1. It may come as surprise to some that there is still a significant amount of undeveloped traditional hydro potential left in North America. The National Hydropower Association (U.S.) river basin studies show a potential of 73,200 MW of additional U.S. hydroelectric capacity in 5,677 undeveloped sites. There is even more potential in Canada, including the Far North where eight major rivers draining into the Arctic Ocean are considered ripe for exploitation. Of course this is emphasizing engineering feasibility and some economic analysis, but no environmental considerations. Despite the widespread belief that hydro is the ideal clean source of renewable energy the bald fact is that it is hugely destructive to local environments and can and does create disruptions to the hydrology of an area several orders of magnitude greater. This also doesn’t consider the fact that in many cases in the West of the continent, many water resources are controlled to provide irrigation, and cannot be used for hydro generation with out major modifications to the irrigation system.

  2. Rod: Very interesting articles. The mainstream broadcast media doesn’t do a very good job of covering these ‘inside baseball’ stories wrt energy, so it’s refreshing to see *someone* providing some coverage. It’s almost shocking to hear a political person being so blunt and honest as RFK Jr. is being in these videos.
    However, I’m not sure I view these videos as being quite as ‘sinister’ as you seem to believe them to be. Is it ‘kneecapping’, to demand industries to clean up their pollution? Yes, that might raise the costs, but one could view a regulatory environment where they aren’t required to clean up their emmissions as, thereby passing those costs onto the public in the form of public health problems, as a *subsidy* at the expense of the public’s health.
    Personally, I’d rather pay a few cents more per kilowatt hour, as much as that would suck, than to pay with my health. I’d rather pay the electric utility to clean their emissions, than to pay doctors to try to heal me of the consequences (with no guarantee of success).
    If it happens that increasing the cost of coal to what it *should be* makes other energy sources more competitive, that’s just economics and business. It should be noted that increased pollution control related costs for coal also stands to benefit nuclear power as well – for nuclear, Coal has always been ‘the one to beat’ in terms of cost.
    With regards to natural gas, specifically, I”ve posted before that I’d rather see us use nuclear for electricity, and natural gas for other purposes where it’s better suited than nuclear – I believe you and I are in complete agreement on that point. But, having solar thermal plants (in places where they make sense, at least – California, Texas, Arizona, etc – I’m kind of opposed to the idea of using subsidies to build solar in places like Ohio, where I live, and other northern, cloudy states, because I think it’s a waste of money) which burn gas at night doesn’t sound like a completely unreasonable idea to me. As long as it doesn’t need subsidy to be cost competitive.
    What I see as being true is that the amount of solar power, wind, hydro we can effectively use is somewhat limited by geography, so we should be having a blend of solar, wind, geothermal, hydro *where they make sense*, with Nuclear to provide baseload, and nuclear in places where other power just doesn’t make sense.
    I’d love to see a future which was something like 50-75& of power provided by nuclear, with the remainder provided by ‘renewables’, so long as it actually makes financial sense. I think the best way to ensure that we make decisions that make *financial sense* is to use the free market, with as little government subsidy and other forms of governmental ‘fracking it all up’ as possible. In general, private investors are pretty effective at throwing money where it makes sense.
    We just need to work on making sure that nuclear *makes sense* financially – which means getting unreasonable regulations and harrassing litigation under control, along with plant designs which can be more cheaply built. If Nuclear can “stand on its own” financially, all the anti-nuke “environmentalists” (and yes, I somewhat share your disdain for labelling them as such, because it makes it appear that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is somehow *against* the environment, which we know isn’t true) won’t be able to fight it. As long as we get the economics of nuclear where they *naturally* should be, it will simply be making too much money for too many investors, and *will* eventually dominate in a free market.

  3. Rod Adams wrote (parenthetically):
    By the way, nuclear fission is not a single basket any more than chemical combustion is a single basket.
    This is quite a profound statement. Most people would agree that we need energy diversity. However, most people consider nuclear energy to be just a single category. As Rod points out, it is NOT a single category. Thus we can still have a great deal of energy diversity while having a large part of our total energy coming from fission. We need to shout this fact from the rooftops. However, to make a functioning reality, we need to go full speed ahead on developing various Gen IV reactors.

    1. @harlz – Yesterday, The Energy Collective hosted a discussion about natural gas featuring a former Texaco oil and gas trader (Geoff Styles, the Managing Director of GSW Strategies and the publisher of the Energy Outlook blog) and a Shell Oil company executive. Charles Barton submitted a question that stumped them when he asked about the radon content in natural gas. Apparently, the gas industry has not yet issued talking points to help their people respond to this kind of questioning about their “clean natural gas.”
      I would post a link to the webcast archive, but it is not yet posted at The Energy Collective.

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