1. The natural gas business interests certainly won’t do us any favors. But many of the nuclear industry’s problems are self-inflicted. After years of blindly accepting any INPO recommendation, we have the “restore the nuclear promise” initiative to remove the accumulated detritus. Probably too late. Then there are the missteps in the AP1000 saga. Even if they are built, it might be a Pyrrhic victory.

    As long as the nuclear industry’s business model is centered around a customer laying out billions of dollars and years of uncertainty for a prototype, there is not much chance of improvement.

    1. I’m disappointed that the imminent startup of the first AP1000 at Sanmen this year hasn’t brightened the prospects for Westinghouse/Toshiba.  That is a milestone that should be impossible to ignore, but it has been.  It shows just how hostile the legal and regulatory environment is in the USA versus China.

      NuScale and Thorcon have two different paths to vending certified and proven products built on production lines, but it looks like both of them will get around the “billions for a prototype” problem.  I wish them both luck.

      1. I wish them luck too, but given the sacrifice they’ve made on economy of scale, I’m afraid that if they want to be economically competitive (not just with large reactors, but with gas and renewables as well) they will need to insist on “credit” for what they’ve gained in terms of inherent safety and extremely small potential release.

        Basically, these reactors aren’t capable of causing any significant harm. And we need to regulate them accordingly (if nuclear is to have much of a future). I’m considering trying to spear head a couple of petitions before the NRC…..

  2. Natural gas power plants continue to put excess CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. So burning natural gas will only exacerbate global warming, ocean acidity, and the rise of global sea levels.

    However, natural gas power plants can be cheaply and easily modified to burn renewable methanol. And remotely sited ocean nuclear power plants could be used to produce renewable methanol from the electrolysis of seawater and CO2 extracted from seawater or from the atmosphere or from the pyrolysis of biowaste imported from coastal cities.

    So, in the long run, existing natural gas power plants could be viewed as– future nuclear power plants– once they’re modified to burn methanol produced by several hundred nuclear power plants floating in vast remote US territorial waters.


    1. If you build the nuclear plants to make the methane, why waste the additional energy. Why not just make the electricity and not take the added losses to make the methane…that just makes the whole process more inefficient.

      1. It looks like he wants to exile the nuclear plants to far-away waters where they can be neither picketed by anti-nukes nor regulated or sued out of existence by our hostile lobbies and their wholly-owned government.

        Like you, I don’t think the physical inefficiencies involved will allow that.

        1. I just don’t believe that people it the US are going to allow more than 3000 1000 MWe nuclear power plants to be built in their neighborhoods over the next 30 years. And that’s what we’re going to need if the US is going to help stop the creation of an atmosphere that could someday be far more familiar to the the extinct dinosaurs, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, and ammonites than to us– with the dramatically higher sea levels to go with it.


      2. Electricity production in the US only comprises about 39% of the energy consumption in the US. So you’d need a five fold increase in the number of nuclear power plants in the US just to produce electricity.

        Producing synfuels for transportation: automobiles, trucks, ships, planes, etc. would require more than 1500 one GWe nuclear power plants.

        The production of industrial chemicals and fuels related to heating and cooking and other processes would probably require another 1500 one GWe nuclear power plants.

        So I don’t see a country (the US) that already has political problems keeping about 100 nuclear power plants operational adding more than 3000 one GWe domestic terrestrial nuclear power plants in the near future.

        Using remotely sited Ocean Nuclear power plants to manufacture synfuels for electricity, transportation, and industrial chemicals has another advantage. They could be– carbon negative– if the CO2 from the converted methanol power plants is recovered from the flu gasses and shipped back out to sea so that the floating nuclear power plants can manufacture more carbon synfuels.

        But this system would only continue to be– carbon negative– until all fossil fuel electric power plants are completely replaced with methanol power plants using renewable methanol produced from nuclear power plants. The nuclear synfuel system would then be only carbon neutral.


        1. “The production of industrial chemicals and fuels related to heating and cooking and other processes would probably require another 1500 one GWe nuclear power plants.”

          The point was made that producing electricity directly is probably more efficient. Electricity can be used as a safe heating source to eliminate a lot of fuels. Electric cars and electric trains are good for emission free transportation.

          1. Getting electricity directly from nuclear power plants is obviously more efficient than converting nuclear electricity into fuel and then converting that fuel back into electricity. But building the 300 to 400 domestic nuclear plants needed to make US electricity production carbon neutral is not so easy.

            The central mass production of Ocean Nuclear Power plants, on the other hand, would allow thousands of nuclear power plants to be remotely sited for the production of methanol that can already be used in modified natural gas power plants in the US and around the world. Methanol can also be easily converted into gasoline for automobiles in the US and around the world.

          2. Marcel, you think the construction of thousands of nuclear plants to make liquid fuels inefficiently is going to be more economic than building ~400 plants to supply electricity directly?

            Curious conclusion.  Do feel free to expand the argument for why you believe this is true.

            As for me, I’m working on a way to transform energy in ways which I hope will have high efficiency and produce essential products at high yield.  Converting electricity into hydrogen to reduce carbon dioxide for liquid fuels enters it exactly nowhere.

          3. “Marcel, you think the construction of thousands of nuclear plants to make liquid fuels inefficiently is going to be more economic than building ~400 plants to supply electricity directly? Curious conclusion. Do feel free to expand the argument for why you believe this is true.”

            I think we could add 400 GWe domestically on existing sites, if small nuclear reactors were allowed to grow at such sites. But there is no way we’re going to add the more than 3000 GWe of electricity we’ll need to completely replace America’s need for fossil fuels. Plus at least 15,000 more one GWe nuclear reactors are going to be needed to make the rest of the world carbon neutral– at current population levels.

            Capital cost is the largest cost component of nuclear electricity. The serial mass production of thousands of Ocean Nuclear power plants could dramatically reduce the capital cost for each reactor, making electricity from ocean nuclear produced methanol competitive with electricity directly produced from local nuclear power plants.

            However, if urban garbage is used to make methanol then the plasma arc pyrolysis of biowaste would produce over 6 KWh of electricity for every KWh of nuclear electricity produced. Plus coastal cities around the world would pay to have their urban biowaste removed, adding to the economic advantage. So, initially, Ocean Nuclear power plants using global garbage resources as a carbon source could produce more than six times as much electricity per kilowatt than domestic nuclear power plants.

          4. I’ve posted my reply to this comment here for readability, and as soon as Rod rescues it from moderation purgatory you can have at it.

  3. “So burning natural gas will only exacerbate global warming, ocean acidity, and the rise of global sea levels.”

    So, the solution, for NG producers, suppliers, and users, is to convince John Q that global warming is is not established fact, and is unsupported by science. Thats where Trump, and his cabinet full of fossil fuel pimps and science deniers come in. And of course, to successfully pull it off, they need a remarkably ignorant and partisan base of supporters, lying media mouthpieces, and compliant congressional grifters. Its a perfect storm of deception, and so far, they’re getting away with it.

    1. Natural gas suppliers love the climate change narrative. NG is the only feasible fuel supply for the backup renewables require. I suspect that the NG industry in particular, spends much money on sowing seeds of doubt regarding climate change among the public.

      The climate models are over-estimating the degree of surface temperature change, sending climatologists scurrying to find the “missing heat”. The story is being recognized for the exaggeration it is. The nuclear industry made a big mistake thinking that it could sway “green” opinion. Climate change is just another means to restructure the world to their liking.

      1. I don’t know if it is still true, but a few years ago, many of the board members of the AWEA (American Wind Energy Association) were Big Gas executives.

    2. If the left could sell GW better by being honest about the limitations and unknowns of climate science it would be helpful. Not that they even bother to learn the most basic realities of electricity production or real and mitigate-able threats to species.

      So im DONE with the “Global Warming” hypocrites. I really dont even care to discus it. Im pro nuclear as a important tech we need to develop and utilize.

      Trump gives his personal opinion on matters openly and honestly too. Not final policy directives, his stated opinion. I find it refreshing. Even when he is wrong he is honest about it and it gets out there for discussion. Thats an vast, incredible improvement in my book.

      1. “Trump gives his personal opinion on matters openly and honestly too.”

        Its laughable seeing the words “Trump” and “honesty” in the same sentence. He’s a pathological liar, and proves it almost daily.

        1. Whats your source? The foundation of that opinion? Fake News?? Yes this goes back to Fukushima as well. That was “fake news” for the most part but now left leaning media and political opinion is no longer trusted carte blanche.

          1. To deny that Trump has lied, repeatedly, is a lie onto itself. I won’t dignify your purposeful dishonesty with a citation of his never ending string of lies.

          2. Weird how the Republicans keep winning then. Democrats hold historic lows in office. Near post Civil War numbers in many cases. Something about your approach to political issues must be counterproductive or incorrect. If it is that “purposeful” or obvious.

          3. I take it all back..theres no way Time Magazine would put a pathological liar on one of its covers….

            Oh..uh..hey, wait a minute.


          4. To deny that Trump has lied, repeatedly, is a lie onto itself.

            Do you mean lies like “If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it”?
            Maybe “‘Fast and Furious’ began under the Bush administration”?

            Perhaps outright incitement of hate against law enforcement and victims of aggravated assault, like “police acted stupidly” and “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”?

            If not, then what ARE you talking about?

          5. Again, EP, if you are denying that Trump has lied blatantly and prolifically, then your denial is a lie, because there are so many indisputable lies that have been advanced by him. Willful ignorance, or disingenous denial, is underserving of attention or response.

          6. Trump Derangement Syndrome is an ugly, ugly thing.  Especially when the source of the “information” is America’s Pravda, which tries to decide what is and is not news:

            perhaps you can blather some idiotic grunt like “FAKE NEWS!” after reading them.

            I have to, because it’s true.  Who gives a damn how many times someone was on the cover of a propaganda rag like Time?  It affects nothing.  On the other hand there’s evidence of millions of illegal aliens registered to vote, and many of them did.

            That’s in addition to evidence that Obama’s nomination in 2008 was rigged.

            Then we have things like one precinct in Detoilet which sent in a sealed ballot box containing just 50 ballots after counting 306 votes.  Ponder a country-full of that.

            Just recently, a study found as many as 5.7 million non-citizen voters in 2008 and years of illegal immigration and pushes against voter ID laws means the number was almost certainly higher in 2016.

            Non-citizens vote in sufficient numbers to swing elections.

            You really ought to watch your output of hate.  All the paperwork-Americans on US soil have places to go.  Mexicans, even to the third and fourth generation, are claimed by Mexico and can go back.  Afghans and Syrians have safe zones.  Pakistanis, Indians, Chinese, Africans… their motherlands beckon.  But the European founding population of the USA has nowhere to go.  When you press on them, you are pressing for their genocide.  The problem is, blatant statements like this are waking them up and they increasingly understand that they have no option but to fight.

            If you’ve declared your intent to kill someone who only wants to be left alone and take any action to do so, you’ve given them the moral right to kill you first.  If you’re the Jon Hall known as “maddog”, your reputation should be all anyone needs.

          7. First of all even before Photoshop ads commonly appeared for “put your face on Time magazine” covers. It was a popular novelty. You could actually check before posting something so mundane. But I guess thats too much trouble.

            Btw that is “fake news” too. Meaningless propaganda for the ignorant masses.

          8. Also THE FIRST comment in your “Lies” OPINION piece :

            ‘ “Jan. 21 “I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq.” (He was for an invasion before he was against it.)’

            There is no public statement by Trump before the war expressing support or disagreement. He expressed concern and relief regarding the war’s effects on financial markets later.

            So out of the gate that’s “Fake News” too. Can you check anything yourself ?

  4. I strongly suspect that “renewable methanol” is about as renewable as wood, e.g. tropical forest, or the long vanished great oaks of Shillelagh in Ireland that were cut down to make “pipe staves” for smoking, so I have read.

  5. I don’t think fighting natural gas is a winner.

    As was the case before the election, the only way to save operating nuclear plants is by subsidy. New York and Illinois are now the models. I am a libertarian anti-subsidy guy but if you subsidize my competition for a particular feature (i.e. zero CO2 emissions) then it should be uniformly applied to all producers. That would include nuclear and hydro in addition to wind and solar.

    That’s the only game in town now. I think the good news has shifted some from zero emissions to grid stability. Also a valid issue. I think overall the transition from Obama to Trump is a slight positive for the industry.

    Is it enough? Not unless more states join NY and IL.

    1. IL is broke. Outside of Wall Street, NY has been in economic decline since 1960.

      Both are losing productive population and trying to compensate with illegal aliens just to maintain census numbers for political representation.

      Neither will be able to maintain food stamps for nuclear power for long. It’s the equivalent of breaking a mans legs and giving him crutches.

    2. If natural gas was being rewarded for emitting less CO2 than coal, then nuclear should receive roughly twice the reward.  It should receive every subsidy and credit awarded to wind power.

      That was the blatant bias of the CPP:  nuclear power had at least twice the emissions impact as NG OCGTs, but was completely cut out of compensation for the benefits provided.

    3. I fear the deal in NY was to trade Fitzpatrick for Indian Point. Riverkeepers (another “environmental” organization captured by the Natural Gas industry) and the Natural Gas Industry itself wants Indian Point shut down because it is at the gates of a huge market for Gas: Westchester County and New York City itself. Allowing Fitzpatrick to remain operating is a small price to pay to kill a Major installation sopping up so much of the electrical generation market in a prized Market geography.

      1. @John C

        I suspect you are correct. Entergy was probably more than willing to go along with the deal; they made a decision to exit merchant nuclear energy several years ago. They were apparently willing to write off any cost necessary to achieve their retreat into the safe and comfortable zone of being a regulated monopoly electricity utility.

    1. We don’t even really know that for sure. No yet within general, honest accounting. Do we?

      1. Oh yes. A well run CCGT, combined cycle gas turbine, produces half the carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of a coal burner. Maybe there is also natural gas leakage to consider. So a straight trade of a new CCGT for an old coal fired power plant is just a slower way to continue to add excess carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

        Adding so-called renewables just slows down the rate as 100% renewables is not possible.

        What will work is nuclear reactors energizing heat stores. The heat is used for industrial purposes, space heating, as well as generating electricity when the so-called renewables are not being energized. That can be made carbon dioxide negative, which is the way to avoid Hell.

        1. “What will work is nuclear….yadayadayada”

          And Trump, with his feckless staff of science deniers, alt right wack jobs, religious fanatics, and downright grifters is taking it in the opposite direction. Good luck with that.

          1. Jon, while Trump may be pushing the “denier” side of the agenda, do you also see that the climate change “embracers” are doing just as much harm as the deniers, as long as they cling to the belief that only “renewables” reduce CO2 emissions?

            On one side, we have folks like Trump, who deny there is a problem and wish to continue historical business practices.

            On the other side, we have folks who embrace the problem description, and then cling to a “solution” which does **nothing** to solve the problem, but consumes vast resources, makes necessities increasingly unreliable and drives up the cost of energy for society. These embracers also violently reject any solution to the climate problem that is not their given dogma.

            Looking at both of these groups, I just can’t see Trump as all that evil. They’re both taking us down a path to ruin. And the embracers will get us there faster, as they are squandering capital, both treasure and human willingness, that we would need later, in teh event we ever actually decide to implement solutions that actually do address CO2 emissions.

            Or are you of the opinion that wind and solar actually do anything to fight climate change?

        2. Yes, David I was speaking of total carbon costs. Leakage, infrastructure upgrades and changes, employees, markets, equipment modifications, etc. I have no idea what some might now laughingly call the “real science” is.

          Im not bashing cheap gas or electricity of course. Inexpensive energy and access to affordable goods and services likely improves countless lives. Just as new technology and knowledge eventually does as well.

          Im not sure there is a way to realistically avoid “hell” or even slow it all that much. But im also not sure as to what sinks, sources and feedbacks will come into play or what mitigation efforts will be available.

          But regarding species loss – which I am assuming is also your greatest concern, as it is mine, knowing agriculture, habitat encroachment and large scale waterway modification is the greatest drivers of species loss currently – I see the “greens” as doing more damage than good at this point. At great expense as well.

          1. @John T Tucker”Im not sure there is a way to realistically avoid “hell” or even slow it all that much.”

            If Gore and Clinton had actually wanted to reduce CO2 emissions, instead of creating an investment opportunity/payoff for Gore, here’s how things would have gone.

            First, they would have declared (recommended to congress) a program to covert at least 80% (total) of the USA’s electricity to nuclear. 20% was already there, and 7% was hydro, so that would have meant replacing 53+% of existing generation with nuclear. Call it 250 new nuclear reactors.

            Second, they would have acknowledged that the problems of electricity CO2 emissions and transportation CO2 emissions are nearly completely orthogonal, (one almost completely petroleum, the other using almost no petroleum) and that solving transportation CO2 emissions will be very hard.

            However, they would start by proposing changes in the tax/subsidy structure so that moving freight by rail gets at least as much of an advantage as moving freight by truck does. Currently, trucks do virtually all the damage to roads for which maintenance dollars are spent, yet motorists pay the bulk of the taxes. If trucks had to pay as much as it costs to fix the damage they do, they’d all go out of business.

            So change the structure to move virtually all intercity freight to rail which is vastly more efficient than trucking.

            Third, begin electrifying the rail systems and create a program of hybrid diesel/electric locomotives that can draw electricity from overhead wire (or whatever method makes sense). Freight locomotives are already diesel to electric drive, so this would simply mean adding an option to draw the electricity externally rather than generating it on board. Where electrified rail is not yet implemented, they would continue to burn diesel, until it’s done.

            Fourth, begin a program to build a series of nuclear powered freighters. Don’t expect to get it right the first time with a big expensive over studied contract. Build proto-types, and then refine.

            Eventually, in about 10 years, the navy’s research to create hydrocarbon fuels from energy, water, and dissolved CO2 extracted from seawater would come along to fill the last piece of the puzzle (transportation petroleum replacement).

            That would have solved the CO2 problem, for the USA at least. We’d probably be done by now.

        3. “Oh yes. A well run CCGT, combined cycle gas turbine, produces half the carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of a coal burner.”

          I believe that both the capital and maintenance costs for natural gas are lower than for both coal and nuclear. The operating costs will be less as long as the fuel costs are low. It takes a small crew to operate these plants. They also have a high thermodynamic efficiency.

          The global warming thing is a tough sell. Many of us are familiar with the blue natural gas flame and have some difficulty seeing it as a global threat. The exhaust from natural gas stoves is mixed with home air and seems to produce little ill effect.

          It may only be when the price of gas rises again as Peak Oil predicts that nuclear power may be in ascendance again.

          1. The carbon dioxide concentration is now over 400 ppm. The last time it was so high was the mid-Pliocene with global temperatures over 2 °C higher than now and sea levels about 25 meters higher than now. So if carbon dioxide levels remain at least at the same level, once equilibrium is obtained the same will occur. Looks bad; I call it Hell.

          2. @Eino

            Don’t forget that the CCGT has no onsite fuel storage. It is simply the last part of a very long supply chain that requires a continuous chain of property condemnations to build.

            Where pipelines exist, cheap gas may produce cheap power. There are inadequate pipelines into coal country and out of new resource areas.

            I like Brayton cycle gas turbines. They would be almost perfect power generators if the heat source was a high temperature gas cooled reactor and the working fluid was N2, an inert gas that is abundantly available around the globe in the form 80% of our atmosphere. (http://atomicengines.com)

          3. “Don’t forget that the CCGT has no onsite fuel storage. It is simply the last part of a very long supply chain that requires a continuous chain of property condemnations to build.”

            I might add that natural gas can be stored as LNG. In between stints at nuclear plants, I did some work at an LNG storage facility over thirty years ago. It had the peculiar problem of ground wires breaking beneath the tanks due to the cold temperatures created as the gas expanded. More of these facilities can be built as required.

            Some gas must be used to run the compressors.


            I believe the price of natural gas will inevitably go up. The usage is increasing very quickly. Peak oil (gas) is still a reality. Diminishing returns is still a reality.

            1. @Eino

              Natural gas can be stored as LNG. Facilities that produce LNG “economically” cost billions of dollars per train. As you note, LNG tanks have certain maintenance quirks.

              The only U.S. CCGT facility that I know of that can count on LNG to allow it to produce without fuel interruptions is on the LNG terminal site in Senator Markey’s former congressional district.

              CCGTs can be provided with “dual fuel” capability that allows them to burn distillate fuel oil (kerosene or diesel fuel) when gas supplies are interrupted. This is a much lower cost solution, especially in regions where the RTO I’m looking at you, New England – subsidizes the cost of installing tanks and stockpiling reserve fuel as part of a reliability program.

  6. Even the most efficient gas-fired plants release in the range of 400 grams of CO2 equivalent per kwhr. Nuclear plants are in the range of 6 grams per kwhr. Replacement of plants like Diablo Canyon and SONGS with CCGT will result in about 15 million more tons of CO2 equivalent released to the environment. Regardless of what one thinks about climate change, throwing 15 million more tons of CO2 into the biosphere cannot be considered a good thing.

    With all due respect to the Trump bashers, nuclear energy is being driven from these shores not by one man in the White House. These are decisions being made in boardrooms across the country who see only the next quarter’s bottom line as the marker of success or failure. They are policies being written and voted on in state legislatures, which continue to award generous subsidies to non-nuclear “renewable” generators while standing by and watching valuable power generation infrastructure with decades of useful life left thrown onto the scrap heap. But as long as fracked gas fills the pipelines, who cares if the noose is tightening?

    1. Not just that.  The repeal of PUHCA allowed the utilities to grab un-regulated profits by self-dealing for fuel, passing along their markups as “cost increases” that don’t have to be justified to regulators and go straight onto electric bills.

      That doesn’t work when your fuel costs $0.007/kWh.

  7. More Gas Exports.

    “The Department of Energy has now authorized a total of 21.33 Bcf/d of natural gas exports to any country in the world from planned facilities in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and the Gulf of Mexico. The Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project would further position the United States to become a predominant LNG supplier to the rest of the world.” ( https://energy.gov/articles/us-department-energy-authorizes-additional-liquefied-natural-gas-exports-lake-charles )

    So anywhere from around 3 – 5 percent of LNG is lost in boil off during shipping. Realistic pipeline losses are around 5 – 10 percent. A leakage rate of 2.8 percent is thought to cancel out NG climate advantages over Oil and Coal.

    1. Boil-off is not the same as losses to atmosphere.  LNG boiloff on tanker ships is either re-liquefied or burned as fuel in the engines; there are no significant losses to the air.

      Most losses in the NG system appear to be from e.g. pneumatically-operated valves which are pressurized with natural gas instead of compressed air and vented to atmosphere upon depressurization.  These losses would be easy to reduce or eliminate by replacing the NG with air, but that costs money and without any requirement to do so nobody will bother.

      1. Thanks EP did not know that ! Or forgot it. I wonder what the entire terminal to terminal loss is. I imagine there is some.

        I also didn’t go with US gov estimates of leak rates under 2 pct as they were not consistent with other countries/global leak rates. Does that look correct?

          1. I think I need to start differentiating loss and leaking into the atmosphere. Loss would involve leaks but also the gas consumed in infrastructure support. That appears to be reoccurring consumption somewhere around 10 pct (above or below) of TOTAL capacity and more independent of actual use. Realistic atmospheric leak rates are probably somewhere around 1-4 pct id imagine. Strange its still such a vaguely understood/publicized issue.

      2. Also it appears more gas is being consumed in the background as the delivery process becomes more diverse/complicated – just as a general transport issue. Is that correct?

  8. I wonder, does Rod even care that the wackjob blatherings, and sources cited by EP, completely destroys the credibility of this site? I’m suprised EP or Tucker haven’t advanced the Pizza gate conspiracy lately, as EP has done in the past. But really, the premise that millions of illegals, voting in California, cost Trump the popular vote, is just as ludicrous. The argument that the ignorant blather of a couple of commenters destroy this site’s credibility isn’t premised on their blather. It is premised on the rest of the commenters here, including Rod, who let the bullsh*t go unchallenged.

    So carry on. Millions of illegals voted, Pizza Gate is real and true, and we, consequently, should trust what is said here about NE.

    1. Do you have any opinion or insight that is related to Gas / Energy / Climate? Is that too much to ask? You brought other political topics up as a basis for your beliefs but still you have yet to offer any truly related conversation.

      1. Yes..Tucker……as a matter of fact, I do. And that opinion is that if one is going to discuss energy issues on a site that allows sourcings like EP’s, above, or has batch of followers that don’t challenge out and out BS, (like Pizza Gate) or the purveyors of BS EP links to, above, he might as well be discussing it with Donald Duck.

  9. Massive smoking gun. I hope Rod writes about it.


    Trump boasting about a huge new US gas export contract to South Korea, right after their newly elected president sets out to replace both coal and nuclear with (mainly) gas. Follow the money…..

    I’m going to be posting about Trump’s hopeful sounding “review of nuclear regulations”. Wondering what the scope really is, and whether it represents any hope for the fundamental changes that nuclear really needs. Is this the opportunity, that could come from a Trump presidency, to tangibly help nuclear? Articles like the one above lead me to doubt this, and fear that the regulatory review is just for show. It’s a reminder of which side Trump is really on. Could it be that Trump played a role in killing of one of the few successful nuclear programs in the whole world, just to serve the gas industry?

    1. As I have been saying for months now. Only an IDIOT would believe that all these oil big wigs, climate change deniers, and outright fossil fuel pimps are going to give NE a leg up. The fact that you can’t believe a word that comes out of this administration makes it even harder to read the tea leaves. But one thing is for sure, it ain’t about science, or the people’s interests.

      1. The fact that you can’t believe a word that comes out of this administration makes it even harder to read the tea leaves. But one thing is for sure, it ain’t about science, or the people’s interests

        Careful, you’re sounding as unhinged as the Berniebros who shot up the Congressional baseball team and stabbed two people on the Portland light-rail to death.  Get a grip before something unfortunate happens.

        Something that would endear DJT to you (if you were paying attention) is that almost ALL of Washington is out to get him.  If you think it’s a mess that needs to be purged, DJT is your man.  He was the only true outsider both rich and clever enough to win a nomination and then the general election.

        One of the consequences is that DJT has found it extremely useful to use sleight of hand to keep the attack dogs of both the left and the establishment right (what some of us now call the “Uniparty”) distracted while he gets work done.  As an example, take his promise to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on his first day in office.  Illegal immigrants are STILL being issued work permits under DACA.  He could have terminated it with a stroke of his pen, so why not?

        Texas sued to get Obama’s DAPA scheme prohibited.  This suit succeeded.  Texas has another suit in the pipeline to overturn DACA.  Trump doesn’t have to do anything to make it successful; all it takes is a refusal by Justice (Jeff Sessions) to defend the EO in court, and DACA is a goner.  By doing nothing, DJT fulfills his campaign pledge to get rid of DACA, without giving anyone anything to attack.

        Is there not a suit by SARI and others to overturn the EPA’s unscientific use of LNT and consequent ALARA exposure standards for all radiation-related work?  Watch where the administration comes down on this.  If Scott Pruitt refuses to defend LNT/ALARA—and that may happen—then the most damaging parts of the nuclear regulatory regime take a sword thrust to the heart.  That would have huge effects across both the nuclear and health industries, among others.  A rate/threshold exposure standard would make medical imaging cheaper, make dental X-rays better (a point of interest to me, as “image gently” means that my dense teeth don’t get properly imaged for decay) and make the planning and execution of all radiation-exposed work at nuclear plants far faster, simpler and cheaper.  The disaster planning boundaries and actions for nuclear plant accidents would shrink and become far less onerous.  The associated costs are slashed.

        Donald J. Trump may become the nuclear industry’s best friend by literally sitting on his hands.  Don’t believe he isn’t smart enough to do it; he’s showing that he is.

        1. @E-P

          I’m not aware of any lawsuits to overturn unscientific use of LNT at EPA and NRC, but I am aware that there are petitions pending at both regulatory bodies for new rulemaking using modern science instead of assertions without supporting evidence.

    2. Trump: “Today, I am proudly announcing six brand-new initiatives to propel this new era of American energy dominance. First, we will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector — which I’m so happy about — which produces clean, renewable and emissions-free energy. A complete review of U.S. nuclear energy policy will help us find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource. And I know you’re very excited about that, Rick.”

      Oh yes … that totally sounds like a funeral dirge to me. /sarc

      I guess there’s just no pleasing some people.

      James here is a splendid example of why nuclear folks are their own worst enemy. They let … no, they want … the perfect be the enemy of good.

      1. Lip service is one thing. Tangible support is another. Many of us are worried that Trump and the GOP will give lip service to nuclear, but then do little to actually help it, while doing very tangible things to help its fossil competition. After all, that’s what the GOP has always done in the past.

        Thus, at a minimum, I/we will take a wait and see attitude, i.e., wait to see what specific proposals come out of this. The long-shot hope being for meaningful reductions in excessive regulations and requirements (something that you would think Trump would do). But, unfortunately, what is more likely to happen is that fossil fuels will get far more regulatory relief (despite the fact that the regulatory playing field is already enormously skewed against nuclear), resulting in an even more unfair playing field.

        Trump dancing on the grave of South Korea’s nuclear industry (one of the world industry’s most precious assets and few pieces of good news) is not a good sign.

        1. Oh, I don’t know. Getting rid of a “clean” power plan that deliberately excludes existing, struggling nuclear power plants from providing credit for CO2-free electricity generation seems like a very good first step. That plan is practically a gift to the natural gas industry. Because of how the scoring is structured, all of the incentives reward shutting down coal plants and replacing them with natural gas plants or building expensive “renewables,” which have to be backed up by natural gas plants because of their unreliability.

          Any way you look at it, natural gas wins.

          Meanwhile, there’s no consequence for letting an existing nuclear power plant shut down and no incentive for states to prevent that from happening. That crap has got to go, and Pruitt is going to get rid of it.

          I wouldn’t get too hung up on regulation. I hate to break it to you, but natural gas will never have the level of regulation imposed on it that nuclear has. It ain’t gonna happen. Best you can hope for is some relaxation of existing regulation for nuclear energy.

          But regardless what happens to regulation in the next three and a half years, Trump would have to go a long way before he is as bad as Clinton (campaigned as anti-nuclear, killed the IFR, zeroed the DOE’s nuclear energy R&D budget) or Obama (five nuclear units closed prematurely), when it comes to nuclear energy in the US.

          Trump dancing on the grave of South Korea’s nuclear industry is not a good sign.

          You’re looking at everything in ideological terms. You need to consider economics. Trump’s a business man, and as such, he sees a business opportunity. You should be hoping that Trump helps the US natural gas industry by opening up more exports to South Korea.

          What does the gas industry want? They want higher prices for natural gas. The more gas that is exported to Korea, where the price of gas is higher than the US, the higher the price of natural gas will be in the US, which will make generating electricity from natural gas less competitive. This will help US nuclear plants.

  10. Forgive the somewhat off-topic post, but this is something I’d like to get input on from this group.

    Lately there have been articles with the very hopeful sounding reference to the Trump administration performing a “comprehensive review of US nuclear regulation”. I got excited when I heard this, as that is precisely what I’ve been advocating for some time. Also, if you had asked me one way in which one might expect Trump to help nuclear, this would be it.


    However, when you look at what was being discussed in the articles, it seems like what they were really talking about was changes in *policies*, as opposed to (NRC) regulations. Things like subsidies for reactors to reflect their benefits or perhaps changes (through FERC) to market policies such as how capacity and reliability are treated. Indeed some articles referred to a review of policies, as opposed to regulations.

    Whereas policy changes are also necessary, it would be unfortunate for this (one?) opportunity to perform a bottoms up review of all *existing* NRC regulations and requirements (e.g., the merits of NQA-1, etc..) to be missed, especially given that a Trump administration may be the best opportunity for such a review to happen. (One of the best lists of changes that really need to happen to help nuclear is given in this article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-29/trump-s-plans-for-a-nuclear-revival-will-begin-with-a-study)

    Also, when I read some of the suggestions by the people representing the industry to Trump, I have to conclude (as I have in the past) that the wrong people have leaders’ ears, with respect to genuinely helping nuclear. Predictably, they talk a lot about technical solutions (to these largely political/policy/regulation problems), such as advanced reactors. They also talk about market reforms, advanced fuels R&D, and (my personal favorite) supercomputing resources to “help accelerate NRC reviews of reactors”.

    I’ve heard of similar ideas like this (supercomputing) before and believe me, developing more elaborate computer models and codes to analyze reactors will result in *increased* costs (for both licensing and operation) and *longer* review times. I know this from experience, and could give a longer explanation (along with an illustrative personal story), if any of you want to hear it. IMO, this is an example of how national lab types and many “nuclear supporters” just don’t get it, and how many of their efforts have done little to help nuclear and may have even held it back.

    The closest the nuclear supporters came to policies that would genuinely help nuclear is their suggestion for reforms of the (overly onerous) licensing process for new reactor designs. But again, this is about new reactors are opposed to existing regulations (and their undue burdens). Unless that (real) problem is solved, new reactors will likely not be competitive either. And even with respect to the licensing process, I doubt that significant reforms will happen (i.e., reforms that result in a significantly shorter and less expensive licensing process, through reforms like greatly reduced review scopes, for example).

    As I’ve often said, what nuclear needs most of all is a comprehensive review of existing *regulations* and other requirements (such as fab QA requirements). What really needs to happen (e.g., in Trump’s review) is to look at the entire body of existing nuclear regulations, fab QA, and other requirements and (for the first time) perform an objective cost-benefit analysis. Such an evaluation should consider what we’ve learned from Fukushima (i.e., the lack of tangible impact on public health and safety). It should also include a specific evaluation for SMRs, which fully considers their level of inherent safety and much smaller potential source term. The result would be recommendations for scaling back or eliminating requirements. The SMR part is likely the most important of all (to nuclear’s future). And yes, dose limits and LNT need to be revisited.

    Will that actually happen? I’m not holding my breath. For starters, the nuclear people who appear to have Trumps ear on this issue won’t even ask for it. So, I have this question for the group. How do I personally get *my* voice heard on this? They say Trump will be launching these studies. How can I actually take advantage of this opportunity and make suggestions for the evaluation, and actually be heard? What are the avenues for public input? I general, I haven’t been successful at all in getting my voice heard, so far. Any suggestions?

    This may be the best opportunity, for getting the regulatory reforms that are actually needed, to happen for a long time; perhaps ever. How can I (and we) make the most of it?

    1. I can only speak from my own experience. While some will write it off as anecdotal, I think it is useful to mention. If you want YOUR individual voice to be heard, you will have to build bridges based on whatever network of contacts you have. A few years ago I was able to get my US Senator at the time to visit my research facility by working with our ANS Congressional Fellow, who was a graduate of our nuclear program, to arrange it. He met with our faculty and we were all able to provide input at a fairly high level. Recently we have hosted several members of our state legislature, offering them a half-day visit to our laboratory, and also discussing proposed legislation for zero emissions credits in our state to be granted to nuclear generating plants. We did that through our university lobbyist at the Statehouse.

      Personal contacts make a big difference. Offer to be helpful and present yourself as a capable and interested party with appropriate credentials to speak to the issues.

  11. I’m pulling my reply to <a href="https://atomicinsights.com/natural-gas-interests-create-amplify-bad-news-nuclear-energy-will-continue-push/#comment-146936"this comment back down to the base indent level, for readability.

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    I think we could add 400 GWe domestically on existing sites, if small nuclear reactors were allowed to grow at such sites. But there is no way we’re going to add the more than 3000 GWe of electricity we’ll need to completely replace America’s need for fossil fuels.

    Those numbers don’t add up.

    The USA uses about 100 quads (call it 1.05e20 J) of primary energy per year.  That’s about 3.3 TW thermal.  You’re translating this to 3 TW(e), which is not remotely the same.  3 TW(e) of Gen III reactors is about 9 TW(th).  You’re roughly 3x too high.

    Given losses in conversion, the USA’s full complement of motor fuel consumption could be replaced by about 180 GW of electricity into BEVs (another 180 Gen III plants).  This still leaves you with plenty of demand for space heat and low-grade heat for DHW and many industrial uses, but if you stop trying to build 3 GW(th) plants and instead build reactors in the 180 to 500 MW(th) class (think NuScale up to mPower) you can use the waste heat for hot-water heating networks and slightly hotter water/steam for low-temperature industrial process heat.  The losses might add 25% to your reactor wattage.

    580 GW(e) at 33% efficiency is 1740 GW(th).  Add 25% for co-generation inefficiencies and you’re up to 2175 GW(th) or about 13,600 NuScale units.  You build them so that the disaster-planning boundary is the inside of the reactor building and put them everywhere, even inside cities.  They form the central electric and heat supply for everything except high-temp industrial uses.

    Voila, I’m essentially done and I’m barely over 25% of the energy consumption you posit.

    In the next generation you can go to something like TRISO pebble-bed reactors or SiC cladding with supercritical CO2 coolant.  Using Dostal’s sCO2 recompression cycle I recall that you get a regenerator exit temperature of about 170°C.  This is good for a lot of industrial purposes, can generate some steam and would create a hell of a draft in a cooling tower.  Perhaps you could even get net breeding in an epithermal spectrum with CO2 coolant, but I am anything but an authority on such matters.  A fast-spectrum reactor has a very small core and the vessel should be smaller and easier to make, but it would still have to be thick to resist high pressure and be made from a high-temp alloy.

    The sCO2 recompression cycle can push 50% thermal efficiency, yielding another 50% increase in net electric output for the same thermal input and perhaps a much smaller unit.  The turbomachinery is certainly much smaller and lighter.

    The serial mass production of thousands of Ocean Nuclear power plants could dramatically reduce the capital cost for each reactor

    You will have just about reached the limits of the learning curve by the time you hit 500 units.  For the 500 MW(th) size, that’s at about 82.5 GW(e); for your 1 GW(e) units, that’s at 500 GW(e) (considerably later).

    The losses of conversion of heat, to electricity, to transportable liquid fuels multiplies the capital cost of the “far offshore” scheme.  I very much doubt this is viable, especially given that you throw away all the possibilities for use of heat.  As I wrote elsewhere, “2008 called, it wants its Green Freedom idea back.”

  12. US annual natural gas production is nearing 30 quadrillion BTUs, more than 1/3 of which is now being burned (domestically alone) for electricity generation. IF that fuel were instead utilized as transportation fuel in CNG vehicles (e.g. in dual-fuel cars & trucks) it could displace more than half of US gasoline consumption, which is more than all US petroleum imports. Last time I looked natural gas futures quotes are now <$3 MMBTU on NYMEX. This is equivalent to 50%), US & world oil prices would plummet even further in a virtuous cycle crushing petro-authoritarian despotisms and liberating US consumers.

    Only fission can displace the ~ten quadrillion BTUs of natural gas now being consumed in power generation thereby freeing-up the natural gas for our transportation economy.

    1. There were plans not so long ago to push LNG dispensing out to a great many truck stops for the fleets of LNG semi-trucks that were on the way.

      I haven’t heard anything about this lately.  Perhaps the push to export LNG to Europe is an attempt at making an alternate market to keep the producers happy and stop their plans to cannibalize the market for distillates.  Regardless, the people in charge aren’t worrying about shortages.  And at least for now, there’s enough for everything.

      How long that will last… that IS the $64,000 question isn’t it?

      1. Engineer-Poet:

        If CNG fuel for transportation were to gain significant market share it would dramatically displace market for gasoline, this would in turn crash the world market for petroleum; the US should impose at least a 25% tariff on OPEC imports in order to protect domestic petroleum production because it is doubtful N. American producers could compete if prices should drop much below $35-$40 bbl, this is a significant improvement from a decade ago when domestic oil shale & sands production was thought to require prices of at least $60-$80 bbl to maintain production.

        In my post above the end of my first paragraph got garbled in transmission, apparently when I tried to type an ASCII cent symbol, let’s see if it works now:

        Henry Hub spot prices for natural gas have been averaging <$3 per MMBTU.

        This is equivalent to 50%), US & world oil prices would plummet even further in a virtuous cycle crushing petro-authoritarian despotisms and liberating US consumers.

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