1. If the electricity produced at Vermont Yankee never left the state borders, it would be supplying 85% of the state’s needs. Once again, the source of my information is the easy to find, but quite authoritative (on historical numbers), state level electricity statistics spreadsheets produced by the Energy Information Agency. End Aside.
    By an impressive coincidence, I was just looking at the same dataset yesterday (the first one, EIA-906, generation_state.xls). Here’s a graph of the 2008 data, sorted by CO2 intensity/kWh (Vermont is the lowest):
    And the CO2 intensity (gCO2/kWh(e)):
    Where I’ve calculated CO2 intensity using the EIA figures (2.095, 1.969, 1.321 lbs/kWh(e) for coal, oil, gas) from table 1 of
    and zero CO2 for everything else. I was going to use this in a blog, which I never got around to.
    (Disclaimers: first, this is just generation data, which doesn’t account for interstate trade imbalances. Second, the CO2 intensity is based on averages for fuel type, not the actual emissions (and efficiencies) of individual power plants (e.g. difference between CCGT and simple-cycle natural gas plants.) Third, these fuel CO2 intensities are dated (1999). Fourth, the EIA totals include (net) negative generation by pumped hydroelectricity.)

    1. The IPCC says this about the CO2 emissions of nuclear power: “Total life-cycle GHG emissions per unit of electricity produced from nuclear power are below 40 gCO2-eq/kWh (10 gC-eq/kWh), similar to those for renewable energy sources”.

  2. Even if Germany actually did get 30% from solar that still wouldn’t be enough! Vermont gets 72% from nuclear, which is why people there have some of the lowest carbon emissions of anyone in the U.S. Do these people not understand the importance of energy resources in the shaping of our future? Unless he wants to end up as a big man or chieftan rather than statesman, he had better read Admiral Rickover’s “Energy Resources and our Future” speech and wise up.

  3. Rod, as usual, an excellent and authoritative post on my favorite plant. (It’s only my favorite because I live in Vermont. In my nuclear career, I was more of a PWR person.)
    However, there is one thing I would like to stress. Shumlin didn’t just CALL that vote. He accelerated it, pushed it, hurried it, insisted on it. He sets the agenda for the Senate, and he put it on the agenda the day he wanted it to happen, before town meetings.
    Even Anti-VY senators were appalled, because it put them in the position of voting before all the facts were in. For example, the legislature had authorized a study on the economic effects of closing VY, and that report wasn’t completed yet. This sort of thing made anybody who voted potentially look bad to their constituents.”Yeah, we don’t CARE about the recession or about economic impacts of what we do! We won’t even wait for the report!”
    Apparently, Peter Shumlin didn’t need that report because in his rather warped view of reality, there was no problem to start with. We’ll just do solar, just like Germany does.

  4. Now THAT was an interesting interview. Did anyone else get the impression that beyond all his bluster, Shumlin got absolutely hammered by his interviewer… who appeared for once to actually be up to speed on the realities of the renewables experience of the region invoked as a shining example? Interesting.

  5. Spining a political agenda based on foggy datat or omission of data altogether is common practice. Representative government is supposed to sort out the details even if one of it’s members fails to do so as Peter Shumlin has done.
    Fusion energy is fact based upon Oak Ridge National Laboratory research into Cavitation Plasma in 1997.
    The acceptable engine by cavitation dissociation only can be seen at : http://www.micro-combustion.com
    X-Ray radiation and 4He ash left little doubt…….Has the public been lied too? Competing energy it would seem is the Domain of the DOE and the public welfare be damned. Commercial and Political control of energy is the issue and not the reality of data, that if expossed, would put politicians in the cross hairs.

  6. 50% more juice on the market that can be sold? I’d love to get some of that. Funny, our prices don’t reflect a 50% surplus.
    30% power coming from solar in Germany? Based on those figures, every coal power plant should be completely covered behind a solar facade! That would require a solar system capable of handling 100% of the load, not only that, but the sun shining on it 30% of the time!
    Where’s the cobalt? (Where’s the beef?)
    I love the thing about Hydro-Quebec being able to send us all the juice we need. That’s really what’s going to happen. Not saying that Hydro Quebec and the Quebecois aren’t good folks and very competent at what they do – they are – I’m sure they’d love to send Vermont all the electricity they need – in exchange for the money Vermont can send them – that means money leaving Vermont and the US and going to Quebec…

  7. If I was going after this clown based on the fact that he lies I would start by emphasizing I was only doing this because of the fact that he is claiming that one of the the biggest issues in the Vermont Yankee case, for him, is that in Vermont, “your word is your bond”, i.e. supposedly VY officials lied to everyone in the state about whether there were any buried pipes that could leak tritium.
    Otherwise, because all politicians lie all the time it seems a bit weird to take one on just over some lie or other.
    He obviously believes the biggest thing he’s got to emphasize as he plays to the crowd are the leaks of “tritium and cobalt” that are, according to him, ongoing. He mentions this at least seven times in the interview. If the tritium leak is stopped, he’s not going to be able to beat that drum for the rest of time.
    When he talked about the problems he had with VY the first thing he named was “price”, because it isn’t only the reactor license to operate that needs renewing. The Senate has nothing to lose by playing to public opinion while the public is stirred up about deadly radiation leaking into their very homes to kill their babies or whatever less than a key fob’s worth of tritium can do, while naming price as their bottom line to the reactor owners. He also named, as another “most important” issue, the fact that it looks like the reactor is moving to a new owner. No one is going to want to own a reactor that can’t operate.
    He’s beating the tritium “and cobalt” drum the loudest, but he named price and ownership change as more important factors. Even though throwing a reactor away over nothing has happened previously in this region, that was a long time ago. Polling on this issue is different now, at least nationally. it is possible the Senate will settle for a better price and no ownership change, and it is possible that this is all that is going on, i.e. hardball negotiating.
    If he believes all the gibberish he is spouting about renewables, it isn’t as if he is the only one. This line that “renewables” are what is needed to solve the climate problem as opposed to “low CO2 emissions” is what “progressives” tell each other. They sound like they actually believe it to me. They’ve been telling each other about their renewables dream for so long it has become the biblical truth.
    This is what happens when the “right” abdicates the entire debate about how important nuclear power is by pretending that climate change doesn’t exist.

    1. David – I agree – the major reason that it is important to illustrate the lie is the fact that “lying” or distrust of Entergy is held up as a major reason to shut down VY.
      I still want to see the raw data that shows EXACTLY what question the investigators asked Entergy and EXACTLY what words Entergy’s employees used in the response. The words chosen really do matter. For example, engineers do not consider “underground” and “buried” to be synonyms, but some lawyers and politicians might not be able to discern the difference.
      When it comes to electricity production figures there are no doubts – it is a readily measured and reported quantity. Shumlin not only asserts 30% solar, he did it repeatedly, even when offered the opportunity to go and do some research. Electricity customers cannot afford to have someone making supply decisions who cannot discern the difference between 0.7% and 30%. If they did, they would have power only one day out of 43 days.
      Better schedule laundry, homework, and cooking tasks with care!

  8. James Hansen is in Australia where he gave a talk he called “After Copenhagen”. During the Q&A which he started off by asking common questions he often faces himself, he asked this question:
    Why do I advocate nuclear power?
    [after explaining how Amory Lovins has led everyone down the garden path with his we don’t need nuclear, coal, oil, gas, large hydropower or a tax on carbon we can do it all with “soft” technologies, i.e. efficiency and renewables, Hansen pointed to a graph showing the energy sources civilization is using today]
    The wind and the sun are invisible on this graph. [He then mutters its impossible, you can’t go from nothing to take over the role of all this fossil power, all this hydro and nuclear, it can’t be done]….
    If we continue to pretend that renewables can do this whole job, I think we are not being fair to our children and grandchildren… “And that’s why I’m trying to be objective about [nuclear power].

  9. Hello Rod,
    this is the official share of electricity production of renewables in 2008 in percent according to BMWI (federal ministry of economics and technology of Germany)
    wind 6340652447
    hydro 4184441656
    biomass 3494196989
    photovoltaics 0,686010038
    garbage 1549404015
    SUM 1625470514
    Kind regards

  10. To update Volker’s comment, according to information at the website of Soolux, which calls itself the German “portal for solar energy,” the production of solar electricity (for 2009) was 1.0 percent of the total in 2009, compared to 0.7 percent in 2008. Contributions of other renewable energy sources included wind (6.4%), biomass (4.4%), and hydroelectric (3.3%). For those who read German, the link can be found at:
    Subsidies for new solar capacity in Germany in 2009, amounting to about 2,500 megawatts, were 13 billion euros, or about $17.8 billion dollars at current exchange rates. Increasing amounts of these subsidies are actually promoting the growth of the solar industry in China and other Asian countries, where panels can be produced more cheaply than in Germany. Link for this information:

  11. Wow. What an uninformed bonehead.
    We really let people like him make important decisions? <sighs>
    How much is his solartopia going to have to pay for a kwh? I bet it will be 4-6x the $0.061 VY offered…

  12. I am so disgusted with that interview! Shumlin got trounced on by the interviewer and really had no good answers. He could have said all he wanted in a couple of sentences for all the repeating he did. He needs to be held accountable for his words and actions. He looked like a bumbling idiot. I hope they do call him back on the show, and soon, to answer for his inaccurate and untrue statements.

  13. I thought your comparison of the yearly output of Vermont Yankee to the entire yearly solar output of Germany was a good way to look at things.
    Perhaps if more people understood that shutting down a single reactor the size of Vermont Yankee would eliminate more low carbon emission electricity than shutting down the entire German solar generating capacity, they wouldn’t be so quick to call their Senator to ask that the license to operate not be renewed.
    The German university study Monbiot was working with put German solar PV output at .6% of total German electricity consumption in 2008, which means VY puts out 50% more electricity in a year, but as I see other sources in these comments I guess only the Germans know who knows for sure.
    I wondered at your statement “Germany has invested more than $40 billion in order to build that solar generation capacity”.
    The way I understand it, the German feed in tariff law commits German electricity consumers to pay “more than $40 billion” ($46.7 billion USD at todays exchange rate) over the next 20 or so years, for the output of this solar PV capacity. This sum may be somewhat close to the capital cost of installation, but I’m always looking for accurate figures for that.
    Monbiot wrote that the IEA says saving one tonne of CO2 with solar PV in Germany costs 1000 euros ($1,334 USD today). That is also an interesting way to look at things.
    In a previous column “Solar Panel Rip-Off” 02 March 2010 Monbiot stated you could save a tonne of CO2 for 8 British pounds, or $12 USD by building nuclear power stations.
    Monbiot was shaking his head as the British government proposed putting $13 or so billion USD into solar PV while the opposition parties in Parliament demanded that even more $$ be thrown away in this fashion.

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