Conventional wisdom tells us that “Environmentalists” worried about one or more of the below complaints have influenced world opinion and encouraged the current negative investment perception that surrounds new nuclear…
It’s been quite a while since my last smoking gun post on Atomic Insights. It may be time to revive the series to remind nuclear energy advocates to follow the money and know their opponents.
In the battle for hearts, minds and market share it is always useful to know why vocal opposition exists, but it is also worth investing a little time to understand why there may be a knife in the hand of that backslapper who appears to be your friend.
I came across an Atomic Energy Commission report titled Civilian Nuclear Power: A Report to the President. It had been archived by my good friends at Energy From Thorium. The document cover letter from Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman of the AEC, was dated November 20, 1962, so the “Mr. President” addressed was John F. Kennedy.
Aside: It is worth noting that Chairman Seaborg was almost 3 months late in turning in his homework assignment. In his letter dated March 20, 1962, President Kennedy had asked for the report to be delivered by September 1, 1962. End Aside.
Other than a few very small output AEC demonstration reactors (generally less than 30 MWe), the only nuclear plants that had been commissioned by its publication date were the demonstration reactor at Shippingport (PWR 60 MWe at the time), Dresden (BWR – 250 MWe), and Yankee Rowe (PWR – 250 MWe). Big Rock Point (BWR – 67 MWe) and Humbolt Bay (BWR – 63 MWe) were nearly complete and being tested. The nuclear vendor order books were virtually empty.
In other words, the industry was barely past the crawling stage. In order to move forward, the AEC proposed the following statement of objectives.
The overall objective of the Commission’s nuclear power program should be to foster and support the growing use of nuclear energy and, importantly, to guide the program in such directions as to make possible the exploitation of the vast energy resources latent in the fertile materials, uranium-238 and thorium.
More specific objectives may be summarized as follows:
The demonstration of economic nuclear power by assuring the construction of plants incorporating the presently most competitive reactor types;
The early establishment of a self-sufficient and growing nuclear power industry that will assume an increasing share of the development costs;
The development of improved converter and, later, breeder reactors to convert the fertile isotopes to fissionable ones, thus making available the full potential of the nuclear fuels.
The maintenance of U. S. technological leadership in the world by means of a vigorous domestic nuclear power program and appropriate cooperation with, and assistance to, our friends abroad.
The role of the Commission in achieving these objectives must be one of positive and vigorous leadership both to achieve the technical goals and to assure growing participation by the equipment and utility industry as nuclear power becomes economic in increasing areas of this country and the world at large.
(AEC, Civilian Nuclear Power, A Report to the President — 1962 P. 48)
Near the end of the report, starting on page 61, there is a section titled “Possible Industrial Impacts of the Nuclear Power Program.” It begins with the following statement:
An important consideration in a transition such as that herein proposed is its possible impact on various segments of industry. We have already mentioned the fear that the existing nuclear equipment industry might suffer severely if construction of full-scale nuclear power plants does not accelerate at least somewhat. The strengthening of this industry through such an acceleration would not only improve the prospects for nuclear power but it would add strength to our general technological and industrial base and in particular would give added flexibility and capability for the construction of reactors needed for other purposes such as defense and the space program.
(AEC, CNP p. 61)
Then comes the part that made me classify this as a smoking gun.
Concern has been expressed lest conversion to nuclear power might cause severe dislocations in the coal industry and hence on transportation, especially the railroads. This is definitely not the case.
(AEC, CNP p. 61)
The report does not detail who expressed the concerns or how they expressed the concerns. It is important to recognize that the AEC — which had laid out an aggressive, subsidized growth program in 60 pages worth of material — realized that the President had either heard the concerns or would hear them as soon as the report was made public. It is also worth noting that the AEC authors recognized the close linkage between the coal industry’s interests and those of the railroad industry that moves most of the nation’s coal.
The authors attempted to defuse the concerns so that they would not derail the program that they wanted the President to approve and promote.
…even absorption of the total power industry by nuclear installations would still leave no dearth of markets for fossil fuels. Only a miraculous switch to nuclear energy by other industries as well could slow a rapid growth in those markets. Furthermore, the electric industry itself is growing at such a rapid rate that no possible growth of nuclear installations could prevent power generation from consuming greatly increased amounts of fossil fuels for several decades — not, indeed, until the absolute rate of growth of nuclear power equals that of total power.
(AEC, CNP p. 61)
The people writing, reviewing and approving the report exposed the fact that they were probably bureaucrats, scientists and engineers, not businessmen. They were out of their area of expertise and unaware of the importance that businesses place on continued annual sales growth. They demonstrated little understanding of market dynamics, the need to raise barriers to entry, or the importance of sales growth projections to encourage the infrastructure investments that enable scale-based cost reductions.
Here is another interesting excerpt:
The concern of the coal industry has been brought about primarily by two factors. During the first decades of this century, marked increases in efficiency, especially in power generation, reduced the consumption required to carry out a given task. Although there is still room for improvement, this effect can never be so great again.
More recently the major factor in the decline of coal consumption has been a loss of markets to other forms of fossil fuels. During the past 15 years, annual consumption of coal decreased from 550 million tons to 375 million tons, in spite of an increase from 86 million to 180 million tons used for electric power generation.
(AEC, CNP p. 63)
Read that again. The AEC wass recommending a multi-billion dollar (in 1960s dollars) program designed to encourage electric utilities to begin building significantly more nuclear power plants. Based on its own numbers, the AEC should have seen that the coal industry already had legitimate reasons for feeling that its survival was threatened. It was losing sales every year, with a 32% decline over a 15 year period.
There was only one bright spot in the industry’s numbers, the sales growth in the electric utility sector, which was 109% over that same 15 year period. My guess is that utility sales growth was a prominent part of the industry’s recovery plans. It should have dawned on the AEC that they were aiming at the foundation of the coal industry’s future hopes.
The decrease (in annual sales) was brought about by an essentially total loss of the railroad market and other heavy losses in manufacturing and home heating. The result is that, whereas in 1947 the electric utilities consumed only about 16 percent of all the coal, in 1961 they accounted for almost half. Even though the other losses should continue (many have shrunk so far there is no much more to lose), the growth in power installations will inevitably more than offset the loss.
(AEC, CNP p. 63)
So that was the AEC’s political pitch. Even though electric utilities were the only customers purchasing more coal each year, and even though the coal industry had some barely healed battle scars from recently losing two of its most important markets — locomotives and home heating — the AEC believed there was enough growth in electrical power generation to support a large, subsidized program to encourage nuclear power plants and also encourage new coal capacity that would burn sufficient quantities of coal so that their annual sales could, perhaps, approach the level achieved 15 years earlier.
Just getting back to the 550 million tons per year sold in 1947, the coal industry needed to sell another 175 million tons per year to utilities manufacturing electricity, again doubling its annual sales into that market. Think about this as if you were employed as a coal salesman. The last doubling, from a base of half the size, took 15 years of hard work.
Why would anyone in the industry have been willing to accept a strong competitor in that challenging task under the assumption that power company demand growth would be fast enough for both fuels? If you were a coal person at that time, wouldn’t you have used whatever political clout you could muster to hamstring the development plans. Think about the other option – most of the earlier losses were to the multinational oil and gas industry. Which target, the infant nuclear energy industry or the well established oil and gas industry, would be easier to hit?
I’m pretty sure this is the earliest documented instance in the series that discusses why the established energy industry had good motives for opposing nuclear energy developments, especially those financed by their tax dollars. It also shows that it was taking some political action to slow nuclear energy’s growth plans.
The coal production and transportation industry’s opposition was entirely rational and should be simple to understand. After all, what large taxpaying and influential commodity business would be happy about its money being used to finance an industry aimed directly at its strongest markets?
This report is also worth reading and comparing to the historical decisions that followed its submittal. Not only did the AEC inform the President that the program they proposed would have an effect on the coal and rail industries, but the AEC also provided those industries with details about ways to hinder nuclear energy success.
None of the strategy courses I took during my military career advised anyone to arm their opponents with specific knowledge about vulnerabilities or potential attack vectors. Neither have any of the business books I’ve read over the years.
Rod Adams is Managing Partner of Nucleation Capital, a venture fund that invests in advanced nuclear, which provides affordable access to this clean energy sector to pronuclear and impact investors. Rod, a former submarine Engineer Officer and founder of Adams Atomic Engines, Inc., which was one of the earliest advanced nuclear ventures, is an atomic energy expert with small nuclear plant operating and design experience. He has engaged in technical, strategic, political, historic and financial analysis of the nuclear industry, its technology, regulation, and policies for several decades through Atomic Insights, both as its primary blogger and as host of The Atomic Show Podcast. Please click here to subscribe to the Atomic Show RSS feed. To join Rod's pronuclear network and receive his occasional newsletter, click here.
We’re back after a couple of weeks off. The atomic geeks chat about uranium, which has an interesting history in politics, discovery and economics. Uranium is as common as tin and can be found in measurable quantities almost anywhere in the world. Its price often varies by several hundred percent over short periods of time,…
The following video is extracted from the House Science, Space and Technology joint oversight and energy subcommittee hearing examining misconduct and intimidation of scientists by senior executives in DOE chain of command. It features the opening statements from Dr. Sharlene Weatherwax, a plant microbiologist serving as the Director, Biology and Environmental Research for the Department…
After receiving an email asking me to participate in a poll for the American Nuclear Society, I asked the following question of my Twitter followers. Would the American Natural Gas Society poll its members to find out if they should stop marketing the “low-carbon” aspect of their product? — Rod Adams (@Atomicrod) August 8, 2013…
Communications professionals have often counseled nuclear professionals to stop sounding so much like scientists and engineers. We often purposely avoid emotion because we like to think of ourselves as rational people that make decisions based on hard facts, numbers and quantifiable metrics. Many of the people who have sought and obtained positions of responsibility and…
A story titled GOP House candidate Bill Flores backtracks on loans for nuclear power plants caught my eye this morning. It tells the story of Bill Flores, who is running for congress in the Texas district that includes the Comanche Peak nuclear power station. Luminant, the current station owner, has been working for a number…
I am in Atlanta, GA for the American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting. Though the use of Twitter, email and face to face communications, five active atomic geeks with web presences got together for lunch. We had a wide ranging conversation that only true geeks could love. People at the table included: John Wheeler – This…
The story continues from the days to JFK to these very days. On Monday the Supreme Court will be evaluating whether the EPA can regulate the amount of Carbon Dioxide that coal fired power plants may emit into the air. The current EPA rules have been written that it is next to impossible to build new coal plants.
With no new coal plants, natural gas facing price spikes, limited hydro expansion, solar and wind being intermittent, the trend to nuclear may be a valid choice for those who control the pocketbooks of large utility projects.
Another trend that could be reversed by the Supreme Court Decision is the closure of coal plants. Per the following link, 60 Gigawatts of coal fired capacity are set to close by 2016. There is still load growth expected. To me it seems that even with energy conservation measures new baseload capacity is needed to replace those old plants. Think what a boost it would be if they built a half dozen new AP1000s to the nuke industry.
History has given us some good examples of the energy business greatly influencing the decisions of our elected representatives as many of the posts on this site have taught me including this one. Does their power extend to the Supreme Court? The coal industry has had many years since JFK to consolidate their position.
Coal has to go.
It does but its not happening. With the drought in the SW causing hydro issues and the gas supply thing coal could continue to make a comeback.
I dont know why we are planning so export with the gas supply stuff going like it is.
The EIA seems to expect production increases
Without new nuclear coal will be the fall back energy source as we are already seeing.
Boundless Natural Gas, Boundless Opportunities: Interview with EIA Chief
The EIA has noted that after two years of declining production, US coal output is expected to increase in 2014, forecast to rise almost 4%, as higher natural gas prices make coal more competitive for power generation.
Natural gas up 18% on week; oil slips on day
Gulf Coast set for Bakken-like boom with liquefied natural gas
One market research firm, Industrial Info Resources, predicts $64 billion will be spent to build at least seven LNG facilities on the Gulf Coast in coming years.
It doesnt all add up so well. Its also beginning to look like they fracked America to sell gas in more profitable markets overseas.
BTW – I missed this last year, you all might find it interesting too:
UT Researchers Use Simple Scaling Theory to Better Predict Gas Production in Barnett Shale Wells Nov. 18, 2013
As a byproduct of their analysis, the researchers found that most horizontal wells for which predictions are possible underperform their theoretical production limits. The researchers have reached a tentative conclusion that many wells are on track to produce only about 10 percent of their potential.
The gas price climb this year is not just a US wintertime thing either it seems, in Australia :
Gas price hikes due to policy failure
According to the Queensland Competition Authority, electricity costs will rise in the next year “by around 29 per cent. This is driven by rising industrial demand associated with rapid development of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry in Queensland and higher fuel prices (mainly gas)”.
We export solely to Mexico now I think.
In the US not enough is known about natural gas resources on top of everything. The bottom dropped out of Haynesville production, only to be replaced by a lot more from Marcellus. Haynesville was a bit older and hopefully(?) a lot different. ( http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/weekly/img/201401-January-monthly.png )
Abour Barnett, I’ve read several such analysis that didn’t live up to their promises. I’m much more careful now. Researcher might forget that enhancements in the speed and efficiency of drilling may offset decreases in wells productivity.
But the key is the exports, they guarantee that enough will be sold to not have again the same kind of low price.
Massive spill of coal ash into the Dan River in N. Carolina.
Maybe this will shift Duke’s thinking some more.
Thanks for the history presented in this article.
If anyone is interested in high stakes politics, here is the Kentucky senate seat which may be taken over by a much younger person (Grimes versus McConnell).
For the time being, she seems to be sticking with the coal as a jobs issue.
It is my understanding that Duke Energy also operates nuclear energy plants. Is it so? How heavily invested are they in nuclear?
Duke operates 11 nuclear units at 7 sites. They also own Crystal River which is permanently shutdown.
Shut down due do their incompétence.
Don’t know who’s the “their” there, but Duke Power didn’t cause the CR3 problem. mjd.
Duke intentionally messes up a simple upgrade that had been done at Many other places.
A different utility owned CR3 when they cracked the concrete on the containment.
Progress Energy, the corporate entity that owned, operated, and broke CR3, was taken over by Duke.
It may not be entirely fair, but Duke would probably claim credit for anything good that Progress Energy, or even Florida Power Corporation (a previous corporate entity) had done in its history. Therefore, they get to claim the blame for the mistakes that were made.
Legally, they own the liabilities.
Here is the web page that returns if someone tries to contact Progress Energy Florida.
Hmmm. I see they have seven nuclear facilities, six (?) suppyling electricity to the consumer.
Heres an excerpt from their website…
“The cost of generating electricity with nuclear power is stable and economical. Among coal, natural gas and oil, nuclear power plants have had the lowest electricity production costs since 2001”
“Duke Energy has operated nuclear plants for more than 40 years, setting industry benchmarks for safety and efficiency. And, with zero-carbon emissions, it is an important clean-energy resource for the future”
“Although solar power, geothermal energy, wind power and biomass are important to meeting our country’s rising electricity demand, they’re currently unable to produce large amounts of energy around the clock like nuclear power. Using nuclear also reduces the need to rely as much on fossil fuel resources like oil, which will be earmarked for transportation purposes and other end-uses, for which we have few or no substitutes”
“Nuclear energy currently plays a key role in meeting our nation’s electricity needs and will continue to be an important energy source for the world in years to come. Duke Energy has the ability to produce clean, safe and economical electricity using nuclear energy to meet our customers’ future electricity needs”
They do not cite the number of coal plants they have at thier website. Here is an excerpt from the coal section of thier website….
“We monitor operations at our facilities with robust environmental sampling of water and aquatic life. We also have an aggressive fleet modernization program under way that has upgraded coal-fired units with sophisticated air quality controls, while we plan for the upcoming retirement of older, less efficient units. This allows coal generation in the Duke Energy fleet to get progressively cleaner, while we continue to invest in other generation sources, such as natural gas, new nuclear, wind, solar and biomass”
Well, we know, due to this latest massive coal ash spill that this claim “We monitor operations at our facilities with robust environmental sampling of water and aquatic life” is pure unadulterated bullshit.
We also know that the agency tasked to oversee their coal operations (in terms of protecting the environment) has a too cozy relationship with Duke, to the point of being a “protector of Duke” instead of a “protector of the environment”. (At least in N. Carolina)
We also know the head of this despicably filthy bit of “oversight” seems to be the Governor, Republican Pat McCrory, (smile, Paul), who was an employee of Duke for 28 years before becoming Governor Scumbag.
So….heres where my distrust gets tossed onto the nuclear side of the debate. Is it really resonable for me to assume the Duke Energy conducts itself any more responsibly with its nuclear arm than it does with its coal arm? Really, isn’t it the head of the beast that is corrupted, which naturally fuels the suspicion that that ALL the arms of its full body are corrupt? Isn’t it reasonable to assume that Duke Energy’s management seeks the same kind of corrupt relationship with the agencies tasked to oversee their nuclear operations that they “enjoy” with the agencies tasked to oversee thier coal operations?
And is Duke unique within the power generating industry in its corrupt relationship with regulating agencies? Isn’t the astronomical scale of investment involved in ALL the arms of the power industry fuel for corruption and graft? Why should the lay person like myself trust the nuclear industry anymore than I should trust the coal industry? Particularly when a company like Duke exposes itself as just another pit of scumbaggery, corruption, and as being a nefarious partner of the very agency tasked to regulate and oversee its treatment of the environment?
I think really, this is the crux of what dismantles my trust here. Fact is, these huge energy entities, Duke, BP, SCE, PGE, etc, have all, over the years, exposed themselves as lying cheating corrupt piles of corporate excrement. All claiming to be responsible stewards of the environment, they repeatedly demonstrate otherwise. What makes the nuclear industry any more trustworthy, particularly when considering a company like Duke. Are we to believe they run thier nuke operations in any less criminal a manner than they run thier coal operations?
Much is said here about the “antis”, applying the term specifically to those you want to label as enemies of nuclear energy. Perhaps some of us can see past the science to the REAL issue. And the REAL issue is human nature, and the corrupting influence of putting huge sums of money at stake, and relying on the integrity of PROVEN SCUMBAGS, (both corporate and political), to protect our health and welfare when marketing and employing thier particular path to obscene wealth.
I drive through the exponentially growing windfarms between Tehachapi and Mojave often. I have no doubt that the corruption, political favoritism, bending of the rules, graft and bribery between regulatory agencies and government heads is endemic in the renewable sector, just as it is in all the other sectors of the energy industry. But what true physical/environmental calamity can result from the corrupt admistration of a windfarm?
I live within eyeshot of these huge turbines. Should corrupt administration, undeserved subsidation, and pseudo oversight result in those towers collapsing of their own wieght, so what? Am I going to be evacuated? Nope. Is the land going to be deemed uninhabitable?? Nope.
Duke demonstrates, perfectly, why I don’t trust you folks. Do I trust the fossil guys more? Of course not.
So, distrusting ALL of it, I gotta ask myself; Do I want a corrupt scumbag political/corporate entity running a nuke plant next door to me, or a wind farm?
The answer, seems to me, is a no brainer.
POA, I’m sure you are a student of history so you probably know all this. Back in-the-day Duke Power was the most respected nuke utility in the industry, having totally built 7 nukes in house using their own AE talents and their own construction company. After TMI when the NRC “asked” all B&W plants to “voluntarily” shut down, including Duke’s three Oconee units, Duke Power said “No thanks, we are in business to sell power not buy it.” Their CEO Bill Lee was one of the visionary founders of INPO. You must be aware of some history I am not aware of. But four decades of uncontrollable external events can require a company to change its vision to survive. After all, what current US companies can supply a new NPP today including US manufacture of large components? You have a right to your opinions and also a right to be a “POA”; I think a lot of us might be in that box? Do you really think you are PO’d about the right things? I also note in your posts you lack positive suggestions for the real problems; to quote: “you speak an infinite deal of nothing.” How about try “a little more matter with less art”?
“POA, I’m sure you are a student of history so you probably know all this”
Incorrect assumption, unless you’re just being facetious. I know very little “history” behind Duke’s role in the energy sector. I have, however, observed through history the behaviour of huge corporate entities, and the corrosive effect they have on our so called “reprepresentatives” and the environment.
“Do you really think you are PO’d about the right things?”
Absolutely. Pick up a newspaper. What level of integrity do you see exhibited by the garbage steering the ship of state, or thier corporate benefactors, PARTICULARLY in regards to the energy sector? I’ve lost count of the amount of the current crop of politicians under investigation for despicable abuses of power. Its by no accident that the majority of our high office politicians are gazillionaires. And they certainly didn’t get there by alienating corporate entites like Duke or BP, did they? So, I am to assume that the huge money involved in the nuclear energy industry breeds integrity while the huge money in the fossil fuel industry breeds graft? Uh huh. Obviously Duke, couldn’t care less what environmental damage occurs on the heels of its profits. Nor does this ex Duke exec/turned politician scumbag care about Duke’s corporate integrity. So it shouldn’t alarm me that this lying corporate snake, in collusion with a governor and a regulatory agency, also happens to run a number of nuclear plants that KNOWN LIARS are telling us are “safely operated”?
“I also note in your posts you lack positive suggestions for the real problems; to quote: “you speak an infinite deal of nothing.” How about try “a little more matter with less art”?”
And what did YOU just add to the debate? A reasonable argument why Duke should be trusted to handle its nuclear facilities with anymore integrity than it handles its coal facilities? Nope. You just gave us a bit off history implying a stellar past to be attributed to Duke, that is totally belied by Duke’s PRESENT behaviour. I really don’t care about Duke’s long past history. It is the here and now that concerns me. No matter how stellar you consider Duke’s PAST role in the nuclear energy sector, what is unfolding in N.Carolina exposes Duke not only as a gross polluter and destroyer of the environment, but also as a corrupting influence on the governmental agencies, and politicians, whose task it is to protect the citizens and the environment. Is this really the kind of entity we want to be running half a dozen nuclear power plants?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Duke is any worse than BP, SCE, PGE, Standard Oil, etc.. Perhaps our system of capitalism just isn’t mature enough to expect our corporate entities to place environmental integrity above profits. And, perhaps our democracy hasn’t evolved to the degree that allows integrity in leadership to trump wealth and power. And maybe, until we do evolve past our blatant defects, we shouldn’t be messing around with potentially catacalysmic technological paths to wealth and power for an elite few. Its a pipe dream, I know. And you’re right, I DON’T have any positive suggestions. But you’re wrong about me not recognizing the REAL problem. Its called “greed”. And you ain’t cured of it just because you’re selling reactors instead of oil wells.
Greed isn’t bad, “Greed is good”. However it’s important to understand, it’s only good in a free market. Government programs, subsidies, regulations, are highly vulnerable to corruption and influence by lobbyists. Back then the coal industry obviously put pressure on politics to limit competition from new nuclear energy. Today it’s Big Oil with their oil&gas business, that are successfully imposing excessive regulations on nuclear power, through their various funding of the media, anti-nuclear NGOs, and lobbyists.
I don’t believe in movie slogans. Greed, also known as the selfish love of money in bad. It hurts people. There is nothing wrong with wanting to perform well or to earn lots of money. There is something wrong with wanting to accumulate the maximum possible amount of money, no matter who gets hurt.
The difference is that the government isn’t doing its job of regulating for the public welfare in the case of coal. They let these dangerous cinder piles accumulate with no realistic disposal plan implemented.
In the case of nuclear power, the government not only balances the baser instincts of corporate interests to protect the public, they go way too far and inhibit the good that the industry could be doing.
So, what you should be working for is rational regulation by the government. The government is our organization which is supposed to protect the weak from the strong, accumulate diffuse interest to oppose concentrated interest, and maintain some sense of fair play in the economy.
The attitude that the government can do no good, plays into the hands of the large corporations whose fondest dreams are to operate completely unopposed in whatever greedy undertaking of which they can conceive.
“……large corporations whose fondest dreams are to operate completely unopposed in whatever greedy undertaking of which they can conceive”
We are at that point. And this attitude that the “government can do no good” is, unfortunately, an astute observation that becomes increasingly obvious as the line between government and corporate becomes blurred. Cases in point, Bechtel, Halliburton, Blackwell, etc.
I find your argument somewhat perplexing, in that you cite purposely instituted overburdening governmental regulation on one hand, then decry my “attitude that the “government can do no good”. Well, if these overburdening regulations targeting the nuclear energy sector are at the behest of the fossil fuel folks, doesn’t it follow that these regulations are there to enable the fossil fuel entities “to operate completely unopposed in whatever greedy undertaking of which they can conceive”? I mean, collusion is collusion, is it not? Certainly, on a state level, what is unfolding in N. Carolina underscores a case of “government doing no good”. On a federal level, the stakes are much higher, as are the rewards for graft. Look at the screwing the above mentioned entities handed us in Iraq. Substandard work, obscenely inflated costs, and, in some cases, extreme disregard for the actual comfort and welfare of our troops. All enabled by these stellar guardians of the red white and blue, posing as something other than the opportunistic lying thieves we’ve allowed them to become.
Read Naomi Klien’s “Shock Doctrine”. Or better yet, read “Baghdad Year Zero”, an essay she wrote in mid 2004. Its a real eye opener in regards to collusion between the private sector and our so called “representatives”.
So, what you should be working for is rational regulation by the government. The government is our organization which is supposed to protect the weak from the strong, accumulate diffuse interest to oppose concentrated interest, and maintain some sense of fair play in the economy.
The attitude that the government can do no good, plays into the hands of the large corporations whose fondest dreams are to operate completely unopposed in whatever greedy undertaking of which they can conceive.
Agreed. Concentrated wealth and power used to be called “royalty.” Titles used to be prince and duke, now they may be CFO and CEO.
Restraining royalty and empowering individuals is why we organized a government by the people, for the people. The rich are people, too, but with wealth comes responsibility. Wealth is normally enabled by the actions of the people — at the very least, people buy products and taxes pay for infrastructure to deliver the products — so it is fair for the wealthy to be properly taxed on that wealth to help provide distributed benefits.
It is also fair for the people’s representatives to restrain actions of the concentrated wealth to reduce the potential for distributed harm.
“I find your argument somewhat perplexing, in that you cite purposely instituted overburdening governmental regulation on one hand, then decry my “attitude that the “government can do no good”. ”
Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water perfectly summarizes the resolution of the perplexity you are experiencing.
Didn’t Lee (or other top brass from Duke) volunteer to help GPU and come to TMI during the event to lend their expertise? I seem to recall a picture of someone in a Duke hard hat who came to the site.
@POA – One warning. Do not use profanity or words that are obvious synonyms for profane words. It detracts from your arguments and from my site.
So….heres (sic) where my distrust gets tossed onto the nuclear side of the debate. Is it really resonable for me to assume the Duke Energy conducts itself any more responsibly with its nuclear arm than it does with its coal arm?
Well, there is the slight issue of regulation of nuclear power plants by the Federal Government. The required standards for nuclear are significantly more strict than for coal fired plants, which forces more responsible behavior.
BTW, I hope that PSA is disconnected from the grid, since apparently no one operating there is to be trusted, perhaps not even to deliver power.
The assumption of the report is for rapid expansion of energy demand and industrial capacity. The report suggests a “miraculous switch” (61) would be needed to displace fossil fuels with nuclear power, and their consumption (including impacts on transportation industries) would continue unabated. Any perceived impacts, they conclude, are “definitely not the case … the electric industry itself is growing at such rapid rate that no possible growth of nuclear installations could prevent power generation from consuming greatly increasing amounts of fossil fuels for several decades” (61).
In other words, nuclear doesn’t scale, rate of growth of electricity demand exceeds that of nuclear power. Might the headline and takeaway from report be a little different: nuclear isn’t seen as a threat to coal (at least for the next 40 years)?
No. Read the post again.
The Atomic Energy Commission authors were as tone deaf to business interests and market share desires as you are.
Little trivia :
The reactor site in Georgia is named after the late Alvin Ward Vogtle Jr., former chairman of Southern. Vogtle was an Army Air Force pilot in World War II, and flew more than 30 missions before crash-landing in North Africa and being taken to a prisoner of war camp in Germany. On his fifth attempt, he escaped by scaling a 14-foot barbed-wire border fence and crossing to Switzerland. The character Steve McQueen played in the 1963 film “The Great Escape” was based on recollections of several veterans, including Vogtle.
History of energy consumption in the United States, 1775–2009 On the graph there (which sensitive to cursor placement) the second dip in coal after the war seems to correspond to Petroleum and NG increases – as stated with the conversions in the railroad and home heating industry. I dont know when coal gas was phased out or if it involved a significant use of coal. Its also interesting that in the early 80’s when they took a hit coal use continued to grow. I guess thats around where limits in supply (increasing costs) became more obvious with those fuels (along with a economic downturn).
Here is the smoking gun for Nuclear:
NO JOBS…THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO DO. IT IS AN EVOLUTIONARY DEAD END
The nuclear engineer is being eliminated.
There is no need for new reactor designs for the next 50 years.
And the construction industry is so criminalized and international that there is no guarantee any trickle down effects will occur.
Install and forget black boxes buried underground. Until something goes wrong. Then the idiot “representatives” just shut it down and the sucker taxpayer pays for decades on a worthless bunker complex that has been abandoned.
Nuclear = Even more concentrated power than whatever alternative = More corruption
4th Generation Nuclear = Pipedreams (hydrogen production complexes or synthetic fuel generation or EVEN transformative electrification). Pure pie in the sky.
There isn’t a single nuclear power project occuring today where the 6billion price tag can be properly accounted. Where the hell is all the money going if there are not bleeping jobs?
Nuclear is a grifters paradise. No wonder the oligarchs of Russia and China love it so much.
“Nuclear is a grifters paradise”
Of course it is. As is any venture requiring astronomical sums of money and extensive political marketing. Hence the wisdom of distrust when engaging the advocates of any arm of the corporate energy sector. This “But hey, WE are telling the truth” is the mantra of all advocates, whether they’re selling the latest wonder drug, a health care plan, a jet fighter, a fracking process, or a nuclear power plant. The wise assumption is that you are being lied to when obscene amounts of money are at stake.
And yes, this is an advocacy site, and as such, should be the target of a healthy dose of scepticism when considering the veracity of what is argued here. It ain’t animosity or derision to question. Its just plain common sense.
POA – says we should use “a healthy dose of scepticism when considering the veracity of what is argued here. It ain’t animosity or derision to question. Its just plain common sense.”
Reply, What is being argued here – in large terms – can be verified independently if you want to take the time to do the math. Bouncing the reports of “experts” back and forth is a common way to argue today but it really does not actually settle anything. It just tells you what your prejudices are in terms of who you believe. I pulled out the spreadsheets years ago and ran the numbers. I ran the numbers so long and with enough integrity that I ended up with a consultants job determining if a new power plant should be built in a mid-western state. I ran the numbers and did the footwork for those investors – ready to lay their own money on the table and determined that we should NOT build in that location. It cost me my work at the time since the plant would not be built I lost a job. I gave the real numbers knowing it would cost me my job.
I have read this site and many others now since 2008. I had a healthy dose of skepticism and worked to verify the claims (or refute them).
Here are my conclusions.
NOTHING matches the energy potential of Uranium / Plutonium / Thorium. Nothing else comes even close. We can run the world with multiple billions of people using vast amounts of energy up until the Sun burns out with the potential energy in these metals on the earth now. And is is without mining the moon or the asteroid belt.
Radiation is a normal not exceptional hazard. Even in the cases of high volumes of released radiation – the health effects are minimal and within the normal range of industrial accidents, in fact on the very low side of industrial accidents in terms of people actually hurt or killed. I was finally convinced of this when talking to friends who worked in Nuclear Medicine who told me the levels of radiation used to kill cancer and how much radiation healthy tissues receive in the process.
The costs of a Nuclear Power plant stem from excessive regulation of radiation as compared to the regulation of other power producing industries. This is especially true of the N-Stamp for “nuclear grade” materials. But it is also true of the excessively long periods it takes to approve a design. The essential comparative safety of the processes means that much of the regulation is simply wasted time.
Every human activity has faults and problems – as you rightly point out – so that using a technology that has proven to be much safer than others is the right way to go. Especially a technology that has demonstrated it can be even more simple and fail-safe. The first Nuclear power plant I saw a design for was a pebble bed reactor designed by MIT.
So what type of power should a society promote? Power sources that have the most potential to assist the largest number of people in the safest way and with the most disbursed possible system of distribution. Nothing matches Nuclear power in any of these features.
Fossil fuels are wonderful. But the desire to sell the same product for an increasing high price is a temptation that should be resisted by introducing competitive sources of energy. I ran the numbers on renewable energy for years, every form of it; wave, microhydro, biomass, wind and solar. I used to check solarbuzz every week to track prices. I KNOW that none of the renewables come close to matching fossil fuels in energy density per pound, transportability, or until the last few years, cost.
I became convinced that Nuclear power is the answer. We can run whole grids on this without any other source needed. If we want flexibility in the sources we should use multiple designs of plants. LFTR’s are great for process heat and load following. Pebble beds are great for process heat and load follow well. Light water reactors are well know and very very safe and can produce enormous amounts of electricity. Using molten salt heat storage even Light Water Reactors can supply load following and process heat. The research reactors in many universities could be tapped for energy production as well as research. Chemical combination of carbon with hydrogen means that with heat water and carbon we can produce any type of fuel we want.
So my years of skepticism have turned into full fledged support. What about you? Common sense is not very common because most people don’t do the work to figure things out.
“What about you?”
Thanks for the effort you put into your response. And, in answer, theres a reason I’m here, obviously, and it ain’t because I just like to argue. I doubt I’ll put the research in that you did, of course. Put I do apply myself to the search for knowledge in what little time I can afford.
This site has opened my mind a bit, and, perhaps even more importantly, alleviated some fears I had post Fukushima about the effects of such an event. Learning is a process I’m willing to engage in. Thats why I’m here.
You’re talking about costs far in excess of current rates with such an approach. And development time frames for technologies that are uncertain (and perhaps even unknowable). I’m highly dubious that you have run the numbers, and concluded that a grid with 100% nuclear is anywhere close to feasible, or competitive with alternatives. Much less on a global basis. Hansen is correct, as referenced by jmdesp in another thread: “Most scientists analyzing global and US energy … conclude that rapid global decarbonization requires contributions from all major available avenues: energy efficiency, renewable energies, nuclear power, and perhaps even carbon capture and storage.”
Presumably they have run the numbers too? Here is one very good and well thought out example. Are you suggesting they have missed or overlooked something that your analysis provides. I’m not aware of any serious proposal for a 100% nuclear approach to global energy production. No country is pursuing such an approach, and no scientific papers are written on this basis. It’s fine to take things to an extreme to make a point, but I think you have gone a little far on this one. And you’re overlooked a great many issues along the way from our current situation to where we are likely to go in the future (and the role of nuclear in any foreseeable road map or paradigm shift in global energy production).
Do you think it might be more helpful to start with something more immediate and achievable the short term (and see where that takes us)? Like building a few reactors on time and on budget (after a 35 year hiatus in the US)? Plug up holes in low level waste facilities and the nuclear backend. Come up with some reactors of different sizes (for different applications). And if all goes well, speculate on the larger picture (and what is feasible) in the coming years to decades? Demand is down the OECD countries. Coal use is rising in developing countries. The only thing that has put a serious kibosh on coal is not nuclear (per se), but cost effective and more flexible alternatives, government policy, and shifting public attitudes. We’re unlikely to get to a 100% nuclear option (ever). Heck, even 20% is going to be a heavy burden.
We can do way way better than 20%. This is a political not an engineering or manufacturing one.
First of all, the costs for Nuclear power are currently the lowest on the grid which is why they are the overnight power source of choice where they are available. In most cases the costs are less than coal – currently. I fully understand the difference between what is politically possible and what is technically possible. I also understand that when what is technically possible is clear it becomes much more politically viable. So, the technical argument is a support to the political will. I fully understand that today politically it is not viable to talk about 100% Nuclear. You cut out too many players and re-arrange the economics more than folks making money can stand. But technically? Yes, it is very viable technically. We should be aiming for it. It would be cheaper especially when the plants are paid for. When paid for a Nuclear power plant is a gift to future generations, like a hydro electric plant with no danger of floods.
The current structure of Electric markets in the USA is such that every source is paid according to the most expensive part of the “stack.” That is to say if only Nuclear power plants are online (overnight) then the costs are pretty low. But in the middle of the day when peakers come online those NPP get paid a higher rate for the same output they were producing at night. Thus, currently there is an economic incentive for a NPP to run full out 100% and to “mix” in expensive peakers with inexpensive Nuclear. That is to say a company who owns NPP’s would want to have Natural Gas peakers on the grid during the day so their NPP generation is worth more overall that it would be if the plant was load following.
My point that you can run a grid on 100% nuclear is a recognition of the capacity of the technology and a recognition that Nuclear can be very very inexpensive. Please note the Nuclear power plants being built in China. They need to build more even more quickly. Duke spent 3.5 billion in Indiana building a 600 MW Coal plant. Those costs are similar to a new NPP, and that cost was without the carbon capture equipment installed or the cost of fuel. Building ANY type of new power plant today is very expensive. I disagree with the current political philosophy that energy SHOULD be expensive. Energy is a primary feeder for the economy and should be inexpensive. Nuclear capital costs could be vastly reduced if the N-stamp were a more reasonable process. Test the output products for quality and choose only the best. Don’t require a strange documentation of every step along the way. Currently the process is so difficult that almost no manufactures want to attempt it. And it does not add to safety.
Allowing for private investors to pay for a Nuclear power plant and receive dividends on their investment as the electricity is sold would attract investors. I would love to be able to invest in a portion of a NuScale or Mpower plant. It would give a nice steady 8 to 15% return on my investment. Perfect for retirement planning.
I think it would be helpful to begin to increase the number of Nuclear power plants of every design and in every place. I am hopeful when I see that France built up to 80% in just a few years. Remembering that in about 20 years the USA built 100 plants and was in line to build many more also gives me hope. Fossil fuels were being replaced at that time and oil companies lost market share to Nuclear power.
What is your preferred method of producing energy? What do you recommend? What do you like?
I like Nuclear power. With reasonable regulations it has disruptive potential similar to the invention of the transistor. Of course with anything that has potential to disrupt vast amount of the current economy it has many enemies.
So, mr Lion, what do you prefer?
Even as the renewable experiment fails totally and miserably, along with the biofuels disasters; pollution, GW and acidification reach catastrophic proportions and the energy outlook becomes much less stable on geopolitical and supply issues its amazing some worry more about PR and downbeat assessments of nuclear.
When you make mistakes in reality there are consequences. Real consequences more important than money and political arguments and positioning.
“….amazing some worry more about PR and downbeat assessments of nuclear”
I worry about the PR because I want the truth. You are like nuclear energy mice squeeking from the basement while the fossil fuel eagle screams from the heavens. It ain’t that I want you to market a misrepresented product, its that, if you’re speaking truth, I want you to speak it loud enough it gets heard. You ain’t doing that. If you don’t think PR is important to you, than the other side’s PR, that “you” are CONSTANTLY complaining about here, must be a myth, eh?
If their PR is so danged successful, which “you” seem to believe, why can’t you see the value in it? Or the necessity of it?
Agreed, and a frustration I deeply share. I would love for the Gate’s foundation to take some of the money they are investing in the traveling wave reactor to do some PR work as well. I hope that FLIBE-energy will invest at least some thousands in adds. I do wish that GE would bring great things to light with some steady Nuclear Power adds.
But I also wish that some of the popular science folks would speak up and put some gravitas behind the statements that are mathematically sound but which die the death of a thousand Becquerel’s
You should read the recent piece by James Hansen, it gives pause about what’s truly happening and why it’s so hard for science people to speak clearly :
Some quotes :
– “The public is unaware of pressure put on scientists to be silent about nuclear power.”
– “Each large enviro org has a nuclear “expert” (often a lawyer) with a well developed script for any positive statement about nuclear”
– “Liberal media follow precisely the “merchants of doubt” approach that the right-wing media use to block action on climate change; raising fears about nuclear power is enough to stymie support”
– “These NRC talking heads are well-spoken professionals with a spiel that has been honed over years. And they have a track record. The NRC, despite its many dedicated capable employees, has been converted from the top into a lawyer-laden organization that can take many months or years to approve even simple adjustments to plan”
– “It is almost impossible to build a nuclear power plant in the United States in less than 10 years, and this is not because an American worker cannot lay one brick on top of another as fast as a Chinese worker.”
– “Anti-nukes know that the best way to kill nuclear power is to make it more expensive.”
– “Unfortunately, the situation is different than it was in the 1600s, when religion pressured science. The urgency of now steals the luxury of silence”
If an internationally renowned character like Hansen can be under so much pressure, what about less well known people ?
I see nothing from the nuclear sector matching BP’s “green motif” televised ads touting thier clean up of the gulf. Personally, I happen to believe these ads are disengenuous to the extreme, and that BP has done and will do the absolute minimum they can get away with as far as “clean up” goes. But I have no doubt that the ads sway many into the false impression that BP is acting as a responsible party to this disaster and doing everything it can to mitigate the damage.
But the nuclear industry, through silence, allows these “events” such as Fukushima, or on a lesser scale, San Onofre, to gather a damaging strength. The only media message I have seen about the San Onofre closing has been a presentation of negative reportage about technological failures and corporate malfeasance, with no counter argument or clarifying explanations aired publically, by the industry.
I do not advocate for the nuclear energy sector to apply disingenuous marketing, as I believe BP is doing by the example I cite. But the industry needs to do SOMETHING to provide a public counter message to the negativity the media brings to the town square in regards to nuclear energy. I don’t see it. Wheres the counter message? Here? On sites like this? Well, I really don’t think I’m gonna run across anyone in my travels today that has even heard of Atomicinsights, much less visited.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I hope you all are looking for it, because what you aren’t doing ain’t working.
“I worry about the PR because I want the truth. You are like nuclear energy mice squeeking from the basement while the fossil fuel eagle screams from the heavens.”
That is great language. Disney ought to hire you to write that PR. You could get the truth out to people. You could be the one to tell us all about reality. You could get us our cheese.
“When you make mistakes in reality there are consequences. Real consequences more important than money and political arguments and positioning.”
Mr. Tucker – You are 100 percent correct.
Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
– Richard P. Feynman –
It’s been predicted within the next few years the US will be building more nukes as we see the real consequences of past actions.
The strengthening of this industry through such an acceleration would not only improve the prospects for nuclear power but it would add strength to our general technological and industrial base and in particular would give added flexibility and capability for the construction of reactors needed for other purposes such as defense and the space program.
Fast forward and recognize the prophetic vision in those words. When has cowering away from a new technology and whole new field of science ever proved sound? Is there one example of where that has ever turned out well? We lost nearly all momentum in a area(s) we were truly excelling in. Purely for political games and the further enrichment of the entrenched, conservative fossil fuel industry.
How making financial derivatives. flipping properties, selling fee straddled 401k’s, low energy intermittent guilt tech, and cell phone plans is supposed to replace those interesting, expansive and epic visions for the US and indeed all of mankind is beyond me.
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