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22 Comments

  1. Rod. You are so correct. Preaching to the choir is important. There’s another important aspect, also.

    You were talking to a student ANS chapter, so you could make the reasonable assumption that they know something about nuclear. I often talk to groups (rotaries, schools) where many people are pro-nuclear, but not all that knowledgeable. Some are concerned with the waste (don’t they reprocess in France or something? why don’t we?) and some think that the effect of radiation on humans is scary and spooky.

    I told a group that radiation effects were very well known, which is why a person undergoing radiation therapy can receive a dose which would otherwise be completely lethal. There were a bunch of “ahas”. People know this, but they don’t put it together with the scare stories. I mentioned health physics in this regard. A man come up to me afterwards and say he had no idea why his cancer therapy had included a physicist somehow. It had puzzled him, and he was glad for the explanation.

    In other words, I consider educating pro-nuclear people to be very important. They need answers about what is bothering them, and they need to be able to give answers to the opponents.

    Though some will call it “preaching to the choir.”

  2. Rod, thank you and your group for doing this. The future of nuclear is really in your hands, I do what I can on the fringes as a non-nuclear trained person with a scientific mind but it only goes so far. We have to come up with a viable solution to base load generation that specifically the “unreliables” (to steal your term) seem fine with ignoring. I worked in solar for a time and I swear the mentality is just to build as much capacity as possible to get the government ‘reimbursement’ for lack of better word. There is no forward looking, or even concern for what base load requirements we have now nor for how that base load requirement curve just keeps going up.

    The thing with nuclear that has kept me energized since fighting battles in grade school (yes my father was in the conventional power production business but even he said nuclear was the solution so I took on that challenge at a young age) was that I knew and know, it is the right answer. I keep waiting for the day and I may or may not live to see it but when we are finally just “making power” and that phrase = nuclear power, then I can have my “told ya’ so moment.”

    Not enough thanks can be pushed your way. Keep up the good fight, and I will try to pull the folks on the fence in from my side. December 28th I go to Tokyo, I will be meeting with families and I will try to do my part to dispel all the FUD they have been fed. I will also try to make it to Fukushima and will share that with you if it works out.

    1. Scott – thank you for the kind words. Thank you also for fighting the good fight alongside me. It is vitally important for us to spread the word and share the knowledge that just might change our future.

      1. If there were such a thing as the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Communicator of the Year Award, to be presented every year on this auspicious date, I would nominate Rod as its first recipient.

        What do ya say NEI? Get this rolling!

  3. This is so important. What the pronuclear effort needs more than anything else is boots on the ground, and the only group that can supply that is our younger supporters. Energizing them by helping them realize that they have a major role to play and that they are not alone is on of the best ways to push the movement forwards.

  4. It seems to me, the people we really need to convince are the CEOs and board members of the various electric utilities and power sellers that might want to build new plants. These people first and foremost are going to look at the cost of new generation, in terms of $ per kw of capacity and $ per kwh of actual generation. A new AP1000 comes in around $6300 per kilowatt of capacity. A new combined cycle natural gas plant is a fraction of that.

    If nuclear can get its construction costs down, the rest is an easy sell. But as long as the US nuclear industry competes against plenty of cheap and clean natural gas (that’s what the ads say), it is going to be an uphill battle. A few years ago, plans for new nuclear plants were well on the way in Maryland, Texas and elsewhere. Today, not so much. We will get the Vogtle and VC Summer COLs in the next few months (hopefully!), and probably the completions of Bellefonte and Watts Bar-2 for TVA, but after that, the prospects appear to be dwindling.

    Sorry to throw cold water on the pep rally, so to speak, but as I wrote above, once the cost problem is fixed, the rest should be an easy sell. Passively safe plants such as the AP1000, ESBWR and the various new SMRs in development, if properly explained, can reduce much of the public’s apprehensions about safety.

    1. Pete – we know how to reduce the cost of manufacturing and building things. We do it by practicing those tasks and getting better by doing. Part of the effort has to include reducing the time required to perform all tasks – including the task of getting permission to build.

      The nuclear industry has way too many engineers who think that the way to reduce cost is to redesign things. It also has way too many opponents who understand those rules of economic production better than most nukes.

      1. The Koreans have continually built cheaper and faster this same way: stick to a design and keep incrementally improving it. The design they used was the “expensive” System 80 of Palo Verde.

        New designs are important, but often higher production of current technology can win the day as well. Thanks for bringing these messages to the VCU students Rod.

    2. Eventually some college students will become the CEO’s of the large utilities. The CEO’s of tomorrow are just as important as the CEO’s of today.

    3. The only way to change the minds of these Cross is through natural attrition. These old fogies need to die off, because no magic combination of words is going to change their minds.

  5. I haven’t finished your article yet. But this quote I loved and wanted to immediately comment: “I pointed out how oil supplied 17% of the US electricity market as late as 1978, with a total consumption of almost 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. Now has about 1-2% of the market.”

    I bet a lot of that 1-2% is Hawaii and Alaska, plus maybe Puerto Rico and Guam. Aren’t those place ideal for your your business and others (like NuScale)?

    1. Reese, as of the last time I looked, Hawaii has a law prohibiting the building of nuclear power plants, but yes, a passively safe (against even earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, etc.) SMR would seem to fit the electricity needs of remote locations like Hawaii rather fantastically in comparison to other options.

      1. Were the politicians in Hawaii who passed that nuclear prohibition (or the protest groups which encouraged them to do so) funded by Big Oil to protect their market there?

        1. Who knows. My unreferenced guess would be that fears of oceanic natural threats (like tsunamis) and maybe volcanic threats probably made banning nuclear a relatively easy sell whenever that decision was made, thus the need for robust, passive safety.

  6. Rod. Time well spent. When I want to get motivated I keep thinking about a better quality of life for everyone. It is the many benefits that abundant, cheap and clean energy can do for all people on the planet. The opportunity for prosperity, reduced pollution, reduced climate change, more affluence and the reduction of the world’s population growth that keep me energized. If only I did not have to worry about surviving I’d be a more active advocate.

  7. Rod – Thanks for coming by and sharing your experiences with us. I found it quite interesting that you know Theodore Rockwell quite well. I read his book, Creating the New World, around the same time I took my first nuclear class, Reactor Theory (neutronics). The combination of the two are what converted me to nuclear power; just a few months prior to that class I finished my Sr. Design project on producing ethanol from biomass.

    Our lack of ability to pursuade the public is our industry’s Achiles heel. There needs to be some type of mass marketing campaign much like Big Oil or Big Tobacco without all the questionable ethics. I hope you can come back again in the future. Your enthusiasm is insipring.

  8. Not sure if it comes with age, meaning myself, but DV82XL made a comment that the young people can make a strong impact. I think that their role can be more defined. They are more effective at reaching each other. But us older folks can help in the packaging of nuclear energy
    1. as a climate change savior (CO2 reduction replacing coal) China had only 2 nuclear plants go live this year. only 2 per cent of their energy currently comes from Nuclear a) save animals – land, air and sea creatures
    b) AOSIS – prevent Island States from disappearing
    c) improve the quality of life in general

    2. as a way to economic prosperity or recovery
    can enable industry>
    can enable jobs>affluence>population reduction

    1. I just made my first post in weeks at http://deregulatetheatom.com it’s titled “What exactly do we need to teach people about nuclear energy?” My goal here is to discuss the best way to introduce and educate people about nuclear energy. The trouble I find is that there is a load of information to absorb so that I think a web page needs to be designed that allows navigation based on the most critical subject viewable at a glance and subtopics that allow browsing and linking crossreference. I NEED YOUR INPUT!!!
      http://deregulatetheatom.com/2011/12/what-exactly-do-we-need-to-teach-people-about-nuclear-energy/

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