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  1. FYI, I had a bit of a twitterstorm (though very polite) with Jacobson this week about the cost of transmission … the point being that his peer-reviewed costs are wildly too low, by about 10x.

    1. Indeed, transmission is the key (along with a wholesale change to a “hydrogen economy”)

      I wrote about this recently as well, and included a graphic: https://db.tt/EiEDJH1M
      (click on image to zoom-in)

      RE industry groups likewise recognize the importance of transmission, but seem less prone to understate the difficulties, even for scenarios far short of “100%RE”: https://db.tt/rfVUZXZw
      (click on image to zoom-in)

      The text of my graphic:

      Jacobson’s 100% RE proposal for the Continental US and implications for power transmission Mark Jacobson et-al recently proposed a scheme whereby 100% of all primary energy in the US would be electricity and “electrolytic hydrogen” supplied by intermittent wind, water, and solar power (“WWS”) by 2050.

      Aside from the huge areas that would have to be covered with wind and solar farms, with a name plate capacity of 6,390 Gigawatts (GW), they “assume” that about 30% of that total capacity – some 2,000 GW – would have to be transmitted across the continental US (CONUS), from regions where the wind and sun make electricity production practical, to regions of high power consumption, as well as to compensate for low output due to calm winds or clouds or night.

      It is well known that the energy potential of wind and solar in CONUS are concentrated in relatively sparsely populated regions of the mid-west (wind) and south-west (solar) as seen in the two graphics below.
      Also shown is some wind potential along coastal areas (Jacobson et-al propose 12% for offshore wind power).

      By contrast, the vast majority of power consumption is in and around population centers located at great distances away from the primary WWS electricity production regions.

      That being the case, it is interesting to note that Jacobson et-al do NOT provide details about the massive power transmission network that would need to be built across CONUS to actually make the 100% RE idea work.

      Also shown in the map at left, in pale blue, are a couple of examples of the transmission lines that would be required in a CONUS grid, to connect east-west and north-south. Many more shorter regional high-power lines would also be required.

      Another important part, besides the much longer distances compared to China, is the transmission capacity per line: In the three Chinese record-holders, that is at most 8,000MW/line.

      That means that even using the latest power transmission technology, we would need about 250 of these lines.
      This is roughly illustrated at right, with 100 east-west lines and 150 north-south lines, all of them 8,000 MW.
      Of course the actual layout of the lines would be very different, but the point is that this represents a fantasy that only “100% RE” proponents like Jacobson could advocate with a straight face.

      It also represents an additional cost of roughly $2,900 BILLION, on top of the $14,600 BILLION estimated by Jacobson et-al for WWS power, hydrogen, and other energy storage.

  2. I wouldn’t object to being categorized as being a denier. What I would have objected to what the characterization of my denial as “strange”. It might be seldom found among the low density thinkers, but such denial is not “strange”, it is scientific. It is techically accurate. It is sensible. Those who do NOT deny that contention are the strange ones.

  3. I am a tad jealous that the nuclear industry does not have such creative ads. Maybe once these disparate businesses SEE themselves as one industry we need?

  4. A more honest assessment of CO2e emissions would be something like this (in gCO2e/kWh):

    Coal: 980
    Gas: 460
    Nuclear: 12
    Wind with gas backup: 310
    Wind with nuclear backup: 12

  5. Two things,

    First, it’s interesting how in the ad itself natural gas says that the “relationship” will be around for a long time. Their specific point is that gas supplies will last, but the statement also implies that natural gas backup will be needed for a very long time. And yet, people like Oreskes still support that ad (and that plan).

    Second, I’m offended that the ad is given in French. France of all places! The place that already represents the best approach to power generation, and many of them seem to want to throw it away, even after all the effort was made, and after it has already been accomplished.

    1. Of course France of all places. There’s a lot to win there, if they go on with that unholy plan of reducing their NE generation to 50%, and filling the gap with wind parks. Lots of gas to be sold.

    2. The French have elected a Socialist who ran on the promise to significantly reduce the amount of electricity that France generates with nuclear.

  6. The irony is that Oreskes’s (early) training and experience is in mining. She worked on the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world.

    These days, she’s just a sellout and a really disgusting person.

  7. The most obvious problem with calling pro-nukes ‘deniers’ is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in it’s latest assessment of climate science, actually states that nuclear power is an important tool in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions. Rod has already discussed this in the past, showing how the IPCC in effect recommends a tripling of global nuclear capacity.

    Clearly then, those who deny a role for nuclear in addressing global warming are the true ‘deniers’, if anything.

    Is suppose this is another indication of just how strained the relationship between the antinuclear movement and reality has become. It appears to be ready to snap, I suppose.

    FWIW, I still think that Oreskes can and should become another important *pro*-nuclear voice, once she gets her head around her current apparent misunderstanding of the situation. So I hope that expert pro-nuke advocates will help her in this process. Mobilising Oreskes for nuclear could be a watershed moment. She is quite an influential figure in a section of society which currently tend to be anti-nuke.

    1. “Clearly then, those who deny a role for nuclear in addressing global warming are the true ‘deniers’, if anything.”


      1. Definitely. As I’ve stated before, I’d rather be in a society of climate-change-denying pro-nukers, than a society of climate-change-accepting anti-nukers.

        At least in the former case there’s some prospect of actually reducing CO2 emissions.

        Or to put it another way, it helps not one bit for a person to accept the science of climate change if they are opposed to nuclear power. And another way, it does no harm to deny the reality of climate change as long as the only publicly supported “solutions” are useless wind, solar and biofuels.

        1. @Jeff Walther

          Said another way, people who loudly proclaim that they don’t believe in climate change but work diligently and successfully to build and operate nuclear power plants are engaged in positive action. That is far more important that choosing to utter the correct words.

        2. ” it helps not one bit for a person to accept the science of climate change if they are opposed to nuclear power”

          So, would you prefer we continue to burn coal for the 8-10 years it takes to build new nuclear units, or that we burn the gas instead?

          keith’s numbers above show gas making half the CO2 of coal

          Coal: 980
          Gas: 460

          Could we do better with nukes? Of course we *could*. But we *are* doing better by moving to gas. Electric generation by gas is stealing the share from coal, and has been since 2008. See the charts at http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/

          Ignore (for a moment) the reasons for that shift, and who benefits financially from it. The shift itself leads to a substantial reduction in the CO2 emissions.

          I’m as pro-nuke as they come, but that doesn’t change the fact that gas burns cleaner than coal.

          1. I also like being able to afford enough electricity to lead a civilized life. When the price of gas spikes again and our infrastructure has been converted to run on gas, we’ll be in a world of hurt.

            Economics matter. Otherwise, we’d just shut down the emitters with no replacement and be done with it.

            Wasting resources building a natural gas trap for our future selves is short sighted even if it does reduce emissions a little in the short term.

            Additionally, those “temporary” measures put more money and therefore power into gas’s hands, helping to guarantee that the switch will not be temporary. When the price spikes, they’ll have even more reason to hold on to their I’ll gotten market share.

            So, yes, in the next few years I’d rather burn some coal, than set a trap for ourselves that almost guarantees well never transfer to nuclear.

  8. Have you looked at Shell’s long term projections and power scenarios?


    They don’t envision a world without nuclear.“Partial displacement of coal by gas and the incentivisation of CCS all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions reducing rapidly after 2030 … A carbon-neutral electricity sector becomes increasingly feasible as nuclear and biomass contributions grow overall, and the application of CCS technology becomes embedded over the subsequent decades.” Nuclear continues to grow overall.

    As does solar (with a huge growth potential) and wind. Their new lens scenario for 2100 is on p. 35: nuclear at 6.3%, natural gas at 7.5%, wind at 8.4%, solar at 37.7%, etc. It is a pretty reasonable and not too farfetched mix.

    The ad is not a smoking gun. It appears to be saying nothing more than natural gas (a commodity that Shell sells) will continue to be relevant in future energy markets (especially in the immediate future). It is not an obsolete fuel, and the ad makes it’s best case for its continuing relevance. Other energy resources, it goes without saying (including nuclear), should be doing the same (and looking closely at future energy markets and projections). If they aren’t, they aren’t living up to their fiduciary responsibility and are standing in the way of progress, new business opportunities, flexibility for producers, well functioning markets, and change.

    1. @EL

      It wasn’t the ad that I classified as a smoking gun. I was referring to Oreskes’s endorsement of “natural gas + renewables” as a viable plan in contrast to her dismissal of the recommendation by Hansen et al to INCLUDE nuclear.

      However, now that I’ve reread my words, I wasn’t clear in my explanation. I will revise. Thank you.

    2. For what it’s worth, my recent experience at an energy conference in my home country is that some O&G representatives are actively promoting the RE+natgas combination. They are promoting a ‘systems perspective’ on energy in order to motivate support for natural gas as a backup for solar and wind. I asked one of these reps whether nuclear power wasn’t a better option than RE+natgas, and he started listing the well known ‘problems’ of nuclear power. So I asked him to confirm for my information that he personally believed that nuclear was not a better option than RE+natgas from a systems perspective. The guy fell conspicuously silent. As he should, because he was obviously (to me at least, after discussing energy technology for a few minutes) an expert engineer in full knowledge of his subject matter. I suppose the reason he chose to degrade the nuclear option to me initially was because nuclear doesn’t jibe with his intention (assignment, more likely) to promote the natgas-RE story at the conference. But when pressed on the subject, his only option was to fall silent. To his credit, he did not hide the fact that degrading nuclear as if it is worse than RE+natgas was a hard thing to do, even for a senior company rep working inside the O&G business. I suppose that all engineers in the energy business are suffering these days. Whether one works in RE, FF or nuclear, the need to sell product means pressure is put on one’s ethics, if for different reasons. Hopefully, things will sort themselves out sooner or later. FWIW, when I chose the field of engineering as a profession, I did so partly because I thought is was a ‘pure’ profession, free from the need to mislead and fool others. That turned out to be too optimistic. But i suppose few professions are totally free from such shenanigans nowadays. Everybody needs to make a buck after all….

      1. Here in the US I have heard commercial spots on public radio, paid for by one of the large electric utilities, bragging that “combining natural gas with solar allows us to produce safe clean power 24 hours a day…” It takes a real advertising mind to come up with this stuff.

        1. Interesting. Here in The Netherlands, an electricity provider (Atoomstroom) of 100% nuclear power advertised nuclear as being clean, but it was dragged into court and forced to remove the word ‘clean’ from it’s advertising.

          1. @Joris I do not know if we are headed in the same direction here in the US. “Freedom of Speech” has always seemed to leave a little leeway for exaggeration in advertising. In fact, the phrase “clean burning natural gas” has been used in PR here for many years. I presume it would not go over well in the Netherlands.

          2. Kevin – If such leeway were not allowed in the US, then most of Madison Avenue would go out of business.

            Europe is simply not as free as the United States.

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