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Despite the nuclear industry’s lavishly-funded propaganda, which claims that nuclear power is at least a partial solution to the climate crisis, there are plenty of reasons why nuclear power cannot, should not and ultimately will not be part of a climate change solution.

For all its other shortcomings, at least the House-passed Waxman-Markey ACES climate bill recognized this, and offered little for nuclear power other than the benefits a price on carbon provides to any low-carbon electricity source.  But as the Senate prepares to take on its climate bill, there is substantial industry pressure for still more taxpayer giveaways to the nuclear power industry, ostensibly as a means to bring some more conservative Senators over to vote for a final bill.

Leaving aside the politics for a moment—and those Senators who most want more nuclear subsidies aren’t going to vote for a climate bill anyway—anyone seriously concerned about climate needs to understand that not only would nuclear power not be helpful at addressing the climate crisis, it would be counterproductive.

Back in 1989, I wrote in the Multinational Monitor, "To the nuclear industry, the greenhouse effect is a godsend....the industry is counting on concern over the greenhouse effect for its resurrection."

I’m not saying that now because I was so smart back then, but because if I could figure it out, so could the nuclear industry. And it took them a while—which is understandable since all nuclear utilities are also coal-burning utilities that would prefer to ignore the reality of climate change—but they’ve finally caught on. But for the utilities and industry backers, climate is an excuse to build nuclear, not a meaningful effort to address climate. They know it’s not a solution, not that they’ve ever cared so much about a solution anyway. The reality is, nuclear power is not going to solve the climate crisis, nor even play a role in solving the climate crisis.

Cutting to the chase, here are the top 10 reasons nuclear power can’t and won’t save the climate:

  1. Takes Too Many
  1. Too Little Infrastructure
  1. Too Little Safety
  1. Too Much Waste
  1. Too Much Carbon
  1. Too Much Emissions
  1. Not Suited For Warming Climates
  1. Too Slow
  1. Renewables and Efficiency are Faster, Cheaper, Safer and Cleaner
  1. Too Expensive

OK, this is a long diary, and I apologize, but there’s a lot to cover. For those with shorter attention spans, here’s a powerpoint that covers many of these issues.

10. Takes Too Many.
50 million Elvis fans couldn't be wrong, nor can the unanimous conclusions of studies by entities like MIT and the Commission on Energy Policy, which agree that it would take 1500-2,000 new nuclear reactors or more by mid-century, 300-400 in the U.S. alone, to make any kind of meaningful reduction in carbon emissions—by meaningful, I mean even a 20% reduction.

Globally, that’s about one new reactor per week from now til mid-century.  For the U.S. alone, that would be nearly a reactor a month from now til 2050. Can’t be done.

First, let’s look at the U.S. There are no reactors currently under construction, and no reactors have even received a construction license from the NRC. At best (for the industry), some utility might get a license by 2012. Then add another 6-8-10 years for construction. So we’re already that far behind schedule, which means a reactor would have to be built every 2-3 weeks in the U.S. from about 2018-2020 until mid-century. Not likely.

Even then, the first 100 or so reactors would only replace the existing 104 reactors which will be retiring between 2020 and 2050, and which will virtually all be retired by then. Net carbon reductions=0.

The same holds true internationally. There is no chance 1500 or more new reactors will or can be built by mid-century, and the first 440 would only go to replacing the power from the existing 440. Why can’t they be built so fast? Because right now, there is little global infrastructure to support building new reactors.

9. Too Little Infrastructure.
In fact, the current global capability is 8 reactors per year—which is far more than are actually being built, by the way. Only Japan Steel Works can forge the enormous reactor pressure vessels nuclear power requires. Yes, Russia has a facility and China is building one and may even have it online now, but really, few outside Russia want to buy Russian nukes, and China—if it keeps to its own construction plans, which is itself unlikely—wouldn’t be able to export any reactors anyway.
So, let’s see, 8 reactors per year times 40 years equals 320 reactors. We'll even add in a few Russian and a couple dozen Chinese reactors. Not even close to a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions.

Sure, more large-scale forging facilities could be built over the coming decades, but who’s going to put up that kind of money—these factories aren’t cheap after all, nearly as expensive as a reactor itself—without firm commitments for purchases for more than a handful of reactors? So far, those firm commitments don't exist.

At most, nuclear might be able to replace itself, but right now the infrastructure doesn’t even exist to do that.

The infrastructure that is lacking extends far beyond the ability to forge reactor pressure vessels. There is also a shortage—not surprising since there hasn’t been a new reactor built in the U.S. in 30 years, and only a handful have been built worldwide—of skilled operators, welders, machinists and others necessary to actually build and run a reactor.

8. Too Little Safety.
The reactors being proposed for the U.S. right now, as well as for the rest of the world, are merely slight modifications to the same type of nuclear reactors that operate now across the world. In other words, they’re roughly the difference between a 1979 Ford LTD and a 2009 Ford Fusion. Yeah, the newer cars are better and probably safer, but people still die every day on the highways.

You’ve heard about "inherently safe" or "Generation IV" reactor designs? Probably so. But not a single reactor being seriously proposed anywhere in the world even claims to be an "inherently safe" design—not that any such thing exists anyway. Nor are "Generation IV" designs even within a decade of commercial deployment.

The reality is that reactor design—at least for those planned by nuclear utilities—has progressed remarkably little since the 1960s. The basic concept—Pressurized Water Reactor or Boiling Water Reactor—is the same, and so is the same reliance on too many valves, pumps, and other types of plumbing that can break. But unlike in your home, where you may lose a sink or toilet, when the plumbing in a nuclear reactor breaks, you can lose your entire state.

7. Too Much Waste.
No country in the world yet has a permanent solution for radioactive waste (and no, you pro-nukers, Sweden only has a proposal, which is being fought by environmentalists who think—rightly—that it is just plain stupid to dump waste where it can leak into the North Sea).

President Obama has essentially ended the proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump in Nevada, which has been pilloried by environmentalists because it would basically be a sieve allowing radiation to escape for millions of years. Indeed, by the end of the Yucca Mountain project, even Bush’s Department of Energy had to admit that the steel casks that would hold the waste would provide 99+% of the protection to the public—Yucca Mountain itself would provide virtually no protection. Well, if that were the case, we could just pile up the steel casks on the White House lawn, no problem. That didn’t seem like a good idea to President Bush, and doesn’t to President Obama either. But at least Obama has had the strength to move on.....

Not only do we not have a place for the high-level waste from reactors, we don’t even have a place for the lethal Class B and  C "low-level" radioactive waste. That’s why contentions to this effect have been accepted for hearing by NRC licensing boards in about 10 new reactor licensing cases. No nuclear utility has figured out what to do with this waste.

Meanwhile, if we actually embarked on the kind of nuclear construction program needed to address climate change—3-400 new reactors in the U.S., 1500-2000 worldwide, we’d need to come up with a new Yucca Mountain every five years or so. Since we can’t find even one, odds are we won’t come up with one every five years.

The nuclear industry’s apparent answer to the waste problem is reprocessing, an expensive, dirty and dangerous technology that failed miserably in the U.S. in the 1960s, at West Valley, NY. The bill to clean up the mess from that experiment 40 years ago is now estimated at $10 billion. France’s reprocessing facility on the Normandy coast releases so much radiation into the Atlantic that most neighboring countries have asked France to end its reprocessing program. About 10 years ago, the Normandy beaches were closed during the summer season because of high radiation levels along the coast—Greenpeace measured levels in the water at some 17 million times above background. It’s worth noting that France’s reprocessing program hasn’t solved the country's waste problem—the nation is still seeking a permanent waste dump, but has encountered substantial citizen opposition at every site it has examined.

6. Too Much Carbon.
The nuclear industry loves to tell you that nuclear power is carbon-free. Well, except when it’s not. And it isn’t.

It’s true that nuclear reactors themselves emit only small amounts of carbon (although the carbon they do emit is radioactive).  But the nuclear fuel chain necessary to supply the reactors with fuel is not nearly so carbon-friendly. In fact, the mining, milling, processing, enrichment and fuel fabrication of uranium, not to mention the construction of enormous reactors made of concrete, steel, and the millions of gallons of gasoline involved, leaves a fairly significant carbon footprint.

Exactly how large that footprint is remains a matter of debate. Probably the best study done on the issue comes from a Virginia Tech professor, Benjamin Sovacool, who concludes that while nuclear power is indeed a low-carbon energy source, its carbon footprint is about three times the size of alternatives like wind power, and much higher than the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.

5. Too Much Emissions.
The nuclear industry likes to talk about "emissions-free" nuclear power. Wrong! Ding! Not Even Close! In fact, every nuclear reactor—and every nuclear facility of any kind—emits radioactive elements into our air and water on a daily basis, even when everything goes right.

When things go wrong, the emissions go up, as they have with radioactive tritium leaks at numerous reactors over the last several years, or as they did, for example, at the Pilgrim reactor in the 1970s, which the Massachusetts Department of Public Health concluded caused cancers among the local population.

For the past several decades, the National Academy of Sciences has done studies trying to determine exactly how dangerous exposure to radiation is. Every time they have done a new study, the "safe" level has gone down. Finally, in 2006, the NAS concluded that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation exposure.

4. Not Suited for Warming Climates.
Reactors require large amounts of water for cooling. Reactors situated on rivers or lakes may not be able to obtain sufficient cold water to allow adequate cooling. This is not a hypothetical point. During the European heat wave of 2005, which killed thousands of people, most French reactors—those using rivers as their water source—were forced to close at the exact time their electricity was most needed to power air conditioning and electric fans.

Nor has the U.S. been exempt from such reactor shutdowns. As far back as 1988, the Byron reactors in Illinois were forced to close because of high water temperatures. Last year, Browns Ferry-1 in Alabama had to close for similar reasons.

As climate change heats our water, nuclear power stations will close more and more frequently. In addition, more water fights among jurisdictions can be expected in coming years. The two largest users of water in the U.S. are agriculture and electricity production, and nuclear uses more water per megawatt of power produced than any other electricity source. Scarce water supplies will result in added pressure to produce electricity with the least possible effect on those water supplies.

Meanwhile, reactors situated on oceans, especially on low-lying areas, may find themselves under water, instead of using water, as climate change accelerates sea level rise.

3. Too Slow.
Climate scientists agree that we have a short time—maybe 10 years or so—to turn around our existing situation and take real steps to reduce our carbon emissions. That means taking the most effective, lowest-cost measures as soon as possible.

Yet, as noted above, at most there would be a small handful of new reactors in the U.S. within 10 years, and it’s just as likely there will be none. Even the industry’s Nuclear Energy Institute predicts only about 4 new reactors in the US by 2020. Neither scenario does anything for climate.

In contrast, energy efficiency measures can be implemented very quickly; average-sized wind farms take only a year or two to build, compared to 10 years or so for reactors; solar photovoltaics can be installed as fast as the panels can be manufactured.

Nuclear power is merely masquerading as a climate solution; it has no real potential to mitigate our climate problem in the time frame needed.

2. Renewables and Efficiency are Faster, Cheaper, Cleaner and Safer.
Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit. The U.S. is half as efficient as the European Union, which is half as efficient as Japan. We have a long ways to go. Fortunately, most energy innovation is on the efficiency side, and it’s making an impact.

The lead story in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday (August 12, 2009) reported that electricity demand has fallen 4.4% so far this year in the nation’s largest wholesale power market. That’s on the heels of a 2.7% drop in 2008 from 2007. There have only been five years since 1950 in which electricity demand has dropped, and never since then has demand dropped two years in a row. Some of the demand drop is, of course, due to the recession. But that doesn’t explain the entire drop. On November 21, 2008 the Journal puzzled over the drop in demand at that time. It reported, for example, that Excel Energy saw home energy use drop by 3% from August to September 2008. Duke Power saw demand in the Midwest drop 5.9% from third-quarter 2007 to 2008, including a 9% drop among residential users. Other utilities reported similar drops.

Factory drops in electricity use could be expected in a recession. Home energy declines? Not likely absent other factors. And those other factors are federal and state energy efficiency programs, increased energy efficiency of appliances and increased awareness among people that electricity use can be cut down without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

In short, energy efficiency programs are beginning to work. Where I live, in Maryland, the state has a goal of cutting energy use by 15% by 2020. I bet we’ll exceed that goal. And what does that mean for a massively-large new reactor proposed for Maryland? It means that, if built, it likely won’t have a market for its expensive electricity.

And that’s before renewables enter the equation. 20-30 years ago, renewables weren’t ready for prime time. They were expensive, intermittent, and reliant on government handouts. Now, they are reliable, cheaper than nuclear power, and being installed in increasing quantities across the globe.

In 2008, for example, according to Clean Edge Research, 27,000 Megawatts of new wind power was installed worldwide, or the equivalent of about 27 large nuclear reactors. Nuclear’s new installation in 2008? A big fat Zero. By the way, 8,000 of those wind Megawatts were installed in the U.S., meaning that the U.S. has now surpassed Germany as the nation with the most wind power.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior issued a report earlier this year that said offshore wind potential, just off the mid-and north-Atlantic coast of the U.S., could supply 25% of the entire electricity needs of the U.S. Add that to a Department of Energy report from 20 years ago that said wind power in South Dakota alone could supply 100% of our needs, and you quickly get an idea of the potential of wind power.

How about solar power? David Freeman, former chief of the Tennessee Valley Authority, says in his book, "Winning Our Energy Independence: An Energy Insider Shows How," that we could power the entire U.S. on just 7% of the available above-ground potential of solar photovoltaics. By above-ground, he means rooftops and parking lots. Think of how much space is used in the U.S. by parking lots, and how much of it could have solar panels above it—keeping cars cool and generating electricity (and, by the way, a great source of power for plug-in hybrids and other electric vehicles). The US Navy generates 750KW of electricity from solar photovoltaics on just a portion of a parking lot in San Diego; you can see a photo of it on page 27 of this powerpoint.

But solar power is not limited to photovoltaics; solar thermal power provides "baseload" power for electricity generation. The Wall Street Journal reported on August 6, 2009 that entrepreneurs in Spain are building 4300 Megawatts—about 4 large nuclear reactors worth—of solar thermal electricity.

It’s expensive—about $5,200/kw installed. Well, that would be expensive for wind or natural gas. It’s actually about $2,000/kw cheaper than new nuclear.....

Which leads us into the foremost of the top 10 reasons nuclear can’t save climate...

1. Too Expensive.
Nuclear power is now so expensive that if we tried to use it as a climate mitigation strategy, we would blow through our resources and be left with no options whatsoever. And for all the reasons above, nuclear power won’t work.

Even back in early 2007, when banks would give money for a mortgage to anyone who could walk through the door, the large investment banks wrote to the Department of Energy and said they would not be willing to loan money for new nuclear reactors unless the taxpayers guaranteed the loans. In other words, the nation’s largest investment banks thought nuclear power was so risky—riskier than every other kind of derivative-based loan they were making back then---that they simply wouldn’t put up the money unless the taxpayers took the risk.

Congress and the Bush administration, of course, bought into that. In the 2005 Energy Policy Act they had approved the concept of taxpayer loan guarantees for new reactors. And in December 2007, after a fight in which environmentalists succeeded in knocking down the Bush administration’s $50 billion loan guarantee request to $18.5 billion, Congress funded the program.

But $18.5 billion doesn’t buy what it used to—at least when it comes to nuclear reactors. Waaaay back, all the way back to early 2006, the Nuclear Energy Institute had on its website a paper that declared new nuclear reactors would cost about $2,000/kw initially (about $2 billion for an average large reactor), going down to about $1500/kw over time. That document is, of course, no longer available on their website.

Why? Because nuclear construction cost estimates—now that they’re no longer based on industry wishful thinking and utilities have actually been forced to try to calculate them—have skyrocketed and are now running three and four times that NEI estimate of just three years ago.

Consider: in recent testimony before the Maryland Public Service Commission, Constellation Energy chief Mayo Shattuck admitted their proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 reactor from the French firm Areva would cost $10 Billion. Canada recently ended plans to build new reactors upon receiving bids from Areva (which based its bid on Calvert Cliffs-3) of $23 billion for two reactors. The Pennsylvania utility PPL estimates a single new AREVA reactor at $15 billion on its website.

Other reactor designs aren’t much cheaper. And some reactor designs, like General Electric’s Advanced Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, are so far from prime-time that no utility is even pursuing it anymore. So much for the only U.S. company still in the nuclear manufacturing arena.

In fact, both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s place new reactor costs in the realm of $7,000-$7,500/kw, or about $2,000 more per kilowatt than it costs to build new solar thermal plants; two to three times the cost of new wind power, and about seven times the cost of energy efficiency measures.

Here’s how to put such enormous costs in context: a recent study by Marc Cooper, Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis at University of Vermont’s Law School, found that the U.S. would save $1.9 to $4 TRILLION over the lifetime of the plants by using renewables and efficiency over building 100 new reactors. That’s serious money.

Pro-nuclear folks sometimes argue that nuclear power is the only low-carbon baseload electricity source and thus, no matter what it costs, we have to use it to deal with climate change.

But there are two basic problems with this argument.

The first is that, as Spain is proving, solar thermal IS baseload power—their plants, which store heat in molten sodium, will run 24/7, which is anyone’s idea of baseload power.

More fundamentally, however, the entire concept of "baseload" power needs to be re-examined.

What we need is electricity when we need it—when we flick the light switch, when we turn on the computer, as well as to make sure the fridge keeps running.

How we get that electricity—well, none of our appliances cares in the least.

Those who argue we need "baseload" power are really acknowledging that they don’t understand the future of electric power in the U.S. and across the globe. They believe only behemoth power plants, nuclear or coal, can supply our electricity needs. Sorry, but that if that ever was the case—and perhaps it was—it isn’t any longer.

The future, and it is moving here faster than many realize, is smaller-scale generation—distributed generation—with smart grids that help regulate electricity use and switch back and forth between solar and wind, depending on which is providing power at any given time (and nearly always either solar or wind is producing power)and a little natural gas for the rare times that both are down. Add to those resources like geothermal in some areas, and further on, electricity produced by more exotic fuels, such as micro algae. Venice, Italy is building such a plant now that will ultimately provide half their region’s electrical needs. That is the electricity grid of the future. And that future is closer than many seem to realize.

Take a train through northern Germany, as I did in 2002, and you’ll see that just about every small city has about 5-9 windmills outside it, producing power. Combine that power with solar photovoltaics, and these towns are just about self-sufficient in producing electricity. Combine that on a national level, and you quickly realize that the only areas that need extra power are the large cities. That’s where larger wind farms and solar thermal power comes in. That’s true in Germany, and what is most striking about Germany—which is the most solar-powered nation on Earth—is that if you look at a solar potential map, its potential is the same as that for Alaska. In other words, Germany has among the lowest solar resources on the planet, and yet it receives a greater portion of its electricity from solar than any other country.

The US could do far, far better. Some will argue that solar power in Germany is heavily subsidized, and that has been true. On the other hand, Germany was trying to jumpstart an industry, and has done so successfully, while the nuclear industry already has existed for more than 50 years, and still can’t bring its costs down to a manageable level.

And the potential for wind power and solar power, not to mention energy efficiency, in the US is so great, that every dollar we spend on nuclear power is counterproductive at reducing carbon emissions. That’s because the emissions reductions are so much greater with renewable and efficiency that the dollar spent on nukes is wasted. It gets us nowhere. Really, for all it accomplishes, it might as well be spent on coal. And we know we don’t want to spend any more money on coal.

The choice is not nuclear vs coal. If it were, we’d all be losers. Fortunately, our choices are much better than that. We don’t want or need coal and its carbon emissions and mountain top removal. Likewise, we don’t need nuclear meltdowns or radioactive waste, or to live in fear of terrorists targeting nuclear power plants. We just need electricity. And that we can provide.

If reducing carbon emissions is our goal—and it should be--then we need to keep nuclear power out of the climate bill. If you agree, then please go here to send a letter to your Senators. Don’t be shy, more than 7500 letters already have been sent. By taking action now, you’ll be doing your part to bring about the clean, safe, cost-effective energy future we all need and want.

You can also sign a simple statement on nuclear power and climate here. It says: "We do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power."

These are only the top 10 reasons to shun nuclear power; we didn’t even get into many other issues like nuclear proliferation, security from terrorist attack, the health effects to miners and environmental destruction caused by uranium mining, and so forth.

But don’t just take my word for all this. Here are a few background readings that will be of interest if you’ve gotten this far:

Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy(you can download the entire book here, for free).

Energy [r]evolution: A Sustainable USA, a report prepared for Greenpeace International by the German Aerospace Center (German counterpart to NASA).

The Nuclear Illusion, from Rocky Mountain Institute (Amory Lovins and Imran Sheikh)

Review of Solutions to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security, by Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford University

Nuclear Power, Climate Policy and Sustainability, An Assessment by the Austrian Nuclear Advisory Board

Originally posted to nirsnet on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 10:47 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  ALL CAPS IS NOT NECESSARY (8+ / 0-)

    to display passion for the topic.

    Humoring the horror of environmental collapse: ApocaDocs.com

    by mwmwm on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 10:51:33 AM PDT

    •  Well, if you're just posting gibberish . . . . (9+ / 0-)

      every little bit helps, I suppose.

    •  caps (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      You're right, my bad....

      If that's the only mistake I made in this, I won't feel too badly.....

      •  Ah, if only that were true, (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, JeffW, bryfry, LookingUp

        unfortunately, it is not.

        "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them..." Amen.

        by nsfbr on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:11:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ah... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, mieprowan

          hmm, I don't see you pointing out any....

          •  Given that you won't even change from your (0+ / 0-)

            CAPS ONLY TITLE, I prefer to expend effort where it would have some impact.

            "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them..." Amen.

            by nsfbr on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:50:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Mistakes?! Don't make me laugh! (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy, mojo workin, Joffan, Mcrab

            The whole frigg'n diary is a mistake. Example:

            First, let's look at the U.S. There are no reactors currently under construction ...

            Er ... No, I don't think so. Please note the part on the Wikipedia page that reads "reactors under construction."

            Jesus, Michael, that's just paragraph three in your first idiotic talking point, and I've already caught you lying!

            So please tell me, because I'm dying to know: are you a complete idiot, or are you just brazen enough to assume that your audience is composed of complete idiots?

            It's no wonder you have to go back to 1989 to find something that you said that might have been clever. You haven't changed your bullshit rhetoric one bit since then.

            Sniff sniff ... what's that smell? Could it be desperation? This whole diary smells of desperation -- a last-ditch, desperate effort to derail the most promising component of any climate-change legislation.

            Are you sure you don't work for Exxon-Mobil?

            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
            -- H. L. Mencken

            by bryfry on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 10:23:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I do sense that the anti-nuclear (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joffan, bryfry

              movement is experiencing a net loss of hearts and minds. The camp relies heavily on aging celebrities like Bonnie Raitt and Ed Asner as their public faces. Their emotional appeals don't resonate with the younger set. The nuclear side, on the other hand, is attracting an increasing number of smart relevant individuals, like Jared Diamond. As the population ages there are fewer people around who were traumatized by TMI and even Chernobyl. As the plants continue to perform well, the collective angst fades. Many communities that already host nuclear plants are open to building more, whereas there is still considerable NIMBYism surrounding wind turbines, particularly off shore wind.

              •  loss of hearts and minds? (0+ / 0-)

                Now, that's odd....

                I could have sworn I went to PowerShift in February with 10,000 young people, and I could have sworn every anti-nuclear workshop was standing room only with tons of energy and active opposition to nukes displayed, and I could have sworn the NIRS information table collected hundreds of signatures on petitions and that the ONLY person we ran into who was pro-nuke actually worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

                And I could have sworn that NIRS' newest staff member is all of 21 years old....

                Thanks for setting things straight; guess I was having a senior moment and dreamt all that.....

                •  Well, if the anti-nuclear movement (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bryfry

                  was so strong, you'd expect to see it reflected in the national public opinioin polls.

                  So if 10,000 Chicago Cubs showed up for a fan appreciation day would that make them the best baseball team in the country?

      •  Do you consider it a mistake (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, mojo workin, JeffW, bryfry, Mcrab, LookingUp

        to have lauded Germany's solar energy initiatives - perhaps the most intensive of any country on the planet - without noting:

        For now, the technology remains expensive and barely registers as a fraction of total energy production -- less than 0.5 percent. The government hopes to increase that figure to 3 percent by 2020.

        link

        HOLY SHIT THREE PERCENT BY 2020!!!!

        Thus, with the exception of your point #4, and possible #2 (by definition), your list of drawbacks of Nuclear Power apply equally (or to a greater extent) to solar.

        And maybe we should get T. Bone to weigh in how scaling up wind power is coming along these days . .. .

        But I guess the good news is that we won't be out of power thanks to anti-nuke advocates as yourself since MTR type coal extraction continues unabated (in fact, is ramping up . .. ).

        •  No Mistake (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, Tonedevil, allep10, mieprowan

          As I pointed out, Germany has all the solar potential of Alaska--solar will always be expensive and a small part of their overall electricity supply. That it is a part at all is because it's been subsidized (as I also pointed out). But those subsidies have helped not only Germany, but all of us, because they are rapidly bringing down the price of photovoltaics--now they're down to around $1,000/kw to manufacture.

          That's making it possible for their widespread use in areas (hmmm, for example, the lower 48...) that have much more solar potential than Germany....

          As for wind, let's see, over the past two years, worldwide 46,000 MW of wind has been installed, versus less than 3,000 MW of nuclear. Seems to me that's a pretty good sign of ramping up.....the nuclear industry could only wish it could ramp up like that....

          And being anti-nuclear does not mean being pro MTR--our motto is No Nukes, No Coal, No Kidding! Utilities want you to think the choice is nukes vs coal--and that is simply not the case.

          •  Do you know what base-load power is? (5+ / 0-)

            Just wondering what leads you to think solar or wind could replace fossil fuel combustion.

            The only replacements for fossil fuel combustion are base-load suppliers:  nuclear power being the most advanced and widely used in the world.  Geothermal also can provide base-load.

            The reason the fossil fuel industry loves guys like you and your agenda is that it guarantees them a busy, lucrative future.  Wind and solar always require backup and that usually comes from burning coal, gas,or oil.

            Per square meter and wattage generated, nuclear power is cleaner and astronomically more efficient than the alternatives you dreamily propose.

            You are ignoring the fact that many nations around the world are building new nuclear plants because they understand that the only way GHG can be mitigated on a large scale in a relatively short time is through nuclear technology.  Sweden figured out that wind was not going to supply the additional 10% of electricity the country needs to meet growing demand and has therefore decided to increase nuclear power.  Incidentally, because of its hydro and nuclear plants it has the smallest carbon footprint in Europe.

            Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

            by Plan9 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:30:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  baseload (0+ / 0-)

              Did you actually read the piece, Plan9?

              Solar thermal is baseload. And I make an argument that "baseload" is basically an antiquated term; we're moving to a different type of system to provide our electricity.

              And no, Sweden is not building any new nuclear plants. They have changed their laws prohibiting reactor construction, but there are no actual proposals to build a new reactor in Sweden, and our Swedish contacts tell me such a proposal is extremely unlikely.

              •  Nirset, of course you have to (0+ / 0-)

                move away from 'baseload' conceptually or it destroys the renewable argument (CSP still a question here). But no one IN the industry...ISOs, State Energy Commissions, planners, are moving away from it. You need to provide 24/7 power. It's that simple. Renewables do not add up financially to do this, or reliably.

                What is happening is that countries for political pressures are putting in the much vaunted PTC or Feed-in Tariffs (see Jerome de Paris)...which are huge over 100% subsidies for renewables. I believe that these have to be permanent subsidies or these industries go away.

                There is no way, by anyone's time line, that even CSP could be built, tied into the grid, HVDC lines built and implemented, to effect emissions.

                David

                Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 02:31:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I was actually expecting.... (0+ / 0-)

                  the section on baseload to be the most controversial in this piece....and would be interested to read more comments on that.

                  We agree we want to provide 24/7 power, although, of course, power demand for 12 of those hours is much less than for the other 12....Baseload isn't used now for all of our power supply of course, and that's appropriate. "Baseload" is only appropriate for what's needed for the low-usage times, not the high usage. Otherwise, it's just excess capacity.

                  But through the smaller-scale generation I suggested in the piece, coupled with larger-scale generation like solar thermal power plants and large wind farms, smart grids, etc., power can be supplied 24/7 through renewables. Especially, if, as I noted, energy efficiency programs continue to work and continue to cause an actual reduction in demand (and, by the way, this reduction in demand has been causing an actual drop in the use of coal--a good thing). Not today, of course, but that is the direction we're going.

                  And that's partly because it's hard to build large power plants of any kind--nuclear, coal, even solar thermal as we've seen in California. The result will be more energy efficiency programs, and more small-scale production (as for example, Southern California Edison is doing by installing 1 MW/week of solar photovoltaics in its service area).

                  •  And I Was Going To Ding You For This: (0+ / 0-)

                    its carbon footprint is about three times the size of alternatives like wind power

                    Wind is not an alternative.  No sometime power is but you recognize that at least.

                    Is solar thermal really baseload?  I think not but wave power probably comes close and tidal power can become a baseload power source until the moon falls into the Pacific Ocean or flies off on its own.

                    Fact:  Geothermal power is baseload.  It is more reliably available than coal and is available anywhere on planet Earth.  The Rodney Dangerfield of green energy is beginning to get respect.  

                    Geothermal is also the only safe nuclear power.

                    Nuclear Winter is no answer to global warming as you indicate.

                    Thank you.  

                    Best,  Terry

                    •  Baseload is used two different (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Joffan

                      ways, generally, but one is the most common and nirset is close to it. It is the average minimum load for a region under control by an ISO on, say, a monthly or yearly average.

                      If you go to the Cal-ISO site at http://www.caiso.com/... you will see the graph for today's power forecast and actual load. I used this everyday as a control operator. Now, the bottom of the red line is the minimum load for that day. As you can see it's 23,000 MWs. That's slightly above the absolute minimum which I think is Christmas day, 20,000 MWs. This is about 85% of the states BASELOAD since not all energy producers are regulated by the ISO (LA Dept. of Water and Power, SMUD, etc etc are outside it's jurisdiction).

                      Baseload is used, in the industry also as an average "intermediate load" as well, meaning, "clearly from 0900 through peak to about 2000 hours, we need balls-to-wall in generation". But the first definition is the technically correct way to use it.

                      One should not that the 1600 hours/4pm peak load is normal, often it's later, around 1700 or 1800 hours. Way outside any solar peak time but, in California, fairly good for wind since afternoons is when it picks up.

                      My view is that 100% or the baseload should be handled by nuclear energy in California. Or about new 15 plants. If we could, I'd challenge renewables to provide the regular, non-intermittent load for anything above baseload, that is, 13GWs, on demand power.

                      David

                      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                      by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 09:49:10 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Hi David (0+ / 0-)

                        My view is that 100% or the baseload should be handled by nuclear energy in California. Or about new 15 plants.

                        There is no shortage of faults on which they can placed.  For a bit of excitement PG&E situated their nuke between two faults.

                        Marcos topped that.  He built a nuke at the base of a volcano.

                        We don't need 'em, David.

                        Nuclear power is polluting, enormously expensive and dangerous.  There is no shortage of alternatives.

                        Best,  Terry

                        •  Terry, Trerry, Trerry...zzzzzzz (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Joffan

                          "PG&E situated their nuke between two faults." How's that working out? No evacuation in the last 25 years?? Hmmm?? It would have to be way over 7.5 to do much damage to that plant.

                          "Marcos topped that.  He built a nuke at the base of a volcano." And where is Marcos now? They are restarting this reactor, BTW.

                          "We don't need 'em, David." Obviously we do...otherwise we become, as we are now, the largest natural gas consumer in the US. I want to get rid of gas...you?

                          "Nuclear power is polluting, enormously expensive and dangerous.  There is no shortage of alternatives."

                          Nuclear doesn't pollute...and you know it. Unlike wind and solar construction, little if anything from nuclear is spread about the countryside as "pollution". Typical, very typcial fear mongering on your part Terry.

                          No, there are no alternatives unless you LIKE to live with all the CO2 emitted from these new GTs going up everywhere.

                          david

                          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                          by davidwalters on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 08:36:38 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  While You Sleep (0+ / 0-)

                            Nuclear doesn't pollute...and you know it

                            You live on another planet do you?

                            Nuclear waste dumps are not beloved.  

                            They had a war locally over landfill storage.  Scientific studies proved the district with the smallest population got the landfill.  It was rather poetic that it was also the Veterans Memorial Forest.

                            They were also talking about nuclear waste at the time.  I lost track of things.  People were getting upset.

                            Denial that renewables can do the job is simply false.  I put it in the same category as claims that we can't afford decent health care because we need to feed the health insurance companies.

                            Rentech (RTK), which makes biofuel from a modified version of the Fischer-Tropsch process, has signed a deal with eight airlines to provide their ground utility trucks at Los Angeles International Airport with 1.5 million gallons of fuel annually. That's enough to handle all of the the needs of ground service trucks, according to Rentech.

                            The deal will go through in 2012, when Rentech's plant will be complete.

                            The deal marks another step in the slow, but steady, slog toward biofuels, and it makes sense.

                            I just came across this and know nothing about the details.  On some rare occasions :-) we find companies are overstating the wonders of their business but I noticed that the company claims to be using "waste plant material."

                            That stuffing for landfill or kindling for forest fires has some use after all rather than just warming the planet.

                            When are we going to get serious about geothermal, the greenest, most potent alternative energy of all?  The Philippines is well on its way to passing us as numero uno. As it is we have to depend on furriners for most development of our geothermal resources while we talk nuclear nonsense.

                            Happy dreams.

                            Best,  Terry

                          •  You are factually wrong: (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Joffan

                            You live on another planet do you?

                            Nuclear waste dumps are not beloved.  

                            They had a war locally over landfill storage.  Scientific studies proved the district with the smallest population got the landfill.  It was rather poetic that it was also the Veterans Memorial Forest.

                            They were also talking about nuclear waste at the time.  I lost track of things.  People were getting upset.

                            Terry, nuclear waste from nuclear power plants is not "dumped" anywhere. You couldn't prove this was the case. What passes for nuclear waste is mostly from the medical industry, a vast under-regulated source of these 'dumps'. Nuclear waste from the nuclear energy industry is completely regulated and accounted for. Not so the arsenic and other poisons from, say, the solar PV industry.

                            Terry, you need to parse out your charges abit. Nuclear energy doesn't "pollute". Creating 'wastes' is not pollution unless it's dumped into the environment.

                            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                            by davidwalters on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:32:04 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Nuclear Waste Dump For Your Inspection (0+ / 0-)

                             title=

                            This is one view of Lake Abert as seen from the magnificent Abert Rim.

                            I diaried once the obscenity of using such a feature as a nuclear waste dump and was wildly attacked by some for lying.  When I dug up, with some difficulty, transcribed notes from the past struggles to keep it clean, at least one brilliant poster determined it was from the last millennium and thus didn't count.

                            I don't know if the Veteran's Memorial Forest near my new abode did, in fact, become a nuclear waste dump.  I didn't really want to know if it did as suggested and thus tuned out that raging controversy.

                            Greenpeace can tell far more colorful stories about nuclear waste from nuclear power plants along with documentation for any who care to inspect it.  Claiming all is a pack of lies (not factual) hardly seems any more credible than denial of global warming.  I have no knowledge whether Greenpeace has wildly exaggerated or not but obviously nuclear waste has to go somewhere.  It does not just somehow disappear into the ether.

                            I see no point in pursuing discussion when one of us chooses to wear blinders.  

                            I fully admit to my own prejudice against nuclear power for good cause but claim no expertise.

                            I won't really argue that the threat of global warming is more lethal than dangers from nuclear power but I insist there is no need to avoid far better renewable baseload power options.

                            Take care.  I make no argument against your most honorable intentions and considerable knowledge.

                            Best,  Terry  

                          •  David., David, David (0+ / 0-)

                            "Nuclear doesn't pollute..." C'mon, that isn't even close to true. Every nuclear facility of any kind--from uranium mining to processing to enrichment to reactor operation, etc etc. causes release of radioactivity into the air and water.

                            You can argue that the amounts are small if you'd like, you can't argue they don't exist.

                            It is the National Academy of Sciences that determined there is no safe level of radiation exposure. You can argue they're wrong, if you'd like, but you can't argue they said that. And if you argue NAS is wrong, you'd better have some significant proof on your side...

                            Radiation regulations are meant to achieve an "acceptable" dose, "as low as reasonably achievable." That is not a health-based regulatory standard, it is an economic-based regulatory standard. When it becomes too expensive for a nuclear operator to reduce releases further, the operator no longer has to. But don't confuse a non-health-based standard with an absence of pollution.

                            All nuclear facilities pollute. The pollution is odor-free and invisible, but it's there nonetheless and it has and does cause health problems.

                          •  Michael, Michael, Michael (0+ / 0-)

                            Once again you have wandered into the realm of the irrelevant. That's not surprising, since you have spent most of your professional "anti-nuke" career there.

                            Look, if you want to do something significant about "radiation exposure" then campaign against cigarette smoking with as much zeal as you do against nuclear power. If you manage to pull that off or even reduce the amount of tobacco smoking, you will have reduced the amount of "radiation exposure" (and exposure to particulate matter, known hazardous carcinogens, and other bad stuff) by several orders of magnitude over what could be achieved by shutting down every nuclear power plant in the US.

                            Cigarettes are still legal.

                            If you want to save lives, then campaign against cars, since automobiles have killed more people, in the US alone, than the Chernobyl accident has in the past 23 years since the event -- even by the ridiculously silly numbers published by those perpetual liars at Greenpeace.

                            Automobiles are still legal.

                            Now, I'm willing to bet that you ride in a car every now and then. So you have one standard for automobiles, but nuclear power has to be perfect?!!

                            See, this is why nobody with half a brain takes you seriously. You are a professional liar and propagandist, and sadly, that's all you are and that's all you will ever be.

                            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                            -- H. L. Mencken

                            by bryfry on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:41:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  bryfry, bryfry, bryfry (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            indycam

                            And to think I recommended you recently as a pro-nuker who sometimes offers substantive, useful arguments for your position.....

                            I take it back....

                            Nothing you said refutes anything I wrote. And it is absurd to claim that I, or any other safe energy advocate, has to take on all of society's ills to point out nuclear power's obvious flaws....

                          •  Oh give me a break (0+ / 0-)

                            "nuclear power's obvious flaws"?

                            Compared to what? If you haven't answered that, you're just spreading random propaganda and appealing to emotional arguments that play to the vast amount of people who have never given much thought to this issue and don't know any better.

                            You and you organization have been preying this way on fear and ignorance for decades now. You never provide any context and you never will. Hell, you don't even get your facts right.

                            Only nuclear power has to be perfect. That is what you and your fellow "safe energy advocates" demand, isn't it?

                            Talk about absurd.

                            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                            -- H. L. Mencken

                            by bryfry on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 09:11:29 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                •  Too Needy (0+ / 0-)

                  "You need to provide 24/7 power. [emphasis mine]"

                  While I admit that it is a very comfortable thing to have reliable electricity, I question the "need" for electricity 24/7.

                  The Age of Electricity is only a few hundred years old and represents a miniscule fraction of Homo Sapiens' 200,000 years.  Even today, a very significant fraction of Homo Sapiens lives quite comfortably without electricity 24/7; even if not as comfortably as those of us who voraciously burn the finite resources of coal and uranium.

                  It would be good thing to provide everyone with reliable electricity, but only if we can accomplish that without poisoning the environment.  Should we not most vigorously pursue the most promising, least toxic sources available to us?

          •  OK, very impressive. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JeffW, bryfry

            As for wind, let's see, over the past two years, worldwide 46,000 MW of wind has been installed, versus less than 3,000 MW of nuclear.

            And since you claim it's No Nukes, No Coal, I assume that less than 3,000 MW of new coal capacity has been installed in the same amount of time.

            I'm off to do some googling since you coyly omitted this critical piece of information . . .

            •  Hmmm, No Coal you say . . . . (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, JeffW, bryfry

              figures, which come from BP (pdf), are a bit misleading. After all, global consumption of coal rose by only 4.5% over the previous year – as compared to wind's 29% increase. But if you look at how many additional gigawatts of coal-fired power are added worldwide each year (pdf), the black stuff blows everything else out of the water.

              So as fast as wind power capacity is increasing, it will still be a long time before it makes a dent in dirty coal power. A best-case scenario by the International Energy Agency () suggests that by 2050, wind could at most supply only 12% of global electricity demand.

              link

  •  good point about the water requirements (7+ / 0-)

    not too many people are considering that whatever alternative energy we use must not be a water  hog given our  current water crisis that will only worsen with climate change.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:02:54 AM PDT

    •  Yes, I was glad to see that too. (4+ / 0-)

      Fresh water is precious, and being rapidly depleted.

      If everyone in the US were to stop running the water while they brushed their teeth:

      a quart or two twice a day (1.5), 365/year, x 200 M people = 109,500 million quarts, = 27,375,000,000 gallons a year.

      I use "200 million" imagining that some number of people have already stopped running the water...

      Every little bit helps.

      Humoring the horror of environmental collapse: ApocaDocs.com

      by mwmwm on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:10:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nuclear plant designs can use other coolants (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bryfry

      Lack of water is not a deal-breaker.  

      The biggest nuclear plant in the US is outside of Phoenix, and it uses gray water from the city.

      What nuclear can do regarding water shortages:
      cleanly desalinate seawater and purify waste water and poisonous agricultural runoff.

      Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

      by Plan9 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:33:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  where does it discharge its gray water after use? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger

        typically, it is discharged in water bodies, which must meet water quality standards re temperature, and part of that equation is how much water is in the water body? if there is water shortage, then can not discharge. some plants have shut down temp due to this.

        so, not just a question of what water is used.

        also, we may face the question, as some cities here and around the world have faced, is water used for energy or food?

        Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

        by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:39:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not gray any more (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryfry, sullivanst

          The water is treated at the plant before use so that it is absolutely pure.  

          There are multiple water systems in a nuclear plant.  The primary system sluices pure water through the reactor core to cool it.  It carries heat away from the reactor to a steam generator which contains a secondary water system so that the reactor water remains in a closed loop that wraps around the secondary system containing the cold water that will be turned into steam by the thermal energy from the primary loop.  Works kind of like your car radiator. Except there is usually a tertiary loop as well.

          The steam, pressurized, turns the turbine blades.  That's how AZ (and neighbors) gets clean large-scale base-load power that would otherwise be made by burning even more coal and gas than the Southwest already does.

          Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

          by Plan9 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:53:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It should actually be obvious (0+ / 0-)

          that the plant can't discharge gray water after use, since it can't actually use gray water in the reactor - it has to be purified first.

          In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

          by sullivanst on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:01:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  my question remains...where is the water (0+ / 0-)

            discharged?

            Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

            by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:07:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Evaporation. All the plants (0+ / 0-)

              water needs are met through the grey water inclusion (drinking, the very tiny bit of water used in the reactor itself, potable water, utility water, etce. etc.), and left over to evaporate.

              D.

              Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

              by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:20:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  if the water evaporates, why is EPA still (0+ / 0-)

                saying in 2008:

                Nuclear Energy

                Water pollutants, such as heavy metals and salts, build up in the water used in the nuclear power plant systems. These water pollutants, as well as the higher temperature of the water discharged from the power plant, can negatively affect water quality and aquatic life.

                This is why discharge permits impose conditions on temp for discharged water.

                Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

                by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:41:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Palo Verde had to get special permit (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bryfry

                  Because the gray water from Phoenix sewerage was contaminated with medical isotopes excreted by the population and flushed.

                  You may not realize that exposure to medical radiation today in the US is on average the same as exposure to natural background radiation--300 millirem/year.  If you are worried about radioactive contamination, look no further than your sewer or the drains in hospitals.

                  But I don't hear of any campaign to eliminate nuclear medicine.  Nirsnet may be working on that--who knows?
                  Nuclear medicine saves millions of lives every year.

                  Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

                  by Plan9 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:36:33 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  your response is not to my comment (0+ / 0-)

                    i asked simple question about where is the water used at plants discharged? most times it is discharged into water bodies, and that requires a permit, irregardless of quality of water, because of the temp of nuke water.

                    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

                    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 02:09:21 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  The EPA statement is a generalization, not (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bryfry

                  a truism for all nuclear plants. There are several cooling schemes. Some plants have cooling towers. The water that evaporates leaves the remaining water slightly siltier, just as water evaporating from the Great Salt Lake concentrates the minerals in the water over time. In other words, nuclear plants don't ADD heavy metals and salts to the discharged water, they concentrate the metals and salts that were already in the water.  Some older plants located on large bodies of water, like oceans or the Great Lakes, don't evaporate water through cooling towers, they simply discharge the same amount of water that they withdraw. So those cooling water systems don't concentrate heavy metals and salts but do discharge lots of water with elevated temperatures. Palo Verde discharges water to an 80 acre cooling pond. I suspect any remaining gray water solids are allowed to simply settle out in that pond. If so, eventually they will have an 80 acre pond silted over with municipal waste solids unless they dredge it. At that point they will have to dispose of the sludge at the same places that municipalities typically dispose of municipal waste sludge.

                  At least one proposed nuclear plant, North Anna Unit 4, would be air-cooled, rather than water-cooled. However, air cooling adds considerable expense compared to water cooling.

      •  Deal broken (0+ / 0-)

        The Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant evaporates the equivalent of 25% of the quarter-million acre-feet of the overdraft from the Phoenix Active Management Area.  This is hardly a sustainable practice.  Furthermore, the waste heat is dissipated 50 miles to the west of the hottest major city in the nation.  The prevailing winds carry any exhaust from the plant into the metropolitan area.

    •  Too bad it's actually a reason to go nuclear (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, mojo workin, bryfry, Blubba

      Because of nuclear desalination.

      Point 10 is simply nonsense. The need for new power in enormous quantities applies to all power sources. It's also a complete straw-man. Noone serious is suggesting that nuclear provide 100% of power.

      9 - again, straw-man. This would only be a problem if you considered it necessary to have only nuclear power. It is in no way, shape or form an argument against building as much nuclear as is possible.

      8 - nuclear is the safest form of power there is, principally because most people are not able to deal rationally with extremely unlikely but extremely severe possibilities. Moreover, you don't have to go to Gen IV to find reactors that can legitimately be considered "inherently safe", as there are Gen III designs with negative temperature coefficients augmented by other passive safety features.

      7 - the waste issue is the biggest concern with nuclear, but again the public's irrationality when you say 'nuclear' or 'radioactive' has blown it way out of proportion. We have a lot of waste right now, sitting in "temporary" storage (which is actually not that temporary), so a solution needs to be found. I like the idea of LFTRs burning waste.

      6 - I'd strongly challenge Sovacool's figure for wind, based on the German experience where the ability for wind to replace coal once renewables reach a penetration level of about 10% falls off a cliff. That's why Germany, despite all its wind farms, is still building huge numbers of coal-fire power stations. This argument also only applies if you accept that non-nuclear sources can replace all the coal plants (and all the nuclear plants too once they reach the end of their lifecycle), so that new nuclear would be displacing other renewables instead of coal. I don't accept that premise, and the mention of efficiency is also a complete straw man - I have not seen anyone arguing for nuclear instead of efficiency, only nuclear as well as efficiency.

      5 - if there's no safe exposure, we're all going to die, because we're all exposed every second of every day. Radiation is all around us, and it's naturally occurring. The amount of radiation emitted from nuclear power stations in comparison to the amount of radiation emitted from the ground and air is tiny. But hey - we are all going to die. Eventually.

      4 - rising sea levels on the scale required to drown coastal power stations would cause far more serious concerns than an energy crisis - the entire nations of Bangladesh and Holland would likely be underwater, pretty much. Oh, and in recent years, the US has been getting a load factor of 90% from its nuclear reactors. That's pretty damned good. Climate change also affects renewables: wind power has problems when the wind is blowing too softly or too hard, hydro needs the rivers to flow, etc. etc.

      3 - again a straw man. Noone's suggesting nuclear as the exclusive power source.

      2 - again the straw man. Diarist makes the assumption that renewables can eliminate coal without using any nuclear. That assumption is false.

      1 - yet a-fucking-gain, the straw man. Yet again, the false assumption that a nuclear-free portfolio can replace 100% of coal. It can't. In a market where renewable penetration has passed 10%, the cost of replacing 1MW of coal with renewables balloons, way past the cost of using nuclear to replace the coal.

      So basically... weak diary ;)

      In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

      by sullivanst on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:59:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good overview of drawbacks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller

    I am occasionally following news stories on small-scale nuclear energy, and new engineering approaches to the problems of nuclear energy. I'm not averse to sensible technological progress (and investment) using a very viable potential energy source derived from resources we already have.

    The reason I'm not averse to it is that there are instances -- industrial processes, for example -- where intense use of energy is necessary. Solar and wind are great for many areas, but heavy industry needs a different level of power. I want to see, in ten years (all along which we have been doing miracles with efficiencies, energy savings, and solar and wind), smart new nuclear power systems to replace those few coal plants whose energy will still be required.

    Further, I think we'll need to not just go "carbon neutral" but actually "carbon negative," and very rapidly -- and the energy requirements for such carbon-sequestration enterprises are likely to use a lot of energy.

    Solar may be too cheap to meter by that time -- but also may not. Even if we don't use that nuclear technology we've been developing for those ten years, we will have it available for specialized purposes.

    Humoring the horror of environmental collapse: ApocaDocs.com

    by mwmwm on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:03:01 AM PDT

    •  A different level of power? (0+ / 0-)

      A gigawatt down the wire from a renewable generation source is exactly the same as a gigawatt from any other source - except the renewable source is sustainable and lacks most of the drawbacks of the other sources (as the diary indicates).

      Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

      by badger on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:07:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Heavy Industry (0+ / 0-)

      mwmwm, I generally agree with your open approach.  However, the technologies that you wish to be active in ten years do not yet exist.  Even transitional technologies such as travelling wave reactors are nascent.  Even if viable nuclear technologies arrive, it will then take at least an additional decade to implement them at scale.

      The largest nuclear power plant in the U.S. is located in our sunniest state.  This situation has resulted in a decades-long economic repression of solar energy in order to maintain the illusion that nuclear energy is economical.

      "but heavy industry needs a different level of power"

      Then heavy industry should pay the real costs.  Only when the real costs are made transparent will we be able to choose the correct path.

  •  While I'd quibble with some fo your data, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, sullivanst

    the key reason I'm opposed to nuclear power is the public perception of it. While lately it's been on a positive trend, all it takes is one major accident anywhere to turn the public against it.

    Is this fair, that an accident perhaps in some poorer country could have an accident and yet this would smear the reputation of a better controlled process?

    Hell No. Not fair.

    But it's the truth. It's a truth the pro nuclear lobbyists refuse to deal with. One accident is all it takes to make people skittish as hell. It doesn't have to happen in Japan or the West, or the US, either.

    Why is this so? Perhaps because the nuclear power lobby was never truthful and up front in its history; it cloaked itself in secrecy and used lobbyists to twist arms.

    Frankly, 30,000 people a year die from coal right now in this country. That to me is an abomination, and as an asthma sufferer, I'm one one of the walking wounded from coal. Billions lost every year in health costs, lost work hours from burning coal here in the US. And yes, people get cancer from the radiation inherent in coal dust, too.

    It's very very unlikely that a nuclear accident would happen in the US that would kill 30,000 people .. and yet all it would take is a handful of US civilians killed in a nuclear accident to stop the industry. Cold.

    There's a truth that will never, ever be discussed by nuclear power lobby proponents. What happens after a nuclear incident, especially any incident in the US.

    And note that while it's still grossly unfair, the term 'nuclear accident' might even refer to weapons manufacturing or medical materials - the simple truth is most Americans are ignorant about the science and no amount of explaining will restore their confidence once lost if any accident happens with the word 'nuclear' in it.

    •  Let's never speak lightly about (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, shpilk, Tonedevil

      one major nuclear plant accident, because if it occurs it has the potential to completely dwarf any other disaster that ever took place in this nation.

      "We had a decisive win... and so I don't think there is any question we have a mandate to move the country in a new direction." Barack Obama

      by pollbuster on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:06:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We had a disaster (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        steve04, bryfry, LookingUp, sullivanst

        It was called Three Mile Island.  Over a dozen independent studies have verified that there have been no deaths or increased incidence of disease related to the incident.  The worst environmental impact around Harrisburg:  the clean power that was produced by the decommissioned reactor has been replaced by coal combustion.

        Deaths in the US from the operation of commercial nuclear power in over 50 years: zero.

        Deaths from all forms of fossil fuel combustion each year:  70,000.  Plus hundreds of thousands of cases of lung and heart disease.

        Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

        by Plan9 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:36:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A major event [like Chernobyl] would be (0+ / 0-)

        horrible, moreso if it happened let's say at one of the Indian River plants [outside NYC].

    •  they want it where I live (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, Tonedevil

      Eddy and Lea County in New Mexico are perfectly delighted with the nuclear industry and would love to have more of it. The Carlsbad City Council recently purchased a large plot of land with this in mind. Eunice is getting a uranium enrichment plant. Carlsbad lobbied the DOE heavily to have a nuclear trigger plant built here (before the DOE decided to increase output at Los Alamos instead).

      I expect Jeff Bingaman is quite aware of all this. I am in the process of researching this further but it may warrant attention.

      "To live outside the law you must be honest." Bob Dylan

      by mieprowan on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:09:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh, and then there's WIPP (0+ / 0-)

        of course, we have the nuclear waste dump. It will be closing soon, theoretically at least. The Mayor of Carlsbad recently went on record as saying he'd like it if we built another one on the piece of land the city just bought.

        "To live outside the law you must be honest." Bob Dylan

        by mieprowan on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:14:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Lea County (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mieprowan

        We spent a lot of time and effort fighting the Louisiana Energy Services uranium enrichment plant in Eunice...First we beat them in Louisiana in the 1990s, then in Alabama, then in Tennessee....but LES finally made it work in New Mexico with the support of Sens. Domenici and Bingaman.....

        •  Well, that's what I'm seeing (0+ / 0-)

          that Bingaman does a lot of good stuff, and has a rep in some ways for being pro-conservation, but that he is solidly behind nuclear expansion in the state.

          "To live outside the law you must be honest." Bob Dylan

          by mieprowan on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:17:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary--tipped and recced n/t (5+ / 0-)

    "We had a decisive win... and so I don't think there is any question we have a mandate to move the country in a new direction." Barack Obama

    by pollbuster on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:07:22 AM PDT

  •  Good diary (5+ / 0-)

    Expect many falms from the nuclear only crowd, but I think you make many valid points.

    "...this nation is more than the sum of its parts ..." Barack Obama-18 March,2008

    by Inventor on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:11:19 AM PDT

  •  Most of these points are nonsense (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, steve04, JeffW, bryfry, LookingUp, sullivanst

    I'll only address four: takes too many, too much carbon, too slow, and waste.

    If we are really serious about getting rid of reliance on carbon, can we pick one alternative energy source and just use it: say we'll build lots of wind turbines, and not worry about solar power, nukes, energy efficiency, etc.?  NO.

    If we're really serious, we need to use everything we have available that makes sense. You argue that since nuclear power can't do it alone, we should just eliminate it from the possibilities. I have real doubts that solar can do it alone, that energy efficiency can do it alone, and that wind power can do it alone. Does that mean we should just throw our hands up in despair and not worry about global warming?  NO!

    Finally, let's worry about waste. Let's look at worst-case scenarios. Which is worse: making a small area of the desert uninhabitable for the next 100,000 years, or the flooding of every coastal city in the world? And which is more likely? Get your priorities straight.

    •  not nonsense (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, Tonedevil

      The point is that nuclear power cannot possibly be helpful in the near term--over the next 10 years--because there won't be more than a handful, if even that many, built over the next 10 years. And even if nuclear wanted to ramp up after then, as I tried to point out, there are a lot of obstacles to doing that--best-case realistic scenario for nukes is not even being able to replace the power they generate now.

      Given that they are so expensive, spending the money on them now--when we need to be taking the fastest, most effective means possible to deal with the climate crisis--would be a misplaced use of our limited resources.

      Nukes provide less carbon reduction per dollar spent than any other low-carbon electricity source. Spending money on nuclear now--money that could be spent on more effective measures--is counterproductive.

      •  So what do you recommend instead? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW

        We're not going to solve the problem with wind turbines.

        •  We already are (0+ / 0-)

          WA and OR already have over 5GW of nameplate capacity wind installed or nearing completion - that's well over 1GW at any reasonable capacity factor. There's more coming. And we have hydro for baseload.

          That's in place, with financing and probably some subsidy via tax breaks, but no loan guarantees. People and corporations actually built that in a few years - not just talked about how wonderful it would be if we mortgaged (government guaranteed, of course, with limited liability too) our entire GDP for energy generation.

          On the other hand, WA State's experience with attempting to go nuclear on a large scale resulted in (at the time) the largest bond default in history (WPPSS) - here and here.

          Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

          by badger on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:51:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And so ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mcrab

            if 40 years, we'll have enough wind to be able to displace the current fleet of nuclear plants that are operating today.

            Good plan. Did you think of it all by yourself?

            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
            -- H. L. Mencken

            by bryfry on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 10:41:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Nuclear: 70% of lowest-carbon electricity (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mojo workin, JeffW, bryfry, LookingUp

        in US. We get 20% of our electricity from nuclear power and 70% of our clean electricity from it.  Nuclear and wind  have about the same amount of carbon-eq emissions per kWh.

        If you eliminate our 104 nuclear plants, you will be the proud originator of a huge increase in fossil fuel combustion.

        No wonder the industry loves you.

        Look at Germany--phasing out nuclear plants and bringing in natural gas and building new coal-fired plants.  Oh,and buying clean nuclear power from France.

        Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

        by Plan9 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:41:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  104 reactors (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger

          Actually, Plan 9, I didn't say anything about eliminating existing reactors. This post is about new reactors. I did, however, point out that for several reasons, it is unlikely the nuclear industry will even be able to replace its existing fleet of reactors, much less contribute to any reduction of carbon emissions in any kind of time frame that would be helpful.

          •  I predict that new reactors worldwide (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bryfry

            will be generating far more electricity much sooner than wind and solar ever will.

            Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

            by Plan9 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:30:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Given that: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bryfry

            nuclear power already produces 20% of the nation's electricity (and has for well over a decade); all, or nearly all, of the existing reactors will seek 20-year license extensions: some of those reactors are seeking power uprates that, in the aggregate, amount to about 600 MWe of added capacity; wind and PV combined provide less that 2% of our electricity; most of the best wind are located in low population areas, necessitating the construction of thousands of miles of high voltage transmission lines, or are miles off-shore and are expensive to tap into, the more interesting question is how long it will take renewables to contribute as much as nuclear already does to the reduction of carbon emissions.

            The existing fleet of plants will likely be operating for the next two decades and maybe beyond if they continue to operate at current levels of performance, so the replacement rate need not be that great to maintain current levels of generation. The currently licensed designs are sized to produce twice the power of many of the older smaller reactors. It would take less than 70 EPR reactors to replace the current fleet.

            •  Reduction Seduction (0+ / 0-)

              "as nuclear already does to the reduction of carbon emissions."

              It doesn't.  Point #6 above.

              Did you read the diary?  Or are you just spouting talking points?

              Larger, more complex, more distant, more thirsty, more vulnerable, more toxic generating plants is hardly a valid solution.  If nuclear energy cannot reduce its scale while also solving its other issues, it will remain a Faustian bargain.

        •  In writing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger

          that Germany is "buying clean nuclear power from France," may I assume you are not aware of the fact that while France and Germany are both net exporters of electricity to other European nations, the French-German trade of electricity is a net export from Germany to France?

          •  In writing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bryfry

            that Germany is a net exporter of electricity to France, may I assume your are not aware that, in 2004 (pdf) Germany exported about 400 GWH of electricity to France, while France exported about 15,500 GWH to Germany? If you have a link to more current information I would be interested in seeing it.

            •  2004? (0+ / 0-)

              That certainly is old data - and it also provides very different results than the source I used, which is specifically for France and provides up-to-date daily data for the past several years, although the latest yearly chart seems to be from 2007: http://clients.rte-france.com/...

              •  2007? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bryfry

                So...thru 2007, the last full year for which data seems to exist, Germany was importing twice from France what it was exporting to them? French power plant workers did strike this year and knock out several gigawatts of generating capacity. This year may be an atypical blip when everything is said and done.

                •  The key issue is that France, on average, exports (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joffan

                  10% of it's generation to other countries which include Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. 80% of that is nuclear. 50% of the imports that are intermittently sent to France from Germany is COAL. 'nuff said.

                  David

                  Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                  by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 09:36:05 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Reality check (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joffan

                Did you ever bother to check your numbers vs. other sources? I ask this because, frankly, the way that you have interpreted your numbers makes no sense at all.

                For example, your link gives an "up-to-date" figure for French imports of electricity from Germany during 2006 (15 TWh) that is almost twice the amount of electricity that both the EIA and the IEA say that France imported from everyone everywhere that same year (8.5 TWh total).

                Something's fishy, isn't it?

                Well, not when you realize that your link is talking about "Net Transfer Capacities," which is a commercial quantity that doesn't represent how much physical electricity flowed between the two countries. NTC has more to do with how much the two countries have arranged to have available to flow back and forth across the borders. The actual amount of electricity that flows is a completely different figure.

                Obviously, there is a great deal of electricity budgeted, but as Blubba's (factually correct) link points out, the flow of real, physical electricity is by far biased in the direction from France to Germany and has been for years.

                An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                -- H. L. Mencken

                by bryfry on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:25:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Measuring total and net imports/exports... (0+ / 0-)

                  of electricity is not as simple as you seem to think.

                  Two different methodologies for measuring the trade between a pair of countries X and Y over a given period may produce different total amounts for X and Y, depending on resolution of measurements and other factors - but they should normally be reasonably in agreement on the net transfer (X-Y).

                  Here is one example: That rte-france.com site gives a 2007 net import to France from Germany of 8.2 TWh. Another import/export measure, from RWE, gives very different export and import totals between the two nations - but still the same 2007 net import to France from Germany of 8.2 TWh.

                  I'm not sure if you saw that the rte-france site provides measurements of net transfer capacities and overlooked that it also provides measurements of utilization of those capacities, or don't understand the difference between the two and how different methodologies can yield apparently contradictory import/export totals but agree on a net export amount.

                  •  More information (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Joffan, Mcrab

                    is available from the European Transmission System Operators (PDF). In particular, look at Figure 3 on page 10, which graphically represents the difference between Net Transfer Capacity (NTC) and the real "notified and confirmed" physical flow of electricity between two countries.

                    Another highlight from the document on page 13 (emphasis mine):

                    NTC-values only set the limit for physical power exchanges (flows) in one direction between adjacent regions. The physical flows however do not follow commercial transactions!

                    I agree that accounting for imports and exports of electricity is not a trivial undertaking, which is why I trust the numbers provided by the Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency (especially when they agree), since their professionals have done the hard work for me. I prefer to stay away from the figures used by the system operators, since some of their "funny math" and jargon has no value outside of commercial transactions and contracts. They are not a meaningful representation of the transfer of real, physical energy from one region to another, which after all, is what we are talking about.

                    An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                    -- H. L. Mencken

                    by bryfry on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 03:36:26 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually the European TSOs do have a web-page (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bryfry

                    that allows you to show electrical energy transfers between any two countries for any timeframe down to 1 month resolution.

                    http://www.entsoe.eu/...

                    If you follow that for all years since 2002, you'll see that the transfer from France to Germany is for every year much larger than the other way around.

        •  Flushed (0+ / 0-)

          "We get 70% of our clean electricity from [nuclear power]. [emphasis mine]"

          How "clean" are nuclear waste storage facilities?  How "clean" is the uranium fuel cycle?

          Cleaner than coal, I'll grant you that.  But existing nuclear technology is still too dirty to call "clean".

          My toilet is "clean" after a flush.  Want a sip?

      •  Straw man. (0+ / 0-)

        Noone's saying that nuclear is the only answer.

        Noone.

        But it has to be a component of the portfolio. Because it's impossible to meet demand with only the other low-carbon sources.

        Spending money on nuclear now is necessary, because once renewable penetration hits around 10%, it becomes extremely difficult and extremely expensive to displace coal by adding renewable capacity. This is why Germany is building coal plants by the dozen. When we reach that threshold, it's going to be much cheaper to use nuclear to displace coal.

        In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

        by sullivanst on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:10:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  France built 50 reactors in 10 years (0+ / 0-)

        During WWII US built a battleship a week.

        Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

        by Plan9 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:38:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  battleship (0+ / 0-)

          A. That is simply not true. We might have built a ship per week, we did not build a battleship per week. The US has never had hundreds of battleships in its fleet.

          B. Even if it were true, so what? A battleship is not a nuclear reactor.

          •  It was something like a ship a day or more (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9

            for a wide variety of ships. We built a carrier and battleships once a month for 2 years. A liberty ship took 30 days to make, at over 30 ship yards.

            The point is that ramping up to 30 or so nuclear starts a year is quite doable. Fortunately the beginning a global nuclear component infrastructure is shaping up, growing exponentially in fact. All good.

            David

            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

            by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 09:38:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  J'aime le France! (0+ / 0-)

          Just imagine how many solar modules and wind turbines France could have built with all that money!  Just imagine how much money France's future generations will pay to manage its nuclear waste.  Just imagine how much of France's money their neighbors receive when France has to shed excess load from its nuclear plants!  What generous sharing!

          France also built the Maginot Line.

    •  Making Sense (0+ / 0-)

      "we need to use everything we have available that makes sense.[emphasis mine]"

      Precisely.  And the author makes several excellent points on why existing nuclear technology makes no sense.

      "Get your priorities straight."

      "One hundred thousand years" may be exaggerated, but because recorded human history is less than ten thousand years old, it is unethical to create an invisible deathtrap that will last even a few brief millenia with no guarantee of its permanent seclusion.

  •  As people here know, (8+ / 0-)

    I'm a big fan of wind, and I've argued forcefully to pus hfor more wind. But several of your arguments againt nulear are just not correct:

    1. takes too many/infrastructure.

      this is the same argument that says that wind cannot play a meaningful solution because it's too small. It won't remain too small... and similarly, nuclear can be ramped up again. France built 50 reactors in 10 years. At 5% of world economy, a similarly ambitious plan could lead to 100 reactors per year being built. Obviously there were a lot of special circumstances to France's programme, but it still show that it can be done on a large scale.

    1. safety and waste.

      this is usually where rational argumentation breaks down; the disagreement is not even about the probability of an accident, but about accepting the logic of measuring risk through probability anaysis.

    1. carbon and emissions. Sure, it's a little bit worse than wind - but not by much, and it's so much better than what we have as large scale generation right now. So it would still be massive progress.
    1. warm climate. The French heat wave exemple is silly. French nuclear plants are closed for maintenance in the summer because this is the lowest demand period here (we don't have A/C on any significant scale) - so the capacity available at that time is much less than usual. The problem came that those reactors that were operating had to use water from rivers that were much warmer than usual, meaning that the rivers themselves were not compliant with the regulations on water returns. French nuclear plants return water to river at a temperature lower than the intake - but during that heatwave, that lower value was still higher than the regulations stated. So it was common sense to authorise plants to release water at temperatures higher than the regulations but lower than the temperature of the river itself!
    1. cost. French has consistently had cheaper electricity than all its neighbors - AND EDF has been sending money to the general budget (and certainly not the other way round). The single most important driver of cost for nuclear is the discount rate, so doing nuclear via a state-owned entity which can amortize its plants at a low rate over 30 or 40 years gives it a massive cost advantage (the same goes for wind, btw).

    :: ::

    The order in which things should be done is, of course, as follows:

    1. energy savings and energy efficiency
    1. renewables
    1. nukes
    1. to be avoided: fossil fule based plants.

    Unfortunately, we're doing the opposite, and the persistent infighting between wind and nuke proponents is not helping.

    •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, JeffW

      the irony of course is that EDF is one of the main players in replacing Britain's nuclear power stations on the same sites as the obsolescent ones. No problems over new grid infrastructure that way.

      I also understand that the "millions of years" argument is a bit fallaceous as the half life of the waste means it is no more radioactive that the ore it came from within 600 years or so. Disposal is a political not a practical problem. Yesterday the BBC had an interview with James Lovelock (founder of the Gaia theory) in their Hardtalk strand. He argues FOR nuclear and against wind!

      "Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism." Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP and son of Holocaust survivor.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:42:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  EDF (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger

        EDF is also actively discouraging wind energy production in the UK, for fear it will make new reactors in the UK unnecessary.

        •  No, that is NOT the reason they (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, Blubba

          discouraging it, it has to do with finite budget allocations done centrally in the UK, unlike the US. Jerome might want to comment on this since he's based in Europe but in England and Wales it will be either wind or nuclear, it seems because of the way budgets work there. While I'm very pronuclear and see it as the solution, Jerome's points are not that bad in terms of a list (I would of course put nuclear in front of reneables) but I'm not blind to the public desire for mxitures of this and that.

          The British don't quite allow for that and thus EDF...and vice-a-versa for big companies like Vistas and GE, want more wind.

          David

          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:26:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure that's true (0+ / 0-)

          Between their stupidly insane government whose only energy policy is to shout "oh the evil Russians won't give us their gas" or "markets will decide" (and they decide to build gas-fired plants that require Russian gas...), and their NIMBY population, you don't need the utilities to do more than sit and smirk...

          The big European utilities are the biggest investors in UK wind - and are now moing massively into offshore wind (I'm personally involved in severla offshore projects, but can't say anything right now, unfortunately).

          •  wind (0+ / 0-)

            and, btw, I do appreciate your support and involvement in wind projects....

          •  Jerome (0+ / 0-)

            Do you have any news/views on the proposal to have a chain of EUMENA solar/thermal power stations? I understand that Jordan was keen to have one of the first but that they also want a nuclear power station for their own generating purposes. I also suspect that Ghaddaffi is interested in coming into such a scheme as a way of ensuring after oil income. The great thing about the proposal is the pure water that will be a waste product from the use of sea water for steam generation.

            Not sure what DavidWalters is talking about as the UK government does not build power plants so there is no "central budget". All utilites have been privatized so, for example, the replacement of London's Victorian water mains is down to Thames Water, now also owned by a French company.

            "Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism." Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP and son of Holocaust survivor.

            by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 07:34:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  France (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jerome a Paris

      I disagree that reactors shutting down during the French heat wave is a silly example. The reality is that as the climate warms, reactors shutting down because of high river and lake water temperatures during heat waves will become more frequent--and that can cause real-world consequences.

      Yes, France built a lot of reactors quickly, but the reality is the global nuclear infrastructure is currently rather small, and it takes a lot more time and money to expand that infrastructure than it does to expand wind's infrastructure (which, as it has been doing the past several years, already can build far more megawattage of wind than the nuclear folks can per year.)

      As for cost, yes, it certainly helps when it's a state-owned entity building reactors, esp one that doesn't have to worry about bothersome things like public participation. Indeed, the only countries that really have a shot at any kind of serious nuclear construction are where the government controls the utility industry.

      Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, that is not the case in the U.S.. I'm not making up the cost estimates for new reactor construction, they come from the entities involved. But given Areva's current experience in Finland and Flamanville, it appears that such cost estimates are likely everywhere, not just in the U.S.

      Finally, the French nuclear program is not nearly as good as the industry would like people to believe. Here are some links to several reports from the past year that may shed a different light on the French program:

      May 2009: Nuclear France Abroad: History, Status and Prospects of French Nuclear Activities in Foreign Countries. A new report from Mycle Schneider Consulting on the expansion of the French nuclear power industry across the world.

      EPR: The French Reactor. A Costly and Hazardous Obstacle to Climate Protection. November 2008 report from Greenpeace International on the problems with the French Evolutionary Power Reactor, proposed for Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania and New York in the U.S.

      France’s Nuclear Failures: The Great Illusion of Nuclear Energy, November 2008 report from Greenpeace International on the failures of the French nuclear program.

      December 2008: Nuclear Power in France: Beyond the Myth,  a new report by Mycle Schneider Consulting for Greens/EFA in the European Parliament, offers a thorough examination of the French nuclear power industry, noting both its strengths and some surprising weaknesses.... Another major new report on the French nuclear industry, from WISE-Paris, titled Nuclear Power, the Great Illusion - Promises, Setbacks and Threats, is available here. Both reports will be very useful for everyone countering the argument that the French nuclear power program is somehow a great success.

      •  We would have to do a separate diary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jerome a Paris, Plan9

        on French nuclear. First off, the French love their nuclear. Spain, it's not.

        Secondly, more importantly, the only "myth" is that French plants "have to shut down" because of river temperatures. One it true is that legally they have to do this. If they allowed the a 3 c rise in water temps going back into the rivers all but one of those shutdown could stay on line.

        Thirdly, re-engineering of the once through cooling is under study now by EDF to alleviate the forced temporary closure of these reactors. The use of 'combined cooling tower/once through' facilities is being contemplated.

        The French nuclear system is the biggest threat to the Green dystopian view of the future. In fact, as Jerome has pointed out, both nuclear and wind and other renewables can work together.

        The reactionary Greenpeace concept of a lower energy usage France that is nuclear "Free" is down right scary as it means a huge increase in natural gas usage (imported from Russia, of course).

        David

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:30:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  to laugh (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger

          Yes, they LEGALLY have to shut down. Sure, the rules could be changed to let them operate. Of course, the rules could also be changed so they don't have to build those expensive containment buildings or emergency core cooling systems--nukes would be a lot cheaper then.....

          Interesting that the French love their nukes....France has the largest anti-nuclear movement in the world...Sortir du Nucleaire, the umbrella group, has some 800 organizational members representing about 800,000 people....

          And, for those interested in a non-industry perspective on the French nuclear program, please see the links I posted in my comment above titled "France."

      •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, mieprowan

        I disagree that reactors shutting down during the French heat wave is a silly example. The reality is that as the climate warms, reactors shutting down because of high river and lake water temperatures during heat waves will become more frequent--and that can cause real-world consequences.

        If water temperatures increase, then you adjust regulations on required temperature for water set back in the river. It makes no sense to ask a power plant to send water in the river at a lower temperature than it was extracted. It's the regulation which becomes obsolete in view of river temperatures, but this has nothign to do with nuclear, so it IS a silly exemple against nuclear.

        Yes, France built a lot of reactors quickly, but the reality is the global nuclear infrastructure is currently rather small, and it takes a lot more time and money to expand that infrastructure than it does to expand wind's infrastructure (which, as it has been doing the past several years, already can build far more megawattage of wind than the nuclear folks can per year.)

        No argument from me that wind is a solution that should be pushed before nuclear, but this is not an argument against nuclear being able to extend its building capacity once again. In terms of cost, what matters is the cost per MWH, not per MW, and nuclear is competitive there, if done properly.

        As for cost, yes, it certainly helps when it's a state-owned entity building reactors, esp one that doesn't have to worry about bothersome things like public participation. Indeed, the only countries that really have a shot at any kind of serious nuclear construction are where the government controls the utility industry.

        No, the cost issue has to do with the rate of interest to finance the construction, nothing else. You can have a healthy public participation process, and follow all procurement rules, it makes very little difference to the cost.

        But given Areva's current experience in Finland and Flamanville, it appears that such cost estimates are likely everywhere, not just in the U.S.

        The Finnish cost overruns are not that significant when you look at it as a 50-year project; it was the first unit of the new EPR, so you can expect teething problems; it is also the first to be supervised by the Finnish regulatory authorities, which has created additional delays and costs. So sure, Areva underbid on that contract, but it's not where they make their money (hint: it's on the 50-year supply and treatment of fuel).

        Finally, the French nuclear program is not nearly as good as the industry would like people to believe. Here are some links to several reports from the past year that may shed a different light on the French program:

        I respect Greenpeace on many topics, but they are not a credible source on the French nuclear industry. I might as well quote Areva press releases back at you - the dialogue between the two is nothing but, it's just pointless screaming past each other.

        As to whether the French programme is not a success: the EU has now resorted to force EDF to increase its prices in order to bring in competition in the market, becuase nobody can beat them otherwise. This is rather more insane than anything that can be said about the nuclear industry.

        •  As usualy, our noted wind advocate is a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9

          voice of reason.

          What Jerome is saying is that both wind and nuclear work, for different markets, for different reasons. His most salient point on costs, of course, is the 'cost of finance' which is totally the main cost of any big nuclear project.

          Secondly, note where he talks of 50 year projects. Costs to the consumer will eventually drop as any project goes out beyond it's note service termination (15 years? 20 years?). A EPR is actually expected to go beyond 60 years. For every year after the note is paid, the lower operating costs of a nuclear plant get factored into to overnight construction costs thus conditioning to lower the price of the project for all concerned.

          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:42:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  you're missing the safety problem here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger

          on the hot water issue. It's not just about reactors discharging warm water into the rivers, which is an environmental issue. It's about the reactors taking in hot water from warm rivers. The hotter the water they take in, the harder it is to cool the reactor properly. That's why reactor technical specifications have a maximum temperature level for water intake.

          The reactors that have closed due to hot water in the U.S. have closed because the intake water was too hot, not the outflow from the reactors....

          •  Not my understanding nirsent. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9, Roadbed Guy

            The issue is environmental not technical. The plants can run on higher temperature.

            Just FYI...the problems can be technical, it either is or isn't but my understanding is that they didn't want fish kills and similar problems with outfall temps.[Obviously sea based nukes have none of these problems].

            If the temperature goes up, the back pressure goes up at the low pressure turbine (back pressure is inverse to vacuum, sometimes they measure in vacuum instead). This causes heating of the low end turbine. Really good vacuum/back pressure cools tremendously the turbine and increases effiecncy. There are limits and high back pressure causes by high inlet temps could of been the reason for the nukes shutting down (only those river based ones, of course, those with cooling towers stayed on line).

            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

            by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:52:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  ok, that's a good point (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9

            but as far as I know, what actually happened in France in 2003 was tweaking the regulations about discharging water, not about the intake.

            EDF seems to have decided to build its new plants on the seashore, where this problem shouldn't happen.

            And do note that, in France at least, summer is a lower demand period, so it should be easier to take out the appropriate plants offline at times of heat (in 2003, the maintenance programme was not adapted to the weather, obviously).

            •  yes (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jerome a Paris

              Yes, the French issue was about discharge, not intake. The U.S. issue has been the reverse, and admittedly closing reactors due to hot water has not been as common here. The issue is whether that will become more common as the climate heats.

              And, as others have mentioned here, the issue of using water supplies for nuclear as opposed to agriculture, etc. is going to become more contentious over time as well.

              And while summer is a lower demand time in France now, that will change if A/C use picks up in France, which likely will be the case if summer heat waves become more frequent....

              I haven't been to France recently, but I do go to Ukraine frequently, and I have seen A/C use even there going up dramatically over the past 15 years....tho it's obviously still very small by US standards.

          •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joffan

            After all these years, you still don't understand how a nuclear reactor or even simple thermodynamics work, do you?

            The "harder it is to cool the reactor properly"? You're not seriously asking this, are you?

            Hey, Michael, I realize that you're old, but I'm sure that they have some continuing education classes where you live. Try taking a physics class sometime.

            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
            -- H. L. Mencken

            by bryfry on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:31:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Indemnity (0+ / 0-)

        "As for cost, yes, it certainly helps when it's a state-owned entity building reactors, esp one that doesn't have to worry about bothersome things like public participation."

        Not to mention the public largess of providing indemnity.  Nuclear energy is currently a toxic, publicly funded casino.

        Thank you for the list of reports on the French nuclear industry.

    •  Msr. Paris - I've not read of your fondness... (0+ / 0-)

      ...for wind.  Hence, I'm completely ignorant of the depth of your knowledge of the subject.  I have, however, a single question for you.

      Have you looked into, and are you in favor of, vertical-axis "windmills" (turbines) which do not need to be turned into the prevailing wind and which SEEM to have improved efficiency numbers?

      Merely a curiosity.

      Celtic Merlin
      Carlinist

      Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

      by Celtic Merlin on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:00:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I never picked you as one for exaggeration, (0+ / 0-)

      Jerome.

      France built 50 reactors in 10 years.

      Which 50 reactors are you counting, and what's your definition of a "year" to make that work?

      Yes, the French had a fast construction rate. And I've no doubt that if the license applications for new reactors in the USA were for the 900MWe and 1300MWe designs that comprise most of the French fleet, the USA could (after some ramp-up time) emulate that. But the current applications are for designs with some fundamental differences in construction techniques, so I'm not convinced that rate can be achieved for the likes of the EPR and ABWR.

      •  It's not a big exaggeration (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jerome a Paris, Plan9

        If you look at the reactors on this list and pick out the ones that were synchronized into the grid between 1/1/1978 and 12/31/1987, you get to 44.

        In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

        by sullivanst on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:24:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, it always helps (0+ / 0-)

          to overlook the construction time for those reactors (e.g. 6-7 years from 1st structural concrete pour to commercial operation has been the French average, and you have to add a year or two to that to include on-site preparation before the 1st concrete pour), so you can count in ten years 44 reactors whose constructions covered a period of about 17 years.

          •  I'm sorry (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9, bryfry

            I did not have the exact data at hand; all I know is that France built 58 reactors following a decision in 1973-74, and that the majority were built in the 80s.

            The rythm of construction in that decade is what was relevant to your point. Of course that comes after a first period of design, decisions, early construction, but these take place in parallel for various sites, so once you have reached your full-speed rythm, you can keep it easily. So if France could attain a 4-5 tranches per year construction programme, the US could surely tool up to build 20 reactors per year if you so decided, and the world even more.

            Now, the French could do it thanks to our highly centralised power company and political decision making process, something that is not easily replicated. It also helped that we have a strong technocratic culture, with lots of engineers in positions of power rather than lawyers (the Russians and Chinese share that trait to some extent).

    •  Very nice analysis (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you.

      In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

      by sullivanst on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:13:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Probable Waste (0+ / 0-)

      "the disagreement is not even about the probability of an accident, but about accepting the logic of measuring risk through probability anaysis."

      You neglect to mention the inordinate costs of managing nuclear waste for millenia.

    •  Persistence (0+ / 0-)

      "the persistent infighting between wind and nuke proponents is not helping."

      I disagree, on two counts.  First, the dichotomy between sustainable, renewable solutions (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) and the burning of finite resources (coal and nuclear) is not "infighting".

      Second, the conversation is very helpful.

  •  This just looks like another... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, JeffW

    "I don't like nuclear power" diary.

    There's really not a lot of substance too it.  I suspect that we really won't do what is necessary for the planet to solve the climate crisis, and part of the reason will be people having entrenched positions that keep them from looking at options objectively.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:45:00 AM PDT

    •  You gotta be effen KIDDING me! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, shpilk

      There's really not a lot of substance too it.

      Re-read the thing and click on ALL 14 OF THE LINKS provided which present healthy backup to the diarist's positions.

      You typing that this diary lacks substance doesn't make it true.  In fact, your claim of it lacking substance shows how very little of it you actually read.

      Celtic Merlin
      Carlinist

      Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

      by Celtic Merlin on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:56:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It contains a lot of claims (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, Roadbed Guy

        most of which are either just plain false, beside the point, or arguing against a straw man.

        I agree with LookingUp.

        BTW, Sarah Palin's defense of her death panel comment had lots of references. Didn't mean it had any substance.

        In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

        by sullivanst on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:25:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  LookingUp looks like another... (0+ / 0-)

      "entrenched" nuclear proponent who provides fatuous commentary.  There's really not a lot of substance to it.

  •  A most excellent diary, nirsnet. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, raincrow

    Well-researched, factually-presented, and easy to read.

    I have tipped, recommended, AND HOTLISTED this.

    Thank you!

    Celtic Merlin
    Carlinist

    Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

    by Celtic Merlin on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 11:51:17 AM PDT

  •  Just passing thru (0+ / 0-)

    But thanks for putting your ideas forth and spawning the resulting discussion/flaming.

    Conservation and tri-/quad generation technologies hold enormous promise for reducing our rate of energy consumption.

    I figure siting battles will stop the U.S. from doing much more than replacing the reactors at our current ~65 commercial nuclear sites. Waste disposal doesn't concern me; looks to me as if we can safely store it onsite. I am no fan of fission reactors because of the environmental and human health effects from our current godawful mining practices, and because our various regulatory bodies have historically proven unwilling to adequately regulate where billion$$$$ are involved.

    And alas, giga-windfarms and solar farms will exert substantial environmental effects, in addition to the costs of materials and manufacturing.

    It's still just a pipe dream for now, but I keep hoping for commercial-scale fusion.

    •  Fusion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, raincrow

      When I started at NIRS nearly 25 years ago, I was told by the experts that fusion was 50 years away.

      Today, I'm still told by the experts that fusion is 50 years away.....

      I firmly believe that by the time fusion arrives, if indeed it ever does, it won't be needed because we'll already have a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system.

      •  Nuclear-free carbon free? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, bryfry, Mcrab

        Not in my lifetime, sorry. Not gonna happen.

        It's not even feasible. You know that Denmark's wind farms once went 54 straight days supplying less than 1% of demand? It averages at 19%. Denmark's only able to have such high wind penetration because it is connected to the grids of Germany, Norway and Sweden, which can fill in the gaps when the wind isn't blowing, and soak up the excess when it's blowing hard (peak actual output of Denmark's wind was 70% of demand).

        In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

        by sullivanst on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:48:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In 50 years fusion will still be (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, raincrow

        50 years away.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:22:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Jevons Paradox (0+ / 0-)

      "Conservation and tri-/quad generation technologies hold enormous promise for reducing our rate of energy consumption."

      While I encourage conscientious consumption, Jevons Paradox gives me little hope that technology can solve our problems.

      Systems that are designed to inspire a shift in cultural values might provide a more valid solution.

      Local generation.

  •  Nukes Won't Help (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, shpilk, mieprowan

    Watching CSPAN2 on Friday, October 6, 2006, I heard a VP from Westinghouse, Edward Cummins, say that it will take nine to ten years to license and build new nuclear power plants and thus, if we have to reduce our carbon emissions within the next ten years in order to avoid climate change, nuclear power will be little or no help at all.

    Nukes won't help within the one decade time frame to stop catastrophic climate change.  Even the VP at Westinghouse in charge of nukes says so.

    Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC says that we have until 2012 to turn the corner on greenhouse gases.  With one factory in Japan making pressure vessels, nukes just aren't in the picture.  

    Maybe the next generation of reactors sometime down the road or fusion if it ever happens but, realistically, nukes are a pipe dream as a solution to climate change.

    Efficiency, exergy, renewables.  That's what we have for the short and medium term.  Learn to deal with it.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:22:06 PM PDT

    •  Gunsmoke, here is he problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9

      with what you saying.

      Everything appears static to you. "10 years". OK, yes, if nothing changes. Right now it's getting that way to get an ok for a wind farm. None of this is a real argument. It's what we 'want' to do and make the need changes, regulatory, financial, whatever.

      For example, nirsent sees a 'carbon free-nuclear free' future. He's actually "projecting" what he wants, not what is going to happen. But he is working for that. I'm working for those 400 to 500 new reactors by 2050 which could easily be done now under generally the same conditions and would be done if we reduced licensing to, say, 30 months from 42 and had guaranteed zero-interest loans. Faster, cheaper, etc.

      But I know that this not the future, because of politcs. What I see, everywhere is both a vast increase in nuclear AND renewables. Why do I say this? Because that IS what is going on around the world today.

      David

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:36:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what is going on (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger

        David,

        Sorry, I just don't see this vast increase in nukes that you do. What I see is a lot of talk about a vast increase in nukes. As the diary points out, 27,000 MW of wind was installed last year, 0 MW of nukes. In 2007, it was 19,700 MW of wind, a little over 2,000 MW of nukes. Indeed, solar installation has been outpacing nukes over the past few years, and surely will continue to do so.

        Why on earth should nuclear power get zero-interest loans? Nuclear is a mature technology that should rise or fall on its own, not with taxpayers taking the risk (and, by the way, I'd personally be happy with that being the case for renewables as well....). But if there are to be loans for energy projects, they certainly shouldn't be zero interest, and I would argue they should go the most most cost-effective, least financially risky projects, which most financial analysts would agree would not include nukes....

        •  Nirsent, (0+ / 0-)

          I don't expect nukes to get zero interest loans. What I'm saying is that all this is 100% political. There will be more nuclear or do you doubt that EVERY application will be turned down and that there will be NO more applications submitted? [The 27,000 MWs of wind equals about 7,000MW real power and probably won't equal even one large nuclear plant now. Remember, we're talking MWhrs no just useless nameplate capacity for wind and solar.]

          Moods, political winds, financing, always change. You talk and act as if TMI happened yesterday. In FACT, there are dozens of GWs of new nuclear construction started or about to start in Europe and Asia. Dozens and dozens planned. Each nuclear plant represents a 1 to 1 MW of coal plant NOT being built. These moods and political winds will change if the Chinese, for example meet their budgetary and scheduling targets. It will change a LOT everywhere and will change people's minds even more so. Please note I say IF. I'm not a fantasy pusher of unrealizable dreams. They may utterly fail. Or not. And I have always suggested that the future of nuclear energy doesn't lie in a country like the US but in S. Korea, Russia and China.

          I would take what Jerome of Paris says to heart and you will have a better understanding of nuclear...and wind.

          David

          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:48:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  political (0+ / 0-)

            Well, yes, most energy decisions are, like everything else, political. And I did read you saying that nukes should get zero interest loans when you wrote this:

            I'm working for those 400 to 500 new reactors by 2050 which could easily be done now under generally the same conditions and would be done if we reduced licensing to, say, 30 months from 42 and had guaranteed zero-interest loans.

            If I misunderstood, sorry.

            27,000 MWs of wind = about 9,000 MW = about 9 reactors. And that's more capacity than nuclear is adding. I think there is only about a 50/50 chance any new reactors will be built in the U.S. Several proposed projects already have been cancelled; others will be cancelled over the next year or two. Even the French research firm Macquarie Research Equities said on August 3 that Constellation Energy would be better off not building an EPR....and many have viewed Constellation as the lead reactor.

            (btw, I don't know much about Macquarie...Jerome, can you provide any insight on them?)

            But, I agree, if there is a future for nuclear, it is more likely in countries like China and India than in the U.S. or Europe.

            •  As to politics... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, mojo workin

              I think 400 to 500 reactors is very doable. Again, it depends of the politics of funding, licensing, etc. I do not expect this number to be there but since I know it is technologically, and financially, reasonable I work toward that projection.

              I also know, believe, understand that it is no only desirable, but necessary. I want to point that in your diary, you note this:

              50 million Elvis fans couldn't be wrong, nor can the unanimous conclusions of studies by entities like MIT and the Commission on Energy Policy, which agree that it would take 1500-2,000 new nuclear reactors or more by mid-century, 300-400 in the U.S. alone, to make any kind of meaningful reduction in carbon emissions—by meaningful, I mean even a 20% reduction.

              (I like the Elvis point) 300-400 is what we need, then we should do this. We need to change the budgetary, regulatory and other issues that are the only hold up, really. That's politics of course, but I don't say "the politics of nuclear energy are stagnant but lets change the politics for renewables and throw money at that industry... which is what I hear from your diaries and, many renewable advocates. We many, and more and more of us, are working to ward that end.

              But how does a "20%" reduction only figure? My my. If we had 400 new Gen III plants built (1150 to 1800MWs each) there would be no more coal, period. Nada. If you believe that eliminating coal firing for electrical generation is only "20%" of GHG emissions I have a bridge to sell ya'. It's a lot more than that. I think you know this too. And, how much would society save in health benefits of zeroing out coal?

              David

              Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

              by davidwalters on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:29:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  should and can are two different things (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mieprowan

                You argue we should build 300-400 new reactors in the U.S. I argue it isn't going to happen. And it's not only politics--it's money. It would take enormous sums of money just to build the infrastructure needed to build that many reactors, and then you get the staggering costs of the reactors themselves.

                So at most we'll get a handful of new reactors over the next couple of decades, which would be meaningless in terms of reducing carbon emissions.

                Since it isn't going to happen, why spend money--especially taxpayer money--on nukes at all? Let's spend our money--which we all know isn't unlimited--on technologies that are faster at reducing carbon emissions than nuclear. Those technologies are also cheaper than nuclear--I notice not a single person has challenged the findings of the report that using renewables/efficiency instead of new nukes would save $1.9-$4 trillion over the lifetime of the plants.

                And renewables and efficiency don't have the baggage of radioactive waste, radioactive emissions and safety concerns. Whether you think those are disqualifying or not (I do, you obviously don't), the fact is other sources don't have that baggage.

                I also maintain that the utilities proposing new nukes really don't give a s--t about climate or reducing carbon emissions. Not a single one has ever talked about building a new nuke to close a coal plant (as you might guess would be the case listening to pro-nukers here). In fact, they all want to keep their dirty coal plants running too...they just want whatever PR value they can get by claiming "emissions-free" technology.

                Note: I'm not accusing the pro-nukers here of thinking that way, I do understand you're sincere in your beliefs. But I think you're a bit naive to think the utilities have the welfare of our climate in mind when they talk about building new nukes.

        •  Misleading. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryfry

          The amount of generating capacity added is  irrelevant. The bottom line is the amount of power actually produced. It is not true that 27,000 MW of wind turbines is equivalent to 27 nuclear plants because nuclear plants operate 90% of the time and most of their down time is scheduled in the Fall and Spring when the load demand is lightest. Depending on their location, the average wind turbine averages only 30% or so of their "capacity". Even then, their peak production is in the Spring and Fall when demand is lowest. The picture is even bleaker for PV, which operate at even lower capacity factors than wind.

          Moreover, if we look at the amount of new tidal energy capacity added world-wide the numbers would look puny. Are you saying by extension we shouldn't bother with tidal energy because it isn't doing anything now?

          Nuclear power shouldn't get zero-interest loans. But there is a case for giving them loan guarantees. Operation of nuclear plants is mature. Construction of nuclear plants is a lost art.

      •  Waltdavids (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shpilk, mieprowan

        The VP of nuclear for Westinghouse didn't believe that nukes were gonna be much help in terms of climate change in 2006.  What has really changed since then that invalidates his position?  If you don't like what he had to say, take it up with him.  I only reported his position.

        Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

        by gmoke on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:49:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Because they signed contracts to build (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mcrab

          new ones, and since 2006, 29 applications were submitted, thats why.

          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 08:38:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Begs the Question (0+ / 0-)

            Will any of them be built and producing electricity by 2012?  That's the real question.

            Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

            by gmoke on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 02:09:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well ... (0+ / 0-)

              A couple of utilities have already stated that they prefer to uprate their existing plants, rather than build a new one at the present time. These decisions are based on myopic economic considerations.

              Nevertheless, any one of these utilities will be adding generation that is equivalent to a sizable wind "farm" or a huge solar array in the next couple of years. Certainly, this generation will be available before 2012.

              Those companies that are taking a more long-term view and continuing with the process of building a new nuclear reactor will get long-term results. That is, they will get somewhere between 1100 and 2300 MW of generation capacity that will produce at over 80% of this rated capacity, on average, over a lifetime of 60 years or more. I don't expect any of these new plants to be operating commercially by the end of 2012.

              Do you expect anything (short of a complete collapse of the US economy) to shut down coal combustion in the US by 2012? Do you expect anything to make a significant dent in coal use by then? Arbitrarily picking a date and implying that something is worthless if it doesn't meet your deadline is a huge straw man argument.

              An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
              -- H. L. Mencken

              by bryfry on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 03:51:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Arbitrary (0+ / 0-)

                "“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”

                Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2002.

                What he considers "action," I do not know exactly.

                Last I heard, the Arctic Ocean is estimated to be "ice-free" by as early as 2013 (source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/...

                Natural deposits of methane are now emitting at an increased rate into the atmosphere, a powerful greenhouse gas available in amounts that dwarf what we, our industry, and our livestock presently emit.

                Based upon this information, I don't believe 2012 is an overly arbitrary date.

                Personally, I believe we've already passed the tipping point into catastrophic climate change.   That's why I have my own solar lighting system in my apartment, advocate Solar IS Civil Defense (the scale I like to work at), and keep a garden.

                Efficiency and local renewables are the only things I see that have a reasonable chance of doing something within that time frame.  I suspect that efficiency may be much more powerful than renewables and that, once we start, we'll discover it's low-hanging fruit all the way down.  That's where I'd put my resources and where I concentrate my efforts.

                I suspect that civil disobedience to close coal burning will begin to happen increasingly.  It has already started and may have closed at least one facility [Washington DC, last March].

                You are painting me as someone who is all black or all white.  Ain't so.  I have problems, deep problems, with nuclear but it is probably going to be with us for the foreseeable future and thorium reactors may be extremely useful in the farther future, if they ever get built.  I don't think nuclear is worthless.  I just don't believe it's going to be particularly useful within the necessary time frame.  Personally, I don't like the scale and all that it requires.  I also know, from experience, that strong criticism of the overweeningly arrogant nuclear community has meant that they've had to clean up their act over the last thirty years or so.  I don't believe it would have happened without that strong criticism, even with the experiences of TMI and Chernobyl.

                We are probably due for another nuclear "excursion" sometime within the next few years.  Let's hope that it's not catastrophic.

                Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

                by gmoke on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 06:03:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  More Arbitrary (0+ / 0-)

                  McKinsey report on energy efficiency opportunities in the developing world:

                  ...research by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has found: they could slow the growth of their energy demand by more than half over the next 12 years—to 1.4 percent a year, from 3.4—which would leave demand some 25 percent lower in 2020 than it would otherwise have been (Exhibit 1). That is a reduction larger than total energy consumption in China today.

                  http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/...

                  Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

                  by gmoke on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 06:28:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Eh ... It's arbitrary (0+ / 0-)

                  I find nothing in what you have written that indicates that 2012 is some sort of magic date. The only thing that comes close is some random, vague quote from the head of the organization that is only "90% sure" that recent warming is due to man-made causes.

                  It was still a stupid question that sets up a worthless straw man.

                  All the rest is rambling about your "own solar lighting system in my apartment," your garden, and other irrelevant nonsense.

                  An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                  -- H. L. Mencken

                  by bryfry on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 07:34:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  magic date (0+ / 0-)

                    I don't believe in a magic date, but the point is that there will be no--zero--new nuclear reactors online in the U.S. within certainly the next 8 years, and probably longer than that. No reactors have a license yet and no licenses will be granted before the 2011-2012 time period, no taxpayer loan guarantees have been approved, no utilities have yet arranged the additional financing they would need, and obviously construction has not begun. The fastest reactor built in the U.S. over the past 40 years was River Bend, and that took six years (no one else came close to that, and River Bend was about 400% overbudget). The experience Areva is having in Finland and France indicates six years will still be the mark to beat.

                    Climate scientists do agree that we need to take immediate and effective steps to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade. New nuclear reactors will not reduce any carbon emissions over that time period. And taking money to build new reactors that we could be spending on programs that actually would reduce emissions over the next decade is counterproductive.

                    Finally, even if the nuclear industry succeeds in getting a few new reactors built in the decade after that, there is nothing that indicates a large construction program is feasible, either in terms of economics or infrastructure. And absent a large construction program--the 300-400 reactors I cited in the article--nuclear power would be at best a peripheral player in the effort to reduce emissions, and more likely completely insignificant. There are better ways to spend our money if carbon emissions reductions is the goal--as it should be.

                    •  Whatever ... (0+ / 0-)

                      This is the weakest part of your argument. If you're counting on something significant being done in the next six years, then we're all fucked. What's going to save us?

                      Renewables? Don't make me laugh. In the short term, generation by nuclear will continue to keep pace with or outpace growth by all renewables, just as it has over the last decade. Here are the numbers:

                      Increase in yearly nuclear generation (1997-2007): 178 TWh
                      Increase in yearly generation from all "renewables" (1997-2007): 37 TWh

                      Note that these figures only include the growth by both technologies. Nuclear still provides electricity generation that is over 10 times the amount that is provided by solar, wind, and other tax-payer scams. Nuclear is the largest source of low-carbon electricity that the US has, and that will not change in the next 10 years.

                      As I have mentioned earlier in this thread, the utilities that have decided not to build new reactors are planning uprates instead. This is why nuclear generation will increase in the short term, even without new reactors being built.

                      Efficiency? Yeah, sure, there are many low-lying fruit, but as the "cash-for-clunkers" program has demonstrated -- although efficiency is very popular with folks who are paid by the rest of us to clean up their act -- the effectiveness of such programs is of dubious value. To compare such programs with something that provides 20% of the country's electricity is just plain silly.

                      Conservation? Well, short of electricity rationing or exporting all of our industry overseas, this is not a practical option. Rationing would be extremely unpopular. (Although I would love the irony if NIRS's 24/7 web servers were shut down to conserve electricity -- put your money where your mouth is, NIRS.)

                      Exporting industry would not only be unpopular with the unions, but it would most likely have a negative effect on pollution worldwide, since energy-intensive industry would be exported to countries that do not have to adhere to EPA standards. This includes carbon-dioxide emissions, so it appears that conservation in the short-term is a losing prospect.

                      So it doesn't matter whether we are talking short term or long term. Nuclear, while not perfect, does address both time frames very well and much better than the alternatives.

                      An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                      -- H. L. Mencken

                      by bryfry on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:51:40 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Magic Date (0+ / 0-)

                    The "magic date" is now, today, this moment, and every moment that follows.  

                    Whether or not the globe is warming, is approaching a tipping point, or has already stumbled past it, nothing less than an historical shift in cultural values will suffice.

                    Until farmers are honored above bankers, or until we all become farmer bankers, we remain doomed.

      •  Outsourced Nukes (0+ / 0-)

        We could git 'er done if we outsourced the work to all those Chinese engineers!  

        It's hard to imagine America's lawyers, investment bankers, real estate agents, and food service workers building a host of new newcooler plants.

        Or, are you suggesting that all the workers who built the sprawl of crappy stick-frame homes be re-ejerkated?  How long will that take?

    •  Nuclear power may not do much to add (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bryfry

      significantly to the 20% of electricty it already provides the country over the next ten years, but:

      a. Why do you say nuclear won't help over the next decade to stop catastrophic climate change when it has already been providing 20% of our electricity, carbon-free, for over a decade? Are you saying that if PV doesn't provide 20% of our power by 2020 it will have been too small to have helped? How much does a carbon-free source of power have to contribute to "help"?

      b. Why do you act like what happens after 2020 is irrelevant? The world isn't likely to end in 2021. It is a pipe dream to think we can eliminate all fossil plants within a decade. For all the talk (and so far it is is almost entirely talk) about distributed power and conservation and the like, large baseload plants have not gone out of style. Even green Germany continues to build coal-fired plants as they tout their wind turbines and solar arrays. As old baseload plants age, there is every indication that new baseload plants will continue to be built to replace them. The question is going to be what they they are.

      •  False Mantra (0+ / 0-)

        "[Nuclear energy] has already been providing 20% of our electricity, carbon-free, for over a decade
        - Blubba

        It's not "carbon-free".  Please stop chanting this falsehood.

      •  Mired and Tired (0+ / 0-)

        "As old baseload plants age, there is every indication that new baseload plants will continue to be built to replace them. The question is going to be what they they [sic] are."

        Your thinking is mired in the existing paradigm.  This paradigm has required profligate consumption in order to maintain the illusion of its false promises and its false value.  In contrast to your false proclamation, there is every indication that this system is unsustainable.

        To my thinking, there is no question that the investments should be made in distributed solutions.  The risks are high that large investments sunk in central generation will be stranded by emerging technologies that favor distributed systems.

        Nuclear energy's only hope is to become small.

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