16 Comments

  1. Imagine people in Texas thinking that increasing domestic production of NG and idling LNG terminals is a good thing. I must agree because it is a good thing for all Americans.
    However, new nuclear plants compete with coal. Coal and nukes provide low cost electricity to many American. Another good thing for all Americans.
    Americans are fortunate to have a reliable supply of electricity. As an outsider, Rod see the energy industry as a us against them scenario. However, ensuring a a reliable supply of electricity is a team work thing with each sources contributing.
    I am personally proud of the part that mix nukes provide but I see no reason to diminished the role of others.

  2. I have no problem with natural gas as a peaking fuel. My concern is that we do not have a repeat of the 90s when everyone said gas was cheap and plentiful then built ~200GWe of gas turbines and the gas could not keep up. Also, I am in favor of all energy sources playing by the same rules. Why should hydraulic fracturing be exempt from the Clean Water Act?
    It should be noted that most of the places where nuclear is expanding have supply issues with pipeline natural gas (Korea, Japan, UAE, Finland, etc.).

  3. Jaffe at least mentioned carbon dioxide, as in when she noted that gas “gives off just half the carbon dioxide of coal”. Rod did not mention carbon dioxide emissions anywhere in his post as a factor anyone might be concerned about for any reason at all, now, or at any time in the future.
    It says something about nukes that it is controversial to even mention CO2 and the issue of climate change – one might conclude there is a hidden agenda. For instance, when raging climate Kool Aid drinker Joe Romm opposes nuclear, nukes like Rod say that makes Joe a natural gas salesman and fossil fuel supporter.
    One might say the something similar about nukes who act and talk as if they love the wastes of fossil fuels. Are nukes who deny climate science actually just selling fossil fuels? Do the nukes who tolerate climate deniers as if they are not a threat to their children, or as if the climate issue was in great doubt or controversy after all, are they also just more fossil fuel salespeople?
    Consider: the nuclear power industry has had to capture and store all its wastes since day one. The fossil fuel industry just emits, dumps or leaks, whatever, wherever, anytime, any place, with some token restrictions, and its been going on for hundreds of years.
    Now that, – what shall I say to avoid ridicule – a worldwide conspiracy of renegade scientists, i.e. the entire discipline of climatology, all the leading figures in every science academy in the world, etc., have trumped up the entirely bogus issue that there might be something bad about the primary waste of burning fossil fuels of any type, i.e. CO2, and there is a danger that governments might be sucked in and actually put a price on CO2 emissions or even worse, that governments might attempt to regulate the fossil fuel wastes out of existence, the lovers of fossil fuels everywhere are going to have to stand up and be counted.
    Nukes are stepping up to the plate to help the fossil fuel industry out. Even though the fossil fuel interests have stood by while the nuclear industry was crucified over nuclear waste, and some nukes even suspect that the fossil fuel interests actually did the nuclear industry in by exploiting this issue, nukes have no hard feelings. It is heartwarming to see.

    1. David —
      You just can’t help yourself, can you? Why do you insist on using the Holocaust-implying smear of “denier” when addressing those who are justifiably unconvinced of the imminent catastrophe of CO2-caused AGW?
      Do you place Dr. Roy Spencer (www.drroyspencer.com) in that same category of scientific imbeciles?

    2. David – CO2 is one of many waste products dumped into our common atmosphere. I did mention emission free and clean in my description of fission’s advantages.
      It was, after all, a short, concise, time constrained post. Please rest assured that I am not shy about discussing ALL of the advantages that fission has over its competitors.

      1. Rod,
        Sorry to belabor the point, but simply want your perspective. In a companion post, you mention your experience with CO2 in the submarine. We know that greenhouse plant growers commonly increase CO2 concentrations to 1,000 ppm and, according to Wikipedia (I admit, not always the most accurate) a concentration of 10,000 ppm can cause some people to get headaches or dizzy.
        We are currently at 388 ppmv and increasing at 2 ppmv per year. Historically, we know the concentration has been higher than it is presently. Can you give me some idea of your assessment of the situation, given these figures? Thanks.

        1. @Doc – I am not sure what you are asking. There is no doubt that we will never approach a general CO2 level that will give people headaches; there is not enough carbon in the entire biosphere to make that happen.
          However, the fact that the level has been far higher in the past is also not very reassuring. Human civilization has only been around for a brief slice of earth’s history. We have built our current infrastructure with the assumption that the existing climate and sea levels would remain relatively constant. Can we adapt – sure. Will we spend a lot of money and effort rebuilding stuff we already have, and then perhaps having to do it all over again? Maybe. Any effort spent regaining or protecting what you already have is effort that cannot be applied towards progressing.
          A 2 ppv per year rise might seem tiny, but so is a 1 pound per year weight gain. In either case, it is probably worth the effort to arrest the increase – especially if it can be done by activity that is actually good for you.
          If I did not know about fission, I just might get very defensive about a continued right to keep dumping fossil fuel waste products. Since there is a better and cheaper alternative, why fight for something that is not all that beneficial anyway?

          1. @Rod — I appreciate your response. As you know, I have become a vocal supporter and advocate for nuclear power generation over the past year (while I may be a prickly skeptic on AGW) because of its inherent superiority in density, emissions, durability, control, flexibility and spin-off benefits – medical isotopes and economic growth. Thanks again for your forum to ask questions and ‘wrangle over’ the not-easily-answered areas. Am looking forward to seeing Adams Atomic Engines making it into production.

    3. It appears that David here didn’t take his meds this morning. Oh well.
      As self-appointed head of the “Climate Gestapo,” it’s apparently his job to ensure that every reference to nuclear power includes a reference to either climate change or carbon-dioxide emissions. Such is his unwavering faith in the technology that he has to be constantly reminded of why he supports it or he will revert to being an anti-nuke. 😉
      Nevertheless, he really should return to reading Sierra Magazine or the Friends of the Earth newsletter. Reading articles and comments from “nukes who tolerate climate deniers as if they are not a threat to their children” is clearly bad for his blood pressure.

    4. David – I share your concern about AGW. Let’s not, however, get overexcited here. Nothing that we do today or tomorrow can change the fact that AGW will or will not occur. The struggle against AGW is strategic, not tactical, and peaceful nuclear, is, if you’ll excuse the pun, our “weapon” of choice. In fact, it’s been chosen for us, in that it’s the only thing that possibly can stop AGW, as it’s the only thing we can deploy rapidly enough on a large enough scale that can deliver enough energy.
      There are numerous other benefits to large-scale nuclear construction, including responding to the threat of peak oil and resource depletion, as well as other more practical economic considerations, which I think we’ve discussed here plenty of times.
      Since AGW has become a political, rather than a scientific issue, in the United States, I recognize that recognition will not occur until unmistakable evidence occurs. Since irrefutable evidence of AGW will not occur until it is too late to stop the worst effects (due to hysteresis, in other words, to the delayed feedback of CO2 upon the temperature), I recognize that, unfortunately, the battle to get AGW duly and fully considered and evaluated by everyone is not going to be winnable at the present.
      Thus, against AGW, I choose to fight the phenomenon directly, with the only thing powerful enough to stop it, rather than fighting for everyone to recognize it. In other words, I choose to strive for and build a world that is the product of my hopes, rather than insisting that others share the sum of my fears.
      I would encourage everyone who’s concluded, based on the available evidence, that AGW is occurring, or has a significant chance of occurring to a degree that could cause significantly non-positive outcomes, to consider the political realities, and help out with the only real solution, nuclear, because that’s how the problem is going to be solved.
      As Rod said before: The analysis phase, the science phase is nearing completion; that means a new phase begins, the engineering phase. So, then, it’s time to act; let’s do so, with all deliberate speed.

      1. @Dave – well said. Using an analogy I have used before – if the boy assigned to guard his village from wolves is well armed, the villagers may always disbelieve that they ever had anything to worry about in the first place. The boy could spend his time trying to convince doubters of his heroism, or he can employ his weapons, keep the wolves away and go to bed each night secure in the satisfaction of job well done.

  4. Been following your writing for a while and want to say thanks for all the info on nukes. I am 100% in favor of expanding nuclear capacity and research as quickly as can be done.
    As far as NG is concerned there will likely be a period between 2015 and 2025 when between oil scarcity and lack of adequate capacity to electrify transportation, when NG may well be the most viable transportation fuel. It is a lot simpler and cheaper to retrofit an existing ICE engine to NG than to completely change that vehicle to electric. Our balance of payments and unemployment rate also argue strongly for a quick build out of NG infrastructure. Until such time as a significant portion of transportation’s energy demand can switched over to electric (EV’s 20% or more of fleet? 2020, 2025?) nukes are *not* going to be able to power the transport of people or goods. Which is OK because we would have trouble getting them built before then anyway. It actually makes a great deal more sense from a dollars and cents perspective for the govt to be paying people to Buy NG vehicles rather than electric. Not saying we should build NG power plants though as that would be a waste of transportation fuel, which we will most likely require.

  5. Exxon was worried enough about the prospect of EPA regulation that it included a fracking-related escape clause in its $41 billion acquisition of independent oil and gas producer XTO Energy. That seems to suggest that the risks to the environment are fairly high. We have already been treated to several headline making accidents and outright disasters in the fossil fuel industry. It makes me wonder if FF is approaching the point where it is playing with risks well above nuclear worst-case scenarios, and whether it is time for the pronuclear community to start rubbing everyone’s faces in it

    1. Here’s a thought that probably sounds very weird at first hearing, but what would you say if I told you that the multi-national major oil companies and their financial backers have strong motivation to be opposed to significant success with hydraulic fracturing?
      https://atomicinsights.com/2009/12/90-billion-dollars-worth-of-motive-to-discourage-investments-in-nuclear-power-by-developers-of-clean-liquified-natural-gas.html
      Do you all really believe that companies with tens to hundreds of billions invested in the capital equipment associated with LNG production and transportation are going to willingly allow that investment to wither away?

  6. Excellent post Rod, putting shale gas in perspective.
    I have been staring at the table in Jaffe’s article. She has regular gas reserves in North America (U S plus Canada I presume) as 308 trillion cubic feet, with a note that this is proven reserves, and “most shale isn’t yet in this category.” There’s no caveat that not all reserves become “proven reserves” and most shale may or may NOT make it to that category. Okay. I look a bit lower and see that America and Canada have 3,760 and 1,380 trillion feet of Resource Endowment for shale gas. My first reaction is “Yowza, that’s a lotta gas!” That is what the article wants me to think.
    My second reaction is “what’s a Resource Endowment, and how does it become a Proven Reserve, assuming it DOES become a Proven Reserve?” Then, I notice, literally on a darker background, kinda fading into grey, are numbers for the “Remaining Recoverable Resource” of shale gas, 470 and 240 trillion feet, U S and Canada. Now, this a serious amount of gas, but not really a Yowza amount. These numbers are on the order of the proven reserves we already have of regular gas, and there is no explanation of whether this category Recoverable Resource is equivalent to Proven Reserves, less than Proven Reserves and expected to grow, or…not really the same as Proven Reserves at all.
    And what’s that little note at the bottom of the table about Recoverable Resource being “potentially produceable with today’s, or reasonably foreseeable future, technology.”? Is that the same as Proven Reserves (it could be) or maybe there is some technological uncertainty that makes it different?
    I distrust presentations in which one number is bold and the other practically hidden. I always want to look at the number behind the curtain. In this case, the smaller number which may or may not be equivalent to Proven Reserves.
    In my opinion, this article is All Hat and No Cattle, to use a Texas-style insult.

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