Danish fairy tales – what can we learn?

It’s estimated that if we fully pursue our potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20 percent of our electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process — 250,000 jobs in the process, jobs that pay well and provide good benefits. It’s a win-win: It’s good for the environment; it’s great for the economy. Today America produces less than 3 percent of our electricity through renewable sources like wind and solar—less than 3 percent. Now, in comparison, Denmark produces almost 20 percent of their electricity through wind power.”

Barack Obama, Earth Day Speech, April 22, 2009

” ‘But the Emperor has nothing on at all!’ said a little child.”

From The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Denmark’s famous poet and author, Hans Christian Andersen, 1837

Guest Post by Tom Blees. Tom is author of Prescription for the Planet – The Painless Remedy for Our Energy & Environmental Crises. Tom is also the president of the Science Council for Global Initiatives.

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Last month Denmark’s CEPOS, their Center for Political Studies, published a report called Wind Energy, The Case of Denmark, from which that Obama quote was lifted. It sheds a harsh light on the young president’s wind vision, and reveals a dubious statistic and assumptions that may be far from the future reality of the USA despite the promising rhetoric.

Brave New Climate is one of those rare sites that eschews the hype about energy systems, where the contributors and most commenters seem to want the straight facts based on actual data. Fortunately we have a couple decades of data on wind and solar power systems, and of course considerably more decades than that on nuclear, though changes in regulatory and subsidy frameworks have often had as marked an effect on energy systems as technological advances.

Last week I wrote a post on Germany’s economic experience with solar power, and in the comments I included more links to similar articles describing Spain’s own dubious foray into a solar-powered future. Today, with Barry’s indulgence, I’d like to turn the spotlight to Denmark’s experience with wind power, a national experiment that began in the mid-Eighties and is continuing to this day. Denmark was the leader in the development and deployment of wind turbines up until very recently, and still plans to keep moving in that direction with the construction of 800 MW of new offshore wind turbines by 2013. One reason they’re going offshore, despite the added cost, is because after almost 25 years of building windmills all over the country they’re starting to get a NIMBY reaction to building more of them on land.

While President Obama’s statement that “Denmark produces almost 20 percent of their electricity through wind power” might be technically construed as true, it belies the real picture, a situation that bedevils the notoriously fickle wind power wherever it has been built. If one simply looks at the statistics of the number of megawatt-hours of electricity produced by wind power in Denmark over the course of a year and divides it by Denmark’s electricity demand, the number does indeed come out to nearly 20%. But the devil is in the details.

Denmark’s thermal power plants, fueled mostly by coal, produce not only electricity but also heat for the towns near which they’re located. The Danes have taken great pains to make their coal plants as efficient as possible by building them for such double duty. But what happens when it’s wintertime and the wind is howling, spinning those turbines like crazy? One can easily imagine that those same days are mighty chilly, and so those coal plants are fired up even though the electricity they’re producing is now in less demand than the heat they’re producing to keep the Danes warm.

This situation presents a dilemma, for the high simultaneous production from both the wind and the coal plants means that Denmark now has an electricity glut. Despite the contention of many wind and solar advocates that energy storage is practical and economical, a couple decades of experience with wind turbines apparently still hasn’t been enough for the Danes to get the message. So when the glut has driven the price down, frequently to the level of zero, Denmark ends up exporting their wind-generated electricity to their neighbors, chiefly Germany, Norway, and Sweden.

The latter two nations have acted for years as Denmark’s energy balancers, allowing the Danes to utilize the erratic power of wind and still keep their grid balanced because Norwegian and Swedish hydropower stations are able to load follow the Danish grid. When electicity is pouring over the interconnector from Denmark, its partner/neighbors can refrain from letting so much water through their turbines, so in a way their reservoirs can be seen as Danish storage batteries. But later on, when the wind isn’t howling, Denmark either has to generate their electricity with coal or else buy it from their neighbors at substantially high prices. But what’s worse than buying high and selling at zero?

“In October 2009, Nordpool, the electricity trading system used in the whole Nordic area, is introducing a negative price for power. The floor price that traders will have to observe, presently zero, will be extended downwards to minus €200 per MWh. This will apply in particular to Denmark and more particularly, because of its high wind capacity, the West Denmark price area. In effect, “the market” will be penalizing other generators for excess wind power in the market.”

So while Barack Obama’s 20% number is nearly true in some sense, the reality is that wind has been supplying less than 10% of Denmark’s electricity on average over the last five years, and as little as 5% in the poor years. This despite a crippling level of subsidies that saddle Danish citizens with the highest electricity rates in the EU.

The CEPOS report also examines the creation of “green jobs,” the other carrot held out by the president. Even allowing generous assumptions in their calculations, the report’s authors conclude that each such job actually created consumes subsidies of $90,000-140,000 USD, about 175-250% of the average pay per worker in the Danish manufacturing sector. What’s worse is that the wind turbine industry is over 10% less productive than other industrial sectors. The report concludes:

“The Danish experience also suggests that a strong US wind expansion would not benefit the overall economy. It would entail substantial costs to the consumer and industry, and only to a lesser degree benefit a small part of the economy, namely wind turbine owners, wind shareholders and those employed in the sector.”

With the tenuous economics of their situation already clear, things are about to get worse on a couple of fronts. Norway is building connecting links to both the Netherlands and Germany in order to play the balancing game with those countries as they build up their wind farms. What this will do is make Norway’s valued balancing capacity more valuable, driving the cost of their electricity even higher since now there will be competition for that balancing capacity from three countries instead of having Norway as Denmark’s captive audience.

Looking at their nation’s experience so far and the forbidding situation with their erstwhile balancing buddy Norway, what do you suppose the Danish politicians are recommending for the wind industry? Amazingly, the Danish Parliament decided last year that by 2025, 50% of Denmark’s electricity demand must come from renewable resources, mostly wind power. This level of blindness to the data is certainly on a par with Germany’s continuing foray into solar subsidies that we examined last week. Perhaps they should read this report, which lays out the situation for all to see:

“The very fact that the wind power system, that has been imposed so expensively upon the consumers, can not and does not achieve the simple objectives for which it was built, should be warning the energy establishment, at all levels, of the considerable gap between aspiration and reality.”

It seems the politicians, despite the hard and rather unforgiving data, still believe that pursuing the dream of running Denmark on wind is a political winner. But should such decisions be based on political expediency rather than economic and social realities just because the populace has been convinced by years of conditioning that windmills are a good thing?

Now it’s only fair to point out that Denmark is a rather unique case, and that wind power generated in a much larger country can more easily be routed within that country rather than being subject to the tender mercies of neighbors who might be looking out primarily for their own bottom line. On the other hand, electricity markets within large countries and even large states can be every bit as unforgiving as the Norwegians might prove to be, as witnessed in California’s recent history. What cannot be argued is that wind power presents serious obstacles to balancing the grid, which in the absence of creative ideas to fix that situation will cause wind power to continue to be a thorn in the sides of power managers and will limit wind’s penetration into the electrical market, even if the money and the will are there to pursue a massive buildup.

There are certainly ways to ease that problem. How about if we had electrolysis systems incorporated into all the wind farms that could suck up power spikes and smooth out the output to the grid? We could use the hydrogen to make ammonia, either for fertilizer or fuel, reducing the amount of natural gas that is used for that purpose. The problem? I suspect (though I haven’t crunched the numbers) that this would be a very expensive way to produce ammonia compared to the way we do it nowadays, even if we impose a carbon tax on natural gas. But I’m sure there are some other ideas. The question is, do the economics of wind make sense compared to modern nuclear power systems? Where should we be putting our energy dollars and efforts?

I recently had a tour of a nuclear power plant owned by one of the big private utility companies. One of the plant operators was candid in expressing his frustration with the company’s attitude. The nuclear plant was producing the lion’s share of the electricity, yet they were treated like the red-headed stepchild. All the attention was focused on windmills and solar panels that weren’t producing enough to make a blip on the energy radar. They make for such good PR!

So what path is President Obama going to encourage? I know for a fact that his two top science advisors are very knowledgeable about IFR technology. Surely the realities of wind and solar development in other countries that have preceded us in these areas can’t be unknown to them. But so far nary a peep has been heard from the White House about IFRs, and precious little about nuclear power in general. Will we soon see the discussion emerge from behind the scenes? Will Obama take the political risk and lead his country away from fantasy and into a viable energy future?

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118 Comments

  1. Nowhere on the planet has industrial wind energy proved it’s claims. The wind industry is part of a massive fraud: wind farms are carbon credit creators. They have no other purpose. In North America, wind plans aren’t actually wind plans; they’re gas plans with wind farms used to hide the amount of gas actually burned to produce power. The assumptions made on costs and emissions reductions are unduly optimistic.

    However the most glaring cost of big wind is the industrial development of rural and wild areas, which arguably degrades rather than improves our common environment. That is impossible to justify if the benefits claimed by the industry sales material are in fact an illusion, propped up by subsidies and artificial markets for “indulgence credits” that actually facilitate the flouting of emissions caps.

  2. The thing I find frustrating with much of the discussion about low carbon technologies is the fixation on the idea that some particular technology is the right one to pursue. While I find it interesting to compare different technologies that have the potential to reduce emissions, it should not be the task of policy makers to make decisions about which technologies are likely to be winners. I don’t care whether it is about wind, IFRs, CCS, geothermal, solar thermal or whatever — this argument that “technology X is better than technology Y and so policy makers should choose technology X” is somewhat silly.

    What is particularly problematic is the “this technology has real potential but we haven’t seen it demonstrated on a large enough scale to see what the cost curve looks like” argument, which I have sometimes heard from proponents of IFRs and CCS. Yes we do need these technologies to be demonstrated at a larger scale, and public financing for that is a good idea. But it is dangerous to think that a particular technology is the solution when you don’t know what the cost curve looks like because the technology hasn’t been demonstrated yet.

    So what path is President Obama going to encourage? Hopefully none, and if he succeeds in putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions, he won’t have to make a decision on that.

  3. Excellent post Tom! It is clear from the account of the Danish grids in “Wind Energy, The Case of Denmark,” that the Danes are faithfully following the Amory Lovins soft path model, with extensive use of micro-generation and cogeneration in central power stations. Thus Denmark would get an Amory Lovins seal of approval for following the soft path. At the same produces Denmark uses 50% more CO2 per capita than nuclear powered France, and the cost of generating Danish electricity is 60% higher than the cost of French largely nuclear generated electricity. Danish rate payers end up paying well over twice what the French rate payers pay for electricity. Thus the Danish electrical system is a test case for Lovins soft path, and the soft path proves both more expensive than nuclear, and far more ineffectual than soft path technology in fighting anthropogenic global warming.

  4. Nothing wrong with critical analyses, but I do feel it necessary to point out that CEPOS is not “the”, but “a” political center, based on liberalist ideology. It may tell the readers here something that its director praised Lomborg’s “Cool it”.

    Another issue I have is the non-argumented link between Danish electricity prices and “crippling subsidies”. First of all, the main cause of the high consumer prices for electricity are tax and VAT. The price before tax and VAT is lower than that of several other EU countries that don’t depend on windpower (or solar power, for that matter). Countries like Ireland or the UK, Portugal and Belgium, or Luxembourg. Of course, one could argue that the subsidy is in the tax. Then again, most people will argue that the additional electricity provided by wind turbines has created downward pressure on electricity prices all over Scandinavia (i.e., keeping them lower).

  5. I believe Marco is essentially correct. The Danes pay huge amounts of power, true, and higher the wind content, the higher they will pay.

    Yes, Danes have extra taxes on their kWhrs and would be paying more than France even if the Danes wised up and used nuclear as the French do. But part of this reason is precisely the Feed In Tariff. From 18 cents to 30 cents Euro is paid to wind manufacturers and to generators. Thus, the nominal costs for nuclear…about 6 to 8 cent USD a kWhr in France will remain low because all cost externalizations are very stable. As the Danes attempt to increase wind, that FIT then increases as a % of the cost of power and you get a built in energy inflation. The more wind, the more the rate payer will pay.

    This throws the regulated ‘free market’ out of whack. Yes, as wind increases *spot* market prices can come down because more power is in the market but at *totally* subsidized prices. Thus the FIT is used to keep wholesale market prices down (again, remember, for the spot hourly or 10 minute market only) but consumers are paying for this on the front end via that FIT. It’s quite an insane position.

    If you removed the FIT all *new* wind production would come to a halt…the minute it was announced (same with solar). Prices based on actual production costs for wind would them be internalized and likely, over a few months, all wind production would come to a halt as maintaining the wind mills would be more costly than the revenue stream garnered from them, at least for off-shore wind.

    David

  6. Yes, 8 cents Euro. I was way off. I was confusing it with solar, which is as much as 5 times this amount.

    But my method still holds. The FIT is worth 80 Euros a MWhr. This is huge and represents the main incentive for any private investor. Without it?

    BTW…thanks for this link. It is a concise and easy to read web site.

  7. Tom..

    The reason IFRs are not being touted is not due to some sort of fascination with wind/solar power. But with the careful orchestration of dates to maximize the profits from coal and natural gas plants. Anybody with a head over their shoulders knows that nuclear power is essential to beat global warming, and that nuclear power cannot expand universally without resorting to fast reactors / molten salt reactors.

    However, these players are willing to suffer some costs (sea-level rise, famine, warfare etc) before they finally decide to go nuclear. The existent financial (monetary) systems are totally in bed with fossil fuel sectors (primarily oil and natural gas, but increasingly coal). Overhauling the fossil-fuel sector without overhauling existent financial systems is a nigh impossibility.

    So I think we are bound to suffer some brouhaha about wind power and other assorted comic acts.

  8. Marco @ 6: While I was unfamiliar with CEPOS’s political orientation, or whether it had one, I don’t believe the facts of the situation are altered by their perspective, and the data is what we are interested in. The article cites the independent, but government-funded Danish Economic Council’s conclusion: “The wind power expansion in the 1990’s is an example of a policy that was unprofitable from society’s point of view, even taking the economic advantages that the wind business enjoyed into consideration.” There is ample evidence that the economic case for wind power in Denmark is weak at best. While I have refrained from extrapolating that to other countries’ wind power programs and pointed out the unique qualities that perhaps make Denmark even more problematic than many others, it’s evident that many of Denmark’s problems with wind are inherent in the technology and economics themselves and thus bear serious consideration when contemplating a commitment to similar subsidy programs.

  9. Tom If you look at my review of Wind Energy: You will see that I vetted the paper in order to judge its credibility. The main writer Hugh Sharman is an engineer who has a blue ribbon resume.

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2009/10/wind-energy-case-of-denmark.html

    Aside from the professionalism of the writer, why is it that a libertarian think tank is regarded as a questionable source, while Greenpeace which has a reputation for misrepresenting facts, and outright lying is regarded as a credible source?

  10. Tom Blees, unfortunately, I can’t find the DEC’s report, so I can’t check what it said. However, it looks like the problem wasn’t so much the new technology (as windpower was at that time), but rather the economic framework that was used.

    Moreover, the ‘facts’ are not as clearcut in the economic world as some people might claim them to be…The DEC has been criticised previously by the Danish Wind Industry Association, who wondered how the DEC could claim that the Danish Wind Industry was worth a mere 2 billion DKK, when one single Windturbine company already had a stock market value of 7 billion DKK.

  11. Charles Barton:
    A libertarian thinktank is not necessarily a questionable source, but don’t expect it to NOT be critical about any policy that involves subsidies.

    I don’t understand your reference to Greenpeace here. But since you want to have a snipe at them, care to tell us about that history of outright lying?

  12. Negative pricing is an artefact of feed-in tariffs. That is, to continue to get the subsidy you have to pay someone to take the subsidised product. Without FiT perhaps far fewer wind farms would have been built. The FiT should cease and wind operators should bid on the 10 minute spot market. Their bid should be enough to cover their expected average cost ie no negative pricing.

    I’ve tried to understand the rationale for FiT given by Jerome a Paris and others. The idea seems to be with enough scale the average fixed cost per output unit(eg interest and depreciation per kwh) is reduced. That argument could apply to anything. Thus we should bulk purchase smoothie makers for anorexics because it will reduce the average cost.

    Another artificial bias towards wind power will be the obligation on electricity resellers to obtain RECs. In a tight market it means most available wind power will be sold. The grid is then forced to accommodate windpower like it or not. I suggest forgetting RECs, FiTs and the like and just go back to a simple CO2 cap with the scams removed.

  13. Good article Tom.

    The fact that politicians don’t face up to cold hard data is one of the key reasons I almost always oppose government ownership of enterprises. Politicians respond to political conerns not commercial realities. The whole movement to shift enterprises out of government ownership has been about getting people to manage reality instead of having them trying to plan utopia. Of course governments clearly have ways to distort commercial realities even without ownership.

    Tragically (and I say that because I suspect his intentions are noble) Tom promotes a global monopoly in nuclear power supply controlled by the UN and given independent paramilitary powers. I find that proposal way more frightening that the Danish delusion about wind which is at least done within a democratic context. Such a UN entity (Tom calls it GREAT, I’d call it AWFUL) is an obvious instrument for the most horrible coercive tactics and for regular meddling. It is worth asking the people of Gaza what it is like having an external party control your water supply and electricity and routinely turn it off when you have disagreements. The problem with Toms thinking on this is that he presumes the powers he proposes would only ever be controlled by good people he agrees with and that they would never exceed the original mission statement. However the world does not work that way. The Australian federal government still uses it’s temporary income tax power even though the Germans surrendered in 1945. The US “defence” department is apparently also capable of waging “offensive” wars even though it wasn’t created with that intent.

  14. @Charles Barton: Greenpeace lied on arctic ice? Nope, the Hardtalk journalist misrepresented a blog article of Greenpeace (funnily enough it used a very similar headline as a BBC article). The Greenpeace director obviously did not read that blog entry (duh, can’t keep up to date with everything) or he would have slammed the journalist in the face with his lie:

    http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/greenpeace-admits-bbc-got-it-wrong-about-arctic-sea-ice-melting-20090820

    Try again.

  15. Marco #19, did you try Charles other suggestion, Google “Greenpeace lies”?
    There are a bunch of items against Greenpeace but I don’t know if the allegations are valid.

  16. the problem with googling “greenpeace lies” is that it forces us to separate the logic of the particular argument (about a lie) from other ideas often held by those who attack greenpeace. as you will see, those who attack greenpeace are often climate skeptics, Larouchies, etc. It is difficult psychologically to credit the arguments of people who believe in things you hold to be crazy!!

    on the other hand, those who defend greenpeace are often in effect fundamentalists in their anti nuclear animus. david walters compared this anti nuclear animus to zionists in their anti palestinian animus. I think this analogy has merit (those who violently disagree will email me and tell me I’m a self hating jew).

    so on some of the world’s most important issues, proponents and opponents believe at once true things and crazy things.

    unfortunately, one person’s crazy is another’s truth even as this seeming relativism is self refuting!!

    It would be nice if good ideas (and the people who believe them) clustered more than they do, wouldn’t it?

  17. Vakibs, no. 10:

    the inference that anti nuclear forces are backed by the fossil fuels lobby makes sense to me.

    but beyond the plausibility of this claim for certain frameworks (oddly, both marxists and libertarians would tend to credit it), what evidence do you have for this connection and its entanglement with finance?

    gm

  18. Two nights ago the Natural Gas Industry Assn. in the U.S. started running ads on television in primetime pushing NG as the THE back up for renewables with pictures of solar and wind turbines; how well they work together. Indeed.

    David

  19. the inference that anti nuclear forces are backed by the fossil fuels lobby makes sense to me.

    but beyond the plausibility of this claim for certain frameworks (oddly, both marxists and libertarians would tend to credit it), what evidence do you have … ?

    Hidden in plain sight. The “fossil fuel lobby” is a public-private partnership with government as senior partner. If you and 999999 friends pool your savings and you begin making inquiries to a nuclear powerplant vendor, you will soon hear from paid public servants, and their idea of public service will not be to make the way plain for you.

    OPEC doesn’t mind spilling the beans about governments making more money on oil than it does, but governments do seem to be shy about this damning fact. I haven’t been able to find out much about their natgas interest.

    When an electric utility is unable to use $1 worth of uranium and must instead use natural gas for which the suppliers get $20, how much natgas money do governments get? Please post a good link or two on the subject.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  20. No, that’s a the older one where they tout “solar, wind and natural gas” without mentioning nuclear. No unlike the Chevron Oil commercial that states “we need *all* forms of power: wind, solar, gas…” and also never mentions nuclear.

    This is a new one with a young Black guy who speaks about “natural gas being the perfect back up to solar and wind”.

    I think it’s clear from the public “persona” (PR campaign) of fossil that they absolutely are tying themselves to the anti-nuclear pro-renewable bandwagon because they *know* renewables are not a threat to their continued profitability.

    This is working as more and more anti-nuclear renewable spokespersons see natural gas the “bridging technology” for renewables.

  21. The flaw in the gas bridge argument is that gas will also be needed as an alternative transport fuel before long. Then the price will take off. If you can get 1 kwh of wind or solar for every kwh of gas fired that could be just 25% the CO2 of conventional coal fired. Assuming 100% backup the capital cost per watt would be say $2.50 wind + $1 gas fired = $3.50. Pretty good until the gas fuel price escalates by 500% or whatever in the life of the plant. The wind will then have no backup because there is little or no gas.

    Remember also that it is thought Haber process fertilisers (nitrates, urea, ammonium salts) have allowed world population to be a third larger than they otherwise would be. What happens when gas is gone? I note Western Australia has the world’s largest ammonia plant (Burrup) using NG but untroubled by the slim prospect of carbon taxes they want to make an even larger plant in the south (Collie) using coal as feedstock.

    The transport fuel options for NG are compressed natural gas CNG now powering 8 million vehicles worldwide, gas-to-liquids GTL either Fischer Tropsch or New Zealand’s methanex process and dimethyl ether DME. Crude oil is currently depleting about 5.5% a year. Therefore I think saving a lot of natural gas for non-electrical applications would be wise.

  22. John – preserving stuff for a future time when you think the price will be higher is speculation. I’m all for speculation. I think speculation saves lives on a regular basis. I’m glad you’ve raised it as an issue because our current government, in rhetoric at least, seems positively hostile towards speculation as an activity.

  23. What I suggest is a conservation protocol on NG whereby a percentage of known reserves is quarantined against LNG export. Chevron has forward sold 70% of its Gorgon reserves I believe. APPEA says Australia has 500 years of NG and CSG but ABARE says 65 years. Just look at the Brits and the North Sea. Now a sizeable fraction (40%?) of their gas will come from Russia. Links in the recent sidebar suggest Victoria will build I think 3 GW of gas fired and NSW may build 4 GW according to Nuclear Australia. Note these are big facilities not the usual 200-500 MW for combined cycle. However SA, Vic and Tas are within sight of depleting their current reserves (Cooper, Otway, Bass etc basins). Ditto the NT’s Amadeus Basin though they could siphon off some of the Impex pipeline from WA to Darwin.

    Therefore all these gas-poor cities in a rush to build gas fired generation will end up competing with foreign buyers. Pipelines from WA or Qld may be needed. The answer to me is to build nuclear baseload plants and get gas peak power via cable not pipeline. Use most of the remaining south eastern local gas for process heat, transport and minor peak power. The gas for transport push should happen fast, before 2015.

    Put it this way, if new gas takes over from retired coal stations Australia is simply repeating the mistakes of other countries. That is what will most likely happen since politicians can’t think past the next election.

  24. @20 Mark:
    Yes, and all I see are typical misinformation and only one case where one could say “lie”. The latter is the Brent Spar issue, something that Greenpeace quite rapidly corrected and openly apologised for. Ever seen Exxon apologise for funding PIW to attack Greenpeace’s tax exempt status in the US?

    Mistakes, yes. Sometimes one-sided, sure. But outright lies? Nope.

    @21 Gregory Meyerson:
    I’m certainly not defending Greenpeace because I am anti-nuclear. In fact, I am in support of nuclear power, and I know other people who support Greenpeace are, too. One does not need to agree with an organisation 100% (or even just 10%) in order to defend it against libellous attacks.

  25. Tom – I have thought about it for many years. Probably around 15 years in fact. And I have yet to encounter a coherent argument that refutes this position.

    Lets say you think there is a drought coming next year and that there will be a food shortage. You speculate for profit by buying up grain and sticking it in a silo. If you are right then you will both profit by selling grain next year and you will also make grain next year more plentiful than it would otherwise have been. Successful speculators put their money where there mouth is and mitigate shortages.

    John could buy gas futures that would achieve much the same thing. They would tend to push up gas prices today leading to conservation of usage (ie demand moderation) and in turn make gas more plentiful in the future. He would profit and help humanity but only if he is right.

    If new fossil fuel and nuclear power plants were banned (governments do dumb stuff) then a speculator could help by investing in additional hydro in recognition of the regular electricity shortages we could expect. They would profit and humanity would be better off than if they had not invested.

    If a hurricane is coming and Joe Average thinks there will be widespread disaster and so orders a shipment of 100 generator units then if Joe Average is correct he stands to make a killing selling generators and there will be more generators in town than there would have been otherwise.

    I’d be happy to hear an example where a successful speculator makes the situation worse than it would have been otherwise.

  26. @Marcos: Greenpeace lies about Chernobyl deaths. Claiming that it will eventually reach 90,000. Everyone else says about 4000 tops. Critics point to simple methodological tricks which Greenpeace used to exaggerate the casualty count, for example ignoring the base cancer rates in exposed areas prior to the Chernobyl accident. There were other very overt occasions of Greenpe dishonesty. For example there was the lone tree photograph. The copy suggested that the tree was the only survivor of clear cutting, but the tree in fact stood in a completely unforrested tract. There are Greenpeace cloaims about Genetically modified crops causing animals to suffer. There are absurd Greenpeace aligations about tiny amounts of a fire retardant being an environmental hazard. Accusations of Greenpeace lying don’t come just from global warming skeptics. It comes from a ideologically broad spectrum of individuals and groups who are not taken in by Greenpeace heavy handed manipulation.

  27. I agree with you MARCO that we must defend organizations against libelous attacks (I was really making a point about the unfortunate sociology of belief). I would, though, be surprised to find many greenpeace supporters who are pro nuclear. Greenpeace wouldn’t welcome the support. I used to support them, until I studied more.

    as charles points out, greenpeace does spread hysteria thru dubious claims about radiation deaths. Even the 4000 number assumes the truth of the linear non-threshold hypothesis that asserts that any dose of radiation is harmful. this hysteria has made rational discussion about energy alternatives at times nearly impossible.

    as for TERJE on speculation, what (incoherent) counter argument against speculation’s benifient effects have you heard? Your homey examples about average joe speculators strike me as disconnected from the real world. was the speculation on currency that brought the asian financial crisis in the late nineties a great boon to humanity? Russia’s life expectancy plunged about one decade in about a decade due to free market reforms–didn’t average George Soros help wreck Russian currency? It was this sort of problem that turned Jeffrey Sachs away from Milton Friedman.

    but back to homey: if Joe average saw a drought coming, why doesn’t joe average try organizing his community with others to insure adequate local food and water supplies–for the common good? Is this an incoherent alternative to keeping the information about drought as private as possible so you would have a monopoly position on generators or fresh water or drought resistant seed when disaster struck? I know free marketers are supposed to be all for transparency, but in the real world, speculators and profiteers require secrecy, which they can get either legally or illegally.

  28. @Charles Barton,
    The “lone tree” example is a funny one, one where Greenpeace foolishly took the wrong photograph. There WERE photographs from the same region showing cutting areas. Greenpeace exchanged the pictures. Was it a lie?

    Regarding Chernobyl: the issue here seems not to be one of lying by Greenpeace, since I do see frequent references to base cancer levels in the report. There’s plenty of criticism possible, but again, it’s not an issue of lying. Or are all those reports of 600,000+ deaths in Iraq a lie, too?

  29. Gregory,

    Indeed, the 4,000 number is based on NTL analysis. How accurate is that type of analysis? Nobody knows. And thus the estimates may be both too high and too low.

    It’s interesting you mention 4,000, since the WHO on its website on Chernobyl adds another 5,000 excess cancer deaths based on NTL analysis. One wonders why that 5,000 has disappeared in most reports on the UNSCEAR report. And what about non-cancer related deaths? Should we just neglect the excess deaths caused by other issues that are related to the disaster? I find that inappropriate, although I accept that it is very difficult to determine the excess deaths from other aspects.

    Regarding Greenpeace and pro-nuclear supporters, I should perhaps have qualified it better: there will be plenty who will not be against nuclear power, but at the same time not pro-nuclear lobbyists, that support Greenpeace, simply because the other issues Greenpeace fights for are more important. Just like in politics, where people vote for political parties even though they don’t agree on all positions of that party.

  30. Marco…Greenpeace doesn’t tell the truth, and they do so on purpose.

    If you look at Greenpeace’s anti-nuclear propaganda, it is based, as their activists admit, on FUD. If they *knowingly quote Storm & Lewuyn, they LIE. There is no way around this.

    At UC Berkeley the other day, I met some GP canvassers. They showed me literature from GP on nuclear that was…simply lies. From “A Chernobyl is waiting to happen” to “nuclear produces CO2 almost as much as fossil fuel…”. These are lies. They know it. They don’t care because their audience is not you or I but the average Joe who is susceptible to such BS based on FUD.

    But, most of the world understands that a best information from this group, or any anti-nuclear lobby/activist lobby group is going to lie. Who doesn’t think this? The same is true from information garnered from any industry group. The point is to look for the BS factor in any report or news item. GP has a LOT to answer for in terms of BS. No one I know takes them seriously from the POV of serious science or understanding, and this includes the more sophisticated anti-nukes.

  31. a follow up: it occurs to me that Terje can defend his views on speculation by noting that he defends SUCCESSFUL SPECULATION.

    but you can’t defend speculation and all its institutional requirements without defending the whole package–“successful” and unsuccessful. and what is the criteria of success? not good works but profit. and by this criterion, the kind of speculation that wrecks economies and exacerbates the concentration of wealth is very successful–if you are the speculator/hedge fund manager.

    You can’t just defend one side of a, in this case, contradictory whole. It’s like people who praise competition and loathe monopoly, failing to see how the former can lead to the latter.

  32. hi marco:

    perhaps someone else can corroborate this, but I recall reading somewhere (maybe it was bernard cohen) that a major cause of the health problems following chernobyl was stress related, in part due to, as David says, FUD.

    This is by no means to minimize it.

    On anti nuke hysteria, I read a recent article on the “nuclear goliath.” the author, after laying out the “stark” numbers on U.S. nuclear carbon emissions, asserts that global emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle (mostly from uranium mining and milling which generation 4 reactors avoid) are “even starker.” Between 90 and 160,000 billion grams of CO2. Turns out (assuming these numbers are accurate and I would most certainly double check) that this amounts to about 130,000 tons of CO2, which converts to just over 35,000 tons of carbon. Stark indeed. Global CO2 emissions are on the order of 30 billion tons, which gives us about 8 billion tons of carbon annually. so these “stark” numbers amount to .000004375 of total annual global carbon emissions.

  33. I find it disingenuous for Greenpeace, and others to continue to invoke latency every time actual results fail to meet the dire predictions made previously about the potential death toll from Chernobyl. We were told shortly after the event, when the immediate death toll was found to be minimal, that the full impact would not be felt for twenty years. Twenty years later, the Cassandras are now saying it could be as much as sixty years before the damage appears, or maybe several generations in the future. At what point do we accept the fact that the impact of this accident has not been anywhere as serious as it was assumed it would be?

    Finally, and this bears repeating; the event at the Chernobyl reactor was caused by an inherently poor design, shoddy construction coupled with a criminal lack of good judgment. There is simply no rational grounds for continuing to hold this event up as an example of the potential for an accident at any modern nuclear powerplant. In fact if anything it demonstrates just how small the overall impact of a worse-case power excursion and critical loss of containment is even under the poor emergency response conditions that were in place at the time.

  34. Minor point: “In October 2009, Nordpool, the electricity trading system used in the whole Nordic area, is introducing a negative price for power. …”

    There been a slight change:
    “Due to required updates to systems and coordinated start up of the German/Danish market coupling the implementation of the negative price floor is postponed.
    The new date for the implementation will be 30 November 2009.”

    http://www.nordpoolspot.com/Market_Information/Exchange-information/No-772009-Planned-implementation-of-Elspot-negative-price-floor-postponed/

  35. Economist John Quiggin has made the point that off-peak pricing of electricity is an an artefact of baseload generation. I’ve claimed upthread that negative pricing is an artefact of feed-in tariffs. However the FiT is a central plank of the Australian Greens Party whose new star candidate is climate campaigner Clive Hamilton. I’d like to know where Hamilton stands on both feed-in tariffs and nuclear power. This is relevant because the Greens could be the new third force in Australian politics in the event of an early election, perhaps triggered by the blocking of the pointless ETS legislation.

    Gawd help us if the voting choice is between deniers, ditherers and dreamers.

  36. @DV82XL.

    something else which I think is equally important to what DV82XL noted.

    Even with the shoddy design, another “Chernobyl” has never happened since. I think any scientist would ask “why not”?

    The low steam flow/roll down tests are now forbidden at all RMBK reactors. Is this good or bad? What does GP think? If it’s good, do they think it’s contributed to the non-accident and good safety record at existing RMBK reactors? If not, why not and how do this explain that 25 years later, these plants are STILL running safely? What, then, is the REAL lesson of Chernobyl?

    D.

  37. John, clearly FIT is a long term total cost subsidy for renewables. I would hit the Green Party with the hypocrisy of arguing nuclear is not economic because of unstated subsidies when the entire wind and solar industry is based on it. They should be exposed a frauds.

  38. Actually, Greenpeace claimed at one point that as many as 200,000 people would die from Chernobyl. I wonder how many people have died (or will yet die) from the 500+ above ground nuclear tests from the 50s and 60s. I guess we’re all toast, several times over.

    Marco @ 37: Or are all those reports of 600,000+ deaths in Iraq a lie, too?

    Didn’t do so well in the debate club I bet, huh Marco?

  39. The dozen RBMK reactors that are still running were heavily modified to, among other things, lower their void coefficients to +0.7 β. This is low enough to preclude the possibility of a low-coolant meltdown.

    No new ones will be built, and the old ones are slowly being retired.

  40. @David # 47

    I suggest there be no residential FiT (I get a modest 16.5c/kwh for PV) but commercial wind and solar operators should get just five years then zilch. They then have to bid realistic full prices on short term spot markets, which could be say 10-20c per kwh. That price should be enough to make a commercial profit at the end of the year. It won’t be so hard since five years of FiT will have paid off a lot of their capital costs. In addition hard-to-get RECs may also guarantee their sales.

    There is glaring fossil fuel subsidy that has slipped under the radar in the form of indemnity for escape of underground CO2. See

    http://www.dsd.wa.gov.au/7599.aspx

    halfway down under Post Closure Indemnity. If such an underground reservoir gives a big fart years down the track no doubt somebody will successfully sue for billions. However the taxpayer picks up the tab. Not much different I think to nuclear indemnity under the US Price Anderson Act. Just this month several attempts to plug a leaking offshore gas rig have failed so it could happen.

  41. @42 “Global emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle [are asserted to be] between 90 and 160,000 billion grams of CO2. [...] This amounts to about 130,000 tons of CO2, which converts to just over 35,000 tons of carbon [which] amount to .000004375 of total annual global carbon emissions.”

    Seems to me you’ve dropped three zeros here. There’s a million grams in a ton, not a billion. So that’s actually 0.4% of annual global emissions.

    Not too bad, compared with coal, but hardly negligible. I agree that it would be nice to know how the original figure was arrived at. (And obviously it will be a lot less when (if?) IFR gets up.)

  42. DV82XL,
    at #49,
    on RBMK, you’re right concerning the technical side. But the primary cause was, operators were not properly informed.

    Operators were treated as dummies. They had their instructions: “never take out more than N control rods”. But, they did not know why. Under pressure to get the experiment done, they disobeyed – they meant no harm. They thought they could always bring the rods back in. Alas, when they tried to bring them back ALL AT ONCE, by pressing the damned AZ-5 (“emergency shutdown”), their tips coming in together caused a power spike, fuel rods split, control rods got stuck and couldn’t go further in, and as the reactor was at that time on a rebound from an earlier “poisoning”, the thing cooked.

    (The damned tips were of a different material; instead of slowing reaction down, they helped it along. Presumably for some technical efficiency reason.)

    (I’m not 100% sure the above is exactly correct. It’s the understanding I cobbled together from what accounts of the accident I came across. It seems likely, from those accounts, that pressing AZ-5 was the fatal mistake, the last straw. They pressed it, one operator claimed, simply as a convenient shutdown method, not because they saw “emergency”. Had they instead tried to bring the rods in ONE BY ONE, the reactor may have survived. But I am far from sure.)

    This, or anything like this, could not happen again, because now all RBMK operators KNEW.

    The lesson I see in Chernobyl, to answer David Walters, do not treat operators as dummies. Or if you do, make sure they obey!

    at #43:
    Greenpeace, and others to continue to invoke latency every time actual results fail to meet the dire predictions…

    Were their predictions so high that they would’ve been visible in the statistics?
    I’d thought, please correct me if that’s wrong, that even the highest predictions, 200 000 or whatever, were still under the radar – too small to distinguish against the statistical noise.

  43. John Atkinson #51,

    Surely, the important point is that nuclear emmits far less CO2, on a life cycle analysis basis, than wind or solar, or any other intermittent renewable energy, when all the emissions are included from the back-up generators and everything else needed to enable these technologies to supply power on demand.

    The links below provide a summary of the most authoritative sources on the emissions from the various technologies. Note that the figueres for wind and solar do not include the emissions from back up, energy storage and all invloved in the substantially larger transmission and grid management systems required for inmtermittent renewbles.

    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/carbon-emissions-from-electricity-generation-just-the-numbers/

    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/electricity-costs-and-carbon-emissions-by-technology/

    The references cited explain how the emissions are calculated. For nuclear the emissions from the total fuel cycle (mining, processing, refining, enrichment, etc) are included as are decomissioning and waste disposal.

    Here is a link to an Environmental Product Declaration. It illustrates what is included and how the analyses are done (its worth reading if you want to get an understanding): http://www.british-energy.com/documents/EPD_Doc_-_Final.pdf

    Isn’t it interesting to note that the countries with the highest proportion of wind power have the highest GHG emissions from electrcity generation, while those with the highest proportion of nuclear and hydro have the lowest. In kg CO2/MWh: Denmark (881), Ireland (784) versus France (83), Sweden (87). France’s generators emmit 10% as much CO2/MWh as Denmark. Franc has 76% of its electrcity generated by nuclear and Denmark has the highest wind penetration in the world. This tells a story about the real valuse of wind and solar generation.

    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/cI/page_335.shtml

  44. a follow up: it occurs to me that Terje can defend his views on speculation by noting that he defends SUCCESSFUL SPECULATION.

    but you can’t defend speculation and all its institutional requirements without defending the whole package–”successful” and unsuccessful. and what is the criteria of success? not good works but profit. and by this criterion, the kind of speculation that wrecks economies and exacerbates the concentration of wealth is very successful–if you are the speculator/hedge fund manager.

    Gregory – for clarity I was definining successful speculation as speculation that was profitable for the speculator. My contention was that profitable speculation is good in terms of increasing utility. That a speculator who buys low and sells hight helps to conserve goods in the good times so as to make them more readily available in the bad times. They are key participants in the price signalling process. We need people who think hard about what the future will be like and who apply resources accordingly.

    I accept that providing space for people to engage in speculation that may be successful also provides space for people to take risks and loose their shirt. However on aggregate the tragetory of capitalism has been towards prosperity, strongly suggesting that people can learn from mistakes and improve their decision making. On aggregate speculators (real speculators not pontificators) get it right more often than they get it wrong. Obviously we would like them to get it wrong less often but that’s a utopian ideal.

  45. was the speculation on currency that brought the asian financial crisis in the late nineties a great boon to humanity? Russia’s life expectancy plunged about one decade in about a decade due to free market reforms–didn’t average George Soros help wreck Russian currency?

    George Soros was a key speculator during the asian fiancial crisis. He took on the Malaysian central bank and lost money in the process. His speculation was unsuccessful. So perhaps that answers your question.

    Having said that I don’t actually support floating fiat currencies (let along fiat currencies in general). There is an enormous amount of rhetoric devoted to proclaiming floating fiat currencies as being a near pure example of free markets when in fact they are about as far from free markets as you can get. Fiat currencies entail a market with a singal government owned supplier. If you or I try and print Australian dollars we go to jail. Floating fiat currencies are a long way from free markets. The last time Australia had something approximating a free market in currencies was pre 1910. I wrote on the topic of private currencies a while ago:-

    http://terjepetersen.wordpress.com/2007/04/12/the-bank-notes-act-of-1910/

  46. Peter Lang, comment 53:

    How can Denmark have such high C02 emissions? I don’t get it. Even if the wind isn’t doing much good, why are their per person emissions higher than another nation with lots of wind and solar, like Germany?

  47. Blue Ajah,

    The reason is explained here:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/08/does-wind-power-reduce-carbon-emissions/

    and

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/

    In short, wind and solar need back up from fossil fuel generators. Wind and solar power avod very little greenhouse gas emissions.

    The proportions of fossil fuel generated electricity explins the emissions. Countries with a lot of wind and soal need a lot of fossil fuesl generated power to back up for the fluctuating wind power

  48. thanks john:

    yup, left out three zeroes. that’s why we need peer review!

    I don’t know Terje.

    We’ve had bad droughts in G’boro N.C. for several years. The city manager performing his public duties was on the ball with this and the city stocked lots of rainbarrels, low flush toilets and low flow showerheads. and of course issued water restrictions. several schools built cisterns.

    the ideal situation for our speculator would have been different: no public scale attempt to understand and meet the problem but a private hoarding of knowledge that waits for the crisis in order to profit from it. It seems to me that you can’t turn this problem into its opposite by waving the “trajectory of capitalism” wand.

  49. Gregory – you can criticise the speculator for not doing additional things to help his fellow man (heck you can criticism presidents and popes and poets for that) but thats not the same as showing that the speculation in question is anything other than helpful. As I said earlier it is hard to find coherent arguments against successful speculation but there are plenty of incoherent ones and you seem keen to pursue the latter.

    The notion of knowledge being hoarded might happen in rare cases but it seem like something of a red hering. Most speculators are acting on publicly available information. In any case hoarding knowledge and speculating successfully on it does leak that information via price signalling. It sends a more potent message than any politicians megaphone.

  50. FInal comment: I know this is an energy blog!

    Here’s a nice quote from David Tice, Prudent Bear Fund, 2007:

    “Corporate profits, household incomes, asset prices and economic performance have all evolved to the point of acute dependency on ongoing leveraged speculation and rampant credit inflation…. Aggressive profit seekers pursue their outsized share of wildly inflated financial fortunes with confidence that policy makers have no alternative than to sustain the boom.”

    Well: the bubble burst and the real unemployment rate is around 20 percent in the U.S. Meanwhile, the speculators have been predictably bailed out even as you talk about average joe speculators protecting us against drought. the obvious negatives of financialization you blame on “unsuccessful” speculation by unwise individuals and seem to ignore the institutional environment in which they all operate.

  51. Peter Lang #32325:

    Thanks for those links! They make for fascinating reading. Sorry, I’m still on a steep learning curve here since finding this website the other day. I have to admit I find this information pretty confronting and it’s going to take a while for me to digest what you and Barry are saying about backup emissions.

  52. p.s. The problems in the US banking sector are not about speculators and their incentives. They are about bank employees and their incentives. In many instances they are disconnected from the interests of the bank owners (those capitalists called stock holders). This is an issue of corporate governance (how do stock holders elect boards that do a good job) rather than having anything to do with whether speculation is a good thing. If employees get rewarded for successful speculation and have little personal downside for unsuccessful speculation then the bank owners (those capitalists called stock holders) ultimatel risk getting screwed. So do the banks customers.

  53. The informed people on this blog have a fresh new target for a letter writing campaign. The cover of the November issue of Scientific American announces an article on “A Plan To Sustainable Energy By 2030.”

    The actual title of the article is:

    “A Path To Sustainable Energy By 2030. Wind, Water & Solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels” by Mark Z. Jacobson & Mark A. Delucchi.

    Not a peep about nuclear.

    This non-sense has to stop.

  54. David and Barry, I now see the TCASE 5 posts that brought this up. Thanks.

    What about “Letters To The Editor.” Maybe you’ll squeeze an invite for a counter-article / expose in SCI AM.

  55. Could you imagine Obama saying: Have you heard of IFR? Read what top scientists Hansen, Chu and Holdren say of this unknown miracle! But don`t forget Brooks!

    Read their writings about IFR, and let´s begin to discuss the matter next week.

  56. I am old enough to remember a time when some markets had an excess of non-dispatch-able base-load power. For a while their excess electricity was essentially free for some customers in the wee hours between midnight and dawn. To mitigate this, some operators experimented with energy storage! So instead of giving the electricity away at night, they stored some energy(with losses to boot!) and re-generated the electricity during peak load. This is the essence of quite a bit of “pumped storage” in hydroelectric dams and believe or not-the world´s first compressed air storage facility in Germany (Huntorf)! Your anti-wind arguments are complete nonsense! Energy storage is old news-it works for the non-dispatchable baseload and for the intermittent sources. Now go back to energy basics 101 before spouting more misinformation.

  57. Your anti-wind arguments are complete nonsense! Energy storage is old news-it works for the non-dispatchable baseload and for the intermittent sources. Now go back to energy basics 101 before spouting more misinformation.

    No energy storage scheme, pumped hydro included, is sufficient to back up the unpredictable, unreliable power provided by wind and other ‘renewables’. There is a long, involved debate on this matter already on this site. Why don’t you take the time to read it before spouting this misinformation?

  58. GALWAY, IRELAND–October 22, 2009–Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)–Danish energy company Dong Energy (Copenhagen) has announced that it will put a hold on planned investments in coal-fired power stations until 2020 and temporarily suspend operations at one or two existing coal-fired plants in Denmark. The company had planned to set up coal-fired power plants in North Ayrshire in Scotland and Emden in Germany, but has now withdrawn from the projects for environmental reasons. The company intends to concentrate efforts on generating green energy and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. In fact, Dong has already decided to proceed with a power project in Humberside, England, by fitting it for biomass and gas instead of coal. The company is making these moves as it does not think that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will be commercially viable by 2020 and to operate a coal-based power plant without functioning CCS technology is against the company’s strategy. Dong Energy will now invest in the wind energy sector and transform its existing coal-based power stations to biomass-based power stations.

  59. Dong Energy will now invest in the wind energy sector and transform its existing coal-based power stations to biomass-based power stations.

    Since when does biomass count as wind?

  60. FinRod said: ‘No energy storage scheme, pumped hydro included, is sufficient to back up the unpredictable, unreliable power provided by wind and other ‘renewables’. Dispatchable power plants, including natural gas, biomass, oil, etc., all exploit “stored energy” for use (non-use) on short notice.
    A Danish power plant operator, Dong, disagrees with your claim, as stated in the press release. Biomass is a renewable energy source, and it is used with gas as a dispatchable co-producer together with wind, which they are increasing their investment in.
    But I admit, the combination of wind and coal does not appear to give a big emissions benefit. The answer is to reduce coal, not to reduce wind. Coal can of course be replaced by nuclear if cost is not an issue. Otherwise I expect natural gas to outcompete nuclear hands down, and this has half the CO2 emissions of coal. Any updates on the cost overruns/delays for the reactor project in Finland?

  61. Any updates on the cost overruns/delays for the reactor project in Finland?

    As it happens, there’s something very pertinent, yes.

    http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2009/08/first-german-off-shore-wind-farm-now.html

    The [German offshore wind] project was delayed for more than a year partially due to bad weather (on second thought, that might not be just a first of a kind issue for off-shore wind farms). The projected total cost will be $357 million, approximately $85 million more than the initial estimate. Considering the size of the array and its capacity factor, that cost overrun is comparable to exceeding the budget for a 1600 MWe Areva EPR by more than $5 Billion dollars.

    Assuming a generous 40% CF for the 60 MWe peak capacity wind farm, the total cost of $357 million is equivalent to paying $19 Billion for a single 1600 MWe nuclear power plant that can operate at a modest average capacity factor – for a nuclear plant – of 80%.

    However, please do not cry for the investors in the project. Their profitability will be assured by the rules of Germany’s feed in tariff laws which will guarantee that the project owners will receive $0.18 per kilowatt hour for their generated power.

    More here:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/23/recent-nuclear-power-cost-estimates-separating-fact-from-myth/

  62. Touche. Now, how many offshore wind projects have been built, and how many years ago was the first? Compare this to the number of nuclear reactors built world-wide (400? 500?), and the fact that the nuclear industry has 40+ years of experience. The cost overruns and delays of the offshore wind project are not surprising. Those for the nuclear project Finland are on the other hand incomparable.

  63. The EPR in Finland is a FOAK. As I concluded in my linked post, which you perhaps did not read:

    The obviously implication is that first-of-a-kind cost overruns are not peculiar to, or indeed amplified in, nuclear power. New renewables are just as vulnerable, perhaps more so.

    That said, the EPR is likely to be overtaken by more lean and mean designs like the AP1000 (currently undergoing the big Chinese experiment) and the ESBWR (and, I hope, the ACR-1000) hot on its heels.

  64. @Barry…I agree. I’ve argued that the AP1000 has a much better deployment model than the EPR. The possibilities of a Westinghouse produced 1800 MW AP model are increasing and the Chinese are working on their 1400 MW versions. The big question of course is safety. The *advantage* of the EPR is the 4 train steam generator/cooling train set up. Even the Union of the Concerned “Scientists” agree it’s the safest of all PWRs out there. But generally as I understand it, the cost overruns are expected and Areva said as much 5 years ago. Expect the FOAK paradigm to continue through the first 5 or 6 EPRs.

    @Windworks:
    I think you said one thing that is very true: NG plants will “out compete” nuclear. It’ out competes *every* form of base load power. But the idea that it’s “good” that it outputs “half the CO2″ as coal is, to me, it’s main problem (and price spikes most definitely close second). As natural gas plants come on line in California, MORE CO2 is emitted. That it’s GHG emissions are ‘half’ of coal is hardly comforting if the aggregate emissions go up *because* of NG. And this is a world wide phenomenon. NG is the single fastest growth of base load or near base load source of generation in the world today. It does in fact mitigate the building of *new* coal plants but hardly replaces any existing ones and none that I know of.

    That you tout gas is of no surprise to anyone here. The NG industry, *as an industry* are BIG purveyors and advocates of wind and solar, but mostly wind, at least in the US. They know this because this *dangerous* fossil fuel is not threatened *at all* by the increase reliance on intermittent wind. They simply *love it* because it means a massive expansion of the use of NG. They are not fools.

    More and more spokespersons for *anti-nuclear* renewable movements are now openly touting NG as the “bridge technology”. The NG industry knows better.

    David

  65. WindWorks, you quoted Finrod and appear to disagree with his statement “No energy storage scheme, pumped hydro included, is sufficient to back up the unpredictable, unreliable power provided by wind and other ‘renewables”.

    I agree with Finrod. Many wind power believe that pumped-hydro can back up for wind. It is not true, for two main reasons.

    1. Pumped hydro needs steady, reliable power during the off peak hours, say 11 pm to 6 am. Wind doesn’t provide that.

    2. The orders of magnitude difference in the amount of energy that must be stored to back up for wind power compared with nuclear or fossil fuel generators. Example: Australia’s National Energy Market demand in 2007 was average 25 GW, peak 33 GW and baseload 20 GW. 25 GW of nuclear power with 8 GW of pumped hydro storage, with 24 GWh energy storage, could meet the demand throughout the year. However, to meet the demand with wind power and energy storage would require 33 GW of generating capacity and 600 GWh of storage – and that is sufficient for only one day of low wind conditions. For three days we’d need 1800 GWh. That is, orders of magnitude more energy storage capacity is required to back up for wind than for nuclear or fossil fuel generation.

    Pumped-hydro is not cheap, even where suitable topography and hydrology is available. Pumped hydro runs about $2 billion per GW, and wind about $2.5 billion per GW. We need three times the capacity of wind farms at 30%CF to provide, on average, the same energy as a nuclear plant (at 90%CF). So the cost of the wind plant with pumped hydro is 3 x $2.5 + $2 = $9.5 billion/GW. Add the extra transmission and power quality control costs and total would be over $10 billion /GW to produce the same quality power as nuclear.

    So, we can see that Wind is about twice the cost of nuclear. It is even higher if we factor in that we need to replace the wind farms about twice during the life of a nuclear plant.

    One wonders why people continue to believe that wind is a low cost option.

  66. Clearly wind must be combined with energy storage and dispatchable power. The easiest and probably most cost effective is wind+natural gas. Of course there is room for traditional base-load, non-dispatchable power, and it should probably constitute 40-60% of the total nameplate capacity of the system. It is absurd to propose that wind can completely replace baseload, or that wind should be engineered to act just like baseload. But to be honest, the technology is available to harvest intermittent power in a way that effectively smooths out the peaks and valleys in both production and load. It costs money, but for some markets it makes sense to make these heavy investments. Frankly it puzzles me that advocates of nuclear baseload attack wind, and argue that nuclear is cheap. The US still does not have a long-term storage site after spending tens of billions of dollars. We can exchange hundreds of posts to put the blame for this where it belongs but the two m ain historical facts are that long-term nuclear waste disposal will cost real money, and that new-build reactors are notorious for being promoted on wildly optimistic cost estimates.

  67. WindWorks,

    We can argue forever if we don’t talk figures. When you say something “costs real money”, I suspect you think the cost is insignificant or manageable, whereas I see it as uneconomic. When I see that an option is a factor of two, or more, greater cost than another option (on a properly comparable basis), then I dismiss it as uneconomic. So, if we want to make any real contribution on this discussion we’ll need to quantify the costs. And we’ll need to make comparisons on a properly comparable basis.

    Wind + natural gas saves very little GHG emissions compared with nat gas generation alone; and is more costly. It is a very high cost way to reduce emissions. Refer: http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/peter-lang-wind-power.pdf .

    You raise the cost of nuclear waste disposal (I call it once used fuel). 1) The cost is covered by the levy collected on electricity charges. 2) utilities that own the used fuel are not going to release it for permanent disposal given that only a small fraction of the extractable energy has been utilised in the current generation of nuclear power plants 3) why are you so concerned about it? Do you realise that the chemical wastes that we release ubiquiously have no half life. They last for ever. Many are far more toxic. A major problem is that people like yourself listen to the dogma and do not do the ressearch to discover the facts.

    Nuclear waste is a policitical and public perception problem, it is not a major technical problem. The quantities of waste are miniscule compared with chemical wastes. It has been stored for over 50 years so far without problem. It is a furphy.

    Saying that wind can be a contributor in a large system is a tricky way of hiding the real costs. Consider the follwoing: if wind energy (on a properly comparable basis) costs twice option x, and wind contributes only 1% of the energy, then the additional cost is only 1%. So it is not noticeable. If wind contributes 50% of the energy, then the additional cost is 50%. That is significant. When an uneconomic generator contributes a small proportion of the total energy, the additional cost is carried by the other generators. They have to make the same profit to remain viable so they must raise the cost of the energy they supply. The cost eventually comes to the consumer. That makes Australia less competitive than a competitor regime that does not impose these additional costs on its electricity.

    Wind is not economic and saves very little GHG emissions.

  68. The competition for lowest cost has given society what amounts to a corporate competion to externalize its costs. Yes I agree that nuclear technology is viable along its whole value chain and is wonderfully low-emission. But its total costs are not reflected in what the industry itself invests. You have skirted past the cost of waste management. Sorry, leaving it on-site for 100 years is not a solution, it is passing the costs onto the coming generations (externalizing). And I challenge you to explain how the costs of avoiding nuclear proliferation are being covered. It is the nuclear industry that needs centrifuge technology to refine fuel cost effectively, but is it the nuclear industry who is paying for mitigating the spread of this technology which will soon give Iran nuclear capabilities? Are ratepayers covering this? No. It is taxpayers in various countries who get the bill for their military capacity and operations to prepare for the worst. More costs externalized. And as for the concept of lowest cost is best, you have a huge battle ahead of you in a world that willingly chooses more expensive options because they perceive the value of such to be higher. Why choose a smart phone when you can have a low-priced low-functionone? Why choose a cheap form of energy with lots of environmental damage when you can choose a more expensive one with a small fraction of such problems? This last question is in fact an argument for nuclear, and it should be the starting point of its advocacy, not some self-delusional incomplete, superficial estimate of its costs that make it look “cheap”.

  69. WindWorks, your post raises several new ‘issues’. You would need to quantify each for us to have a rational debate. I disagree with most of what you say. Nuclear internailses more of its costs than any other generation technology. Waste disposal and decomissioning are internalised for nuclear but not for wind or any other electricity generation technology. I’d say most of your ‘issue’ are based on ignorance. This article http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/13/wind-and-carbon-emissions-peter-lang-responds/ on the BNC “Renewable Limits” thread provides a brief response to most of you ‘issues’. You may be interested to see what else has been discussed on other threads.

  70. I’d say most of your ‘issue’ are based on ignorance.

    Agreed. It seems that every few weeks some new ‘renewables’ crusader charges into the fray assuming that their inherited nuclear critiques are news to pro-nuclear advocates.

  71. windworks: read Cravens, Power to Save the World. esp. chapter 18 on the WIPP facility, waste isolation pilot program.

    then with IFRs or LFTRs, there is much less waste and as people point out, there’s not that much to begin with (and overall less dangerous than chemical wastes, coal ash etc). if you’re not convinced that WIPP type joints can do the job with overkill, then…

    Harvey Wasserman talks about grenades tossed in nuclear swimming pools–if this is the characterr of the discourse, I’d be worried about the waste problem too. Read Cravens and tell us what you think. I don’t think the waste problem is much of a problem but I DO ADMIT THAT THE POLITICS AROUND THE ISSUE MAKES IT SEEM INTRACTABLE. and that leaves some FUD (I”m learning these little acronyms from reading this list) in me.

  72. Wind works – You challenge us to explain how the costs of avoiding nuclear proliferation are being covered. However the accusation that a nuclear power capability necessarily gives a country a nuclear weapons capability is both simplistic and historically inaccurate.

    Nuclear energy is in and of itself, not a proliferation risk. So far none of the countries “illegally” producing their own nuclear weapons to date have leveraged their nuclear power sectors in any meaningful way. However all of them were driven by extreme geopolitical pressure in their perceived need for a N-weapon capability.

    No country has ever proceeded with a nuclear weapons program, just because it was able to. There has to be a really strong perceived need for this capability, that when present is enough to carry the task through as much international pressure as can be applied short of military.

    Israel and South Africa mounted programs because they recognized they were vulnerable to invasion, India needed a deterrent against Chinese incursions into Kashmir and to draw a line in the sand with Pakistan, who in turn looked at India to the East, Communists to the North, and Fundamentalists to the West and knew their armed forces could not successfully defend the country with conventional weapons alone. All of these States faced sanctions, that truly hurt domestically, India in particular was desperate for more nuclear energy, and found itself cut off from the world in this matter at a very critical time. Even North Korea’s program is motivated more by fear than by self aggrandizement, irregardless of propaganda to the contrary.

    Meanwhile countries like Canada, Japan, Germany, Brazil, South Korea could build a deliverable weapon inside a year should they want to, and Australia, and several other nations could mount programs which could do the same within five if pushed, yet they don’t. Even South Africa dismantled their weapons as soon as the threat diminished. The reason is because this is a cripplingly expensive capability to acquire and maintain and no nation will do so without its back to the wall. Even the Big Five are effected by this and most of the push for nuclear arms reduction is motivated by financial pressure more than ideological.

    This whole idea that proliferation is some sort of accident waiting to happen, and that unchecked will lead to a domino effect is pure fantasy based on the overactive imaginations of Cold War strategists like Herman Kahn who were working in a historical vacuum. Outside of the pronuclear power community, the issue of weapons proliferation seems to be locked in theories first put forward by him in the 1950’s; theories which events since that time have proven wrong. Recall, it was assumed by those theories there would be more than a dozen new nuclear weapons States by the turn of the century and this is obviously just not so. Even if the question of suppling weapon-grade fissile material is removed, it still requires a sizable technological infrastructure and the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars to make a weapon. The costs of a more ambitious program aimed at producing a militarily significant number of weapons can easily run into the billions of dollars.

    The real risks of proliferation such as they have been overblown and at any rate are political. The nuclear industry has been dragged into this by antinuclear forces for no other reason than it sounds plausible.

  73. Back to the top. The article bashes wind power because it is not base-load or dispatchable (what a unique insight, why didn’t anyone else think of this?), and that in the case of Denmark, which has a very small grid system, is challenging to monetize and operate in the context of a traditional grid configuration. Again, anyone close to the power industry knows this. I guarantee you that the smart money in Denmark and northern Europe will have innovative and commercially viable solutions to these challenges in the near future (certainly less time than what it takes to plan, permit, build and commission a new nuclear power plant), and they will turn this into a new export industry ready to deliver to the world market to follow up on the success of the export industry for wind turbines. And by the way, there is a new wave of innovations in the wind turbines themselves coming in the next 2-4 years that will essentially triple their productivity. In the mean time, the nuclear power industry will be promoting and defending their position to store nuclear waste on-site for the next hundred years because they have no other politically acceptable solution and because it is the “least cost”. I believe there is a significant role for nuclear power in the overall energy mix, but I simply cannot see how its advocates win any new supporters by throwing rotten eggs at wind or solar. Nuclear advocates need to focus the attack on coal because that is their true competitor and because coal is the number one environmental disaster on the planet, and the undisputed heavy weight champion of externalizing their costs.

  74. windworks: I (probably we all) agree on coal. so that’s good.

    as for the revolutions in wind production, let’s hope so.

    I think Peter Lang’s arguments have been very powerful, even if energy people know about the various problems. Maybe he’ll be shown to be wrong, but your forceful statements on behalf of wind look a little hyperbolic to me. one person’s common sense is another person’s hyperbole perhaps.

    can you give us a description of the new innovations. or a link? I’d like to read about ‘em.

  75. Wind, I agree that the *focus* of attacks should be on coal. I’ve done this as my main paradigm on my blogs at davidwalters.dailykos.com. But what would be ‘swell’ is if renewable advocates did the same. There is far more…venom directed against nuclear by such advocates than there is from pro-nuclear advocates at renewables. In fact, I’d say it’s not even a good comparison. We throw economic marshmallows, the other side appears to use Kalashnikovs.

    I heard Australian anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldidcott this afternoon on KPFA radio. Simply terrible. She, and the others, don’t even frame the discussion about climate change, it’s simply ‘anti-nuclear’. There are very few actually “anti-renewable” activists around. It doesn’t exist. Usually it’s spin off from those like myself who have *rationally* concluded that for many reason, renewables not only don’t solve the issue of phasing out coal, it simply makes no economic sense.

    Barry’s, Lang’s, Blees, et al approach on this is to show the fail ability of renewables to solve our problem. There is no use of fear, danger of the unknown in any of the criticisms…and that is all they are as hard hitting as they….so it’s quite unfair of you to imply that we are out to get renewables. We are FOR nuclear.

    If Barry’s and others plan for the IFR works out, we simply don’t need renewables. People on the renewable side have developed an almost obsessive compulsive advocacy for solar and wind. It “has to part of the mix” among the more rational. But the *politics* of this has *universally* exposed itself as “wind and solar” can take care of ALL our needs. Romm, Lovins, Caldicott, Wasserman and the huge list of the giant Green lobby rolls on with solar and wind as the ONLY mix they are interested in.

    Until we hear more people like yourself who are at least rational about this, our expose of the problems with renewables will continue.

    David

  76. What you need is at every little street market, sustainability fair, community event… you know the ones where there is ALWAYS an anti-nuclear stall handing out propaganda, well just imagine next time you are at the Perth Sun Fair (that is our local one) having some dreadlocked hippy give you a flyer:

    “Hi I just thougth you may be interested in some facts about the cleanest energy of all, Nuclear Power.”

    If the plan is to market Nuclear as sustainable based on the facts and the science, well then that marketing needs to happen in the same forums that the anti-nuclear activists and the pro-renewable lobby groups and actual products like solar panels and water tanks are promoted at.

  77. thanks a lot Wind.

    here’s the most impressive thing from the article:

    [AMLE claims that this technology, once proven, will be scalable to 20-30 MW power outputs. They report that the design will be 75% lighter and 50% smaller turbines than the best turbines available today, with greater efficiency and reliability of operation. They hope to have a demonstration unit built by 2011-2012. AMLE is also looking into applying their technology into hydroelectric turbines.]

    I’m not a scientist or an engineer so you’ll have to deal with my naivete, but would the lighter weight, smaller turbines increase capacity factor (is that what is meant by efficiency above)? the greater power is due to better conduction.

    Peter/Barry: with this much more power and better cf, what impact would that have on the baseload problem? according to peter, in order to provide baseload, you need either a lot of storage (plug in peter’s numbers for my abstract nouns) or a lot of excess generating capacity. How would these turbines do on the extra generating capacity issue?

    of course, the world makes a lot more sense to me if you’ve got wind and nukes. these questions only make sense assuming a world without nuclear.

    with the nuclear, it’s still not clear to me why we’d need the wind. anyway, thanks wind. you delivered on my request.

  78. Gregory Meyerson,

    This is an example of the continuous improvement process.

    All the technologies are continuously improving. Look at the ongoing improvements that are occurring in the efficiency and capacity factors of coal, gas and nuclear for comparison.

    The changes will help to keep the rate of cost increase for wind turbines below those for labour and materials. The improvements will provide some improvements in wind turbine efficiency, power quality and capacity factor.

    But the changes are evolution not revolution.

    For wind and solar to be economic, they need revolutionary changes. Until wind power can provide power of equivalent quality to nuclear, at equivalent cost, it is not economically viable. To achieve that we would need a revolution in all of the following: turbine efficiency, energy storage, transmission, power and frequency stabilisation and management.

    Wind is a bludger. (an Australian term meaning someone who does not pull his weight, does not carry his fair share of the load, leaves the bill for others to pay, avoids buying his round of drinks). Wind power bludges on other generators to provide back up power, bludges on the network operator to manage the instability the variable wind power causes, bludges on the grid operator to pay for the extra transmission line capacity, and bludges on the distributors to manage the purchase of renewable energy to comply with the government regulations. And guess who ends up paying for all this?

    Wind power is a bludger. Wind blows into the pub when it thinks there is a free drink on offer, but won’t help when there is work to do.

  79. Further to my previous comment, for wind power to be truly competitive (without subsidies or being mandated):

    1. the cost of the wind energy must be halved, AND

    2. each wind farm must store nearly all the energy it generates and release it on demand, AND

    3. the cost of the grid enhancements must be borne by the wind farms.

  80. Gregory, you asked if an improvement in efficiency of wind turbines helps cover the fundamental problem of backup. No, it’s a quite separate problem. The improved turbine design would not noticeably increase capacity factor, but it would somewhat increase the amount of energy extracted per unit area of turbine field. Capacity factor is related to choice of the size of the electricity generator hooked up to a given turbine size, and also of course site characteristics.

  81. Peter Lang writes: Wind is not economic and saves very little GHG emissions.

    Peter, you might be surprised how true that is for Europe. It has been pointed out many times—by you, Barry, me, and others—that natural gas, the darling of the wind and solar crowd, is NOT something we want to keep using. Just in terms of CO2 emissions, if it’s half as good as coal that doesn’t mean it’s benign. Far from it! But that’s only part of the story. Since methane’s greenhouse gas effect is roughly 25 times that of CO2, the very real problem of leaks in transmission and end-point use must be considered, especially in Europe where the gas usually has traveled thousands of miles from Siberian gas fields.

    But this incredible distance that most European gas travels entails another very real and astounding cost. The gas has to be pushed through the vast distances of pipe, from one pumping station to the next. The Russians accomplish this with huge gas turbines that run compressors and push it on down the line. The gas to run the turbines is tapped from the line, of course. By the time the gas gets to its European customers, 40-45% of the original gas has been used pushing the rest of it down the line. In other words, that natural gas being used in Germany (for instance) to back up their wind and solar generation is actually producing nearly twice as much CO2 as if it was being used at the point of extraction. So if natural gas only produces about half as much CO2 as coal and that’s being touted as a great benefit of NG (as it so tediously is by the windies), anybody in Europe who’s taking that line ought to clam up, because in terms of CO2 they’re about on a par with coal. Granted, you’re still avoiding all the other emissions of coal (ash and its nasties), but to act as if natural gas is environmentally benign is a cruel farce, doubly so in Europe and to some extent anywhere else where NG has to travel a long distance.

  82. tom: that seems like a great point.

    btw, in Jacobsen’s article, the base power mentioned is not natural gas but geothermal!! Mackay makes a mockery of this (M finds that geothermal could provide globally about 2 kwh per day/person), so I’m wondering what the basis of the claim is in Jacobsen?

    Either they are not talking about the same thing, or someone is REALLY WRONG.

  83. thanks barry: so then the higher efficiency, like the superconduction, goes to the greater power (10 MW to 30 MW in the article) of the turbine, but not the cf.

    is this right? what I was thinking was that the efficiency improvements might allow the turbine to turn easier at lower wind speeds, thus producing some power when it otherwise wouldn’t be. so I thought that would impact cf.

    please continue to correct me if it’s not too much trouble.

  84. what I was thinking was that the efficiency improvements might allow the turbine to turn easier at lower wind speeds, thus producing some power when it otherwise wouldn’t be. so I thought that would impact cf.

    Since power output from wind turbines goes up as the square of wind velocity, being able to squeeze a bit more juice out at low speeds would not produce much compared to optimal operating conditions. Even if you can do it, it won’t add much to overall performance, and only a small fraction of consumers could be supplied compared to when the turbine is at maximum capacity. I suspect that one effect of trying to squeeze that bit extra out of them would be to make the grid substantialy more difficult to balance as the breeze fluctuated over a range of a few kilometres per hour.

  85. Windworks writes: The article bashes wind power because it is not base-load or dispatchable…I simply cannot see how its advocates win any new supporters by throwing rotten eggs at wind or solar.

    The point of my this and my recent article on the solar experience in Germany (and in the comments, that of Spain) is not to say how bad they are, but to make the point from actual data that they aren’t enough for everything we need. You yourself haven’t made such a claim, but many proponents of wind and solar do so (see this month’s cover story in Scientific American for the latest outrageous example). Unfortunately many, many people, including policymakers, are buying that load of tripe, and if they base their policies on it their countries end up like Germany, and I for one don’t want to see my country go down that dead end. Nobody’s saying that wind and solar shouldn’t be used, though as David Walters pointed out there are plenty of wind and solar advocates trying to foreclose the use of nuclear power (see Germany, Green Party, and many individuals and groups in other countries).

    One of the wonderful aspects of this blog is that there are a lot of people here who want to weigh the options by taking the stars out of their eyes and looking at hard data. It’s all the better when we can refrain from snark, sarcasm, and/or ad hominem.

    By the way, your link to the page about superconductors and wind turbines was very interesting. Thanks for that.

  86. Nobody’s saying that wind and solar shouldn’t be used, though as David Walters pointed out there are plenty of wind and solar advocates trying to foreclose the use of nuclear power (see Germany, Green Party, and many individuals and groups in other countries)

    The list goes on and on alas. I just looked at two prime examples today. Try reading chapter 3 (“The Three Poisons”) of David Freedman 2007, Winning Our Energy Independence, or chapter 12 (“Is nuclear energy a possible solution?”) of Mark Diesendorf 2007, Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy. The first is stunningly vituperative towards nuclear power, and the second is laced with unjustified anti-nuclear hyperbole and at times borders on hysteria. It lowers the tone of the whole book.

    It is clear to them, that nuclear power is their enemy, because they know that it’s the large-scale energy option that has the advantages of fossil fuels (and more), and yet is low carbon, clean and sustainable.

  87. Hi Tom Blees,

    “By the time the gas gets to its European customers, 40-45% of the original gas has been used pushing the rest of it down the line”

    Can you give me a reference for that figure. I knew there is considerable leakage but had not realised the scale of the problem. It would mean that producing electricity in Europe from gas may be worse than from coal (1 kg of methane burnt in the power station requires nearly 2 kg extracted at the well head. Part is used for pumping and part leaks out as methane, which is far worse the CO2 that results from the burning)

  88. Regarding the cost & losses of Natural Gas pipelines.

    The long delayed Mackenzie Valley pipeline, in Northern Canada, is now estimated to cost C$17 billion = US$15.7 billion.

    It is expected to deliver 1200 MMCF/day or 15.1 GW of avg. thermal power.

    The Arctic NG supply reserves are estimated at 6 TCF, or 14 yrs supply for the pipeline.

    Energy loss in pump NG turbine energy would be 3.1% of supply @ 1% loss every 400 km.

    So overnight capital cost of the pipeline would be $1126 per kwhth.

    Average NG production cost I get is 2.9 cents per kwhth. It will be higher in the Arctic.

    So financed with a 5% 14 yr bond, that NG production cost present value would be $2852 per kwth @ 10% NG loss

    So total would be minimum C$3978 per kwth.

    Compare with a Hyperion Nuclear Reactor @ C$32 million for 70 MWth = $463 per kwth.

    And the Hyperion would be perfect to do the same job that the Arctic NG would do, that is supply process heat in the Athabasca Tar Sands. Except without the CO2 & methane emissions.

    Also, what I wonder is NG total leakage losses, including venting & flaring, are estimated to be 6-10% of production.

    And methane is rated at 21X the GHG effect of CO2 over 100 yrs in the atmosphere.

    With methane combustion = 1 part CO2 to 1 part CH4 gas volume.

    So 6-10% X 21 = 126% to 210% of the GHG effect of the NG CO2 emissions. Which would make NG as bad or worse than Coal.

    Am I missing something?

  89. My take on the Danish wind power story

    http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2009/s2732204.htm

    I think it gave ammunition to both sides. The Danes were outraged by the Swedish nuclear reactors just across the harbour, yet several ‘cleaner’ coal fired power stations happily spew away giving them high per capita emissions. Yet they import 8% nuclear power anyway. The dairy farmer said he would retire on the income from the wind turbines. Why not since the feed-in tariff guarantees cash flow?

    I noticed the cars and trucks on the clean green island seemed to run on fossil fuel. Maybe each man, woman and child there had a million dollars worth of infrastructure. Try exporting that model to the Third World. The Danes are apparently going to try for 50% windpower, not just 20%. They must try doing it with a lot less coal and without electricity imports .

  90. Pingback: Carbon emissions and nuclear capable countries « BraveNewClimate

  91. I don’t claim to read minds but I thought the PM looked underwhelmed in TV footage of the opening of the Capital Wind Farm today. Newspaper link http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/rudd-rees-open-wind-farm-at-bungendore-20091118-ilt8.html
    Only a few of the 60 plus turbines were moving. This installation will somehow ‘offset’ Sydney’s Kurnell desal 300km away or power thousands of homes or both.

    Add Adelaide’s springtime 43C (109F) and I wonder if the PM is starting to grasp the magnitude of the problem.

  92. Charles, with claiming only 4000 death from Chernobyl you stand in line with people like Richard Williamson.

    The 4000 was a wrong press release. If you have read the UN report they talked about 9000.
    But then you can ask Ukrainian radiation control who will tell you that they have reached a number of over 100.000.
    17.000 Families get social money because fathers died as consequence of liquidation.
    There are 107.000 people that receiver invalidity pension because of working in liquidation.
    Thats the facts.

    There are 800.000 former soviet people that have been sent/ordered to the site and are not really traceable, they live or died in several eastern countries after that.

    The real death toll is unknown but you have to be realistic and at least allow for a tolearance between 30.000-200.000.

    People should also question the role of the UN whos agenda is pro-nuclear.

    Greenpeace…well if you don`t like them fine. Maybe you get some other people out there battling the japaneese whale slaugther….

  93. I believe that the WHO reported a total confirmed death toll from the Chernobyl accident of 56. If there are any credible claims of death tolls in the thousands or hundreds of thousands, I’ve yet to learn of them.

    I also doubt that the UN can be characterised as a particularly pro-nuclear body.

  94. Marcus…at one point the Ukrainian gov’t claimed ALL cancer in Ukraine was due to Chernobyl. Unfortunately, I would trust the “Ukrainian Radiation Control” as far as I can throw them.

    I think cancer is VERY serious, more so for man-made causes, but the credibility for them is very low in Kiev due to the huge financial stake the government(s) there have in keeping “it going.”

  95. Pingback: TCASE 12: A checklist for renewable energy plans « BraveNewClimate

  96. Pingback: Solar power in Florida « BraveNewClimate

  97. Pingback: Wind energy – the case of Denmark SeekerBlog

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