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  1. I see that the increase in capacity will be greater than what they are getting from wind. I haven’t searched to see if there are any studies examining the penetration of a combination of renewable tech into a grid and the amount of gas required for load balancing. It would be interesting to see such a study use actual wind (and or solar) data for region over a year as well as actual electricity demand.
    On the public side of policy (what’s presented in the media), it seems as though decisions about which sources of electricity generation to pursue are made without the advice of those that operate and maintain the grid. An extreme example of this is in Germany where the government is promoting solar with high feed-in-tariffs as a form of welfare to citizens. Although I guess the leaders have acknowledged that solar won’t meet their needs so they are postponing the shut down of nuclear power plants.

    1. >
      >decisions about which sources of electricity generation to pursue are made without the advice of those that operate and maintain the grid
      >
      Anyone who is currently working to keep the lights on with “old” power plants is regarded by politicians as “part of the problem”. They are demonized as “dirty” and “centralized” energy promoters and evil “big corporations” that want to deny us our “new” “clean” and “decentral” energy future. Many countries now have a climate minister that doubles as an energy minister – environment and energy has become synonymous.

  2. Local anti-nuclear activists in Vermont were more pragmatic. Of course they opposed the uprate, but after some bargaining, Entergy was allowed to uprate…as long as it shared the revenue with a Clean Energy Development fund to support solar and wind projects. This was more pragmatic than just saying nukes-no, coal-yes, which is what the people in Wisconsin are doing.

    1. @ Meredith,
      We need some person or group in each state that has a similar response to these groups that you have done in Vermont.

      1. David is so right. The big problem we face is that the antinuclear side boasts hundreds of organizations large and small, both locally and nationally and they can put boots on the ground, and get the ear of the media. We cannot. This PR gap is killing us. We need more people on side, and we need more people willing to work at the local level to counter this.

        1. @DV82XL – I agree. How do we accomplish that goal? Not only how do we attract people who are willing to work at the local level, but how do we sustain and encourage their efforts? Though I try hard, I recognize that it is difficult to approach this task as a selfless, only occasionally rewarding effort.
          The other issue I have been trying to address is to encourage people to question the source of the support for the anti-nuclear organizations. It does not necessarily help directly to understand where they get their “mojo”, but Sun Tzu would counsel that it is important to know your opponent in order to determine how to best him in a contest.

          1. I have struggled with that question for years Rod. I am a bit handicaped because I live in a place with vast amounts of installed hydro, (and a surplus at that) and a good attitude both in the Provencal government and in the population, to things nuclear. To some extent Hydro-Qu

            1. I agree that we need more people at the local level.
              The problem is keeping these people emotionally healthy despite the tactics of the opponents. For example, Patty O’Donnell was the Vermont legislative representative from the township of Vernon, where Vermont Yankee is located. She is a solid supporter of the plant. She doesn’t want to see her town thrown down the toilet with the plant closed.
              I was at an NRC meeting in Brattleboro Vermont, and the NRC moderator announced the names of all legislators in the room. The room was packed with anti-nuclear people. When the NRC said Patty’s name, there was a huge shout of “boo.” Patty hadn’t said a word, they just shouted when her name was announced.
              These sort of things are hard to take. Patty is strong and shrugs it off: I find myself with my heart racing in similar circumstances (in general, I have to say something. They don’t boo my name, at this point.) There’s a lot of intimidation out there. Shouting, interrupting, etc.
              That is why I have had this thing about cookies and coffee and small meetings for plant supporters. Otherwise, we would all give up and stay home.
              I agree we need to do more with college kids, but I think it starts earlier. We need to go to high schools and grammar schools. I almost think college is too late.

      2. Thank you David. I appreciate your comment!
        Tomorrow is an exceptionally busy day. I will be on a radio talk show at 6:40 a.m. and presenting “economics of Vermont Yankee” at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in the evening. I am also very grateful for the guidance of Howard Shaffer, who has been doing outreach for years. He gives a lot of presentations, and has much more personal bravery than I do. For example, he went to a “decommissioning Vermont Yankee” meeting, and I couldn’t take the idea of going there. I stayed home. I blogged about it. Blogging can be done in the safety of one’s own abode.
        http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2010/11/some-thoughts-on-decommissioning-and_17.html

        1. You are welcome Meredith, I can see you becoming more and more skilled in this area. I am considering what to do. The technical arguments are in and are overwhelming. But the social arguments need buttressed. One of the advantages we have is in being accurate. Anyone interested in doing research can find out the truth quickly. But we need some simple materials that outline the basic advantages without getting too technical and those need constant and wide distribution. I really liked what they did with Nuclearfissionary because of the basic approach. I hope they continue with new ideas. We especially need some visual images about the difference in capacity. How do we “show” the difference between the wind and solar availability and nuclear? Something like the Mac PC commercial would be great!
          Another part of this is we need a specific focus for action – what do we want? As I have listened to the conversation it seems to me that what we want is reasonable rules, which translates into improve the NRC. So, when we ask people to “support” nuclear power, we need to give them specific suggestions as to how to support it today. “So, this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, so what should I do?”
          Greens like the conservation message because it always gives their audience something to do, even if that something is actually ineffective, at least the person has “done something.” We need some kind of action like that, except that the action should be meaningful.
          As I have listened to the conversations here I pick up a few themes that seem easy to communicate.
          1. Pro Nuclear is Pro – people,
          a. solutions to poverty
          b. dignity through education
          c. solutions to hunger
          d. continued advancement without harming the planet.
          e. A reasonable assessment of actual risks rather than the constant barrage of crisis.
          2. Pro Nuclear is Pro – green
          a. Actual changes to the levels of CO2 rather than window dressing
          b. Actual clean water and air rather than wish for.
          c. Greatly reduced volume of waste that is possible to recycle
          3. Pro Nuclear is Pro – business
          a. reduced energy costs (with reasonable regulation)
          b. reduced reliance on foreign sources for energy.
          c. local jobs and local integration into the economy.
          d. wonderful export opportunities with SMRs
          Well there might be more that you can think of, but it seems to me that we need these kind of ads with a supporting website, that gives basic information and links to the multitude of sites that give in-depth information.

            1. That is a very good list. I also take pains to point out that the 800 lbs gorilla in the room is looming potable water shortage in many parts of the world. Many think that this will become an incubus for conflict that will make the oil wars look like a paint ball game, and I tend to agree. Nuclear desalination may turn out to be as important an application as power generation in the not so distant future. Fortunately they are not mutually exclusive, and the benefits of both can be enjoy at the same time.

              1. The more I reflect on the problem, the more the problem seems next to impossible, especially in a region like Vermont. Nuclear power does not have a naturally large constituency, whereas the antis have a naturally larger constituency, and they have fear on their side.
                The only way forward I can see is to use community networks as force multipliers. Business, labor, local politicians. If you scratch their backs, they may very well scratch yours. Perhaps even some scientists and engineers can be found to support nuclear power.
                However, I do see there is somewhat of a light at the end of the tunnel – in that the really hardcore US anti-nuclear cadres – those whose formative years were in the Cold War – are retiring or passing on. I don’t think they will be replaced with people with exactly the same level of vehemence or focus. Rather than “shutdown the nuke”, activists may be more interested in encouraging the development of wind and solar, or attacking polluting power sources in general. Of course, people providing funds (gas interests) may try to steer groups towards shutting down the nuke, but they just won’t have the same level of “juice” that nationwide anti-nuclearism had during the 1970s and 1980s, or the second coming of anti-nuclearism in the 2000s and 2010s in Vermont and the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.

                1. As for VY, though I think @Meredith and the pro-VY forces have done a superhuman job, I’m not sure VY can be saved through normal political processes, especially after the triumph of Shumlin, though I always hold out hope. I do believe it has too much of a correlation of forces aligned against it.
                  However, I would put my odds on legal processes. Lawyers sometimes come in handy. I would recommend Entergy get the smarmiest and most deeply connected pack of Washington lawyers possible and sue the living heck out of the state of Vermont.
                  Drag Vermont to the Supreme Court and argue Federal pre-emption, if that succeeds, great, if that fails, sue Vermont for the actual replacement value of the plant along with interruption of tenure, lost profits, lost wages, and regulatory takings of property without due process of law. Make VY a lesson that every politician nationwide knows in their bones…that if they come for the nuclear power plant, their state is going to be sued for the actual replacement value of the plant.
                  Instead of VY being a second Shoreham, and Entergy being a second LILCO, use the lawyers to make Vermont LILCO. Vermont is likely far closer to the financial edge than Entergy is.
                  No more Mr. Nice Guy.

                  1. @katana0182: Depends on what you mean by ‘saving’ Vermont Yankee. Does ‘saving’ it mean you are successful in keeping it running continuously with no stoppage (except for maintenance), or does saving it mean you keep it from being dismantled?
                    Meredith has made a very good case in her blog that when Vermont Yankee goes away, Vermonters will see a very significant increase in electricity costs. If that happens, incredible pressure from multiple directions (homeowners, businesses like IBM and all the small businesses in the state, etc) will come to bear upon every Vermont state politician to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
                    If you can’t ‘save’ VY from being shutdown, try to concentrate on keeping it from being dismantled, long enough for Vermont to come to it’s senses. I think that it very well could happen that VY gets shutdown temporarily, but as long as it’s just put into an offline state it can be brought back from quickly and cheaply, reality will assert itself, and Vermont, I predict, will practically DEMAND that Entergy re-open Vermont Yankee.

                2. “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
                  #NAME?

                  1. @ Brian,
                    Yes, that’s true but we have roads instead of railroads because the car companies purchased the tracks and destroyed them. Business is fairly cut throat.
                    As I am reading, I believe the largest obstacle we face is the huge lead time between the design of a reactor and the actual installation. The design is obsolete when it is installed. Site locations are also a huge barrier. Both of these are political decisions that can be changed with changing attitudes. I think it can be done. We have a vastly different social environment today (open and transparent) than 10 years ago.

                    1. “Yes, that’s true but we have roads instead of railroads because the car companies purchased the tracks and destroyed them. Business is fairly cut throat.”
                      Hmm … Sorry, but I find this claim to be somewhat dubious.
                      There are several reasons why our road and rail infrastructures are what they are. The first is the most obvious: cars are simply damn convenient. They meet needs that railroads simply cannot hope to meet. In a country that values space and freedom as much as the US does, it’s not surprising that automobiles had become almost synonymous with freedom by the early decades of the twentieth century.
                      That’s not to say that business interests weren’t involved. Transportation of people is only part of the equation. Transportation of goods has played a very important role in infrastructure decisions as well. Here, however, it wasn’t the car companies who exerted the key influence, it was the tire companies. Specifically, it was the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company and it’s “Ship By Truck” campaign — which was launched in the World War I era — that would change how goods would be shipped for much of the twentieth century. In fact, it was about that time, in 1919, that they persuaded a soon-to-be-important lieutenant colonel in the US Army of the value of road transport. By the 1950’s, this former lieutenant colonel had become President Eisenhower, and one of his major accomplishments was creating our modern interstate system, which took rail out of much of the market. By 1971, the Nixon administration would be creating Amtrak to salvage what was left of private passenger rail service.
                      “We have a vastly different social environment today (open and transparent) than 10 years ago.”
                      Yes, the Clinton/Gore years were pretty bad. I still can’t believe that the Clinton administration manages to avoid the reputation it deserves for killing the Integral Fast Reactor in 1994. Clinton and Gore did more to set back nuclear technology than anyone in US history, with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter, our “nuclear engineer” Incompetent-In-Chief.

                    2. Ok Brian, You caught me remembering something I read without having documentation for it. But your point about the convenience of car transportation being the actual motivator is right on. This brings up the point that Kirk has been making with LFTR. Unless we can build a nuclear plant that can produce electric cheaper than coal we are not going to actually penetrate the market. It must be a “no brainer” for a utility executive to choose it.
                      Frankly, we are already making an impact on the conversation – I am here now! I have friends and acquaintances I have influenced and even my wife is starting to say – “looks like they are in the pocket of natural gas.” Just a few years ago I had no access to this kind of conversation but now I do. What fun!
                      DV8 2XL is a bit cynical about the ability of politicians to not give in to the vast wealth of the fossil industry. Perhaps he is right, but I think that politicians are hearing from people they never heard from before about this issue. I know the articles in the media are changing tone and that nearly every attack is being strongly answered. This is an improvement. We just need more.

                  2. but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
                    I see the first part of @Brian’s statement happening, but I can’t see the second part. Even if the older generation of lickspittle anti-nuclear activists retires or passes on, how can we make a new generation grow up that is familiar with the truth – rather as tabulae rasae? My greatest exposure to anything remotely connected with nuclear power in formal education was when my 9th grade teacher took out a source and a Geiger counter. “See – source makes geiger counter click!” (And I was educated in a good school system.) It seems to me that we have an absolute deficit in technical and mechanical education these days.
                    I probably sound like a geezer, but “kids these days” don’t even understand steam plants, or steam, or internal combustion engines, or electricity beyond that they plug it into the wall and it works, and as such, they have grossly inaccurate views about how electricity works, how machines work, and how the grid works. In much of the US, computers and software have not supplemented, but generally replaced, cars and engines, in terms of teenage and young adult male tinkering, and this is a dangerous trend if we are to remain an industrial society. This is why foolish ideas like solar PV and wind without grid storage get traction amongst opinion leaders – a lack of technical and mechanical understanding.
                    I would ask – am I accurate in assessing that this trend exists? Second – does anyone see ways to reverse this trend?

                    1. “I see the first part of @Brian’s statement happening, but I can’t see the second part. Even if the older generation of lickspittle anti-nuclear activists retires or passes on, how can we make a new generation grow up that is familiar with the truth – rather as tabulae rasae?”
                      We live in a world where people still regularly read their horoscopes, believe in ESP or crystals or UFO’s, etc. These beliefs have persisted in spite of efforts to educate the populace. They, or beliefs like them, continue to persist in countries that regularly outscore the US in educational metrics, including science and math.
                      It’s not a matter of ensuring that the broad populace has a competent understanding of the technology (although that would be nice and it would be a laudable goal). It’s merely sufficient that the younger generation doesn’t go actively campaigning against nuclear power, as the Baby Boomers have done.
                      In this case, apathy is your friend.
                      So far, everything that I’ve seen indicates that we don’t have to worry about that. Have you been to an anti-nuclear rally recently? I could probably make a fortune selling Geritol at one of those events!
                      With limited resources, a successful campaign focuses its efforts on the decision makers. They might not have a strong scientific background, but I think that it’s wrong to assume that they are all idiots. They will listen to reasonable arguments, especially if these arguments are coached in economic terms or as concrete benefits for their constituents. As long as there’s not a local, vocal movement that they have to pander to, you will have smooth sailing. Even where such resistance exists, economic realities will eventually win out. It just takes longer in some regions that specialize in denying reality, e.g., California.

                    2. The idea that a reasoned approach to legislators will bring in more nuclear power is unfortunately flawed. People that make it in politics, especially those that attain cabinet-level positions (where the real power lies) are not stupid. Nor are they unaware of the issues, because that’s what lobbyist are paid to do – keep them informed of what is going on, and how it might affect the legislators ability to stay in power. Often a politician will claim ignorance, or say that a subject is under study, but when it come to major issues, like nuclear, they know the score. To think otherwise is a bit na

                    3. Sorry, but I have to disagree.
                      “The only option as I see it, is to get boots on the ground in support of our side.”
                      This is the attitude that I find to be a bit na

                    4. What do you think we can learn (if anything) from organizations such as Greenpeace? I suspect that Greenpeace doesn’t have many “boots on the ground” either — instead it has a relatively small number of professional protesters, with a long tail of people following behind whose only involvement with the organization is to donate money.
                      Your point about how people today are justifiably cynical on the utility of protests is exactly what I was getting at with my reference to a million British protesters against the Iraq War. Perhaps politicians support environmentalism (by which mean not a considerate approach to the environment, but rather a policy of reining in human aspirations in the name of the environment) not because of the influence of Greenpeace and other activist groups, but because environmentalism serves their own purposes.

                    5. Well then I wish you luck. Bad politics and fossil fuel lobbyist shut down nuclear energy once before, they will do it again because they have no choice if they want to remain in business.
                      One of the huge gaps in perception that I see with the whole pronuclear movement, is the belief that there is a rational path to seeing nuclear power implemented. I understand why: almost all supporters of nuclear power are people of reason, that’s how they managed to see through the fog of antinuclear propaganda that has been obscuring the issue for forty years. The problem is that our own adherence to rationality blinds us to the fact that, the rational approach doesn’t work in some cases. Or at least the direct rational approach. Sometimes, (most time in politics) being right is just not enough to move things in the direction we want. In most instances one must bring more compelling reasons to bear if you want to see substantive change.
                      If you believe that you can lobby nuclear power back into vogue with a good argument, well presented such that it will sway politicians to ignore the fossil fuel lobby and their bottomless pockets, then this old Baby Boomer and his quaint ideas about participatory democracy will get out of your way. Your right too that the full impacts of not switching away from fossil-fuels won’t likely occur until after I am dead, so indeed, why should I care.

                    6. @Brian – you’re very politically astute.
                      Though I think your points are well taken, and your view is quite realistic and achievable, I think that the low-key approach of only lobbying opinion leaders – politicians and the like – though essential – is limited.
                      Many of us pro-nuclear folks don’t just want to build a few plants down South and preserve the plants that are remaining. That may be the most pressing issue at the present, at least in the United States, and the struggle to do that is essential (and the NEI is doing a great job in support of that struggle), but it is a conservative struggle with limited aims.
                      I would like to aim higher. Though I only speak for myself, I surmise what many of us “radical” pro-nukes would like to do is to use advanced Generation IV nuclear technologies to take over the world energy industry, drive the OPEC terror gang into bankruptcy, stop AGW (NB: not trying to start a debate), and remake the energy industry using nuclear and other advanced technologies so as best to fulfill the aim of achieving the highest level of development possible for the human species.
                      Oh, yeah, and also to make a few billion here and there.
                      To achieve this goal, aiming higher than passive toleration by the political class along with a few scraps thrown to the nuclear industry here and there is essential for the full development of a robust nuclear industry with a wide range of diverse energy production options.
                      What would be ideal would be to get nuclear energy the same sort of cachet that the sophisticated PR campaign for renewables has accomplished, so nuclear energy technologies are once again on the bleeding edge of history, and the young people come to us. That is the end state that I desire. Perhaps it is radical, but I think it is possible.

                    7. @Dave – that is a great vision, but it is the one that scares the heck out of people whose skills, talents and capital assets are tied up with the vastly different enterprise of extracting, refining, and transporting tens of millions of tons of hydrocarbons every day. The end product for both fission and combustion is the same heat, and that heat can be turned into something useful with essentially the same kinds of equipment. The initial processes are so different, however, that they represent a disruptive shift in the world’s wealth and power structure. The energy oligarchs who benefit from OPEC’s efforts to moderate supply-demand fluctuations will not be much help in an effort to increase the supply of energy, especially if it is energy that is cheaper and more reliable than coal.
                      As I have attempted to demonstrate in several posts over the years, a significant portion of the sophisticated renewables PR campaign has come from the advertising budgets of established fossil fuel companies. They like to wrap themselves up in warm and fuzzy promotions for energy sources that do not threaten their market share or that require very similar types of skills and capital assets (like biofuels).
                      Interesting discussion folks. I see significant shoals ahead until the well publicized story about the long term availability of cheap natural gas inevitably plays itself out. People were paying attention to nuclear during the rapid run up in fossil fuel prices from 2001-2008, but quickly forgot their concerns about diversity as soon as the prices collapsed. I am pretty sure that was a temporary fall due to economic conditions, but the voices that agree with me are not at the forefront in the public energy debate.

                    8. Rod Adams: “As I have attempted to demonstrate in several posts over the years, a significant portion of the sophisticated renewables PR campaign has come from the advertising budgets of established fossil fuel companies.”
                      In other words, renewables have been successful in increasing their profile than nuclear not because they were better at PR (and certainly not because they were better as power sources), but because they were not threatening to the interests of the already rich and powerful.
                      I’m in despair — is there any way to defeat these mega-rich fossil fuel oligarchs, short of the bullet?

                    9. “I surmise what many of us ‘radical’ pro-nukes would like to do is to use advanced Generation IV nuclear technologies to take over the world energy industry …”
                      Whoa, partner! One thing at a time. 😉
                      You’re not going to make much progress developing advanced Generation IV nuclear reactors if you don’t build some of the currently available designs today. Otherwise, you wind up on the never-ending merry-go-round of perpetual R&D, where nothing ever gets built. (The DOE is quite good at that, by the way.)
                      The best thing that could happen for Generation IV technology in the West would be getting the manufacturing infrastructure back in place to build it. The only way that will happen is to build new plants in the coming years, not a decade or more from now when the first of the advanced designs will be ready for prime-time.
                      By the way, don’t assume that renewables represent the “bleeding edge” of technology, history, or anything else. If you want to make yourself rich, start planning your wind turbine recycling business today. I predict that, in about a decade or so, business will be booming.

                    10. “If you believe that you can lobby nuclear power back into vogue with a good argument …”
                      Well, please don’t assume that I intend to lobby myself. I’m no Washington insider. The best that I can do on that front is to contribute to my company’s PAC (which I do), so that they can have access to politicians to lobby for nuclear power.
                      Meanwhile, you’re welcome to start your own popular campaign. I have some experience with this. I’ve participated in pro-nuclear rallies at NRC public meetings, which were very successful … at hamstringing the anti-nuclear protesters who showed up. Unfortunately, these rallies did not accomplish much else. To mount even a minor campaign on a local level requires a significant amount of resources. To attempt something at the level that would be needed to influence public opinion on a national scale would require an order of magnitude more. Thus, I’m skeptical of the outcome.
                      Besides, I pay attention to the trends worldwide. In the past several years, there has been a substantial increase in interest in nuclear power worldwide. In some parts of the world — e.g., Russia, China, and India — nuclear is seen as an essential tool for developing expanding economic empires. In other parts of the world — e.g., the UAE — the government has crunched the numbers and realizes that the economics of nuclear beat everything else, including fossil fuels, if the technology can be acquired over the objections of professional non-proliferation bozos. Even parts of Europe are returning to nuclear power, with Sweden and Italy reversing their anti-nuclear policies and Germany ending its nuclear phase-out even though the majority of the German public still favors it.
                      Has any of this, anywhere in the world, been driven by a popular grassroots movement for nuclear power? No.
                      Meanwhile, the trend in the US is that acceptance and support for nuclear power is at a three-decade high according to polls (recently by a two-to-one margin). This has not gone noticed, and the professional anti-nuclear campaigners have become ever more desperate and shrill in recent years. Notice that their focus has shifted from safety to economics, the one remaining spot where they can exploit uncertainties to bamboozle the unwitting.
                      It appears that the less attention that nuclear power receives, the more people like it. Most people like things that simply work, and now that a generation has passed without the terrible accidents promised by the doom-sayers, nuclear has demonstrated that it works well. The old thinking is dying out, and it’s only a matter of time before politics follows suit. In the US, we will have to wait for old bastards like Markey and Reid to retire or die (it appears that they won’t be voted out of office), but I really don’t see much other choice.

                    11. Who said anything about a national scale campaign? Just about every NPP that is under attack, is being beset by local groups, and it is local groups that are needed to fight them. The fact that this sort of direct action has closed nuclear plants, should serve as more than enough circumstantial evidence to suggest the converse may also work.
                      Local groups can also work to rally community support for new reactors in their communities. Here in Canada Citizens for Bruce C, which would add four new reactors to the Bruce Nuclear Power Station, made the rounds of municipal councils and mounted a radio and advertising blitz in local weekly newspapers to encourage people to sign petitions in several counties to show support for the project. A similar campaign is underway at Darlington, which wants to host the new reactors.
                      Places that already have nuclear power plants because they exhibited some local support, or at least no objections should work to host new builds. There should be in those areas enough people that owe their jobs, directly or indirectly to the plant to serve as the nucleus for such an effort. Frankly I don’t know why the people that might lose their jobs at VY didn’t see the writing on the wall and launch such a movement years ago.
                      Yes nuclear power’s popularity is at an all time high. We can thank AGW and the Middle Eastern conflicts for that, but we shouldn’t be fools and think that because the old guard antinukes are loosing their teeth, that the same holds true for fossil-fuel interests and they will counterattack because they have no choice – the only other option for them is going out of business. Here too local opposition to fracking is going to be critical. If tight gas cannot be exploited, methane stops being a low-cost option.
                      There is plenty of opportunity for action on the popular front, without getting into grandiose plans for national marches and such.
                      As for countries like China, Russia, and the UAE that they have moved smoothly towards nuclear energy, is one of those ‘Mussolini made the trains run on time’ arguments, we don’t live in a Totalitarian regime, nor would we want to. You play with the hand your dealt. As for Germany the other shoe has not dropped there yet and Angela Merkel is playing with fire, and she knows it. She was caught between a rock and a hard place and had little choice but to call for an extension for the nuclear plants, as there was nowhere else to get the power for love or money.

                    12. DV82XL – Well, if you had intended to talk only about local action, then perhaps you should have been more clear. When, however, you talk about needing “a meaningful public relations program targeting the population as a whole” and how “we need our own students to get out and get active to make sure the other side doesn’t have a free reign on campus,” it sure sounds like you’re talking about a very broad movement.
                      Please forgive my confusion.
                      Anyhow, I’ve been to these “protests,” and I’ve been to anti-nuclear meetings. Don’t be so sure that the opposition to nuclear power plants is so “local” or so “grassroots.” From what I have seen, I’d say that most of the vocal opposition came from professionals who work for Public Citizen or other anti-nuclear groups and who had driven in from out of state. These are also the groups that file lawsuits to harass the owners of the plants. The “local” opposition group (from the town 40 miles away) is run by a college professor and his wife, and frankly, nobody really pays any attention to them.

                    13. I’ve seen footage of some large political rallies in contemporary US, and not all the faces in the crowd were baby-boomers. The rise of the Tea Party is a direct contradiction to Brian Mays’ contention. Mass political action can still be mounted. It just needs to be organised and marketed correctly. Mays is clearly not pleased with this idea being spread around.

                    14. “The rise of the Tea Party is a direct contradiction to Brian Mays’ contention.”
                      It’s funny that you should mention them. The last time I mentioned the Tea Party in these comments (my comment was similar to yours), I encountered more than a bit of skepticism from our blog host about whether they were a genuine grassroots movement.

                    15. @Brian – and I remain skeptical (or perhaps that even more negative word of cynical). I do recognize the power of mass movements, but I also know how difficult it is to overcome inertia and get people moving. The motive force behind something as strongly supported as the Tea Party that bursts onto the scene often comes with some really big money behind it. In this particular case, there is a good deal of evidence that people who were economically threatened by the administration’s platform – and not little threats, but alterations in wealth in the hundreds of millions to billions of dollars – supplied at least part of the juice required to mobilize the effort.
                      My contention is that there is a natural alliance of energy consumers that can overcome the established energy industry – the battle will be difficult, especially since the established energy industry has some very skilled combatants who understand the useful tool of a price war. I truly believe that the price behavior of natural gas over the next 2-3 years will be completely different from what is predicted by many of the often repeated commentators. The key will be to publicize and emphasize that as not just market behavior, but as evidence that the “experts” were wrong, and that the world’s prosperity really does depend on nuclear to grow as we consume ever more of the limited supplies of reasonably available coal, oil and gas.

                    16. The Tea Party might or might not be a ‘genuine grassroots movement’, but its existence proves that it is possible to mobilise a political mass-movement in present day America despite your denial of this.

                    17. @ Finrod,
                      I agree, especially on a local basis. I am watching the progress of a local protest movement against the conversion of a coal plant to a biomass plant. (It turns out that it will be a natural gas fired + biomass plant). A doctor out of Mass. has connected with a local pastor who is helping to protest the “biomass incinerator” they are getting people to put up yard signs and sign petitions in protest of the biomass, which according to the good doctor is “10,000 times worse than coal.” The pastor was convinced by the “studies” that this would be a horrible health effect for our community.
                      This local movement would be best met with other local people giving information and support. In this case, I hate to see a natural gas fired electric plant come in because of the dependence on natural gas and the volatility of prices as well as the actual danger of explosions. A 100% biomass plant would not have the danger of exploding, and would give local farmers some income.

                    18. Sorry, did not complete the thought, so in the same way, local groups supporting Nuclear with good clear – simple – information would be highly effective in countering the Anti’s protests. But our other problem of how to change the NRC requires a different approach.

                    19. katana0182 (Dave) wrote:
                      I probably sound like a geezer, but “kids these days” don’t even understand steam plants, or steam, or internal combustion engines, or electricity beyond that they plug it into the wall and it works, and as such, they have grossly inaccurate views about how electricity works, how machines work, and how the grid works. In much of the US, computers and software have not supplemented, but generally replaced, cars and engines, in terms of teenage and young adult male tinkering, and this is a dangerous trend if we are to remain an industrial society. This is why foolish ideas like solar PV and wind without grid storage get traction amongst opinion leaders – a lack of technical and mechanical understanding.
                      I would ask – am I accurate in assessing that this trend exists? Second – does anyone see ways to reverse this trend?

                      This young generation of concern could be addressed by going to their space. My wild dream is to have something like Farmville that I call Energyville. This application for your computer/phone/iPad/etc. allows you to pick your energy source(s), and then shows the consequences in power availability, cost, health effects and CO2 emissions. The best feature would be to link the speed of your device to the power availability. If you choose (say) wind power, and the wind stops blowing, your device essentially stops running (you can still exit the game, but it takes multiple pushes of the exit button, and response time becomes slow when power availability is lacking). The modeling needs to be realistic. It would be best to link to real existing energy sources and their availabity. The model would allow you to build power transmission lines, but they would not appear instantaneously, and you would need to pay for them (including the lawyers to obtain the right-of-way). The costs should be what a typical household would see. Energy storage would be permitted, at extra cost of course.

  3. Rod, I think that with the advent of Wind and Solar on a large scale, the perception that they are actual viable alternatives, that can be easily accessed has strongly entered the public conversation. This plus the perception, constantly reinforced that Nuclear is the most dangerous option, leads to passive agreement with most of the public when an environmental group opposes nuclear in any way. The overwhelming (false) perception that Nuclear = Dangerous over rides the whole conversation. So people think – why use something “dangerous” when we can use a “safe” alternative. People are even willing to pay more for “safety” if that’s what they think they are buying.
    These environmental groups sell “danger”
    This is why when I am talking to people, I emphasize that if they can name 3mile Island and Chernobyl they have just named nearly all the accidents that have – ever – happened. I then ask how many people died this year (well last year) in Coal, and Natural gas accidents.
    My sister was just berating me that we will never get people to accept Nuclear because it is “dangerous.” I think this is the key area. How do we change perceptions to reflect reality? How can we turn this predictable response on it’s head and show these groups to be the frauds that that truly are?

    1. David – I use a similar line about TMI and Chernobyl and also remind people that those accidents happened in 1979 and 1986 (31 and 25 years ago) yet they are still “fresh” in people’s minds. Repetition works as a memory aid.
      As you also implied, part of the story that needs to be repeated by nuclear advocates is that weather dependent sources like the wind and the sun HAVE NOT become significant contributors despite many decades worth of effort. Look at that graph again to see just how little wind produces in Wisconsin; solar is not even on the chart. Our choice is fundamentally among three fuels – coal, natural gas and uranium. All else is “decimal dust” unless you happen to have a large hydro facility nearby.

      1. One anti-nuclear e-mail correspondent of mine seems to think that covering hundreds of thousands of square miles of land in solar panels would be no big deal at all (Rod will know about it, as I sent him a copy of our discussion).

  4. If it’s worth anything, most energy transitions in history have a period when people want to go back to solar and wind (John Ericsson of Monitor fame spent years trying to use solar energy during the transition from coal to oil). One argument I found effective is to point to the UAE project. They have lots of sunshine, but are still going for nuclear.

  5. I wonder if pro-nuclear activist groups don’t get started because supporters of nuclear power doubt their ability to get results in the face of Big Petrocarbon’s overwhelming financial might with which to bribe the politicians.
    After all, in Britain over one million people marched against the invasion of Iraq — it never changed anything.

  6. I am surprised that some “environmental” group hasn’t gone after the Point Beach plant for their once-through use of cooling water from Lake Michigan instead of cooling towers. I do know it would disappoint a lot of local fishermen if the warm water discharge were to be stopped (including my dad and various uncles before they passed away).

  7. Wisconsin has a fairly ambitious program to look to solar as a renewable energy technology, and not coal (looking to meet future demand). Wisconsin has 20% the solar energy potential as Germany. It ranks 8th in solar installations, and 11th in megawatt capacity, and Madison is one of 23 cities currently involved in DOE’s Solar Cities program (called MadiSUN).
    http://solaramericacommunities.energy.gov/solaramericacities/madison/
    With programs on conservation and efficiency, as you describe, and lower demand growth over last several years, I think it’s a fairly reasonable approach for environmentalists to take to look at wind, solar, and other renewable resources rather than expensive and concentrated nuclear. If emissions alone is driving the decision, it’s a pretty good approach (nuclear is not a zero emissions energy source), but local energy issues are also motivated by jobs, pollution concerns, and energy independence (among other concerns).
    Wisconsin now has a new conservative Governor, Scott Walker, and it was a controversial local story when he accepted funding from oil giant (and political interest group) Koch Industries. They also have a new conservative Senator, Ron Johnson, who is a proponent of nuclear. So it’s hard to say where all of this will stand in the short term, but it certainly seems politics is front and center of energy issues in Wisconsin. Johnson beat out Feingold, who was a strong advocate against nuclear proliferation. I’m always a little surprised to read about the “very powerful and influential” environmental movement (vis a vis better financed and more widespread interest groups). Typically, national NGOs and local grassroots environmental groups are at the bottom of the food chain (and not the top).

    1. Wind and solar are not effective power sources, and involve more in terms of life cycle emmissions per kW.h generated than nuclear power does, even at this point when fossil fuels dominate power generation (id nuclear had a figher proportion of total power generation, the total emmissions for it would be correspondingly less, and ‘renewables’ could never reach the penetration levels needed to make a difference). Also, counting on a prolonged economic downturn is NOT a plausible long-term energy strategy.
      Environmental groups represent the interests of very powerful industries who will do anything to cripple the advancement of nuclear power.

    2. @EL: Are you suggesting you think it’s a *good* idea to put solar panels in Wisconsin? Seems to me that solar power is pretty inappropriate in most places north of the Mason-Dixon line.
      I’m not an anti-solar person, exactly, but I do think it only has the potential to make sense in certain places. Solar in AZ, TX, NM, NV, SoCal? Sure, that probably makes some sense. Solar in WI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, or New England? Probably not. . . too few hours of daylight most of the year, too many cloudy days, too much snow/ice during the winter months.
      Seems to me that solar in such places is a huge waste of money?

      1. @ Jeff Schmidt. Wisconsin is still predominantly a rural state. According to Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, which has a number of publications on energy resources in the State, “PV-generated power is less expensive than conventional power technologies where load is small or the area is too difficult to serve by electric utilities.”
        http://psc.wi.gov/thelibrary/publications/electric/electric04.pdf
        Nobody is saying solar PV will ever reach significant levels of penetration (beyond 15 or 20% statewide), but it does make sense for some areas and conditions. And there is some interest in drawing attention and interest from renewable energy manufacturing companies and services too (creating jobs). You can see where many of these projects are based:
        http://www.focusonenergy.com/files/Document_Management_System/Renewables/renewableprojects_map.pdf
        At the end of 2008, Wisconsin’s Division on Energy (termed “Focus on Energy”) funded 531 solar hot water projects and 470 solar PV systems. The recession hurt these initiatives too (as they did nuclear), and politics is back on the table as a crucial deciding factor. It looks to me like we’re back to shipping local jobs overseas once again, hurting rural economies, and canceling larger long-term construction projects (such as rail projects between Chicago and Milwaukee and Milwaukee and Madison

      2. Mason-Dixon line is a reasonable rule for the US. I’d argue that an equivalent rule for Eurasia could be “Unless your country either is or used to be Muslim, forget it”. In fact in the Mediterranean and western Asia, the 2000 hours per year isohel corresponds almost exactly with the historic northern limit of Muslim conquest. (The Italian peninsula is the main exception.)
        http://earth.rice.edu/mtpe/geo/geosphere/hot/energyfuture/Sunlight.jpg

  8. @Ron … what is the source for your pie chart showing 63% coal, 21% nuclear, 9% natural gas, etc. (and your reason for looking at it this way)? The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau published a legislative brief on energy sources in Wisconsin dated June 2010. Their results show a very different way of slicing of the pie (not primarily focused on electricity, but heating for residential and commercial buildings, and also transportation, which in the future may include more electricity sources).
    http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lrb/pubs/wb/10wb3.pdf
    30.8% coal, 8% nuclear, 4.5% renewables, 23.6% natural gas, 5.4% electricity imports, 27.6% petroleum. Looking at it this way highlights one of the central tenets of the political culture in Wisconsin, a focus on political independence and reliance on local resources and State generated human talent. The heavy reliance on coal in the State, as a domestic source of energy, is a reflection of this tradition. These statistics come from the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence. Looking at it this way also suggests ways that nuclear and renewable energy technologies can make good headway in State by making best use of local interests and agendas (and appealing to local concerns). The Wisconsin biogas initiatives on dairy farms is one example … a low carbon power source adapted to regional economies enhancing local independence and well suited to lifestyles and stressed rural entrepreneurs in the State. Looking for win win solutions are an ideal way to educate people on the best case options for a particular energy source (nuclear or otherwise). From my understanding, environmentalists get pretty short shrift in Wisconsin (as they have done in comments below), primarily because national organizations are not well received in State (and run against local traditions of doing things “on our own” and fostering goals of local and state resources and independence). Duly noted, Wisconsin doesn’t mine any coal in the State, so they are not radically opposed to shipping the stuff in from nearby Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana and elsewhere.

    1. EL – Your graph most likely shows the breakdown for all primary energy, which is why petroleum receives such a large share (for transportation) and natural gas receives such a large share (for home heating).
      Much of the “renewables” slice is no doubt from home wood stoves. The share of that pie that would be allocated to wind, solar, biogas, etc., would be tiny (less than 1% combined) — i.e., even smaller than they appear on Rod’s graph, which covers only electric power.
      By the way, you can find energy statistics for Wisconsin at the EIA’s website.
      Note that Wisconsin does not import much coal from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Montana. As the link above points out: “About four-fifths of the coal used in Wisconsin arrives by railcar from Wyoming.”
      Unless you consider Wyoming to be “local” to Wisconsin, I would say that the state’s “focus on political independence and reliance on local resources” is a complete and utter failure. Wisconsin gets about half of its electricity from coal imported from Wyoming, and it gets over 87% of its primary energy from sources that can in no way be considered “local.”

    1. Maybe in Brazil it was easier though for two reasons:
      1) Fossil fuel money has much less domination of Brazilian politics than US politics.
      2) Brazil is a Third World country, meaning it was far more difficult for anti-development politics to gain traction.

      1. @ George Carty
        You should take another look at Brazil. It is an economic juggernaut on the scale of India and China, and is making huge strides in growth, sustainability, and living standards. It’s currently the 8th largest global economy by nominal GDP, 9th in purchasing power, and has one of the fastest growing economies of the major economies of the world (7.6% GDP growth). Their aerospace industry is competitive with Boeing and Airbus (Embraer), it’s the largest exporter of iron in the world, has large manufacturing and auto industries, agriculture and livestock, near full employment, national health care, large public universities, and a vibrant oil extraction and development sector (Petrobras, ethanol industry, and some of the largest deepwater oil reserves which they are just beginning to develop). Brazil is almost entirely energy independent (largely because of it’s commitment to ethanol production), huge hydro reserves (one of the largest energy storage capacities of any country), and has only two nuclear power plants (Angara I & II for total of 1245 MW). Development of future nuclear power plants (first proposed in 1975) were stalled by funding woes, Brazilian content agreements, and front end fuel concerns.
        The oil lobby is quite strong in Brazil (due to power of Petrobras and deepwater reserves offshore), and Greenpeace may have backed off because it was looking to more crucial fights in the Amazon, and it also saw the writing on the wall. Having a single petition drive is hardly a concerted or focused effort, much less organized by a yahoo hanging out at high schools in Rio and S

        1. @EL – I agree, let’s take another look at Brazil and recognize that moving forward with nuclear at a time when inflation is running at even 10-20% is very challenging due to the importance of capital costs during construction. I cannot imagine anyone getting into a lengthy and challenging building process of any kind when inflation is running at 1100-2400%.
          Now that those times are past, check out what Brazil is doing about future nuclear – http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf95.html
          Here is a sample quote:
          “In November 2006 the government announced plans to complete Angra 3 and also build four further 1000 MWe nuclear plants from 2015 at a single site. Angra 3 construction approval was confirmed by Brazil’s National Energy Policy Council in June 2007 and received Presidential approval in July. Environmental approval was granted in March and all other approvals by July 2009. In December 2008, Eletronuclear signed an industrial cooperation agreement with Areva, confirming that Areva will complete Angra 3 and be considered for supplying further reactors. Areva also signed a services contract for Angra 1.
          First concrete for Angra 3 was due in 2009. A construction licence was granted by the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) at the end of May 2010, and construction resumed two days later, in June. The plant is expected in operation at the end of 2015 after 66 months. In December 2010, Brazilian national development bank BNDES approved BRL 6.1 billion (US$ 3.6 billion) in financing for Angra 3, covering almost 60% of the BRL 9.9 billion estimated cost.
          Economically, power from existing nuclear plants is about 1.5 times more expensive than that from established hydro, and power from Angra 3 is expected to be slightly over twice as expensive as old hydro, about the same as that from coal and cheaper than that from gas. Overall, including Angra 3 in projections reduces network prices slightly.
          Plans to build two new nuclear plants in the northeast and two more near Angra in the southeast are underway1. At the end of 2009, Eletronuclear commenced initial siting studies at four potential locations in the northeast2. Eletronuclear is looking at the Westinghouse AP1000 (which is reported to be favoured), the Areva-Mitsubishi Atmea-1 and Atomstroyexport’s VVER-1000. However, funding is likely to be a problem.”

          1. The two nuclear power plants in Brazil have never made any money, and appear to be related to enhancing the enrichment activities of the nation, ties with Argentina (an aspiring nuclear power), and as a pre-cursor to a weapons program (here and here). We are familiar with this game elsewhere, Lula was a complicated and very interesting man, but marketing the program (and what it is) are two entirely different things. Brazil has not been a very cooperative player in the past on nuclear technologies, global security, and non-proliferation agreements (a further sign they seek to rank among the top of internationally powerful nations). As the German news story suggest, many feel Rousseff is likely to be no different. These trends are worrisome and don’t build confidence in nuclear as a viable global and peacetime energy strategy.

                1. So Brazil has the temerity to make their own foreign policy in nuclear matters, and want to protect proprietary information, thus they are dishonest. Meanwhile the US leans on Canada and Australia to sign agreements that they will not ever process their own domestic supplies of uranium into enriched fuel.

  9. From the experience in New England over the last 30 years, the debate has gotten very emotional. Some in the anti-nuclear movement will do anything to “throw sand in the gears.” If they can get a plant into court and cause delay, and the issue is round versus square door knobs, they will. And be happy. We were at an anti nuclear meeting when the “tririum” leak occurred at Vermont Yankee. They were overjoyed.

  10. Rod, it’s also worth noting that the first utility-scale wind turbine (the Smith-Putnam) predates the first man-made chain reaction.

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