1. Please tell me that the Germans won’t be offsetting their gas-fired generation with carbon-credits bought from nuclear powered France.

    1. That is exactly what Germany is saying. “As long as Germany can buy credits elsewhere Europe will still meet its carbon goals, means that as long as someone else (i.e. France, UK) continues to improve even more than necessary and can sell Germany credits, then European CO2 limits can be met, i.e. even though Germany increases CO2. OR at least for some time, i.e. until new gas lines and power stations are built, Germany can buy nuclear from it’s neighbors.

  2. Rod – The German official position on nuclear is skewed to the hard-core anti-nuclear dogma, which you clearly report. However, I have a small point in your article to quibble about. Calling solar and wind “unreliable” has epistemological issues. I understand what you mean, but I’m not sure the term meets the intended meaning. I’d like to suggest alternatives like irregular, vacillating, inconsistent, or fluctuating. The sun shines on a regular basis, thus solar has an inherent reliability during the day. But at night-time, it isn’t an available source. It’s inherently irregular. The same for wind…reliable when the wind blows at more than 8 mph, but inherently irregular because the wind vacillates.

    Just an idea…

    1. @Leslie – as an English major (undergraduate) and a Systems Technology specialist (graduate school) I must totally disagree with your suggested lexicon.

      The job of a power system is to produce reliable power. In that context, reliable means power that is available when demanded for a high portion of the time. Reliability is measured at the switch – the lights must come on. Any power system whose primary motive force is dependent upon the weather is inherently “unreliable.”

      The sun not only rises and sets on a schedule accurate enough to set clocks, but it also traverses a predictable path of elevation that makes its energy supply dependent upon the sine of the elevation angle – which is constantly changing. The energy delivered also depends on cloud cover – which is quite variable in all of the locations where people can comfortably live.

      Nope – unreliable is exactly the right word for a weather dependent energy supply system.

    2. Actually, Leslie you are wrong. Most advocates of renewable energy do not know much about renewable energy. The theoretical shape of electricity production is a bell curve. The actual shape includes a series of sharp unpredictable v-notches when clouds pass over.

      The location of the solar system is very important. A utility built and managed solar system in the Mojave Desert will get 19% CF compared to the ideal of 20%. A similar utility built and managed solar system in New Jersey gets 14% CF.

      A few years back our California party jet crowd at GOOGLE were going to show us how to make electricity with solar cheaper than coal. These idiots put a large solar system on a roof in a marine climate. Then they provided an internet link to show how well the system works. Idiots!

      For those who missed it GOOGLE announce yesterday were giving up showing us how to make electricity with solar cheaper than coal. We make power as a public service. If the public wants solar we will first explain why it does not work. When the public insists, we will built the systems and pass the cost along. Sooner or later some ‘consumer interest’ group will complain about maintenance costs.

      Maintenance costs? It is free right? IBEW union guys are not free. You have to be trained to work on electrical stuff because you can get electrocuted. Electrocuted? But solar is safe right? Until it catches fire. Any energy system that has the potential to do useful work, has the inherent risk of breaking out of the system that controls the flow of energy and crushing the life out of fragile human.

      If you want a nuke plant to stop making power, just push the BRS (TLA for big red switch). OMG if you do not remove decay the fuel will melt down. True enough and oddly enough we have thought of that. What if you want PV system to stop making power? Sorry Leslie, you did not think of that and neither has the solar industry. We at the power industry (because we are such jackasses) want you to have protective devices so that as your house burns down your PV system does not take down the rest of the neighborhood. Your family will be joined with your neighbors and then the fire department who loves to watch a good fire. Soon the IBEW guy will show up in a truck with you local utility logo on the side. The fire department want him to energize the house so they can put out the fire. Sorry can not do that until the sun goes down.

      If there was just a bit more irony in the world Leslie’s barn burner would be captured on a home video. Someone would ask about efforts to save the planet. FAIL would be photo shopped onto Leslie’s forehead.

      True enough, solar is the environmentalist version of the kid on the skate board. However, it is just not very funny.

      1. Kit P – thanks for the “illuminating” reply. But I think you may have missed a prefix here –

        The fire department want him to energize the house so they can put out the fire.

        I’m sure you mean

        The fire department want him to de-energize the house so they can put out the fire.

        I’ve seen news stories about just this happening – emergency crews having to hold back because solar panels couldn’t be disconnected from the house wiring. And even with breakers tripped, the panels can still be dangerous just because they produce power whenever there’s light; the voltages still appear at the connections.

        Rod – thanks as always for the main post.

        1. Thanks for the correction Andrew. There was an unwritten rule on my ship. We could only have electrical fires when I was EDO and only then after I started eating dinner. My weak area was electrical distribution. My duty electrician was saved from death or permanent injury by following safety practices and protective clothing. Lighting took out shore power. We restarted vital equipment such as reactor coolant pumps on the EDG. Although the shore power breaker indicated that had tripped open as expected but in fact had physically fused closed. This was detected later by a large boom and smoke.

          I know of two other cases where CPR revived people who were working on de-energized circuits after a fire or malfunction. One being my father!

          I was fixing something electrical. I opened the breaker and checked that it was de-energized but got bit anyway. I checked again it was de-energized. It turns out the aluminum siding was at 30 volts. It has not been installed correctly and had become one big capacitor.

          My point here is that the power industry has ‘that is not how is suppose to work’ moments. It is just naïve to think renewable energy is immune because some liberal arts major attaches the word ‘clean’ to it.

      2. Huh? You make no sense, whatsoever, Kit. You’re surely not addressing your admonishment to the right guy. Go to my website (www.hiroshimasyndrome.com) and find out who and what you are trying to tongue-lash. I might just be the most radically pro-nuke blogger in cyberspace.
        Besides, I was merely suggesting something epistemological to Rod. Hey, it’s fair to agree to disagree between those who agree on the greater issue, right? Rod was an English major, and I have a Masters in Philosophy. We’re both inherent wordsmiths. But, that doesn’t mean we’l be in complete liguistic accord. We’re in agreement on nukes and the inherent issues with renewables. I think both have a place in our future, but that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant. Just different. Please get a clue, Kit. You embarrass yourself.

        1. I have the right guy Leslie, 50 lashes with wet noodle. I am a pronuke with unbeatable credentials and I get tired of others nukes who do not bother to learn about the business of making electricity. Boring sure but if you have spent anytime in the control of a commercial power plant especially on a bad day you should know the serious responsibility of providing electricity.

          It is not a contest of who is best but one of each part of the team. As far as I call tell the purpose of solar in the team is to generate a picture. PV panels in the foreground nuke plant in the background.

    3. Another more technical definition for what Rod calls unreliable is entropy.

      Entropy is simply a measure of the uncertainty of the system. It matters not what the system is, wether steam in a pipe, a wind farm, or a solar field. Bonneville Power Association’s wind farm has an entropy of about 9. From the NERC report on the reliability of their nuclear generation it is about 0.1.

      That is a factor of 90 difference between the two. What the German EPA dude is stating is the second law of thermodynamics. If you want to reduce the entropy of a system it requires the addition of useful work, in this case back up power. Germany is advocating natural gas for some odd and unbeknownst reason. They miss two points a logical and technological. The logical point is that the addition of nuclear power onto the grid is the addition of pure useful work and does not require backup. The technical point is that nuclear can load follow, although oxide pellet fuel has conditioning limitations. Think of it as a magic coffee cup coffee cup heating itself up, if it goes too quickly too often you will have coffee on the floor. The rate of power change to follow daily load shifts is perfectly acceptable with oxide pellets, 3-5% power change/hour.

      The problem with nuclear load following is that the marginal cost of power from a nuke is so low, as Rod pointed out. Any company that did not run their nukes full out would be wasting a significant economic opportunity. It is this point that unaided or even aided wind power cannot compete against unless it has significant government subsidy, legal mandate, or anti-dog-eat-dog rules. All of which Germany has in effect, and for some irrational reason we seem hell bent to institute here.

      Rod is absolutely right about load following nuclear power plants. They are a true marvel to behold, and fun as all heck to operate. I still can feel the power of an 18,000 ton ship accelerate on an ahead flank cavitate (10% to 100% power in seconds).

      I love the smell of steam in the morning. It smells like victory! Maybe that’s why I had a propensity for starting up reactors before breakfast. Or maybe it was because my captains liked early underways…

      1. Wow Cal, I expect twisted logic from a German environmentalist but you have out done them. Let me help you understand without using the misapplication of entropy from information theory.

        A 1000 MWe nuke plant needs the same amount of backup as a 1000 MWe wind farm. That would be 1000 MWe. So the grid operator must be ready to adjust for the largest lost of power or transmission.

        BPA is the grid operator and not a generator. BPA does not own wind farms:

        The largest thermal generators are Columbia Generating Station (nuke) and Centralia (coal/gas). Coal and gas preceded building of any wind farms in the PNW. Since hydroelectric can not meet demand in drought years, coal and gas are needed part of the time. While 3000 MWe of wind on the BPA comes and goes routinely, BPA deals with it.

        Reliability is only an issue when you depend on something. BPA is not going to depend wind on a cold winter night or summer day because those conditions are the result of weather patterns without a lot of wind.

        The only issue is how much cheap power can the grid handle to send to California. A PNW wind farm can make electricity cheaper than CCGT in California.

        In 1996 (before wind farmds) there was a massive blackout on the west coast. It did not affect my family because we live in a town with a big nuke plant with the ability to change power quickly as load went away. The dynamic situation leading up to the blackout found where failure to do the little things took down one generator at a time until it had cascaded in a huge problem. Columbia Generating Station rode out the disturbance.

        I do not think nukes and renewable energy are competitors in the real world of supplying power every day. Trust me here. Germany and Switzerland is not going to close their nukes early. Talk is cheap and winters are cold.

        1. Kit,
          As my explanation is more detailed than you are used to. I will give you the short answer first. The entropy of classical thermodynamics S = k H. Where k is the Boltzmann constant and H is the information entropy of the canonical distribution. You do not have to take my word for it. Read Gibbs. Gibbs used a maximum entropy approach similar to what you would see in a variational calculus problem where you would find the stationary point of a system subject to a set of constraints by maximizing the entropy of the system.

          Jaynes showed that the common method of using a Lagrangian constant is just an application of the MAXENT approach. He also noted that Gibbs formalism of statistical mechanics uses the same approach.

          What Jaynes is referring to is on page 17 of Gibbs, Elementary Principles in Statistical Mechanics, where Gibbs defines the measure of a probability, eta=log(p) where p is the probability. Gibbs then uses a variational approach to maximize the index of the probability. He specifically defines statistical equilibrium on the next page as d eta/dt =0.

          Now if you read on a little further in his book he does a few more derivations and derives the fundamental equation of thermodynamics on page 44. This is interesting to note as the extensive variables are canonical averages. In it is the expected index of probability. Written more formally it is Integral over all phase space of (p*log(p)). A curious reader will note that this is be definition the information entropy of the intensive degrees of freedom. He later shows how to derive Boltzmann’s k on page 185. If k is incorporated into entropy then we put temperature in terms of degrees kelvin an entropy in terms of temperature and energy. If k is incorporated in temperature so that it represents the modulus of the distribution then T is in terms of energy alone, and entropy is dimensionless.

          Fundamentally entropy is the expected uncertainty of a distribution. Any distribution and represents our state of knowledge of the distribution. This is why you see the smart grid being pushed with renewables. If the load can be matched to the demand (by reducing the entropy of one or the other) then less back up power is required.

          If you want to ding me on a technicality of my definition with the role of BPA great. Here is the reference where I got the data:
          I was quoting 4 years worth of data from 2007 through 2010.

          Next on back up power using your numbers then the rolling reserve requirement is exactly double the entire installed capacity. If this is how the power companies ran then the price of electricity would be much higher than what it is. Why don’t you throw the reference for NERC on here so you can prove me wrong. What you quoted is that the backup has to be as large as the loss of a single largest generator. But what is the scale to which that applies, how many separate generators. When modeling a grid a binomial distribution does a wonderful job. What NERC requires, somebody chack me on this as I am going on memory here, is a probability of not meeting generation capacity of less than a certain margin, probably around 1/100 to 1/1000. In case if you are curious that measure of certainty can be represented by the entropy of a binomial distribution . So you are absolutely right nuclear does need a backup. The entropy reduction for nuclear is around an order of magnitude. Wind is around 3 orders of magnitude. Based on having a larger entropy reduction for wind power suggests that a larger useful work requirement since we are reducing more entropy using the same technology.

          As for wind, the model that provides the least amount of backup capacity is to count on the wind for the expected power. This is around 28-30% without looking at my data BPA is right around there (and that is for class 4-5 wind with some 6 for good measure). Thus a 1 GW wind farm needs 280-300 MW of backup from combustion turbines.

          The ball is in your court. I am afraid that you are going to have to do some serious work if you intend to discredit me or to challenge my ideas. I told you once before, that you need to check your assumptions. You assume way to much with too little understanding. I have no fear of going toe to toe with you. I did so with Naval Reactors and at my last job.

          I am not surprised by your response to my comments on this blog. Your thinking is consistent with what I saw in the Navy and in the commercial industry. As a group we nukes make fundamental assumptions that we do not even realize. We trust that someone else has done the leg work to build the foundation and that the foundation is right because we have had no accidents of consequence. It is true that we have had no accidents of consequence (I do not classify Fukushima as an accident of consequence because it failed to kill anyone). We have however denied the world of a near perfect energy source because we restricted ourselves to a “flight envelope” that prevents the full exploitation of the technology. I will continue to fight this battle with you or anyone else who artificially limits nuclear energy for some BS assumptions.

          I offer that it was not my logic that was twisted, but yours. The burden of proof is now on you.

          P.S. The second law and thermodynamics are generic properties of any differentiable and measurable manifold. The proof of this is little longer than what I can detail on this blog.

      2. Wow. I feel dumb. Submarine nukes are serious load-followers, without a doubt. I spent four years on an FBM and I never made the mental connection. Thanks, Cal. Good stuff.

        1. Leslie, you can be forgiven because FBMs typically operate at steady state power levels. We called it “boring holes in the ocean.” One patrol we even ran a “no bell” contest. The throttleman with the most watches without changing power was awarded a “No Bell” prize. Nice trophy, but no generous check to go with it.

          I completed 11 strategic deterrent patrols, but had some maneuvering fun during several inspections and exercises.

      3. “power of an 18,000 ton ship accelerate on an ahead flank cavitate (10% to 100% power in seconds).”

        Much more fun doing that on a 100,000 ton Nimitz-class CVN.
        Or running a crash-back during sea trials.
        Or doing High Power Physics Testing on Nimitz’ #2 reactor (the lead core) in the early 1990’s:
        1. Shut #2 plant down for 50+ hrs.
        2. Start up & go critical. w/i 30 minutes: bring #2 Rx online with cross-connected steam plants, drive #1 Rx offline to force all steam loads to #2 Rx, raise #2 Rx to 95+% power.
        3. Hold #2 Rx steady-state @ 95+% power for 50 hrs to achieve steady-state high-power Xe.
        4. Start-up #1 Rx. w/i 30 minutes, shift steam load from #2 Rx to #1 Rx.
        5. Hold #2 Rx critical <0% power for ~9 hrs, shimming rods as necessary to maintain criticality as Xe peaks.
        6. Once again, w/i 30 min, shift steam loads from #1 Rx to #2 Rx and bring #2 Rx power to 95+%. Shim rods as necessary as Xe burns out.

        Got to get it right the 1st time, because the CO wants to start flying again, plus it would be very embarassing to delay pulling into Hawaii in order to reset the initial conditions and rerun the whole test a 2nd time.

        1. The Nimitz size reactors are actually a little bigger than what B&W is putting together. SMR are much more responsive than a larger commercial reactor. The non-leakage factors in a small core are much smaller than for a large reactor and shape the flux much more effectively. This makes it impossible to have flux instabilities that are a significant design consideration in larger reactors. It is why Navy nukes have the operational philosophy right when it comes to what a nuclear reactor can actually do. We’ve seen them in action and it is awe-inspiring, as you so beautifully described. I get shivers every time I think of hearing the rush of the steam, the “Thunk Thunk” the the reactor coolant pumps, the turbines spooling, and feeling the entire ship shake violently from the force being put into the water. That’s power!

          The steam plant poses another problem with being able to handle such rigorous transients. Navy plants are simple, Rod based his atomic engine on a similar principle. KISS. Which would give the plant a wide range of operational flexibility and shorter maintenance periods. Simpler systems are easy to fix. So the trade off in simplicity vs efficiency is a big deal. Reheat can be incorporated in a smaller steam plant, but would require Programable Logic Controllers (PLC) to be able to adjust the heater levels appropriately during a transient. B&W hit the nail on the head with mPower not having boron for reactivity control. Boron is perhaps the singular most costly thing on a commercial plant, taking into account all the first order and second order effects.

          One thing that hit me when I went to the commercial world was how restrictive the operational envelop was for critical operations. I’m a pilot too, so I think of things like a flight envelop (weight vs center of gravity). In the Navy’s push to go to microprocessor I&C they gave us a reactor envelop (P-T display). Depending on where I set the envelop for my guys defined how much supervision I had to provide. We had a similar thing on the operational side of the house. The successful boats understood the authority they had in defining their operational box. Get too loose and you end up dead. Too constrained and the enemy overwhelms you and you end up dead. The trick is to provide the balance between the two, because that is where success lies.

        2. My last week at sea was the best because we did ‘High Power Physics Testing’ and ‘SG hideout tests’. The engineer went on leave and put his ring knocker drinking buddy in charge failing to tell or the captain for that matter what had to get done before we came back into port. They were PO at me but I said fine who wants to sign the letter to Rickover. During that week, ring knocker’s people cross connected potable water with a hose to flush nuclear piping. The fun part was that ring knocker thought I was pulling his chain (again). After he fixed the problem, I sensed sincere contriteness. Had we managed to contaminate potable water several of us would have rightfully been court marshaled.

          On my second to last day out to sea, ring knocker chewed me out for being a cowboy for not scramming. We were exercising with the carrier and answering lots of bells taking a casualty. We had a great crew and the ER supervisor fixed the problem just in time.

          On my last day out to sea, we were one EOOW short so I was standing watch with a different crew while performing routine critical checks. The RT was also standing his final watch since he was out of navy as soon return to Norfolk. What can go wrong? We both had never had a none drill scram. The captain was called to the bridge for other reason just as we forced started the forward diesel causing the captain to think his ship was on fire. Ring knocker got his butt reamed because I was too conservative or at least in hindsight.

  3. Just a small correction…..

    “More than 90% of the cost associated with producing electricity from burning gas comes from buying the fuel. Stated another way – when electricity comes from burning gas, the gas suppliers capture 90% of the revenue.”

    would only apply if the power were being sold at the cost of production.

  4. Perhaps more German industrial firms should move east and take their jobs and taxes with them.

    Maybe that is part of the overall strategy?

    Maybe this is part of long-term plan to get back at Germany for all of the Russians that died fighting in the Great Patriotic War.

    1. Maybe, but why are the Germans going along with it? Or are the movement whipping up fear of nuclear power in Germany actually being run by Russian spies?

      1. Why not? It’s a mater of historical fact that the U.S.S.R. had agents holding influential positions in the German and European campaigns for nuclear disarmament. Why wouldn’t Russia continue to use that network to promoted its current foreign policy?

        1. Again the question is “why are the Germans going along with it?” Are they too guilt-stricken over World War II to unmask Russia’s fifth columnists leading the anti-nuclear movement?

        2. So, Russia lost the cold war, but is subtly taking back over making Germany dependent on them economically for energy. Russia was taken down because they could not compete economically, so they are taking a page out of that book and returning the favor with Germany as the target.

  5. Just a small correction…..

    “More than 90% of the cost associated with producing electricity from burning gas comes from buying the fuel. Stated another way – when electricity comes from burning gas, the gas suppliers capture 90% of the revenue.”

    would only apply if the power were being sold at the cost of production, of course. In reality, that’s unlikely.

    As to the degree of fossil fuel back-up, that’s where this can get to be real fun. It depends just how much renewable capacity is connected, realtive to demand. The Germans appear to be on course to do something even more bizarre than Flashbarth’s comments imply.

    They’ve already got something approaching 20GW of solar capacity. They’ve about 30 GW of wind installed so far – and they’re planning to increase that to about 55GW by 2020.

    Current average usage in Germany is about 63GW; they plan to reduce that by something like 20% by 2020 – so, about 50GW.

    Notice that? Even if every watt of production from non-renewables of any sort is cycled in and out, there will be periods where some renewables output would have to be rejected, or dumped onto adjoining grids – up to 25GW. In fact, if the German daily variation in demand is similar to that of the UK, there will be periods nightime periods when demand is perhaps 50% of average – meaning even in the absence of a solar contribution, they might be dumping 30GW of wind power.

    That’s going to further reduce already low capacity factors – German wind currently averages about a 20% capacity factor, with no rejection of power production. It’s hard to see that this level of renewable oversupply is going to reduce that by less than 1/4 – which means increasing an already high unit cost by 1/3rd.

  6. Their twisted logic goes like this:
    Because nuclear has low fuel costs and therefore makes wind power look bad, a power plant with high fuel costs is “good”. – The worse the backup power source, the better the primary power source looks, the less temptation only to run the backup.

    Anotherone from today’s headlines:
    “Switzerland’s Reliance on Reactors Means Switch to Other Sources Will Be Expensive”. – The logic behind it: Nuclear is bad because if you ever decide to suddenly tear down all the power plants and replace them with other power plants, it costs a lot of money. So “renewables” are better because we promise they will be there forever and ever, and we promise never to suddenly decide to tear them all down.

  7. Rod, there is little new in these statements, except Flasbarth’s denial that the German anti-nuclear crusaders are not missionaries. I connected a couple of German politicians, and specifically Ministers of the Environment, to setting policy in my Canadian province of Ontario. http://morecoldair.blogspot.com/2011/10/germanys-will-to-power.html
    I also note the German strategy now seems to be to eat up all of Europe’s cap-and-trade limit. There is some very unpleasant realpolitik to the way the affluent have used that argument to carbon limitations to expand their power.
    I’d also note that the UK is a winter peaking jurisdiction (as I understand it), so the expectation is for solar to make no contribution at peak, and wind to be unreliable at peak. The UK’s choice for low-emissions in generation seems particularly clear.
    It is nuclear.

  8. Gosh Cal I love your style. What marvelous BS. Almost as good as Amory Lovins at RMI who can use modeling and the second law to win a debate why nukes are not necessary. Cal winning a debate with a great of BS does not make you right.

    Furthermore the proof was provided already in the link to BPA. Contrary to your model, BPA is handling variations in wind power without a problem.

    Yes, I am old school. I know how things work. I do not know how everything work but then unlike Cal I do not comment on those things. What works for providing reliable power is a 25% reserve margin and maintaining the system. I have nothing against smart meters, demand side management, and modeling other than they are not proven.

    “Thus a 1 GW wind farm needs 280-300 MW of backup from combustion turbines. ”

    You lack common sense Cal. I do not need to check my assumption. They are not assumptions.

    Cal you need to check your history. One thing I was wrong about is the economics of wind in the PNW. More than 10 years ago I got a call from the east coast office because was the resident expert on renewable energy in the PNW. Based on the contracts for NG from our pipeline, wind would never be economical. My company along with everyone else was building gas fired power plants.

    The history of generation in the PNW is this Cal. First came hydroelectric, then coal, and then nukes. In the 90s gas was the new source to meet increased demand. Then came the small 50 MWe Vansycle Wind Project in 1998 followed by the 200 MWe Stateline Wind Farm. Stateline is located next to a substation and an gas pipeline compressor station with the turbines in dryland wheat fields.

    These projects and increasing gas prices demonstrated the economics and performance.

    The fallacy of Cal’s logic is thinking of models rather than thinking about order in which power plants are loaded onto the grid. Wind is a substitute for the backup.

    “I will continue to fight this battle with you or anyone else who artificially limits nuclear energy for some BS assumptions. ”

    Cal do you have a horse called Rocinante and a side kick named Sancho? You are tilting at wind mills and like your armor your arguments are rusty. Since I am not doing anything to limit nuclear power, you are if fact battling to ‘artificially limit’ wind farms.

    Cal lives in Atlanta and drives a 4wd SUV because of all the snow in Atlanta. Atlanta is in a state that is building two new nukes. Hard to see the artificially limits there. Cal writes about the PNW someplace where I lived for many years mostly in the nuclear industry. Wind farms in the PNW is also not an artificially limit to nuclear power.

    1. Kit,
      I gave you the key references and authors that I based my work on, provided you with mathematical definitions that you can attack. Unfortunately, I think you fail to see what it is that entropy is. Otherwise you would not have gone for a character based argument.

      You probably had your first exposure to thermodynamics with a book very much like the current text book that we use at Tech today by Moran and Shapiro. They as most every other engineering text book stating, “In statistical thermodynamics, entropy is associated with the notion of microscopic disorder. From previous considerations we know that in a spontaneous process of an isolated system, the system moves toward equilibrium and the entropy increases.” The breakdown in this thinking is that entropy is a consequence of the move to equilibrium. When in actuality, as I previously posted it is the maximization of the uncertainty, index of probability, that defines equilibrium. Where uncertainty is log(p) from information theory. Please explain how this is BS. Your lack of (borrowing form Gibbs) elementary understanding of thermodynamics is not my problem to resolve as no amount of effort on my part can change your thinking.

      I’m not going to listen to Lovins as I understand from his advocacy he is like some of the early proponents of the environmental movement that used a poor understanding/definition of entropy in a vain attempt to argue for a societal deconstruction, a sort of Anti-Industrial Revolution. Where we save the planet by minimizing the disorder that we create by adopting romanticized views of what was in the past and much lower energy intensities because unless the energy came from the sun it is bad. An excellent example of this line of reasoning is Jeremy Rifkin’s “Entropy”. If I am wrong in my assumption of Lovins’ argument, please let me know so I can correct it.

      “Furthermore the proof was provided already in the link to BPA. Contrary to your model, BPA is handling variations in wind power without a problem.”

      Actually my analysis shows that BPA has plenty of reserve to manage their wind power, especially with their non-thermal generation of hydro electricity. Their existing capacity of thermal generation can easily absorb the remaining changes in load.

      “Yes, I am old school. I know how things work. I do not know how everything work but then unlike Cal I do not comment on those things. What works for providing reliable power is a 25% reserve margin and maintaining the system. I have nothing against smart meters, demand side management, and modeling other than they are not proven.”

      I too have nothing against smart meters or demand side management, I’m actually very much for them. They are excellent tools for the utilities to be able to reduce their rolling reserve requirements and thus increase their profitability by a more effective use of their capital. They can’t however make an ugly girl pretty.

      Wind is just plain ugly when it comes to large scale grid integration if insufficient reserves are specified. ERCOT this last summer is a good example of this effect. ERCOT utilities were under as I understand traditional rolling reserve requirements which are for generation sources that have an entropy of 0.1 or so. They were not set up for generation sources with an entropy of 9. Two orders of magnitude is a lot of ground to make up.

      ““Thus a 1 GW wind farm needs 280-300 MW of backup from combustion turbines. ”
      You lack common sense Cal. I do not need to check my assumption. They are not assumptions.”

      Ok, then you lack understanding of electricity generation. I was trying to be nice, in deference to your decades of moving electrons. When modeling a utility under a renewable portfolio, I look to do two things, first maximize the amount of energy generated from wind (you get REC’s and PTC’s for this sort of thing) and then to minimize the cost of electricity. When I did this, some things became apparent. First is that the capacity that should be planned to be on the grid is the expected capacity factor (I use availability for thermal sources). This is as you might guess the average power output of a wind turbine or the average availability factor for thermal generation. I assumed the utility would take advantage of as many of the credits the government would and does provide, and because they are a business that wants to survive. I checked these numbers with a brief literature review and some informal discussions with Marylin Brown at GA Tech. The model that you can build to test this wouldn’t challenge an Excel spreadsheet.

      “The fallacy of Cal’s logic is thinking of models rather than thinking about order in which power plants are loaded onto the grid. Wind is a substitute for the backup.”

      Modeling is a great way to test assumptions and theories without having to loose face or billions of dollars. Wind is a mandated take it when you can make it sort of thing, mostly for political reasons, Production Tax Credits and RECs. This actually acts to destabilize the grid when the wind is really blowing and the coal plants have to be throttled back, which kills their heat rate and increases Sox and NOx emissions. BPA doesn’t have the problem of more pedestrian utilities. BPA absorbs a good portion of their excess wind by cycling its hydroelectric load. In one of the years I referenced, there was a large amount of water due to a long period of heavy rains and hydro had to be kept up at peak generation. BPA thus had too much power and when the wind was blowing had no customers to take the power and had to dump the wind turbines to maintain voltage and frequency control. I am pretty sure they had something on their website about that. BPA has a large hydro capacity that they can use as what our friend Amory Lovins describes as “nega-pumped storage”, or don’t let the water go over the hill. The problem also comes in a protracted drought with little summer melt. The river has to be maintained at a specified low flow. We have problems with that here in Atlanta with maintaining adequate flow for the fresh water mussels in the Apalachicola. In this case we loose the “nega-pumped storage” due to not being able to reduce the flow of the river below a certain level. The PNW is actually pretty well suited to be able to build large scale wind without having to make a significant investment in backup power because of the amount of hydro capacity it has. This is one of the reasons why TVA is so big on pumped storage.

      I think pumped storage/hydro/any large scale energy storage is great. Raccoon Mountain is a wonderful asset, it allows nuclear power to be load following without having to back off on the VARs going down the wire. Interestingly, this experience helped to shape my PhD thesis.

      I realized we were looking at energy storage backwards. We are not trying to make unreliables into reliables, we are making something that is the most reliable source better and allow the high capital intensity project with the lowest marginal cost run at 100%. We then use energy storage to allow it to enter into the more lucrative peakload and load following regimes. It would be beautiful. So as usual you are looking at the problem backwards. What would be the price of electricity if BPA used the hydro to allow the nukes for peaking load? I think any load dispatcher would have to get a kem-wipe because managing the grid would be so elegant.

      “Cal do you have a horse called Rocinante and a side kick named Sancho? You are tilting at wind mills and like your armor your arguments are rusty. Since I am not doing anything to limit nuclear power, you are if fact battling to ‘artificially limit’ wind farms.”

      No, wind farms are not dragons needing slaying. Neither are romance novels my bag. Wind has its own virtues and issues that made it well suited for low intensity economies of the 1600’s. However, it does not poses the unaided ability (read capital investment) to operate in the intensity of our current economy. This is where thermodynamics comes in and shows why contrary to Lovins’ ideology, that it is not nuclear that is ill suited for society, but instead unreiliables being ill suited to make electricity for the grid.

      I think the failure to understand entropy is why some environmentalists are advocating socio-economc deconstruction, abandoning methodological individualism, and romanticizing a fictional past of chivalry that Don Quixote tried to live. Thank you for the analogy. It is quite apropos. By not understanding the meaning of entropy and probability theory they are not grasping common sense, hence their/your infatuation with wind power. To quote Laplace, “One sees…that the theory of probabilities is basically just common sense reduced to calculus.” Why is it that after 180 years, we still fail to understand common sense?

      “I will continue to fight this battle with you or anyone else who artificially limits nuclear energy for some BS assumptions. ” With much emphasis!!!!!

      “Cal lives in Atlanta and drives a 4wd SUV because of all the snow in Atlanta. Atlanta is in a state that is building two new nukes. Hard to see the artificially limits there. Cal writes about the PNW someplace where I lived for many years mostly in the nuclear industry. Wind farms in the PNW is also not an artificially limit to nuclear power.”

      Actually, it’s my wife’s car. I wanted to get her into a station wagon that got better milage, but she had none of it. So I obeyed and got her the most cost effective SUV. I think the wagon is much more cost effective with the same utility, alas that was quashed so fast it hurt. I drive a FWD compact hatchback. Go figure.

      As for writing about the PNW. I never lived there (bad labor laws and excessive capital restrictions), BPA does however have some of the best online data out there and is an excellent resource. If they had crappy data then I would not have to write about it and save you any discomfort.

      As for the two nukes being built here in GA and the “right to work” I have no other place on this planet that I would rather be at this moment in time. I’ll go ahead and post a big sign in I-75/85/16/20/95, “We’re hiring!”

      South Carolina and Tennesse come in tied in a very close second. They just don’t have Georgia Tech. But then again nobody’s perfect (sorry Joel UT just doesn’t compare).

      1. Cal like Lovins and Rifkin you are misusing science to advance and agenda but I do like Cal’s stile.

        I have nothing against models when they are a useful tools. For example, PRA provides useful information. Sorry knowing the ‘entropy’ of wind farms is just agenda driven BS.

        After Cal gets done with writing about the PNW he moves to Texas. No Cal, ERCOT is not a large scale integrated grid. Believe it or not Cal, I do not need a model telling that too much wind in a location is not a good idea.

        The problem with much of renewable energy is that the resource is not where people live. Furthermore, places like California with good resources along the cost would not tolerate offshore wind farms. Cal lives in a place without wind and concludes it is ugly. In California, they have no coal and conclude it is ugly.

        Models aside Cal, maybe you should consider not telling others how to live.

        Cal can add Virginia to states that are friendly to nuclear power. I no longer live in California or Washington State because politics drove nuke jobs away. When work was thin in the PNW, I applied to GE wind for a local job. I got calls from NC.

        1. Kit,
          You are right about my using science to advance an agenda. It is an agenda that demands rationality, not in a Kantian sense where rationality is restricted to the definition of the society, but where rationality is the use of what is quintessentially human, our intellect, to its fullest and largest capacity. From that regard, my definition of rationality is more from the school of American Pragmatism, with a good dose of von Mises.

          This is perhaps more demanding of an approach to thinking than you are used to. It demands questioning and admitting all information. It is relentless and rigorous. It requires a willingness to be wrong.

          When I asked you earlier (two posts back) to prove me wrong. I was and still am very sincere in that request. In some regard I want to be found wrong. However, a response based off of a lack of investigation does not suffice my criteria for the burden of proof. You are a nuke, you should understand this.

          Here are the references that I used to base my theories:
          The life’s work of Edwin T. Jaynes, particularly anything he wrote on probability theory, statistical mechanics (equilibrium, non equilibrium, and predictive), economics, logic, and entropy.
          Josiah Willard Gibbs, Elementary Principles in Statistical Mechanics: Developed in especial reference to the Rational Foundation of Thermodynamics.
          Arieh Ben-Naim, A Farewell to Entropy: Statistical Thermodynamics based on Information.
          John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.
          J. Pfanzagl: Subjective Probability Derived from the Morgenstern-von Neumann Utility Concept
          Richard T. Cox: Probability, Frequency and Reasonable Expectation
          Wayne Saslow: An Economic Analogy to Thermodynamics
          E. Smith: Classical thermodynamics and economic general equilibrium theory
          C.S. Peirce: Life’s works, which are all sort of blended and roaming around the same central issue
          Claude Shannon: A Mathematical Theory of Communication
          Ludwig von Mises: Human Action a Treatise on Economics
          Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac

          This should get you started in a good direction. If you haven’t already read it I also suggest Atlas Shrugged.

          Here is why I want to be proven wrong. If I am correct, we have based our macro economic theories on an incorrect aggregation of the micro states that ignores the micro states entirely. It is from this basis that Keyes developed macroeconomics which serves to justify Marx’s views on the social good over the individual.

          Thus socialism and collectivism in general seeks to establish a formal process that attempts to violate the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy (expected uncertainty), an extensive variable, arrises only when the micro state has been properly aggregated. Gibbs shows how to do this with an elegant sense of intuition and logic. Collectivism in general is being sold as some egalitarian ideal with out all the costs on the sticker. It can function as a society, just the consequences are not good for the people in the society.

          A paper I am finishing generalizes Gibbs approach and shows that the fundamental equations of thermodynamics are properties of generic manifolds that are measurable and differentiable.

          In short, I have mathematical proof that says we are getting what we deserve, and if we do not wake up soon we are really hosed.

          By the way I grew up in the midwest and have been to Denmark. Wind farms are horrendous monstrosities that defile our world. Yes, I use defile to describe wind power. If you have not been through the Sonoran Desert, I suggest you go. Get on a horse and go away from people. Watch the life around you. It is fragile, and tough at the same time. It is a marvel to behold. Then go to a solar project and then tell me that the landscape was not defiled.

          I am actually a big proponent of solar power. Just not in the sense that you look at it. Again, your reasoning is backwards. The sun supplies a most of the energy that powers our biosphere. We are custodians. Our job is to not interfere with that biosphere to the point of loss of resilience or destruction. Instead, we should use our intellect to understand how the biosphere works and develop methods to more effectively integrate our technology with it. Saslow in his talk at Woods Hole in the 1990’s got our role for sustainability right on. It is to maximize intergenerational equity. The only way that I have come to understand how that can be done is through the widespread application of nuclear power.

          Any capital invested to make renewables something they are not is a missed opportunity cost. Solar cells and wind farms do have a purpose. However, subsidies and policy designed to promote a social good over what is “natural” for the technologies to pursue is morally reprehensible. (Canonical is a more accurate word to use instead of natural, but can lead to confusion.)

          Kit, I hope that you accept my challenge to your assumptions, and that you sincerely challenge mine. I included all of the non-experintial references that I based my assumptions on.

    2. @Kit – the only reasons that wind is being built in the Pacific Northwest is that you and I are giving the developers 30% of their project cost, and because the voters of California have stupidly decided to allow the passage of a Renewable Portfolio Standard that forces utilities to provide a market for unreliable and unpredictable power.

      For some of the earlier developers, the 30% tax credit in lieu of a production tax credit was not available, so they get 2.1 cents worth of taxpayer money for every kilowatt hour that they produce. That is why they protested so loudly when the grid operator, who had so much extra water behind the dams that it needed to be spilled without producing power, asked them to stop producing power for a while. That was even with a long term shutdown of the only nuclear plant in the region and after all of the fossil plants had already been told they would not be allowed to sell power.


      1. Wow Rod do you believe everything you read in the papers about nukes? So why do you link the media as justification of your agenda?

        The wind farms I listed and a couple others were built without any incentives. The nuke plant would often run back in the spring before there were any wind farms. Like many places, more electricity can be generated in the spring and fall. I have seen $-15/MWh on the Mid-C in the spring. Yes, BPA pays for coal plants not to run.

        The point here is that the only thing that has changed in wind farms are providing more power than was made with gas, saving the gas for winter to heat homes.

        BTW, my PU gets 25-30 in city traffic because I do not drive aggressively. Again common sense, if the light ahead is red and the left turn light is still red, I will come to a stop 5 seconds after that big SUV that was beside me at the last light. My POS PU has the wind resistance of a brick so even with a 5on the floor manual transmission it only gets 18 mpg into the wind at 80 mph in Wyoming. Since 99% of my driving is city with a 45 mph limit, it does the job just fine.

        I like to see children strapped into a big SUV. It is when people tell me they made choice for mileage that I am skeptical. I am also skeptical that about safety when the SUV is driven like a bat out of hell while talking on the cell phone in school zone.

        1. @Kit – there has never been a wind farm built in the US without incentives. Before the current tax credit in lieu of a production tax credit, there was the production tax credit which has been in effect since 1992. Don’t take my word for it, ask the American Wind Energy Association.


    3. BTW – Cal does not drive the SUV very often unless he is carrying his children and a carpool. That is his wife’s car. Besides, it gets a lot better mileage than your pick-up truck.

    4. Kit P wrote:
      Contrary to your model, BPA is handling variations in wind power without a problem.

      While BPA did manage to handle it, the grid was on the edge of going unstable this past spring during some windy days that coincided with high water flows through the dams due to the melting of heavy winter snowfall in the mountains. I think this was an experience BPA would rather not have again.

  9. I could be wrong here, but I suspect Germany will see the day sometime in the future when it will regret being dependent on Russia for its natural gas supply.

    Russia can use that dependence to influence German politics when a major international issue arises involving a dispute between Russia and the West. And if Russia shuts off the spigot, things could get very interesting.

    And here we are in the U.S. trying to figure out how to become LESS dependent on energy imports.

    1. I doubt Russia will run short of gas supplies anytime soon – I believe they are trying to fund climate denial and melt the Arctic in a bid to harvest the Arctics massive and increasingly profitable fossil fuel reserves.

      1. Most of Russia is COLD and hard to farm, and has very few usable ports in the winter. They want global warming because they get warm water ports as the arctic ice cap melts, and increased viable farm land, whereas the US will likely lose viable farmland as the south and central move to be hot and dry.

  10. “When I asked you earlier (two posts back) to prove me wrong. ”

    Cal tell again me why I should prove your model wrong? Excuse me if I do not fall for your trap. At work it might be something I would do when reviewing a calculation. Look for flaws in the model.

    Models are great for things where we do not have actual experience but we have more than 10 years experience with wind farms in the PNW. Second, I am not promoting wind just saying that your exercise with modeling in college is not useful and results in the wrong conclusion in the case of the PNW.

    Next, I use different models. My focus in the PNW was on solving environmental issues using tools like LCA. Leslie Corrice might comment on that. As it turns out near where my sail boat is docked, there is a 100,000 feedlot next to a feedlot, a beef processing plant, a pulp mill, and lots of agriculture. A great opportunity for industrial ecology as described by Robert Ayres. Simplot lets us tour the feedlot. Friends from ENW were working on renewable energy. Also a sailing friend was the conservation officer at Franklin County PUD. I was also working closely another PUD and a COOP.

    The big picture is providing a reliable supply of electricity and protecting the environment. Your model is just not in my area of interest. I would be happy to give your thesis a sanity check if you asked but it would be offline not recreational blogging.

    The lesson of life is to focus on the project at hand and not focus on all the things that you are against. One of lesson I learned working in the environmental field is that nuclear is a very good way of making electricity. I am proud to say that many of the facilities of my company are ISO 14000 certified.

    I have been to Denmark to work at a nuke plant but it was before wind farms. Same in Spain. Also worked on Yucca Mountain. I found a nice hike in the Mojave where there was a spring and small trees to provide shade for reading. I would be very upset someone thought the Blue Ridge Parkway was an access road for a wind farm. However, I think you are wrong about wind farms in the PNW. When getting in the car at my son’s house I can see a wind turbine at the end of the street. They do not bother me too much. I know some agree with you. Another sailing hates them. Driving from the Blue Mountains and Walla Walla, you get 10 miles of wind turbines before you see the feedlot and pulp mill.

    One more last piece of perspective, the first commercial plant I was at for commissioning after getting out of the navy is now licensed to operate for 60 years. A proven asset and welcome in the community. Wind and solar are Mickey Mouse in comparison.

    Cal seem to have missed the wind spread application of nuclear power for some reason. No offense Cal is seem to be buying into the whole save the planet thing. My father’s generation saved the world from totalitarianism. My generation save the planet from rivers catching on fire.

    Sorry Cal, the hard work is done. All that is left for you is to get a bigger TV but do not forget the little stuff like reading bed time stories to the little one. Got to go, time to wind down before bed.

  11. What grudge do you have against the poor Russians? If the Middle East people can have the goodies for their oil, why not Russians for their gas? You could always shift to nuclear, if you have the urge, like you and the French earlier and now Chinese. Even the Californians have lost the nerve to handle nuclear energy.
    However if you (or the Europeans) want energy security, recycle your SNF and DU in the Fast Spectrum Molten Salt Reactors-the Simplified Waste Digesters.

  12. Russia and the Middle East will go nuclear so that they can sell, at a premium, gas and oil to the morons.

  13. “If companies burn more coal they need more emissions certificates – limiting certificates elsewhere.”

    What a hypocrisy!

    1. Germany is closing down several important baseload production units at home. But the grid is bigger than that. It’s called Europe! Without any discussion with at least the biggest countries in Europe, Germany is putting a threat on the stability of the European grid.

    2. When it comes to CO2 emissions, they don’t even bother to discuss the fact that they aren’t going to respect their CO2 limits : instead they are going to buy CO2 certificates and, well, CO2 emissions are going to decrease somewhere else. A fact well explained by the CDC Climat in France. Well Europe can be useful if it is only to support German views.

    3. Less nuclear means more gas. Rösler even explained that due to nuclear power stations closing down and difficulties to build new power lines, they are going to build gas power stations in lieu of nuclear power stations. What a symbol. And the Russian gas coming from the North Stream is going to be consumed by the Germans, not the Europeans, even if Schröder succeded into promoting it as a “essential European strategic infrastructure”.

    4. Less power at home means less exports mean more imports. French RTE’s last report is supporting a massive build up of power lines between, well, every countries with French borders : UK, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Germany. French nuclear is essential to the European grid. Few are admitting it.

    5. If nuclear is essential to France, Germany has plenty of coal at home to feel secure on the long run. And they aren’t hesitating to dig into it.

    Conclusion: Sonderweg is the word here. First victim? Europe.

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