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  1. Under FDR during the Depression and after World War 2 and into the 50’s and 60’s a number of policies were pursued that were designed to favor the working man. That is the reason a very large middle class developed in the US. Starting with the Reagan revolution of 1980 that process began to reverse. Today, increasing political power is held by the executives of the finance, health care, pharmaceutical, and fossil fuel industries. They seem to have little concern for the welfare of the country as a whole (in my opinion).

  2. How much of the problem is rooted in the “bottom line for the quarter” syndrome? Years ago (50’s – 60’s) utilities (and I believe, but do not know with the certainty I do for utilities, most large companies) owned their vehicles and were “self insured” (had a trust fund large enough to cover state mandated vehicle insurance requirements.) The “bottom line for the quarter” accounting convinced executives that it was better for at the end of each quarter to lease that needed car or truck and get an immediate tax write-off. And later they were convinced that it was better to buy insurance so that they could spend that large trust fund rather than borrow money. I know one utility that does no preventative tree trimming, only fixes the problem when the “power goes out.” All of these actions may help the “bottom line for the quarter,” but they do not help the overall health and wealth of these large companies. How much wealthier will you be 20 years from now if you lease your car(s) for the next 20 years? Only if you want a new car every 2 to 3 years does it even start to decrease your expenses, but how much better off are you if you buy that car and then keep it for ten plus years? And better yet, save up and pay cash for that new car?
    DO THE MATH!
    A 1000 mW Nuclear power plant costs $5 Billion. At $0.05 per kWh, the plant makes over a million dollars per day! That means they will earn over 9% of the plants cost per year, year after year after year. And, guaranteed in most states. Where can you invest and get nine to ten percent guaranteed for the next 20 years? That is why they invested in it in the 60’s and 70’s. Even if they only netted $0.03, it would still be close to 6%! But the biggest problem now is the uncertainty of regulation aggravated by all of those plants that gave up the fight after TMI-II. We are already buying nuclear power from Canada and Mexico. Soon we will be buying more. Will Cuba be next? It is only 90 miles away, not that far for an underwater transmission line, and their plants will not cost $5 Billion or have operating costs as high as ours.

  3. Rod Adams wrote:
    Though I tend towards the libertarian point of view and do not favor government giveaways to already wealthy corporations, I think that the only way that a country becomes strong is to work together to accomplish important tasks. This sometimes puts the government – as OUR representative – into the role of being an enabler that provides access to the capital resources required for large projects. It is time to fight back against those who use philosophical arguments for the “free market” as a weapon against the intelligent cooperation that will produce a resuscitation of the nuclear plant construction industry.
    Rod, I am of similar thought. I would rather have the “free market” lead in the construction of new nuclear power plants and investors shoulder the risk. However, we have government at many levels putting obstacles in the way of the development of nuclear power, from the NRC not staffing up sufficiently to approve new reactor designs and operating licenses, down to state and local officials mandating things like cooling towers for nuclear plants presently using river water for cooling (while letting nearby coal-fired generating plants skate on this requirement). And we have seen government shut down perfectly good nuclear power plants, just as they were ready to start up, e.g., Shoreham. Of course, all of this was done in the name of representing us, the citizens.
    The net result of these government actions is that risk and fear has been added to the investment environment surrounding nuclear power. Small wonder then that many investors avoid this part of the market, or demand extraordinarily high returns. Energy needs to be reliable and inexpensive. Similarly, investors are willing to accept “inexpensive” (lower rates of return) if they know that the return is reliable.
    At this point, the only way to reduce the risk and fear put into the marketplace by government is for government to take direct action to reduce risk and fear. One way is for governement to guarantee loans. This looks a lot like spending money, which is something that government knows how to do really well. At least with this, government has skin in the game. This is a short-term fix. The better fix is to change those things that put risk and fear into the market in the first place. This is much harder to do. But these changes will be necessary so that nuclear energy sources can provide a much larger percentage of ALL our energy needs, as it must in the long run.

    1. If I may add, there is also the need to have heads of Agencies who actually know something about and can clearly explain to the public what the technologies can and cannot do, what risks are realistic and which ones are ridiculous fear-mongering, what the economic-physical-moral need there is for additional reliable energy, and to put these things in perspective.
      People tend to fear what they do not understand, so we need to communicate in terms they do understand. For a politician or bureaucrat, that takes courage to work with competing interests for the overall good of society. I have a mock fuel pellet of uranium from NEI on my desk that reminds me of the tangible superiority of atomic power over oil, coal and natural gas. Would like to see what that same fuel pellet would look like if made of Thorium.

      1. @Doc – the fuel pellet card that lists the energy equivalents uses todays burn-up achievements as the basis. Both thorium in thermal spectrum and U-238 in a somewhat faster spectrum have the ability to be fuel. All of the heavy metal isotopes release essentially the same energy per fission, so the key is getting most of the atoms, vice just 4-5% of them, to fission.
        With closer to ideal burn-up you can just multiply the numbers on your card by the improvement. If you double burn-up, double the numbers. If you somehow achieve perfection, you can multiply the numbers by as much as a factor of 20.

      2. “Would like to see what that same fuel pellet would look like if made of Thorium.”
        Don’t say that to a thorium reactor enthusiast! They will probably tell you that the thorium is in a liquid form (as a liquid salt), not in the shape of a pellet.
        Actually, most of the thorium that has been used in commercial nuclear reactors was in the form of tiny particle fuel (little spheres about the size of a poppy seed). So you can just get a jar full of poppy seeds to get an idea of what the fuel would look like.

        1. @Brian – at least some of the thorium that has been used in commercial reactors in the US was in light water fuel pellets. I am aware of the Ft. St. Vrain and THTR experience (high temperature gas reactors using those tiny particles that you describe – though they were compressed into other shapes before being put into reactors). However, thorium was also used in Indian Point Unit I and in the final core of the Shippingport reactor. Both of those plants used fuel that looked an awful lot like LEU and had pellets that were approximately the same size and shape as standard commercial fuel pellets.

          1. “Both of those plants used fuel that looked an awful lot like LEU and had pellets that were approximately the same size and shape as standard commercial fuel pellets.”
            Yes, I’m aware of these experimental setups, but is anyone proposing to use thorium this way in a modern reactor, even a reactor concept?

            1. @Brian – there is a company whose name is now Lightbridge, formerly known as Thorium Power. That company was started in 1992 by Al Radkowski (among others), the engineer who led the Shippingport Light Water Breeder Reactor project.
              http://www.ltbridge.com/company/history
              The company is currently testing thorium based fuel elements in Russian reactors and has been doing that for several years. As you probably know, it takes a long time to qualify new fuel designs to the satisfaction of the regulators, so the company is also “keeping the lights on” by providing consulting services. One of its key customers for those services is the UAE.
              This is a bit more than a proposal and is actually quite a bit more physically real than most of what you can read about thorium from the visionaries.
              Though I am not fully versed in the details, I am pretty sure that there are some Indian heavy water reactors that have thorium in at least some of their fuel bundles in operation today.

    2. > One way is for government to guarantee loans. This looks a lot like spending money, which is something that government knows how to do really well.
      Loan guarantees are not “spending [govt] money”, they are the opposite: the company which applies for a loan guarantee has to spend its private money to get the loan guarantee. The government only spends money if the investor defaults – in another words, government has an incentive to get the plant operational and to stay away from any monkeying.

      1. I guess I didn’t get my point across clearly. I did not say loan guarantees were spending money, I said it “looks a lot like spending money”. That is, authorizing loan guarantees is much like other legislation that does spend money, hence it is something that congress does easily and often (too often for my taste). Loan guarantees are an unfortunate necessity to help fix an uncertain investment climate that government had a hand in creating in the first place. But there is still plenty of hard work that needs to be done to reform the regulatory environment. The meat of this does not “look like spending money” (though more money may need to be spent), so I expect this to be a much more difficult task for congress.

  4. Rod: I agree with some of what you have to say here, and you know that I stand before no one in my belief in the technical superiority of nuclear energy. But I frankly think you go astray on a few points.
    First, we aren’t even close to a true free market in the energy sector, given the fact that some sources (like coal) can simply dump their waste products in the environment for free, while nuclear must maintain a far more stringent standard. Further, no other energy-producing sector is regulated nearly with such stringency – again, hardly the mark of a free and open market.
    Finally, with regard to the “Wall Street Investors,” ask yourself where they are putting down money, and chances are it’s where there is substantial federal subsidies already: wind and solar. That is, federal dollars artificially depress the price of these energy technologies; do you think investors would touch these projects with a ten-foot pole were it not for that?
    There’s another issue at work here too, one which I think gets less attention than it should, and that’s the issue of cost and regulatory uncertainty involved in nuclear projects, thanks in large part to the ability of intervenors to delay or shut down projects. Lots of investors have lost their shirts thanks to such moves – it’s hard to blame them for being skittish now.
    What all of it comes down to for us though is the cost of capital; and while we can complain about things, the fact is if we want to see nuclear succeed in a free market, we need to find innovative ways to drop that cost, regardless of how much the thumb’s been put on the scale against us up until now. SMRs are one way, and maybe costs will drop on Nth of a Kind builds, but I feel like this is the greatest challenge of our industry – something that needs to happen across the board. While relying on government loan guarantees might get some projects built now, the only long-term way we’re going to thrive is to be able to accomplish these kinds of capital cost reductions.
    I further think it’s a mistake though to try and tie together the idea that an anti-nuclear agenda is inextricably tied to free-market ideology. While I agree that Mr. Taylor of Cato is inordinately close-minded about nuclear (and we can debate whether this is the result of an unstated bias for fossil fuels or simply short-sightedness), this is not the whole or representative of any real ideology than his own.
    I do find it ironic that the anti-nukes have suddenly taken to trotting out free-market arguments in against nuclear, when in fact these argument crush any preferred energy source they may have. If we leave the cost of CO2 and other emissions fixed at zero (which again is a massive subsidy), what kind of plants do you think will get built? Hint: not solar.
    My rambling aside, I guess my point is that I would caution against somehow blaming the free market (and its advocates) and immediately proposing the government step in to fix things, when we need to improve our own ability to compete. This is particularly so given the fact that nuclear, despite being in both of our opinion one of the most cost-effective means of combating global warming and meeting rising energy demands, isn’t as “sexy” to public as so-called “renewables”; in that sense then, the government is at best an unreliable ally. Better yet for us to identify what regulations unnecessarily raise costs with little to no safety benefit, and then work on lowering capital costs on our end such that we can compete even on what will always be an uneven playing field.

    1. @Steve:
      I do not think we disagree very much. However, I think you might be overlooking what has proven to be the very best way to reduce capital costs in other industries – actually building and gaining experience that can be then rolled into efforts that improve the process. The nuclear construction industry should be a lot better off this time than it was during the first Atomic Age; there are hundreds of design and process innovations that have been developed during the past 30 years.
      I am not advocating for handouts – loan guarantees are a hand up, a way for the government to provide some needed lubrication for transactions that many people want to have happen. The result will be good jobs, high quality, durable production assets, and cleaner power generation that relies on a virtually inexhaustible fuel source.
      In my post, I am not “blaming” free market advocates, I am merely trying to point out the slightly amusing situation where Jerry Taylor of Cato and Tom Cochran of NRDC end up sounding the same, even though they are traditionally from opposite ends of the political spectrum. You and others still disagree with me, but I maintain that the best logical explanation for that seeming contradiction is that both CATO and NRDC have supporters who have no real ideology other than maintaining the wealth and power provided by modern society’s addiction to fossil fuel.
      Only fission has the power to break that addiction because of its technical superiority. Efforts to promote wind and solar energy sources come from either technical illiterates or they come from cynical efforts to make money by taking advantage of government subsidies while not substantially threatening the market dominance of gas and oil. (The coal industry is probably right in claiming that efforts to reign in CO2 emissions is often sponsored by competitors in the wind&gas industry.)

    2. Steve – You have hit on a couple of points that I would have brought up myself, if you hadn’t have beat me to it.
      Anyone claiming that the energy sector constitutes a free market is participating in a pointless exercise in self-delusion. The truth of this pitiful situation is that participation by Wall Street consists almost exclusively of shameless rent seeking. Who cares what the guys on Wall Street think, unless you are looking for the next scam?
      Nevertheless, I understand and completely appreciate the point that Rod was trying to make, that when it comes to this particular point, both Jerry Taylor of CATO and Tom Cochran of NRDC are singing the same song.
      I would like to point out, however, that the similarity ends there. While I don’t agree with the CATO Institute’s take on this issue, I can at least respect it, because it is consistent. I think that if you were to ask any of the CATO Institute’s scholars what they think should be done, their answer would not be to get rid of nuclear power. They would most likely answer that the best course of action would be to get rid of strangling over-regulation and government interference that plagues the industry, so that nuclear can compete on the basis of its own strengths and weaknesses. (Jerry Taylor, however, might be an exception to this — he seems like a bit of a hard case — and I realize that CATO has a history of turning a blind eye to the special treatment that fossil-fuels receive from the government.)
      Meanwhile, the NRDC are simply a bunch of slimebags who will say anything to advance their cause du jour or to promote the various interests of their sponsors. Rod has done a good job of exposing some of the hypocrisy of this organization, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.

      1. @Brian – If you go back and read some of the public discussions that I had with Jerry Taylor, you will find that he does not agree that the nuclear industry is over regulated or that those regulations put it at a competitive disadvantage to the fossil fuel industry.
        In other words, though I will not use the pejorative language that you used, there is NO intellectual consistency in Cato’s position any more than their is in that of the NRDC. BOTH of them appear to be doing whatever they can to promote the various interests of their sponsors and BOTH of them appear to have at least some of the same kinds of sponsors.
        The sponsors might claim to hold hugely divergent ideological positions with regard to the popularly discussed “right versus left”, but both of those “sides” who are wealthy enough to invest some of their cash into well promoted think tanks share a common desire to make more money for themselves at the expense of most of the rest of us.
        Yes, I do realize that I am treading on a “class warfare” discussion. As a guy who was born in the 1950s (just barely) to two parents who grew up without two pennies to rub together, I have seen a lengthy period of silent warfare conducted by the rich against those working class Americans who enabled them to be rich by both working hard at keeping the country running and by spending their moderate incomes on cars, homes, boats, electronic gear, second homes, and even private airplanes. (When I was a kid in the late 1960s, I remember having three neighbors who kept a little Cesna at the airport that was only 4 blocks from our house. One ran an auto repair shop, one was a mechanic at Eastern Airlines, and one was a pilot at National Airlines. My dad (a midlevel engineer) and at least two other neighbors owned second homes in the western NC mountains. Very few of the moms on that block worked outside the home; mine was a substitute teacher until my youngest sibling entered middle school and then she went back to full time. At least five people on the block had speed boats and took them out nearly every weekend.)
        The situation that we currently have took a long time to develop, and it developed with active participation by both the “right” and the “left”, but how many people with those kinds of jobs can afford private airplanes, speed boats or second homes with a single wage earner in the house these days? That is the middle class America that I remember and the one that came about from good education systems, solid pay for technical workers, and a progressive income tax system.

        1. @Rod: Again I think you’re running up against my point. Jerry Taylor is not the whole of Cato (aside: despite their logo, the name is not all-caps, i.e., it’s not an abbreviation). Having some familiarity with other scholars involved with them, each tends to get a wide amount of discretion within the bounds of operating within a libertarian value framework. (This includes their work on social as well as economic issues).
          I actually had a private go-round with Mr. Taylor following the original dust-up on this blog, and while I found him to be inordinately close-minded to the idea of nuclear being competitive (and generally not disposed to the idea that any further elements of the regulatory regime are limiting nuclear energy development), I didn’t get the impression that he was reflexively anti-nuclear as much as that he was rigidly convinced that nuclear was an economic non-starter; i.e., incapable of being competitive. I did manage to extract the (small) concession from him that he would be happy to see nuclear thrive absent government support, although with the quite heavy caveat that he believes this is unlikely to occur.
          Again, this may be to short-sightedness on his part, or may very well be due to a heavy bias in favor of fossil energy sources. My point, however, is that it is a mistake to assign this entirely to his home institution, when I think Brian raises a solid point; chances are if you found someone other than Mr. Taylor and you asked them what to do about nuclear energy, they would tell you what Brian said, which is to identify and eliminate government regulations as well as drop subsidies for all energy sources. (Mr. Taylor is of the belief that the former has already happened, when questioned, but otherwise generally agrees with the latter, although he doesn’t operate under the belief that fossil sources receive a significant implicit or explicit subsidy). In that sense, there is a small degree of daylight between Cato and NRDC (as well as RMI, which has also been pushing this line of argument for some time); it shows, for example, how wildly inconsistent the latter are.
          My point in harping in this @Rod is not to give you a hard time or search for an area of disagreement, but to make a point over strategy in nuclear advocacy. I believe we can win free-market advocates over, and there are those who already champion nuclear (such as Heritage). It requires the ability for us to adapt and rise to their objections however, and being able to answer them on their own terms. Again, I think nuclear has a much greater capacity to succeed in the free market compared to other “low carbon” sources like solar and wind – and I think this intersection is of nuclear’s greatest strengths in the modern era.

          1. @Steve:
            I recognize that most others involved in the energy policy discussion do not agree with my own strategy. I am not running a large organization or setting any policies, so I have a bit more freedom to discuss ideas.
            It is my contention that nuclear energy will never gain many fans among producers that focus on other energy sources. It might gain some grudging respect, but I think of fission as being about as welcome (by other energy producers) as Shaquille O’Neill would be in a kindergarten basketball league.
            I also believe that Taylor is not “biased”; he is a tool of the fossil fuel industry because his institute is a tool for at least the Koch Industries portion of the fossil fuel industry. That’s okay; fabulously wealthy and power people have the right of free speech. I just think it is worth following the money and considering whether their interests deserve to be my interests.
            When it comes to energy policies, can you tell me who else speaks for Cato if it is not Taylor, Peter Van Doren and Patrick Michaels? I just looked at their 2009 Handbook for Policy Makers. In the entire energy section, the word “nuclear” came up exactly twice. Here are the two instances in that 18 page document: http://www.cato.org/pubs/handbook/hb111/hb111-43.pdf
            Congress should
            . . .
            “repeal subsidies for all energy industries, including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energies of all kinds;”
            . . .
            “transferthemaintenanceofthenuclearweaponsstockpilefrom the Department of Energy to the Department of Defense and privatize the national laboratories;”
            Both of those are on page 443 (page 1 of the energy policy section).
            It was “Prepared by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren”
            Here is some additional reading that indicates that Taylor is certainly not alone in his views about nuclear at Cato and that Cato’s position on nuclear has been pretty consistently negative for many years.
            http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=4290
            http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8792
            http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/a-comeback-for-nuclear-power/#peter

            1. @Rod: Not really sure where you’re going with this one, other than the fact that Jerry Taylor has been at Cato for a long while and hasn’t really changed his talking points. Or for that matter, his sources: he’s been quoting the same energy economist (and in some cases, the same study even) for nigh on five years. I don’t think Mr. Taylor’s antipathy toward nuclear, at least in regard to its economic competitiveness – is exactly an unknown in this discussion.
              But the links you bring out are all either A) Authored by Mr. Taylor, or B) Co-authored by Mr. Taylor and his colleague Mr. Van Doren. I’m not exactly seeing how this represents a broad consensus at Cato, when all of your links show a single common denominator. Further, the first quote you post pretty much says what myself and @Brian predicted; so again, I’m not sure where you’re going with this one.
              The quibbles one might have are that 1) Mr. Taylor takes an unreasonably pessimistic view of future nuclear cost estimates, 2) He takes unreasonably optimistic views of natural gas costs, 3) He takes unreasonably low estimates of a carbon price.
              I believe #1 can be corrected both by setting a track record of success within our industry and with education. #3 is what it is, alas. His unreasonably low number aside, his solution is fairly neutral: put a price on carbon and let the chips fall where they may. I believe that with some work on trimming capital costs, we can succeed on those terms. In that sense then, Mr. Taylor’s objections become moot.
              On that note, I don’t buy this idea of a Koch-funded conspiracy, seeing as Cato also does very excellent work on other matters such as civil liberties, economic liberty, etc. – if Cato were simply an astroturf operation designed to advance the narrow economic interests of a wealthy family, supporting such a wide variety of matters ancillary to these interests – and in some cases, even possibly antagonistic (i.e., in terms of corporate welfare) doesn’t make a lot of sense.

              1. @Steve – noting that a large, wealth oil family invests in Cato does not indicate that I am proposing that there is a “conspiracy”. Koch has every right to spend their money advancing their philosophy of strict individualism and no collective responsibility. I just do not agree with it. Their wealth has been seriously enabled by the social policies that enabled the American middle class to develop after the Depression and WWII (with the GI Bill funded educational expansion and the industrial capacity built for war fighting at public expense.)
                You are correct that the documents that I linked to were all authored by Taylor, but you did not answer my question – who else at Cato speaks for the organization on energy. The handbook for policy makers is a Cato publication, not a Taylor written paper.
                I maintain that the positions taken are not simply unreasonably pessimistic about nuclear and optimistic about oil and gas. They are designed to DISCOURAGE nuclear investments and to ENCOURAGE continued addiction to oil and gas. It is essentially marketing literature – very carefully targeted marketing literature aimed at people who have a natural tendency to like independent thinking and action.

                1. @Rod: You state that you’re not claiming a Koch-funded conspiracy, but when you make remarks such as the Cato institute being, “a tool for at least the Koch Industries portion of the fossil fuel industry,” you leave little room for alternative interpretations.
                  Believe what you may about the merits of political libertarianism (I for one think you are grossly in error about what policies “enabled” the growth of the middle class), but the fact is that the Cato Institute’s focus, like many other think tanks on all sides of the political spectrum, is far broader than the narrow economic interests of its backers (which in turn is far more diverse than one family).
                  Further, as much as I find Mr. Taylor’s analysis to be unreasonably pessimistic to nuclear (and unreasonably optimistic toward fossil energy sources), I would note that there is little in the way of ideological inconsistency in his position; that is, Mr. Taylor has argued for example that the simplest means of handling carbon emissions would be to tax carbon and leave it at that. I find his numbers to be questionable, but I don’t find him to be working in an ideologically dubious position, by which I mean pushing a political agenda specifically for the sake of benefiting a particular set of economic interests. Simply pointing out that they do happen to show a particular benefit is not sufficient – it doesn’t demonstrate deliberate intent or dishonesty, which is what you have been rather quick to imply.
                  Again we have by contrast folks like RMI and NRDC who are complete strangers to the notion of market-based ideology and simply use arguments over economics at their leisure and abandon them when also convenient. This by far is a more damning indictment, particularly when such arguments are not even used consistently (i.e., given the fact that such arguments are far more damaging to the case of wind, solar, etc.)

            2. “When it comes to energy policies, can you tell me who else speaks for Cato if it is not Taylor, Peter Van Doren and Patrick Michaels?”
              Rod – Patrick Michaels?!
              Yet again you inject his name without any reason. My curiosity has been building. What did he do to earn such a serious grudge from you? Did he sleep with your wife or something? 😉
              As far as I can tell, your only encounter with Dr. Michaels was at an American Nuclear Society meeting over a decade ago. So why do you drag his name into a discussion about biases against nuclear power?
              If you have some hard evidence that Michaels has an anti-nuclear bias, then please show it.

              1. Brian – that is quite a reaction. I simply added Michaels’s name to this discussion because I am honestly curious about Cato’s position on energy. Steve was telling me that Jerry Taylor is not representative of the organization, so I went to the institute’s Energy and Environment page to find out who they listed as experts.
                http://www.cato.org/energy-environment
                The list on that page is pretty short and includes Patrick Michaels, Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren. (I left our Randal O’Toole because his portfolio seems to be much more environmental and includes urban growth, government planning, forest service, public land and transportation issues.) Michaels portfolio includes “global warming” which is very much an energy issue, so he made the list that I put in my comment.
                I did not say anything about Michaels regarding his position on nuclear – which seems to be ambivalent, as far as I can tell.

                1. Rod – I’ve been meaning to bring this up for some time. It seems like every time you need a whipping boy for the Cato Institute, you bring up Michaels. Is it so wrong to ask (in a very tongue-in-cheek way) why? What’s your obsession?
                  Given that his position on nuclear is positive at worst (is it “ambivalent” to speak at an ANS meeting? Hansen has never talked at an ANS meeting, that I can remember), he seems to be a strange target for your attacks.

                  1. @Brian – I gave you the honest, direct answer as to why I listed Patrick Michaels in association with Cato. Steve told me that Jerry Taylor is not the only one who speaks for Cato on energy.
                    So, being curious and willing to follow up, I checked out Cato’s web site to find out who else speaks and writes about energy as a fellow from Cato. I did not know before looking. Michaels name was one of only three listed as talking and writing about energy.
                    I am not sure why you are so interested in any mention of Michaels here on Atomic Insights.
                    After engaging here with you, I did some more searching to learn more about Michaels and his current nuclear positions. I came across a very interesting and recent interview with Michaels on a CNN program. I have now revised my opinion about Michaels’s position on nuclear energy – he is apparently unaware that the technology even exists. Here is a quote from the program that supports that opinion:
                    MICHAELS: It

          2. Steve – Thanks. Once again, you have brought up many of the points that I would have made before I could make them.

        2. Jesus, Rod, where do you get these twisted ideas?
          Those in the middle class today have bigger homes, bigger cars, and more gadgets than ever before! For example, did your parents have access to affordable high-speed internet so that they can complain about how everything used to be so much better “back in the day”?
          In case you haven’t noticed, folks like the NRDC complain regularly about how Americans have too many “McMansions” and SUV’s. Where have you been?
          More importantly, where are your quantitative data? Thus far, all you have told me is that some of your parents’ friends owned a Cesna. Well, gee wiz, my folks knew people who owned a Cesna too. I remember taking a ride in it once, when I was a teenager.
          As for “pejorative language,” I apologize if I have offended your sensibilities, but I could find no other suitable word to describe the likes of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

          1. @Brian – I guess I travel in different circles than you. I know a lot of people who are economically struggling and those struggles did not begin with the current recession. Recall those jobs that I listed for people that were my neighbors in a modest, but certainly not poor, subdivision in South Florida. (An airline mechanic, an automobile mechanic, and an airline pilot. We also had several school teachers and a guy who ran a camera at a public television station.) Nearly every family had a single bread winner. Our homes and yards were certainly not huge, but were probably between 1800-3000 square feet. At least half of the homes had swimming pools.
            Here is an overhead view of the block where I grew up.
            https://atomicinsights.com/gifs/Pembroke_pines.jpg
            No, there was no high speed internet or good computers, but there were lots of console televisions and good stereo systems. I grant that technology moves on. Nearly every kid who grew up on that block – and there were a couple of dozen on a block that included 16 homes with 3 or 4 occupied by retirees whose children had already grown up – went to college, most in state schools. Those college tuition bills were a bit of a struggle, but most of did not require the use of massive amounts of student loans. (Of course, my parents were pretty happy with my decision to attend USNA. They were able to redirect the savings to other beneficial uses.)
            Have you been out in the world recently to find that many of the people who do skilled work with their hands got left behind in the boom times and to find that wages have stagnated or jobs disappeared?
            This blog is not about overall economic issues, so I am not going to take the time to build a bunch of links to articles that provide the quantitative data, but it is certainly available.
            It is just a theory of mine, but I think that one major reason for the difference in middle class prosperity that I see is the energy related move to a “post industrial” economy. The things and activities that we could readily afford in the 1960s and early 1970s started to get a lot more difficult to afford when petroleum jumped in price by a factor of 4 in 1973 and then jumped again in 1979. Energy intensive American manufacturers had to cut costs somewhere – one of their few options was to cut people costs. When lots of people lose their jobs, the consumer driven economy suffers ripples that extend way beyond manufacturing.
            Things got better for a while in the 1980s and 1990s as the production from all of the nuclear plants built around the world shifted the balance of supply and demand into the favor of the consumers – nuclear energy moved from 0 to 12 million barrels of oil per day equivalent between 1960 and 2000. That is a whole bunch of useful, reliable energy for the market to absorb.
            I know there is little “proof” that will stand up in any courtroom, but it sure makes sense to me that the people who sell fossil fuel like the world much better today than they did in 1986 when the price of oil collapsed because nuclear energy was capturing enough of the demand to make it so the marginal barrel was less and less valuable. I do not think that the slowdown in nuclear energy happened by accident. I think it is a deception tactic to blame those on “the left” when there are just as many people on “the right” who have worked hard to promote more and more fossil fuel consumption while erecting barriers in the way of building more nuclear power plants.
            If you think my ideas are twisted, that is your right.

            1. “I guess I travel in different circles than you.”
              Rod – Yes, I imagine that you do, living an Annapolis, where the median income per household is 50% higher than where I live.
              “I know a lot of people who are economically struggling and those struggles did not begin with the current recession.”
              Do these people work in manufacturing jobs in Annapolis? Or are they people working in service jobs?
              I actually live in a blue-collar town; I don’t just talk about it. I find it highly amusing to be asked about whether I have “been out in the world recently” by someone who has spent his time working in the Pentagon until his recent retirement.
              When was the last time that you were out in the real world, Rod? (Hint: Government work is not the real world.)

              1. @Brian – I admit that I live a reasonably sheltered life professionally – and have for quite some time. However, I keep pretty close tabs on my siblings, cousins and their children. Not that there is anything wrong with joining the military, but at least four out of a rather small group of young adults who are in the same generation as my children have enlisted in the Army because it offered the best opportunity for a job with technical training and hands on skills. Another relative, a skilled iron worker, joined the National Guard at age 41 (he had some prior Navy service), because he had ended up in a relatively low wage, low benefits job after a factory closing.
                During a six year break from the navy from 1993-1999, I spent three years running a small manufacturing company that was constantly competing against Chinese imports. The factory was fairly small and often short handed. As the General Manager who could complete some normal tasks after the factory shut down for the day, I drove forklifts, made deliveries, swept the floor, provided head breaks to the machine operators, and helped to assemble some of our more complex products when we were bumping up against a delivery deadline. I spent a lot of time talking with the workers and learning about their families, their ambitions, and their challenges.
                I was pretty active in the local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club, so I learned quite a bit about business conditions and about the skew of many rules in favor of lawyers and accountants. One of the partners in the manufacturing company and I were very good friends. He was also a part owner of a custom package machinery company. His company produces equipment for a range of factories; his experiences in the market help me better understand the pain behind some of the well known statistics about the economy. He has been in a lot of pain for several years as orders dried up and he was left with no work for his employees to do. He is a very moral guy who loved employing people and hated laying them off. That is not so unusual among small business owners.
                Living in a blue collar town is not necessarily the same as knowing the people who wear those blue collars. I realize that naval officers do not ALL gain a good appreciation of sailors, but I think I can remember about half of the sailors that I ever served by their first names. I remember many of their life stories. They are the people who kept our plant and ship running in top condition, they are the people I really cared about. There are many reasons why I retired from the Navy last week as a Commander when most of my classmates who are still in the service are Captains or Admirals. One of those reasons is that I did battle with some bosses over the years trying to do what I could to provide people with better training, better tools, and better living conditions. That does not always make for good fitrep material.
                I am a white collar guy from a family with a lot of blue collar and public servant members. Both my Dad and Mom were children of the Depression; fortunately for me, Dad was just old enough to join the Navy during WWII. That experience gave him technical training and the GI Bill. Without that hand up . . .

          2. Brian wrote ‘Those in the middle class today have bigger homes, bigger cars, and more gadgets than ever before! For example, did your parents have access to affordable high-speed internet so that they can complain about how everything used to be so much better “back in the day”? In case you haven’t noticed, folks like the NRDC complain regularly about how Americans have too many “McMansions” and SUV’s. Where have you been? More importantly, where are your quantitative data? Thus far, all you have told me is that some of your parents’ friends owned a Cesna. Well, gee wiz, my folks knew people who owned a Cesna too. I remember taking a ride in it once, when I was a teenager.’
            This is not an NDRC concern, Brian, this is much broader than that. This is an American concern. If you want quantitative data, look at real wages, which have declined for the middle class and declined for the working class ever since 1973 or so, or the ever-increasing Gini index value for the US that indicates a widening gap in income distribution. Look at the spiraling trade deficit, and the spiraling public debt. This represents the decreasing standard of living for most Americans, except for the super-rich. This is not economically sustainable.
            As for your other arguments regarding McMansions and SUVs: these are just signs that the unreality of debt/consumption addiction is spiraling out of control. We cannot have both “everyday low prices” and full employment in dignifying jobs, as the two are incompatible with one another; we cannot have tax cuts with no end in sight for the rich – tax shelters for formerly-American companies – while preserving and increasing funding for nuclear science and technology – with good education and social security, without mortgaging tomorrow to pay for today; we cannot have an all-volunteer military combined with a neoconservative/neoliberal foreign policy that engages in wars of choice, as it encourages adventurism. Americans cannot have it all without working hard in productive capital based industries (rather than shifting money around in speculative capital based commerce) to enable us to have the lives that we want. That we pretend now that we can have it all is near insane and is the result of the unrealities of free trade, cheap debt, magical thinking, ignoring structural problems and socioeconomic equity problems, as well as unrealistic expectations that everyone can be well off, have a McMansion, a Humvee, designer clothing, the latest gadgetry, and not work hard for it. A no-money-down, public-debt-funded, liar-loan, bankster-bailing, quarterly-earning driven, supersize-eating, subprime-lending, Humvee-driving, ever-fattening, free-trading, McMansion-living society is not a healthy society.
            America has become addicted to consumption rather than production.
            The problem is that the largesse we see today betrays the ongoing hollowness and unreality at the heart of the American early 21st century experience. – the ostentation of people who have not earned the right to live ostentatiously through hard work (and most people who have worked hard are modest) – are, in reality, supported by unsustainable debt loads funded by cheap Chinese labor, whose productivity and docility is enforced by the barrels of the assault rifles of hundreds of divisions of PLA rifleman; the Chinese policy of “go on strike, become an organ donor” is what makes these McMansion supersized dreamworlds possible. Eventually, the PLA will be overthrown or will be forced to reform, and at that point, Americans will face a nightmare that we can scarcely comprehend – of being unable to buy cheaply what we once were able to, and being unable to produce what we need on our own.
            We cannot have an economically sustainable society without getting our hands dirty producing most of that which we consume. We cannot have a healthy society based on foundations of debt, speculation, consumption, and shortsightedness. In essence, we’re mortgaging tomorrow to pay for today’s bread and circuses, wars and prisons.
            Those who do believe that we can have it all while not paying for it, well, I apologize in advance for any pejorative aspersions, but I wonder what they’re smoking.

            1. Dave wrote: “This is not an NDRC concern, Brian, this is much broader than that. This is an American concern. If you want quantitative data, look at real wages, which have declined for the middle class and declined for the working class ever since 1973 or so”
              Dave – Please don’t conflate issues. The reason behind the decline of “real wages” since 1973 has to do with the transition of the US from an industrial manufacturing society to a mostly service-based society.
              Rod was talking about all of the extraneous crap that his parents’ friends could buy a generation ago.
              I complain regularly about how (as Bill Tucker put it) “we now manufacture very little of anything in this country except entertainment, lawsuits, and environmental impact statements.”
              Nevertheless, those entertaining shows, lawsuits, and environmental bullshit statements pay some pretty decent salaries, which can buy a lot of big houses and cars.

              1. Dave wrote: “This is not an NDRC concern, Brian, this is much broader than that. This is an American concern. If you want quantitative data, look at real wages, which have declined for the middle class and declined for the working class ever since 1973 or so”
                And Brian responded: “Dave – Please don’t conflate issues. The reason behind the decline of “real wages” since 1973 has to do with the transition of the US from an industrial manufacturing society to a mostly service-based society. ”
                Brian, no offense, but it sounds like you are just labelling things differently – “transition to service-based society” == “not making low level products of value” == “importing s***loads of stuff from china” == “addiction to consumerism” == “addiction to debt”
                It’s all facets of the same, multisided coin. The fact that “those entertaining shows, lawsuits and environmental bullshit statments” provide for decent salaries is just the symptoms of a deeply screwed up, sclerotic America.
                Ed

          3. Bryan Mays wrote:
            More importantly, where are your quantitative data? Thus far, all you have told me is that some of your parents’ friends owned a Cesna. Well, gee wiz, my folks knew people who owned a Cesna too. I remember taking a ride in it once, when I was a teenager.
            “Back in the day”, a Cesna could be had for about the price of a Cadillac. Since that time, the legal profession has labored mightily, causing the price to increase many times over so that a Cesna is no longer within the grasp of the middle class.

            1. Well, excessive numbers of both lawyers, ambulance chasers among those lawyers, excessive lawsuits in general, and excessive frivolous lawsuits, in particular, do play a role, of course. But wrongs do have to be righted, and there are abuses that companies occasionally commit that deserve to be punished, too. I’ve always thought any kind of real tort reform needs to infuriate both the plaintiffs’ bar and the defendants’ bar at the same time. When both pigs are sufficiently squealing, then you’ll know you’ve got the right balance.
              Anything that does both will work…e.g. no limit on punitive damages, but no lawyers’ fees on them, and they have to be donated to the United Way, the Salvation Army, UNICEF, or Habitat for Humanity or something like that. After all, punitive damages don’t right the balances, they just are intended to punish, and are inflicted on behalf of society, why should the plaintiff’s lawyers or the plaintiff get them? There also needs to be an easier way for judges to toss absolute B.S. out prior to it even appearing in court.

        3. Rod, you wrote: “The situation that we currently have took a long time to develop, and it developed with active participation by both the “right” and the “left”, but how many people with those kinds of jobs can afford private airplanes, speed boats or second homes with a single wage earner in the house these days? That is the middle class America that I remember and the one that came about from good education systems, solid pay for technical workers, and a progressive income tax system.”
          I also grew up in that era, but one thing that must be remembered is that a major causative factor in creating that Fifties lifestyle was the fact that almost every industrialized country had been devastated by WWII and that until sometime in the Sixties the USA produced over 60% of the world’s manufactured goods. While I fully agree that a progressive income tax system and solid pay for technical workers are helpful, the sheer industrial might of the USA compared to the crushed infrastructure and devastated economies of nations that are now our competitors had a lot to do with creating those halcyon days of old. Unless we want to have a repeat of global devastation (with the expectation that the USA once again avoids the damage) we’re going to have to learn to compete and thrive in a world of robust manufacturing capacity spread over many countries. Leading the way into the future with a massive nuclear power revolution to completely replace fossil fuels would certainly help to add some juice to the economy, since it would be the largest infrastructure project in history. Sitting on the sidelines while other countries take the lead, as we’re doing now, is simply foolish and unbelievably shortsighted.

          1. @Tom – you have identified a key opportunity for us. I agree that we no longer dominate with our industrial capacity because the rest of the world has improved dramatically. However, the prosperity that I like is not merely a relative one. If we stop hamstringing our capacity for producing reliable, affordable energy from fission, we will be able to produce high quality products that will find customers in a far more prosperous global market than the one that enabled the prosperity of our childhoods.
            We were not rich just because others were poor and will will not be rich because they are poor in the future. There really is room on this planet for billions of people to be living comfortable, abundant lives. We will compete against each other, but there is no reason that the competition has to be destructive scrapping for resources that produces a sharp division between winners and losers.
            I learned about the value of competition as a swimmer. I competed with others regularly, by doing that we all got faster. I happened to have had a teammate who was the second fastest breaststroker in the entire state of Florida. He reached that level primarily due to the fact that we also had the fastest breaststroker in the entire state on the team and they both competed and inspired each other for most of their formative years. Each of them gained from competition. By the way, the specific order changed many times during the years that they competed.

  5. OK, I disagree with the premise, and I also disagree with the analysis, but the proposed solution isn’t all that bad anyway.
    You and the environmentalists are mostly wrong about why it is hard to get funding in the financial markets for nuclear builds.
    The single biggest impediment is that after the design is approved, the site is approved, the management and procedures are approved, the plant is built and tested – courts will stop you from turning the plant on anyway.
    A town board in a neighboring state can get an indefinite stay, or some state agency will change the rules after the fact and require extensive modifications to the plant.
    How do you take out a loan if you can’t tell the bank when you’ll start being able to pay the loan back?
    The long lifetime of nuclear plants is also a drawback, and here your analysis has more validity.
    Especially in a merchant generation regime, how can you tell the bank the size of your cash flows 40 years from now?
    It would be easier to get funding if the projected lifetime were shorter and the cost to build reduced.
    Fossil gas plants have a definite advantage here – the drawback to fossil gas is the unpredictable fuel cost.
    A third factor has to be history. We have 100 nuclear plants supplying 20% of our electricity today.
    How did the original loans on those plants perform?
    How many plants back in the 70’s and 80’s were abandoned, and how did their loans perform?

  6. I too, have seen this “Wall Street” argument around from time to time. Is there a definitive post or paper?
    I used to work there (OK, Broad not Wall) and did a little work around financial guarantees at AIG. I can see where there is money to be made on this, even the feds are doing it, as Rod pointed out in a previous post. But it is a matter of capacity, reserves, state insurance regulation, etc., and on and on. I can see getting a few close friends together and whipping something up with Lloyds, but will the insurance commission sign off on it? Seems like they’re still smarting from the last time they didn’t read the fine print, with the credit default swaps. Also, I get the impression some don’t understand that a billion dollars is still a lot of money on “Wall Street,” let alone even a chunk of $14 for Vogtle. *Somebody* would have to spend a few bucks to figure this out and put it together before it can be dismissed, but I’ve got to wonder who exactly these writers think can do what.
    I personally think it could be profitable, but it has to be thought through. All I have is a couple of ideas on napkins. “Wall Street” is not a panacea, more of a knee-jerk strawman argument that just sounds good. In fact, let’s keep it away from New York altogether, for a number of reasons.

    1. @Bryan – please contact me via email. I think that the way my comment system is threading the discussion has confused me a bit about your response, but I am interested in following up with you. I think there are ways to structure an investment that would be quite attractive that purposely focused on providing the financial grease necessary to get the nuclear revival up and running. I think that is what you are referring to in the above.

  7. The truth is that there is no free market in electrical power distribution and there never really has been; to be a free market, there would have to be competition in electrical distribution; this is not a smart move; electrical power distribution is properly a natural monopoly. As for generation, generation could have been a sort-of market prior to 1970 or so under a deregulatory regime similar to today; that it did not is the result of historical forces of industrialism and monopolism and the trusts that dominated the nation in the early years of the 20th century. They made the people fear large concentrations of economic power in a few hands, and the people demanded regulation; regulation they got, and utilities figured out how to live with it, and make more money than they did prior to regulation while delivering even more service; predictable, steady regulation along with a vigorous electrical utility industry probably was the single largest enabler for the largest economic expansion in human history ever, the one that took place in the United States from around 1880 to 1970.
    But today, with all the market barriers in place now to market entry in the electric power generation market, no free market can really exist in electricity generation, as the entry barriers are so high. And, further, many of these market barriers to entry ought to remain in place, at least in the fossil sector – after all, who wants to go back to the days where smog covered most major cities in the nation, cars emitted lead from their exhaust pipes, and the rivers caught on fire on a depressingly routine basis? We can have both a healthy environment and a vigorously growing economy; there’s no need to destroy one to save the other.
    With nuclear, we can have both.
    As such, we ought to recognize the core reality that electricity service is a critical and essential industry, perhaps THE most critical industry in this nation of ours, more essential than even the Interstates, the air carriers, and the railroads. Electricity production, transmission, and distribution ought to be more of a private/public hybrid than a purely free-market institution; an industry carried on by private parties serving the public good and deriving a guaranteed, fair and reasonable rate of return on investment, overseen by the government, with the mission of delivering all the electricity the public desires when they desire it where they desire it at the lowest rate possible consistent with a sound and reliable power grid, sound and reliable generation resources, sensible environmental protection, fair employment practices, and economic growth.
    Electricity was considered such a natural monopoly for nearly a century prior to the rise of unprecedented regulatory barriers to market entry, combined with the oil crash of 1973, and the subsequent bankrupting of several utilities caused by unsound politicized regulators more interested in stopping nuclear power than ensuring the common defense, environmental protection, economic growth, and the public safety. The power to regulate carried too far is the power to destroy, and we saw that done to the electrical utilities in the 1970s and 1980s with the regulatory ratchet and the near-death of the nuclear industry.
    But the choice to not regulate carried too far is the power to loot the public. We see that today with the foibles of Enron in California, bilking the elderly out of their pension checks and driving that state’s utilities into near bankruptcy; we see that with the pending destruction of Zion in Illinois, believed by some to be a plot to drive down supply and therefore destroy supply to impose high electricity prices on demand; we see that with the wind-turbine lobby being cross-subsidized by the gas-pushers; we see that with the ongoing slick publicity campaign for the “smart grid” to import time-of-use spot pricing, power markets, and Wall Street Enron-Sachs-style banksterism into the living rooms of America, so that the middle class and the poor may pay $3 a kilowatt for their electrical resistance heating during the depths of winter; we see that with the failure of deregulated merchant generators to take the long view that the utility industry had once taken and invest in long-term growth by building capital-intensive facilities like new baseload power plants.
    Deregulation is leading the utility industry – and with it – the American economy – to self-destruction just as surely as over-regulation led to it just a generation ago.
    More power at a lower price means more prosperity for everyone to share. Less energy at greater expense means less prosperity for everyone to share less (and our numbers always increase). Government should realize this truth and take sensible steps to encourage a vibrant, growing, well-regulated electrical industry, serving the public good, and deriving a reasonable return for the invested capital.
    And, if that means loan guarantees, then that means loan guarantees.

  8. The “most profit for the next quarter” mentality grew out of the eradication of the technocracy (middle management) thanks to information technology. There are books on this subject.
    I wrote an essay on the social implications of technology maybe 5 years ago. And by social I mean class warfare. Everyone here should know the French nuclear workers’ union is explicitly communist.
    Everyone also ought to know that reserving government positions strictly for technocrats and engineers (as is done in France) is something that communist countries do. Capitalist countries have lawyers instead. Third world countries have generals obviously.
    Technology is NOT socially neutral. Expensive technologies are inherently pro-rich (pro-authoritarianism, pro-aristocracy), and cheap technologies are inherently pro-poor (pro-democracy).
    http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2007/05/social-implications-of-technology.html
    Incidentally, by “conservation” in this essay I meant efficiency. I did NOT mean locking vast amounts of resources out of production so that other resources get jacked up in price. That’s market manipulation plain and simple, even if the propaganda (by hierarchical media owned and controlled by the rich) calls it “ecology” and “being green” and “conservation”.
    So yes, for all of the reasons above, nuclear power is a tool of class warfare … on behalf of the poor. And I find it blatantly ridiculous how brainwashed you Americans are that you can’t bring yourselves to speak of class warfare while claiming to have the “right to free speech”. I’m looking at you Rod. You sound about as believable as a quadriplegic that insists he has “full mobility”.
    You’re being really shrill and defensive about that “right to free speech” crap that certainly doesn’t exist in the USA, and exists vastly more in Europe where it’s illegal to say certain things like claiming the holocaust didn’t happen. It’s not just laws that prevent free speech, it’s brainwashing too. And you will remain a brainwashed minion so long as you can’t utter the words communism, socialism and class warfare without reflexively wincing.
    Hell, do you even know what “libertarian” means? I suggest you find out because you appear very strongly to me to have zero commonality with right-libertarians. For instance, I cannot even imagine you calling for an end to all government-funded research and development. So if you have anti-authoritarian leanings, it’s in the left-libertarian direction. The direction also known as anarchists.
    Mix in a great deal of ignorance and propaganda and you get typical American brainwashing. You get people who call themselves libertarian even though they’re not at all like anyone who calls themselves by that term in the USA.

  9. Re. Cochran’s slide entitled “History has not been kind to fast reactors”:
    This slide is typical of Cochran. The only thing it was missing was his Rickover comment from 1956 that he trots out at virtually every opportunity (maybe our calling attention to that fact has finally got him to retire it).
    His comment that they cost considerably more than thermal reactors is immaterial, since none have yet been replicated. Of course first-of-a-kind reactors cost more than standardized designs. As for commercial/naval fast reactor programs failing, what Cochran fails to mention is that many of them failed due to politicking by people like him. He avoids the inconvenient fact that the Phenix ran for over 35 years without a hitch and that the Superphenix ran at a capacity factor of over 90% in its final year before being closed for purely political reasons.
    His point that there’s only one commercial fast reactor running today conveniently threads the needle between the recent shutdown of Phenix and the planned startup of India’s first commercial fast reactor next year, with more to come. And his final statement that fast reactors have proven to be less reliable than thermal reactors is belied by both the Phenix and the BN-600 (and the EBR-II in its day), which their operators find to be far easier to operate than LWRs.
    ——————————-
    In his next slide he mischaracterizes the recycling technology associated with America’s fast reactor program (pyroprocessing) as exacerbating the problem of plutonium separation when it was specifically designed to counter that threat. He does this by conflating all reprocessing/recycling systems, a bogus tactic consistent with the style of his fellow fast reactor antagonists. He also claims it can have no effect “within any policy time frame that is relevant” in addressing nuclear waste storage issues or decarbonizing power generation. This assumes that the USA is incapable of deciding to build large numbers of fast reactors, which might be the case if they were really to be so expensive as he posits, yet he really has no leg to stand on in that department since the PRISM design is a modular design that should be quite inexpensive to manufacture in volume.
    He also claims that you would need 2-3 times as much plutonium “flowing through the inventory” as you actually have fueling fast reactors, which is complete hogwash. If we were running IFRs, each one could be using 4/3 (or even 5/4) of a charge. In other words, you could remove 1/3 or 1/4 of the fuel for recycle every 18 months or so, and all you’d need is that amount available for recycling. By the time you were ready to do it again the old fuel would be recycled and ready to put back into the reactor.
    Then he goes on to say that even pursuing R&D on fast reactor fuel cycles is a proliferation risk, citing an aqueous reprocessing system at Oak Ridge, ignoring the fact that pyroprocessing is an entirely different and proliferation-resistant technology meant to supplant aqueous systems. He also describes that system at Oak Ridge as “an ideal weapons program,” ignoring the fact that the isotopic composition of power reactor fuel is virtually useless for making nuclear weapons and than no state has ever done so in their development of nuclear weapons, nor would they be ever expected to do so. This same bogus scare tactic is used by every opponent of fast reactors, and it doesn’t get any more true no matter how many times it’s repeated.

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