1. The argument by psuedo-greens that grid costs will decrease as more distributed solar and wind energy is installed is in my opinion the most despicable part of their repertoire. Thankfully, I’m not hearing that drivel being spouted as much today as I did a few years ago in my region.

    Grid costs will doubtless increase in any region seeking high penetrations of unreliables. Four aspects of unreliables work together to multiply grid costs:

    – their diffuse nature and distance to good sites (require long transmission lines)
    – their low capacity factors (cause low utilisation of lines)
    – their poor ability to provide reactive power and inertia, especially in the case of PV (require auxiliary systems to maintain power quality)
    – the need to achieve geographical spread in order to ‘even out intermittency’ (require even longer transmission lines)
    – some other stuff.

    Anyway, we can see how this is panning out in Germany today. It’s a mess and it’s roiling even the Greens.

    BTW, there is an (almost) perfect article about intermittency and it’s consequences here:

    1. The most despicable indeed. In Texas 6.8 billions $ have just been spent in the grid to make sure the local nuclear and coal become unprofitable :

      How much does the average price of one MWh of wind becomes if this cost is integrated in it ? Fortunately the Comanche NPP is big enough to probably survive this, but this means it’s very unlikely any new unit will be built there now.

  2. So grid stability is the inconvenient “externality” of the unreliables. If they can push the cost of this externality off onto someone else, then they’ve won.

    1. @Cpragman

      Absolutely point-on.

      A lot of talk is made about fossil “externalities” – which are true.

      The inconvenient truths about mandated unreliables’ externalities, some of which have been cited here, are insufficiently spoken.

  3. So many energy schemes involving unreliables at the home level use the power grid as if it were a free large storage battery.

    The problem is that the grid is not free. There are costs to build, maintain and run the grid. However, those in favor of unreliables have used the political process to let them use the grid at zero cost, with rules that force the power utility to pay the homeowner the retail price for any power put into the grid. Particularly offensive are the “zero energy” homes, which nominally have a net power bill of zero. The homeowner bares none of the costs of using the grid as a storage battery. Those costs are shifted to the other users who source their energy from the grid. This is a hidden subsidy to the owners of the zero energy homes.

    If someone wants to partially or fully avoid buying energy from the grid, fine. Let him (‘him’ in the generic sense of the Latin ‘homo’, not ‘vir’) put up his own unsubsidized power system to (at times) avoid buying energy from the grid. If he has excess power he wants to sell to the grid, go ahead. But the price needs to be the wholesale price that other generators get paid, additionally discounted for the unreliable nature of the power.

  4. Electricity is becoming a luxury good in both England and Getmany.

    Renewables are not cutting it.

    And to say the EDF and the UK cannot reach a strike price is so out of touch.

    1. It is ironic that the “renewable energy” types seem to have no problem with these kinds of skyrocketing prices, because they think it will make unreliables more competitive. The so-called “progressives” are extremely regressive in an economic sense. They have no problems letting prices be the arbiter of energy availability, and if you can’t afford it, well, tough, devil take the hindmost. In fact the poorest of a society will be most impacted by energy prices escalation, as it is with any basic neccessity (food, clothing, shelter).

      1. @Wayne

        The plan seems to be screw the poor on the front end, while hiring “progressives” on the back end to manage “programs” to help the poor. Thus these “progressives” are actually quite reactionary to human actualization and personal wellbeing.

        The “stoners” (those actualizing, hard working people with their noses to their respective grindstones,) will be expected to pay for it all. The youngest and poorest of these grind-stoners are barely making ends meet at it is, and will need to be a recipient of these programs, increasing the base of those needing help.

        I’m guessing they want to break the status-quo, but without breaking the status-quo with respect to their own funding, much of which is supported transitively or sometimes directly from the Fossil fuel industry itself. It’s all very schizophrenic isn’t it?

      2. Tax breaks for the rich. Lots and lots of solar panels installed on million dollar mansions in Aspen. Also helps them sleep at night knowing they are “greener” than thou.

  5. In 2009 Austin, TX has the opportunity to participate in partnership with San Antonio and (?) in a proposed expansion of the South Texas Nuclear Project. Austin hired a consultant who did a risk assessment and concluded that the probability was pretty good that the project would come in at projected costs with electricity about $.08/KWHr. However, there was some risk that the project would overrun costs and the electricity would cost either $.12 or $.14/KWHr. (This is all from memory, I doubt Austin Energy still has the study summary posted.)

    So the Austin City Council did not decide to participate.

    Let’s look at that again. A good chance of $.08/KWHr electricity. Some smaller **chance** of $.14/KWHr electricity.

    Every single source they have contracted or built since then has cost **more** than $.14/KWHr. For example, they contracted to buy all the output of a wood chip plant at $.16/KWHr, with the price rising over time. They contracted to buy power from a solar panel array which is even more costly.

    The point is that the folks making these decisions are insane. They will pass on nuclear, because there’s a chance that it won’t come in on budget and has a chance of costing a little more. Then turn around and contract to buy “renewables” with a guarantee of paying a much higher price than the worst case nuclear price.

    The previous head of Austin Energy was an anti-nuclear nut case who was an anti-nuke activist when Austin bought into STNP in the 70s. He is quoted in at least one newspaper article saying that about equal numbers of people in Austin favor and oppose nuclear power (about 35% each) with a similar fraction undecided or don’t care.

    When he retired the city council replaced him with another delusional anti-nuke-case from California. If public opinion is pretty evenly split, why does the city council choose anti-nuclear extremists to run our utility?


    1. @Jeff
      …The point is that the folks making these decisions are insane…
      So now the Germans (and Danish and ..) folks are not the only insane decision makers.
      Insanity even penetrated decision makers in Texas… Also California? Vermont? and ??

      May be these are less insane and also have sound arguments.

      1. I do not believe programs to push unreliables and gas instead of nuclear energy are pushed by “insane” people. I believe they are pushed by wealthy and powerful people that do not like the idea of nuclear energy disrupting their source of wealth and power. There are plenty of pawns in the game who have no understanding of why they are moved around, but the kings, queens, knights and bishops know exactly how they would prefer for the pieces to be arranged.

        Fortunately, I am not a terribly disciplined game player and am not averse to changing the rules.

        1. @Rod
          … believe they (programs to push unreliables and gas) are pushed by wealthy and powerful people that do not like the idea of nuclear energy disrupting their source of wealth and power…
          Interesting. This is opposite to the facts in Germany.
          The big pusher for renewable is the Green party. And that has only few wealthy members. The real wealthy and powerful go to the FDP which tries to slow down the Energiewende, or to Merkel’s CDU/CSU.

          But may be the situation in US is different.

          1. The big pusher for renewable is the Green party. And that has only few wealthy members.

            I wouldn’t exactly call members of the Green Party poor. Although, interestingly, the Green Party has managed to attract [a fair number of pedophiles][1], which is yet another reason to despise the European Green Parties.

            I’d be surprised if Rod were not aware that Europe’s Green Parties are far more Marxist than capitalist, but that doesn’t mean that unscrupulous capitalists are not taking advantage of what they are trying to accomplish. In English, “green” can mean immature, naive, or easily deceived, and that certainly describes well the members of the European Green Parties. They make almost perfect pawns that can be pushed at will.

          2. @Brian
            Nice! But…
            the program of the green party is already >40years the same:
            1 – nuclear out;

            2 -all fossil fuel out.
            E.g. Denmark. Next year no license to build a new house unless you can show that the house is energy neutral, etc. I question myself how that will go. Seems difficult. What about this statement (I cite):
            “Starting in 2012, new buildings may not be built with oil or gas furnaces. Starting in 2017, oil furnaces may not be installed in existing buildings.”
            It’s from their ‘strategy for climate change’ plan:

            Look also at their bicycle strategy (same URL).
            I experienced that bikers indeed are prioritized in Copenhagen, feels luxurious.
            We in NL can learn from them regarding that.

            3 – renewable in…

            I really do not see, how this help the wealth and powerful. In Germany it democratizes energy, takes it off the hands of the major utilities.

            1. @Bas

              First of all, do you think that poor people are assembling wind turbines and solar panels out of available materials? Of course, any major transition is going to benefit rich and powerful corporations that are supplying the turbines, the panels, the transmission lines, the transformers, and the controllers.

              Secondly, many of us on this board are engineers who recognize that unreliable energy is just a front; there is NO WAY to build a reliable grid from unreliable sources. Therefore, if Germany is going to maintain its industrial capability without nuclear energy, it is going to burn more coal, oil and gas. There is no other way. Therefore, the fuel suppliers are going to benefit. The last time I checked, the global hydrocarbon business was the epitome of wealth and power, especially when you include their bankers, equipment suppliers and transporters as integral parts of the industry.

          3. 3 – renewable in … I really do not see, how this help the wealth and powerful. In Germany it democratizes energy, takes it off the hands of the major utilities.

            Bas – Democratizes?! What the hell?! Perhaps you should look up what “democracy” means, because you’re describing a small minority, the “Greens,” imposing their will on a much larger majority who just want access to reliable, economical energy. That’s the exact opposite of democracy.

            The best you can say is that it mostly equalizes energy, because when everyone is a peasant — unable to afford to build a house and forced to ride bicycles and endure stupid nonsense such as that — then everyone suffers equally.

            The exception to this rule is the wealthy and powerful, who can afford not to be peasants. They don’t care about sticking it to the proles. The “Greens” are masters of do as I say, not as I do — except, apparently, when it comes to molesting children.

          4. @Rod

            … transition is going to benefit rich and powerful corporations that are supplying the turbines, the panels, the transmission lines, the transformers, and the controllers…
            Agree in part. It is a shift away from the major utilities (E.on, etc) and power plant producers (e.g. Siemens) towards new producers such as Danish Vestia (wind-turbines) and the Chinese (PV-panels) and new much smaller utilities (the private home, cooperation house owner / tenants, neighbors, the village, etc) .

            However such small utilities can grow and become a threat for the major utilities, as the wellknown Schönau utilitiy shows. That cooperation started in the village of Schönau but now offers 100% renewable electricity everywhere in the country, pushing the ‘old’ major utilities away with its high grow rate. Their site:
            There is also an English site but that is more a rebel site (with ‘fight nuclear’ etc).

            .. there is NO WAY to build a reliable grid from unreliable sources…
            The 100% renewable electricity from Schönau is reliable…

            It depends on what you consider unreliable sources. If only wind and PV panels, I agree Even with a high capacity grid connecting wind turbines in Spain and solar in Italy with those in the North, there will be a shortage during ~5% percent of the time. But renewable covers also waste, (pumped) storage, biomass, hydro, geothermal, etc. So that energy can be used to fill that 5% it is even enough to fill 10-30%.

            ..if Germany is going to maintain its industrial capability without nuclear energy, it is going to burn more coal, oil and gas…
            This is a wild prediction, such as the one’s Bloomberg and Der Spiegel do already for years. Predicting the Energiewende is going wrong, unreliable grid,not payable, public support will go away, etc.

            Somehow these editorial staff do not study the Energiewende scenario’s, despite doing predictions that show to be wrong all the time.

            Except for the exceptional dip of the last 18 months, coal/oil/gas went down a lot since 1990 (the Kyoto reference).
            In 5 years Germany will have closed another 2.5GW of nuclear.
            Then they will have at least 25GW of new solar+wind. That is more than twice the amount necessary to compensate.
            So I cannot share your prediction.

            Note that the present rate of 5GW/a new wind+solar is reduced due to grid adaptation issues. These will be solved gradually in the coming years. So I expect the rate of new Solar+wind to go back up to ~10GW/a. The rate they had in 2012.

          5. @Brian
            … What the hell?! …“Greens,” imposing their will on a much larger majority…
            These laws passed parliament and were accepted in parliament (with ~70% voting in favor). So I do not see a base for your statement. But may be you can show?

            …everyone is a peasant — unable to afford to build a house and forced to ride bicycles …then everyone suffers equally..
            This contradicts the statistics that show the Germans are the only nation in the EU getting wealthier in the last years.
            But riding bicycles is a healthy thing. It may be a factor in the fact that Cubans live longer than US people. I saw a lot of bicycles when I traveled through Cuba..

          6. These laws passed parliament …

            When the hell did Germany pass a law banning fossil fuels?!!

            Or were you kidding when you said that the Green party’s program is “2 -all fossil fuel out”?

            But riding bicycles is a healthy thing.

            Until you hit something. Cycling has a higher death rate per trip or per mile traveled than riding in an automobile. The statistics are clear on that.

            It may be a factor in the fact that Cubans live longer than US people. I saw a lot of bicycles when I traveled through Cuba..

            And that pretty much summarizes your understanding of public health.

            Geez, Bas, why do you continue to embarrass yourself here? Oh … that’s right “True Courage.” Bon courage!!

  6. In Germany the cost of electricity is spiraling up and carbon emissions are increasing. The Greens say this is proof that renewables are working well. Of course renewables can’t be causing higher electricity prices because as everyone knows, the marginal cost of renewable electricity is zero.

    But don’t take that to mean the Greens are satisfied. They are saying the most important thing to improve the situation is to give even bigger subsidies to renewables.

    It’s a grand experiment to see how much people will pay for electricity that’s less reliable, more costly and dirtier. If one is a member of the “Radiation Is The Biggest Threat in the Universe” cult, one is willing to pay dearly indeed.

    1. And you and I both know that Germany will do the right thing. Législation to push back âge of retirement to 85 years old.

      Love them solar panel !

  7. Y’know, power grid traffic can be modeled, just like the climatology of global warming; and since it uses fewer elements, more of which are discrete instead of fuzzy, useful work can be done with much less processor power.

    Peer-reviewed, open-source, multi-team energy and resource distribution grid topologies could be analyzed until the cows come home from MIT and Cal Tech and the Khan Academy — with doctorates.

    Of course models are not perfect, but that’s the beauty of open study: scientific self-correction can happen much faster, even with schmoes like me helping out.

    So … why isn’t this being done?

    That was a rhetorical question. I’m pretty sure it already has gotten a start.

    (My apologies if I’ve erred on any of the nomenclature or concepts.)

    1. If the source is unreliable And you need duck tape along the Channel (batteries, gas, diesel. Smart grid) you are increasing the number of point of failures in the systèm.

      Simply Bad stupid And costlier architecture than What we have now.

      Greed And unfair compétition And disjonnesty at work.

    2. Grid modeling is done since ~40years.
      Started with electricity, but now also gas, etc.

      In the nineties the Germans spend a fortune to that in order to find the best road towards renewable (how fast, what first, what grid adaptation, etc).
      That modeling include the flexibility of connected power plants, ‘what if’ studies, etc. (so in 2000 the choice for the scenario with only 80% renewable in 2050).

      That made the predictions of Bloomberg and ‘Der Spiegel’ about outages in the German grid after Merkel closed 8 NPP’s due Fukushima in 2011 so dubious.

      Being a scientist herself and a careful person, for sure Merkel asked the modeling people what she could do without endangering the grid, before making that decision.
      And what additional actions to safeguard grid reliability..
      So it was not strange that the grid in 2011 even was more reliable than in 2010.

      Der Spiegel editors knew that.
      Still they published those outage stories in 2011…
      So what is the truth if Der Spiegel publishes another story?

      The Bloomberg reporter seems to me some one (American?) living in Berlin not getting grip on this German reality, probably only stock market know how.

      1. Being a scientist herself and a careful person, for sure Merkel asked the modeling people what she could do without endangering the grid, before making that decision.

        Yet Merkel and her party were instrumental in canceling the phase out in 2009. What changed? The science didn’t change. The engineering didn’t change. Only the politics changed.

        This was not a scientific decision. It was a purely political decision. Science had nothing to do with it. Merkel is a politician, and her experience is in politics. She hasn’t been a scientist for almost a quarter of a century.

        That made the predictions of Bloomberg and ‘Der Spiegel’ about outages in the German grid after Merkel closed 8 NPP’s due Fukushima in 2011 so dubious. … So it was not strange that the grid in 2011 even was more reliable than in 2010.

        Poland and Czechia, say you are welcome, but they are getting a little pissed off about the abuse that Germany is putting on their grids to support the its crazy renewable fantasies. Don’t expect that Germany will be able to get away with this kind of stuff forever.

        1. @Brian
          …Yet Merkel and her party were instrumental in canceling the phase out in 2009. What changed?…
          The big change was the downfall in popularity when she implemented that in 2010.

          So Fukushima was a nice present for her, as it delivered her the excuse to make a U turn and resume the Energiewende implementation according to the original time schedule without suffering a loss of face!

          Poland and Czechia … pissed off … Don’t expect .. Germany … able to get away..
          Agree. So Germany gave grid expansion highest priority.
          Also because the expansion speed of solar and wind is reduced due to this grid problem.

  8. My impression of people who say they have gone “off-grid” is that they really haven’t. They still have an umbilical attached. They will say that is to allow them to “sell” their excess power back to the grid, but their “selling” only happens because the grid operator is compelled BY LAW to take their “excess” power and pay hugely-inflated, above-market prices for it. In fact, they are net importers of grid power. It is only the artificial, market-distorting mechanism of feed-in tariffs that gives the illusion of a “profitable” sale.

    Here is what everyone who claims to be going “off-grid” should do to demonstrate that they truly are off the grid. Put up your windmills, solar panels, biomass digesters, woodpiles, whatever, and get them running. Then go out with an axe and chop off the connection to the grid (after de-energizing it first, of course). And never, ever re-connect it. Then see what kind of a lifestyle you lead, and compare it to someone living on-grid. There might be a few hillbilly type and mountain men who will be okay with it, but my guess is that 99.999999999% of the population will be complaining after a couple of weeks. I cannot imagine my wife, who absolutely relies on her washer-dryer to do the family laundry, hauling hundreds of pounds of wood and water avery week to do the washing. And a week or so of living with little or no heat in the midst of a midwestern winter will quickly convince most of their need for reliable energy.

    1. They will say that is to allow them to “sell” their excess power back to the grid, but their “selling” only happens because the grid operator is compelled BY LAW to take their “excess” power and pay hugely-inflated, above-market prices for it.

      In any other context, this would be called extortion, plain and simple, but that is not the politically correct term to use when discussing “renewables” and the jokers who are making money from them by milking the rest of us.

      Here is what everyone who claims to be going “off-grid” should do … go out with an axe and chop off the connection to the grid … There might be a few hillbilly type and mountain men who will be okay with it,

      Indeed there are, and they even have their own web site. Notice that their wind blade testing station comes complete with a faithful old dog. They didn’t need to chop off their connection to the grid, however, since they live in the mountains of Colorado where the power lines don’t go and they “refuse to move to town.”

      1. ‘Extortion’ may be politically incorrect, but luckily there’s a phrase that precisely describes what’s going on:

        “In public choice theory, rent-seeking is an attempt to obtain economic rent, (i.e., the portion of income paid to a factor of production in excess of that which is needed to keep it employed in its current use), by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth.”

    2. @Wayne
      … In fact, they are net importers of grid power. …
      This German village exports twice the amount of KWh than they consume…
      And this was before the German solar PV-panel revolution!

      Even Der Spiegel published a (skeptical) story.
      It’s about another village and describes also how EU hinders progress. As usual, EU primarily looks after the interest of the big companies (major utilities etc) forgetting the will and interest of its citizens.

      The second story in this link describes another road followed by Wildpoldsried:

      Seem these villages did also generate costs benefits for their citizens!

      Not strange that the major German utilities are not happy with the Energiewende and desperately try everything to get their comfortable driving seat back…

      1. Wonderful! That’s why Der Spiegel ran this glowing report last year:

        A survey of members of the Association of German Industrial Energy Companies (VIK) revealed that the number of short interruptions to the German electricity grid has grown by 29 percent in the past three years. Over the same time period, the number of service failures has grown 31 percent, and almost half of those failures have led to production stoppages. Damages have ranged between €10,000 and hundreds of thousands of euros, according to company information.

        1. @Ernest
          Yes, we had that article here.
          It seems contrary to my statement, which is in line with official statistics.
          Der Spiegel seems to compare 2009 to 2011?
          My statement compared 2010 with 2011 and 2012.
          Someone should spend time to find out about the real facts.

  9. Oh “distributed,” and a Intermittent “smart grid” will undoubtedly do a world of good.

    Fascinating. Keep talking and telling us about it, god knows we need more discussion of untested and rehashed failed ideas, and dont mind me busily working on this other project assembling and readying various virtual taring and feathering accoutrements as you do.

    Im beyond irritated with the professional/academic community letting this endless garbage slide. Even those in/affiliated with the nuclear energy industry

    These clowns are Allison Macfarlane’s people. She needs to be an adult and PUBLICLY distance herself or embrace them and address it openly. The velvet gloves need to come off. This country has lost too much clean, small footprint energy capacity recently.

  10. Good news ??

    Australian election sweeps conservative leader Tony Abbott to power ( http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/07/20375055-australian-election-sweeps-conservative-leader-tony-abbott-to-power?lite )

    From 2010:

    Tony Abbott advocates using nuclear power to cut greenhouse gas emissions

    Speaking at the Menzies Research Centre in Canberra, the opposition leader said nuclear power was the only proven way of generating the base load power Australia needed without producing carbon pollution.

    The opposition leader was responding to comments by former defence force chief Peter Cosgrove, who said nuclear power was the only practical alternative to carbon-based energy resources such as coal. ( http://www.heraldsun.com.au/archive/news/tony-abbott-advocates-using-nuclear-power-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions/story-e6frf7l6-1225834574545 )

    1. He is evidentially aggressive in promoting Australian uranium as well:

      Australia and the great Indian uranium sale debate

      Abbott is happy to see Australian uranium shipped to Indian nuclear power plants. At the India Australia Friendship Fair in Sydney last year, he said: “Yes, we will sell uranium to India because we know that India is one of the world’s great democracies.” ( http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/19/business/australia-election-india-uranium )

      The article says Australia holds a third of the world’s “low cost” recoverable uranium,

    2. I really dont mind him being anti carbon tax so much as it seems he wants to take real action on environmental issues.

      The Coalition’s Plan to Abolish the Carbon Tax. ( http://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan-abolish-carbon-tax )

      I kinda like the direction Australia seems to be moving in. Its infuriating to the “Greens,” but thats a added bonus as well. I missed this back in July :

      Environment expert urges nuclear power

      The president of the Academy of Technology Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), Dr Alan Finkel (pictured), told a conference in Sydney that Australia has been ducking debate and hiding its head in the sand about nuclear energy for too long.

      ‘This is all the more disappointing because, as a huge and reliable supplier of uranium to the world’s reactors, Australia has a moral responsibility to address issues of how the uranium is used and disposed of,’ he told the ATSE conference. ( http://www.skynews.com.au/national/article.aspx?id=890748 )

  11. Tokyo has been selected to host the 2020 Olympic games.

    In a way this is good news for the pro nuclear forces.

    In the summer right after the tsunami, a triathlon was cancelled due to fear of radio activity in the ocean’s water. This proved to be a hoax, but nonetheless that triathlon was cancelled.

    It was on the world championship venue.

    1. Tokyo ocean water radioactivity levels are going to be part of public hysteria or scrutiny for the foreseeable future.

      Watch out for the food alerts.

  12. James Conca today argues that both Kewaunee and Vermont Yankee plants could be put in temporary shut down and be kept for a time when electricity prices are higher.

    This is not what I get. Once you send a notice to decom to the NRCm they are quite happy to go for the kill. No way out.

    Why is Conca not aware of that ?

    Here is the quote : It’s not too late to make sure these plants can be restarted when we need them!

    This is the last sentence of this article on Forbes:


    Is there hope ?

    1. In Canada, Bruce Power had a couple of reactors idle for 20 years !!!!

      They are now back online and Bruce Power is the mightiest of them all in terms of capacity generated among all nuclear power plants in the world.

      I think the SAFSTOR approach in the US is not incompatible with a restart. But the NRC will make sure all the proper hurdles will be in place so that it does not work. A fast track approach ? We have all seen what the COL fast track process is like.

      Nice work again NRC.

    2. There is still hope for Vermont Yankee. Entergy has announced its future closure, but it cannot submit the required documents to the NRC to turn in its operating license until after that closure occurs and after the fuel has been unloaded.

      Unfortunately, Kewaunee, Crystal River and SONGS are already officially dead and can only restart with an unprecedented, herculean relicensing effort.

      1. Rod.

        There should be a way that utilities can put a plant in dormant state with the current paradigm.

        We have to think outside the box.

        Nobody is imaginative no more. Rules can be bent.

        1. @Daniel

          Utilities CAN put a reactor into a dormant state. They just have to keep paying their operating license fee of $4.4 million per year, and keep up their operator training. They also have to keep their hands out of the decommissioning fund.

          Rules can be “bent”, but in the nuclear world, the effort costs real money.

          I don’t think that is an accident.

          1. Don’t forget the approx $1 million/year they will have to pay to INPO to maintain their program accreditations, plus premiums to NEIL for insurance.

            For BWRs, there may be post-Fukushima requirements, such as hardened vents, that could run to the tens of $millions.

            I was talking to a former VY engineer who told me the plant was still using its original condenser tubes, now with some kind of coating, which inhibited river water corrosion, but also negatively affected heat transfer and overall plant efficiency. Several years ago he “saw the handwriting on the wall”, and went to another plant.

    3. My understanding is that once you give up the operating license you are essentially dead meat. Trying to restart a plant that has given up its license would be like licensing a new plant. And that means a lot of paperwork, studies, perhaps a new SAR, meeting all the new regulatory requirements, hearings, interventions, lawsuits, etc. Sure, you’d avoid the costs of new construction, but for what may amount to 20 years of generation, would the effort really be worth it, and would the risks be so high in today’s anti-nuclear political climate that companies would prefer to avoid it. Just build more gas-burning plants and not worry about dumping all that CO2 and methane into the air.

      What is really needed is a national policy that recognizes that emissions-free generating capacity is a national asset, and valuable national infrastructure that should be preserved and utilized. Perhaps that policy could be based on a recognition that avoiding discharge of harmful gases to the biosphere is a positive attribute to mitigating worldwide atmospheric degradation, and that as our part in that effort we will maintain emissions-free capacity for use now and in the future.

      1. I’m surprised that nuclear operators haven’t sued grid operators who won’t contract to buy base-load generation from them on the same terms as other generators.  That would have put VY firmly in the black, no?

        1. When new plants cost billions, is 4.4 million really all that much? Some industrial electric bills are probably much more. As for operator training, why couldn’t there a be a group of operators who are willing to travel who could be kept trained (with continuing ed) so that a stored plant can be easily restarted? It is kind of like when a chain of salons opens a new salon, they often have a group of licensed cosmetologists that help open the salon until it is fully staffed.

          1. Trouble is, its a tough sell in today’s business world, where the model seems to be to show short-term profits, higher values on stock and options, and immediate returns on investments. The exception seems to be politically-favored businesses, like unreliable energy, where you can get hundreds of millions in loans from the gummint and then go down the tubes and people just shrug and say, oh, well.

            By trashing VY, Entergy can get access to the decommissioning fund assets, just like Dominion is doing with Kewaunee. If they put VY in suspended animation, there are expenses and no immediate revenues. Its true that Canada did it with Bruce, and TVA did it with Brown’s Ferry, but evidently the cases are different.

  13. The renewables (anti-nukers) think that for the shortcomings of wind and solar that the solution is to create a “smart” grid. Distributed energy over a massive grid would be required and the kind of “smart” needed is far too expensive and requires cooperation (accountability ) between continents and massive network of cables that is beyond sensible.

    If you want “smart” think SMR. It almost spells SMaRt. Small Modular Reactors will be able to solve the distributed energy problem by providing plenty of reliable energy when and where it is needed. The rush for an expensive smart grid is unnecessary.

    1. And Russia will be the first to have a proven working model in 2016.

      Orders already lining up. Watts and desalination. Floating SMR.

  14. Regarding the decom fund and motivation of plant owners. This is a bit like Dilbert in reverse.

    Supose I am the Kewaunee owner and have put 600 millions into the fund.

    Can I go into a cost plus frenzy à la NRC and bill for let’s say 6 billion dollars and milk the fund ?

  15. How would you respond to this posting on Nathan Lewis’s blog (which is mainly an advocacy for a return to “Traditional Cities” built with pedestrians rather than motor vehicles in mind) which seems to regard the extreme energy conservation measures adopted by off-gridders as a good thing?

    A Bazillion Windmills – New World Economics

    1. I dont think everyone can make a cottage industry of blogging their energy obsessive existence “off the grid.” I dont see a successful economy ever resulting from it frankly.

      As a matter of fact it looks like a good way of collapsing a advancing economy and a road to perpetual impoverishment.

      Not that I discourage people from following their own ideals; for individuals I think its fine; if you want to live that way.

      1. I don’t think Nathan is an off-gridder himself, but rather someone who think that energy conservation is more cost-effective than building more nuclear plants (I don’t get the impression that he’s actually opposed to nuclear energy).

        I think his main blind-spot is that he isn’t taking into account that residential electricity usage is only about a quarter of the total, and that savings in the industrial and commercial sectors are much more difficult.

        1. Hmmmm, the conservation route is being played as a thing in itself now. You are right as well on the use component, of course.

  16. There seems to be two simultaneous arguments that people make about solar and wind:
    1) solar and wind can provide people with enough power to make the grid obsolete,
    2) solar and wind are reliable because you can move energy from one place to another and use energy made elsewhere.
    In reality, if renewables are going to become a major source of power, it will take a huge investment in transmission – they will be dependent on the grid, not make it obsolete. Nowhere is this more evident than in Germany, which is dependent upon other countries to supply them power when the sun isn’t shining.

    1. The greens will be fighting tooth and nail any kind of transmission system enhancement. In my state alone they just finished a 90-mile extension of HV transmission lines from the southern part of the state to the northern. Construction took 18 months. But it took 14 years of planning, hearings, lawsuits, applications, permits, right-of-way purchases, and the like. And people talk about nuclear plants taking “a long time” to come into use. If the unreliable power sources require any kind of transmission system upgrades, the lag time for those is going to dwarf anything that could be pinned on nuclear.

  17. god I dont want to hear any more complaints about you all missing misspellings! I put two entire posts in the wrong topic last night. I thought they got deleted.

    Anyway if you want the up to date numbers of American CO2 emissions, even with the colossal renewable installs, we are going up:

    Coal Gas Everything
    2013 4-Month Total 550 529 1820 ( (Million Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide)
    2012 4-Month Total 495 501 1742
    2011 4-Month Total 612 504 1879

    All from Monthly Energy Review ( http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/ )

    Thankfully also we haven’t seen much of a drop in nuclear production recently as our operational fleet has generally increased output(?) even with plant closings (you can look that up at the above link too).

    1. Oh BTW with all the talk of slowed surface warming [official graph up to date: ( http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/Temperature/T_moreFigs/RunningMeans.pdf )] you may want to check out the inclusive deep ocean heat graph as newer readings have been incorporated. ( http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content2000m.png ).

      Its odd.

      That and the other graphs are at ( http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/ )

      Realistically for this winter I think the outlook is still somethign of a wild card for general predictions as so many odd minor weather trends/short term climate factors seem to be at work.

      In Japan two unusual and destructive tornadoes have certainly brought climate change back on the media’s radar there [ Second Tornado Hits Tokyo, Japan ( http://www.wtvy.com/news/headlines/Second-Tornado-Hits-Tokyo-Japan-222486251.html )]

      Its a shame the fake Fukushima radiation trend stories got more press than this. All in all somewhere around 70 people were injured and about 200 buildings damaged. ( for the most part the western press couldn’t even be bothered to total it all up ).

      1. Well Im a bit embarrassed – I had seen on maps the warm anomalies in Asia but as its been comparatively nice here I hadn’t been following them. Obviously the press here couldn’t be bothered to report on it.

        But really can you believe this wasn’t even really covered in the western press after all the radiation scare quackery lately?

        Heat wave continues to bake nation – August 13 2013

        The agency said Shimanto was the first observation point to reach 40 degrees four days in a row since it started monitoring such statistics in 1875.

        the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 9,815 people were taken to hospitals by ambulance for heat-related reasons during the seven days through Sunday.

        Of those taken to hospitals, 17 people died and 292 people were listed in serious condition, requiring a stay of at least three weeks in a hospital. ( http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/13/national/heat-wave-continues-to-bake-nation/#.Ui49WLxlc4J )

        Just that one mini chapter in a nearly summer long incident will involve much more injury and death than Fukushima ever probably will. And not really a word here. Its mind boggling.

        1. In China things were even worse, although that got some press here:

          Xinhua Insight: China endures worst heat wave in half-decade – August 13th

          Extreme heat has resulted in at least 40 deaths in south China, according to local government reports. Over ten people died from heatstroke in Shanghai during the period.

          A Tuesday report from the Hunan provincial government said 3.06 million people have suffered from drinking water shortages, with the drought affecting 85.6 percent of the province’s villages. ( http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2013-08/13/c_132627590.htm )

  18. While I was catching up on this year’s heatwaves, then this year’s European heat waves and the storms after them and the hail damage ( http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/international/2013/08/26/235598.htm ) It kinda dawned on me that the energy generation technology at the center of modern distribution webs takes advantage of much more then the technology itself.

    Insurance, catastrophic damage, maintenance and repair, upkeep, wholesale parts stocking, human resources and revenue collection and tracking (etc…) are also things that would need “distributing” along with standardizing equipment and extended transmission abilities. All of that decentralized inefficiency requires workers and carbon expenditures.

    Not to mention the infrastructure carbon footprints were originally calculated for American and European manufacture or that the guesstuments of available resources were probably way off as well ( http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/015021/article ).

    With such low power intermittent systems to begin with, It seems like a obvious case of diminishing returns in the extreme. A disastrous example of even.


    Wind turbines usually need a complete overhaul after 10 years. Solar has upkeep issues as well ( http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/germanys_solar_plans_have_weeds_on_it/ ) along with issues of diminishing output. And everything has some component(s) of industrial waste issues of course. ]

    1. It is kinda funny as the German greens poopooed electric cars a few years ago. They were into better efficiency for gas cars becasue they were so against nuclear power. Of course they dropped the ball there as well as Germany opposed fuel European fuel standards

      In the last few months some worrying news has come out of the German “green” economy:

      Germany’s Solar Industry Is Imploding – 7/08/2013

      Gehrlicher Solar and Conergy, two of Germany’s leading downstream solar power companies, filed for insolvency.

      Siemens the industrial conglomerate based in Munich, Germany, said it was shutting down its solar power division after enduring nearly $1 billion in losses over the past two years. Similarly, Bosch also recently said it was exiting the solar energy market after suffering significant losses. ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2013/07/08/germanys-solar-industry-is-imploding/ )

      Sunselex AG Files for Insolvency – 13 August 2013 ( http://www.solarnovus.com/sunselex-ag-files-for-insolvency_N6868.html )

      German wind farm developer Windreich files for insolvency ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/09/windreich-financing-insolvency-idUSL5N0H53MJ20130909 )

      These were not small endeavors. The German government is still reporting growth this year but I am having trouble believing it. Basically it seemed to me that since they floated so much misinformation on renewables they dont mind doing it in other venues as well.

      German exports record unexpected fall in July ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23984152 )

      I guess we will see.

      1. @John
        …Germany’s Solar Industry Is Imploding..
        Of course. They made the same mistake as US solar industry, thinking they could compete against low wage countries regarding the production of solar panels.

        And the EU (Brussels) ‘help’ to continue that uncompetitive situation, by imposing high minimum prices for Chinese PV-panels.
        Same as US government with its import tax of ~40%.

        It is the same technology as standard computer memory chips, etc.
        Every computer producer does development himself and outsources production to the Far East. So that will also happen with solar PV-panels.

        1. @Bas

          I now see your plan for survival in a country with unreliable energy; simply outsource all of the energy intensive industry somewhere else. You’d fit right in with some of our California thinkers.

          It’s a good thing you are such a lone voice here. Between the efforts of people who disagree strongly the powerless vision that you and your ilk preach – with the generous help of reality – we are going to turn the tide to an era of abundant energy enabled by the dense power stored in atomic nuclei.

          1. @Rod
            Good management implies organizing production in such a way that it delivers the requested quality at the lowest price without breaking any humanity rules or laws.

            You will otherwise be wiped out by the competition, as that will have similar product for a lower price. Those solar companies did not organize their production according to this rule. Probably bad management.

            Division of labor is one of the most important sources of our wealth and, even more important, of progress in the world. It helps countries to escape their poverty. E.g. check S-Korea; not long ago very poor.

            It is logical to outsource the ‘stupid’ repetitious jobs, such as producing numerous times the same item, towards low wage countries where the workforce is glad that it delivers them a job.
            It helps those countries in their development path (they learn from it; start their own brands), and it helps us as we have cheaper products and less of those repetitious jobs.

            So it is a good thing that management does the same regarding PV-panel production, as Apple does with iPhone production, etc. And US consumers do buying products from (or produced in) poor countries, such as televisions, etc.

            The import barriers of EU and US government, hinder progress in the world, and work in the end against your own wealth as they delay adaptation of the economy towards a more competitive situation.
            Because management tends to not reorganize, postpone efficiency improvements to eternity, unless it is necessary. And behind the great import tax wall it is not necessary.
            So you loose world competitiveness and will in the end become less wealthy.

            These US protection import tax walls may be one of the reasons that the average hourly salary costs/earnings in NL (=wealth) are now substantial higher than in the US. While it was completely opposite at e.g. 1960.

    2. @James
      Electric bikes are the real success here in NL.
      You can drive ~70mile with only light pedaling and going at ~17miles/hr.
      If the distance is longer and/or the battery gets empty, you do more pedaling yourself.

      A friend had to move more from his physician.
      So he bought one and uses that to bridge the 13mile to/from his work.
      Now he is even faster than with his car, as he has no traffic jam.
      With a normal bike that distance would have been too much.

      1. How do you like riding a bike in the rain? How about riding that bike in the middle of a midwestern winter in the US when there are icy roads and the wind chill is something like 30 below zero?

        I had a friend who bought an electric bike and he was going to use it to occasionally to ride to work and also for recreation. The advertisements said a range of 40 miles per charge at 15 mph without pedaling. He ended up getting something like 10 miles. The raeson? Hills. Climbing hills absolutely kills electrics.

        1. As a frequent cyclist in the “Hill City” I can testify that hills kill legs as well as electric battery driven bicycles. Physics explains the reason – it’s a heck of a lot more “work” to pedal against gravity as well as friction.

          1. Formally, the work required is

            W = mgh + (D + F)d

            where m is the mass of the bike and rider, g is the acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s or 32 ft/s), h is the change in elevation, D is the average force due to drag, F is the average force due to friction, and d is the distance travelled. For a cyclist, the magnitude of mg is much larger than D + F, so the first term is more important, even though d is much larger than h.

        2. Yes I understand that:

          – having no hills at all in NL (except a small piece in the south-east);
          – having no extreme winters (a pity as that implies only little skating on our beautiful canals and connected lakes) and no extreme hot summers;
          – being dense populated (in major parts of NL >500 people/km2), all within relative short distance (that allows us to build special ‘long distance’ bike highway’s) ;

          are important contributors to our biking culture.
          Still I like biking in the mountains because of the scenery and the exciting fast down hill (passing cars!). But indeed uphill is a lot of seat.

          Rain is not a problem if you have the right clothes. Nowadays there are fantastic biking clothes that transport sweat, stop rain, and keep you warm (not cheap yet).

          Your formula is basic to explain why in bike races, the top racing cyclists make the big differences in the mountains.

          1. So, basically, those electric bikes are toys that work well in a small country with little topographical relief and a close to ideal climate. Sounds like a great prescription for general use of a product in a large, divrse country. Now, not to mention the problems with larger electric vehicles (range, recharge time, etc.). To the whole thing there is only one appropriate response: Puh…

          2. I read your article and the comments. Aside from the oxygen venting issues, it would be a good first step to see some commercial-scale version and the cost of that. Range, recharge time, and hills might still be an issue depending on the application. I’m sketching out a cross-country trip right now, lots of hills, lots of miles, lots of open space. I’m not worried now about finding gas stations. but I might be worried about finding overnight recharging stations.

            Still, I’m all for R&D on this kind of stuff. It wopuld make baseload nuclear even more important than it is now. Any kind of significant added load from lots of recharging isn’t going to be met with unreliables.

          3. I’m all for R&D on this kind of stuff. It wopuld make baseload nuclear even more important than it is now.

            Back around 2004, I calculated that a full electrification of the US vehicle fleet (from motorcycles to heavy trucks) would require about a 40% increase in the amount of electric generation.  That’s quite reasonable:  it would need roughly a tripling of the nuclear fleet (of course, we should go well beyond that).

            For a long time it’s been common knowledge that if everyone filled their vehicle’s gas tanks on the same day, all the filling stations in the country would go dry.  Figure 250 million vehicles times 15 gallons * 0.4 empty fraction = 1.5 billion gallons = roughly 4 days of US gasoline consumption.  4 days of buffer appears to be enough to make the system work smoothly.

            If the 500-mile EV battery (which requires maintenance heat when idle) ever becomes standard, it will give most people a lot more than 4 days of buffer.  Now, this doesn’t just favor nuclear baseload.  Wind and PV could easily fit into this, because vehicle owners setting a floor on spot prices on the grid much of the time would make their economics look pretty good too.  But nuclear would clean up by being there during peaks created by the others not being available, and would eventually dominate.  It would dominate even faster if wind and PV were forced to pay for the overbuilding of the grid required by their intermittency.

            1. @Engineer-Poet

              I am convinced that better electricity storage devices will benefit reliable generators far more than they will unreliable. If the power source to charge is not always available, the tendency will be for people to recharge frequently to keep their batteries topped off. If the recharging sources are aways available, people will be more willing to more fully use the capacity of their storage devices.

          4. I could see me doing it that way. It would be like, hey, the electricity is on, quick, charge up the car battery (even though the needle says 70% charged). Right now, electricity is a basic commodity, and we always assume it will be there when it is needed. Large-scale implementation of unreliables would change that paradigm. It would no longer be a basic commodity, but something to be hoarded when available. If the unreliables happen to be spiking at some point, you’re going to grab what you can get and pay whatever premium they ask because you need the product. Advocates of unreliables seem to have no problems with letting scarcity and price be the arbiters of availability. But, as usual, they fail to realize that such a system is incredibly regressive from a socioeconomic viewpoint. Then again, they’ll just advocate a whole new slew of “social programs” to “help” the hardest hit, never mind that they caused the problem in the first place.

          5. better electricity storage devices will benefit reliable generators far more than they will unreliable.

            So am I, and I make this argument frequently… but I have to admit that policy can destroy the economics of anything (e.g. Kewaunee, Vermont Yankee, ad nauseam).  Daily cycling gives the best economics, but if policy requires the purchase of unwanted RE the addition of storage will merely increase the amount of RE that can be shoved onto the grid.  The opportunity cost of not having the capacity open to do daily cycling will be externalized.

            Ideally, the wind farms would be made to provide their own storage and provide dispatchable power.  That would internalize the costs and show which is the most economic.

            The other end is on the demand side.  Putting 100 kWh of battery into the average personal EV (perhaps more into trucks and such) would allow vehicle owners to choose when to charge and use arbitrage on electric rates.  If the price someone was willing to pay was related to the car’s state of charge, one of the effects would be to provide a large buffer against negative grid pricing.  If nobody charged the last 20% of their battery unless they were planning a trip or prices fell below 1¢/kWh, 250 million vehicles times 20 kWh is 5 billion kWh, more than 10 hours of average US grid generation; 250 million vehicles times 3.3 kW is 825 GW, approaching total US nameplate generating capacity.  That is enough storage to provide a pretty firm floor for quite a while.

  19. This is a pretty general article but it talks about several issues. For instance, after debates with the “greens” I thought pumped storage was now all the new rage in Germany. Not true, Its been around since the late 20s and some is now going under, of course the big problem is that Germany’s massive drive for clean electricity is now making electricity less clean:

    Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good

    This is one of the most curious developments in the story of German energy reform. The country’s most heavily polluting plants are now also its most profitable: old and irrelevant brown coal power stations. Many of the plants are now running at full capacity.

    This leaves a dirty stain on Germany’s environmental statistics. While the amount of electricity from renewable energy rose by 10.2 percent in 2012, the first year of the new energy policy, the amount of electricity generated in hard coal and brown coal plants also increased by 5 percent each. As a result, German CO2 emissions actually increased by 2 percent in 2012. ( http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/high-costs-and-errors-of-german-transition-to-renewable-energy-a-920288-2.html )

    1. “A study released last week by the Federal Network Agency shows that energy generated with brown coal will remain virtually stabile, at 148 terawatt-hours, until 2022. It reached the depressing conclusion that brown coal’s competitive position will be “hardly diminished by an increasing share of renewable energy in the mix.” “

      No, we didn’t get the memo. Shame on Germany promoting nuclear fear and exposing it citizens to that. Shame on the Greens and greenpeace. They have advocated a position of high environmental degradation and pure filth, while passing on hardship to the poorest and least advantaged.

      1. @John
        … conclusion that brown coal’s competitive position will be “hardly diminished by an increasing share of renewable energy in the mix.” ..
        – brown coal is cheap for the Germans. It moves by conveyor belt from the digging machine to the power plant.
        – the circulating fluidized bed technology allows to mix it with waste and biomass.
        – GHG emission of this new technology is not much more than a gas power plant.

        This new technology has nothing to do with the old coal plants.
        Here a Finnish paper about it (free down load):

        …Shame … promoting nuclear fear … They have advocated a position of high environmental degradation and pure filth, while passing on hardship to the poorest and least advantaged…
        Nuclear is finished with the agreement with the utilities and the new law. So no fear spreading.
        The Germans have continued economic grow, almost no budget deficit, very low unemployment (they say it is thanks to the renewable revolution which created many jobs). Compare that to USA (and other EU countries)…
        So no reason to predict “hardship for the poorest, etc”.

        I also see no reason for “high environmental degradation and pure filth“.
        The Germans oppose fracking for that reason, but not brown coal.
        They have the experience that these new brown coal plants do not spread filth or so (would be against pollution laws). And the mine leaves an area of natural beauty (most wood) behind as the digging machine progresses.

        So who is spreading unjustified fear here?

    2. @John
      …How Electricity Became a Luxury Good …
      A ridiculous article.
      Here in NL we do not have a renewable policy (yet), and consumer electricity price is 22cent/kWh (government imposes energy tax). The German consumer pays 26cent/kWh.
      A normal household here consumes ~3MWh/a.
      So the German household pays €120/year.
      Even for families that live on social security that €10/month is not such an issue.

      …German CO2 emissions actually increased by 2 percent in 2012….
      In 2011 they closed 8.4GW of nuclear, which produced 4.2% of Germany’s electricity.
      Yet the increase in CO2 one year later was only 2%.
      So 2% was already fully compensated by increased renewable.
      The other 2% will follow suit and then the long term decrease of CO2 continues.

      1. So the long term decrease is unrelated to new massive renewable install? What ??

        How is the article “ridiculous” ?

        Also German electricity costs about .26 Euros per Kilowatt Hour. So about .36 cents.

        The average cost in the US is about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (or less?)

        lol – Are you kidding.

      2. Bias can’t even do simple arithmetic.

        3 MWh * 0.22€/kWh = €660

        He will write outrageously wrong things that ought to leap out at him as ERRONEOUS! but he lacks any sense of what is correct and what is “fishy”.  That’s the only way he can believe such arrant nonsense as he does.  (I’m sure this is closely related to the Dunning-Kruger effect, if it’s not the same thing.)

        1. @Engineer-Poet
          Sorry. I should have written:
          The German households pay only ~€10/month more due the Energiewende.

          I chose NL because:
          – we lag far behind regarding renewable (have no real committed target). We discuss now lowering and postponing the renewable targets that the EU wants substantially, because we will not reach them by far. Probably also not the postponed targets at 2023, but we can repeat the postponement operation in 2018 or so.
          – Dutch and German electricity markets are closely connected (~same whole sale rates)
          – we have about same living standards

          Just as US car fuel prices which are x times lower than here, the US electricity rates are not comparable with those here.
          That is mainly due to entirely different tax situations.

      3. Okay, Bas fails to note that he’s only counting the €0.04/kWh increment, not the entire total.  He should have stated that explicitly.

      4. German Energy Plan ‘Schizophrenic’ as Coal Beats Gas, Greens Say

        German utilities and factories emitted 452 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the most since 2008, as coal use soared, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The nation increased its share of renewable generation to 23 percent last year from 15 percent in 2008, according to AG Energiebilanzen ( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-13/german-energy-plan-schizophrenic-as-coal-beats-gas-greens-say.html )

        And there is the problem and diagnosis, it is Schizophrenic because they simply cannot make their vision of what reality is work in reality.

        1. @John
          It is election time in Germany.
          Bloomberg supports FDP, the right wing employers/rich people party.
          So in the best US tradition, Bloomberg throws mud to the other parties…

          They found a bad component; factories+utilities only.
          Not strange as German production did grow substantially.

          I propose to use national figures only, as it is senseless to discuss the figures for factories, traffic, heating, etc..
          Even the national figures fluctuate due to the weather (how cold), wind, etc.
          Below the German GHG emissions in million ton CO2 equivalent:
          1990: 1251
          1996: 1138
          2008: 975
          2009: 912 (-6.4%)
          2010: 944 (+3.5%)
          2011: 917 (-2.8%)
          2012: 931 (+1.5%)
          Overall since 1990: -25.6% and since 1996: -18%.

          The vision is clear and anchored in the Energiewende scenario:
          1. no NPPs in 2023.
          2. 80% renewable in 2050.
          But of course the greens want more. 100% renewable in 2050, etc.

          1. I use the electricity generation numbers exclusively in technical discussion.

            Energiewende is failing miserably.

        2. The sad thing is that when an article, like the one in Der Spiegel, points out that their energy plan is not working, the commentators are incapable of recognizing that the plan is inherently flawed. I saw all kinds of conspiracy theories, and suggestions that the government is lying, or unreliables are being sabotaged. And the article itself suggests a switch to the Swedish unreliables model with a straight face, with no suggestion that the whole idea is just unworkable (absent Sweden’s large hydro resources), no matter how one squeezes it into new shapes.

          Now the accusations of lying, sabotage and conspiracy did strike a bit of a reflective nerve with me. I asked myself quietly, “Hey, don’t you do that in support of nuclear?”

          The difference is that unreliables have gotten everything in the world in Germany over the last decade. Massive subsidies, delusionally good press, huge growth in installed base, legislative mandates, etc. And still the advocates think that somehow it’s being sabotaged, instead of simply being an inherent technological failure.

          When the technology is given every advantage and every support and every edge, and is still a failure, you would think that people would be able to draw the rational conclusion.

          1. @Jeff
            ..the article itself suggests a switch to the Swedish unreliables model…
            The Swedish model give existing utilities (the advertisers of Der Spiegel) all revenue regarding renewable.
            The German model moves revenue from the utilities towards citizens (PV-panels on their roof), small cooperations (apartment occupiers that arrange panels on the roof in an agreement with the owner), etc.

            There is no indication that the Swedish model lowers the costs for renewable. Electricity is cheaper in Sweden as they have huge hydro.

            .. unreliables … still the advocates think … it’s being sabotaged, instead of …inherent technological failure..
            The renewable advocates in Germany do not think it is sabotaged.
            What makes you think that?
            Facts contradict sabotage too. Germany is 1 – 2 years ahead of the scenario in the Energiewende…

            … technology is … still a failure, …draw the rational conclusion…
            Talk to the Germans. All-in-all they consider it a success. The polls indicate growing support by the population (towards 90% now)…

            There is no reason to believe that they will not reach their target to generate 80% of all electricity by renewable in 2050.
            E.g. consider Wind. The present capacity of wind turbines on land is 31.4GW, while the states have plans to install another 49.7GW. Together 81GW while the max. German consumption is <65GW.

            Why do you believe that it is a failure, while the facts and the opinion of the population show it is a success?

          2. So Germany has this year –

            Increased thermal power generation and increased GG output while
            scarring the countryside even more with wind and solar. They have opened the largest lignite power plant in Europe and possibly the world.

            They have increased electric rates and have more increases waiting. They are also cutting new wind, and new solar instillations have been cut by about half this year.

            All this, AND they have so far managed to also INCREASE nuclear generation over the same period last year.

            Success?? You couldn’t make this stuff up.

          3. @John
            And Germany strengthened it position as net exporter of electricity (a.o. to us, NL).

            If you correct for the net export increase, than they decreased GHG/CO2 in the first 5 months of this year.

            They agreed to install 2GW of wind and 3GW of solar this year as grid adaptation is not ahead of the Energiewende scenario. These are expansions of ~6-7% for wind and 9-10% for solar. Max. consumption in Germany is 65GW.

            In 2010 nuclear produced ~50% more!
            The small increase of nuclear (better utilization of the remaining 9 NPPs) will change in substantial decrease again when in 2015 the next NPP is closed.

          4. I hope you realize the horrible horrific disaster starring you in the face now Bas. No one, including Germany, is drastically cutting even the most polluting means of generation when “renewables” spike.

            Its waste thrown into the “export” column.

            Its that “delicious”, “ate every bite” Entrée your host thinks you absolutely love even as their dog chokes miserably under the table on it.

          5. @John
            …No one, including Germany, is drastically cutting even the most polluting means of generation when “renewables” spike…

            Can you mention a country that is indeed drastically cutting GHG emissions without renewable?

            Germany is the only (not mini) country, that has reached the Kyoto targets of 25% reduction by 2020 already (a.o. thanks to renewable)!
            Only few countries may reach that target at 2020 (At that time Germany will be at the 30% reduction level)!

            US certainly will not belong to those few.
            US government refused to sign Kyoto, refused an extreme low CO2 tax for air traffic and cooperated even with China to block the EU CO2 tax, etc.

          6. Germany is the only (not mini) country, that has reached the Kyoto targets of 25% reduction by 2020 already (a.o. thanks to renewable)!

            Nope … thanks to hard lobbying by Germany to set 1990 as the basis of these “reductions” and thanks to shutting down a substantial number of old, dirty, soviet-era fossil-fuel plants.

          7. @Brian
            Look at the GHG numbers I posted above at September 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM.

            In 1996 the old E-Geman plants were already closed.
            Still, they have 18% reduction since 1996.
            More than any other (non minor) country!

            If you start the 20year measure period at 1996 they will still meet the Kyoto target of 25% reduction.
            Germany may even have 25% GHG reduction compared to 1996 at 2020!

            Compare Germany with nuclear country USA.
            While having twice the emission per capita, only few percent reduction…

            There is no country with GHG reductions near the levels of Germany (the 18% compared to 1996), without implementing a lot renewable!!

            If you think GHG is a real problem, renewable is the only road that proofed that it works at a country wide scale.

          8. Bas – You pathetic liar. When are you going to learn that the people here are smart and can tell when you’re trying to lie with statistics.

            So, tell me, why 1996? Why did you pick 1996 of all years for a comparison? (Don’t answer; it’s a rhetorical question.)

            The year 1996 was chosen because it is an anomaly. It is an outlier with unusually high CO2 production in Germany.

            For example, consider the following. Here I have give the relative change in German CO2 production for several time periods:

            1990 – 2007: -22.7% change

            1990 – 1995: -14.8% change = 65% of the 1990-2007 decrease

            1990 – 1996: -12.2% change = 54% of the 1990-2007 decrease

            1990 – 1997: -14.9% change = 66% of the 1990-2007 decrease

            So, if you had chosen the year before (1995) or the year after (1997), the numbers would have shown that the five-year period from 1990 to 1995 accounted for two-thirds of the decrease in CO2 production in Germany by 2007, even though this period accounts for less than one-third of the time that Germany has had to make these reductions. In fact, half of these reductions in CO2 emissions had been achieved by 1992! This is why I say that Germany gamed the system.

            Now, you might ask yourself why did I choose 2007 as my end year. Unlike you, I have genuine reasons that don’t have anything to do with lying with statistics. As much as you want to claim that CO2 reductions after 2007 are due to all sorts of idiotic renewable policies implemented by the Greens in Germany (almost all of these policies predate 2007), the truth of the matter is that they are the result of the global economic downturn that began in late 2007 and came to a head in 2008.

            Yes, it is true that Germany managed to reduce its carbon emissions by 4.9% (through reduced economic activity) from 2007 to 2010, but during the same period, the US managed to reduce its emissions by 6.8%. So, comparing figures over the last four years (which I notice are the years that you chose to cite) to figures from the 1990’s, when the global economy was booming, is disingenuous, at best.

            Unlike you, I cite the source of my numbers. They come from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. You can find the data file (dated July 31, 2013) here.

  20. Molten Salt Reactors are mentioned in the article. Molten Salt Reactors use molten fuel in molten salt coolant. (Light Water Reactors use solid fuel in water coolant.)

    Unlike LWR, the coolant can’t boil until minimum 400 C over the reactor temperature, so there are only atmospheric pressures. (LWRs operate at maximum about 350C.) LWR “loss of coolant accidents” like Fukushima are physically impossible. Since the coolant can’t boil, high-pressure pipes and control systems are unneeded. Steam containment buildings are unneeded (no water, and no high pressure; no way for anything to be explosively propelled into the atmosphere).

    Unlike LWR, the materials are designed to handle higher than any emergency temperature, so there can’t be a catastrophic meltdown. The fuel is molten, so use of a simple “freeze plug” allows rapidly draining fuel out of the reactor into passive cooling tanks where fission is impossible, without needing any electricity or operator control.

    The molten fuel is self-regulating (hotter liquids expand, reducing fuel density, lowering fission rate). If solar or wind is supplying the needed electricity, or if the attached electric generator fails, any reason less heat is removed from the reactor, fission automatically reduces. MSRs are inherently very stable reactors.

    Chernobyl was not a LWR, but a ‘hot rod’ RBMK design where steam bubbles “voids” in the water sent the reactor to over 1000 times normal fission rate before the pressure blew the top off the reactor vessel, and since there was no containment building the fission products were explosively sent into the air. Chernobyl-type accidents are physically impossible in any design of MSR. (No LWRs are built with a “positive void coefficient of reactivity”, so Chernobyl can’t happen in them either.) In most MSR designs, the salt is the only moderator needed, and the salt is chemically bound to the uranium. If any water got in any MSR, the steam bubbles would simply rise out of the molten fuel being circulated through the reactor.

    Most MSR designs could run on “waste” fuel from LWR, and since the molten fuel can have simple chemical processes to remove the fission products, can eliminate over 99% of the long term nuclear waste. (LWR uses about 1% of the uranium, since the fission products, some of which absorb neutrons, are trapped in the solid fuel rods, blocking fission.)

    LWR uses 35,000 kg enriched uranium, leaving 35,000 kg waste, per gigaWatt-year. MSR designs use 800kg-1000kg per gigaWatt-year, leaving 83% of that as 10-year waste and 17% as 350-year waste, before the radioactivity has decayed below background levels. Uranium and transuranic elements remain in the reactor to fission or decay. MSRs leave less uranium/plutonium via process inefficiencies, than any coal plant leaves, per giga-watt-year.

    In addition to making electricity more efficiently than LWR, the high heat from a MSR could be used to break water and carbon dioxide, making CO2-neutral gasoline. Or desalinate sea water. Or make ammonia for fertilizer. Or replace coal/oil for any high-temperature industrial processes.

    We built and operated a MSR for over 20,000 hours. We know the design, materials, and procedures work. We know the inherent safety (e.g. no water, no high pressure) and passive safety (e.g. freeze plug) work.

    For more detailed clear explanations about Molten Salt Reactors, and Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, one of the modern versions of MSR, see http://liquidfluoridethoriumreactor.glerner.com/.

    1. @George Lerner

      There are a lot of assumptions and a bit of misinformation in your comment. Please understand that I have nothing against molten salt reactors; they offer the potential to be a useful and reliable heat source that has many advantages over combustion based competitors. I am not convinced, however, that they are much better than solid fueled reactors; there are some areas where there are possible advantages and others that are a distinct disadvantage.

      One of the key disadvantages is that molten salt reactors require almost continuous chemical processing. They are not easier for the operators, especially since the operators of most reactors are well-trained high school graduates, not PhD scientists like those that operated the MSREs in Oak Ridge.

      Another key disadvantage is that there are no naturally fissile components of thorium; the reactors must be started with either U-235 that has been separated from natural uranium, or they must use U-233 or Pu-239 that has been manufactured in a fission reactor. There are no other choices for the initial fissile loading of the core.

      You wrote:

      We built and operated a MSR for over 20,000 hours.

      In contrast, we accumulate about 8,000,000 hours of commercial LWR operational experience every year in just the United States and that experience is with a system that is actually a complete power production machine, not a laboratory prototype.

      1. “not convinced, however, that they are much better than solid fueled reactors”

        Remember, what you know about LWR is unlikely to apply to a molten fueled, salt cooled reactor.

        How about, for this page’s topic, MSR can self-throttle in seconds in response to electric demand, an ideal base load power for use with solar and wind power? No long time to adjust, like LWR or highest efficiency natural gas plants?

        How about LWR uses about 1% of the uranium, after special fabrication of enriched uranium, while MSR uses over 99% of the uranium after no fabrication and un-enriched uranium?

        How about in an emergency LWR requires over-riding everything the reactor core was designed to do, to prevent catastrophic meltdown; while MSR can simply evacuate the reactor core, transferring the molten fuel to storage tanks where fission is geometrically impossible and the fuel will passively cool, no water or electricity needed, as was demonstrated several times?

        How about LWR requires high pressures to keep the coolant working, whereas MSR coolant can not boil (reactor temperature 600C to max 950C in designs I’ve seen, coolant boils above 1400C, and no way of getting it to that temperature) and so has only atmospheric pressure?

        How about loss of coolant accidents in MSR are physically not possible? The fuel is Molten, dissolved in the salt coolant, chemically bound to the coolant. “Nuclear meltdown” (like happened at Fukushima) is not possible; the materials used can handle the hottest the reactor is physically capable of getting in any emergency condition?

        How about MSR can Eliminate long-term nuclear waste that LWR can’t use? Fission it, so in time frames we know we can safely store the fission products, the radiation is Gone. (We have so much LWR waste we could power the world at USA levels for almost 100 years, replacing all coal, oil, natural gas, wind, solar and LWRs; but we would still shorten the time needed for the waste to be safe, by over 100,000 years.)

        How about higher heat output, to generate electricity more efficiently, or create gasoline from CO2 and water, or desalinate water, or make ammonia for fertilizer?

        “molten salt reactors require almost continuous chemical processing”

        1) Many industrial processes require continuous chemical processing and function well. The main chemical processes include fluoride distillation and fluoride volatility, common chemical processing. The chemical processing was demonstrated in the 1960s MSRE.

        2) Molten salt reactors are highly flexible. They can be designed to use continuous processing, batch processing, or no processing (do all processing when decommissioning the reactor, just uses more fuel). Simply collecting the gaseous fission products from the circulating fuel salt, is enough for some designs to run for decades.

        “They are not easier for the operators”

        Restarting a LWR requires exacting procedures, largely because of Xenon gas accumulating, which blocks fission and then decays for a sudden increase in fission. MSR is inherently extremely stable, including Xenon gas simply bubbles out of the molten salt and is collected; and the salt expands/contracts regulating the fission rate.

        LWR fuel has to be rotated, and the reactor needs to be shut down to do that. MSR fuel is simply added, and the salt balances itself rapidly when more fuel is added.

        MSR has no high-pressure pipes that burst. No procedures that have to be executed in precise sequence to keep burst pipes from leading to a loss of coolant accident. No testing of high-pressure valves and safety systems. No control rods that have to be inserted at the right speed to prevent power surges. No pressures or chemicals that can explode.

        Every MSR has a lot of *inherent* safety, such as “no water, no high pressures”, replacing LWR engineered safety. That makes MSRs much Easier for operators, especially in a crisis (e.g. tsunami or hurricane or terrorist attack). Many LWR crises simply can’t occur in MSR.

        “reactors must be started with either U-235 that has been separated from natural uranium, or they must use U-233 or Pu-239 that has been manufactured in a fission reactor”

        1) That is identical to LWR, PWR, RMBK (Chernobyl’s type), LMFBR, or any other uranium or plutonium fission reactor. Takes fissile material to start (though U-235 doesn’t need to be separated or enriched in MSR, just present in sufficient quantity). Thorium in a MSR converts to U-233, just like U-238 converts to Pu-239 in a LWR or in MSR. MSR doesn’t need enriched U-235 to continue operating, unlike LWR.

        2) Thorium is not required for MSR. LFTR is it is a type of MSR that converts plentiful thorium into fuel. Any MSR (including LFTR) can take uranium or plutonium, including LWR waste, as fuel.

        “complete power production machine, not a laboratory prototype”
        Connect heat from a MSR to the electric turbine at any LWR plant, natural gas plant, coal plant, and it works. Fuel density, salt type, reactor core diameter, heat transfer unit, etc can be adjusted to give the temperature the connected equipment expects. MSR can throttle in seconds to changes in heat being extracted.

        Want to build a bigger MSR? Design equipment that handles more fuel salt per minute, or connect more copies of smaller equipment. Or use multiple small reactors (e.g. some designs of MSR would fit 200MW fully factory assembled in a standard shipping truck), in one location or distributed.

        We have modern materials that need to be certified for use in reactors; but we could use the materials that worked in 1965. We have designs for MSR that use no graphite, or that use graphite in shapes that would be easily to replace every few years (LWR needs to be shut down every 18 months).

        These are design decisions like every aircraft manufacturer has to make and test for every new model; not technological issues that have to be solved.

        Please continue this discussion on my blog, this page is about the electric power grid. My blog covers all of this in more detail, including links to scientific journals and engineers explanations. http://liquidfluoridethoriumreactor.glerner.com

        1. @George Lerner

          You wrote:

          How about, for this page’s topic, MSR can self-throttle in seconds in response to electric demand, an ideal base load power for use with solar and wind power? No long time to adjust, like LWR or highest efficiency natural gas plants?

          Please do not try to claim characteristics that do not yet exist. MSRs may, or may not, be designed to provide the capability to “self-throttle”; it will depend on the specific choices made by the designer. I can testify that it is quite within the proven and existing capabilities of solid fuel light water reactors to respond more quickly to changes in power level than even the most responsive gas turbines. I used to operate that kind of light water reactor.

          I will grant that large commercial light water reactors are generally not designed for rapid power changes, but neither are similarly sized coal fired or gas fired power stations. Big plants carry substantial thermal and physical intertia.

        2. How about in an emergency LWR requires over-riding everything the reactor core was designed to do, to prevent catastrophic meltdown; while MSR can simply evacuate the reactor core, transferring the molten fuel to storage tanks where fission is geometrically impossible and the fuel will passively cool, …

          Unless the hole gets plugged. Compare that to a TRISO-fueled high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, in which the fuel just sits where it is during the accident, with no safety systems and no transfer of fuel necessary. Engineering design is all about tradeoffs.

          These paper reactor pissing contests are pointless. They only serve to demonstrate the childishness of those who participate in them. In this theater of the absurd, the Molten Salt fanboys are some of the worst (with IFR enthusiasts being a close runner up). These people and their designs are both in need of the same thing before they can be taken seriously: a little maturity.

          1. I agree, MSR should get some maturity. How do we get that? Build more.

            “Unless the hole gets plugged” and HTGR “fuel just sits where it is during the accident, with no safety systems and no transfer of fuel necessary”

            Just like HTGR, the MSR reactor materials can safely withstand much higher-than-normal temperatures, unlike LWR. Draining fuel out of the core to storage tanks is a simpler method of ending fission, than control rods in solid fueled reactors, and would make maintenance easier.

            Sounds like both HTGR and MSR are even safer than LWR, and both eliminate the pollution, illness, and deaths of coal and oil, so I think we should develop Both as rapidly as we can.

            I prefer the MSR molten fuel, since fission products can be removed allowing fuel use much higher than any solid fuel reactor (the fission products are trapped in solid fuel, blocking fission).

            The ability of MSR to use LWR-waste as fuel will be a huge selling point.

            And, again, we I recommend we develop All potential replacements of coal and oil as rapidly as possible, so each location can select the best one for their needs.

            1. @George Lerner

              Just like HTGR, the MSR reactor materials can safely withstand much higher-than-normal temperatures, unlike LWR. Draining fuel out of the core to storage tanks is a simpler method of ending fission, than control rods in solid fueled reactors, and would make maintenance easier.

              I’m curious. Have you ever operated a solid fueled reactor? Do you have any idea how easily they are shut down by dropping the rods into the core?

              Why would having the capability to drain the core make maintenance easier? How do you conduct maintenance and inspections in the tank under the reactor where you intend to occasionally drain very hot liquid that contains about half of the elements in the periodic table. What kind of corrosion do you think might occur in that tank? How are you going to put the fuel back into the core to restart the reactor? How reliable is that pumping system? How do you maintain and inspect it?

              These are all potentially solvable problems, but please understand that resistance to molten salt reactors is not based on prejudice against thorium or on a desire to build up inventories of plutonium. They are hard, practical questions that must be answered during the design, construction and operation of the system. The answers are not going to come easily or cheaply. In the meantime, we know how to build safe, solid fuel reactors and we should know that we can make them economical if we can shift the politics a little so we can overcome the focused efforts to make them uneconomical.

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