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22 Comments

    1. The one guy in Vermont called it “Cave Man technology”, and it is. The discussion was related to the post-VY shutdown situation where someone at a meeting said the solution was for all Vermonters to get wood-burning stoves and chop down all their trees to run them. Really fine environmentalist viewpoint, that. Release in a relatively small instant of time all the carbon it has taken trees hundreds of years to sequester. But talk about things like sinks and sources and time constants, most sheeple get a cross-eyed and glazed-over look.

      1. You hear that Six Flags theme park in New Jersey is clearing over a thousand acres of woods to build a solar farm to run the place and look eco-friendly to their patrons? Will there be a tree-huggers ride?

    2. Sheesh. Why not “Thermal power” for burning trees? We’ve got “Solar Power” where the source is sunshine, and we’ve got “Wind Energy” where the source is intermittent breezes. BTW: If you call it by it’s source, I think they’ll feel exposed. Let’s not let them hide.

  1. I can’t believe I just read that same article (skimmed I guess) and missed the “Union of Concerned Scientists” mention. Thanks Rod. This is a great post.

  2. Not being totally PC, Moniz sounds like an educated luddite. Understands nuclear is clean energy, insists refurbishing g the old way, new windmills and going back to wood burning, is still better.

  3. As long as the US government keeps putting anti-nuclear proponents into the highest positions of power in the energy complex, it is a foregone conclusion that nuclear will decline to nothing. It is useful for elected officials to appoint these anti-nuclear proponents to these positions because it is politically expedient for a largely uneducated (and mostly faith-based) constituency.

    Meanwhile, nuclear power will continue to thrive in non-OECD member states, where they have the capability of looking at societal needs beyond a two-year election cycle, and actually believe in the virtues of science. I’m sorry to say this, Rod, but Americans are doing it to themselves by allowing their elected officials to trade your long-term economic sustainability for short-term election campaign funding.

    1. Don’t blame the faith based community. It’s the secularists in govt who are anti-faith who are doing this. I am sick and tired of you atheists preempting the conversation with your prejudice. BTW, I have seen the greatest ignorance on nuclear from liberal anti-faith Academia and news media.

      1. BTW, my former boss in nuclear energy is a devout Presbyterian (APA not the liberal PCUSA) with whom I shared my Catholic Biblical Apologetics training material. My current boss is a devout Southern Baptist. Two of the engineers with whom I work are devout Roman Catholics and a third is Evangelical Protestant. So stop with the secular liberal intolerance and divisiveness. Being faithful to God doesn’t make some one anti-nuke. Just look at the drop out hippies in Vermont overjoyed at VY’s shutdown. They believe in no God but goddess Gaia.

        1. “……..intolerance and divisiveness……”

          Ioannes……

          I can think of no one posting here that displays the degree of religious and political intolerance and divisiveness that you do. Do you ever actually engage in introspection?

      2. I think he means “faith” as in the prophet Joni Mitchell whereby “gotta get back to the garden” is a founding truth.

      3. Btw ioannes, it ain’t secular liberals leading the charge to deprive Iran of its right to pursue nuclear power.

  4. Request to Rod Adams (not exactly on topic but related)

    I would love to see an article on how profitable the nuclear business is. It would be nice to be able to say to those antinuclear people that the profits are healthy but not like Oil and Gas or perhaps Wind and Solar or even Coal. If my assumptions are wrong it would be good to know.

    Thanks from @pronuclear

  5. According to this article, the German reactors, which were all paid off, used to make up to 1.4 million US dollars per day ( a million Euros ) till the federal government brought in a fuel tax designed to take half their profits, plus subsidising wind and solar, which received first preference for midday peak demand.
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304418404579467023883510280
    As a result Grafenrheinfeld ( 1.3 MW ) which makes 1.5% of the country’s power, is having its fuel shuffled instead of a proper refueling, and will be closed six months early – or thirty years early, by a sane reckoning.

  6. There’s an interesting entry on Exxon’s public and government affairs VP blog about divestment and the need for fossil fuels.
    The key sentence : “there are no scalable alternative fuels or technologies available today capable of taking the place of fossil fuels”, don’t you forget one Mr Ken Cohen ?

    1. @jmdesp

      Exxon’s statement is correct. Nuclear energy is capable of providing energy that can compete with fossil fuels and reduce their consumption levels in numerous applications, but it cannot “take the place of fossil fuels” in many important applications.

      Additional opinions not directly related to your comment

      Though I am concerned about the effects of adding more CO2 to the atmosphere year after year than natural sinks are capable of storing, it’s wrong to fixate on CO2 to the exclusion of all other measures of effectiveness for energy sources. We don’t need to approach “global zero,” we need to push towards stabilizing the atmospheric concentration by both reducing the input term and increasing the sink term.

      It’s wrong to put on a hair shirt and claim that all of the good things that human beings have built and created — including more human beings — as a result of increasing prosperity were wrong. A major enabler for that increased prosperity has been access to both abundant fossil fuels and the machinery / infrastructure required to put them to beneficial use. It would be society suicide to set a course aimed at making our collective investment worthless.

      We do not need to conserve energy because we know how to find as much as we can ever need. We not only know Einstein’s equation, we know how to take advantage of certain masses to convert them into energy. The energy released from fission does not produce CO2, so increasing its contribution will reduce the average emissions per unit energy used. That will gradually reduce our total rate of CO2 release.

      Look at the ratchet pattern of monthly CO2 concentrations and think about what the curve would look like if we can extend the length of the negative slope portion.

  7. I guess I am a little bit skeptical when it comes to SMR reactors (after spending 1 year on the mPower project, who was touted to be “the future of US nuclear energy”).

    I think a better question could use some framing and would sound along the lines of:

    Why should DOE keep investing in Small Modular Reactor projects after companies like B&W spent an obscene amount of money (including more than 100 mil USD in DOE money and closed the project). Why should DOE keep making the same mistake and expect different results?

    I really hope NuScale Power will have better results but, as I said, I am skeptical. Time will tell.

    1. @Cristian Marciulescu

      Please keep things in perspective. How does the total amount of money spent on mPower compare to the $6 billion per year wind energy tax credit?

      Please understand that the tax credit is only one of many government programs that is actively aimed at encouraging the deployment of large wind turbines.

      • Most states have Renewable Portfolio Standards that mandate a certain portion of electricity be produced by renewables; effectively setting a quota for politically approved sources — like wind — that qualify for that brand.
      • Renewable energy developments get favorable treatment in federal land use
      • Transmission lines designed almost solely to connect remotely located renewable sources get preferential treatment from both states and FERC.
      • Renewable energy systems are allowed to use a modified accelerated 5-year depreciation schedule for their capital investments.
      • The National Renewable Energy Lab is solely focused on renewable energy research, including producing studies that prove that high penetration of unreliable power sources can still supply reliable electricity — as long as there is a strong component of curtailment, aka “demand management”, and a bit of magical fairing of the data to use only hourly averages instead of a shorter time constant.

      There are others, I am sure, that I did not list.

      In that context, even half a billion (high side estimate) spent on mPower between B&W and the federal assistance seems like a relatively small matter.

  8. Dr. Moniz is a member of my generation, which might be considered the generation that ruined the united States. My generation has taken a wealthy and powerful nation and systamatically destrouyed the basis of that wealth and power. Turning its back on the promises of nuclear energy is but one example. Dr. Moniz believes that we can control our nuclear future, in fact our decendents will be able to control very little in their own lives, and virtually nothing in the lives of other peoples.

  9. I may be wrong but I feel that the NRC is the main reason behind the DOE handing over the research to the ORNL MSR project and working with the Chinese IN CHINA to build an MSR (molten salt reactor) demo. I’m sure it must be saving DOE a lot of time and money.

  10. “That is especially true since part of the reason B&W reduced funding was a recognition that being first with a “new” nuclear idea in the US is very expensive.”

    I’ve been giving a little bit of thought to this, off and on, for the past few years – I realize there is definitely a “first mover disadvantage” in the nuclear industry. Do you think there is anything that could be done to help offset that, to encourage more nuclear?

    I’ve thought of a few things –

    * Patent Reform? It seems to me that the way the patent system works, these days, a potential patent holder might spend a very large fraction of the term of a patent just trying to bring a nuclear design to market. Perhaps, given the regulatory framework of nuclear energy, maybe we should do something like have the patent term *start* only when the design has gotten it’s first Operating License issued by the NRC or COL? Would longer terms (maybe an extra 10 years) be reasonable for nuclear technology, just because of the long lead-time for nuclear tech?

    * First customer profit sharing – it is most likely true that the first customer to build a new design, will be buying the most expensive of the reactors. First of a kind is always most expensive, yes? Maybe the Industry should experiment with business models where they get the revenue from that first adopter (and additional early adopters, but on a gradually decreasing scale), but then, the utility or company that first adopts, can share some of the profits generated by the company that sells the power plant/reactor design from their competitors who subsequently by the same power plant design.

    So, for example, Someone like Southern Co. building the first US AP-1000’s, might get an ongoing revenue stream for the next 20 or 30 years by getting a cut of the profits that Toshiba and CB&I/Shaw Group get off of later customers?

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