1. Note to Rod.

    Électricity prices have gone thru the roof in California.

    Expect the same in Vermont.

    1. Wow. Good link and starting point for a interesting bit of history. The pic there is sad – I would have loved to have one of those old ones.

  2. Good thought-feature!

    You know, at great effort and expense the Netherlands built dikes to reclaim land from the ocean. They really didn’t have to do it; the people could’ve just moved inland and be done with all the risk and bother, but they felt it was a national growth and survival at any price issue, even if the full payback wouldn’t be for generations. Today climate change is touted as a civilization-changer that can redraw whole maps and nations if it snowballs out of control, and though we have a proven clean and safe-under-all-perils and reliable and efficient means of forestalling if not potentially eliminating the threat, we’ve people arrogantly blocking it solely out of assuaging their worst Doomsday nightmares or the blind passion to banish the atom for the special evil it did to Hiroshima (chief media beef). Global society may pay a very dear price for not saving every nuke under the sane banner of survival at any price and instead stooping to a clueless FUD-fed populace and pious fearmongers and environmental hypocrites who are gloatingly whooping up VY’s demise, because unlike bursting dikes there’s no high ground to run to if the climate turns on us as bad its supporters — who ought be true-blue nukers — crack it up to be. You’re either dead serious about doing your all to eliminate a threat to survival or there’s no real threat at all like to the suicidal.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. @James
      🙂 nice to read about my country! A pity your story isn’t quite true.
      … people could’ve just moved inland and be done with all the risk ..
      Living dangerous near the sea brought people more money and more independence / freedom.
      Moving inland implied that the king (or duke) got more hold on them, taxed them, obliged them to go to specific church, etc…

      James the problem is that your visions are not believed by most (US government, etc).

      – EU tried to install a small CO2 tax for all planes flying in the EU airspace.
      China together with USA blocked it!

      – People see the difference between Hiroshima and NPP’s very clear.
      But they cannot estimate the risk that a nearby NPP will create a Fukushima / Chernobyl like disaster. And that is important for them as that may result in their house losing 90% of its value (without compensation), harm for their newborn, some unknown extra risks for themselves, etc.

      And they do not believe nuclear industry any more, as they see that the consequences of nuclear disaster are excluded in their insurance policy. And then remember that industry declared the lie that nuclear was safe, chance on a melt-down <1:100,000years, etc.

      1. Bas
        September 3, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        Living dangerous near the sea brought people more money and more independence / freedom.
        Moving inland implied that the king (or duke) got more hold on them, taxed them, obliged them to go to specific church, etc…

        I think for growth like that’s what @james meant why they built the dams. Is there anything more dangerous than nuclear to you, mate?

      2. Bas,
        Now I am starting to understand your problem (being Dutch). For a couple of years (1980-81) I managed Sheepsradiodienst in Antwerp and Rotterdam. My house in Schiedam was seven meters below mean sea level.

        Living in Holland was an unforgettable and weird experience. I could write a book about the things that define Dutch lunacy. Here are the two major items that define your national decline. What follows is anecdotal yet irrefutable.

        One of my salesmen never sold anything. On investigation I discovered he was accepting a salary from SRD but his time was spent selling equipment for one of our competitors on a commission basis. When I confronted him he denied nothing, saying that I could not fire him without the approval from the Arbeitsburo. Under Dutch law he was correct so I simply stopped paying him. He filed suit and won the equivalent of two years of salary. The good news was that ended my obligation to pay him while four other employees decided not to follow his example. A year later the company was operating at a profit for the first time in five years.

        My linguistic abilities don’t extend to Germanic languages (English, French, Spanish and Latin). Even so I was able to understand much of what was going on in the Netherlands and Belgium from local television and newspapers. Back then there were unrelenting attacks in the “Main Stream Media” directed at Royal Dutch Shell, Philips Gloielampen and all the other major Dutch companies. This urge to attack what I regard as “Golden Geese” struck me as strange back then but now I am seeing similar craziness here in the USA.

        1. @gallopingcamel

          Regarding this employee.
          In NL there are two ways if you want to fire somebody.
          The ‘arbeidsbureau’ or the judge.
          What the best way is as employer depends on the situation.

          You should have consulted an ‘arbeidsrecht’ (labor law) lawyer before taking any action.

          1. Thanks for correcting my spelling! I followed the advice of my parent company’s lawyers (Bell Tel;ephone Manufacturing, Antwerp).

            Somehow you missed the point of my anecdotes concerning the decline of your once great nation:

            1. Labor laws that make no sense.

            2. A perverse determination to kill the golden geese that maintain your comfortable life style.

        2. I view Bas’ emanations as the sort of low-level irritant that generates a beneficial and hormetic adaptive response in the organism that is this discussion board.

          He’s the rough pebble that slips into the oyster which inadvertently stimulates it to produce pearls of insight.

          Unfortunately, pearls are not often recognized as such when they are offered to undiscriminating radiophobic swine.

  3. Rod, market forces will ultimately push natural gas prices above production cost where they belong. They can’t be kept below production cost for very long.

    The main reason the price of natural gas is low right now is because of fracking from shale. Before the recent price decline, most natural gas was extracted from deposits where the rock was fairly permeable (e.g, sandstone), so a natural gas well would simply bore into the rock, and the gas would come out because of the natural pressure. The oil and gas industry knew for a long time that natural gas exists in less permeable rock (e.g., shale deposits), but it has only recently begun to access it through fracking. Fracking opened up a glut of previously untapped reserves and caused the price of natural gas to plummet.

    Regulations for the protection of people and the environment should be placed on natural gas to the same degree of risk that we have for nuclear. That would level the playing field and the price for each of these energy sources would reflect the overall risk for generation. Why should we have different standards for risk between different energy sources? There should be one overriding standard based on risk for all energy sources. We require industry to design, engineer and operate in compliance with this standard. Only then will we find out the true cost of electricity generation from each energy source.

    1. @JMS
      … Why should we have different standards for risk between different energy sources?..
      Because the (financial) losses/damage in case of an accident are a million times bigger.

      1. @Bas, Only if you overestimate the actual harm by a million times.

        Risk of harm should be based on objective scientific evidence not an irrational fear of the unknown. Real deaths, disease and environmental damage every day should be given much greater weight than theoretical cancers extrapolated from unproven models.

        1. @JMS
          It is not relevant whether you estimate that health harm is less, etc.

          Fact is that Fukushima creates an exclusion zone (same as Chernobyl) despite that 97% of its radio-activity went to the ocean (thanks to the lucky winds).
          That financial damage (together with all other efforts) is there. Whether you consider that ridiculous or not.

          As an explosion at a coal plant in general generates less damage than one in a gas plant, security in the coal plant is less than in the gas plant.
          So it is ‘normal’ that security at nuclear is far more, as the damage is far more than the damage of gas plant explosion…

          1. “Fact is that Fukushima creates an exclusion zone”

            Fukushima did not create an exclusion zone. Politics and FUD such as you constantly spew, created an unnecessary and ultimately, incredibly harmful exclusion zone.

          2. @Bas – If you and a billion other people throughout the world had a fear of the number 4, do you think that we should be forced to spend trillions of dollars to wipe the number 4 from the face of the earth?

            Should we eliminate the number 4 from all documents on the internet? How about an anti-4 campaign to eliminate it from all keyboards no matter what the cost? There’s a theory that the number 4 causes millions of deaths each year. It doesn’t matter that the LNT4 theory can’t be proven because everyone knows there’s at least excess 4,444,444 deaths each year hidden among all other deaths worldwide.

            Paying trillions of dollars to placate people with the irrational fear of the number 4 makes just as much sense as paying trillions of dollars to clean up every atom of Fukushima radioactivity for those around the world having an irrational fear of radiation.

          3. @Jeff & JMS
            What makes you think that:
            – Ukraine & Belarus authorities reacted only out of fear after Chernobyl?
            Especially since authorities in those countries have no problem harming their citizens seriously…

            – Japanese authorities reacted only out of fear as well?
            While they knew the (ridiculous to my opinion) results of the IAEA directed & controlled Chernobyl forum of 2006.

          4. @JMS
            It’s a nice analogy, but it fails because there are no scientific studies that proof that the number 4 harms and kills especially fetuses and to gradually lesser extent babies, children, young adults,..

            And with radiation there are numerous studies (also medical) that show the harm.

            Some better analogies:
            – Smoking. Same latency before harm shows, etc. Only it can be more easily diagnosed as it changes the lung tissue.
            – Asbestos same.
            – Micro-particles. Inhabitants in busy city-centers and near busy roads live up to some years shorter due to this according to the EU. So now it is forbidden to build houses if the density of those particles it to high. Latency here is also in the range of the low level radiation latency.

          5. “If you and a billion other people throughout the world had a fear of the number 4, do you think that we should be forced to spend trillions of dollars to wipe the number 4 from the face of the earth?”

            People, with your help, we can end the scourge of quadraphobia now!

            Contribute generously to FearTheFour.org (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dr. Chris Busby Foundation). Act now, while our exclusive patent-pending de-4-tifying pills are still available!

          6. And there are no reputable scientific studies that prove that radiation at the levels we’re discussing kills fetuses,babies, children, or young adults,..

            That is your particular delusion and obsession. You BAS, are either mentially unhinged, or on someone’s payroll. You’ve been repeatedly shown that your sources of information are utterly wrong. Yet you continue to spew the same lies and misinformation.

            There’s a word for people who are incapable of perceiving reality accurately and it is “insane”.

          7. @ Jeff Walther, I would bet Bas is on the payroll of one of the rich ENGOs, who are paid very well to trash Nuclear Energy. Seems common now, any site with lots of pro-Nuclear commentary gets someone who shows up and makes the same repetitive, boilerplate anti-Nuclear comments, with a stubborn persistence no matter how often they arguments are destroyed.

            And usually post 10X as much as anyone else 24/7 – like how could they possibly have a job, and get the time for it. And you can completely demolish a claim they make, say about Price-Anderson, and they have no counter-argument, but yet they will still continue repeating the same dis-proven nonsense relentlessly. A total lack of integrity.

            So who is paying you Bas, Greenpeace with its $336M/yr income or the WWF with its $800M/yr, the UCS, FOE, NIRS or one of the dozens of others? Own-up. Tell us.

          8. And usually post 10X as much as anyone else 24/7 … still continue repeating the same dis-proven nonsense relentlessly. A total lack of integrity.

            Fred – And this is not the only pro-nuclear blog that this person posts his nonsense on. However, one would think that a genuine professional would not keep using the same moniker on all of these different sites, since it’s too easy to track.

            I think that we have to face the facts that some people simply have too much time on their hands, and the rule of thumb is that free time is inversely proportional to competence.

          9. Bas,
            That exclusion zone makes no sense. Just another example of the nonsensical LNT theory.

          10. @Jeff
            …there are no reputable scientific studies that prove that radiation at the levels we’re discussing kills fetuses,babies, children, or young adults,..

            I do not belief you will read those studies, but let me give you a few.

            The best one (comparing clean districts with contaminated districts in 5 years before and after Chernobyl): http://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/ibb/homepage/hagen.scherb/CongenMalfStillb_0.pdf

            An overview / summary: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/04/low-level-doses-of-radiation-can-cause-big-problems.html

          11. “Jeff – The deal with Bas Gresnigt is simply that he has True Courage. Pay attention and maybe one day you too can be brave.”

            Nice. I used to have that, at least in a lesser form. I think every child has it at some point. Engineering beat it out of me, although law school tried to put it back in. 🙂

  4. I’ll regret my participation.


    When Bill Clinton was President, we had Shirley Jackson as NRC Chairwoman. She openly talked of the malaise of the nuclear industry and predicted that 50% of the then operating nuclear power plants in the United States would be shuttered.

    When George Bush was President, he enacted the GNEP program and we all talked openly about a nuclear resurgence.

    When Barack Hussein Obama became President, he demoted pro-nuclear Dale Klien, promoted anti-nuclear Gregory Jackzo as Chairman, and then when Jackzo’s demeaning behavior towards women became an embarrassment, he was replaced with geologist Allison Macfarlane who has a known relationship with anti-nuclear activists. Now we have five units being shuttered: SONGS 2 and 3, Kewanee, Crystal River and Vermont Yankee. And it’s Andy Cuomo, the Democrat governor of NYS, who is actively seeking to shut down another two units: IP2 and IP3.

    Coincidence? I think not. Elections have consequences. I disliked McCain in 2008 and to a lesser extent Romney in 2012, but this would NOT have happened under either of them. And NO, I am NOT a Republican, nor would I ever be a Democrat. But I would choose between the lesser of two evils.

    I will remember the folks at VY on my Rosary Beads.


  5. I gather VY’s problems have more to do with new NRC regs handed down allegedly in the wake of the Fukushima triple-melt & hydrogen explosions of the GE Mk1 BWRs and, to a lesser extent, the quirks in the ISO-NE system. The fact that VY was a merchant generator without a captive rate base made the situation for them untenable.

    Cheap natural gas, what is being repeatedly cited, had relatively little to do with the decision, the production cost of even the newest CCGT is going to be significantly more than that of VY, and the added congestion volume of gas that will have to be moved up to NE (50% of NE MWh are now gas fired) alone should itself drive up prices, something like $140 million in gas per annum vs a ~$60 million 18-mo fission core.

    Nukes produce baseload MWs, the baseload demand of ISO-NE is ~10GW(e), VY represented a good 5-6% of that (it is not a “small” unit), the fact that a ~4.7 million MWh hole is going to exist in the ISO-NE grid means increasingly inefficient gas peaker units and probably more operating hours for coal is going to be thrown in to patch it. Meredith Angwin points out ISO-NE is subsidizing $78 million (~2X the pro rata cost for a fresh VY core) for old oil-fired units, for energy reliability in winter (peak demand for NE), that winter hole is going to be 600MW deeper now.

    The Platts video above buried what should have been the lead: VY was apparently required to perform new NRC mandated “safety upgrades” at an est $500 million in added compliance costs! Similar to the capital cost of new approximately equiv sized CCGT units. Ya think that *MIGHT* have had something to do with it? What exactly were these regs? I assume they will be hitting all Mk1 BWRs in the US.

    The lesson of VY is that the regulatory framework (both NRC & ISO) that fission operates in cannot be ignored; it not only adds ~50% to the construction cost of a reactor (doubled again when compounded by financing costs), absurdist regulations probably add a cent to the 2.2 cents per kWh production cost. What to do? Inject real world “holistic” (a word hippies like) cost benefit analysis: VY displaced the equiv in coal to the CO2 emissions of a million cars per year, with gas “only” half a million cars; coal is now killing >1,000 people per month in the US (a marked improvement! it used to kill 2k/mo a decade ago) according to the Clean Air Task Force, >500,000 lives shorted by coal since the TMI-round of regulatory ratcheting. Radiation from (non-Soviet) NPPs has killed no one, ever. BEIR-7 — or at least NRC, EPA regulations — should be modified to incorporate a range of mortality & morbidity estimates including linear threshold AND bio-positive or hermetic effects of low-level radiation up to 100 mSv as at Fukushima, where the highest annual exposure to a member of the general public in year-1 is estimated at 25 mSv — nothing below 5 µSv/hr should even be regulated.

  6. … even small nuclear plants can compete against natural gas when gas is priced at a level that is profitable for the supplier..
    If gas extraction becomes very cheap then even big nuclear plants cannot compete.

    When fracking showed gas extraction against very low costs, everybody started.
    Because everybody looked at the gas market at that time and concluded that he could make big money.

    Hence overproduction.
    Hence prices below cost price…
    Now gas producers will take their loss and leave the market, or shrink their production.
    So gas prices restore to a cost price +reasonable profit level.

    Management of the NPP’s looked into that the same way, and concluded that they could not compete against gas at cost (+reasonable profit) price levels…

    Gas consumption for heating buildings, etc. is far more important than the small extra consumption that closure of few NPP’s bring.
    So the big oil & gas companies do not invest big losses (by brining gas price artificial below cost price) in order to generate a small extra turnover thanks to the closed few NPP’s.

    1. Bas,

      FYI natural gas isn’t much used in New England for heating, oil is. Consequently the region is relatively poorly served with gas pipelines (a HUGE LNG terminal/terrorist target is well placed near Boston Harbor) and the vast majority of gas is used to generate electricity.

      According to the US EIA the average production cost of a natural gas kWh is over 4¢ per kWh — more than last year’s wholesale price of a kWh in NE (3.8¢), the average production cost for a nuclear kWh is 2.2¢. Moreover, the fuel cost alone even for an advanced thermo-efficient CCGT operating at 6500 BTU per kWh burning $4MMBTU fuel would be 2.6¢ per kWh.

      1. Thanks.
        Didn’t realize that.
        Here in NL natural gas is about the only fuel used for heating buildings, green houses, etc. (Belgium and Germany about the same)

        Nowadays our green house owners (market gardeners) each have a gas power plant which produces electricity for the grid.
        They use the rest heat for their green house heating, while they transport the generated CO2 also into the green house in order to speed the growth of their groceries (tomatoes, cucumbers, paprika) and flowers.

        Together they generate 30-40% of the electricity in NL
        (we are exporting lots of groceries and flowers).

        1. You are also poisoning the atmosphere and acidifying the oceans at an alarming rate. Burning natural gas produces prodigious amounts of CO2, which is dumped uncontrolled and unregulated into the biosphere. If you acidify the oceans then you threaten the continued existence of life on this planet.

          Unburned methane is a terrible, terrible greenhouse gas. There was a recent study by NASA Goddard that upped the ante considerably. The old rule of thumb was that methance produced about 25 times the atmospheric damage on a per-weight basis than did CO2. The new number is now 33 times as much damage. That is because they accounted for interactions with other gases.

          The fugitive emissions of unburned methane from the extraction step alone dwarfs the lifecycle carbon footprint from all of the nuclear plants in the world. Anyone who advocates burning more natural gas is no friend of the environment.

          1. ..Burning natural gas produces … CO2, which is dumped … into the biosphere…
            That is why it is nice that that CO2 is fed to the plants in the green house.
            Already a step in the good direction.

            Of course next steps are better…
            About 5 mile from here a glass house uses thermal heat from the earth. They pump cold water ~a mile down and pump hot water in return.
            Still, they need a (smaller) CO2 source in order to stimulate the grow of the plants.

          2. You can’t use all of the CO2 in greenhouses. That would be a safety hazard of immense proportions. You’ll have a bypass of some kind to dump the excess CO2. The environment in a greenhouse cannot be pure CO2. Even if it were, you’d have significant fugitive emissions.

            Do you send the unburned methane to the greenouses as well? Do you know the kind of harm to the atmosphere methane molecules do? The bad thing about excessive use of natural gas is that you are taking a harmful gas that is now sequestered and blasting it into the biosphere at rates that greatly exceed natural leakage. Throw in the excess CO2 from the combustion cycle and you have a formula for an environmental disaster of proportions that dwarf anything you’d get from a worst-case nuclear incident.

  7. One of the unique features of the ISO into which Vermont Yankee had to sell its power was that negative bidding was allowed — in other words, is at any time of low demand, wind was blowing, wind operators could PAY to send their power to the grid, making up the loss, and then some, on all the subsidies they get. Such a market structure makes it hard for VY’s baseline 620MW to compete — they have to pay to sell at night, and make up the loss during the day. If VY could cut a deal to sell all their power at a flat rate, they would have been fine. There are enough industrial facilities operating at night to take the power, and would be willing to pay for the reliability that VY offered — in other words, not hoping and praying that the wind blows.

    It seems to me that a subsidized wind producer would game the system, sending in big negative bids, with the goal of forcing VY from the market. Then, without VY producing at night, the wind producer would never have to bid negative again.

    1. David,

      Do you know for a fact that VY was forced to pay to generate its power into the off-peak baseload market? If true sounds like a plan set up by ISO-NE to kill anything that can’t cycle but the tactic of negative bidding would only apply to VY if it was selling into the spot-market — intermittent wind can only be sold into the spot market (all 10GW of ISO-NE’s baseload wasn’t being negatively bid). I imagine most of VY’s output was being sold at various long-term contract prices; I know that some of the contracts signed by IPPs are for 20 years.

      If true, this problem could be easily solved by allowing subsidized intermittent producers to claim a production credit only for needed electricity sold into peak and shoulder markets. All regular baseload power should be based on long-term supply contracts anyway.

      1. @Aaron Rizzio

        Negative pricing is planned, but not yet implemented by the New England ISO. I believe it is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

    2. ‘…It seems to me that a subsidized wind producer would game the system, sending in big negative bids, with the goal of forcing VY from the market. Then, without VY producing at night, the wind producer would never have to bid negative again.’
      Bad money drives out good.

      1. @John
        …sending in big negative bids, with the goal of forcing VY from the market….
        I am convinced that such considerations play no role here in NW-Europe at all with regard to negative pricing. Especially since most Wind turbine owners are farmers or small cooperations (typical a group of ten persons with a local bank involved).
        Not sure, but I believe that such market manipulation is forbidden here.

        Btw. It is not only wind.
        In June the Belgian and French market saw negative prices too. And their generating power is mostly nuclear (wind & solar is just starting in France as they want to reduce the share of nuclear towards 50%).

        An analysis concluded:
        “On Sunday 16 June 2013 French and Belgian negative base load prices were driven by such underlying physical and operational constraints and more precisely by a sudden loss of demand and abundant non-flexible generation availability.”
        (it was a warm sunny Sunday, so everybody went to the woods, etc)

    3. @David
      … unique features of the ISO … was that negative bidding was allowed … hard for VY … sell at night, and make up the loss during the day…
      If the wind blows during the night in autumn, we saw negative bidding at the Amsterdam wholesale exchange. Sometimes even strong negative prices.
      If German expansion of solar resumes (they now restrict it to ~3GW/a due to grid issues) in a few years, I expect very low or negative pricing during sunny days…

      With the expansion of solar in Vermont, making up the losses during the day will become increasingly difficult for VY. First at sunny weekend days, etc…
      Note that e.g. 4KW Chinese PV-panels on your roof cost in US about twice the investment compared to Germany. So, in addition to the general 8%/a price decrease, prices in US may come down faster.

      So the long term prospects for profitability for Vermont Yankee were anyway bad.
      Even if the gas price would restore towards “cost price +50% margin” levels.

      1. @Bas

        How can investors in wind or solar recoup their capital investment in electricity production equipment if they frequently have to pay someone to take the product that equipment produces? I’m sooooo confused by the economics of that situation.

        1. @Rod
          German production/consumption dominates the Amsterdam exchange.
          The Germans have their famous Feed-in-Tariffs (FiT’s).
          For onshore wind: ~9cent/KWh for the first 5 years, after that ~5cent/Kwh (off-shore is still very small). Going down ~1.5%/a.

          The solar FiT’s range between 15 and 10cent/KWh with a guarantee for 20years after installation. Those went down ~27% last year. An overview:

          Solar is mostly not managed at all (household owned). So feed-in will continue even if old installation owners get a negative price. Adding to the unbalance (one of the reasons we need an intelligent grid).
          German grid operator made agreements with the big wind farms to close down in that type of situation.

          If you think evil, you could assume that the scheme is designed to drive NPP’s out of the market. As those cannot bring their production far down, while solar/wind will continue to produce. Even after the 20year period as households do not manage their installations and variable production costs are zero.
          I do not believe that as a.o. utilities signed a closure scheme for their NPP’s.

          – The paragraph about Vermont (at the end of the Wikipedia page) seems to indicate a max of 127MW wind power. So may be I read it wrong (as that is nothing) or the paragraph is wrong?

          – The paragraph about Netherlands (NL) is out-dated.
          In NL the FiT is the same as the tariff you pay (as consumer now ~22cent/KWh) until the amount fed into the grid is either more than you consume or more than 5MWh (both measured on a yearly basis).
          What you get for the electricity fed to the grid above that limit depend on the utility (you choose your utility out of ~10). Some pay 3cent/KWh, some pay ~15cent/KWh.

          Our FiT of ~22cent is ~50% more than the Germans get, but the problem is that it may change next year, also for existing installations (as history shows). So no security regarding return on investment. Hence PV expansion far slower than in Germany.

          1. @Bas

            Thank you for explaining how generously subsidized wind and solar power suppliers are by all other consumers of electricity. Your country is obviously populated by people who have a weak “questioning attitude”.

            There is no doubt there is a well organized effort to shut down nuclear energy; the market structure you have described is just one component of that effort. Utilities in your country might have gone along with the scheme, but that has nothing to do with whether or not it is good for the rest of the country. As we both know, businesses of all types are often run by people who are only concerned about themselves and their own personal prosperity.

          2. @Rod
            I’m Dutch, Netherlands (NL) and live in NL.
            Germany is another country, with other standards, other mentality, other government structure, etc.

            … populated by people who have a weak “questioning attitude”..
            This has nothing to do with weak questioning attitude:

            – In Germany it is supported by >80% of the people. And they know that they pay a surcharge of ~4cent/kWh that goes to solar panel and wind owners!
            Nowadays it is in the German papers all the time as the level of the surcharge is an item in the election battle (elections this month; Merkel will win).

            Do not forget that the Germans still feel Chernobyl.
            E.g. In many German woods you still cannot pick fungus, as their radiation is above the limits (even above the 10times less strict old UN limits).

            – In NL it is less known as the surcharge is almost nothing at all (as we have little wind & solar) and invisible. If it becomes substantial, it will become an hot debated item.
            Here the feeling is also; If you want it, you can put the panels on your roof (banks lend the money, you can even lease them).
            There is action that people living in apartment buildings can do it too (forming a cooperation) and tenants can do it too whereby they would get the non-depreciated part of the investment back if they leave the house early.

            … that has nothing to do with whether or not it is good for the rest of the country…
            The German population wants it and in a democracy that counts.

            Even in NL the general feeling is, that it is a good thing.
            Here in NL, a debate started whether burning wood (the wood seems to come from US & Canada) as biomass is acceptable…
            For me it feels no good since I saw it in Germany this spring. But it is renewable according to Kyoto.

          3. @Rod
            …how generously subsidized … solar power..
            In Germany consumers pay 26cent/KWh. The FiT for solar on their roof is 15cent/KWh.
            The electricity the consumer feeds into the grid goes to his neighbors via the local line in the street. And the utility gets 26cent for it.
            So no use of the long distance power lines, transformers, etc.

            Seems to me that the utility is the big winner here. It buys electricity for 15cent, transport it a few hundred meters and sell it for a ~70% higher price.

          4. @Rod
            Your publication is from Der Spiegel which predicted in 2011:
            – big grid outages due to closure of the NPP’s after Fukushima (fact: improved grid reliability compared to years before; 10times less outages compared to US);
            – big import of electricity (fact: Germany stayed net exporter)

            I still do not understand their first prediction (the outages).
            It is very clear that Merkel is a very smart woman.
            How can Der Spiegel assume that Merkel would do such stupid things?
            So they knew that they published disinformation. Presumably in order to please the big companies, advertisers, that are losing turn-over through the Energiewende (the major utilities, Siemens, etc).

            The publication in your link.
            An example of the statements that (dis)qualify it:
            … Energiewende, or energy revolution, is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s project of the century…
            The Energiewende scenaro was agreed in the nineties for the period until 2050, resulting in a law in 2000. Long before Merkel came into power. So this is deliberate misinformation.

            This publication has everything to do with the German elections this month.
            Der Spiegel supports the extreme right wing party FDP, which wants to slow down the Energiewende and above all put the big companies back in the lead.
            Hence it sums all that may possible go wrong, contains statements contrary to the facts, and
            supports a change towards the Swedish renewable model.

            The German model puts more power in the hands of the citizens (stimulates generating you own electricity by PV-panels on the roof, etc.)

            The Swedish model imposes green energy quota on the existing electricity providers, and gradually increases these quota (e.g. 27% green in 2015, 29% green in 2016, etc).
            That implies that the position / turn-over of existing utilities are confirmed and not in dangerr as with the German model…

            The costs of the transition towards renewables are in both models the same (solar PV-panels en wind turbine costs won’t change).

            You should see this publication as part of an attempt to bring the major utilities back in the driving seat. As the Swedish model will confirm their position and ensure nice profits at the costs of the citizens.

      2. Bas,
        Holland has only one NPP that generates 4% of your nation’s electricty. That makes perfect sense in a country that still has abundant natural gas.

        You folks need to start planning for what comes after the gas runs out. You need a Dutch “Messmer Plan” based on Generation IV NPP technology such as LFTRs (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors).

        1. @gallopingcamel
          All interested parties together (utilities, employers, unions, green peace and others, some politicians, etc) just developed an energy & electricity plan for the next decades.

          Only one part of the plan generated public discussion & resistance.
          The idea to burn wood that comes from over-sea (US, Canada) to generate electricity.

          ..Dutch “Messmer Plan” based on Generation IV NPP technology such as LFTRs (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors)..
          There is no generation 4 NPP and no LFTR at the market.
          Even no accurate prediction when it will hit the market and at what costs.
          Experience with new NPP designs show that development and even building period as well as the costs are exceeded x-times.
          And the Chinese said that it will take 10years…

          So at earliest we will have a running LFTR in ~2035.
          At that time solar will be so cheap (<2cent/KWh) that all consumers have installations (typical 5KW PV-sheets) on the roof or glued to the walls. That implies over-production during a normal day.
          Add to that wind for ~5cent/KWh.
          And far more (pumped) storage.

          So the LFTR will have to be economic while it has a load factor of ~30%.
          A very difficult target in my eyes. Apparently also in the eyes of western nuclear companies (and governments) as those do not start development.

          1. Bas,
            I am a great fan of rooftop solar. The only thing stopping me from installing a 5 kW system on my roof in Florida is my wife who has decreed that her kitchen upgrade has a higher priority.

            On the other hand, Institutional solar of the kind that has wrought so much economic havoc in Spain and Germany is not scalable or economic. If I sent you these links before I apologise. “Old Nukes” are by far the most economic way to generate electricity and they do it on a small footprint and on any scale.

            LFTRs are just another variant of MSRs, the first of which was built and operated in 1954. This technology was abandoned in favor of reactors that produce more Plutonium:

            Given that MSRs were operating nine years after the dawn of the atomic age (August 6, 1945) why do you think it will take until 2035 to build another one? It will take as long as our government wants it to take; 20+ years as things stand today or 2 years if the country were run as in WW II.

            Florida Power & Light plans to bring two new NPPs into operation of a proven design (Westinghouse AP1000). This could be done in four years as in China:

            Yet it is taking nine or ten years to build similar reactors in Florida thanks to the approval minefield in the USA and the spectre of Shoreham.

            1. @gallopingcamel

              LFTRs are just another variant of MSRs, the first of which was built and operated in 1954. This technology was abandoned in favor of reactors that produce more Plutonium:

              Please don’t try to spread that nonsense here. The molten salt experiments conducted at Oak Ridge were halted because there was not an identified path towards a reasonably near term commercialization effort. A lot of research and development was still needed, implying the need for continuing government expenditures. That put the effort into competition for funds with the breeder reactor program, which had developed a lot more momentum and political support.

              By the time that the MSR funding was removed, the US had PLENTY of plutonium for our weapons needs, but there were still a large number of people that wanted to develop a plutonium-based energy economy.

              Fission fans need to stop thinking they should compete against each other for energy market share and should instead direct their competitive efforts towards building systems that can more effectively compete against coal, oil and natural gas (including efforts to reduce the initial capital cost barriers). Since those fuels share about 85-90% of the world’s energy markets, they are the place where real money can be made so that nuclear energy no longer depends on taxpayer patience and largess.

          2. Rod Adams,
            While I support what you are doing, your notion that the wicked fossil fuel industry is somehow blocking the expansion of nuclear power is BS. Sure they are taking advantage of what the Greenies are doing. The real problem is the Greenies. If you want to take pot shots at someone you need a better appreciation of who the real enemy is.

            Your view of the demise of the MSR and the firing of Alvin Weinberg is also not universally accepted by your supporters and certainly not by this camel.

            Let me remind you of an exchange you had with Charles Barton. IMHO Charles is much nearer the truth than you are:

            1. @gallopingcamel

              Your hypothesis would require that “the Greenies” (as you dismissively name them) have more natural political power and organizational skills than multinational companies that have sales of as much as $500 billion per year (ExxonMobil). That number is probably higher if you include Aramaco or Gazprom, but their annual reports are not as readily available as ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, etc.

              I am not claiming the hydrocarbon companies are “wicked”; I am pointing out that they are run by highly trained businessmen, often schooled in the Milton Friedman economic theory that the social responsibility of a business is to maximize its profits.


              (Friedman is, of course, more nuanced than some who have distilled his message into a more easily remembered sound bite, but I have read enough business books and publications aimed at aspiring executives to know that most of them have probably never thought to deeply past the idea that they have been employed by stockholders whose only goal is to make more money.)

              When you are selling a commodity product like energy (BTUs are quite fungible), an excellent way to maximize your company’s profits is to cooperate with other producers to manage the supply of that commodity so that it is below the natural demand level. That activity is officially illegal in the US, but not internationally. A well-managed supply causes a sense of scarcity and causes prices to rise. Higher prices are better for profits AS LONG AS you can suppress competitors that can afford to sell the same commodity at a lower price because they have a better way to produce it.

              Trace the history of environmentalism and its relationship to money-focused (not necessarily wicked) corporate elites. You will find that fights against waterfront development are often financed by real estate moguls whose property is already developed or is endowed with grandfathered development rights. Fights against Wal-Mart on environmental grounds are often supported by local businesses (not all of which are small) that would prefer not to compete with a national powerhouse. I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point.

              Greenies, as you dismissively describe them, are generally not powerful people unless they pick a fight that happens to benefit the wealthy and powerful. In those fights, they find themselves endowed with political and financial clout.

              Charles Barton has a grudge. His father was a personal friend of the Weinbergs. He has no first hand knowledge of the nuclear energy business or of any business, for that matter. I like Charles and consider him to be a friend, but his interpretation of nuclear energy technical history is not well informed by reality.

          3. @gallopingcamel
            ..“Old Nukes” are by far the most economic way to generate electricity …
            Only because these unsafe old plants get huge (invisibly) subsidies.
            These become very real when accident occurs (then nearby citizens and government have to pay), and after ~100years when the costs of the waste have to be paid by the grand-children.

            .. solar of the kind that has wrought so much economic havoc in Spain and Germany ..
            I cannot judge about Spain as I know not enough. Only that they have strange arrangements that give big companies big advantages and prevent citizens to put solar on their roof.
            But regarding Germany:
            The great majority of the population (even growing) support it! Don’t see havoc. Germany is the best flourishing country in the EU. And the Germans say that their move towards renewable deliver an important contribution, especially keeping unemployment low.

            LFTR … It will take as long as our government wants it to take … 2 years if the country were run as in WW II…
            So the Chinese plan 10years to develop, while the got all info from Oak Ridge (free handed over; assume because management thinks no further development).
            The Chinese even made a cooperation agreement with India, their enemy, for the development.

            So I think that the Chinese see real great difficulty to turn this into a competing plant.
            Chances are that the 10years development time become 20years and that the project is then abandoned…

            …two new NPPs into operation … could be done in four years as in China…
            You simply do not know what danger levels are acceptable for the Chinese…
            Compare the Japanese, stating all NPP’s could withstand all hazards that have a frequency of more than once in 100,000years, while it is now clear that once in ~100years is the more correct figure…
            So you cannot judge.

            An example. The building period of the EPR in Finland will surpass 10years, while the Chinese do it in 4 years against much lower costs.
            But it is unknown whether the Chinese also want a fully separated second emergency management system. The Finnish regulator wants it.
            That alone created a delay of several years as the builder promised it but did not design it fully separated (the builder designed only a second control room).

            .. Institutional solar ..
            I am not a favorite of that. If all houses put solar panels on the roof, the capacity is ~10times more than needed even with the present low yield panels (which will be replaced by panels/sheet that deliver ~twice the yield per m2). Your link makes some wrong calculations.
            Check the German situation.

  8. The big offshore wind farms in Britain are owned by big companies, not by small co-operatives.

    There is very little solar power in Britain as the sun doesn’t shine much.

    1. @Don
      Liverpool is ~at the latitude of the northen German town Kiel.
      And they have PV-panels, while their weather is also not very sunny…

      Especially Cornwall (~latitude of Koln) is very suitable as it has more sun hours.

      It’s a matter of creating the right conditions:
      – UK Feed-in-Tariff seems to me fine (significant higher than the Germans have)
      – There is an issue to be solved regarding the installation inefficiency of the UK PV-panel installation branch. They same to be at least 30% less efficient (or 30% more costly) compared to the Germans.
      Still better than in the US, where they are >100% less efficient (US salary costs are lower than the Germans have while the installation costs are almost twice).

        1. @gallopingcamel
          …I love Spain and Germany for demonstrating the futility of institutional solar..
          The study in the link shows signs of being biased:

          – emotional statement:
          “…these policies to be terribly economically counterproductive…”

          – excludes relevant main areas:
          It includes only “institutional” solar. The main stream stream of solar implementations is consumer rooftop PV-panels. Those generate almost all solar electricity in Germany and Italy.

          – wrong facts:
          While the study proclaims Spain to be the champion, even Italy (PV on the roofs of consumers) generates far more solar than Spain (almost zero PV on the roof of consumers)!
          Btw. In the south of Italy solar (PV) has reached grid parity according to many publications!

          – study claims to cover Germany while it does not.

          – It refers to the EU white paper of 1997. As stated in the study, that paper estimated:
          between 500,000 and 900,000 new jobs due to the transition to renewable.
          Germans estimations; at the moment ~300,000 new jobs in renewable (stated as important contribution minimize unemployment).
          So while this 2009 study refutes the EU estimates, the 2013 results of Germany support these EU estimates…

          – Seems to me a propaganda piece!
          I cite:
          “…replacing three fourths of U.S. coal based energy with higher priced energy would lead to 150,000 extra premature deaths annually in the US alone..”.

          This has nothing to do with the object of the study (employment regarding institutional solar). But it gives some indication about who paid this …

          1. @Bas
            “Germans estimations; at the moment ~300,000 new jobs in renewable (stated as important contribution minimize unemployment).”

            According to key findings in the study by by Dr. Manuel Frondel, Nolan Ritter, and Prof. Colin Vance:

            “Financial aid to Germany’s solar industry has now reached a level that far exceeds average wages, with per worker subsidies as high as $240,000 US.”

            So yes, renewables in Germany created ~300,000 new jobs but at a subsidized cost so high that it’s destroying their economy. It’s not sustainable.

          2. If it is job creation you want, the German government could pass a mandate requiring all deceased residents to be buried under a Giza-sized granite pyramid. Instead of employing 3 persons for a burial, it would create employment for 30,000! Economic bonanzas for the stone cutting, railroad, and heavy machinery industries! Not to mention the tourism possibilities! At the stroke of Angela Merkel’s pen!

            If you think I am being far-fetched, the electrical output of German solar panels on a snowy winter day is approximately the same as a stone pyramid. They are also equivalent generators at night – every night.

          3. @JMS
            300,000 new jobs at $ 240,000 is $ 72billion.
            Only for the labor part.

            German household consumes ~3,000KWh/a.
            Surcharge for the Energiewende ~5cent/KWh
            So that generates ~30million * 3,000 * 5cent = ~5billion

            This gap shows enough about the (non-)value of the study.

            As usual with this kind of studies, you cannot trust their numbers.
            They have to deliver numbers that please their sponsor.

          4. @Rod

            …an industrial society with “rooftop” solar as a primary energy source?..
            With the predicted price decreases (<3cent/KWh), rooftop solar will become the prime electricity generator in most countries as no other method can compete.
            Especially as solar is generated at the house where it is consumed!

            Of course many additional measures necessary such as more storage, grid adaptation, etc. And Wind will play also an important role.

            Only in countries such as Finland nuclear has a chance as it has little sun and wind.
            This wind statement is only based on my experience. I traveled some weeks in the Nordic (near the arctic sea) using cross-country skies.

          5. @Bas,

            The study I cited was performed by serious academics using objective science. What evidence do you have that they falsified the numbers to please their sponsor? Just because you don’t like the numbers is not a reason to dismiss the study without some reasonable evidence on your part.

  9. Question: What is it that is forcing grid operators to accept power when it’s not needed? I was under the impression that peaking and other generating plants were called for by the grid operator when needed, otherwise they sat idle (most of my “education” has been blogs, wikipedia and shows like Modern Marvels, so forgive my ignorance). What gives the power generator the right to dump unneeded power on the grid?

    It seems to me the windmill and solar operators should be installing batteries and water reservoirs, not gas plants. After all, if they can produce electricity so cheap they can pay someone to take it, shouldn’t it be cheap enough to store until the price (demand) goes up? Or better yet, come up with a complementary off-peak use for the excess energy that generates vaule.

    More short-term thinking in what should be a long-term market.

    1. The battery technology is too expensive, not at all efficient enough, or capable of storing the amount of electricity we are talking about. This is the big folly of intermittent power sources there is no good low loss way to store the excess electricity until it is needed.

    2. What is it that is forcing grid operators to accept power when it’s not needed?

      “Must take” provisions in the feed-in tariff laws.

      It seems to me the windmill and solar operators should be installing batteries and water reservoirs, not gas plants.

      I’ve run numbers and found that battery storage can easily cost 15¢/kWh.  It depends on the amortization and cycle life; daily cycles are cheaper than those associated with longer-period weather fronts.  I understand that NGK has sodium-sulfur batteries they’re marketing for load-levelling and peak-shaving, but I have seen no cost figures.

      Or better yet, come up with a complementary off-peak use for the excess energy that generates vaule.

      E.ON is trying to do this by generating hydrogen, but the system is almost laughable in its inefficiency and nobody dares to mention what it costs.  I have some ideas I’m sure are better, but I’m saving them for other writing.

      More short-term thinking in what should be a long-term market.

      Got it in one.

      1. OK. Batteries are a bad example. Chalk that up to lack of coffee. But it still seems to me someone should be able to find a use for a resource that’s less than free, even if it’s not reliable. Remember that gasoline was once a dangerous nuisance, burned in giant pits near the refinery. And windmills have been pumping water for centuries. Suck water up hill when the wind is blowing, let gravity run it back through a turbine to actually make the power. Use existing hydro dams to store the pumped water if digging a new reservoir is too expensive.

        My main concern as a consumer is that my electricity is incredibly reliable today (I’m typing this on a PC that has been up for 10 days, 23hrs 41 minutes with no UPS). Anything that puts that dependability in question is not something I want, no matter how environmentally sound it is.

        Besides, windmills are 16th century technology.

        1. If electricity costs less than nothing, you can theoretically make money with a resistor bank.

          That’s an extreme example, but I have more than a few practical ones (and I wish this blog software allowed list tags):
          (1) Heating DHW, perhaps via a phase-change heat battery.
          (2) Displacing natural gas in e.g. ethanol distilleries.
          (3) Space heat in lieu of natural gas.

          If you have enough dump loads which kick on when the marginal cost of electricity falls below the replacement fuel, you can keep the spot price from ever going negative.

        2. Pumping water uphill only works if you have a lower reservoir as well as an upper reservoir.  They must both have sufficient capacity and tolerate level variations, too.  Fulfilling all these requirements is hard enough that pumped storage is relatively rare.

          1. @Engineer-Poet

            I like to play on one of the larger pumped storage facilities in the US. Smith Mountain Lake is a 20,000 acre lake with close to 500 miles of shoreline that was formed in the 1960s by flooding a large area of west central Virginia. It is the upper reservoir. Appalachian Power Company, the owner and operator, tries to maintain the lake level at within +- 2 feet. The lakeside homeowners find that to be mostly acceptable, though there are times when some complain that their docks are high and dry.

            The lower reservoir is Leesville Lake. It is far smaller (5,000 acres with 100 miles of shoreline), so its level varies by +- 17 feet. There are not many docks on that lake.

            The whole system can produce 636 MWe at its peak, but I have not yet found out how many hours it can run before it needs to refill the upper reservoir. It does get some flow from the rivers (Blackwater and Roanoke) that feed it, so it is not a pure pumped storage facility.

          2. Virginia is quite the place for pumped storage. In addition to Smith Mountain Lake, there’s also the Bath County Pumped Storage Station, which is operated and partially owned by Dominion Generation. At slightly over 3 GW of generation capacity, Dominion claims that it’s the largest pumped-storage power station in the world.

          3. Personally, I love how Dinorwig is used to power all of the electric kettles that the public (all watching the same television show) switch on simultaneously during the commercial breaks. That’s so British!

        3. @Eric
          .. main concern … electricity is incredibly reliable today ..
          Suggest you go to Germany (or NL or .?.).
          Their and our grid & electricity supply is far more reliable compared to the US grid (~10 times less outages). The reliability of German grid is even improved since they put the 8 NPP’s off the grid in 2011 (compared to 2010).

          I cannot remember my last outage at home (NL).
          Somewhere in the nineties I belief.

          1. Bas,
            For once I agree with you. Electricity supply in Europe is often 100 times more reliable than in the USA.

            While in North Carolina I suffered roughly 5 outages per year compared to one outage in 20 years in Greenwich, UK. Most of the outages were of short duration but on a couple of occasions I was without service for three or more days. I eventually solved the problem by building a house with a 1,000 gallon buried natural gas tank and a 10 kW gas driven generator. Oh, how my neighbors loved me! While that may be more of my pesky anecdodal evidence, a million dollar study by a university think tank will come to a similar conclusion.

            The difference is easily explainable. While the USA has suffered some large scale failures in its distribution network (e.g. 1965, 1977 & 2003) the main problem for most electricity consumers is the continued use of overhead transmission lines in the local network. Unlike high voltage lines, local networks are not engineered to withstand severe weather such as ice storms major lightning strikes or hurricanes.

  10. Rod,
    You are the last person I would want to pick a fight with so let’s admit we will never agree on every detail.

    I simply don’t buy “Grand Conspiracy” ideas. Organizations that have real power such as “Fossil Fuel” companies act in their own self interest which is to increase their power at the expense of everyone else.

    This is exactly what bankers do. It is also what governments do. Power flows uphill; it flows towards the center and away from the unwashed masses. This was all explained by Robert Michels in his book “Political Parties” published in 1911. Michels explained the “Iron Law of Oligarchy” several years before the October revolution.

    1. @gallopingcamel

      It appears that we would agree on few details about the way the world works or the nature of human beings. We agree that fission is a pretty good technology; that might be our only area of agreement.

      I have never written about any “Grand Conspiracy” I have written about the way that SOME individuals and organized groups of individuals choose to disadvantage others in pursuit of their own gains.

      I am quaint enough to believe in the power of an educated, free thinking person to make choices that enable neighbors to prosper at the same time they are prospering. I believe that free people can engage in mutually beneficial trade where both sides of the transaction walk away happy. I believe that humans have been created with free choice that enables them to do both good and evil and that our creator made it so that there are long term benefits for making the right choices.

      Oligarchy is not inevitable, especially when the oligarchs are so short sighted and poorly educated (no matter what degrees they might hold) that they overlook the inventions that will disrupt their comfortable lives.

      1. Rod,
        I hope you will find time to read “Why Nations Fail” by Acemoglu and Robinson. Their theory develops Robert Michels “Iron Law of Oligarchy” to the next level. They see prosperity as something that can’t be sustained under an oligarchy. In their eyes most nations throughout history have failed for this reason.

        Acemoglu & Robinson claim that nations can sustain prosperity over long periods only if their institutions are pluralistic. The tenth amendment to the US constitution was intended to ensure pluralism by limiting the power of the federal government. The Sherman Antitrust Act is another fine example of pluralism. It brought about the break up of Standard Oil in 1911 and more recently the Bell System in 1984.

        Just by crossing a line on a map in Korea your income drops by a factor of 16. Cross a line down the middle of a street in Nogales and your income falls by a factor of three. Acemoglu and Robinson explain why.

  11. Rod,
    I carefully re-read that post you linked:

    I remain convinced that you are totally wrong. The fossil fuel companies are not the primary problem. They are just enjoying the fact that the Greenie’s assault on nuclear power (Three Mile Island. Shoreham, Shearon Harris, Vermont Yankee etc) has been so successful. The “Coal Lobbies” are being trashed by Obama. They are in survival mode. They don’t have the clout needed to make trouble for the NPP industry.

    I am not dismissive of the folks I call “Greenies”. They scare me as they have far more political power than those huge corporations you imagine to be blocking a resurgence of nuclear power. British Petroleum is bending over and grabbing its ankles in an attempt to be regarded as “Green”. Geoffrey Immelt and the mighty GE likewise. I could go on… and on.

    1. @gallopingcamel

      I remain convinced that you are totally wrong. The fossil fuel companies are not the primary problem.

      Aren’t you the one that just wrote about how fossil fuel companies act in their own self interest, which is to increase their power at the expense of everyone else?

      Please enlighten me; what possible action could they take that would do a better job of increasing their power and wealth besides taking action to limit the supply of energy to something less than the market demand so that it appears to be a scarce commodity?

      Remove your ideological blinders and recognize that both the hydrocarbon interests (including their bankers) and the leaders in the “Green” organizations like the idea of high priced energy. The hydrocarbon interests like the associated profits and the “greens” like the notion of encouraging people to make do with less. However, some observers of human nature recognize that people do not really like living like paupers; the vast majority will instead simply pay more for the same amount of energy because that is the amount that enables them to live comfortable lives.

      Under current conditions, hydrocarbon companies are happy to talk about conservation and even to encourage it. They know they have to work harder and harder (spend more and more money) for each additional barrel of oil or thousand cubic feet of natural gas because most of the easy to reach reservoirs are slowing down. ExxonMobil has a capex of at least $20 billion per year and has not even succeeded in maintaining its annual production rate in BOE terms for the past decade or so.

      Immelt is not manipulated by greens; he manipulates their ideas for the gain of his own company that supplies wind turbines, natural gas drilling equipment, “smart grid” technology, and probably nuclear plant decommissioning services.

  12. @Rod
    …They know they have to work harder and harder (spend more and more money) for each additional barrel …
    Agree if you compare in $ (or €).
    But doubt if you use the more realistic check; hours of work per barrel.

    Looking at gas/fuel prices for my car, I feel that those are now cheaper than in the sixties if I compare using ‘hours of work’ as the criterion.

    1. @Bas

      In the 1960s we could purchase a gallon of gasoline for 25 cents. The last time I filled up, an inferior gallon of gasoline with less energy content – because it contains 10% ethanol – cost me $3.50. Name another product that has seen that kind of price increase during the same period of time. (No fair including products like homes and automobiles that are significantly improved during the same time period.)

      Barrels of crude oil have seen an even more impressive increase, from $2 per barrel in the late 1960s to $105 per barrel last week. That is a 50x increase.

      1. In 1984 I filled my gas tank in Mexico for $0.25 per gallon. Currently the price there is $3.50. I make that a fourteen fold increase in less than thirty years. Ouch!

      2. @Rod

        In NL the price of gasoline in 1960 was ~€0.25 per liter.
        Now it is ~€1.50. So 6 times more expensive in €.
        In NL workweek was longer (~20%) and holidays shorter in 1960.
        So we can calculate that the average wage increase should have been at least 3%/a in order for the gasoline price to be the same now (in ‘hours-of-work’).

        I believe we had a slightly higher yearly wage increase since 1960 (inflation was 2-3%). So gasoline price here stayed about the same (in ‘hours-of-work’).

        You have a price difference of 14 times (0.25 vs 3.50). Assuming ~ same workweeks, etc. that would require an av. wage increase of ~5%/a.
        So If that was not the case, gasoline became more expensive in USA measured in ‘hours-of-work’ to buy a gallon.

        So the productivity improvements in search, extraction, transport, processing, distribution of oil compensated for the fact that crude oil is less readily available.
        At least for NL citizens. As we pay about the same as we did in 1960 (in hrs-of-work).

        1. @Bas

          I deleted the duplicate post.

          Also, the prices that you are talking about are not fuel prices; they are the prices that you and your fellow Dutch citizens have agreed to pay for a combination product of fuel plus government services. Perhaps 75% of what you are calling the price of gasoline is actually a tax added to fuel.

          Therefore, it has nothing to do with the effort required to find,extract and process crude oiling nothing to do with my original statement.

        2. @Bas

          I have deleted your duplicate post.

          Also, your math is fuzzy. Here in the US, a more direct comparison is the minimum wage. When I started working in 1973, the minimum wage was $1.80 per hour. It is now $7.79. During the early part of 1973, a gallon of gasoline cost 25-30 cents. Now it costs $3.50. The impact on low wage workers has been rather negative, don’t you think?

          1. Agree.
            Also regarding the influence of the tax.
            I assumed the tax was a percentage of the fuel price but that seems not (fully) the situation.

          2. @Rod
            I checked. Our tax was raised ~ proportionally since 1960.
            So there must be another explanation for the difference in price rise 6times in NL and 14times in US

            Found that the exchange rate change between 1960 and 1983 explains the difference greatly:
            In 1960 1us$ was ~1.5€ (used official conversion Dfl to €)
            Now 1us$ is ~0.77€.

  13. @Rod

    In NL the price of gasoline in 1960 was ~€0.25 per liter.
    Now it is ~€1.50. So 6 times more expensive in €.
    In NL workweek was longer (~20%) and holidays shorter in 1960.
    So we can calculate that the average wage increase should have been at least 3%/a in order for the gasoline price to be the same now (in ‘hours-of-work’).

    I believe we had on average a slightly higher (or about the same) wage increase since 1960. So gasoline price here stayed about the same (in ‘hours-of-work’).

    You have a price difference of 14 times (0.25 vs 3.50). Assuming ~ same workweeks, etc. that would require an av. wage increase of ~5%/a.
    So If that was not the case, gasoline became more expensive in USA measured in ‘hrs-of-work’

    So the productivity improvements in search, extraction, transport, processing, distribution of oil compensated for the fact that crude oil is less readily available.
    At least for NL citizens. We pay about the same as we did in 1960 (in hrs-of-work).

  14. Geothermal fail – Did you guys see this?:

    Geothermal Energy Stuck in a Hole in Switzerland

    In 2010, 83 percent of St. Gallen’s voters approved a 160 million Swiss francs (172 million dollars) credit for a flagship geothermal project. A geothermal power station was expected to cover the electricity needs of 3,000 to 5,000 households eventually and provide heat for half of the city’s buildings. In early July, drilling was concluded up to 4,450 metres depth, and extraction tests prepared.

    On Jul. 19 around noon, the engineers’ nightmare happened: they unexpectedly encountered gas in the drilling hole, which raised the pressure. The leak was closed and water was pumped into the hole to reduce the pressure. Next morning, St. Gallen was shaken by an earthquake that measured 3.6 on the Richter scale, followed by dozens of micro-earthquakes. ( http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/08/geothermal-energy-stuck-in-a-hole-in-switzerland/ )

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