Nuclear energy advocate in a nuclear nonproliferation crowd
On December 11, 2013, Henry Sokolski, the Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), hosted a event titled Avoiding Future Irans: A New Course for US Nonproliferation Policy.
The papers offered as background material before the event started, the prepared remarks from Sokolski’s invited speakers, and the post meeting engagements I had with a couple of the speakers all supported my theory that many of the leaders in the “nonproliferation community” will do everything they can to maintain the hydrocarbon hegemony by restricting access to useful fuel materials and fuel manufacturing technology.
Sokolski revealed the fact that his true purpose was to slow or prevent nuclear fuel development — as opposed to preventing nuclear weapons proliferation — with the following statement from his introductory remarks.
Today, we are going to try to speak to what our government might do to reduce the likelihood of ever pushing another civilian nuclear cooperative agreement with a state like Iran the way we did in 1957. Most people don’t know it, but the nuclear cooperative agreement that was largely responsible for launching Iran’s nuclear activities today began with a nuclear cooperative agreement that did not even have a hearing, never mind a vote. It certainly did not lay down conditions to get Iran to foreswear making nuclear fuel or to open up for inspections that would prevent it from ever getting as far as it has gotten today.
Sokolski went on to mention several other recently completed or in-progress cooperative agreements and his desire that they should all include provisions in which the other party — the one that is not the United States or one of the existing nuclear fuel suppliers — foreswears the capability to make nuclear fuel.
From a technological and economic perspective, there are many reasons why companies or nations might be interested in making nuclear fuel. Fuel may not be the biggest component of cost in nuclear power generation, and it may seem to the superficially informed that commercial nuclear fuel is a mere commodity. However, fuel is the most important component of a nuclear power plant; its capabilities and limitations drive an almost infinite set of design choices for the rest of the plant. Without the capability to manufacture fuel, there is little or no capability to move nuclear technology beyond large, light water reactors.
Fuel manufacturing is an activity that almost always involves isotope enrichment or recycling used nuclear fuel; it is wrong to believe that any nation that expresses interest in developing those capabilities has a secret desire to use the materials or the associated skills to make nuclear weapons. It is economically and environmentally harmful to impose policies that assume everyone has — or may develop — the worst intentions.
That policy assumption drives decision makers to place severe restrictions on access to any technology remotely associated with fissile material. Despite the nonproliferation crowd’s repeated assertions to the contrary, the ability to make traditional fuel has value. The creative process of developing and making new kinds of nuclear fuel is a key to developing future capabilities that are barely imaginable today. Excessive restrictions on materials and associated technologies pose a larger-than-admitted burden on nuclear energy development.
For example, the current effort to make the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium fuel almost taboo limits the ability of nuclear fuel designers to build power producing machinery with reactor cores that are compact enough to compete with diesel or gas turbine engines. In another example, avoiding HEU makes isotope production more difficult, creates extraneous radioactive waste, and limits the development of long-lived reactor cores.
I’m even more convinced than I was before the seminar that Sokolski and many of his colleagues are closet fossil fuel marketers with a well-rehearsed sales pitch that allows them to advance their true goal while claiming to be deeply concerned about protecting the world from the dangers of nuclear weapons. Their approach has been working for close to four decades; it has helped to add enough cost and uncertainty to most nuclear energy efforts that actinides, a substantially superior heat source compared to hydrocarbons, are having a difficult time competing in markets that are driven by short-term, financially-focused decision making.
The strategy is quite elegant and was probably originally conceived by people with good reading skills and experience in product development. The strategic thinkers probably had a clear understanding of the factors that can be controlled to reduce cost and improve quality of any product and the factors that can be externally imposed to purposely increase the cost, impose delays, and create quality uncertainties.
A key part of involves efforts to impose increasingly onerous restrictions on fissionable materials. I believe that the inspiration for this component of the strategy comes from a recognition that Eisenhower was absolutely correct when he penned the following paragraph of his Atomic Power for Peace Speech. (That was, by the way, the original title of the speech that has generally been referred to as “Atoms for Peace”.)
The United States knows that peaceful power from atomic energy is no dream of the future. That capability, already proved, is here–now–today. Who can doubt, if the entire body of the world’s scientists and engineers had adequate amounts of fissionable material with which to test and develop their ideas, that this capability would rapidly be transformed into universal, efficient, and economic usage?
(See paragraph 62 of Voices for Democracy: Eisenhower, “Atoms for Peace,” Speech Text
Nearly everyone in the world would be ecstatic if nuclear energy really had been transformed into “universal, efficient, and economic usage”. It would mean that we would universally have access to a reliable, abundant energy source that is concentrated enough to power machines that only need to be refueled every few years — or possibly never need to be refueled — and clean enough so that the machines can be operated inside sealed buildings. Think about the beauty and prosperity that could be unleashed in a world where everyone has access to that kind of energy source.
Aside: That is not a pie in the sky vision, by the way. As a former nuclear submarine Engineer, I can testify from personal experience that the technology is not only possible, but that it has existed for more than five decades. End Aside.
Now, put yourself into the shoes of someone whose livelihood depends on selling the substantially inferior energy fuels on which we currently depend or on supporting the massive infrastructure network required to find, extract and move our current fuel sources from their natural location to the places where consumers use them. Stretch your imagination even further to think about how you would feel if you were in a position of almost unimaginable wealth and power enabled almost completely by controlling the market supply of those inferior fuel sources.
Be honest; wouldn’t you be tempted take action to prevent the “universal, efficient and economic usage” of nuclear energy by doing exactly the opposite of what Eisenhower suggested? Wouldn’t you seek to build a consensus among a “bipartisan” group of people that could help you to ensure that the world’s scientists and engineers were prevented from having “adequate amounts of fissionable material with which to test and develop their ideas”?
I’m going to take a little detour to provide an overview of history that is not well known, but which is important for understanding why I have reached my conclusion. I’ll skip many important details; a blog post is not the right format for a detailed account.
During the first decade or so after Eisenhower’s speech, there was excitement, progress and development, partially because the traditional fuel suppliers thought they had an inside track on controlling the new fuel source like they had been able to control the old ones. After a few years of intense exploration, however, it became apparent that there was simply too much accessible uranium and thorium in the earth’s crust and it was too widely distributed for the old methods of market cooperation among suppliers to work. The fossil fuel suppliers were faced with one of their worst recurring nightmares – a glut of available fuel so large that it would drive prices down to the point at which no one makes very much money. (Their other recurring nightmare was having their own wells run dry without access to replacement resources.)
Once the abundant uranium resources were identified, hydrocarbon fuel suppliers cooperated with free market advocates to encourage the government to stop assisting the development of machinery that could make use of the new fuel source. About the time that General Electric (GE) won a head to head competition to supply a nuclear power plant instead of a coal plant based strictly on economics, intense political pressure came from competitors claiming that nuclear energy had proven that it was mature enough to no longer need government sponsored research and development to make any additional technology improvements. Since the fuel suppliers recognized that the public was strongly in favor of increased nuclear technology development, they threw their support behind the breeder reactor.
The advantage that breeder reactor technology development had, in the eyes of the hydrocarbon lobby, was that it needed at least a decade’s worth of laboratory work before it could reach the market and impact hydrocarbon fuel sales. GE’s sale of Oyster Creek and the subsequent “bandwagon market” showed them that light water reactors were a more immediate threat to their sales and would be an even greater long term threat if anyone spent any time or money refining the technology to improve economics or reliability.
Aside: This story is available in more detail at Smoking gun part 26 – Coal lobbies versus National Reactor Testing Station. End Aside.
By the mid 1970s, the laboratory work on the commercial scale breeder reactor had progressed enough so that the next step in the process was to build a demonstration plant that could be used as the basis for additional learning and design refinements. (Unlike politicians and accountants, people that design and build things for a living never expect the first — or even the 10th — of a kind to be perfect. They know there is always room for improvement.)
A sustained, bipartisan effort by the Establishment — which derives great benefits from the hydrocarbon economy — arose to discourage the breeder reactor program because its success would lead to a conversion to a plutonium economy. I believe the people who stimulated that effort did it because they understood that the skills and specific capital assets that have value in a plutonium economy are quite different from those that ensure prosperity in a hydrocarbon economy.
Henry Sokolski initially entered the political picture as a consultant for the Heritage Foundation. He was assigned to work against the Clinch River Breeder Reactor project. He developed his bipartisan network, including an “across the aisle” friendship with a young congressman from Massachusetts named Ed Markey. Regular Atomic Insights readers will recall numerous posts describing Markey as someone with deep and consistent involvement with the antinuclear movement.
Aside: Senator Markey took the time out of an apparently busy schedule to drop by Sokolski’s seminar and said a few words about his long involvement in nuclear nonproliferation. There was some joking about the fact that many of the people in the room, including Senator Markey, think of him as having “Congressman” as his first name. As he told us, he still looks over his shoulder when someone addresses him as Senator, wondering who they are talking to.
I don’t think he quite understood why I was smiling so broadly as he talked about the impact of “actuarial” tables in finally overcoming the threat of the Soviet Union. He described a period in which the Soviet head of state changed frequently because the Politburo kept selecting old leaders who died in office. With all due respect, I think Senator Markey needs to look in the mirror; he was born in 1946 and served in the House for 36 years before being elected to the Senate. End Aside.
Sokolski has served in increasingly responsible nonproliferation related roles for several Republican administrations, his many publications generally express a deep skepticism for the economics of nuclear energy. That concern about economics, however, has always been accompanied by continuing efforts to ratchet up the overhead requirements associated with adhering to nonproliferation principles of tight control of any useful nuclear fuel technology that might have a relationship to weapons production.
Sokolski’s technical nuclear expertise — as opposed to his evident political skills — are illustrated by a this quote from a 1982 paper titled “The Clinch River Folly”.
Only seven-tenths of one percent of the uranium found in nature is fissionable, that is, useable for nuclear power generation. This small percentage is U 235 (which gets its name from having 235 neutrons in its nucleus).
Henry Sokolski, “The Clinch River Folly” p. 2
Editor’s note: Each nuclei of U-235 contains 92 protons and 143 neutrons to add up to a total atomic weight of 235.
Evidence for Sokolski’s dislike of the nuclear energy enterprise is shown in his 1982 vintage description of the industry’s lack of interest in completing the Barnwell, South Carolina reprocessing plant. Although wrote the paper as a consultant for the Heritage Foundation, which often points out how government interference affects business decisions, Sokolski does not even mention the fact that Presidents Ford and Carter stopped the Barnwell project with executive orders in 1976 and 1977.
Even though the fuel reprocessing — I prefer to call it recycling — ban had been lifted by President Reagan, there should have been no mystery why industry had no interest in spending money on a project that had been interrupted for more that half a dozen years by a unilateral government order. He also described the project “over 50 percent complete” but when it was stopped by presidential order, all construction was complete. In 1976 Barnwell was in the process of cold flow testing. In 1982 Barnwell was not 50% complete and on its way forward; it was 50% dismantled and already useless.
With a careful reading of his published work, it’s possible to discern Sokolski’s continuing support for hydrocarbon products and his denial that fossil fuels are both finite and impose a negative effect on the environment. Here is a relevant quote from a working paper titled Serious Rules for Nuclear Power without Proliferation that he coauthored with Victor Gilinsky in February 2013.
The putative climate imperative for nuclear power has made it easy for U.S. nuclear officials to argue that, yes, they would like to see effective anti-proliferation protection, but at the end of the day we have to settle for what we can get because we must have lots of nuclear power to deal with climate change, no matter what. However, that is exactly the case where that anti-proliferation protection is needed most.
More important, there are environmentally acceptable energy alternatives to nuclear power, including ones superior for coping with climate change. An obvious example is natural gas, which allows faster and cheaper reductions in carbon. We certainly do not accept the notion that the world is locked into eventually relying on large numbers of nuclear power plants to cope with global warming.
Only a natural gas advocate would make the false claim that natural gas, which emits a minimum of 450 grams of CO2/kilowatt of generated electricity, is superior to nuclear fission — which produces a complete lifecycle average of 10-20 grams of CO2 per kilowatt of electricity — for coping with climate change. I fundamentally believe that nuclear fission energy is the only technology that enables human society to progress, to more equitably allocate resources, and to do it without harming the atmosphere or the oceans’ ability to maintain a reasonably stable chemistry.
I’d like to leave you with more inspiring and important words from Eisenhower’s “Atomic Power for Peace” speech.
The United States would seek more than the mere reduction or elimination of atomic materials for military purposes.
It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its military casing and adapt it to the arts of peace.
The United States knows that if the fearful trend of atomic military build-up can be reversed, this greatest of destructive forces can be developed into a great boon, for the benefit of all mankind.
Voices for Democracy: Eisenhower, “Atoms for Peace,” Speech Text paragraphs 59-61.
Ashutosh Jogalekar, Scientific American Blogs (December 6, 2013) The Future of Nuclear Energy: Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom
Susan Eisenhower, (December 10, 1959) Swords into Plowshares
Rod – reading the above helps to explain for me the current Scottish Governments opposition to nuclear power and strong embrace of renewables. Scotland is a major oil and gas producer. It doesn’t want to see this market disrupted by nuclear. Especially as there is a referendum for independence from the Rest of the UK in September 2014. A future independent Scotland needs the oil revenue to balance the books. I am disappointed as I read the White Paper setting out the case for independence. It talks about International responsibility to combat climate change and stating there is a long term goal to shut down and have a nuclear power free Scotland. The 2 ideas are at odds with each other. Joe Heffernan
“A future independent Scotland needs the oil revenue to balance the books.”
Bingo. There is the problem with fission. It aint money until you can design and build a a very cheap super reliable high temperature reactor that can play an important role in churning out gasoline out of thin air. All the nuclear engineers in the world are useless in doing so because its a materials problem.
Nuclear France is the present day illusion of prosperity. The second it cancels its 1.5million barrels of oil import addiction and opts out of the interconnected central banking system is the day it suffers hyperinflation. Its obvious it is going to announce its abandonment of nuclear energy by the end of 2014. Why? Because its not any more independent than Greece even with nuclear power.
And everything is simply the result of everything else. Why dont you take a pill, ditch the lose association, pull one thing you’d like to discus out of that and write something halfway coherent.
If France’s need to import oil (almost exclusively for transport use may I add) is a problem, why would that be a reason to abandon nuclear energy for electricity generation, when doing so would mean that France would have to import far more fossil fuel?
a.) Walmart free check lovers.
b.) Useless internet as an example of societal progress.
c.) Brian Mays and Cory Stansbury.
d.) conVersAtion Bot err034511…&*^&^###
You underestimate how smart robots have became :
For the record, I am not a robot.
Then again, if robots really are so smart these days, then that eliminates the possibility of Starvinglion being a robot too.
It was just seeming like that you two were being oddly singled out and attacked by one on the other page brian. But I was probably unfairly disparaging bs bots making that joke.
Samantha West makes better conversation than I do.
Because France is exporting inflation through the oil backed USD fiat banking system. In other words, their accounting is fraudulent. My opinion is that the real owners of France’s nuclear powered industrial base will give the orders to shut it down.
They can’t balance their budget if they have to consume it all themselves to keep the lights on. Saudi Arabia has figured this out, why can’t they?
Good point Engineer-Poet.
If they put me in charge of an oil producing country I would be pushing for nuclear power. For as you say, the less of the oil we use ourselves the more we can sell. Also nukes can provide heat for enhaced recovery.
Plus the faster you remove the oil and gas the less time the windfall will last. An expansion of nuclear power is not going to cause a sudden decrease in hydrocarbon prices. In my opinion it would only cause a small decrease followed by stable prices. This would allow for long term profits by hydrocarbon countries/companies, rather than short term huge profits followed by a crash when the oil fields start going dry.
It could be far better than that. If you assume no carbon regime, replacing gas/oil with nuclear allows exports to be maintained while cutting extraction. This makes the cheaper-to-develop resource last longer while prices climb, and allows the extraction technology to improve while more of the resource remains undeveloped. All of this means more profits.
They apparently haven’t even figured out that if they’re independent, UK won’t buy their wind power at subsidized price, and that’d hurt plenty.
Yep, Sokolski is a gasser and a anti nuke. I imagine he’d be an denier too if the truth of nuclear power being the only large workable solution to the climate and acidification mess is ever told.
I dont know if I am just noticing it now but it seems the proliferation and domestic terror worriers are chock full of anti nukes these days. Even though there has never really been a good example if it even being an issue specifically related to NPPs.
Of course when it comes to the kind of low tech entry level terror that all of it seems to be, medical stuff like the recent Mexico truck heist would be by far the easiest access point. But we haven’t even seen that and when it comes to industrial poisoning/exposure accidents things like methanol and contaminated oil are far far more pressing issues.
But despite reality, the concern trolling is still going strong over at UCS. ( http://allthingsnuclear.org/the-nrc-and-nuclear-terrorism-still-out-of-step-on-the-insider-threat/ ). He even lashes out at Macfarlane. I like how he invokes the Snowden affair too. Pure propaganda.
Oh speaking of the UCS (and indirectly wind power advocacy) ive been looking for this number and reference a while.
It looks like this study says wind REQUIRES up to about one third of its proportional nameplate WHEN ITS OPERATING to be generated to level it out:
Insight: wind power growth will require more reserve generation
Both grids had roughly 10 GW of wind capacity at the time data were collected, and each now has almost 12 GW of wind power. By fitting parametric models to load and wind forecast errors, we estimated the net load (load minus wind) forecast error distributions as a function of the amount of forecast load and wind….
…We found that between 2100 and 5600 MW of electric grid capacity is required to balance 95% of under-forecast errors in ERCOT. The values for MISO run to between 1900 and 4500 MW. ( http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/news/54844 )
Hopefully I got that right.
under-forecast errors, errors resulting when predicted values are less than observed ones. These are of most concern to grid operators. When net load forecasts are below the actual amounts, electricity generation must increase in the grid to offset the error and restore the balance between generation and actual demand.
My interpretation involved the classification of intermittentcy as “under-forecast errors.” I think its correct. There may be more issues in this kind of load balancing too.
These numbers are pretty straight forward, It feels like there has been a tremendous effort by grid operators and power companies to conceal them. Academia as well seems to have been in on it, on the terminology side as well. They cant just be open and honest about it.
Chalk up to all those roads to hell needing to be paved with good intentions I guess.
Of note too when wind is operating below 10 percent of its nameplate it may be disconnected:
ERCOT requires wind generators to be capable of producing reactive power equal to ±95 percent power factor at nameplate capacity
[measured at the point of interconnection (POI)]. ERCOT establishes a voltage schedule that the generator must follow. The reactive
power must be available at all MW output levels down to 10 percent of nameplate capacity and may be met by a combination of the
generators themselves and/or dynamic VAR capable devices. When a wind-powered generation resource (WGR) is operating below
10 percent of its nameplate capacity and is unable to support voltage at the POI, ERCOT may require the wind generator to disconnect from the ERCOT System. ( http://www.nerc.com/files/ivgtf2-4.pdf )
There’s has been an example of this conducting to the restart of a cold reserve plant in Germany to have enough power in the reserve capacity last year :
Exactly JM !! I think by now we’ve about all seen reports like that too that such a process was occurring. Obviously its significant. I just want a average or even range of the MW equivalent of the cost of such balancing.
Its not too much to ask. It should have been out there from the beginning.
Figure 13 and 18 from what are the guidelines ( http://www.nerc.com/files/ivgtf2-4.pdf ) would seem to suggest the possibly around a 30 percent equivalent. Im sure an expert could pull a rage out of that for American wind, but they dont.
I think when information isnt released openly people that make guesses, even if they are wrong are far FAR better than those that stand around and say nothing.
Of course the people pushing wind have a history of ignoring legitimate questions. None of this is really new and this list has been out there over a year ( http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/89476/wind-energy-co2-emissions-are-overstated ).
Its kinda funny JM but look at this obviously pro wind post on the matter:
Power system reserve – No need to build wind back-up – 1 August 2013
…Since the volume of extra reserve when adding wind is modest so is the additional cost. Savings from wind replacing other generation are likely to more than cover that extra cost…
….The emissions saved by wind displacing fossil-fuel generation are far greater than any extra emissions from increased spinning reserve… ( http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1192957/power-system-reserve—no-need-build-wind-back-up )
lol. wut ?? I cant think of how to even comment on that!
Here we go – in a “pro wind” US government publication Lower end of the range – at least 10 percent of energy generated:
Until recently, concerns had been prevalent in the electric utility sector about the difficulty and cost of dealing with the variability and uncertainty of energy production from wind plants and other weather-driven renewable technologies. But utility engineers in some parts of the United States now have extensive experience with wind plant impacts, and their analyses of these impacts have helped to reduce these concerns. As discussed in detail in Chapter 4, wind’s variability is being accommodated, and given optimistic assumptions, studies suggest the cost impact could be as little as the current level—10% or less of the value of the wind energy generated. ( http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/41869.pdf )
The wind energy tax credit is slated to end Dec 31st. I imagine they will try to extend it. I would like to have something in hand to send Congress people.
Look at this from that 2008 report:
…(Pedersen 2005). The study showed that the system could absorb about 30% energy from wind without any excess (wasted) wind production, assuming no transmission ties to outside power systems. Surplus wind energy starts to grow substantially after the wind share reaches 50%. And if wind generates 100% of the total energy demand of 26 terawatt-hours (TWh), 8 TWh of the wind generation would be surplus because it would be produced during times that do not match customer energy-use patterns. Other energy sources,
such as thermal plants, would supply the deficit, including the balancing energy. In the Pedersen study, the cost of electricity doubled when wind production reached 100% of the load….
…Because wind is not a capacity resource, it does not require 100% backup to ensure replacement capacity when the wind is not blowing…
…Wind power cannot replace the need for many “capacity resources,” which are generators and dispatchable load that are available to be used when needed to meet peak load. If wind has some capacity value for reliability planning purposes, that should be viewed as a bonus, but not a necessity.…
So they KNEW then what was going to occur in Germany and even stated wind was not to be used as a capacity resource.
Did the president of the US just issue an executive order that was incorrect and/or advised against by government experts? I think he did.
John, that quote from the 41869 document is damning.
As your quote suggests, you mean 10% of the the wholesale cost of that energy (not 10% of the energy). That would be $3.6/MWh on average (Table 4.1, p. 82). It’s my understanding this has been well documented … many times over.
Thanks for the renewable industry promotional input EL. Ill try to get around to reading their opinions once again.
It does look bad. I wish it was easier to pick out the reserves necessary for renewables as opposed other means of generation EP. Renewable to some extent augments itself over larger areas for some kinds of backup, but its not equal to reliable means of generation. I think I need to read more on the smoothing process.
I am also starting to believe the newer study about the grid needing more capacity is closer to true in the broadest sense and may be a bit conservative as it doesn’t address renewable overproduction.
One thing is for sure EP. Renewables were not close to ready for prime time and much of this is a work in progress. A lot has been wasted.
Considering all the new infrastructure humming away in the background life cycle carbon cost/impact assessments were too optimistic and probably not even close to correct for renewables.
@John : This blog entry has a simplified, but still useful model of how much wind needs to be curtailed as production increases :
This demonstrates how as penetration increases, curtailment will strongly increase the cost even with a very optimistic model with regard to how the other production means will be able to follow the remaining load.
It in fact also applies to nuclear, if you try to generate all your electricity with nuclear, some plants will run at a very low load factor, which will increase costs. However this hits at a much higher percentage than for wind.
Its time for the nuclear industry to demand the same environmental analysis treatment for fossil fuel facilities, and if need be, finance a study of the health effects of fracking.
Its time for the nuclear industry to realize that electricity is not money. Electricity is not fungible and any worthy money system is fundamentally *rooted* in possibly transportable and tangible physical collateral even if the top levels are largely fictitious. The existing western fiat money pyramid system is based on the fungibility and reserve capacity of oil. You can change the definition of what counts as reserves and grow the pyramid seemingly without bounds.
I would venture to argue that having a supply of reliable electricity is more valuable than money, in many regards.
As Jack Gerard observed in 2001, at the end of the California electricity crisis: “In California, they used to speculate that the least expensive kilowatt is the one that is not used. Now events are proving that the most expensive kilowatt is the one that’s not there when needed.”
Unfortunately, California has sufficiently deindustrialized itself that “they” still haven’t learned this lesson.
Other proof that it’s all about money and not fear of weapons. Traditional, thermobaric, biological can be just as deadly if not more so than nuclear weapons. Heck, if I wanted to cause mass casualties, wouldn’t a biological weapons with a short half life be much preferred? Also, they have the benefit of killing the people buy leaving infrastructure in tact.
Keep fighting the good fight Rod… even though it looks like a losing battle from where I sit.
I took a look at the Non Proliferation Policy Education Center and its principals. It appears to be a neoconservative group. Some do hold or manage investment portfolios in non-nuclear energy technologies. Many are George W. Bush and John McCain fellow travelers. There was one surprise. Richard K. Lester who headed MIT’s Nuclear Engineering Dept. He seems to have moved from nuclear into manufacturing policy.
THE NPEC website gave no indication who funds them. I was able to identify grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Ploughshares Fund.
One core principle of neoconservatism is unquestioning devotion to the security of Israel. US dependence upon fossil fuels is needed as a cover for our continuing involvement in the middle east and central Asia. I also noted a lack of outrage over Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
Thinking about it, it is peculiar that organizations such as the MacArthur Foundation and the Ploughshares Fund which are identified as “left wing” are providing financial support for a neoconservative group such as the NPEC.
No, it’s not peculiar at all.
As I tried to point out, the restrictions placed on nuclear energy materials by people focused on nonproliferation expose the bipartisan nature of opposition to nuclear energy. I’m certainly not saying that opposition to nuclear energy comes from a majority of the people, but it does seem to come from both “sides” of the Establishment in our current hydrocarbon based economy.
This seems to be a very important piece. It almost seems worthy of a slight “Smoking Gun” marking. When did you stop numbering your Smoking Gun series?
Rod, you’re a little hard on the Heritage Foundation. I’ve been a member for many years and they are generally a pro-nuclear organization. However, they are also very pro-national defense and consider a strong non-proliferation policy to be in the national interest.
That said, you make some very good points in your article about the collateral damage caused by the western non-proliferation policy. It severely restricts nuclear technology and materials to those in the “club”. This overly restrictive policy has raised the marginal costs of nuclear power and prevented a lot of innovation over the years.
ddpalmer said far above:
“If they put me in charge of an oil producing country I would be pushing for nuclear power. For as you say, the less of the oil we use ourselves the more we can sell. Also nukes can provide heat for enhaced recovery.”
Seems like Russia is doing that right now. Maybe, they are following the ddpalmer philosophy. i guess they’ve got eleven planned or under construction.
Russia has a lot of oil and gas. They can make money selling it to the Europeans, keeping the lights on with the nukes and laughing all the way to deposit the coins in the Western banks.
China is also building a lot.
I think both of these countries still have large elements of controlled economies. Despite some recent rhetoric, I don’t think they are truly free market economies.
It makes me wonder about free market economies being the best overall for the world. Of course, if the oil companies are pulling the strings behind the scenes then we don’t really have a free market economy either.
John T Tucker quoted far above:
“ERCOT establishes a voltage schedule that the generator must follow. The reactive
power must be available at all MW output levels down to 10 percent of nameplate capacity and may be met by a combination of the
generators themselves and/or dynamic VAR capable devices. When a wind-powered generation resource (WGR) is operating below
10 percent of its nameplate capacity and is unable to support voltage at the POI, ERCOT may require the wind generator to disconnect from the ERCOT System. ( http://www.nerc.com/files/ivgtf2-4.pdf )”
ERCOT is Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Maybe they do things different there since they are independent of the other two big grid organizations in the US.
I believe most of the wind generators installed in the US are induction machines. These need VARs from the system. Unless there are some new slick switching technologies applied, they cannot black start or control their voltage output. They “ride” the grid. If there are too many of them on the grid, other power producers need to up their excitation to make up for the loss of these VARs. These VARs provide necessary magnetizing current for transformers and to maintain system voltage.
Nuke plants have big synchronous generators and do not have this problem.
Is big oil pushing this wind thing as part of the anti-nuke campaign or is it just happening in parallel to their shenanigans?
Wind farms can add (and have added, such as in Vermont) synchronous condensers to provide VAR/voltage support. There are some windage losses, but a synchronous condenser (a DC-excited synchronous motor running without a load) can supply VARs up to the nameplate rating as desired.
We see the argument that “baseload plants are obsolete because of renewables”, which translates to “there is no role for nuclear plants, because they are base load”. So yes, it does look like it’s part and parcel of the anti-nuke campaign.
Serious scientists are waking up to the tremendous resources behind the fossil fuel industries and that their methods of crushing competition are insidious.Large religions encourage increasing population.. In the early 1950s the world’s population was 2 1/4 billion. It is now well over 7 billion and heading towards 10 billion. In the 1950s nature was able to cope with natural and man-made pollution, now we are well past the point of no return. Serious scientists tell us that of all the creatures that have evolved on planet Earth over 99% have become extinct. Evolvement is slow. Extinction is rapid especially for any creatures that gain some form of control over the equilibrium they live in with everything else. This is the challenge nuclear electricity generation can help resolve, where it can greatly reduce the use of fossil fuels and hopefully reduce the chances of extinction. I’m a retired scientist. I have written about the current situation in my e-book and it is in non-scientific language. The book is ‘Extinction. The Climatic Time Bomb ‘ on Kindle.
The road for Ben Heard just got infinitely longer! What can he done? Just hang it up?
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