candidate in the race is that part of his campaign platform calls for a moratorium — not on just new nuclear plants (which would be the status quo in several states) — but on all nuclear power plant license renewals. He wants to shut them all down.
Do you really think that he’s going to “listen and learn from people” enough to change that?
I have written a great deal about the saga of Vermont Yankee. One of the major culprits in that story was the incredibly tone deaf public relations effort of Entergy. There were so many ways they could have made friends and influenced people to successfully save the plant.
As far as I can tell, no one has actually approached Sanders with good reasons why supporting nuclear energy could help his program succeed.
The Soviet Union was never a worker’s paradise and was not at all what Marx expected or wrote about. It was an oligarchy raised out of the remnants of a czarist society used to taking orders from a ruling class. The Russian Revolution merely changed the names and the messaging of the people at the tip top of the hierarchy.
Sanders joined very heartily in the “celebration” of Vermont Yankee’s demise. That ruined the lives of many good, decent, hardworking families. Some of them are my friends and colleagues, and they have suffered significant hardships. Because he celebrated and found personal satisfaction in helping cause this outcome, I cannot support him.
Sanders is a phony. Technically, he is not a socialist as he has not called for public ownership of the means of production. It would be more accurate to say he is an extreme welfare statist.
While not as interventionist as most, he supported US involvement in the Balkans in the 90’s and backs MIC spending if it benefits Vermont.
He had a chance to support legislation that would have investigated the Fed, but supported a toothless alternative.
His economic policies will kill the economy which will do nothing for nuclear power even if he wasn’t so rabidly anti-nuclear.
Open borders and expand the welfare state – now there’s a great plan.
He preaches against racism and lives in lilly-white Vermont.
backs MIC spending if it benefits Vermont
Can you provide any additional information about this statement? From my own involvement with MIC budgeting, I have a difficult time recalling any spending in Vermont. There is very little in the way of defense infrastructure in the state, but perhaps I am forgetting something.
I’m also not sure how free public post-secondary education and a single payer health care plan will “kill the economy.” Scandinavian countries seem to be doing pretty well with similar policies. They’ve even done quite well in high tech, manufacturing and entrepreneurial endeavors on a per capita basis.
By the way, my grandmother, as a single parent, was able to send both of her daughters to the best public university in Florida without incurring any debt. Tuition at a state school wasn’t zero, but it was pretty darned affordable in the 1950s.
I cannot imagine how challenging it would be to begin a career with tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt. I’m thankful that the citizens of the United States paid for my education and that of my oldest daughter. I’m also grateful to the citizens of Florida for the “Bright Futures” scholarship that my younger daughter earned by doing well in school. Unfortunately, I think that program ended in an “austerity” measure.
Investing in educating citizens is an “expense” that pays huge societal dividends over many decades.
Well, when you come right down to it, Sanders is nothing more than your run-of-the-mill politician in that he panders to his base support. In Vermont, very few political figures survive today without the support of the “progressive” base. Both Shumlin and Sanders pandered to that when it came to running Vermont Yankee out of town. They still pander to that constituency. Sanders and Shumlin know that the progressives in VT wanted VY gone, and would stop at nothing to make that happen. Sanders and Shumlin toed the line when it came to that.
Rod – This entire conversation is reaching the academic level, since Sanders will be out of the race before too long. But just for the sake of completeness, let’s review …
For the record, we’re not talking about Entergy, we’re talking about Sanders. Let’s not confuse mistakes made by the former with pliancy of the latter.
Sanders is, by far, the most anti-nuclear candidate left in the race. His own platform on energy calls for shutting down the plants when their current licenses expire.
Where do you have any evidence that Sanders has changed his mind on anything?
This is not a matter of going and talking to him — because I’m absolutely sure that the gun control groups have been trying to make friends with him and influence him. I’m also sure that they have threatened him. Yet Sanders’s long-standing position (which I am sympathetic to, by the way) on guns and gun control has hardly changed from what it was before he started running for President, even though the Clinton campaign is hammering him in “Progressive” circles over this one issue. What’s more, this is the only issue on which he seems to have evolved in recent memory.
You have also written quite a bit about your hopes for Obama, but Obama’s legacy when it comes to nuclear power will be limited to shutting down Yucca Mountain and … that’s it. So please don’t give me any more “hopes and dreams” stuff. Plants are shutting down. People are being laid off. We’re tired of listening to hoping and dreaming about people like Obama and Sanders. At some point, you’ve got to cut bait. It’s time to get out of denial.
Of course, I have no hopes or worries regarding your ability to change your mind. I don’t write for that purpose.
You and I agree about the value of nuclear energy, but disagree about almost everything else. One of the primary differences between us is that I recognize that nuclear will never succeed if it is a partisan issue. As the UK has learned, it is an issue that can unite rather than divide when discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect for facts.
I will continue my efforts to help people who care about the climate, want to fight air and water pollution, want good jobs, good public education systems, and want a more equitable sharing of both the burdens and benefits of American citizenship/residency that nuclear energy scratches most of their itches.
No doubt that Obama was a disappointment, but he has helped move the discussion in the right direction and he has selected a number of well qualified NRC commissioners. Certainly not a dream achieved, but not a Clinton, Carter or Nixon nightmare for nuclear energy progress.
Bernie Sanders Loves This $Trillion War Machine:
Actually, gun control is one of the issues where Sanders has actually changed his mind. Or at least his public position which, for a politician, may not be the same thing.
When he only had to worry about Vermont, Sanders was somewhat ambiguous on personal ownership of firearms. Vermont is a very rural, White state with no large cities populated by a dysfunctional underclass. Sanders even supported legislation exempting firearm manufacturers from liability for guns used in violent crimes, suicides or accidental deaths. Sanders even may have had a “C” rating from the NRA – almost unheard of from a northeastern progressive.
Now that he is targeting (no pun intended) a much different constituency, he is far more hostile to Second Amendment concerns.
Rod – Pointing out the specifics of a candidate’s published campaign platform is not being partisan … it’s being evidence-based. I’m not the one making it a partisan issue. The politicians that you apologize for are the ones doing that.
Personally, I would rank your comments here as being far more partisan than mine over the years. I don’t have a political agenda; I’ll vote for a Republican or a Democrat, depending on the candidate. I can’t recall promoting a particular candidate in the comments here ever (readers should feel free to provide evidence to the contrary if they can find it). My comments are more along the line of “please don’t p-ss down my back and tell me it’s raining.” If I tend to be more critical of one side than the other, it’s because the criticism has been well earned.
FermiAged – That was my point. I would go further to say that it’s the only issue where Sanders has actually changed his mind.
Even after his pivot, however, he is still being criticized by the far Left for not changing his mind enough. I never, however, claimed that Sanders has earned an “A” from the NRA.
Pointing out the specifics of a candidate’s published campaign platform is not being partisan … it’s being evidence-based.
History indicates that campaign platforms for party nominations are rarely, if ever, actually implemented. They are evidence of the message that the candidate has chosen to express during the primaries in hopes of attracting enough support to gain the party nomination. Since candidates and their advisors know that party primary contests attract a small segment of the population – usually below 20$ of the voters registered for that party – the messaging is designed to appeal to the “likely voters” in the primary.
Sanders and his team have decided that a message offering both strong action to address climate change and action to close existing nuclear plants may appeal to enough voters, in combination with his other positions, to gain him the chance of earning a party nomination. In case the strategy does not result in victory, the next goal is most likely to be having an increased influence on the party’s position and perhaps an elevated position in the administration if his primary opponent wins the general election.
My goal now is to work diligently to finding a way to convince Sanders, his advisors, and his base that their goals of a cleaner environment and less risk from climate change will be much easier to reach if they overcome their carefully taught fear of nuclear energy.
I believe the possibility of achieving my goal is increased if that message comes from someone who already agrees with the majority of the other goals of the candidate and his followers.
“Personally, I would rank your comments here as being far more partisan than mine over the years.”
I had to laugh when I read that. Truth is, if there wasn’t Fox News, Brian wouldn’t have an opinion about anything. He’d be totally speechless.
“Then he appeared before AIPAC and gave a speech that McCain, Graham or even Satanyahu could have delivered.”
All the candidates have promised to bend over and send copious amounts of vaseline to the racist/fascist state of Israhell. That vaseline will be used to grease the further destabilization of the middle east, the end result being dead American service people, increased terrorism, further deterioration of our relationship with Russia, and a complete collapse of our credibility. If there is any one thing that completely lays waste to the myth known as “american values”, it is our corrosive, unethical, one-sided, and immoral relationship with Israel. If there is any bright star on the horizon, it is the fact that even an idiot won’t be dense enough to believe this crap about Israel being a “democracy”, now that Netanyahoo has flushed any prospect of a two state solution.
“To Battle Global Warming, We Must Pick Clean Energy As A ‘Winner'”
Author: Bernie Sanders
Venue: ClimateProgress (what is now part of ThinkProgress)
Date: Oct. 15, 2012
“The nuclear industry also benefits from massive corporate welfare. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service reports that the nuclear industry has received over $95 billion (in 2011 dollars) in federal research and development support in the last 65 years. Nuclear corporations currently have access to billions in federal loan guarantees to build new plants and enrich uranium. They also have federal tax incentives for mining uranium, producing nuclear electricity and even decommissioning a plant.
Perhaps most significantly, the nuclear industry would collapse tomorrow without a huge nuclear insurance program from the federal government. The Price-Anderson Act could, in the event of an American nuclear disaster, force taxpayers to pay out tens or even hundreds of billions in damage claims. Nuclear power is so risky that none of Mitt Romney’s Wall Street or free market friends will provide that type of insurance.”
So, Rod, it’s you against Joe Romm. I hope that you’ll forgive me if I put my money on Romm and his colleagues as the ultimate winners of this battle for Bernie’s brain. Far from a battle, the outcome has been completely predetermined.
If this is your goal now, then you are wasting your time — time that could be better spent doing something more useful. Just my two cents.
P.S. poa – My information comes from ThinkProgress, not Fox News, which I never watch.
On the issue of anti-car politics, how likely do you think that “smart growth” policies – promoted by environmentalists as a way to reduce automobile dependency – are really about limiting population growth by pricing people put of having families?
Very likely. As in raison d’etre likely.
What was the clue there?
(As in “what made you think that the real goal was pricing people out of having families rather than getting people to walk or use transit instead of driving”?)
I am very interested to know how the Japanese have managed to create cities which are far less dependent on automobiles than those of North America or even Western Europe, but without creating serious problems with housing affordability (which exist almost everywhere else where cities were high density).
I wonder if the utter devastation of Japan’s cities in World War II followed by an Occupation government committed to thorough land reform had anything to do with it…
Several policies have been pursued to reduce family size:
The women’s equality movement, family planning, the “zero population growth” mantra, tax policy for example. Currently, reducing carbon footprint is the selling point.
Further, cars are required to meet stricter fuel economy and safety standards far beyond what free market demand would have pushed for. These have raised the price of automobile ownership.
Each of these policies have been pushed by what we call “the left” or “progressives”.
Ironically, after years of decline in family size we are now told that the population is getting too old and we need immigrants to address future productivity and pension sustainability. I believe this is a deliberate policy to change the electorate as members of the Labor party in the UK has admitted. The failure to control borders in both the EU and the US is not an accident.
The situation in Japan is far different as they have very limited resources and land. They do what they do out of necessity. But also note that they do not take in many immigrants.
My point about Japan is that while many countries have pushed for high urban densities, only Japan has managed to do it while also keeping housing comfortably affordable.
And pointing out that the the left is enthusiastic about reducing family size does not prove my initial claim though, which is that “densify cities to make people less dependent on cars” is promoted by people who never expected to actually work and is just a trojan horse for driving up house prices (in order to price people out of having families), in much the same way that Rod Adams believes that “use wind and solar, not nuclear” is promoted by people who never expected to actually work and is just a trojan horse for entrenching dependence on natural gas.
I put another comment in, but I guess it’s in the bit bucket.
Information on Sander’s view re: Nukes
What is Bernie’s view on clean nuclear energy?
“Bernie has called for a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States. He believes that solar, wind, geothermal power, and energy efficiency are more cost-effective than nuclear plants, and that the toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology’s benefit. Ever the financial watchdog, Bernie has also questioned why the federal government invests billions into federal subsidies for the nuclear industry.”
Some of these politicians are not scientifically trained. Bernie Sanders went to school for political science. I really wonder if these guys are being supplied the right facts. How hard is it to contact his energy advisor(s), whoever he or she may be? Maybe, they are the ones to start with in altering a candidate’s viewpoint.
Just, what are these subsidies they are talking about? Is nuclear research a subsidy? Price Anderson is not.
“That achievement has made California the envy of other governments.”
The people that have to live under the California government, not so much.
Unless you are a government employee, an entertainment or silicon valley executive, an illegal alien or one of the state’s welfare clients, you are a non-person
It kinda cracks me up reading the comments here about California. I know exactly ONE person that shares these sentiments. He’s a recently arrived person from Ohio. He came here to find work, and found it. Yet he bitches constantly about California, liberals, and Obama. Not suprisingly, if you wanna know what he is going to say on any given day, all you have to do is turn on Fox News in the morning. He brags about the money he’s making, despite the fact that he “dropped out of school at fourteen, because they were just teaching me crap”. So, he spends his days bitching about California, repeating Fox News talking points by rote, trying to get through the day without vodka, and climbing the ladders in wind turbine towers. (He took a break from that just long enough to knock up his girlfriend, who has a fondness for meth.)
Me?? I’ve lived in Oregon, Hawaii, Idaho, and California. Guess where I decided to buy a home.
I have lived in California for 16 years. I currently work in South Carolina since SONGS closed. I maintain a residence in California. So I know what I speak of.
The aspects of California that I like have nothing to do with the government or it’s policies. To the extent that California can get away with what it does is largely because of the great climate and the legacy of the times before the state went over the deep end.
When I was a kid in Woodland Hills, there were days you could not see across the playground because of the smog. We had to stay in our classrooms, because it was simply too hard to breath outside.
Imagine a nation, if you will, that failed to address the problem, never created an EPA, and allowed corporations to police themselves. California may be making some mistakes, but I am proud to live in a state that has actually become CLEANER environmentally in the last fifty years. You don’t get there by allowing big business free rein.
I gripe about the AQMD, and the EPA, and their effect on the small business owner. Yet, when I apprenticed in furniture making, in Van Nuys, we weren’t subject to all the regulations pertaining to spraying finishes, saw dust collection, etc.. Guess what killed the owner/master of that shop? And he spent the last five years of his life carrying an oxygen bottle, and stopping to catch his breath every ten feet.
Yes, theres a middle ground. California hasn’t found it, perhaps. But which direction away from the middle ground do you really want to see us go? You’d like to see less regulation. People like Cruz, or Trump, would like to see NO regulation.
You have kids? What kinda place fo you want to leave to them?
I have no problem with regulation based in scientific truth and sound engineering judgment. I recognize that economics plays a role, but it should not be the dominant factor. What I object to is regulation based on FUD, political agendas, and personal pettiness. The current paradigm of regulatory ratcheting as a knee jerk response to related and unrelated events is also unhelpful and in many ways counterproductive.
The example of air pollution is a good one. There is no question that the public health impact of dirty air is significant and avoidable. Those of us in the nuclear power generation business have long advocated use of nuclear as a substitute for polluting energy sources such as coal and natural gas. The technology is available to us now and with a less burdensome regulatory regime it could be deployed faster and at lower cost. The public health benefits would be substantial.
I want to leave my progeny a world wherein clean and abundant energy is available and accessible at reasonable cost. Nuclear can play a role, perhaps a dominant one, in making that possible. I don’t think we’re going to get there with WWS alone, as some have advocated.
How about smarter, more rational regulation?
“How about smarter, more rational regulation?”
Great idea. Trouble is, our politicians are not interested. So what do you want, overkill, or no kill at all? Personally, I’ll take overkill. And really, when it comes to the current crop of scumballs vying for a chance to crap on the Oval Office rugs, thats your choices.
You need rational regulators to get rational regulations. We ain’t had either one for a very very long time.
My comment was written with that in mind.
R.L……You mistakenly assumed my comment was directed at you. You missed the words “couple of”. In truth, my post was put forth in the hopes I would head off a couple of posters who I was reasonably sure would attack the reporter. Pretty sure I succeeded. Although, I am sure neither one of them would admit it.
I don’t follow the reasoning. We don’t make electricity with oil. Nuclear does not compete with oil. One is used for transportation, the other to make electricity. The oil industry has no incentive to be critical of nuclear. Nuclear does compete with natural gas, so any company that deals with both oil and gas would have an incentive. Certainly, nuclear also competes with coal, which also has an incentive to bash nuclear.
Please point to an oil company that does not also extract and sell natural gas. Methane is just one of many hydrocarbon molecules that come out of wells drilled into the geologic formations that cook carbohydrates – from plant matter, plankton, etc – over time.
Most of the “majors” produce about 50% of their annual energy output in the form of natural gas. Some have made investments in LNG production and transportation infrastructure in the tens of billions. As shown by events in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, there is a very strong competition between nuclear and LNG in the far east. The artificially long nuclear plant shutdowns in Japan have enriched the LNG business to the tune of about $200 billion over the past five years.
All thermal power sources compete against each other. Cheap natural gas in the US displaces coal, which then looks for markets that might opened up by European nuclear plant shutdowns. Gazprom thought that their investments in Germany’s politicians like Gerhard Schroeder might produce returns in the form of increased gas sales from the Energiewende, but didn’t bank on the lignite miners figuring out a way to drive down the cost of carbon credits enough to allow them to steal that created market.
Nuclear can and does directly replace distillate fuel oil on board ships, it’s just that, so far, most of the nuclear powered ships are either military or icebreakers. That is not a technological choice, it has far more to do with politics. Please believe me when I tell you that there were some oily thumbs on the scales when the decisions about enabling commercial nuclear shipping were made.
Good points Rod with a few caveats.
I suspected that you meant natural gas when you say oil. Oil produces less than a single percent of our electricity. So, you may want to emphasize natural gas instead of oil. Maybe call them “oil and natural gas companies” to make it more clear.
Your point about shipping is a good one but I have to wonder if it isn’t cost that keeps nuclear mostly relegated to military vessels, considering that in Russia, where there isn’t really any strong anti-nuclear history, nuclear is also mostly for the military, and even then most military vessels don’t use nuclear.
And I’ve said this before, all competing industries seek “legal” ways to defeat competitors. If nuclear’s problems are largely the result of losing the lobbying and marketing wars, then they failed to lobby and market harder than their competitors.
Certainly fossil fuel interests can and do fund researchers that show a competitor in a non-favorable light, but nuclear could legally do the same. I find it very hard to believe that fossil fuel interests are paying environmental organizations to be antinuclear, and if they were, then why couldn’t nuclear do the same? I’m also unaware of any pro-fossil fuel environmental organization.
I think the problem is with misinformed antinuclear environmental groups with lots of assist from a lay press looking for scary headlines to sell copy.
The Sierra Club’s being caught out accepting natgas millions from … was it Chesapeak Energy? Something like that … certainly qualifies it. A plain-spoken pro-fossil-fuel stance just isn’t the way these things are done.
Through the royalty/severance tax mechanism, government is one of the fossil fuel interests that make life easy for antinukers and difficult for us. Finley must figure out for himself how much government income is in play.
Chesapeake with an ‘e’, a third ‘e’. http://science.time.com/2012/02/02/exclusive-how-the-sierra-club-took-millions-from-the-natural-gas-industry-and-why-they-stopped/
Thanks for that link. I recall that kerfuffle.
After rereading that TIME article, it is obvious that at one point (but certainly no longer) the leadership was pro-natural gas on the grounds that it’s a lot cleaner than coal. Apparently, they didn’t bother to ask the dues paying membership what they thought. The fact that they didn’t disclose that funding is all the evidence needed that this was a case of money corruption. They fixed that but I still really don’t care for the Sierra Club, primarily because of their continued culture of deception along with their antinuclear stance.
We are just starting to see a split in environmental organizations that are pro and antinuclear. It isn’t illegal for pronuclear groups to be funded by nuclear interests (or any interest) anymore than the antinuclear groups being funded by renewable interests. Both should disclose of course in the name of transparency. The PR problem in both cases is that critics will always view such funding as a form of bribery and source of bias, even conspiracy, but I don’t know how you get away from that.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed the rather enormous gulf between the cash flows of oil and gas companies and those of nuclear companies. You might not have noticed that pure nuclear play companies are almost as rare as hen’s teeth. The big money in the business is made in operations, but most of the operating companies own multiple types of power plants and really don’t favor one fuel over another.
“Transparency” is not a characteristic sought by most businesses. Large, high cash flow non-profit organizations have very successfully lobbied to protect their donor lists from public scrutiny with the argument that they should be able to protect their donors from being annoyed by pitches from other “development” organizations.
Since they do not have any interest in revealing who provided their funding and what kind of return on investment the funders suspect, I think it is fair game to use circumstantial evidence and deductive reasoning to help reveal potential confluence of interests.
The man who actually made the donations to the Sierra Club, Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon, was a “larger than life” promoter who lived hard, played by his own rules, and recently crashed and burned the day after being indicted.
I don’t understand this comment at all.
Much of the world electricity supply circa 1973 came from burning oil. The fossil-fuel power plants which France replaced with fission? Oil-burners, many of them. The fossil-fuel power plants that Shoreham was to have replaced? Oil-burners, most of them, & the biggest chunk of Long Island electricity comes from oil to this day, leaving a visible yellow haze.
Similarly, nuclear electricity can be used as a substitute for oil. Heat in the Northeast, which could be provided by a combination of heat pumps & resistance heating if electricity were more abundant, is provided in very many homes by oil — and that doesn’t address the possibility of nuclear schemes combining electric generation with district heating. Any time a locomotive runs under the wire instead of on diesel oil, that’s substitution. Any time an automobile runs on current originally obtained from a wall socket, instead of on gasoline, that’s substitution.
Are there limits to the substitutibility of one form of fuel for another? Certainly! I don’t expect to see fission-powered aeroplanes, to be honest. But fission-powered ocean-going ships, I can see whenever I wish.
By competition, I was referring to the competition to make electricity. Heating with electricity, regardless of source, is much more expensive in the Northeast. This is a case where heating oil has defeated electricity on economic grounds for heating, not the production of electricity. Much of their electricity comes from nuclear, but it is still more expensive than oil. Even where I live, where the electricity rates are some of the lowest in the country, natural gas is still cheaper for heat than heat pumps.
Seem like there is no longer a consensus for the 97% consensus.
Here is a link to the “2016 National Survey of American Meteorological Society Member Views on Climate Change: Initial Findings”
There never was a “consensus”. It was a PR technique, a combination of appeal to authority and the bandwagon effect.
I believe the original article pushing the “consensus” was based upon a survey articles in climate journals. The claim is that the journals are peer reviewed. All this means is that the articles are reviewed and considered to meet the standards of the journal. It does NOT mean that they are correct or even relevant or reproducible.
The fact is that the “peers” are selected based on their positions on the issue. There was some discussion of this in the “Climategate” e-mails where the climate scientists wanted to make sure papers from certain authors would be rejected.
In a less politically charged field, we are seeing many instances of fraud in medical journals with many papers having to be retracted. Here the motivation is personal pride and pharmaceutical corporation profits.
“Few main issues with MSR:
– There is no steel (yet? may be ceramics) which can operate decades with molten salt of ~700°C.
– No stable molten salt mix (yet?) which allows to lower the temperature towards 650°C (which would make Hastelloy N feasible). China has a special team for that.”
Molten salt in steel technology is already in use at solar thermal power stations in the US and Spain:
Molten fluorides or chlorides capable of holding U and Th in solution are different beasts from molten nitrates used for heat storage.
I thought molten fluoride and chloride salts capable of holding U and Th had already been created and tested in the molten salt reactor experiments in the 1960s?
“The MSRE’s piping, core vat and structural components were made from Hastelloy-N and its moderator was a pyrolytic graphite core. The fuel for the MSRE was LiF-BeF2-ZrF4-UF4 (65-29-5-1), the graphite core moderated it, and its secondary coolant was FLiBe (2LiF-BeF2), it operated as hot as 650 °C and operated for the equivalent of about 1.5 years of full power operation.”
“My goal now is to work diligently to finding a way to convince Sanders, his advisors, and his base that their goals of a cleaner environment and less risk from climate change will be much easier to reach if they overcome their carefully taught fear of nuclear energy.”
Mr. Sanders will still be serving in the Senate. After his quite successful endeavor of running for president, he should be an influential voice in this country.. Mr. Adam’s goal of convincing Mr. Sanders and his supporters about how nuclear energy is a primary tool to combat climate change can be of great benefit to the future development of safe clean nuclear power.
I hope one of his advisors reads this blog.
They might, but I don’t think it will make any difference, they’ll still be as anti-nuke as they are now. Why? Two reasons. First, they know they’ll get more votes being anti-nuke than pro-nuke. Second, they’ll get more money being anti-nuke than pro-nuke. In politics, its all about money and votes. Doing the right think rarely enters into consideration.
I’m not sure that is true these days. I think it would be very easy to lump nuclear in with a pitch for clean energy. I think there is a shrill minority that gets excited about being anti-nuclear and the public sees this. Although it has been squashed in the past few years, I think the American spirit is one that wants to see the progress of man. Nuclear power is one example of that progress. I think a wise politician could use it to actually get more support. The fire of people imaginations are waiting to be kindled.
I’m not sure about that. The generations that admired and in some ways lived the dream and the American Spirit are dying out. Go talk to randomly selected groups on almost any college campus today and you will be shocked at the lack of understanding of even the simplest things. The American Spirit is being displaced by generations of gimmedats whose imaginations are limited to how to elect the candidate who promises the most free stuff. And of course they haven’t a clue as to how a power system works or what works in one. They have been conditioned to respond to the dog whistle of “clean energy” as being restricted to WWS, and anything else is dirty and they don’t want anything to do with it.
When was the last time you were on a campus? How many students did you talk to?
My experience is completely different. BTW my answers for the above questions are last Thursday and 35.
You beat me by a day. I had to teach two classes on Weds. with a total of about 60. Didn’t ask each one but got a pretty good feel talking with small discussion groups after the sessions. These are honors students doing a mock UN conference on climate change. My sessions have to do with energy sources and options for meeting decarbonization goals. It simply amazes me that no matter where we try to direct the discussions and keep it focused on practical options for both near and long-term goals, the only thing they keep coming back to is WWS. I’d swear Mark Jacobson was lurking around somewhere. When I pushed them for specifics they generally fall back on slogans and one-liners, things like “We’re making nuclear waste now, why add to the problem?” Some of them will try to come up with various summary statements that are always watered down and lacking in both vision and specifics. When we point out that doing such makes their statement weak and ineffective, its like, well, that’s the best we can do. Very discouraging, I’ll tell you. Makes me want to come out of retirement just to slap some sense into these kids.
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