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The flagship project to build a new nuclear power reactor in the United States—the one that provided the economic model for most new reactor proposals since—is in serious trouble and likely will collapse of its own weight before construction could even begin.

What this means for the much-hyped nuclear "renaissance" is clear: there will be no large-scale nuclear revival in the United States, and probably not in the rest of the world either, since the pressures on this project are international in scope, and affect just about every nation not named China.

UniStar Nuclear Energy, a joint venture of Electricite de France (EDF) and Maryland-based Constellation Energy, was formed to build the Calvert Cliffs-3 reactor on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, and had ambitions to build several other nuclear reactors in the U.S. as well. Agreements had been reached to build in at least New York State, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, and projects in Idaho and Texas were also being considered. All were to be based on the French government’s Areva EPR design, two prototypes of which are now being built in Finland and France.

But last week, everything began publicly falling apart. Mayo Shattuck, CEO of Constellation Energy, told an investors’ conference call Wednesday, July 28 that the company is slowing down its spending on the project. Between the lines, Shattuck admitted that Unistar is nearly out of money, having run through some $600 million since mid-2007 with little to show for it.

Shattuck pressed for a taxpayer bailout of his project. "We can’t keep going at the rate we’re going without clarity on the loan guarantee," Shattuck told the investors gathered on the call. Shattuck was referring to UniStar’s application to the Department of Energy for $8-10 Billion in taxpayer loans to build the reactor.

Shattuck said the project likely will be shelved completely if it hasn’t received taxpayer backing by the end of the summer.

Shattuck didn’t explain why taxpayers should put up some $8-10 Billion for a company that is running out of money on a nuclear construction project before the first shovel has been put in the ground. Not to mention a company that has apparently spent nearly all of its assets over the past three years yet remains more than two years away, at a minimum, from even obtaining a license to build a reactor. And not to mention for a reactor design whose safety deficiencies have sparked concern at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as among nuclear safety regulators in France, Finland and the United Kingdom.

But those are exactly the question taxpayers, both in Maryland and across the country, should be asking.

The simple fact is that Calvert Cliffs was never going to work, and is failing under the weight of completely foreseeable factors, including:

*soaring construction cost estimates
*overreliance on government handouts
*serious reactor design deficiencies
*falling electricity demand coupled with aggressive new state-level programs to further reduce electricity demand
*meaningful and aggressive competition from renewables
*concerted and effective opposition from environmental opponents

Too many, especially in Congress (and we’re looking right at you Steny Hoyer, who represents the Calvert Cliffs district), think that simply lending UniStar as much money as it wants to build Calvert Cliffs-3 will solve all these problems. But the problems are so deep-set that even if the government puts up $10 Billion or more, that will likely only temporarily salvage the project, which even Constellation Energy isn’t yet committed to. Rather, the company wants the loan guarantee to buy it more time to examine whether a reactor even makes sense.

More likely, this reactor will never get built, and if the loan is granted taxpayers would be taking all of the risk, and quite possibly eating a large loss, for a company that is essentially an arm of the French government—hardly the kind of high-profile boondoogle a usually-cautious politician like Hoyer would seem to want to embrace or defend in a future election.

I have written before about Calvert Cliffs-3 as essentially the poster boy for the new model of nuclear power plant economics. My first, very long and detailed post, was published nearly two years ago here. I followed up with several other posts about nuclear economics and nuclear power’s inability to be an effective means of addressing our climate crisis, the most interesting of which are here, here, and here.

If you don’t want to read those, here are the basics in a nutshell: UniStar Nuclear is a French government-dominated company that has the idea of building French-designed reactors in the United States. Maryland’s Constellation Energy is its willing pawn. Together they came up with the economic model of 100% debt financing to build a new nuclear reactor. In other words, the companies would put up a small amount of money to file a license application to build a reactor and get the process rolling, and then get taxpayers—in both the U.S. and France—to put up all of the money to actually build the thing.

The reactor would be huge, meaning that while it would cost a lot, it would also return a lot in electricity sales, enabling the payoff of the enormous, but low-interest, taxpayer loans, and ensuring big profits for UniStar and its parent corporations. That was the plan anyway.

The reality is turning out quite a bit different.

*Soaring Construction Costs.

When Constellation Energy first began toying with the idea of building a new nuclear reactor, back in 2004-2005, it thought the cost would be about $2-$2.5 billion. Indeed, its application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build the reactor, first filed in 2007 and updated five times since then, still uses a cost estimate in that range in its required NEPA cost-benefit analysis of a new reactor versus renewable sources of power.

But even by 2006, Constellation knew it would cost more--by that point the utility was estimating $4.5 billion, and knew it had to get some partners. It first teamed up with the French reactor manufacturer Areva (90%+ owned by the French government) and created UniStar Nuclear to further pursue the concept. Later in 2007, Areva and Constellation dropped their partnership and instead Electricite de France (80%+ owned by the French government), the world’s largest electric utility, stepped in to fill the void. UniStar Nuclear Energy was born. In mid-2007, UniStar became the first utility in the U.S. to file a partial application for a construction/operating license for a new nuclear reactor in nearly 30 years.

By then, the cost estimate for this one reactor, which would produce about 1600 Megawatts of power, was about $7 billion.

In the summer of 2008, the Maryland Public Service Commission held hearings on the project. My organization, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), participated and brought in an expert witness to argue the reactor would be even more expensive than had to that point been stated. In rebuttal, UniStar CEO George Vanderheyden testified that their then-current cost estimates were "on the upper end" of $4500-6000/kw, or $7.2 Billion to $9.6 Billion, with $9.6 Billion being that upper end.

Mr. Vanderheyden continues to hold to that estimate. But there is a catch. That estimate is for "overnight" construction costs, meaning that would be the cost if the reactor could somehow be built in a day. Of course, a reactor cannot be built in a day—it takes years—and financing and other costs add significantly to the final tally. One estimate that provides a clearer glimpse into actual costs is provided by Pennsylvania Power and Light, a UniStar partner, which estimates that actual construction costs, including financing and the initial load of necessary uranium fuel, would be on the order of $13-15 Billion for a reactor identical to Calvert Cliffs-3.

And these estimates are before a single shovelful of dirt has been turned over. The history of the U.S. nuclear construction program provides ample reason for concern: according to a 1986 Department of Energy study, the average construction cost overrun for the first 75 nuclear reactors built in the U.S. was 207%. The average overrun for the next 50 or so reactors was even higher.

UniStar, of course, knows this history, and thinks that either a) it can buck the odds and deliver a reactor on time and on budget and/ or b) it doesn’t matter because their economic model calls for taxpayers to take all of the risk.

If the project works, great! If it doesn’t, the parent companies are protected by no fewer than seven separate limited liability corporations between them and the actual reactor. Good luck to Uncle Sam ever figuring out how to recover lost money if UniStar doesn’t repay its loans.

At this point, in mid-2010, UniStar is looking for $8-10 billion in loans from the federal government to build the reactor (the loans would come from the Federal Financing Bank, an entity more familiar with building college dorms and helping out small rural electric co-ops than overseeing multi-billion dollar loans to private utilities). UniStar has apparently arranged for $2.9 Billion of its needed money to come from the French government’s Export-Import Bank.

*Overreliance on government handouts.

UniStar clearly will not build this reactor without federal loans, and has been upfront about saying so since the beginning.

Calvert Cliffs-3 would be a merchant power plant, meaning that it would operate in a deregulated electricity marketplace, with no guaranteed purchasers of its power. If it were cheap to build and operate that might not be a problem; since it is neither, there is considerable skepticism about whether anyone would even buy its power.

The Maryland Public Service Commission conducted more than six months of hearings to ensure that Constellation Energy’s subsidiary Baltimore Gas & Electric would be "fenced off" from Calvert Cliffs-3 and not be affected by conceivable cost overruns and problems at that project (full disclosure: NIRS was a participant in those hearings).

On the surface, BGE would seem to be the most likely buyer of Calvert Cliffs-3 electricity, but the hearings and the PSC's skepticism toward the project bode poorly for it taking a major role in buying electricity from the reactor (unlike its parent company, BGE is a regulated utility and would require PSC approval to buy electricity from Calvert Cliffs-3).

And if there are insufficient electricity sales, then UniStar might not be able to pay back the taxpayer loans it wants to obtain.

These are not insignificant. Back in 2007, Congress authorized the Department of Energy to give $18.5 Billion in loans for new nuclear reactors. At the time, Congress thought it was funding six new reactor projects.

But the skyrocketing costs of new reactor construction have changed the equation. Instead of six new projects, that money will now cover only two. The first money--$8.3 Billion, already has been allocated to a two-unit nuclear project in Georgia (which may or may not ever get built). The rest of the money will go to Calvert Cliffs or a different project, although Calvert Cliffs is generally regarded to be next in line.

But in the Georgia project, the government is putting up only $8.3 billion for what is currently estimated to be a $14.4 billion cost. That kind of ratio won’t work for Calvert Cliffs, which needs 100% financing, from U.S. and French taxpayers.

Why? Because UniStar was formed with essentially no money and with no assured customer base. The 50/50 split between Electricite de France (EDF) and Constellation Energy is predicated upon an agreement that EDF would put up a maximum of $625 million for initial costs and Constellation would throw in $49 million of unspecified assets (personnel, expertise, office space, etc.). (note, information comes from Constellation Energy Form 10-K, page 6, Fiscal year ending December 31, 2007; filed with U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, February 27, 2008, page 6.)

And UniStar has already run threw nearly all of this money. On July 28, in his conference call to investors, Constellation CEO Mayo Shattuck announced a freeze on hiring and a slowdown in spending on Calvert Cliffs-3 and complained that they were tired of waiting for federal loans. Apparently, before even turning over the first shovelful of dirt, UniStar already has spent nearly its entire initial $625 million capitalization.

That is a remarkable amount of money to spend before the company has even completed its license application (Revision 7 is due in October); is still in contested hearings over its application; does not have a certified reactor design (and because of design deficiencies, certification likely will be pushed back past 2012—see below), and has no potential customers while its projected costs just keep going up.

Indeed, Electricite de France on July 30 took a $1.4 billion provisionagainst its $6.5 billion investment in Constellation Energy's nuclear program, including its $625 million investment in UniStar. The policy question is: Why should U.S. taxpayers be asked to provide loans to the French government to continue a project it thinks is fraught with risk? Said an EDF official, "The risk is high. There is a high probability we will have to depreciate maybe Constellation assets and maybe Unistar assets and risks, future costs of future development."

*Serious reactor design deficiencies

The safety issues are significant. On July 22, 2010, the NRC wrote to Areva, the reactor’s manufacturer, and said that deficiencies with the design’s digital instrumentation and control systems have not yet been resolved. First identified by European regulators last year, the problem is that these critical systems may not work in accident conditions. The NRC warned that the already delayed certification of the design is likely to be delayed further. On August 4, Areva announced it would be March 2011 before it could provide the NRC with a proposed fix to the problems. More recently, French nuclear regulators ordered new changes to the system for the EPR already being built in Flamanville.

But another safety issue, brought to prominence in France earlier this year through EDF documents obtained by the anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire, is now being taken seriously by French regulators. While the issue is rather technical, the problem is that under certain scenarios, the reactor’s automatic shutdown system could fail to operate, and radiation could be released to the environment. According to a top French nuclear regulator, in that circumstance "the released fission products will be more difficult to manage, more numerous." U.S. regulators have not, publicly at least, even begun investigating the issue. The New York Times recently reported on this issue here.

Resolving these fundamental safety issues—if indeed they even can be resolved—will almost certainly push back the 2012 certification date for the Areva reactor design, known as the EPR. And since UniStar cannot obtain a construction license until after the design has been certified, the company will have to make its dwindling cash reserves last even longer.

Meanwhile, Areva has taken billions of dollars in provisions for the first EPR under construction, in Finland, whose cost has now risen by about 80% and whose four-year construction schedule is now four years behind schedule. More unresolved safety concerns are likely to cascade not only over Calvert Cliffs, but also Areva’s European and Chinese EPR projects (EDF is building an EPR in France, but announced last week that this project is two years behind schedule and about 30% overbudget).

*Falling electricity demand coupled with aggressive new state-level programs to further reduce electricity demand

The recession caused electricity demand to plummet just about everywhere. For the first time since at least 1950, demand dropped two years in a row, and may have dropped three years straight. In the PJM service area, which includes Maryland, demand has still not returned—despite this summer’s record-setting oppressive heat waves—to anywhere near its peak of 2006. That means that projections of capacity shortfalls made by the state just a few years ago no longer ring true; indeed there is plenty of excess capacity in the PJM region.

Meanwhile, in 2008, the Maryland legislature passed the EmPower Maryland Act, which has an aggressive goal of reducing overall electricity demand in the state by 10% and peak demand by 15% by 2015.

These factors have had the combined effect of throwing past electricity demand forecasts out the window for utilities everywhere, but especially for UniStar which needs a very tight electricity market to be able to sell the 1600 Megawatts of electricity Calvert Cliffs-3 would produce.

*Meaningful and aggressive competition from renewables and other electricity sources

When UniStar submitted its license application for Calvert Cliffs-3 in mid-2007, its analysis (required by NEPA) of possible alternatives to the public basically shrugged off renewable energy sources. The company didn’t even acknowledge any possible role for offshore wind in potentially meeting Maryland’s or the region’s electricity needs.

But even by then, a company called Bluewater Wind was in neighboring Delaware seeking permission to build a several hundred megawatt wind farm a few miles offshore of Delaware’s small Atlantic coastline. That permission has since been granted, and Bluewater has expanded its ambitions, proposing an even larger wind farm (600 MW) off the coast of Maryland (with the enthusiastic backing of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley) and a large wind farm off the coast of New Jersey as well. The Department of Energy considers all three locations as among the best in the country for wind power potential and these projects quite likely will be completed and feeding power into the grid before Calvert Cliffs-3 could come online, further undercutting need for the massive reactor.

Bluewater was a fairly small company but last year it was purchased by the much larger NRG Energy. Ironically, NRG—which wants to build a two-unit nuclear facility at its South Texas location--and UniStar also are competitors for the remaining $10 billion in nuclear loan funds held by the Department of Energy. Unless Congress authorizes more funding for the program, only one of the two projects will get a federal loan.

Just as important as competition from Bluewater (and smaller renewable energy projects, including solar power), is the plummeting price of natural gas. Gas is about a third of the cost it was just two summers ago, and most analysts believe its cost will stay low indefinitely. It is not difficult to conjure up a scenario where a company could come in to Maryland, build a large natural gas plant (which are much cheaper and faster to build than a nuclear reactor) and completely undercut UniStar’s electricity prices in the deregulated marketplace, leaving UniStar to either sell its power at a loss or not sell its power at all. It’s scenarios like that that must give UniStar executives nightmares.

*opposition from environmental opponents

I hesitated to add this section for fear of sounding too self-serving. So I’ll skip most of what the opposition has been doing over the past few years and focus on one aspect: the intervention against the license application NIRS is leading before a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB).

Contrary to popular belief and nuclear industry whining, interventions against license applications almost never stop nuclear projects. Only two major projects ever have been denied a license as a result of an intervention (Byron, near Chicago, in the early 1980s and Louisiana Energy Services uranium enrichment plant in 1998; Byron made some changes and got its license a few months later; LES picked up and moved to the more hospitable political climes of New Mexico).

Interventions are usually about seeking safety improvements, ensuring compliance with regulations and raising questions about nuclear operations in a formal public forum.

But in this case, intervenors have raised an issue that is proving difficult for UniStar. The Atomic Energy Act, upon which all nuclear regulation is based, quite plainly prohibits "ownership, control or domination" of a U.S. nuclear project by foreign corporations or governments.

With the massive involvement of EDF, Areva, and the French Export-Import Bank in this project, that the issue is genuine is beyond question. Whether this large-scale foreign involvement actually violates the Atomic Energy Act will be up to the ASLB and possibly appeals courts to decide (we obviously think it does violate the plain language of the law).

But everything UniStar and its partners have done has been with an eye toward this issue. That’s why even though it put up more than 10 times the initial capital as Constellation, EDF only got a 50% share of UniStar. And when EDF bailed out Constellation, it paid $4.5 billion for 49.9% of Constellation’s five existing reactors, despite the fact that Warren Buffet thought the entire company was worth only $4.7 billion (Buffett had saved Constellation from bankruptcy in 2008, but Constellation spurned him when EDF’s concern that Buffett would cancel UniStar led them to make their offer for Constellation’s existing reactors). Again, they were concerned about going over an unclear "ownership, control and domination" limit.

What does seem to be clear is that this issue will prevent EDF from making any further investment in UniStar, leaving the company grasping for enough money to make ends meet for the next two years or more before it can receive a construction license.

In the end, UniStar simply overreached and adopted an economic model that borders on arrogance.

The idea of a multi-billion dollar nuclear reactor being built with 100% debt financing—with taxpayers of two different countries taking the financial risk while a company protected by seven layers of Limited Liability Corporations would take all the profit—is not only capitalism run amok, it probably just won’t fly, especially in a deregulated electricity market.

That UniStar has spent $600 million on the project doesn’t undercut the 100% debt financing model—none of that money has been for reactor construction. And it hasn’t been spent on reactor design either—that’s being done by Areva, not UniStar. Rather, it’s been spent (at least to the extent that it’s clear what it’s been spent on) on site-related work coupling the design to the site, hearings before Maryland Public Service Commission, putting together the initial license applications and subsequent five (so far) revisions, and who knows what else.

It’s actually an astonishing amount of money to run through in three years, with little to show for. By contrast, it only took a little more than that ($766 million) to actually build both of the existing reactors at Calvert Cliffs. Even with inflation, the difference is striking. If gasoline had gone up at the same rate as nuclear construction costs, we’d all be paying $20 for a gallon of gas...

The likely failure of Calvert Cliffs-3 calls into serious question not only the economic model of forcing taxpayers to pay for new reactors, but the concept of building and operating nuclear reactors in a deregulated electricity market. The risk may be just too great, and the potential rewards too speculative and uncertain, to enable such projects to succeed.

We argue that is a good thing. There are safer, cleaner and cheaper ways to get our electricity, that are at the same time more effective and faster at reducing carbon emissions. A recent study by a Duke University professor, for example, found that solar power has crossed a historic point—it is, in North Carolina at least (which is a fairly average solar potential state) now cheaper than nuclear power (New York Times report on this here).

With competition like that, and like Bluewater Wind and increasing energy efficiency, like low natural gas prices and no certainty of electricity sales, nuclear power just can’t win—even if taxpayers are forced to take the risk the utilities themselves are unwilling to shoulder.

As Jay Hancock, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun who has been supportive of the Calvert Cliffs-3 project, put it on August 1 in a piece titled Prospects Dim for Third Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Unit, "The fact that Constellation stock goes down every time it looks like the plant will be approved suggests that even the people who own the company don't want it to happen."

Calvert Cliffs-3 isn’t the only reactor proposal in trouble. Many of the points made in this article also apply to Nuclear Innovations North America’s (led by NRG Energy) South Texas project, which is in similar straits, is also in a deregulated market, and also has begun to reduce spending as it begs for a taxpayer loan to keep its plan afloat.

Even before a single slab of concrete foundation has been laid for a new reactor anywhere in the U.S., the much-hyped nuclear renaissance is collapsing of its own weight. In retrospect, the heyday of the nuclear revival was in October 2008, when the NRC announced it had received or was expecting license applications for 34 new nuclear reactors by now. Of those 34 reactor applications, seven were never submitted, two already have been formally withdrawn, no activity is occurring on five, and most of the rest have been substantially delayed by the utilities submitting the applications. Only a handful of applications, comprising 14 reactors, are being actively pursued. And some of those, it appears, are close to the end as well.

Update: Forbes, not exactly an anti-nuclear bastion, has published a piece that tends to support the analysis in this article. Here's the money quote:

In the past week the two favorites for the next round of Department of Energy loan guarantees for new nuclear plants, NRG Energy and Constellation Energy, have announced they just can’t take the wait any more and are dialing way back on spending until they hear some news.

Turns out this is great news for investors: While the companies desperately want to win loan guarantees, their investors are hoping the companies lose out. With energy prices low and new nuclear construction so risky and expensive, investors would rather that their companies stick to more conventional businesses.

Originally posted to nirsnet on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 07:47 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Ah, xenophobia (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jerome a Paris, Plan9, Mcrab

      always a good fallback when all of your other arguments against nuclear power have crumbled away.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 07:55:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  xenophobia? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        geomoo, Blubba, cany

        huh? What is xenophobic in this analysis?

        Because I point out the project is French-dominated? Doesn't mean I'm going to switch to freedom fries or stop drinking French wine, but facts is facts....

        •  You have to admit... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, Blubba

          ...that French involvement in a project is a dumb reason to reject it.  This is especially true given the long history that France has in producing nuclear power.

          http://twitter.com/mikeingels

          by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:23:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  could it be.... your whole tone? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, Mcrab

          UniStar Nuclear is a French government-dominated company that has the idea of building French-designed reactors in the United States. Maryland’s Constellation Energy is its willing pawn.

          Oh, "willing pawn". Such neutral language.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:15:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  NIRS lobbies against clean energy (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joffan, bryfry

            President Obama has proposed a $54 billion loan program for construction of new nuclear reactors. But nuclear power remains dirty, dangerous and uneconomic. Tell Congress to reject this proposal and support the safer, cleaner and cheaper renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that can power our future while reducing carbon emissions.

            From the NIRS website.  It opposes the only large-scale way to combat accelerated global warming.  I would give you the link but if you go there you will get toxic fly-ash all over your computer. ;)

            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 Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 06:46:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've already melted several keyboards (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, bryfry

              visiting anti-nuke sites. I always wear gloves now. ;-)

              This is not a sig-line.

              by Joffan on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 07:25:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  incredible that you think nuclear is clean (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bryfry

              but more to the point, it's totally uneconomic.  Address that reality please.

              And this statement:

              It opposes the only large-scale way to combat accelerated global warming.

              is simply false.  Nuclear plants take way too long to build, their uneconomic and suck money away from quicker, safer, more effective strategies for carbon reduction.

              And at the bottom of it all, nuclear power is too expensive to compete in a deregulated market. Period.

              If you can't answer that (and you can't) then you're admitting that nuclear power is too expensive and can ONLY exist in regulated markets where ratepayers are FORCED to by power that is more expensive than anything else.

              Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

              by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 01:02:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nuclear has lower environmental impact than wind (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bryfry

                The environmental footprint of nuclear power is very small per megawatt generated.  This is because the low-enriched uranium fuel is very energy dense.  When it is releasing heat in a controlled chain reaction in a power reactor (the core is about 12 ft by 12 ft) it is doing so in water, held in an enclosed space, inside the thick-walled reactor vessel.  That vessel is inside a building made of dense concrete and a massive network of re-bars--the walls are 5-6 feet thick. When the used fuel is removed, it is done so with extreme care and it is always isolated and shielded.  It is stored in a pool until it cools down and then placed in sturdy concrete casks where it can remain safely for 100 years.

                The water that is heated in the reactor to make steam to turn turbines is never in contact with any of the other water systems of the plant.  There are usually three systems, each separate from the other.

                Nuclear plants are spotless.  The workers have no wish to be exposed to radioactive materials.

                Nuclear plants don't burn anything so they don't emit greenhouse gases or CO2 or soot or fine particulates. A nuclear plant takes up less than .5 square miles and is surrounded by open land that is home to many species of plants and animals.

                Coal-fired plants release their waste into the environment.  You breathe it, it's in the water, and the toxic fly ash gets blown around.  Just from fine particulate emissions from coal and gas plants 24,000 people or more die annually.  But coal and gas supply baseload electricity.  To replace them you need nuclear power and geothermal.  Geothermal is confined to certain geological formations and those deep wells can bring up a lot of materials, including toxic heavy metals that are not isolated.  But geothermal is a good idea where possible.  In places like, say, Washington DC nuclear power plants in Virginia and NC do a better job.  And without exposing people to any emissions.

                All the spent nuclear fuel generated in the US since the beginning could fit in one big-box store.  Just to contain the waste for one year from one big coal-fired plant you would need a Walmart.

                Per kilowatt generated, wind farms require two to four times more concrete and steel than nuclear plants.  Those two things are made by burning coal.  And then a wind farm needs to burn fossil fuels to provide backup when the wind isn't blowing.

                Nuclear power is cleaner and safer than fossil fuel combustion.  The newest reactors are even better.

                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 Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 01:21:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm anti-coal too! (0+ / 0-)

                  And STILL you haven't answered why your two best  projects are going to fail.

                  Good luck with that.

                  Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

                  by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:45:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  what are you talking about? (6+ / 0-)

        the fact a French company is involved is just icing on the cake.  IF they weren't running on fumes, IF they weren't likely to fail, IF there weren't cheaper, better alternatives, IF there was a growing demand for their service, IF they could build it...their partners wouldn't be the issue.

        •  there is a foreign ownership issue, but it's not (8+ / 0-)

          xenophobia nor anything against the French. My grandfather was French, after all....

          The Atomic Energy Act prohibits "foreign ownership, control or domination" of a U.S. nuclear reactor. That's the law. Congress can change that if it wants, but it's the law right now.

          And there is a real question, as mentioned currently under litigation, about whether UniStar Nuclear Energy and the Calvert Cliffs-3 project run afoul of that law.

          But the project isn't failing because of this; it's failing for all the reasons described....

          •  Haha:) My dad's first name is Lorraine, if that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            geomoo

            gives you any indication of Frenchy goodness in my family and I am firmly against the project.

            French or no French, the project is a mess.

            866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

            by cany on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:14:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  yep (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, Joffan, Blubba, citisven

        "French" and "state-owned" - two easy code words to instill fear and loathing in any American when discussing anything business-related.

        •  It would be impossible and disingenuous (5+ / 0-)

          to write about Calvert Cliffs-3 and UniStar Nuclear without bringing up that it's at least 1/2 (and we argue more than half) owned by companies that are themselves predominately owned by the French government. Esp. when it is a French company that has just taken a billion dollar plus provision on its investment....

          Are we supposed to just ignore that?

          •  Indeed. Just whistle through those facts, (0+ / 0-)

            will ya?:)

            866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

            by cany on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:15:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I still fail to see the link (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9, Joffan, bryfry, Mcrab, Blubba

            Saying that the owners took a provision on their investment is relevant, but I fail to see how the nationality and ownership of that owner makes any difference.

            •  These criticisms seem unfair in the context (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RandomNonviolence, Earth Ling

              of the entire diary, which I found to be thorough and objective.  Hatred of the French was certainly not given as the primary reason for objecting, nor did I sense even a subtle appeal to xenophobia in order to win a point.

              I have never seen anyone questioned on here for arguing that significant investment in wind should go to Americans.  Why this sudden concern for not caring who owns anything in America?

              Terrific diary.  The average cost over-run of over 200% for building nuclear plants is symptomatic of the dishonesty I have seen from the nuclear industry since its inception.  

              Don't believe everything you think.

              by geomoo on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 03:53:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Is NIRS a "willing pawn" of fossil fuel industry? (0+ / 0-)

                Sure looks like it.

                I would rather Constellation remain the willing pawn of the country of France, which has one of the smallest carbon footprints in the industrialized world.  It gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear and has a good wind program going too.  Bring on the French, I say!

                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 Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 06:50:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  amen (0+ / 0-)

                folks are just looking for anything they can find to criticize.  The critical points of the diary are preserved even if the diarist were to go out of his way to praise the French.

                Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

                by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:04:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Michael Mariotte is just an opportunist (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, Mcrab

              ... a rather bigoted opportunist, if you ask me, who is hoping to capitalize on some bigoted anti-French sentiment in his audience.

              That is the only possible reason why he could be mentioning French ownership.

              Strangely, however, it is almost always the hard-core right-wing who are known for their anti-French bias.

              I guess Michael is too stupid to remember the audience that he is dealing with. That dog won't hunt here, and for good reason.

              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 05, 2010 at 08:34:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Much hyped wind build down 70% in US (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bryfry

                Did NIRSNIT mention this?  I don't think so.  Nuclear power asks only for loan guarantees which NIRS lobbies against.  Wind asks for outright subsidies.  Congress said No to both.  But Lovins told NIRSNET that the US will be powered entirely by renewables and efficiency and conservation.

                This is the nail in the coffin of wind power, if you believe the reasoning of this diary and the NIRS approach.

                AWEA Announces ‘Dismal’ Numbers for 1H 2010
                The lack of support for a long-term mandate from Congress has brought the wind industry to the edge of a cliff.

                The numbers are impressive -- but not in a good way. "It is dismal and getting worse," said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Denise Bode about the numbers in the just-released AWEA Mid-Year 2010 Market Report.

                It is now irrefutably obvious, according to Bode, that the failure of Congress to provide a long-term mandate for renewable energy is causing utilities across the country to choose natural gas and coal over wind.

                "In the first half of this year, we are down 70 percent in terms of wind installation," Bode said in introducing the report. In addition, she said, "we continue to see a drop in new manufacturing activity." Speaking with rising passion, Bode said the U.S. had dropped to third place, behind both the European Union and China, in new wind installations. Describing the U.S. wind industry's circumstances as "dire," she went on to say, "We need action."

                The 700 megawatts (MW) of new installed capacity in the second quarter brought the wind industry's 2010 total to 1,239 MW, a remarkable 71 percent below the 2009 number and 57% below the 2008 number.

                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 Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 06:41:25 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  hey, nice challenge to the analysis (0+ / 0-)

                in this article....great, well-researched and thoughtful points!

                See my reply to Jerome a Paris to learn how bigoted I am toward the French....

                •  "willing pawn" of the French--that's nasty (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bryfry

                  You may think you were being "objective" in the way you characterize the participation of the French in UniStar.  Just as you think you're being "objective" in your spurious reasons for claiming the nuclear renaissance is over.  

                  Your thinking is limited, your expertise is dubious.

                  You need to get out more and stop talking only to people who think exactly the way you do.

                  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 Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 07:06:25 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  You call that "analysis"?!! (0+ / 0-)

                  Propaganda, nonsense, or bullshit I'll give you. Those terms are quite accurate.

                  Frankly, that shit you're shilling isn't even worth a reply.

                  Bigot.

                  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 06, 2010 at 03:44:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  and another commentor with nothing to say (0+ / 0-)

                about the actual points and conclusions of the diary.

                Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

                by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:05:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  One thing at a time (0+ / 0-)

                  Do you want to defend French bashing?

                  What are you, a Republican? ;-)

                  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 06, 2010 at 03:41:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  the link is that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Earth Ling

              the Atomic Energy Act prohibits "foreign ownership, control or domination" of a U.S. nuclear reactor.

              That's the law, we didn't write it, Congress did. And they've never changed it.

              It doesn't matter to us that it's the French (like I said, I'm of French descent, I lived in Paris for 4 years as a child, I love France); could be Japanese or any other country.

              Whether or not the massive French investment in Calvert Cliffs runs afoul of the Atomic Energy Act will be up to the NRC's licensing board, and possibly appeals courts, to decide.

              But it's definitely relevant.

              •  it's a completely separate point (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Plan9, bryfry

                I understand how foreign ownership is relevant. But that's not exactly how you chose to emphasise it and I find that troubling.

                If not voluntary, it certainly distracts from whatever point you were trying to make.

                •  not sure how else to say it... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Earth Ling

                  Jerome,

                  I'm really not sure how else one can describe this project and I'm certainly not intending to offend. But it does represent an unprecedented level of foreign involvement in a U.S. reactor project. And there is no question that Constellation wouldn't even be attempting this without the French involvement.

                  It is dominated by 2 French government-controlled companies and expects to receive some meaningful portion of its financing through the French govt's Export-Import Bank.

                  EDF has put up $625 million for this project, compared to $49 million worth of assets from Constellation. EDF is actually the largest shareholder of Constellation (about 9%). EDF additionally bought 49.9% of Constellation's five existing reactors, at an inflated price of $4.5 billion, in order to keep this project going (and, given their provision, apparently now thinks all this investment might not have been a great idea)

                  But EDF remains the dominant partner in this relationship, and when you add Areva and COFACE into the mix, you get the French govt being the dominant entity (and I do realize EDF/Areva don't always get along and that it's not like there is some cabinet minister calling the shots here--I'm not suggesting it's some sort of conspiracy).

                  It's not because it's French, it's irrelevant what country is involved. I'd make the same argument (might even make it stronger given my own French background and certainly if it were a country with less nuclear experience), it's that it's foreign and, in our view at least, violates the Atomic Energy Act. That's the issue. That the NRC licensing board agrees that the issue requires a full adjudicatory hearing means the issue is genuine and material.

                  Congress can change the Act if it wants. But unless and until they do, it is the law.

                  •  You could have used less inflammatory language (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Plan9, Mcrab

                    Mr. Mariotte,

                    You could have written your post discussing the technical issues of the Atomic Energy Act instead of writing them in the comments section.

                    Instead, you chose to state:

                    Maryland’s Constellation Energy is its willing pawn

                    To some people such as Jerome and myself your choice of language appears to be purposefully inflammatory.  Especially since you did not provide the background on the EDF business relationship with Constellation in the first place nor discussed the Warren Buffet factor.  Based on some of the financial details I know about what Constellation management did years ago they do not deserve any awards but you not telling the background is misleading.  

                    You also avoided or purposefully left out discussion about the NRC, FERC and Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) reviews and subsequent approvals of the contractual relationship between EDF and Constellation.  Instead, you jump right to the red herring that a 50-50 partnership is somehow automatic justification of a violation of the Atomic Energy Act.  

                    Did you or NIRS file any protests describing your concerns about possible violations of the Atomic Energy Act during the required public comment period of the three governmental organizations?  Or are you just now bringing up your concerns about partial French ownership of critical US based infrastructure and resources here in this press release for the first time to see what sticks to the wall?

                    You also chose to state:

                    UniStar Nuclear is a French government-dominated company that has the idea of building French-designed reactors in the United States

                    Here I would also agree with Jerome that you purposefully chose to use inflammatory language and provide the following two points for discussion.  

                    Point #1:  Iberdrola SA, Iberdrola Renovables as well as their various subsidiaries and spinoffs are companies I am sure you are familiar with since they design, build and install wind turbines, other green energy generation sources as well as natural gas facilities.  Funny thing though, they have received and continue to receive millions of US taxpayer dollars for wind projects.  In fact, it was their receipt of millions of dollars directly from the US Treasury that lead to Sen. Schumer and other senators to include "Buy American" provisions into ARRA, which is now covered by ARRA Section 1605.  

                    Iberdrola and its various spinoffs also receive additional millions in profits due to their US acquisitions of various power generation facilities.  However, you do not seem to have a problem with them owning US assets that are directly tied to the same critical grid infrastructure resources that UniStar plans to tie into with their nuclear reactors.  

                    Did you protest as loudly to the New York Public Service Commission about foreign ownership of critical US based infrastructure assets when Iberdrola purchased Energy East in 2008 as you are here or was that okay with you since Iberdrola has historically been involved with wind generation?

                    Point #2:
                    A primary reason UniStar chose the Areva EPR is that we here in the United States have lost our vast resources of design and fabrication talent over the past few decades for a multitude of reasons.  In fact we are buying some of our technology back from the French since our own US based companies were more focused on 3-6 month Wall Street driven profit motives, not long-term strategic planning.  These are issues you are well aware of I am sure as your organization has historically cheered every time a company directly tied to the nuclear industry picked up and moved off-shore.

                    Let me propose this idea since you are so concerned with an Areva reactor since it is a French design and French owned which is puzzling to me since the nuclear industry in France has a very good operational track record.  Would you consider DOE money going to fund a startup company or an established company such as B&W whose purpose would be to develop US based talent and resources devoted to rebuilding the US nuclear reactor pipeline?  

                    Before you answer realize that is exactly what DOE is doing right now with at least $1-2 billion dollars of loan guarantees provided to Brightsource for the Ivanpah facility as well as Solyndra, both which are not going smoothly according to current financial and technical reports.  Specifically Solyndra is in danger of defaulting on the DOE loan guarantees due to unproven technology and business plan.  That would be the same loan guarantees provided from the same Congressional provisions you would deny to nuclear.  

                    The Ivanpah facility is having technical issues with installing their solar panel support structure that may invalidate their site selection criteria or change their environmental analysis to cover a possible new design putting their investors into a holding pattern as well.  If either Brightsource or Solyndra defaults should we end the whole loan guarantee program or, because it is wind and solar that primarily benefits from those loan guarantees, should we just keep dumping money down those rabbit holes?  

                    •  I can give you Mariotte's reply (0+ / 0-)

                      to your two points, because this is NIRS's standard response to such challenges. I've heard them give it again and again.

                      Michael would reply (in so many words) that he is paid to oppose nuclear energy, not renewables, so any problems with Iberdrola SA, Iberdrola Renovables, Brightsource, and Solyndra are not his concern. They don't fall under his job description.

                      They also use this excuse for why they don't work to actively oppose coal and other fossil fuels.

                      When was the last time that you went out of the way to do someone else's job? ;-)

                      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 Sun Aug 08, 2010 at 09:42:48 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  "any" ? (0+ / 0-)

          Gay Marriage photographer for hire . Inquire within .

          by indycam on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 07:49:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  yeah it all hinges on xenophobia (0+ / 0-)

        the carefully detailed description of the economics problems just fall apart when you remove the xenophobia.  NOT.

        Joffan, if that's your rebuttal, it's pathetic.

        Please explain how UniStar is going to provide attractively priced electricity in a deregulated market.

        If you can't do that, then there's really no need for you to comment, unless you just want us to know that you're bitter and upset that nuclear isn't going to fly any more. In that case, comment away!  

        Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

        by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 12:58:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well that's the only substantial aspect (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mcrab

          of the whole ramble. The evil French are coming, and wicked Constellation Energy is its "willing pawn". That's the NIRS message here.

          The rest of the screed isn't worth much. By headlines:

          Soaring Construction Costs

          Same as everyone else suffered from 2003-2008. Cherry-picking one set of data for nuclear and ignoring the same effect here. Dishonest.

          Overreliance on government handouts

          Loan guarantees are not handouts. Repeatedly and blatantly dishonest.

          Serious reactor design deficiencies

          Updates to system details are part of the licensing process. Calling them serious deficiencies is dishonest.

          Falling electricity demand...

          Not falling enough to make a serious dent in coal. Climate oblivious

          ...competition from renewables and other electricity sources

          Some minor wind power is not going to replace coal - but most tellingly, hidden in that "other sources" is natural gas. Now that will make a difference, and the utiliy corporations love that because the fuel price can change wherever it wants and the cost goes straight to the user. Climate oblivious and fairly dishonest

          opposition from environmental opponents

          Oh right, the "I'm going to stop it in court" line. Fucking illegal - it's called barratry.

          ----------------

          Overall, it's a speculative piece about what might happen in a future decision by an individual corporation. It draws wild conclusions from fragments of gossip. On a scale of ten, I'll give it zero. And that's only because I don't believe in breaking the scale.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 06:55:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  So you're in favor of burning more fossil fuels (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan, bryfry, Mcrab, Blubba

      evidently.  You must therefore be a supporter of global warming and ocean acidification.

      The only large-scale way to replace fossil fuel combustion is nuclear power. It carbon footprint is smaller than that of wind and solar (all that concrete and steel, donchya know, to build those 200 square mile operations).  And of course wind and solar require backup and that inevitably comes from burning diesel, gas, and coal.  And in any case wind and solar have yet to provide steady, reliable, efficient, 24/7 power.  

      So that means that you are supporter of coal and natural gas combustion.  You may not have heard that they contribute hugely to global warming.  And in the US those plants kill 24,000 people a year just from fine particulates. A natural gas plant exploded in CT in Feb. and killed 5-6 people.  A pipeline in TX exploded and killed 3.  

      If you're concerned about radiation, then why are you supporting coal combustion?  Its ash is mildly radioactive--but even worse, coal combustion concentrates toxic heavy metals like mercury and arsenic in the fly ash and this toxic waste is stored in open unlined pits and slurry ponds.

      Not one death to a member of the public has occurred due to the operation of commercial nuclear power in the US in 50 years.  

      Per terawatt year nuclear is safer than wind power worldwide (flying blades, etc. have killed people).

      I am in favor of renewables, but pursuing them alone instead of making a concerted effort to replace fossil fuel plants with nuclear plants is a big mistake.

      In any case, construction of wind farms has dropped dramatically due to a drop in outright subsidies.

      The countries with the smallest carbon footprint in the industrialized world are France, Sweden, and Switzerland.  They all get a big proportion of their power from nuclear.

      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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:02:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is just inane (9+ / 0-)

        to say opposing nuclear means supporting fossil fuels.

        You might want to send in a request for our latest bumpersticker: No Nukes, No Coal, No Kidding!

        And you might want to read some books like Carbon-Free, Nuclear Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy by Dr. Arjun Makhijani or former TVA board chair David Freeman's Energy Independence: An Insider Shows How.

        The idea that the choice is between nuclear and coal is a red herring. The choice is between nuclear and renewables/efficiency/21st century energy grid and generation management.

        •  We need all of it. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, Joffan, Mcrab, Blubba, LookingUp

          70% of Michigan's electricity comes from coal.

          Even if we passed a carbon cap and heavily subsidized wind and solar, it would take decades to lower that number.

          Every wind farm, solar facility and nuclear plant is a step in the right direction.

          http://twitter.com/mikeingels

          by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:29:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  can't have all of it (5+ / 0-)

            The problem is we don't have unlimited resources. The question is what energy sources are fastest, cheapest, safest and cleanest to implement to replace fossil fuels.

            Putting aside nuclear's safety and radioactive waste issues for a moment, I and many others argue that the emphasis should be on energy efficiency programs, which clearly meet those 4 criteria. Then on renewables, which also meet them, but aren't as cheap as efficiency.

            Nuclear doesn't really meet any of them, unless one considers routine radiation releases "clean." But even if one does, it is still more expensive than the alternatives and thus a less efficient use of our limited resources.

            •  We are talking many states, cities, countries. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, Joffan, LookingUp

              The costs involved with a particular energy source will differ depending on the location.  And the costs involved also fluctuate depending on fuel costs, supply/demand.

              I think that our energy supply needs to be diversified.

              Oh, and I completely agree with efficiency as the #1 solution.

              http://twitter.com/mikeingels

              by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:49:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  How's Germany doing? (5+ / 0-)

              If it shuts down its nuclear plants, as the Green Party had planned, it will be producing very little clean electricity, despite its scheme of paying citizens to use solar, etc.

              While phasing out nuclear plants, the Greens seem OK about building a lot of new lignite plants.  Their emissions are filthy.  I can only conclude that anti-nuclear sentiments result in more toxic emissions and greenhouse gas emissions.

              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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:58:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  What do you think of James Hansen & Barry Brook? (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, Joffan, bryfry, Mcrab, Blubba, LookingUp

              There are quite a few climatologists who have looked at the big picture and the rapidity with which global warming and ocean acidification are accelerating and they now consider expanded use of nuclear power absolutely essential. Environmental destruction is minimal and the benefit to the climate of avoiding burning fossil fuels is huge.  

              In terms of greenhouse gas pollution, the nuclear power plants in the US are the equivalent of removing 68 million gasoline-powered cars from the road.

              (If use of plug-in electric cars continues to rise, and I hope it will, demand for electricity will increase.)

              Incidentally, as a natural resource, uranium is very common in the earth's crust and in seawater.  There are enough known ore bodies to supply the world for hundreds of years.  But in fact uranium fuel can be recycled. After it's been making carbon-free electricity for 54 months the fuel still retains 95% of its energy.

              Those wily French, with their long-range energy plans, have developed a very good recycling program.  This reduces the volume of waste a great deal and permits those clever devils to have a 14-year supply of fuel.

              Used nuclear fuel can also be turned into fresh fuel by fast reactors.

              So if you are concerned about uranium as a natural resource running out, you can relax.  There are still plenty of high-quality deposits that haven't been touched.

              Nuclear plants will continue to be built around the world in countries that understand how important nuclear power is to greenhouse-gas mitigation.  

              The start-up costs for a new plant are big, but very quickly the plants earn back the investment.  I'm told that a well-run plant with two 1000-MW reactors earns $2 million a day.

              You might be interested to know that in June, 2010, Sweden repealed its plan to phase out nuclear plants.  It gets 40% of its electricity from them and demand is rising.

              The power to save our world does not lie in rocks, rivers, wind, or sunshine. It lies in each of us.--"Power to Save the World"

              by Gwyneth Cravens on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:44:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hanson, et al (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                geomoo, cany

                Gwyneth,

                I'm well aware that you're avidly pro-nuclear; you managed to fill an entire book with your pro-nuclear views.

                But nothing in your comment undercuts or even challenges the analysis I presented.

                As for Hanson, he's a great climate scientist. He's not an energy or nuclear expert, though I note he doesn't support current generation reactors like the EPR, he thinks we should develop Generation IV reactors, which currently don't exist. And that's a whole different post....

                •  Gwyneth Craven's book: nuclear facts (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joffan, bryfry, Mcrab

                  She started out as an anti-nuke.  Her book describes what led her to change her mind.  Her book is not filled with her views:  it's filled with information backed up by many, many science-based cites, interviews with physicists, chemists, radiation biologists, engineers, oceanographers, environmentalists, etc.

                  You should read it.  You might learn something.  When I read it, I was shocked to find out how really bad coal is and how many people it kills every year because instead of building new nuclear plants over the past 30 years the US has been building new coal-fired plants.  

                  If you take climate change seriously, you should take seriously what Craven, Hanson, and Brook say.

                  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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 12:32:37 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Power-provider industry reform is the problem (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Plan9, brodgers

                  You try to make the case that nuclear power is inherently flawed. And you seem unaware that all energy in the US is subsidized in one way or another.

                  The problem with Calvert Cliffs 3 is mainly political. UniStar said if it did not get a loan guarantee it would not build a new reactor. With any first-of-a-kind design, including EPR, there are usually overruns.  

                  But the main problem is this: the electric power industry needs to be reformed.  It's operating as if it were still 1950.

                  Renewables have been totally supported by outright subsidies. Because of the current economic crisis, wind is losing its lifeline and new build has dropped precipitously.  Some years Congress supports wind and some years not. Nuclear utilities that want loan guarantees have to buy them at $50 million a pop.  To get a new reactor certified by NRC costs a company around $100 million.  

                  To build a new nuclear plant requires a big expenditure, but in the long run, once start-up costs are paid off, the electricity generated is much cheaper than that made by any other source.  Owners call them cash machines. This is because fuel is extremely efficient and relatively cheap and its price stable--unlike that of natural gas.  Transportation is a minor expense as compared to the transportation costs of coal.

                  In the US there's no long-range, coherent energy plan that takes into consideration all the power providers and that analyzes the risks and benefits of each way of making electricity.  By contrast, France has had a very successful plan, generates cheap electricity, and sells it to other countries.

                  If we're to have more wind farms and solar arrays, many huge transmission lines will have to be built.  These cost as much as a million dollars per mile.

                  Something very big is at stake. The reason climatologists support nuclear power is that they understand that its comprehensive life cycle emits very little carbon.  And they understand that we have reached a critical juncture.  Ocean acidification due to excess carbon emissions is causing the death of phytoplankton.  It makes half our oxygen.

                  Nuclear power and hydro power supply about half of the world's emissions-free energy.  In the US we have dammed up all our rivers that can be dammed.  Droughts are causing problems for existing dams.  In any case, the US only gets about 6% of its power from hydro.  That leaves nuclear power to provide a steady, reliable flow of electrons.

                  This is why environmentalists like Stephen Tindall, former UK head of Greenpeace, and Stewart Brand have become supporters of nuclear power.  They took the trouble to learn how it works and to cut through the thicket of myths that surround it.

                  Reform of the electric-power industry will require ca more cooperative approach than exists today, an approach in which all the supporters of alternatives to fossil fuels work together to save the world's oxygen supply and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

                  In the long run, that's the challenge.  We don't have a lot of time to stand around arguing.

                  The power to save our world does not lie in rocks, rivers, wind, or sunshine. It lies in each of us.--"Power to Save the World"

                  by Gwyneth Cravens on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 01:51:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  fossil fuels receive ungodly huge subsidies (0+ / 0-)

                    so does nuclear.

                    If you simply REMOVED those subsidies, renewables wouldn't need ANYTHING.

                    All of your complaints about the "political" problems preventing nuclear power boil down to the lack of political will to impose MASSIVE new subsidies that would finally make nuclear "work".

                    Period.

                    Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

                    by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:15:01 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And you provide (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Plan9

                      so much real-world data to back up your claim.

                      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 06, 2010 at 04:18:57 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  $557 billion in fossil fuel subsidies in 2008 (0+ / 0-)

                        Here

                        In New York, Bloomberg New Energy Finance released a report concluding that national governments offered $557 billion in fossil fuel subsidies in 2008, while giving $43 to $46 billion in tax credits, feed-in tariffs to renewable energy. The group cited figures from the International Energy Agency for fossil fuel subsidies.

                        Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

                        by Earth Ling on Sun Aug 08, 2010 at 07:29:08 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Oh brother (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Plan9

                          What you fail to understand is that fossil fuels produce so much more energy than those pitiful "renewables." So using IEA data, we see that the subsidies are

                          $56 / toe for gas, oil, and coal

                          and

                          $546 / toe for solar and wind

                          (toe = ton of oil equivalent). The subsidies for wind and solar are an entire order of magnitude higher, and the number given above for wind/solar is actually quite low, because my calculation includes energy produced by geothermal, which I'm sure didn't share much in those generous handouts.

                          If we removed all subsidies, wind and solar energy simply wouldn't exist. They're too expensive to go on their own, as the subsidies amounts given above show.

                          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 Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 04:12:22 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  Trouble and compensation (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Plan9

                    This is why environmentalists like Stephen Tindall, former UK head of Greenpeace, and Stewart Brand have become supporters of nuclear power. They took the trouble to learn how it works and to cut through the thicket of myths that surround it.

                    Very good points, Gwyneth, but Stephen Tindall and Stewart Brand aren't paid a salary to oppose any and all things nuclear.

                    On the other hand, Michael Mariotte has been drawing a paycheck for the past 20 years to publish his garbage.

                    It's no good trying to convince him. He has been around so long, he has to realize that he is simply talking nonsense.

                    Then again, perhaps he has been able to convince himself over the years. As Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters once put it, "if there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."

                    In any case, Stephen Tindall and Stewart Brand are real environmentalists. Mr. Mariotte is nothing more than a paid shill.

                    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 06, 2010 at 04:18:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  NIRS has to keep scaring people to earn $$ (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      bryfry

                      Greenpeace has the same fund-raising technique. I don't think Tindall is with Greenpeace any more because he really is concerned about global warming.

                      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 Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 09:57:05 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  I find it amazing how NO ONE here is disputing (0+ / 0-)

                  the facts you've laid out.

                  They criticize you for being anti-French.

                  They bring up arguments about why "Nuclear is the ONLY way to go."

                  But they CANNOT answer why the two top contenders for "first new American nuclear plant in 30 years" are uneconomic and can't get off the ground.  

                  And even if they could, the economics of a deregulated market would cause them to fail once they were ready to sell power.

                  And if the market is not deregulated, then the only reason the economics "work" is because ratepayers would be forced to pay a hell of a lot more for their power than they would if new nuclear weren't part of the mix.

                  COME ON PRO-NUKERS - ANSWER THE GOD-DAMNED DIARY.

                  Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

                  by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:12:42 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Bogus NYT article on nuclear costs & apology (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joffan, bryfry, Mcrab, Blubba

              You would expect the Newspaper of Record to provide fact-based information, but sometimes it publishes articles based on ideology rather than fact. The reporter relied on figures cooked up by a faith-based anti-nuclear group.

              The editors had to append a note to "Nuclear Energy Loses Cost Advantage":

              Editors' Note: August 3, 2010

              An article published July 27 in an Energy Special Report analyzed the costs of nuclear energy production. It quoted a study that found that electricity from solar photovoltaic systems could now be produced less expensively than electricity from new nuclear power plants.

              In raising several questions about this issue and the economics of nuclear power, the article failed to point out, as it should have, that the study was prepared for an environmental advocacy group, which, according to its Web site, is committed to ‘‘tackling the accelerating crisis posed by climate change — along with the various risks of nuclear power.’’ The article also failed to take account of other studies that have come to contrasting conclusions, or to include in the mix of authorities quoted any who elaborated on differing analyses of the economics of energy production.

              Although the article did quote extensively from the Web site of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, representatives of the institute were not given an opportunity to respond to the claims of the study. This further contributed to an imbalance in the presentation of this issue.

              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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 11:40:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  You are helping the fossil fuel industry, NIRS (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joffan, bryfry, Mcrab, Blubba, LookingUp

          Did Greens Kill the Climate Bill?

          By opposing nuclear power in the climate bill, you are helping more and more carbon to be put into the atmosphere and oceans.  You are supporting ocean acidification.  

          There is absolutely no way renewables can replace fossil fuel combustion in the foreseeable future.

          To ignore this fact and to oppose nuclear power means  you support Big Coal (much to its delight) no matter what in the hell your bumper sticker says.

          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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:43:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The problem is (5+ / 0-)

            it is not a "fact" that there is no way renewables can replace fossil fuels in the foreseeable future. It is your opinion.

            I have a different opinion based on 25 years of work in this arena. They, coupled with energy efficiency, smart grids, distributed generation, etc. not only can replace fossil fuels, I firmly believe they will, and faster and more economically than nuclear ever could.

            •  Your position is a religious one (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Deward Hastings, Joffan, bryfry, Mcrab, Blubba

              It is not based on an understanding of comparative energy densities.

              And you keep forgetting that wind and solar require baseload backup, and that comes from burning more fossil fuels.

              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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:59:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  A religious one? Did I somehow miss the (0+ / 0-)

                Church of Anti-Nukers?  And if so, do I need to be rebaptized or anything?

                866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

                by cany on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:19:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  pot calling the kettle black eh? (0+ / 0-)

                You STILL haven't answered the diarist's points.

                Because you can't.

                Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

                by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:16:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Is your knowledge technological or issue based? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, bryfry

              Nirsnet:

              I spent a lot of time learning how to produce and move reliable power and then doing so for for several years for some very demanding customers - my shipmates on board two nuclear powered submarines. I have also operated large diesel engines, enormous storage batteries and distribution systems. My power generation experience includes operating a wind driven sailboat and a few solar panel based systems in an academic environment.

              I have no technical idea how you can replace reliable, controllable power systems with those that do not respond to human or machine commands. No one can force the sun to shine or the wind to blow and no amount of efficiency will move objects from point A to point B without some source of power that can do work. Even the most efficient refrigerator needs to expend energy to bring temperatures down after someone opens the door and adds something new to the shelf.

              Smart grids are interesting, but even automated control systems have to be able to alter the input driving the generator to maintain frequency and voltage.

              Can you please tell me how you do that with the sources that you favor? I would love to add to my education.

              •  nirsnet can't reply to your question (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bryfry

                He doesn't know the answer.  Lovins, his idol and misleader, doesn't either but he invents citations that he refers to.  Fortunately they have been thoroughly debunked..

                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 Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 10:01:21 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  All what you said (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        doesn't mean bupkiss if the investment cost is > $5000/kw.  That's just not going to happen.

    •  I rec'd this but, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomNonviolence

      I think you should repost a much shorter version.  It's great that you are so knowledgeable about the subject, but most readers will not wade through all you have written, and your arguments can be stated more concisely.  This is a discussion we should be having.

      •  you should rec it anyway (0+ / 0-)

        if it were shorter, the pro-nukers would have attempted to turn that into a short-coming, much like they're trying to make the diary anti-French - which is wrong and beside the point regardless.

        Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

        by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:17:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nuclear power: a VERY expensive and dangerous (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silverbird, esquimaux, BobTrips, Joieau

    way to boil . . . . water.

    There are so many other far more promising technologies.

    One day I feel I'm ahead of the wheel / the next it's rolling over me / I can get back on / I can get back on

    by slippytoad on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 07:51:39 AM PDT

    •  Steam generation of electricity (7+ / 0-)

      is a truly worthwhile marker of the progress of humanity. Doing it without dumping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a huge achievement.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 07:57:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But I'm glad to see these relics of the past (0+ / 0-)

        failing. There are better ways to make nuclear power. The most obvious, yet unachievable, would be fusion. If we could tap into something like pB11 it'd be a new world out there. But even with fission they are technologies that are much safer and wouldn't require the huge facilities and multi-billion dollar costs to build. But these technologies aren't being seriously looked into because they don't benefit the current players in the nuclear industry.

        Bush didn't just drive the country into the ditch. He stole the mirrors, slashed the tires, lit it on fire, then drove it into the ditch.

        by ontheleftcoast on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:17:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you think the Luddites will embrace fusion (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, Joffan, Mcrab

          whenever it finally comes along, you are sorely naive.

          Most of these doomers are driven by distaste at the notion of everyone having as much power as they need - this offends their sensibilities.

          The technology that allows this to happen, no matter how safe or economical, will be attacked, because it doesn't fit with their notion of suffering being good for the soul.

          You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.
          - Jessica Mitford

          by Swampfoot on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:56:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's horseshit... (6+ / 0-)

            The people whom you call "Luddites" are charging ahead, developing higher and higher tech solutions to solve our energy problems, using technologies which give us that power faster, cheaper, and safer.

            Those "Luddites" have discarded new nuclear because it is the most expensive way we can think of to make electricity and there is absolutely no way that we could build reactors fast enough to cut CO2 as fast as it must be cut.

            And they're not all that happy about handing future generations with piles of nuclear waste nor putting large portions of the country in unnecessary danger.

            Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

            by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:10:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You clearly don't know me.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cany

            because anyone who does would attest that I have never felt suffering is good for the soul! Quite the opposite....

          •  It's not the luddites you need to worry about (0+ / 0-)

            It's the NIMBY folks who still remember 3-mile Island.

            And like I said, it is obvious that nuclear fission as an energy source is just too expensive.  If it's not more expensive, it is more dangerous.

            There are better ways.

            One day I feel I'm ahead of the wheel / the next it's rolling over me / I can get back on / I can get back on

            by slippytoad on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:25:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  we're driven by distaste at the notion of (0+ / 0-)

            everyone and all subsequent generations being exposed to the idiotic decision making of arrogant, holier than thou types like you.

            If you ever come up with a nuclear based solution that is safe, clean and economic, you'll find plenty of support among greenies who currently oppose the shit you're trying to foist on us and future generations.

            Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

            by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:20:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  That's true... (4+ / 0-)

        Of course we can also boil water using solar energy.  CSP with multi-hour storage to make it 24/365 power is expected to cost under $0.10/kWh.  As much as half the cost of boiling water with nuclear materials.

        And we can, and do, boil water with biomass.  We're converting coal plants to biomass-firing, even building new biomass plants to boil water.  

        Neither of those methods cause us to extract sequestered carbon and turn it into CO2.  

        And neither of those two methods create stuff that glows in the dark.

        Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

        by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:06:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (nt) (0+ / 0-)

          One day I feel I'm ahead of the wheel / the next it's rolling over me / I can get back on / I can get back on

          by slippytoad on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:26:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Your solar projections are fantasy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryfry

          There is absolutely no indication of prices similar to your claims. Your own reports show hugely expensive solar schemes, 5MW for 60M€ (about $90m). Solar thermal is land intensive and demands as much cooling as any other thermal station, or ironically more because mostly it achieves lower heat. Grand schemes which require transmitting electricity across countries and continents seem politically and technologically fragile.

          Solar can help but if you try to make it a panacea for energy needs it will fail miserably.

          And biomass burning again should remain marginal, because we have already seen what is likely to happen when we try to use biomass - specifically ethanol - for our energy needs. Food prices go up and people starve.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:40:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Here's a rebuttal to NIRS claims (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joffan, bryfry, LookingUp

        Just some facts that he conveniently ignored.

        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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:50:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Problem with that "rebuttal" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nirsnet, RandomNonviolence, cany

          Is, we have a factual example here of a nuclear power plant that just can't get built.  The economics aren't in its favor.

          How do you refudiate reality, again?

          One day I feel I'm ahead of the wheel / the next it's rolling over me / I can get back on / I can get back on

          by slippytoad on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:26:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Follow the GOP example. (0+ / 0-)

            Up is down, right is left, black is white.

            And if it's too expensive, it's REALLY too cheap.  If it's dangerous, it's really quite safe.

            I think they took their lead from the nuclear industry--the real pros.

            Fact is reality doesn't matter, apparently.

            866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

            by cany on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:22:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  so WHY are your precious projects failing then? (0+ / 0-)

          Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

          by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:21:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wind, nuclear, and other energy projects lagging (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            brodgers

            because of financial difficulties due to the economic crisis. Lack of funding does not mean wind is a bad option and it does not mean that nuclear power is a bad option.  Both are ways to reduce GHG.  Nuclear happens to be a more concentrated and efficient way to do it, and nuclear can supply base-load (look it up) whereas wind cannot but is good for peaking loads.

            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 Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 06:53:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  saudi arabia could give a d*mn about calvert.... (0+ / 0-)
  •  What diligence and perspicacity!! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobTrips, RandomNonviolence, cany, Joieau

    Man, am I envious: not only is your work meticulously documented, but your reasoning also is persuasive, reasonable, and even handed.

    Thanks for this.

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:01:08 AM PDT

  •  Turkey has reached and agreement with Rosatom (6+ / 0-)

    for the construction of a 4 unit nuclear power plant in Turkey.

    Turkey will supply the land. Everything else will be paid for by Rosatom.

    It's to be built about 270 km (165 miles) from my home in Antalya.

    the diaries that time put in a safe place

    by InAntalya on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:08:35 AM PDT

  •  Falling electricity demand . . . (0+ / 0-)

    a question. Are these low usage numbers pre-summer which at least here on the east coast and south is one of the hottest on record. For the first time that I can remember we even had an outage due to high demand here in NH.

    Heat wave stresses Mid-Atlantic power grid again

    PJM's power usage reached 136,398 megawatts on Tuesday, the highest since 2007, and was expected to climb even higher to about 137,800 MW Wednesday afternoon.

    That was still well short of the grid's all-time record of 144,644 MW set in August 2006 when a brutal heat wave blanketed the entire system.

    PJM serves more than 51 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:11:00 AM PDT

    •  falling electricity demand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BobTrips, RandomNonviolence

      yes, despite the incredibly hot summer, PJM demand has not reached its peak set in August 2006.

      And it's not likely to this year. Economic recovery will certainly tend to boost demand in coming years, the question is by how much and how fast. And it isn't yet clear how much the countervailing pressures of energy efficiency laws like the EmPower Maryland Act will act to reduce demand.

      It's gotta be a tough time to be a utility forecaster...

      •  Falling demand is common (4+ / 0-)

        Our municipal utility (midwest) has commented about falling electric demand for each of the past two years despite population growth.

        CFL's, front loading washers, new AC's, new fridges, laptops vs. desktop PC's, plus better insulation, sealing, and windows are all coming together to reduce electric demand.  And it is likely to continue as old inefficient appliances fail or are replaced for other reasons.  Building standards are more energy efficient now and retrofits/remodeling tends to increase efficiency as well.

        CFL conversion alone over the past 3-4 years could probably account for declining electric demand in many areas.    

        Note to Democratic leadership: I'm all out of carrots, but I still have my stick.

        by Celtic Pugilist on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:06:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  this is true, and (2+ / 0-)

          how much of the falling demand is because of these kinds of efficiency measures and how much is because of the recession is the big unknown, and makes forecasting very tricky.

          But since at least 1950, we had never experienced more than a single year of decreased demand; this time we experienced three years in a row (2007, 2008, 2009). So what is happening is definitely unusual.

  •  This is sad. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Swampfoot, Plan9, LookingUp

    We need both nuclear and other alternative sources like wind and solar.

    And we should subsidize solar, wind and nuclear.  There is a clear public good that results from minimizing carbon emissions.

    And the alternative energy requirements in many states/provinces and those being pushed for the current energy bill are essentially government subsidies.

    BTW, I'm not sure that the end of one project because of financing decisions or inept planning can be characterized as the end of any renaissance.

    I grew up within view of Fermi II in Michigan and I spend lots of time near the Kewaunee and Two Rivers nuke plants in Wisconsin.  Nuclear power plants are good neighbors.  We need more of them.

    http://twitter.com/mikeingels

    by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:15:24 AM PDT

    •  No nukes until (4+ / 0-)

      We repeal Price-Anderson.

      Until then, if you think N-plants are "good neighbors," I have an alpine ski lodge in the Everglades to sell you.

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:33:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  high-paying, stable jobs (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, LookingUp

        and community outreach programs for kids (i.e. engineering/science programs), all the while without radiation-filled coal smoke is a good thing, to me at least.

        •  More good jobs... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nirsnet, RandomNonviolence, cany, Joieau

          With green energy systems than with nuclear systems.

          Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

          by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:17:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let's have both. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LookingUp

            I love both nukes and wind/solar/geothermal.

            http://twitter.com/mikeingels

            by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:33:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fine... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cany, Joieau

              As long as you purchase all the expensive power coming from those nuclear plants and don't pass the cost on to the rest of us.  And don't use our tax money to build the plants.

              Oh, and as long as you live next to the plants, well away from us.  And store the radioactive waste in your closet.

              (It's about where to spend our dollars to get an energy solution the fastest and for the least money while accepting the least risks.)

              Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

              by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:40:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Then it's agreed. :) (0+ / 0-)

                I'll hide the fuel rods under my bed.

                But seriously, there is really no power source that isn't subsidized in some way.  This is why the wind power industry is so big into getting an alternative power mandate into the energy bill.

                That first argument is the same argument used by pro-life activists and pro-school-voucher people.  It ignores the fact that we life in community.

                http://twitter.com/mikeingels

                by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:59:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wind subsides are not what you think... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  nirsnet, cany

                  Wind gets a $0.018/kWh feed-in tariff.  (New nuclear would get the same help.)

                  If nuclear had to borrow construction money without taxpayers accepting the risk of non-completion then the interest rate would be sky-high.

                  (In fact, it's likely that nuclear could not borrow the money at any interest rate.)

                  If nuclear had to buy liability insurance for a possible disaster (like TMI and Davis-Bessie almost were) rather than taxpayers give them free insurance the premiums would be astronomical.

                  But, on this part you are right.  We do live in a community.

                  And the community does not want to pay more for their electricity than necessary, nor do they want to accept unnecessary risks.

                  Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

                  by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:20:17 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Low FITs and more Red Herrings (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Plan9

                    I would be interested to see what report allows you to declare the FIT in your comment as $0.018/kwh.  This seems very low.  FIT's are not uniformly set across the country.  Each State has the power to control that rate for facilities that do not interfere with interstate commerce as decided by FERC several weeks ago.  Therefore, there isn't a common FIT applied across the country.  I found a FIT for Vermont wind set at $0.125/kwh, which is a FIT rate more in line with industry averages.

                    In the future large-scale wind and solar facilities may have to justify their rates based on avoided costs due to the FERC ruling not some arbitrary rate set by legislators who have no experience with power generation and delivery.

                    In addition, if the Ivanpah solar facility in the Mojave or the Solyndra solar fabrication facility in Fremont CA. were to go to the open market for loans they would also pay exorbitant interest rates, which is the whole purpose of the loan guarantee program to begin with.  Wall Street and investment banks want a quick return on their investment due to the entire structure of our financial legislation.  This financial structure affects financing costs for new large-scale long-term power developments be they wind, solar or nuclear.

                    Moreover, the Price Anderson act argument is a red herring.  The Price Anderson Act requires nuclear power plants to obtain $375 million of insurance coverage in the open insurance market.  The Price Anderson Act then makes up any difference if an accident occurs.  It is not an automatic freebie given by the US taxpayers to the nuclear industry.

                    We do not require other large-scale industries, which could also lead to a large loss of life to self-insure.  Case in point, the natural gas explosion in the Gulf that led to the release of millions of gallons of crude, which will affect the Gulf for decades.  Did BP have any insurance?  No the only mechanism is the Oil Liability Act, which has been discussed as a very weak insurance policy considering the extent of the damage.  So we the taxpayers will be stuck with a large percentage of the cleanup bill for the next 2-3 decades.  

                    Additionally this is a red herring issue since TMI was the only nuclear accident in the US unlike the natural gas industry that has had more accidents and loss of life then nuclear power over the past 40 years of successful nuclear power plant operations.  The multi-layered safety and containment systems purposefully designed in the 1970's at TMI to prevent releases to the environment worked, as they should have.

                    If that event had led to a large loss of life or large environmental damage the Act has provisions for both the Administration and Congress to seek redress from the plant owner.

                    The nuclear safety and containment systems required by law are now even more robust in the next generation nuclear plant designs thereby leading to additional factors of safety.  These additional safety requirements are due to reviews by the NRC and lessons learned from TMI. Can the same thing be said about the Kleen natural gas explosion in CT where 6 people lost their lives due to unsafe industry practices?  

                    Will that explosion event lead to better designs and better operating practices within the natural gas industry?  Not the way the natural gas industry is set up.  OHSA can only issue safety recommendations that a company can avoid implementing based on internal risk analysis, an analyis which will never receive public scrutiny unless another accident leading to a loss of life occurs.  Whereas the NRC issues safety requirements which allows for public input.  Every nuclear plant must follow those safety requirements or face losing their ability to generate power.  

                    •  As usual, BobTrips doesn't know (0+ / 0-)

                      what he's talking about. He was referring to the $0.018 (now $0.020) Production Tax Credit that wind currently enjoys.

                      He is often confused about how such things work, and I'm not sure he understands what a FIT is.

                      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 Sun Aug 08, 2010 at 09:46:41 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  That explains it (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Plan9, bryfry

                        Thanks for the clearing that up for me.  

                        Production Tax Credit, while being a subsidy, is definitely not the same as a Feed-In-Tariff.

                        Wind generation has been receiving the PTC for over a decade.  Only new nuclear will recieve the PTC and then will only receive a portion of that total based on a formula comparing nameplate data, the actual power generated and the site's allocation of the base 6000MW allocated to nuclear for the PTC.  

                        Meanwhile as I understand it, all wind energy generated receives the PTC and is not dependant on any allocations or nameplate data.  

                        Nuclear will never receive a FIT.  But then I don't think any power generation industry should be recieving FIT's.  Especially since Germany is now looking at taxing their nuclear power plants to indirectly pay for their solar FIT's

      •  How many rooms does the lodge have? (0+ / 0-)

        I might be interested.  :)

        http://twitter.com/mikeingels

        by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:44:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But seriously... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AZ Independent

        My hometown of Monroe, MI has both a nuke plant and the #5 biggest coal plant in the nation.

        The nuke plant has brought many highly-educated, highly-trained and highly-paid workers to town.

        The property taxes paid to local school districts and local communities are significant.

        And the nuke plant doesn't create the enormous brown steak across the sky filled with sulfur dioxide, mercury, carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

        We do have two to four wind farms in the planning stages for this immediate area.  There are several thousand planned for Lake Erie and hosts of others planned for the rest of the Midwest.  We also have the largest solar facility east of the Mississippi in Upper Sandusky, OH.

        But we also need nuclear if we are serious about combating global warming.

        http://twitter.com/mikeingels

        by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:49:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'd live next to one in a heartbeat. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, Mcrab

        Did you ever read Cohen's treatise, "The Nuclear Energy Option?"

        You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.
        - Jessica Mitford

        by Swampfoot on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:59:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nuclear: quiet, safe, compact (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Swampfoot, bryfry, Mcrab, Gwyneth Cravens

          Nuclear power has far less environmental impact than any other large-scale provider and far less than renewables.  That's why the Sierra Club used to campaign for "Atoms not dams".

          Even Joe Romm thinks we should have more nuclear power.

          Well, I think there is a role for nuclear, both in the U.S. and globally.  Anybody who looks at the dire nature of global warming science and the staggering amount of carbon-free power we’ll need to avoid catastrophe has to admit you can’t rule out any potential low-carbon source.  And obviously nuclear has proven that it can deliver low-carbon power.

          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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:10:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sierra Club wised up decades ago.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RandomNonviolence, cany

            and they certainly don't take a pro-nuclear position now!

            •  Yes, they now shill for deadly natural gas (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Swampfoot, Mcrab

              I guess Carl Pope is too busy touring with Midland executives to visit national forests being wrecked by natural gas extraction operations.  He's forgotten about clean water and evidently approves of dirty natgas extraction technology.

              And, by the way, natural gas is a greenhouse gas. Its extraction, transportation, and combustion results in greenhouse gas emissions.  And deaths.  The deaths in the coal mine last spring were due to a natural gas explosion.  The people on the rig in the Gulf were killed by natural gas blowing up.

              But you're a supporter of fossil fuels, too.

              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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:23:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Sad, but poorly managed nukes aren't good (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DingellDem, RandomNonviolence

      If they can't come up with a safe efficient design that can be managed effectively, it's not good for nuclear power.

      Poor management and cost over runs did more to kill nuclear power in the U.S. than environmental protests.

      Poor management led to the TMI economic disaster.

      look for my DK Greenroots diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:50:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why don't you look at current technology? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Swampfoot, Mcrab

        The problems that led to TMI's partial core meltdown were much analyzed and caused a big change in the industry in regard to safety procedures, human engineering, etc.

        That was a real disaster.  But the fact is that no one died or was even made ill by TMI.  The worse outcome has been this:  the power supplied by that reactor is now supplied by burning coal.  That certainly has resulted in deaths in the Harrisburg area.

        Existing nuclear plants are continuously upgraded.  Parts are replaced. The new parts are obviously of better design, more efficient, and safer. All our nuclear plants today are running at over 90% capacity these days--up from 56% in the 1960s.  

        The accident rate at commercial nuclear plants is lower than that of the financial and real estate industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

        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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:29:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There you go again... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RandomNonviolence, cany

          TMI caused quite a bit of harm to the health of both workers and people in the surrounding countryside who had no choices in the matter. This is borne out by the tens of millions paid out by the utility to people who got cancer or had genetically damaged babies, by the number of cleanup workers who died of cancers, etc.

          This is why both of the official investigatory teams (Rogovin and Kemeny) strongly recommended that any future nuclear plants be sited far from population centers. Interesting that y'all have completely forgotten all about that, as apparently has the NRC that commissioned the Rogovin investigation. Why is that?

          Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

          by Joieau on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:37:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Results of TMI science-based follow-up studies (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joffan

            These are all peer-reviewed studies by reputable scientific and epidemiological bodies.

            Health Studies Find No Cancer Link to TMI

            More than a dozen major, independent studies have assessed the radiation releases and possible effects on the people and the environment near TMI since the 1979 accident at TMI-2.

            The findings of the most recent studies:

            Hatch-Susser Study (Columbia University)

            Largely in response to citizens' concerns, the Three Mile Island Public Health Fund asked Maureen C. Hatch of the Division of Epidemiology, Columbia University School of Public Health, New York City, and three associates - Jan Beyea, Jeri Nieves and Mervyn Susser - to study the pattern of accident releases to determine if they had any correlation with cancer incidence around TMI.

            The Hatch-Susser team designed and carried out an elaborate study that was based on mathematical modeling of where the TMI-2 releases traveled and thousands of records of patients from 19 hospitals in the TMI area.

            First, they had to consider whether the releases were accurately known.  Despite variations in the estimate of what was released, Hatch-Susser found that "in every instance, the level of exposure was deemed to be very low" - an average of approximately 10 millirems and a projected maximum dose of 100 millirems.

            In the September 1990 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the Hatch-Susser team reported that "the prior expectation based on estimated releases and conventional radiobiology - that no excess cancer would be found - was confirmed in most if not all respects."

            National Cancer Institute Study

            At the request of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, the National Cancer Institute conducted a study of cancer mortality rates around 52 nuclear power plants, including TMI, and nine U.S. Department of Energy facilities.  The NCI study compared the counties containing nuclear facilities with control counties in the same region.
            Released in September 1990, the NCI study "concludes that the survey has produced no evidence that an excess occurrence of cancer has resulted from living near nuclear facilities."  At Senator Kennedy's request, the study looked closely at TMI and the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, Plymouth, Mass.

            Pennsylvania Department of Health Studies

            The Pennsylvania Department of Health maintained a registry of close to 35,000 persons who lived within five miles of TMI during the TMI-2 accident.  This "close-in" data base was augmented by other statistical records available to the department.

            The Department of Health found:
            Through 1993, there was no significant rise in cancer incidence rates among the residents in the TMI registry.
            Seven cases of congenital hypothyroidism in Lancaster County, outside the 10-mile radius of TMI, "were not related to the TMI nuclear accident." (1981)
            No significant differences were found in infant mortality rates within the 10-mile radius of TMI.  There was a significant incidence of low birth weights in babies of mothers who were pregnant during the accident and who took excessive medication to counter stress.  A five-year follow-up showed that the children had regained normal weight. (1984)

            Results from Other Studies

            The following is a brief listing of other independent studies, most conducted by state and federal agencies, following the TMI-2 accident.

            Population Exposure and Health Impact of the Accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, 1973 - The study was conducted by experts known as the Ad Hoc Population Dose Assessment Group from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Its conclusion was that there were no immediate health effects, and that latent or long-term effects, if any, would be minimal.

            Report of the President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, 1979 - The study was done by a commission appointed by President Jimmy Carter and chaired by John G. Kemeny, then President of Dartmouth College.  Its conclusion on health effects was that there would be no detectable cancers or genetically related instances of ill-health from the accident.  The report said the most important health effect of the accident was mental stress experienced by the general population and the workers.

            Three Mile Island: A Report to the Commissioners and to the Public, 1980 - The report, commissioned by the NRC, was done by a Washington, D.C., law firm, Rogovin, Stern & Huge.  It concluded that health effects on the population as a whole, if they existed at all, would be nonmeasurable and nondetectable.

            Report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from the Staff Panel on the Commission's Determination of an Extraordinary Nuclear Occurrence, 1980 - The report was published by the NRC and based on work by representatives of the NRC, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and U.S. Department of Energy.  It confirmed the population dose estimates of the Ad Hoc Population Dose Assessment Group, the report of the President's Commission and the report commissioned by Metropolitan Edison.

            Investigations of Reported Plant and Animal Health Effects in the Three Mile Island Area, 1980 - The report was published by the NRC and based on the findings of investigators of the NRC, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Argonne National Laboratory.  It concluded that "it appears that none of the reported plant and animal health effects (reviewed in the report) can be directly attributed to the operation of or the accident" at TMI.

            Follow-up Studies on Biological and Health Effects Resulting from the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant Accident of March 28, 1979 - This study was done by the Committee on Federal Research into the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation and published by the National Institute of Health.  The committee's TMI Follow-up Research Subcommittee was made up of representatives from the National Institutes of Health; Food and Drug Administration; Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration; Communicable Disease Center; Environmental Protection Agency; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Department of Energy, and Department of Defense.  The study concluded that the accident would produce no detectable health effects.

            Report of the Governor's Commission on Three Mile Island, 1980 - The report was done by a commission established by Gov. Richard Thornburgh.  It agreed with the findings of the President's Commission that accident health effects would be negligible and found that the mental stress from the accident would be transient for the general population.

            Impact of TMI Nuclear Accident Upon Pregnancy Outcome, Congenital Hypothyroidism and Mortality, 1981 - The study was done by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  It concluded that pregnant women exposed to accident releases showed no measurable differences for prematurity, congenital abnormalities, neonatal deaths or any other factors examined.  The "TMI Mother-Child Registry" established for the study continues to be monitored by the PA Health Department.  Reports are issued at five-year intervals.  The Health Department also found no increase in infant hypothyroidism as a result of exposure from radioactive iodine.  Seven cases of congenital hypothyroidism in Lancaster County outside the 10 mile radius of the investigation also were found to be unrelated to the accident.  The finding was supported by an independent Hypothyroidism Investigation Committee organized by the Health Department.

            Cancer Mortality and Morbidity around TMI, 1985 - The study was done by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and is being followed up by the Department.  It found no increased cancer risks to residences near TMI.

            Assessment of Off-Site Radiation Doses from the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Accident, 1979 - The report, commissioned by Metropolitan Edison, was done by Pickard, Lowe and Garrick, Inc., a Washington, D.C. consulting firm.  Its findings on doses from the accident were generally consistent with those studies that concluded that radiation releases from the accident were too small to cause detectable health effects.

            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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:58:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nice of you (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RandomNonviolence, Radical def

              not to mention the restrictions put on the studies so that they couldn't find what they weren't allowed to see. Other epidemiological studies came to very different conclusions. There is ample disagreement with what the NRC decided in 1979 (didn't even wait for effects to show up before declaring no one was harmed), and there is plenty of documented evidence of harm.

              It's kind of odd that some people who should surely know better continue to buy in to the self-serving cover-ups of big business and government when we all know from actual history that they cannot be trusted to tell the truth about anything. P.T. Barnum was on to something.

              Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

              by Joieau on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 11:09:30 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Wing study not science based (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mcrab

                It was paid for by a plaintiff in a failed lawsuit.  It has been rebutted countless times, and Wing has never bothered to do anything further with the matter.

                Wing used anecdotal information, not science-based research. He remains in the minority and his claims have not been supported by the National Cancer Institute, hospital records, newspaper reports filed by TMI, the state and county health departments, etc.

                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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 11:47:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yeah. We all know where you stand. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                  Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                  by Joieau on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 12:12:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Oh... and Wing did in fact (0+ / 0-)

                  respond about the whole ridiculous and insidious situation in the Journal of Epidemiology in 2006 or 7 (can't recall, a recent date). He remains interested and keeps good track of epidemiological studies in Britain, Germany, France and the U.S. on that little childhood leukemia problem around nuclear installations worldwide.

                  Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                  by Joieau on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 12:15:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Your lie: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RandomNonviolence, cany

          "But the fact is that no one died or was even made ill by TMI."

          Thursday, July 22, 1982

          A 36-year old former Metropolitan Edison employee who had volunteered to work in the early decontamination of Three Mile Island nuclear power plant died yesterday of cancer that his family believes was caused by radiation exposure.
          ...
          Rogers' father, Wilbert, 57, said last night that his son had been battling leukemia for 2 1/2 years and recently had contracted liver cancer. [...]

          Rogers said his son worked at Three Mile Island from April 1979 until October 1979, when he injured his back while working there. His son grew weak a few weeks after the accident, the father said, and doctors discovered leukemia two months later.
          ______

          July 18, 1984

          A young man who was working on the clean-up crew at TMI died in 1982 as the result of, what the State charges, was the result of radiation exposure received at Three Mile Island. [The worker] was trapped inside the contaminated area of TMI, and three months later was diagnosed as having acute Myelogenous Leukemia. (Myelogenous Leukemia is the type of Leukemia which is common as the result of exposure to radiation). Other death claims are pending in the Middle District Court, filed by persons who claim death caused by radiation received while living near the nuclear plant in Middletown at the time of the TMI accident.
          ______

          Just a couple of handy examples. A little Googling can return many worker and citizen suits and more than $10 million in settlements to keep them out of court.

          Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

          by Joieau on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 12:42:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  1 out of 3 Americans dies of cancer (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joffan, Mcrab

            This anecdotal information, these claims are not supported by the science. Wing's study was paid for by the nonprofit John Snow Institute, which in turn received its funding from the plaintiff's attorneys in the class action suit against the GPU Nuclear Corp.

            You can go to any neighborhood anywhere and knock on doors and hear stories like the ones you cite.  But that is not science-based epidemiology.

            The exposure to people from TMI was on average 1 millirem during a few days.  You get 3 millirem flying from coast to coast in a jet.  If the residents of the Harrisburg had moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado, their exposure to radiation would have been raised 6-7 fold.  The natural background radiation in the area around TMI is 100 millirem/year.  The natural background radiation in Denver is around 600 millirem/year.

            The average annual exposure to Americans from natural background radiation (radon, radionuclides in food, etc.) and diagnostic and therapeutic radiation is 640 millirem per year.

            No one has ever proved that an exposure of 1 millirem can trigger cancer.

            If that were true then the people living around Spokane would all be dead from cancer, because the natural background level is 1600 millirem per year.  But it turns out that cancer rates in Colorado and Spokane are no higher than anywhere else.

            The National Cancer Institute not only studied TMI, it studied a number of nuclear facilities around the country.  It found no excessive cases of cancer around these facilities as compared with a control group of non-nuclear facilities.  

            It's possible that lung cancer rates increased in the Harrisburg area after the coal-fired plant took over from TMI-II.  There's a clear pattern of lung cancer in relation to coal emissions.

            Here's what Dr. Mervyn Susserthe leader of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study of TMI has to say about the Wing study.

            I don't expect you to read it, because your position is ideologically-based, but others might find it of interest.

            As principal investigator of the Three Mile Island (TMI) Accident Study funded by the TMI Public Health Fund, I appreciate the space for some observations further to our reply (1) to Wing's reanalysis (2) of our study (3,4). Two far from careful or evenhanded news items (5,6), and your own editorial (7) call for further comment.
            My principal colleagues in this study (Jan Beyea, Maureen Hatch, Sylvan Wallenstein) and I are committed to rigor in science as well as to the public health and environmental movements. We applaud your desire to air controversy. But we forsee and fear the ultimate discredit that poor science, together with advocacy parading as science, can bring to epidemiology and the movements of which we are a part. The essential point is that what you label controversy is not controversial in any real sense.
            Instead, we have a situation manufactured from misconceptions, misinterpretations, mistaken logic, and simple error. Our results and those of Wing et al. (2) differ in no important respect. Our conclusions do differ: we saw no convincing evidence that cancer incidence was a consequence of the nuclear accident; they claim there is such evidence. We urge you and those of your readers interested in the issue to study our original papers and reports before judging. Your own (5) and other news reports [for instance, The Lancet (4)] ignored our published response to the brouhaha. In that light, we need to expand on some points and make some new ones.
            At the heart of the matter, it seems to us, is Wing's assertion that our original interpretation is based on circular reasoning. He makes this charge, he says, because we did not believe in the hypothesis under test. The first of two objections to this charge is that it is untrue. We had no such simplistic belief. At the outset, in the light of the uncertainties about the dose of radiation from the 1979 nuclear accident, and also of a reported cluster of deaths that conceivably pointed to acceleration of cancers already initiated, we accepted the possibility of an effect.
            At the same time, given the short postaccident observation period and the putatively low dose, we were doubtful that any but the most radiosensitive cancers could be detected. We did not seek, but were sought out, to investigate on behalf of the TMI Public Health Fund. Our acceptance of the considerable undertaking involved was realistic, with no great expectation of startling results. Public duty at a time when fear and unrest beset the affected communities was a strong motive.
            This mistaken allegation about our beliefs is much the lesser of our two objections. The greater objection is to Wing's claim that circular reasoning led to failure to prove an a priori hypothesis we allegedly did not believe. To test an a priori hypothesis, which we did, is of course a procedure specifically designed to preclude circularity. More disturbing is the religious cast of mind this charge displays. To make a prior belief a criterion for judging evidence is the very antithesis of any scientific or logical method, from the inductivist Francis Bacon early in the 17th century to the hypothetico-deductive Karl Popper in the 20th. Whatever we do, we must surely aim for a maximum of rigor and objectivity. One is obliged to attempt disproof no less than verification. In striving toward elusive truth, a priori belief is beside the scientific point. Passionate belief, which characterized Wing, may well be a handicap.
            An a priori hypothesis subject to test, by contrast, is a considerable asset regardless of belief. Wing's position amounts to a charge that we are either incapable of understanding our data--on that score let our records speak--or that we obfuscate or lie. In your news report (5), indeed, Wing suggests the latter: he is quoted as ascribing our conclusions to author bias. (In this respect, should there not have been mention of Wing's role, with regard to the accident, as witness for the plaintiff in personal injury litigation against the TMI utilities?)
            Wing's more specific case against our report rests mainly on two particular issues, namely, his use of relative rather than absolute dose and the adjustments he made for baseline conditions. Let us take these in turn.
            Wing makes much of his use of relative dose as "an alternative logical approach" and seems to reproach us on this score [see Wing et al. (2), page 53, second and third columns]. Although they later note that we in fact used relative dose, in remarks to the press (5) we are again reproved. So we must make clear that all our major analyses and results in fact derived precisely from the use of relative dose.
            Relative dose is not an exact or complete description of what we did. In a major and labor-intensive effort, one of us (J. Beyea) carried out detailed topographic and meteorologic mapping of the area to model estimates of the direction and concentration of radiation emissions from the accident, from routine operations of the plant, and from background radiation. To our knowledge, ours was a unique approach to deriving exposure measures in the face of uncertain actual dose. We also divided the local area at risk into 69 census-derived small tracts. We then compared cancer incidence and mortality rates in the tracts most heavily exposed with those less exposed, having taken account of both background radiation and routine plant emissions.
            What Wing et al. (2) themselves did about relative dose is not clear to us. In their paper, no description was apparent, nor did we recognize any consideration of background radiation or routine emissions, both strong features of our overall analysis. We assume that they made use of our estimates of radiation distribution from the accident.
            In our analysis, we judged observations after the accident to be the critical test in making adjustments for baseline values. We were cautious in adjusting for demographic and other such variables from the situation existing before the accident because of uncertainties in these data. No information was to be had about subsequent migration, and the target population could only be that exposed to the accident and remaining in the district thereafter.
            In any case, in the matter of cancers as an outcome, our study sought effects of the accident strictly in one direction. On this ground, there would seem to be reason to adjust for the baseline, but only after a positive effect was observed, and this we did. An apparent effect could always be a consequence merely of the previous distributions of cancer existing in the affected areas. Nonetheless, the data were in the main presented stratified by area for postulated exposure level and by time period. (We see no point in the fuss Wing makes about cancer incidence data from 1975--the first of 5 preaccident years--that we concluded were undercounted. In the absence of detectable geographic bias our decision to include them, and Wing et al's decision to exclude them and adjust their results, are equally justifiable.)
            There is neither mystery nor obfuscation in our presentation of the data. We are not sure we can say the same for Wing et al. They charge that we were constrained in our analyses in respect of emissions estimated by the judge's antecedent order. Certainly, we had no direct access to the records of the TMI Utility, but as far as we know, what was available was published. Of course, in using our models Wing et al. (2) operate under exactly the same constraint. We do not see that they find anything of note not reported by us and, indeed, they report rather fewer results than we do and in a less acessible manner.
            Contrary to yet another allegation, our recommendation was firm [to the TMI Public Health Fund and also in print (4,8)] that a follow-up was needed, both to allow larger numbers of cases to accumulate in the aftermath of the accident and to collect individual level data on possible exposure and confounding.
            In sum, then, Wing et al. (2) make assertions about what they take to be proven effects while we are cautious in accepting them as proven. It is a stretch to rate this difference, which your journal has given such prominence, as a controversy. Can it be said, in truth, that by going into contention Wing et al. have advanced the cause of the community or the environment? As we see it, they have done no more than muddy the waters.
            Mervyn Susser 
Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center 
Columbia University in the City of New York 
New York, New York

            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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:13:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Much appreciated. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence, cany

    Very impressive in-depth analysis and presentation of a complicated, but  important-to-understand subject.  Thank you for sharing your insights with us.  I'll be saving this for future reference.

  •  Deregulation was stupid. (0+ / 0-)

    That's what really killed nuclear the first time around.  The initial costs were too high when a utility down the road could built a cheap, lowest-common-denominator coal plant and undercut on price.

    The same thing is true, btw, with alternative energy.  If a utility had some cost certainty, that utility would have more freedom to experiment with alternative energy with high start up costs.

    http://twitter.com/mikeingels

    by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:31:22 AM PDT

    •  deregulation didn't kill nukes (5+ / 0-)

      the first time around, all of the reactors in the U.S. were already built or cancelled before the first round of deregulation fervor hit. In fact, because so many utilities were able to get "stranded costs"--i.e. huge construction overruns--covered under deregulation laws, a lot of them did really well.

      The real difference now is that building a $10 billion or more reactor (or any kind of large power plant)in a deregulated marketplace is a giant toss of the dice and a much riskier business than building in a regulated state, or building smaller-scale facilities that can be ramped up as demand increases.

      •  $10 billion atypical (0+ / 0-)

        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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:51:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  straight facts (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cany, Joieau

          The official estimate for Calvert Cliffs, from the mouth of their CEO in sworn testimony at the Maryland Public Service Commission, is "the upper end of $4500-6000/kw," or $7.2-9.6 billion. He has confirmed that estimate to me since. That's pretty darn close to $10 billion.

          However, as my article tries to make clear, that is an "overnight" cost estimate, meaning what it would cost if you could literally build the thing in one day. Of course, that's not possible.

          And I included a link to PPL's website which shows their estimate, not based on "overnight" reasoning, for an identical reactor is $13-15 billion.

          I never argued other reactor designs would cost $10 billion--in fact, for the Georgia reactors I quoted a cost of $14.4 billion for two. That's still an awful lot of money.....

  •  Just curious- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, Mcrab

    Would you be more supportive of designs from GE/Westinghouse that had been previously approved (I think they are "modular reactors")?

    Is the main opposition the taxpayer funded loans?

    There's alot going on in this diary- and while I agree solar/wind is good, unfortunately storage technologies for the energy are not completely efficient or cost effective. We still need "base-load" generation, and nuclear is a pretty good low-carbon solution.

    •  Actually, not much has been approved (5+ / 0-)

      The only reactor design being considered by a U.S. utility that has obtained NRC approval is the GE ABWR, a few of which have actually been built in Asia. It still has some problems, for example, it doesn't meet new rules for protection against an aircraft crash and has to be exempt from those.

      But the U.S. utility, NRG Energy, wants design changes to the ABWR anyway, so their version hasn't been approved yet.

      As mentioned in a comment above, NRC has not approved the Westinghouse AP 1000, and is requiring design changes. And the NRC hasn't really even dealt with a more recent safety issue, which is described here:
      http://www.nirs.org/...

      GE has the ESBWR under design certification review; it hasn't been approved either.

      But regardless of the design, we don't believe taxpayers should have to front the money to wealthy companies like these....if they're sold on their products, they should take the risks, not us.

      •  thanks for the response! (0+ / 0-)

        I guess I'm confused between "final design approval" vs. whatever other approval. I wasn't aware of the problem w/ AP1000, but it looks like the same would happen in the case of any structural flaw for any design?

        I guess if these companies would just stop mucking with designs it would be "cheaper" (relatively). I agree though- but should we also be fronting money to the same companies for wind/solar?

        Anywho, thanks again

        •  it's a good question (3+ / 0-)

          You can make arguments that wind/solar, which are still developing technologies, merit federal loans to further their development, whereas nuclear, which generates about 20% of our power, is a mature technology that should be able to stand on its own (and I didn't address the issue of federal nuclear R&D in this piece).

          But personally, I would not be unhappy to just let the market decide.

          •  Wind and solar are ancient compared to nuclear (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Plan9, bryfry, Mcrab, brodgers

            nirsnet - though reactors built within 30 years after the initial discovery of nuclear fission are supplying 20% of the electricity in the United States, it is patently absurd to claim that wind and solar are more accurately called "developing technologies". Humans have known that there is energy that can be captured from the wind and the sun for tens of thousands of years.

            In contrast, we did not know that self sustaining chain reactions were even remotely possible until a series of events that started when James Chadwick discovered the neutron in 1934. Enrico Fermi then used the neutron to radiate a wide range of elements during the period from 1934-1938, Otto Hahn found barium in a sample of irradiated uranium (1938), Lise Mitner and Otto Frisch properly interpreted that result to indicate that fission had occurred (1938) and then Enrico Fermi put together an assembly of graphite and natural uranium to cause a controlled chain reaction (1942).

            Until then, even knowledgeable physicists dismissed the idea of controllable nuclear energy as "moonshine".

            We are still developing ways to better use fission and probably will be developing them for several hundred years into the future. In the meantime, the machines we have already developed have proved their worth and are generating massive quantities of competitive electricity for a marginal cost that is only slightly higher than hydroelectricity - the only controllable form of power that has a lower operating cost.

            If you truly want the market to decide - I say let's go for it, especially if there is a price charged for the use of the atmosphere as a waste dump for fossil fuel refuse.

  •  Some really good news buried in this diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobTrips, greengemini

    Industries have used the recession to become more energy efficient. Cost cutting has involved reducing energy waste.

    The jobs recession sucks but wasted energy sucks too. The reduction in wasted energy is great news.

    The other great news is the reduction in the costs of renewable energy. I'm not opposed to nuclear power, but if renewable power is cheaper, the only reason to build nukes is to increase system baseload reliability. If renewables + peaking natural gas plants are cheaper, there will be little financial motivation to build nukes unless a very large carbon tax is put in place and that isn't happening any time soon.

    look for my DK Greenroots diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:47:07 AM PDT

    •  CSP/storage and using molten salts... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FishOutofWater, Joieau

      The first such plant has just gone on line in Sicily.  These plants will be able to store hot, molten salt for days making them a no-CO2 backup source.

      And it looks like their electricity might even be cheaper than NG turbines....

      For a typical 100MW stand alone plant in Egypt, it should look like this:

      Annual direct solar radiation: 2.900 kWh/(m2 year)
      Total area occupied by the solar collectors: 67 ha
      Total area occupied by the solar field: 134 ha
      Nominal power output: 100 MW (Peak 485 MW)
      Thermal storage capacity: 1.800 MWh
      Net annual electricity produced: 369 GWh/year
      Plant load factor: 42 %

      Total Cost : 157 M€
      Specific cost : 1.570 €/kWe
      Service life: 25 years
      Interest rate: 7%
      Annual operating (O&M) costs: 2% of investment cost
      Levelized Cost Of Electricity (LCOE): 4,5 €cents/kWh

      That's about $0.06/kWh.  The price would likely be a bit higher in the US as annual direct solar radiation might be somewhat less and labor costs higher.  

      Link

      But any sort of stored power at under a dime per means the death of new nuclear.  

      A plant that must sell their power 24 hours every day will loose money when there is a cheaper supplier available.  With wind at $0.05/kWh nuclear will take a loss at night.  With PV solar dropping below the cost of nuclear on sunny days nuclear will take a loss then.

      The only way for nuclear to stay in business is to sell at a very high profit during the non-windy/shiny times.  If there is another dispatchable vendor who can sell for even two times the average nuclear production cost then nuclear will go bankrupt.

      Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

      by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:37:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just a tiny little detail there... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bryfry, Mcrab

        The first of these miracle machines was 60M€ for 5MW. Which is something like 8 times as expensive as your projection. And it hasn't really run yet, so we have no idea whether it's going to deliver anything worth having in terms of capacity factor.

        All this "projected cost" is very nice, but it's too easy to say things are going to be great when they've never been done.

        The other thing is, of course, that any form of cheap storage will actually benefit nuclear power much more than wind or solar, because it would only have to store from the night to the day, whereas you never quite know when the weather's going to bless the turbines with some input or the clouds are going to part.

        Though I recognize the intent, I think your sig line is well chosen for your arguments here:

        Enough of this reality crap. I voted for  MAGIC!!!

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:24:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  more no-nukism from people who... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Swampfoot, Plan9, bryfry, Mcrab

    ... have no clue how to deal with the intermittency issues of renewables.

    Bloody hell, I worked on design engineering for @ 300 MW of wind and I'm here to tell you we need nukes in the mix or we can't do squat with all the wind potential we have.  The project I was involved with is stuck right now because the grid can't absorb all that fluctuating power, and another guy who was on the project back then tells me they're waiting for someone to build a nuke nearby to make the whole thing fit together.  

    All these gloating no-nukers deserve what they're going to get when the climate shit hits the fan, except the rest of us don't deserve that.  

    •  But the nukes cannot have massive $ overruns (0+ / 0-)

      I wish he would cut out the gloating from this diary.

      You raise good points about stable baseload. We need to eliminate coal as the source of baseload power.

      We need a serous discussion of how to do that in a way that makes economic sense. Huge cost over runs and overly complex nuclear plant designs are not going to be acceptable.

      look for my DK Greenroots diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 08:58:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        •  not ready for prime time (3+ / 0-)

          There is lots of talk about "small, modular reactors", and lots of Congressional interest certainly.

          But they're several years away from design certification--NRC is trying to finish the big reactor design certifications first before they even start of these.

          And Amory Lovins has argued, pretty persuasively to me, that these small reactors can never be made economical against energy efficiency measures and renewables.

          And of course, they still would confront the radioactive waste problem.

          •  Lovins believes nuclear power is dead (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mcrab, skillet

            He's been saying this for decades.  I don't know if he's still saying that by 2000 hydrogen-powered cars will be in all the auto showrooms.

            He also said back in the 1970s that solar power would be our dominant energy source by 2000.

            Small modular reactors are much sought after worldwide and will be built.  As for nuclear power being on the wane, the opposite is true.

            (updated February 2010)

            Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily but not dramatically, with over 50 reactors under construction in 13 countries.
            Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in Europe, the USA and Russia.
            Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading.
            Plant life extension programs are maintaining capacity, in USA particularly.

            Lovins's cloudy crystal ball . . . .
            Lovins lack of nuclear expertise.

            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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:19:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Some bogus stuff you've got there... (3+ / 0-)

              The US has almost no new reactors coming.  Southern Company is somewhat likely to build two at their Georgia site, but all the other "30" have backed away.

              (Even Southern's CEO has made a waffling statement or two about them actually going ahead.)

              Small modular reactors are unproven.  Remember how well pebble bed reactors worked?  Get back to us with that small reactor stuff when one is up and working.

              Most people were thinking hydrogen the answer to personal transportation until there were battery breakthroughs with made EVs a much better option.

              Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

              by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:00:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Please name 1 town powered only by wind and solar (0+ / 0-)

                I look forward to hearing about it.

                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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 12:47:50 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And where exactly did I make ... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RandomNonviolence, Earth Ling

                  that claim?

                  But, since you seem to be interested in where we are on our path away from fossil fuels...

                  Houston, TX now gets 32% of it's power from wind.

                  Eugene, OR gets 85% of its power from wind and hydro.  

                  Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

                  by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:11:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  NIRSNET believes we do not need baseload power (0+ / 0-)

                    from fossil fuels or nuclear power.

                    He thinks we can get all our power from renewables and efficiency.

                    So I wondered if you or any of your fellow anti-nukes could name for me one place that gets 100% of its energy from wind and solar 24/7. Because that's what you would need if you got rid of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

                    Just because Houston is purchasing 32% of its electricity from a wind corporation does not mean that 32% comes from wind turbines.  It may mean that fossil fuels are being burned when the wind does not blow.

                    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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:17:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Several of my friends do... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Earth Ling

                      I don't have a good wind site so I have to use some gas to get me through the winter cloudy days.  

                      Now, that's individual residences, not cities, but it scales up.

                      Up until now it's been too expensive to go with wind/solar/lead acid battery storage except when connecting to the cheap coal/old nuclear plant fed grid would be too costly.  But that is the old reality.

                      Right now we have the technology to store power for a price cheaper than building new nuclear reactors.  We can create inexpensive electricity for storage with wind.  

                      Wind direct from the turbine is roughly $0.05/kWh.  Wind stored in a CAES facility and used to fill in the gaps is roughly $0.13/kWh.  If we are using a site where the wind blows 1/3rd of the time then we would be producing grid power for about $0.10/kWh.

                      CSP w/molten salt storage should be "baseload" for about $0.10/kWh.  

                      Geothermal which is "baseload" is about $0.10/kWh.

                      No city is 24/365 100% renewable yet.  Much of the technology that is bringing us ten cent renewable technology is new and has not had the time needed to build it out that much.

                      In addition we have a lot of existing coal and nuclear on line which are producing power at less than a dime.  

                      However, as we now realize, that cheap power from coal is not cheap if we add in the other costs which aren't being paid at the meter.  And we can't build any more cheap new nuclear power.  

                      (In fact, were we to add in all the money lost on nuclear plants built/partially built and then abandoned electricity from existing old nuclear plants would not be cheap.  US taxpayers lost fortunes on belly-up nuclear plants.)
                      ---

                      Houston gets 32% of its power from wind.  

                      Wind.  

                      I posted wind.  

                      I did not post "wind plus coal".

                      And places in Texas which have a lot of wind feeding their grid are starting to enjoy dropping utility bills.

                      Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

                      by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:33:15 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  One slight problem with your 32% figure (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Plan9

                    Your figure of 32% wind power for Houston is not technically correct.

                    In July 2009 the Houston mayor announced that Houston city operations were relying on wind power for 32% of its total power consumption.

                    BIG difference between the power required for the entire city of Houston and the power required for Houston city operations.

                    The press release does not state if the city of Houston actually took delivery of that wind power or if they just bought the wind power credits as offsets but made some other entity or organization deal with the actual energy. If that was the case then it really does not matter how much wind they bought nor how many press releases the mayor issues since they would still primarly be using fossil fueled (i.e. natural gas) power generation sources.

                    http://www.greenhoustontx.gov/...

                    Unbundled renewable energy credits are also a big deal to Bonneville Power.  They may shut down California from buying additional unbundled wind power credits from the BPA authority area if the CPUC and the State of California aren't willing to pony up money for dedicated transmission lines from the Northwest to CA.

        •  hot damn!, another one! (0+ / 0-)

          There do seem to be a lot of these coming out now.  

          Can't wait for one that'll power a single house.   Then I really can have one in my back yard.  

          •  1 NuScale modular reactor can supply 45,000 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek

            with 24/7 electricity using a very small volume of fuel in a factory-sealed reactor with its own steam generator installed underground in a concrete bunker.

            Linked modules, 16 of them, could power a medium-sized city.  If one reactor fails it can be easily replaced by a new module.

            This technology is not new.

            Small reactors have been used by the US Navy for 55 years--254 reactors and no reactor-related accidents despite millions of miles steamed.

            During the Haiti earthquake crisis a Navy ship used its reactor to provide electric power and purified water.

            Small reactors will be providing full power to communities on a distributed basis (to borrow a term from Lovins) long before wind and solar alone can do that full time without backup.

            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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 12:46:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah i saw that. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9

              I clicked your link and found it's a 45 MW unit.  

              And I've seen the decentralized grid strategy around for a bit, it makes complete sense in terms of grid resilience.  Also aware of the USN track record, and that's something even the no-nukers can't deny.

              No-nukism really is the left's equivalent of young-earth creationism, and it even has climate denialism going along for a ride with it.  

      •  didn't intend to sound like gloating (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BobTrips, greengemini, cany

        just trying to present an analysis of recent developments that the media seems to have missed....

        •  Glad you're not gloating about more coal being (0+ / 0-)

          burned.  Because that's the result of the slowdown in the US in terms of new nuclear plants being built.  And surely you could not be pleased about increased greenhouse gases and more deaths from fine particulates.

          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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 01:20:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  what are you, 12 years old or something? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RandomNonviolence, Earth Ling

            No more coal is being burned because reactors that don't even have licenses to be built aren't being built....that makes no sense whatsoever. And I have yet to see a single utility that wants to build a new reactor say it would be willing to close one of its coal plants....it's the same utilities and corporations doing both.

            We need to move to a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy future. The technology exists.

            •  So you didn't lobby against nuc loan guarantees? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bryfry

              Constellation needed a loan guarantee for Calvert Cliffs 3 and Congress voted it down.

              I notice on your website the following:

              President Obama has proposed a $54 billion loan program for construction of new nuclear reactors. But nuclear power remains dirty, dangerous and uneconomic. Tell Congress to reject this proposal and support the safer, cleaner and cheaper renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that can power our future while reducing carbon emissions.

              So surely you are willing to acknowledge that you petitioned against nuclear plants--loan guarantees being simply that, not an onus on taxpayers--but you are OK if renewables get a lot of subsidies.  So you are actually against major reduction of carbon emissions.

              You are being a bit disingenuous here about your agenda.  You want to stop projects that would radically lower carbon emissions and enable utilities to shut down their oldest and dirtiest plants while making clean electricity from nuclear.  

              Think about this, my friend, and think of the coral reefs that are dying and the droughts in Russia and the climate refugees.

              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 Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 02:18:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  supported climate legislation too (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Earth Ling

                Yes, of course we oppose more taxpayer money being spent on loans for new reactors. Never tried to claim differently.

                We also, by the way, support strong climate legislation (not that we've seen much of that this Congress). We did oppose the American Power Act because of its extraordinary emphasis on nuclear, but we certainly support putting a price on carbon.

                As the quote of ours you picked out says, nuclear is not "clean" energy, it is dirty, dangerous and uneconomic. Going nuclear will squander the resources we need to build a genuinely clean energy future and actually implement climate solutions.

                You've added at least a dozen comments to this post; not one of them challenges or even addresses any of the analysis of the article. I assume then that you agree with it.....

                •  yes - I've been complaining about that too (0+ / 0-)

                  You've added at least a dozen comments to this post; not one of them challenges or even addresses any of the analysis of the article. I assume then that you agree with it.....

                  And it's not just plan9, NONE of the pro-nukers are addressing the points or conclusion of the diary.

                  The closest they come is Gwenyth arguing that the "politics" of energy are the problem.  By this Gwenyth means that our politics need to learn to ignore economics so that nuclear can work.

                  Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. - Kenneth E. Boulding

                  by Earth Ling on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 02:32:14 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  I suspect (0+ / 0-)

        that as with a lot of other things, in the near future we (the users) are going to have to adapt to the grid rather than the other way around.  Nobody's going to buy baseload power plants at $5000/kw.  The users (especially residential) are going to find their demand being set by the utilites, and not by their own needs.

        •  Uses have options... (0+ / 0-)

          Many can make their own power.  

          Right now, thanks to government subsidies, one can create their own electricity with PV.  

          If they live in some states they can sell the surplus to the grid and buy back what they need when their own panels are not producing.

          At some point, if grid prices climb enough, it would make sense to add batteries and in inverter to ones system and then buy little power off the grid.

          But we aren't likely to get there.  We've got inexpensive ways to generate and store power.  It's just a matter of building more of them.

          Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

          by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:07:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  How about this? (0+ / 0-)

        Wind with CAES to make it 24/365.  $0.13/kWh.

        CSO with molten salts storage to make it 24/365.  Roughly $0.10/kWh.

        Geothermal, which is 24/365 for $0.10/kWh.

        Pump-up hydro to store excess wind and solar.

        Hydro uprating to create more dispatchable hydro.

        More hydro.  (Already being installed.)

        Utility scale batteries.  (Already on the grid.)

        Biomass/biogas from industrial and municipal waste running turbines.  (Already on the grid.)

        Energy storing using cheap power to make ice which in turn makes it possible to use less energy for AC when power is in higher demand.  (Already in use.)

        Load shifting so that peaks are lower and nighttime cheap wind can play an even bigger role.

        --

        And probably coming to a grid near you in the near future - wave and tidal produced electricity.  The technology is up and running in a few places right now.

        Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

        by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:52:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Any new work on pumped storage facilities? (0+ / 0-)

      Ludington Pumped Storage

      I drive by the Ludington Pumped Storage facility all the time.  Basically, power plants run at night and push the water into the reservoir.  Then, during the day, the water runs out, pushing turbines and generating peak electricity.

      This could be one of the answers for wind and solar in terms of off-peak generation.

      Of course, this facility has killed a lot of fish, but I would think that some really smart engineers could solve that problem.

      http://twitter.com/mikeingels

      by DingellDem on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 09:42:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A British company came up with a novel idea (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BobTrips, DingellDem

        to store excess wind energy as a temperature idfference in two underground silos full of gravel.

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

      •  One of the large CA utiities... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        Is building a new pump-up facility.  PG&E is building a new CAES site.

        There's a company in Utah working on building multiple pump-up sites.  

        There's a big HVDC transmission line that runs from Utah to Southern CA (the Intermountain Intertie).  That was built to bring coal-generated power from Utah to the CA market.  CA is rapidly eliminating coal from its grid.

        There is work afoot to build large solar plants in Utah and to extend the Intertie into Montana's windy areas and sell renewable to CA in place of the coal power that used to travel on those lines.  

        Building storage closer to the point of generation makes sense.  If peaks can be moved to lower generation periods more power, overall, can be moved on those lines.

        Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

        by BobTrips on Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 10:13:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Meaningful competition?? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, bryfry, brodgers

    There are a number of assumptions in the section titled:

    "Meaningful and aggressive competition from renewables and other electricity sources"

    Offshore wind - There is not a single operating off-shore wind turbine supplying power to customers in the United States. The project that is the farthest along in the permitting process, Cape Wind off of the coast of Cape Cod, declared its intention to build in 2001. The Department of the Interior recently gave what is thought to be one of the last required approvals before the project construction can begin.

    Cape Wind has signed a power purchase agreement with National Grid that sets the price of electricity that will start being delivered in 2013. The agreed price is $207 per megawatt hour with 3.5% escalation every year for 15 years. At the end of the escalation period, the electricity will cost $335 per megawatt hour. There is some doubt about whether or not this deal will be accepted by the Public Utility Commission.  The prices assume the continuance of existing federal subsidy programs which currently include a choice of a $22 per megawatt hour production tax credit or an immediate 30% tax credit (essentially a cash grant) in lieu of that PTC if the project starts before the end of 2010.

    In the handful of European countries that do have offshore wind turbines operating, the costs are at least 50% more than they are for on-shore wind due to the extra cost of installation, building the transmission lines and maintaining the infrastructure. Overall, approximately 1% of the world's wind energy capacity is located off shore.

    Natural gas - The words being said about natural gas supplies today are similar to those said in the early 1990s before a 15 year period when nearly every new power plant constructed used natural gas. At the end of that period, the price had increased from $1.90 per million BTU to a peak of nearly $15.00 per million BTU in the summer of 2008 before the recession led to a quick reduction in demand just as a number of new wells drilled during the period of high prices began to produce. Not surprisingly the price dropped quickly as supply exceeded demand.

    Many pundits now affirm a belief that low natural gas prices are here to stay, but that optimism is predicated on a continued ability to drill thousands of wells every year in shale formations requiring hydraulic fracturing in order to release the tightly stored gas.

    Is that the clean energy future that you want?

  •  Loan guarantees are contingent (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, bryfry, Mcrab, brodgers

    Nirsnet has misinterpreted the investor call information provided by Mr. Shattuck. He announced a freeze on hiring and a reduction in the rate of spending money on the preparation work for the plant, NOT that the project was out of money. Those were intelligent business decisions for a project that has not yet lined up the financing that is required to enable it to proceed.

    The details are a bit complicated, but it is important for readers to understand that the DOE loan guarantees are not final until after a combined operating license is issued. Until that milestone is reached NO money changes hands. As nirsnet has pointed out, the COL for CC unit 3 will not be issued for at least 2 more years. If Unistar was running out of money, the DOE would probably do the same thing it did in the case of USEC's American Centrifuge Plant loan guarantee application - it would tell the company to put its finances in better shape before it gave approval. That company has been working hard for more than a year and has recently resubmitted its application.

    It is also important for people to understand that DOE loan guarantees are not expenditures unless the borrower defaults. Some have claimed that the CBO has computed that the risk of default for nuclear loans is as high as 50%, but that assumption was published in 2003 and was not based on the current program or the current economic conditions. Here is a quote from the CBO Director's blog dated March 4, 2010 on the subject of default risk estimates:

    CBO’s 2003 estimate was intended to represent the possible costs of loan guarantees to build the first units of the next generation of nuclear power plants.  The estimate reflected the average financing costs, construction costs, and other project characteristics that were anticipated at that time. The assumptions and analyses supporting that estimate reflected information about the technical, economic, and regulatory environment as it existed in 2003, almost seven years ago.  Such generalized estimates of credit risk may not apply to a guarantee for any particular power plant because of variations in the technical, economic, regulatory, and contractual characteristics of each project. Without such information, much of which would be proprietary, CBO has no basis for estimating the cost to the government of any specific loan guarantee of this type.

    Finally - it is probably too soon to write off new nuclear power capacity at Calvert Cliffs. As nirsnet has documented, the companies involved have invested a lot of time and effort to get this project right because there is a very definite need for clean power in the service territory that the plant's output can reach. I have attended a number of meetings in the local area and there is a great deal of support for new nuclear power plants in Calvert County and the surrounding area.

    There is a distinct possibility, however, that a single 1600 MWe plant might not be the right fit for the current market conditions; perhaps that is why the reactor vendor is looking at smaller, somewhat simpler designs like the 1100 MWe ATEMA and why experienced vendors like B&W are working hard on modular designs like the 125 MWe mPower that have evolved based on lessons from commercial PWRs, BWRs, and naval power plants.

    I have noted a few commenters on this thread who called small reactors unproven, but they have apparently forgotten that plants like the 60 MWe Shippingport started operating in 1957, that the Enterprise is still running on first generation small modular plants and that the Nautilus was just the first of several hundred small nuclear plants that have operated at sea. The NuScale, IRIS, CAREM, and the mPower all will use known and understood light water technology that has been refined based 55 years worth of experience.

    •  it's probably too late for this reply... (0+ / 0-)

      seeing as it's a couple days later. But actually I agree with almost everything Rod says.

      There is certainly support for the reactor in Calvert County (there is some opposition too, but frankly the support is pretty strong).

      Rod has also explained the loan guarantee program fairly well, though I'll note a couple of exceptions:

      1)yes, the CBO report predicting a 50% failure rate for nuclear loan guarantees was issued in 2003 and things have certainly changed since then. The problem is, the big change is that the reactors have gotten much more expensive--most estimates are 200-400% higher than they were then. CBO isn't saying that the failure rate would be lower today, they're saying they haven't really looked at it.

      2)it's true that taxpayers only lose if the utility defaults. The money does actually come from the Federal Treasury, through the Federal Financing Bank, but if it's repaid obviously taxpayers don't lose. The question is, how many of these projects will ultimately be successful given their enormous costs, and thus, how many will be repaid.

      3)Unistar was capitalized with $625 million. They admit they have run through $600 million. That means they don't have much left, and that's why I argue they're broke. The parent companies do have some money of course (EDF much more than Constellation), but adding additional capital would require a corporate restructuring, which would be very difficult for this project to do and not run further afoul of Atomic Energy Act prohibition against foreign ownership.

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