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  1. Rod Adams quotes page 6 of the “Stanford Natural Gas Initiative Corporate Affiliate Program” brochure:
    Done properly, the development of unconventional gas resources can reduce the carbon footprint of this industry—as measured by air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and even water use—relative to other fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

    Indeed this is inaccurate, but by torturing language and logic, it is made true:

    1. Water use is conflated with carbon footprint.
    2. Cooling water through the condenser of a nuclear power plant is taken as “water use.” (Ignoring the fact that almost all that water is returned to the environment).
    3. Simple cycle gas turbines can be operated with no water used (Ignoring the fact that water misting is sometimes used to cool intake air).
    4. Combined cycle gas power plants have higher thermal efficiencies than conventional nuclear power plants, and thus use less cooling water.

    So there you have it. Water use = carbon footprint. Pumping water through a power plant = water use. Nuclear power plants pumping more water = higher carbon footprint.

    And while we are at it, let’s ignore the fact that a significant number of nuclear power plants “use” sea water for cooling We certainly don’t want to run short of sea water!

  2. Completely OT, but Politco takes a peek Inside the war on coal that paints a pretty glowing picture of Sierra Club’s considerable successes against dirty coal-fired power plants in favor of shiny clean natural gas.

    Left unsaid is (1) what happens after the last coal boiler has been refitted with gas and we’re still only half-way — the easy half-way — to our needed electric power carbon reduction, and (2) what happens to the Rest of the World.

  3. Gas “energy vision?” Gas is OK but id hardly call any fossil fuel for electric power visionary. It reminds me of our old crumbling industry and old factory infrastructure. Competing with less developed peoples in venues we probably dont belong in any longer. Trying to repair and backtrack a path to a past that is mostly nostalgia and was never really all that good for most.

    Coal gas was in major wingspread use in cities before electricity and natural gas by the 1850s. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_manufactured_gas ) Natural gas to me just seems like a cleaner extension of that. Minus electricity production and distribution its hardly innovative.

  4. re: Rod’s addendum: Andrew Cuomo, Governor of NY is also “anti fracking” regarding the New York portion of the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations.

    The problem is also that gas is highly price elastic with respect to supply, where a little extra supply, or a small shortfall has a dramatic effect on price. “We” can’t bring all this gas to market at once. It has to be brought to market over time, but not too long a time as to lose value with respect to Net Present Values (NPV). Will they blame their own “environmentalists” for the price rise? You bet. Wait for act 3. I’m snickering already.

    Not all tragedies are comedies, but all comedies are tragedies. I think this fits.

  5. Clean natural gas: Its a major contributor to global warming and ocean acidification. And per kilowatt produced, natural gas has killed more than 40 times as many people as nuclear energy ever has.

    What’s not to like:-)

    1. @Pete51

      The question I don’t hear often enough is “Why is natural gas so cheap in North America right now?”

      Then I rarely hear anyone discuss the logical follow up questions to that one.

      Will it remain cheap?
      Are producers making money at the current price?
      Are investors continuing to provide the capital required to maintain production?
      At what price does gas cease being too cheap?
      Why did the industry produce so much gas that they exceeded market demand by a large enough amount that they drove down the price and kept it low for years?

      Has recent natural gas pricing in North America been a purely accidental functioning of the law of supply and demand, or are there “invisible hands” moving the market for obscured reasons?

      1. No, natural gas prices in the USA will rise considerably. They are all losing money below $6mmbtu. The price has been from $2-4 for years. Junk bond investors have been rolling over the previous junk bonds. Cash flow has been insufficient to pay off the debt, by a large margin. With the collapse of oil prices, fracking for tight oil is all uneconomic. Drilling is stopping. Production/fracking of existing wells continues to try to stay alive, hoping for a world price jump. Some producers bought derivatives/insurance policies on their oil price and have received a brief reprieve until the junk bonds mature and their is no cash to pay them off, nor “greater fools” to extend them more loans. Tight oil and its associated gas has been key to keeping the US natural gas glut going. It will all collapse fairly soon. Why the glut? Bond interest rates are so low due to the actions of the Fed, that investors flocked to junk bonds in hopes of getting some yield, any yield. And the hype-chorus of the Shale Miracle was apparently convincing. It is in fact a Shale Fraud. The chickens are coming home to roost. Bankruptcies en masse are looming. Read Bill Powers, David Hughes, Art Berman, Mason Inman who substantiate all of this in depth. E.g. http://www.artberman.com/wp-content/uploads/DGS-Presentation-12-May-2015_Reduced.pdf

        “The Counterfeit Shale Revolution &
        The Epidemic of Over-Production
        Art Berman
        Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.
        Ray Leonard
        Hyperdynamics
        Dallas Geological Society
        Dallas, Texas
        May 12, 2015

      2. At what price does gas cease being too cheap?

        Using the Levelized Cost of Electricity method used by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) with a 6.5% discount rate over a 30-year lifetime, a new natural gas combined cycle plant (549 MW) has a construction cost of $615 million dollars.
        http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/natural-gas-power-plant-to-be-built-in-moundsville-256267971.html

        With a 45% thermal efficiency capable by these combined cycle plants, I figure we need natural gas costing close to $9 per MMBTU for nuclear to compete. The new Vogtle plants in Georgia have a LCOE of 9.5 cents per kwh, and are costing close to $8 billion for each 1117 MW plant. Natural gas is currently selling for $2.6 per MMBTU at the Henry Hub. We need at least a tripling of the gas price for nuclear to be in the same price range.

        1. The thermal efficiency of current combined cycle plants is 60%.
          However you estimate of the required natural gas price seems quite high though, or then that price is the consequence of the very high capital cost of new nuclear build in the US. Then that cost means, nuclear has outpriced itself out of the market. It’s not the case in China where it’s a lot cheaper to build.

          1. @jmdesp

            Though there is plenty of culpability for lack of cost control within the industry, it is not true that the industry is the only entity involved in pricing nuclear energy out of the market.

            Government fees, a regulatory construct that discourages innovation, and lengthy decision processes that include adversarial hearings with opponent cost paid by applicant (directly or indirectly) have made a contribution to excess costs as well.

    2. Fugitive emissions are underestimated. I speak from experience. There was a gas leak under the sidewalk in front of my house for over a year. You could smell the mercaptan odor every time you walked by the one spot. Sometimes it would waft into the front of my garage when the doors were open. I called the gas company about a half-dozen times and they came out maybe three times and each time said it wasn’t “dangerous” and they wouldn’t fix it because they were so backlogged fixing leaks it would be a 12-18 month repair timeline. They finally fixed it after about 14 months. That whole time it was leaking gas, stinking up the neighborhood. Think of all the methane released by this one leak, and the terrible damage it did to the atmosphere, which is much worse than an equivalent amount of CO2. Now think that this was just one leak, probably one in thousands, in a moderate-sized city. Imagine how many more leaks there are in bigger cities, or just about anywhere.

  6. Come September, Exelon will probably announce the imminent closures of the Clinton, Quad Cities and Byron nuclear plants. Perhaps others. Vermont Yankee redux? Low natural gas prices, plus unfair subsidies paid to the wind farms contribute to the bad economics of nuclear power. The efforts to stop the VY closure happened too little, too late. You have been warned.
    http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/louisville-kentucky/exelon-to-decide-fate-of-quad-cities-nuclear-21526498

  7. “It’s very easy to find examples of nuclear power plant owners who claim that the profitability of their existing nuclear plants are threatened by low natural gas prices.”

    The extremely low price of natural gas was one factor in the decision to retire San Onofre instead of fixing it. SCE’s cost-benefit analysis largely depended on two factors: the length of time it would take for the NRC to approve a resumption of service, and the cost of buying replacement power, which in California is largely a function of the price of natural gas. (http://www.songscommunity.com/docs/Economic_Considerations_WhitePaper_Final.pdf)

    1. @Andrew Benson

      It would be interesting to be able to review their economic models and see the assumed natural gas behavior compared to what actually happened after the plant was shutdown.

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