Hypocrisies of the antis

I was recently alerted to a brilliant post on the blog WAG. It’s called “Climate of Hypocrisy“. I’ll quote the lead in…

For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?

-Job 27:8-9

Deniers of climate change like to castigate Al Gore and others for the supposed hypocrisy of preaching the benefits of CO2 reductions while flying on jets, living in big houses, etc. I won’t defend the big house (although Gore did respond to accusations by installing renewable energy onsite), but there’s no problem with jetting around to climate conferences, because those trips result in net CO2 reductions.

But those are technicalities. The real problem with gloating over climate activists’ small specks of hypocrisy is that it ignores the hypocritical planks inherent in the philosophical underpinnings of opposition to CO2 reductions. Here are some ways in which deniers are hypocritical (feel free to add suggestions in the comments):

1. They profess that markets can solve all problems while simultaneously preaching that businesses will never be able to adapt to higher energy prices.

2. They argue that siting problems (e.g. urban heat island) render temperature data useless, while simultaneously arguing that adjusting for those problems constitutes scientific fraud/ fudging the data.

Great concept! Head over to the WAG blog and contribute your own examples — their list is building (43 so far).

This also gave me an idea for a blog post here at BNC — why not do the same to reveal the hypocrisy of the anti-nuclear ‘environmentalists’? (Actually, it was my sister, Marion, who made the connection, and who came up with much of the below, to which I added a few extras. Thanks Mazz).

I’ve been thinking about this yin yang problem for a while. For instance, back in early November 2009 I wrote the following in the Adelaide Advertiser:

…Lazy, recycled objections to the UK nuclear plan come from the usual suspects – Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

I’ve been forced to conclude that these so-called environmental organisations are not actually interested in climate change mitigation or clean energy supply.

Their founding principles are to oppose nuclear technology in all forms. They are immune to arguments based on logic or scientific evidence.

They ignore technological developments that solve the long-lived nuclear waste problem (it is burned as energy in fast spectrum reactors).

They can’t seem to accept the fact that there is enough uranium to provide the whole world with zero-carbon power for millions of years.

All they care about is being anti-nuclear…

Tom Blees has tagged these people ‘environists‘, because they are environmentalists with the ‘mental’ part taken away. I say it’s time high time that their hypocrisy was exposed — in the same way that the hypocrisy of climate change denialists ought to be laid bare — for the good of human society and environmental sustainability. In that spirit, here’s a starting list. Please help me add to it — I might make up a poster of it one day.

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Hypocrisies of the anti- nuclear power/renewables advocates

1. They claim renewables can replace fossil fuels, then can’t see the problem with leaning on fossil fuel gas to back them up when they fail to do so.

2. They claim nuclear can’t load follow, but ignore the fact that renewables can’t supply on-demand. (They also say nuclear can’t load follow, but forget that nuclear submarines… work).

3. They excuse gas for emitting 50% less CO2 than coal when producing electricity, but won’t accept nuclear, which emits 100% less CO2 than coal.

4. They claim we don’t need baseload power, then eagerly promote renewable baseload alternatives e.g., geothermal and solar with heat storage.

5. They argue that nuclear power takes too long to build (France = 38 reactors in ten years, don’t think so), then point to undeveloped, future technologies — like wave power, solar thermal and vastly improved storage systems — as an alternative.

6. They support subsidies for renewables but not for nuclear power. Yet they claim in the same breath that renewables are economic and nuclear is not.

7. They point to nuclear power’s embodied emissions, but ignore the fact that renewables have embodied emissions equal to, or greater than, nuclear power and a track record in the negative for emissions avoided when gas backup is realistically considered.

8. They claim renewables can meet our power needs both now and in the future, then say it can only be done in concert with energy conservation. Which is it? Can they meet our growing energy needs or not?

9. They accept the weight of scientific evidence for climate change, but ignore it when it comes to the safety and effective CO2 abatement of nuclear power.

10. They argue against the environmental impacts of uranium mining, while ignoring the mining for material inputs and industrialisation of vast tracks of often wild and beautiful land that will be required for wind/solar to supply the equivalent energy.

11. They argue that climate change is the biggest threat to humanity in the world today, then by discounting nuclear power’s role in the fight against CC, they imply nuclear power (not weapons – power!) is the bigger threat.

12. They complain that nuclear power uses too much water, but ignore the fact that many renewables use just as much if not much more, e.g. geothermal, hydro.

13. They claim nuclear power is too expensive, but ignore the impossible costs involved in scaling renewables to the point where they can deliver the same amount of power.

14. They argue against the recycling of nuclear waste, but promote it (as they should) as a solution to their own toxic waste.

15. They say that improvements in energy storage will make renewable energy ‘dispatchable’, yet neglect to mention that any advantage it confers to renewables will be equally (if not more) beneficial to nuclear power.

16. They worry about the radiation from nuclear power stations, but not from other more common sources, like the stone/concrete they promote for use in their passive solar houses.

17. They say we can’t manage the long half-lives of nuclear waste (not relevant if we recycle it anyway) but ignore the fact that much of the waste from renewable energy systems, such as arsenic and cadmium, retains its full toxicity forever.

18. They dismiss as unreliable those papers from climate sceptics that have not been peer reviewed, yet are happy to quote nonsense studies like SSL as gospel!

19. They disregard conspiracy theories about statements from the IPCC, NASA, Hadley Centre etc., yet consider economic assessments of nuclear energy from the OECD (and similar agencies) to be biased industry shilling, preferring instead to latch onto gross outliers like the Severance ‘study’. (Incidentally, the Severance study is very much against government subsidies; wind power would collapse in Australia without RECS.)

20. If someone like me comes out supporting nuclear power, then I’m no longer worth listening to because I’ve become an ‘uncritical advocate’, whereas if someone like me comes out promoting solar power I’d be one of those brave and righteous voices supporting a clean energy future.

21. They ignore all information published on the web site of the Nuclear Energy Institute – no matter what the real source, yet often quote statistics and projections into the future from the American Wind Energy Association (Rod Adams).

22. They claim to be very concerned about CO2 emissions and then cheerfully align in political battles with the natural gas industry (Rod Adams).

23. They claim that nuclear is bad because it takes too long and then use the legal system to impose delays and additional levels of reviews (Rod Adams).

24. They claim that wind and solar systems, once installed, will run forever (whereas nuclear reactors apparently have short lifespans), but ignore the track record indicating that weather exposed systems last for a couple of decades at the most (Rod Adams).

25. They claim that wind and solar energy are new, while nuclear is obsolete. That ignores the many millennia of human history of collecting wind and solar energy while also ignoring the fact that at least some of the early pioneers who developed fission ARE STILL ALIVE today (Rod Adams).

26. They claim that nuclear energy, which has already demonstrated its utility in electrical production, ship propulsion and district heating systems will not do much to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but wind turbines, geothermal and solar collectors will create energy independence (Rod Adams).

27. They claim that safe, clean nuclear needs more research, but we should accept renewables that haven’t been proven yet at scale or long-term are the solution. i.e. that one might need research is bad, but that another is getting it means it is good (Tony Wildish).

28. They claim radiation from nuclear is damaging to ecosystems and the environment, but ignore the effect of wind-farms on migrating birds, of solar-farms on desert ecosystems, of bio-fuels on biodiversity, or just of the amount of land that needs to be trashed to put up things that don’t work (Tony Wildish).

29. They complain that NPPs lead to ‘centralisation’ while ignoring the enormous centralised infrastructure which would be needed for any serious attempt to scale up their favoured ‘renewable’ source (Finrod).

30. They claim that the security measures taken for NPP safety would represent a great encroachment on civil liberties, but then advocate implimentation of ’smart grids’ and/or mandatory energy efficiency and conservation programs (Finrod).

31. They highlight resource constraints in the finite supply of uranium (ignoring IFR reactors) that would make nuclear unviable as a long term energy source, yet they disregard the much greater resource constraint in the small amount of Lithium available for Lithium – Ion bateries that would be essential as part of large scale renewable power. (Unless we can find a better way of storing energy, large scale renewable power alone is not a long term solution, because we would run out of battery components long before we would run out of uranium under a nuclear energy scenario) (Scott Elaurant).

32. They claim that no one wants nuclear power in their backyard, but dismiss the fact that no one wants huge wind turbines next to their house (inspired by Frank Kandrnal’s comment).

33. They constantly talk of “the unsolved problem of what to do with nuclear waste”, yet oppose the construction of modern nuclear power plants (such as integral fast reactors) – the ONLY way to get rid of this “waste” (TeeKay).

34. The claim that nuclear energy is slow to construct ignores the size of the contribution. Looked at per MW of average power, nuclear energy build times are much better than wind or solar, even on the inflated timescales that antis offer (Joffan).

35. They point to a limited uranium supply as a constraining factor in nuclear expansion, (further exploration, IFR aside) but ignore the fact that renewable fuel supplies are limited to a much greater extent both by their geographical constraints and/or by their diffuse, intermittent, variable nature (Marion Brook)

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Put your thinking caps on, and let’s build the list together! (and fine-tune on the existing entries). I’ll be sure to acknowledge you (in brackets).

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157 Comments

  1. - They ignore all information published on the web site of the Nuclear Energy Institute – no matter what the real source, yet often quote statistics and projections into the future from the American Wind Energy Association.

    - They claim to be very concerned about CO2 emissions and then cheerfully align in political battles with the natural gas industry.

    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/01/14/14greenwire-natural-gas-industry-pressing-senate-for-clima-83393.html

    - They claim that nuclear is bad because it takes too long and then use the legal system to impose delays and additional levels of reviews.

    - They claim that wind and solar systems, once installed, will run forever. They ignore the track record indicating that weather exposed systems last for a couple of decades at the most.

    - They claim that wind and solar energy are new, while nuclear is obsolete. That ignores the many millennia of human history of collecting wind and solar energy while also ignoring the fact that at least some of the early pioneers who developed fission ARE STILL ALIVE today.

    The appearance of hypocrisy is due to the fact that the most adamant renewable advocates are really shilling for fossil fuel companies. They just cannot make that information public. Getting what they want without revealing their true motives leads to behavior that looks quite contorted.

  2. Barry:

    I just thought of another one:

    - Nuclear energy, which has already demonstrated its utility in electrical production, ship propulsion and district heating systems will not do much to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but wind turbines, geothermal and solar collectors will create energy independence.

  3. @Barry Brooks:
    “for the good of human society and environmental sustainability.” (sic)

    Let us assume for the sake of argument that all your 20 points can be conceded. And I would throw in no. 21. gratis: it would be the wrongness of LNT.

    The following observations can however be made and show why these 21 points are not entirely germane:

    1. you yourself talk blithely of NPP “commercialisation” and use enthusiastic double dollar signs often a la Dagobert Duck when referring to money; others eg. P. Lang on this blog are neoliberal/free traders, as evidenced by Lang’s recent debate on this topic with another BNC blogger. So Tom Blees’ plea for GREAT continues to be ignored on BNC. The default setting of BNC would apparently be: if NPPs can make big bucks for those who have the discretionary income, i.e. are in the correct income deciles to get into the market quick enough at the start, fair enough. Which will be why Lang intends to have the profits from them privatised and any losses socialised, as he (in effect) wrote, i.e. the State should be lender of last resort, otherwise investors will not invest.

    2. Given the bureaucratic malfeasance in NPP supervision regimes, especially those in the USA as shown by Tom Blees in his book, there is no reason for any “anti” to trust that NPP proponents as shown on BNC aim to ameliorate this situation upon widespread rollout of NPPs . Placing an NPP on an Indon or Chinese geological faultline is thus apparently unproblematic for an NPP proponent whereas it is not for the people living nearby. Especially when the regulatory costs of NPP safety are viewed on BNC as mere cost-driving nuisances (P. Lang) . If an NPP blows, the effects however are more severe than if a fossil fuel burner falls over. Or are we saying on BNC that no NPP of Gens. l-IV (bar Chernobyl?) will or can ever melt down.

    3. NPP proponents envisage centralised power supply to replace fossil fuel stations. And the antis are notorious from the majority BNC standpoint for wanting decentralisation and not doing the numbers. For example, they are said by BNCers to think that putting PV on each domestic roof or bolting a wind turbine to the doghouse while digging up the backyard for geothermal would meet all Aust. power demands, etc. The fact is however that merely unplugging coal/natgas and plugging in NPPs within the current grids raises fears. These fears relate to the looming surveillance state which some (all?) NPP supporters see as necessary to guarantee the smooth operation of NPPs, especially as NPPs’ unhindered operations would be vital in combatting AGW.
    But the antis do not want to increase but decrease societal centralisation.

    In the Anglosphere, the surveillance state currently includes CCTV, esp. in the UK; DNA databases, the accuracy and secrecy of the FBI version of which was challenged by US scientists only this week; electronic spying incl. by NSA on citizens (see books by James Bamford); interaccessibility of State databases holding person-related data. In the EU, there is also the pending deployment of unmanned drones in EU airspace. But, there is no sign on BNC at all that any of these concerns are being addressed. This may be because the techie mode predominates on BNC and BNCers seem to see themselves as upright pillars of commercial society to boot. Hence BNCers are inviting antis and neutrals to assist, to the benefit of BNCers, in that ongoing Anglosphere deterioration in the Gini coefficient of income inequality which got under way with Thatcher/Reagan/RJ Hawke/.

    4. The language used by NPP persons on BNC tends to show that they are of, or aspire to, the managerial class in the Anglosphere. Even if they may be civil libertarians themselves, the fact that they adamantly refuse to address the surveillance consequences of widespread NPP rollout may well show why the dominant thrust of BNC arguments will contine to be rejected by antis.

    This rejection is going to be fanned by wild allegations that antis are all “hypocrites” and evidence-free claims that they are in the pay of natgas firms.

    The current attempt on BNC to build a “hypocrisy list” against the antis could be countered by the question: how many BNC bloggers are out there with their hated “enemy”, the antis, demonstrating against Big Coal? It is true that James Hansen as Gen IV. supporter got himself arrested at an anti-coal demo, but is he a leading indicator or a statistical outlier among NPP proponents? I suspect the latter.

    Concluding, just as proliferation is not a tech but a political issue, as DV28XL wrote on his own blog just now, so is the rollout of NPPs for civilian nuclear power.

  4. … the most adamant renewable advocates are really shilling for fossil fuel companies

    Interests, not companies. If you don’t understand how important a distinction that is, you can’t really understand the phenomenon we’ve both noted of people who seem very likely to have no financial stake in any fossil fuel producer, but still damn nuclear energy with faint praise that includes sly defamation.

    the money’s just sort of out there ready to flow to individuals who make outlandish arguments and to publications and institutions that associate themselves with such people and such arguments. Under the circumstances, the human mind proves remarkably supple and creative…

    (Words attributed by David Roberts to Matt Yglesias, OPEC link by me.)

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  5. how about:

    - they claim that safe, clean nuclear needs more research, but we should accept renewables that haven’t been proven yet at scale or long-term are the solution. I.e. that one might need research is bad, but that another is getting it means it is good

    - they claim radiation from nuclear is damaging to ecosystems and the environment, but ignore the effect of wind-farms on migrating birds, of solar-farms on desert ecosystems, of bio-fuels on biodiversity, or just of the amount of land that needs to be trashed to put up things that don’t work.

  6. “The language used by NPP persons on BNC tends to show that they are of, or aspire to, the managerial class in the Anglosphere. Even if they may be civil libertarians themselves, the fact that they adamantly refuse to address the surveillance consequences of widespread NPP rollout may well show why the dominant thrust of BNC arguments will continue to be rejected by antis.”

    You have got to be joking.

    That’s not a criticism BTW, I’m just appalled that this might be a factor.

    As for the wrongness of the LNT, we have to be careful. LNT is a working hypothesis that is ‘right’ in that it is self-consistent and logically valid, It is its misinterpretation and misapplication by politicized regulators and hysterical radiophobes that is wrong.

  7. Here’s one (inspired by Peter Lalor).

    Complaining that NPPs lead to ‘centralisation’ while ignoring the enormous centralised infrastructure which would be needed for any derious attempt to scale up their favoured ‘renewable’ source.

    Also, claimimg that the security measures taken for NPP safety would represent a greater encroachment on civil liberties than the implimentation of ‘smart grids’ and/or mandatory energy efficiency and conservation programs.

  8. A suggestion:

    They highlight resource constraints in the finite supply of uranium (ignoring IFR reactors) that would make nuclear unviable as a long term energy source, yet they disregard the much greater resource constraint in the small amount of Lithium available for Lithium – Ion bateries that would be essential as part of large scale renewable power. Unless we can find a better way of storing energy, large scale renewable power alone is not a long term solution, because we would run out of battery components long before we would run out of uranium under a nuclear energy scenario.

  9. The antis have a religion. Their religion tells them that only renewable energy is “good” and nuclear energy is “bad.” Their definitions of good and bad are in their minds. They are the useful idiots, tools if you will, of those who wish to halt the development of nuclear energy to protect their markets. Obviously this would be coal and natural gas, the only potential loosers in a nuclear age.

    Wind and solar energy are nice little toys. They will remain forever toys. They will never power an industrial civilization, and they will never power any significant portion of an industrial civilization. They are a waste of our economic resources, our attention and our time. If we allow the antis to force renewable energy on us, and stop the real power that is nuclear, then carbon-based fuel must and shall maintain their dominance, whether they are hidden behind a green curtain of renewables or not.

  10. Barry, I am an AGW climate sceptic. (Not a “denier” :-) ) My take on climate change is, yes, it is happening and has happened throughout the Earth’s history with no input from man.. AGW is another matter. There are many arguments for and against, which I won’t go into here. I think that the “climategate” revelations have severely dented the case for AGW
    Suffice to say, that even though I think man’s emissions are minimal and that CO2 is not really the problem, I agree with the move to nuclear and especially 4th generation nuclear.
    I don’t believe that the “market” can solve all problems. ETS is no way to solve the problem if there is no alternative economically viable technology to coal or gas for our electricity.
    The people advocating an ETS are really only interested in yet another financial instrument in which to make inordinate amounts of money.
    I believe that nuclear will be slightly more expensive than fossil fuels, but I also believe that fossil fuels contain many valuable chemicals, and they should be kept for future generations and not burnt. Added to the nuclear industries extraordinary safety record, its reliability and its ability to provide massive amounts of baseload power, I believe nuclear is the way forward for mankind.

  11. Peter Lalor, the default setting of BNC, so far as I can discern it, is finding solutions to global warming that work. That is substantially a question of how do we constitute our physical energy systems at civilization scale. The physics of this are the hard edges that constrain the subsequent questions, including what can we afford to do and what can we do in the necessary timeframe. From the possible solutions, we can then have meaningful discussions about how we constitute ourselves socially and politically in the face of a changing energy system.

    From all your commentary here to date you seem to have this order backwards. It appears your dominant personal preoccupation is political ideology, you support, or oppose, energy systems based on ideological criteria (and on your perception of the ideology of the system’s proponents), and that the physics then, what, looks after itself? It seems to me that you expect whatever energy solution is politically acceptable to you will automatically satisfy our energy needs by the sheer ideological imperative.

    Am I wrong?

    If I am wrong, may I then ask, how do you think our zero carbon energy system should be constituted? We all know what energy generation technologies you oppose, but what are you actually for?

    The political, economic, and regulatory framework around power is an important part of the discussion. Its obviously what floats your boat. But it only makes sense to have that discussion for power systems that work. I’d be much more interested to hear from you how you think the structures around a capable power system should be arranged, rather than idealogical rants against NP. Why don’t you use your powers for good?

  12. When matters of fact are going to impact on public policy, with many winners and losers, then the engines of disinformation start churning on both sides. You can’t actually work out which side is right or wrong by looking at which side generates more disinformation. AGW is a classic case: I reckon there is much more rubbish propounded from the AGW side than the contrarian side, but that doesn’t change the fact (that we’ve know since the 70s and before) that digging up all that carbon and pumping it into the atmosphere is a bad idea.

  13. @Barry Brooks:
    “for the good of human society and environmental sustainability.” (sic)
    Let us assume for the sake of argument that all your 20 points can be conceded. And I would throw in no. 21. gratis: it would be the wrongness of LNT.
    The following observations can however be made and show why these 21 points are not entirely germane:
    1. you yourself talk blithely of NPP “commercialisation” and use enthusiastic double dollar signs often a la Dagobert Duck when referring to money; others eg. P. Lang on this blog are neoliberal/free traders, as evidenced by Lang’s recent debate on this topic with another BNC blogger. So Tom Blees’ plea for GREAT continues to be ignored on BNC. The default setting of BNC would apparently be: if NPPs can make big bucks for those who have the discretionary income, i.e. are in the correct income deciles to get into the market quick enough at the start, fair enough. Which will be why Lang intends to have the profits from them privatised and any losses socialised, as he (in effect) wrote, i.e. the State should be lender of last resort, otherwise investors will not invest.

    The majority of the people who have declared in favour of nuclear seem to be on the political left. At least, I see no preponderance of people on the political right among pro-nukes. At any rate, it is my firm belief that the great majority of pro-nukes are motivated by concern for environmental and energy security issues, as well as a desire to see affordable power available for as many people as possible for as long as possible. In the long run, over a period of decades, the average price of power from NPPs will fall dramatically, to far below any of its competitors. This will be an economic boon to the poor of the world unparalleled in history, extending the industrial revolution to the entire planet, enabling cheap, clean water and bountiful food for all, and enhancing options for future generations. This is our motivation, not some transient financial return. Those who desire the big bucks at the expense of the long-term good are far more likely to be found in the ranks of the fossil fuel industries and their paid apologists helping to relabel methane as low-carbon power.

    2. Given the bureaucratic malfeasance in NPP supervision regimes, especially those in the USA as shown by Tom Blees in his book, there is no reason for any “anti” to trust that NPP proponents as shown on BNC aim to ameliorate this situation upon widespread rollout of NPPs . Placing an NPP on an Indon or Chinese geological faultline is thus apparently unproblematic for an NPP proponent whereas it is not for the people living nearby. Especially when the regulatory costs of NPP safety are viewed on BNC as mere cost-driving nuisances (P. Lang) . If an NPP blows, the effects however are more severe than if a fossil fuel burner falls over. Or are we saying on BNC that no NPP of Gens. l-IV (bar Chernobyl?) will or can ever melt down.

    I haven’t read Tom’s book, so I have no idea what he’s been saying about any alleged malfeasance on the part of nuclear regulatory bodies in the US or elsewhere. Given my experience dealing with the chronic dishonesty of anti-nuclear posters, I’m wary of crediting your comment concerning it. At any rate, your accusation that pro-nuclear folk don’t support strong, appropriate safety measures is way out of line. Anyone who’s followed the threads on sites like Energy from Thorium, where engineers discuss and critique each other about safety and other concerns, knows that they are diligent and uncompromising in their pursuit of excellence regarding all aspects of NPP design. Why would the pro-nuclear side of this debate compromise on the safety of NPP design when the safety record of NPPs favours us over all other forms of power generation? As for geological faults, earthquake-proofing for NPPs is a proven technology. The 2007 earthquake in Japan which took the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant out of service. They’d unknowingly built the plant on an unsuspected fault line, and all that happened was a few drums got spilled, resulting in some minimal contamination. I was watching the report on TV at the time with a friend of mine who was quite critical of nuclear power. When the sugggestion was made that the incident put the safety of NPPs in question, he just looked puzzled and remarked that it in fact demonstrated the opposite.

    By the way, Three Mile Island was a meltdown. No one died. No one got hurt. The land wasn’t contaminated. The plant owners were burned financally, which no doubt provided the industry with great incentive to ensure the incident was not repeated.

    3. NPP proponents envisage centralised power supply to replace fossil fuel stations. And the antis are notorious from the majority BNC standpoint for wanting decentralisation and not doing the numbers. For example, they are said by BNCers to think that putting PV on each domestic roof or bolting a wind turbine to the doghouse while digging up the backyard for geothermal would meet all Aust. power demands, etc. The fact is however that merely unplugging coal/natgas and plugging in NPPs within the current grids raises fears. These fears relate to the looming surveillance state which some (all?) NPP supporters see as necessary to guarantee the smooth operation of NPPs, especially as NPPs’ unhindered operations would be vital in combatting AGW.
    But the antis do not want to increase but decrease societal centralisation.

    What nonsense. Anti-nuclear activists make lots of noise about decebtralised power sources, but they drop it all in an instant if they think they can make an economic case by grouping renewable sources together in a huge centralised facility. Another piece of exquisite nonsense trotted out by the anti-nukes is the supposed decentralisation facilitated by smart grids. Honestly, can anyone imagine a more centralised, less liberal power grid than one where the right to use your household appliances is determined by a highly centralised grid control system? It beggers the imagination!

    Welll, that will do me for now. More on this later, perhaps.

  14. Hmmm, my off topic comment above should perhaps be deleted, along with this one . In commenting on disinformation from the AGW side I was thinking of “North pole clear of ice”, every hot day is proof of AGW, drought everywhare, etc. I wasn’t thinking of scientific stuff, though I do blame them for letting the silly stuff go, leaving the public to assume those views are widely held.

  15. Peter Lalor writes “This may be because the techie mode predominates on BNC…”

    I 100% disagree, I have written extensive comments on this blog of the negative ecological/environmental/health/noise/social issues of industrial scale “wind farms” which the wind/renewable advocates constantly sweep under the rug with their hands over their eyes & ears (not their mouths though, with name calling schoolyard cries of NIMBY conveniently put in there by the industry and gov’s).

    **But lets quickly examine THE “key” technical matter which is the reason for industrial winds/renewables existence, GHG reduction :

    The current “noise floor” of error by the Australian government for GHG emissions reporting is a +/-3% error, according to the section titled “Uncertainty Analysis” on Page 16 of “State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2007″ available at ->

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/en/climate-change/emissions.aspx

    To put things further in perspective : there is a grand total of 0.21% reduction of total Australian GHG emissions which is currently an “at best” figure for all Australian National Electricity Market connected wind farms in SA, NSW, Vic & Tas. So as you can see, the potential for ecological harm is not really being counterbalanced by effective climate mitigation, which is claimed in the Environmental Assessment’s (EA) of the wind farm development applications.

    To look at an individual wind farm, the current EA for Yass Valley suggests we live with 152 turbines (not counting the already approved Conroys Gap section, and the as yet to be applied for Carroll’s Ridge section which will up the turbine count to 215) :

    A grand total of 0.0005% reduction of total Australian GHG emissions from Yass Valley wind farm.

    A grand total of 0.000014% reduction of global GHG emissions from Yass Valley wind farm.

    **Peter Lalor, do you have any idea of what the level of “community consultation” there was for this wind farm? It pretty much amounted to the community being told to live with it! And this is happening everywhere (both in Australia and overseas).

    Now go and have a look at the Wind Renewable Energy Precincts (Ghetto’s) that NSW gov is foisting on an unsuspecting rural public with NO community consultation :

    which of course omits :

    THE WHOLE OF THE ACT (funny that…)

    &

    THE WHOLE OF THE Sydney region all the way west to just past Katoomba and all of the coast from a little north of Ulladulla all the way up to Tweed Heads (the coast is the best area of wind resource in NSW).

    Who is going to suffer the worst consequences? The rural minority and the ecosystems/wildlife of inland NSW. Why? Because the majority of votes in NSW are conveniently NOT in these future ghetto’s. So how much outcry will there be … ? very little comparatively speaking in terms of votes. Those votes will simply be from “second class citizens” in the “political noise floor”.

    **Oh and of course anyone in NSW who pays an electricity bill & taxes will also suffer because this will cost them a fortune! But most of the urban / green voters probably won’t be aware of this, perhaps because its “too technical”.

    The current NSW Wind Renewable Energy Precincts target is 45,000GWh by 2020. Their is no clarification of whether this is per year / per day or in total by 2020, perhaps someone will prod the gov one day and ask them :)

    See -> http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/climatechange/windprecincts.htm

    Lets assume they mean annually & an annual figure of 4000MWh (capacity factor of 22.8% from current Life Cycle Analysis papers) for a 2MW turbine. In terms of the number of 2MW turbines in NSW that will mean :

    45,000,000MWh / 4000MWh = 11,250 turbines

    None of which will be placed anywhere near the voting majority. By the time the voting majority have driven past the “wind farms”, had a warm fuzzy feeling that something is being done (its not), they will have long forgotten them in the remaining hours it will take them to get back to the city.

  16. Another point of antis, I often hear, is that people don’t want nuclear power. They ignore all intelligent people on the planet who know the reality of renewable unworkable utopia and accept nuclear power as our only practical hope for the future.

  17. Barry / Peter Lang,

    Might I suggest that NPP’s be renamed to “Nuclear Farms” or “Atom Farms”? That way perhaps it would be easier to gain public support because the word “farm” seems to have a less confrontational connotation to it. It seems to have worked with industrial scale wind power stations, as the these were successfully renamed “wind farms”.

  18. Perhaps the “farm” thing is a new term being slowly introduced to move the electricity generation concept to a new perception of it as “electrical agriculture”.

    In the near future I expect to hear terms such as :

    “The government is proud to announce the retirement of yet another coal farm in its action to tackle climate change”

    &

    “The government is pleased to announce the opening of another electric vehicle manufacturing farm in its action to tackle climate change”

    &

    “The government today pledged another $xxxmillion dollars of support to the electrical agriculture sector”

    &

    “Domestic electrical agriculture bills expected to increase by a further 20% over the coming year…”

  19. Might I suggest that NPP’s be renamed to “Nuclear Farms” or “Atom Farms”? That way perhaps it would be easier to gain public support because the word “farm” seems to have a less confrontational connotation to it.

    You may be right about the emotional connotations, but it I find it strange that a ‘farm’ (understood to be a piece of land set aside for growing large numbers of plants) should sound less confronting than a ‘plant’ (singular). Bu such are life’s little mysteries.

  20. Finally, we would then expect to see :

    “The electrical agriculture sector has announced X thousand redundancies, despite another year of record profits. The electrical farming union has urged its members to take immediate agricultural action.”

  21. Old-style spin
    Letter published in The Advertiser
    Wed 18 Nov 2009

    BARRY Brook promotes what he optimistically labels “next generation” reactors with old-style spin (“Follow Britain’s lead on nuclear power”, The Advertiser, 10/11/09).

    For example, he repeatedly has claimed the non-existent “integral fast reactors” he champions “cannot be used to generate weapons-grade material”. Unfortunately, that simply is not true. Worse still, Brook persists with that claim although he knows it has been contradicted by, among others, a scientist with hands-on experience working on a prototype integral fast reactor in the US.

    Brook and other promoters of “next generation” reactors have another credibility problem. They acknowledge the need for a rigorous safeguards system to prevent the use of peaceful nuclear facilities to produce weapons of mass destruction, and they acknowledge the existing safeguards fall well short of being rigorous.
    None of them, however, is willing to get off his backside to support important, ongoing efforts to strengthen safeguards. This simply is irresponsible. Moreover, it is hypocritical for Brook to criticise Friends of the Earth and other groups which have worked long and hard to strengthen safeguards – with absolutely no help from such people as him.

    Brook also berates Friends of the Earth for failing to acknowledge “technological developments that solve the long-lived nuclear waste problem”. Those developments, however, involve another non-existent technology, called pyroprocessing.

    South Korea recently announced its intention to embark on a research and development program which aims to provide a “demonstration” of the viability of operating reactors in conjunction with pyroprocessing by the year 2028. That is almost 20 years – just to demonstrate the concept.

    Brook offers nothing but false and extravagant claims based on non-existent technology. We deserve better.

    Jim Green, Friends of the Earth, Melbourne, VIC.

  22. @Jim Green – Like most antinuclear proselytizers you not only demonstrate a deep and abiding ignorance of the science and technology behind the fabrication of nuclear weapons, but a childish naïvety of the politics that drive a nation to acquire them.

    Nuclear energy is in and of itself, not a proliferation risk. 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.

    Even if the question of supplying 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, and the idea that such a project could be carried out by surreptitiously stripping power reactors of their fuel belongs in pulp novels, not in any rational discussion of the issue.

  23. with absolutely no help from such people as him

    Bold assertion, Green. Where is your evidence? What constitutes “help”?

    non-existent “integral fast reactors”

    Hmmm, if you follow through on this logic, you don’t exist, Dr Green, since your great grandparents are surely deceased, and you cannot have been created from non-existent entities. Also, perhaps you’d better tell Russia that their BN-600 sodium-cooled fast reactor doesn’t exist, and also let the aluminium industry know that their pyroprocessing facilities are a figment of their imagination.

    cannot be used to generate weapons-grade material

    As I’ve repeatedly said (and you’ve repeatedly ignored), an IFR cannot, since if you make the complicated additions and modifications to the facility to achieve this, it ceases to be an IFR. You seem to fail to grasp some fairly basic points of logic (see above).

    But actually, I’m not surprised on that and all these other points, since your livelihood (job with FOE) depends on you not understanding or acknowledging this. We deserve better than your ongoing intellectual dishonesty.

  24. Well Peter Lalor, finally we see we’re you’re coming from. It’s 1984 you’re worried about. Perhaps that’s fair enough. Except I don’t see the connection to nuclear power. My guess is, if anything, nuclear power has been held back because it would indeed offer cheap energy, which empowers society, and makes the 1984 scenario harder to put in place.
    DV82XL says that Israel and South Africa did nuclear weapons because they felt threatened. And well they might. They were both implementors of Apartheid. Israel continues to be so. Neither of them would have had any capability at all were they not backed by TPTB – initially the UK then later the USA. Perhaps in future there will be less backs to the wall because more countries act to advocate peaceful power, not domino theories.

  25. but there’s no problem with jetting around to climate conferences, because those trips result in net CO2 reductions.

    Barry please explain this because I don’t think there is any evidence at all to back up this wild claim!

  26. why in the world would anyone support nuclear power? We’d just be setting ourselves up for an even bigger crash!

    Perhaps pro-nuclear activists understand the exponential function perfectly well, and it’s doomers such as Steve who lack a basic understanding of demographic trends, and the role of cheap, plentiful power in population stabilisation and reduction. So here we have another instance of hypocrisy: Claiming that a nuclear powered world would lead to population explosion and economic collapse whereas in reality, the energy preferences of the anti-nukes would lead to poverty and population explosion.

  27. Jim Green may be a “Friend of the Earth” – and indeed does not have a monopoly on that, as most people are Friends of the Earth, just not members or intending members of that infantile organisation.
    He is certainly no Friend of the Human Race though, and I’m sure he, like the rest of the Enviro-Totalitarians, would be happy to see a huge and rapid reduction in the population, thanks to their anti-human policies.
    Green is on a hiding to nowhere, because the human race has not gone through thousands of years of development, just to let some latter-day luddites throw us all back to the Dark Ages.

  28. Barry,

    1. Evidence regarding the unwillingness of nuclear advocates to provide any help to tighten the safeguards system. I can’t think of a single example of a nuclear advocate making a useful contribution to this work over the past decade. You ask what constitutes “help”. One simple thing you could do to help would be to initiate a discussion on the BNC website concerning safeguards. Tom Blees could quickly and easily provide you with 800 words or so on the problems and his solutions to kick-off a discussion, and i would gladly do the same, or you could do it yourself.

    2. IFRs and weapons grade plutonium. George Stanford, who worked on an IFR R&D program in the US, notes that proliferators “could do [with IFRs] what they could do with any other reactor − operate it on a special cycle to produce good quality weapons material.”

    You say you’ve “repeatedly” said that an IFR cannot produce weapon grade plutonium. Would you mind providing a link or two? The last comment of yours that i’ve seen on the topic was an acknowledgement that IFRs could produce weapon grade plutonium if run on a short cycle – the same point Stanford makes.

    3. IFRs either exist or they don’t exist. They don’t. Surely you’re not disputing that?

  29. …maybe slightly off-topic, but a great thing to do with a list like this would be to make a series of ~5-minute videos debunking them, one by one. Something following the “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” model would work well.

    I’ve seen a few LFTR videos out there and they’re educational, but not entertaining, and they’re too long. Something short and focussed on a single issue would work better. I think that would have a lot of impact, if someone could put it together.

  30. Jim Green says,

    I can’t think of a single example of a nuclear advocate making a useful contribution to [tightening the nuclear weapon proliferation safeguard system] over the past decade.

    I have advocated a nuclear power system that, like the ancient Magnox one, requires no isotopic separation at all. Both fuel (natural uranium, possibly switching to natural thorium after startup) and moderator (helium) are chemically separated from whatever they lay in the ground with, but otherwise unchanged. Unlike the Magnox system, my paper reactor includes continuous separation of some fission products, and retention of some others, based on near-room-temperature flotation or fluxing in xenon. Of the junk that can’t fission, much floats away or is swept away as a fluoride phase. Some of the junk, and all of the fuel, sinks as a metallic phase; so there can be no separation of plutonium from other fuels. This might happen in a vessel with walls that were opaque to neutron and gamma rays, but unobstructive arent to visible light, and might so be, literally, a transparent operation. The minimum scale is probably too large from an electricity-supply point of view, but not for chemical fuel production.

    The past decade’s top three useful contributions to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons must all, according to Jim, have come from entities that are neutral about nuclear energy or opposed to it.

    What were they?

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  31. Jim Green’s point two. The USA developed the world’s first atomic bomb when no civilian nuclear power station existed.
    The technology is out there- it is far too late to put the genie back in the bottle.
    And the technology is also there for the IFR.

  32. First of all the real risks of proliferation are political anyway, and the nuclear industry has been dragged into this by antinuclear forces for no other reason than it sounds plausible. Controlling the spread of nuclear weapons is not the proper concern of pronuclear supporters or for that matter the nuclear power industry . It is the proper domain of national governments, diplomacy, the intelligence community and when necessary the military. These are the only institutions that have the tools that have proven to work.

    Security of weapon-grade fissile material is all ready very high, if for no other reason than it represents a very large investment to the state that made it. The cost of isotopically pure Pu-239 or +95% HEU is staggering, so even if there wasn’t a high awareness of the proliferation risks of not keeping this stuff secure, (which there is) it would be protected for its monetary value.

    Any nation embarking on a nuclear weapons program is not going to go to the trouble, the risks, or the expense to build a single device. They are going to want to build an arsenal because firstly, it is a simple military requirement to have more than just a single arrow in the quiver, and secondly because reliability and maintenance demands will mean individual weapons will have to be taken off line from time to time. This being the case a state will need a domestic capability of making weapons-grade material.

    Thus the material security issue centers around the belief that somehow there are crude weapons that are within the technical grasp of a terrorist. While a HEU gun-type device may be easy to describe, the truth is that these are not that easy to fabricate and deploy effectively.

    There is no evidence that any terrorist group currently possesses the technical expertise necessary for a nuclear effort. What is always glossed over in these ridiculous scenarios is the difficulty of finding the kinds of highly qualified experts such a project would need.

    The tiny size of the team needed to keep such a project clandestine means that in every one of a dozen or more expertise categories you would have to find someone with the absolute optimal skills. Remember the Manhattan Project had a staff of three thousand, and the resources of a nation at war to keep it secret. Historically no terrorist group has never had anyone at these levels of expertise who were prepared to help them in any way; these people don’t pop up like jack-in-the-boxes.

    There was a good reason that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were selected as targets, and aircraft were used as the weapon – it was a very simple mission that did not rely on iffy technology and ideal conditions to execute. If there are further attacks of this sort, similar weapons of opportunity will be used.

    The antinuclear movement is not interested in safe nuclear power, they are committed, for one reason or another, to the total elimination of nuclear technology in all its forms. For some of the more doctrinaire, this also includes all forms of nuclear medicine in the belief that the lives lost because of this elimination will be offset by the lives saved from stray radiation. These people cannot be reasoned with, and attempts to pander to their objections only underlines in the mind of the general public that these are valid issues.

  33. Kevin Bennewith …

    [Jim Green] … is certainly no Friend of the Human Race though, and I’m sure he, like the rest of the Enviro-Totalitarians, would be happy to see a huge and rapid reduction in the population, thanks to their anti-human policies

    This is uncalled for. The policies of FOE are neither totalitarian nor anti-human. At their worst, they are misguided and ill-considered on questions such as nuclear power but it doesn’t contribute to clarity on this matter to start making wild accusations.

    As to the question of population, it seems no more than obvious than in the long run, the carrying capacity of the planet will be tested if population is not stabilised at the lowest possible level consistent with looking after those who are born. If, 40 years from now population were stabilised at about 8-9 billion, and then allowed to slowly drift back to around 5-6 billion over the ensuing 150 years or so this could be sustainable. I very much doubt that Jim Green and FOE would suggest more than that.

    Rising sea levels, the tapping out of acquifers, loss of glacial meltwater, and persistently rising temperatures raise serious questions about the capacity of agriculture to meet global human needs over the next 100 years. To assume all relevant factors will approach the optimum is reckless. Over the course of this century, European food reserves have fallen from 180 days to just 57. That’s a fairly thin margin — not even a whole growing season. We need margin for unforeseen setbacks (and for foreseeable setbacks that are more serious and more frequent than we supposed. At 9 billion, we don’t have that and we have little enough at 6.8billion.

  34. Which is worse … a hypocrite renewable advocate antie or a big coal
    advocate who isn’t at all hypocritical? Disagreements over the solutions
    can play into the hands of deniers and big coal when they become too
    divisive.

  35. Jim Green, did you not read the list? Go back, take particular note of hypocrisies 14 and 17, then get back to us when you’ve begun a discussion on your blog about about the dangers of the toxic chemicals resultant from the manufacture of renewable technologies. To avoid hypocrisy, please don’t suggest recycling, after all large amounts of these toxic chemicals could go missing during the recycling process and end up in the chemical weapons of rogue states.

  36. Wow. What a laughable list of utterly ridiculous strawmen!

    It would more accurately be titled ‘Hysterical distortion and propaganda from the nuclear drum bangers’!

    Instead of completely misrepresenting the intelligent opposition to nuclear, why not invite someone from, say, Greenpeace to explain it to you? It would be far more honest and informative than this drivel.

  37. Jim Green:

    1. I refer you on to the Science Council for Global Initiatives: http://thesciencecouncil.com

    2. If you can’t separate any Pu produced, no matter how short a cycle the reactor is run on, you cannot use it effectively in a weapon. IFRs cannot separate such material.

    3. I refer you to TerjeP’s reply. You obviously didn’t understand my earlier comment on this matter of your ancestors, so perhaps his simpler example will help you along the path to understanding.

    I’m actually really glad that you’re on here, hammering away with these innane and circular comments, because it illustrates better I could just how shallow the arguments of the anti-nuclear protestors are.

    DavidC: Care to give any examples, to lift your comment above the level of a hollow rant that is devoid of any content or evidence?

  38. Wind turbines have been “weapons of mass destruction” for years, just ask the birds, bats and other effected wildlife & flora, and the (poorly funded) scientists who study the effects.

    Wind turbines are sonic weapons for many people unfortunate enough to live near them.

    Its not a comforting thought to know that the environmentally unfriendly prepreg parts (e.g. blades, nacelle housing) end up in landfill or are burnt, as they are not recycled.

    Its not a comforting thought to know that at the end of their lives wind farms have no decommissioning funds to ensure their removal, so they will end being an environmental disaster.

    Its not a comforting thought to know that our government thinks we are all so stupid that we will blindly accept a “clean energy revolution” just because they say wind farms are “clean and green”.

    Its not a comforting thought to see that organisations like FOE produce minute, poorly researched “fact sheets / mythbusting” on wind farms, which they claim is “research” but it is simply the echoing of wind industry spin.

    It is a comforting thought to know that the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA went to the effort of writing a 278 page report titled “Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects”, which although in serious need of further research, represents at least an initial attempt to critically examine industrial scale wind energy. It is further comforting to know that a pre-publication copy of this report is freely available from one of its authors at ->

    http://www.vawind.org/Assets/NRC/NRC_Wind.htm

    Its not a comforting thought to know that further research of this level is still urgently needed some 3 years later, but unfortunately does not seem to be high on the political “clean energy revolution” agenda. So much for the “precautionary principle”…

    It is a comforting thought to know that private individuals / groups who are directly effected, or simply care about the environment, are prepared to put an extensive amount of information on the negative effects of wind farms on line e.g. ->

    http://www.windaction.org/

    or

    http://www.amherstislandwindinfo.com/

    I’ll stop there as I dont have any more time to continue this seemingly never ending list of very real problems (not myths) …

  39. Barry,

    1. So you’re not willing to lift a finger in support of efforts to strengthen the nuclear safeguards system? Not even spending one minute asking someone to write an 800-word discussion starter on the topic, and a couple of minutes posting it on BNC. Why not?

    2. I take that as another grudging acknowledgement that IFRs (like conventional reactors) can produce (but not separate) weapon grade plutonium.

    3. IFRs don’t exist.

  40. So you’re not willing to lift a finger in support of efforts to strengthen the nuclear safeguards system?

    Please answer my question: what were the past decade’s most helpful strengthenings of that system?

    I’m not willing to lift the mentioned finger because I’m trying to solve other, unrelated problems. There are enough problem-solvers to go around, I think. But who are your heroes in this, as yoiu do not deny, energy-unrelated matter?

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  41. Jim,

    When will FOE remove its wind industry propaganda and do some real research ?

    FOE’s independent research into wind farms doesn’t exist, in fact its a myth!

    Oh sorry I forgot, Dr Mark Diesendorf and Christian Downie do it for you. Now thats independent.

    When will FOE recognise that people who oppose wind farms are not second class citizens, are not being paid by the nuclear or non-renewables industries, but in most cases they are simply everyday folk in small rural communities who get these things forced upon them.

    When will FOE recognise that the companies building wind farms are the fossil fuel power companies?? Has FOE read what the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) say’s in the State of the Energy Market Report 2009, ??

    Page 102:

    “The three largest private energy retailers — Origin Energy, AGL Energy and
    TRUenergy — are moving towards portfolios more balanced between generation and
    retail assets. In 2007 AGL Energy acquired the 1260 MW Torrens Island power
    station in South Australia from TRUenergy, in exchange for the Hallett power station
    (150 MW) and a cash sum. Origin Energy is quickly expanding its generation
    portfolio, commissioning the Uranquinty power station (650 MW) and expanding its
    Quarantine plant (130 MW) in 2008 – 09. It has also committed to a further 1250 MW
    of gas fired generation in Queensland and Victoria. All three businesses also have
    ownership interests in Australian wind farms.”

    Does FOE realise that gas peaking plant makes lots of money on the electricity market through sending spot prices through the roof when wind farms suddenly go offline. So of course the peaking gas generators club want to get more “noise generators” (wind farms) built and exercise more market pressure. This of course is on top of the guaranteed Renewable Energy tickets market they also get to play in.

    WAKE UP!

    These companies aren’t building wind farms out of some altruistic desire to save the planet. With such a pathetic GHG reduction capacity how could they possibly achieve that? Why do you think companies like Enron pioneered electricity & emissions trading as a commodity?

    I’ll give you a clue, its green in colour, but it is of the folding and put it in your wallet variety.

    **As I’ve said before, there’s nothing wrong with making money, but when it is touted in the name of being green but in reality its at the expense of other people & the environment it is immoral** That applies to anything.

    Example :

    http://www.aemo.com.au/reports/pricing_jan.html

    Sunday, 10 January 2010

    – quote
    Market Outcomes: Energy prices in South Australia reached a high of $2,008.89/MWh during the Trading Interval (TI) ending 19:00hrs Sunday, 10 January 2010. The cumulative price for energy in South Australia reached $44839 (30% of the threshold for Administered Price) at the end of the day. Energy and Frequency Control Ancillary Service (FCAS) prices in other NEM regions were not affected.

    Principal Contributors: The demand in the South Australian region was 2850MW at 19:00hrs, due to temperatures in excess of 39.1ºC in Adelaide at this time with only 75MW of wind generation.
    – endquote

    Note : Installed wind capacity in SA is currently 868MW!!

  42. $2 per kwh in a region with a third of the world’s easily mined uranium that also needs desalination and jobs for its high immigration program. Not only does SA population 1.6m need to find 2.9 Gw on hot days but another .7 Gw for the Olympic Dam expansion, surely the biggest industrial project on the State’s horizon. Yet my SA spies tell me it will be strangled by red tape. Indications are that Rann will go the looming election with more promises of wind farms, more solar feed in tariffs and more subsidies for old industries.

  43. “So you’re not willing to lift a finger in support of efforts to strengthen the nuclear safeguards system? Not even spending one minute asking someone to write an 800-word discussion starter on the topic, and a couple of minutes posting it on BNC.”

    Frankly Green I would relish the opportunity to shred any nuclear security arguments you might want to bring to the table. There are very few other topics in the whole nuclear debate as rife with illogical assumptions as the security issue, and nothing I enjoy more that ripping them to bits.

  44. Just to clarify that : the total 868MW of installed wind energy in SA during that period was only generating at 75MW, and according to the AER was a principle contributor to the price spike.

  45. The generators club have been campaigning to get the price cap higher than its current level of $10,000/MWh. They have been successful at this, and it will be raised to $12,500 MWh on 1 July 2010. (see note 4 on p73 of the AER’s SEM 2009 report). The generators club however want the cap to be $50,000 MWh.

    How do you think this is going to play out on electricity bills?? Short answer : they get bigger.

    How can the generators club ensure that these price spikes occur ?? Short answer : build more noise generators (wind farms) that they know are completely useless for meeting peak demand.

    How on earth can the generators club expect to get public support for this?? Short answer : Easy, the public are so gullible they think wind farms are going to save the world. Especially when so-called “green” organisations regurgitate wind industry spin.

  46. Jim Green:

    1. Noone is stopping you writing it and posting it in the Open Thread. Nothing will remove fissile material from circulation more effectively than using it to generate electricity in fast reactors, which is what I’m advocating. You have no plan for it.

    2. What point are you trying to make? If it’s that an IFR can’t and won’t be used to manufacture a bomb, then we are in agreement.

    3. What point are you trying to make? If it is that any technology which is not currently operating commercially and economically can therefore never do so, then you have a major problem with renewables, don’t you?

    Your arguments, and their deeper purpose, are opaque.

  47. A perverse effect of high spot prices for electricity is that hydro dams can be quickly drained in summer to make big bucks. During autumn while dam levels rebuild slowly the customers can be sent rebadged coal fired electricity. Price figures quoted for Tas Hydro have been $10 or 1,000c per kwh for export and 3c for import via the Basslink HVDC cable. The State’s electrorefiners of aluminium, zinc and steel (possibly silicon in future) still get to pay their alleged 2-3c per kwh while the the Hydro rakes in the bucks. I see no coal smokestacks therefore it must be green, send more please. Hydro justify it by saying they need to cover the $92m line rent on the underwater cable.

    A serious carbon cap would change all that. Water in the dams would be conserved since coal fired electricity imports would be more expensive. Thus I suggest that the electricity price cap be modest and the CO2 cap be tough. At every turn various organisations ( even semi-government) want to undermine carbon cuts.

  48. Jim Green,

    How many people have been killed by nuclear weapons?

    How many people have been killed by explosives manufactured from and delivered by oil?

    Why don’t you argue we should stop producing oil?

    Aren’t you being hypocritical?

  49. Seriously Barry, can’t you see the utility – from your perspective – of being proactive about safeguards? It would give you and your colleagues vastly greater credibility than inactivity and juvenile ‘nyah nyah’ comments. I want you and your colleagues involved because 1. It is a hard slog and NGOs working on safeguards need all the help we can get, and 2. Nuclear advocates can cut through where antis can’t.

  50. OK let the FoE flack have his 800 words to try and make a case that there is some problems with nuclear security. I am itching to ram them back down his throat.

    I personally suspect he knows squat about the topic beyond parroting the standard antinuclear shibboleths that have been dismissed over and over, and he is now just trying to create the illusion that we are afraid to face the topic.

    I say bring it!

  51. I’d be perfectly happy to see a contribution from Jim, and not just to ‘rip it to shreds’. I don’t expect to find much to agree with him on, but I’d quite like to see what his perspective on the issue is, and see it subjected to .. analysis.

    I can’t disagree with Jim’s posting above dv82xl’s, and note his last point cuts both ways. If we’re ever to see expansion of nuclear power in Australia, it is going to require a meaningful level of engagement with people who share Jim’s views. Might as well get on with it.

  52. Jim said:

    Seriously Barry, can’t you see the utility – from your perspective – of being proactive about safeguards?

    Your question implies that we aren’t proactive. People here very much want safe handling of weaponizable materiel.

    I’d be keen to know what your reason for being so dismissive of the role of nuclear power would be, given that renewables cannot scale to the level necessary to meet demand in highly industrial societies.

  53. Perhaps Jim wont argue to stop producing oil because he & FOE knows that wind turbines wont turn without the several hundred gallons of oil in each one.

    Unfortunately, should a turbine catch fire all this oil is left to burn out. This is because turbine manufacturers advise fire fighters to attend to spot fires on the ground and let the turbine burn itself out. Lets face it, how many rural fire trucks are there with ladders capable of extending 100m or more (current max height in planning apps is 150m) into the air? I’ve not seen a fire truck with a ladder that will go to the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge last time I checked.

    http://www.windaction.org/videos/22704

    http://www.windaction.org/videos/17958

    http://www.windaction.org/videos/14886

    http://www.windaction.org/videos/12285

    http://www.windaction.org/search?module=search&q=fire&x=0&y=0

    Of course the wind industry & ivory tower dwellers such as Dr Diesendorf tell us this doesn’t happen very often, so we dont need to worry about it. I think so far there have only been 2 wind turbine fires in Australia. In the words of Dr Diesendorf as quoted on p105 of the Committe Report of the NSW Inquiry into Rural Wind Farms :

    “In so far as wind power substitutes for fossil fuels, it reduces the risk and intensity of bushfires.”

    **Are they the words of scientific fact? Is it just me that nearly fell off my chair in disbelief at that statement!!! Somebody pinch me!

    There was a fire at Cathedral Rocks in Feb 2009, and it was spotted by someone in a boat at 1am, not the company running the wind farm ->

    http://www.independentweekly.com.au/news/local/news/general/wind-turbine-catches-fire/1423484.aspx

    although of course in the wind company media release the chap on the boat doesn’t get the credit for spotting it!

    http://www.roaring40s.com.au/extras/449/ADMIN-20894.pdf

    The other fire was at Lake Bonney, here is a scan of the page from Adelaide Sunday Mail ->

    http://www.windaction.org/pictures/1527

    I’ve yet to hear a news story or see a press release on the results of the investigations… anyone ?? Jim, FOE have a keen interest in wind energy, any clues?

    In addition to the risk of a turbine fire are the problems that wind turbines cause for planes/aircraft in water bombing operations i.e. they wont be able to water bomb within & around the footprint of a wind farm. What a comforting thought (not) to people who have to live next to the existing ones & the 11,250 wind turbines planned to be installed across the bush fire prone regions of rural NSW.

    Of course a turbine on fire doesn’t necessarily mean its out of reach to fire fighters. This turbine in the USA caught fire when it fell over and hit the ground. Luckily it was in winter, as the pictures show.

    http://www.windaction.org/pictures/20313

    http://www.windaction.org/pictures/20314

  54. ps : the turbine (GE 1.5MW) that fell over and caught fire had only been installed a matter of months. Thats quality engineering in action…

    I sometimes wonder does a “clean & green” wind turbine produce “clean and green” fumes when the oil and fibreglass burns?

    And remember such an event completely invalidates any Life Cycle Analysis, i.e. its energy payback time just got totally shot down in flames.

  55. pps : regarding the GE turbine.

    Well GE did buy Enron Wind Systems when caring Enron went belly up in 2001/2 (DOH!) ->

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/12/business/ge-to-buy-enron-wind-turbine-assets.html?pagewanted=1

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enron_Wind

    We all remember how honest and trustworthy Enron were right ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enron_scandal

    and of course we all know the who (clue : Enron) made the turbine that collapsed in Fenner NYS just before Christmas 2009… and we are still waiting to find out the results of the inquiry

    http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2009/12/27/turbine-falls-at-fenner-wind-farm/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenner_Wind_Farm

    and just to remind Jim & FOE about emissions trading & capitalism applied to the climate change debate etc ->

    http://www.masterresource.org/category/enron-corp/

    My favourite quote on this page pretty sums the current situation nicely ->

    “We are a green company, but the green stands for money.”

    - Jeff Skilling, CEO, Enron Corp.

  56. Bryen

    As tempting as it must be to play tit-for-tat with renwables advocates in sezing upon every failure of a wind system I think we should resist the urge. Even in the best case scenarios where wind systems are operating at or close to specification, it is now very clear that wind cannot deliver low cost or low footprint reductions in GHG emissions. Good enough.

    I find that a shame by the way, because nothing looks as much like it ought to violate the “no free lunch” rule in energy as wind. It’s so simple. Everyone can get the idea. It’s a terrible shame it can’t do the job we need it to do, because I quite like the look of them.

  57. Ewen Laver.
    I was probably a bit harsh with my post about FOE, but unfortunately their myopia and lack of realistic thinking inspire feelings of antipathy towards them.
    As far as population is concerned, the growing populations in the world are tending to be those in the developing world where the standard of living is low. The low population growth (natural increase not counting immigration) tends to be in the “rich” world.
    The trend in those nations where the standard of living is getting better tends to be that the richer they are, the fewer children they have.
    It seems to me then, that it is likely that ultra-Green policies, by reducing standards of living, would result in an increase in “low standard of living” populations. Not only this, but a lower GNP would result in less ability to deal with the effects of any climate change there might be.
    What we need to do is to increase the amount of energy available to the population, not reduce it.
    Living standards will go up, and the population of the world will stabilise.

  58. Ewen,

    I appreciate your comment, & I do find it heartening that you realise the stupidity of industrial wind. But I’m responding also to the title of the thread ->

    “Hypocrisies of the anti- nuclear power/renewables advocates”

    Plenty of people I meet say “I dont mind the look of them” in the context of wind turbines / wind farms. Fine, great, you like the look of them. No problem.

    Unfortunately most people who say that to me only have to “look at them” on TV or when they drive past them. Your situation may be different of course?

    However, many poor folk out there have to”look at them” and “listen to them” 24 / 7 / 365… & put up with a myriad of other problems / intrusions with absolutely no say in the matter, and when these poor folk find out its “all about the money” and “insignificant in terms of GHG reductions” they tend to feel a bit “hard done by” rather than thinking its a “terrible shame”.

    I believe BNC was criticised above as being overly “techie” so I hope I’m balancing some of that out. I find it somewhat hypocritical that e.g. NSW State Gov has declared such a large part of NSW to be ready for 11,250 wind turbines without consulting those communities, but none of these wind farms will be within 2 hours or more driving distance of Sydney, and none of it is in the ACT or on the coast. These people call us NIMBY’s and we’ll soon be told we should be proud to have these things here … -> Hypocritical ? ?

    The fact that wind is pathetic at GHG reductions does not seem to be good enough for the policy makers, I find that very suspect. I find it hypocritical that so-called “green organisations” like FOE are promoting wind industry propaganda, in fact it also annoys me greatly, because lots of well meaning city folk are getting conned. e.g. in Melbourne, this electric tram runs on renewable energy with pictures of wind turbines all over it. Rubbish. In Sydney, this Desal plant is running on 100% of renewable energy from Capital/Bungendore wind farm. Even more rubbish, just have a look at the AEMO figures for Capital’s output. It spends plenty of time either offline or underperforming, its pathetic. (Then again they did buy Suzlon turbines… schmucks) When Kevin Rudd, Penny Wong et al had a big opening party there, that 140MW wind power station was generating a paltry 2MW. Not much water gets desalinated on that figure. The Sydney Desal requires 40MW – constantly 24 / 7. How will a wind farm do that? Do you really think Joe and Joesephine public understand all the subtleties in these lies?

    I think its high time to shine a big spotlight on everything that is wrong with industrial scale wind, including the totally pathetic GHG reductions / unreliability and intermittent nature. The whole industrial wind thing is big can of worms, but when you open it smells of fish…

  59. I appreciate your passion Bryen but if you get to worked up it’s posible to sound to uncommitteds every bit as invested emotionally as wind power advocates.

    Keeping it dry and technical forces the debate onto grounds where the proponents of wind can’t win and where nuclear comes out clearly in front.

    For the record, if wind really were as good as nuclear on all pertinent criteria, I’d be happy to have one that met the CF requirements within 400m of where I live or work. People live that close to coal plants which is far worse. I respond the same way in relation to nuclear plants.

  60. Kevin

    While your broad reasoning is correct, it’s dangerous to read back from consequences to intent. People who identify with green objectives have a vision of a world in which everyone lives in peace and harmony, with nature and each other.

    It’s a utopian and unrealistic (though highly pleasurable) vision, not a plan to destroy humanity. It’s very hard to dislodge anyone (whatever their utopia looks like) by telling them they are a bunch of sociopaths. If you have any prospect at all it’s be taking them with you on an exploaration of what is possible and probable and getting them to separate the ideal from what is viable.

    We all learn to deal with imperfection. Once we accept that what we ought to be negotiating rationally is “how much?”

  61. “1. So you’re not willing to lift a finger in support of efforts to strengthen the nuclear safeguards system? Not even spending one minute asking someone to write an 800-word discussion starter on the topic, and a couple of minutes posting it on BNC. Why not?”

    Civilan nuclear power has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. It is a red herring.

    Nuclear weapons are the reason the cold war didn’t become hot and they are currently insuring that the tensions between Pakistan and India do not escalate. Even if it is technically possible to get rid of nuclear weapons we should not do so.

    “2. I take that as another grudging acknowledgement that IFRs (like conventional reactors) can produce (but not separate) weapon grade plutonium.”

    How many times must it be pointed out to you that this is a red herring?

    It’s cheaper, less conspicuous and technically easier to build a dedicated reactor or centrifuge facility for weapons production. A plutonium-producing reactor doesn’t need to be anything more advanced than a big block of graphite with uranium slugs pushed in manually through a concrete wall at the front of the reactor and irradiated slugs being pushed out into a water through at the back.

    “3. IFRs don’t exist.”

    You don’t exist.

  62. Ewen Laver,

    You are making a lot of sense.

    Bryen, I think Ewen is making a very good point.

    Ewen, I have also taken note of the points you made to me a few threads ago; but that is not to say that I may not slip up from time to time.

    I do agree with waht Kevin Bennewith said at 19:03. I find it hard to see how anyone could disagree with his point. Just look at this and see how you could argue:

    http://graphs.gapminder.org/world/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=6;ti=2005$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=pyj6tScZqmEcKxvG4lnIreQ;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0TAlJeCEzcGQ;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL%5Fn5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=5.71;dataMax=28213$map_y;scale=log;dataMin=0.855;dataMax=8.7$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=

    If the above link to the actual chart doesn’t work for you, then go to http://www.gapminder.org, click on the chart then select the following:

    Y-axis: Children per womanfertility rate, ‘log’ scale
    X axis: Electrcity consumption, per person (select: Energy/Consumption per person/Electricity consumption, per person). Select ‘log’ scale

  63. Ewen,

    Sorry, this paragraph was addressed to all readers not “you as in “Ewen, you …”

    I do agree with what Kevin Bennewith said at 19:03. I find it hard to see how anyone could disagree with his point. Who could argue with Kevin given what the chart shows (see link in previous post)

  64. Ewen,

    Thats fine if you think that would be a safe thing for you to live and work at 400m or less from an industrial wind turbine. You would probably have to sign some kind of disclaimer, as that kind of distance would invalidate the manufacturers recommendations, and depending on where you live, possibly some planning / health & safety laws too. The current recommendation (not law) from the NSW Inquiry is a minimum of 2km, with people given the right to waiver this if they like. (Not much help for those already suffering). The National Academy of Medicine of France in their March 2006 report “Repercussions of the Operation of Wind Turbines on the Health of Man” suggested a 1.5km minimum distance. Others have suggested 3km or more.

    However, as you know wind doesn’t work, you are not really saying anything plausible with such a statement. In other words, its a very easy statement to make because your criteria will never be met.

    Would you be happy to have the other 10, 20, 50 or 100 odd of them, every few hundred metres further away as well as that one you have stated you dont mind, which would be part of any wind farm development? Do you think your neighbours would mind? Would you inform them of your intentions? How would you feel if 2, 3 or 4 sides of your property were lined with 150m tall wind turbines? How would you feel about the loss of your night time sky view to bright red aviation lights visible up to 50km away?

    The comment you make doesn’t alter the hypocrisy and unjustness of forcing them on people / communities either, people who definately do not want to be close to them and also care about the environment they live in. We have every right to get passionate and emotional. We’ve been backed into a corner so we only have two options; roll over and take it, or push back back. I favour the latter.

    Keeping it dry and technical also allows the debate to leave the realms of environmental, social and political concerns, which unfortunately are a very real part of it and contain much hypocrisy. It is politics (and money) for example that is making wind farms happen and unfortunately history has shown that even though wind doesn’t work, it doesn’t make much (any?) difference to politicians.

    **I’m all for including the technical in the debate too, please dont get me wrong on that. And I value your agreement on that as well.

    I think its a key part of gaining broader public support, which is why I have commented about the technical issues, especially winds poor GHG reduction, extensively here on BNC. Hopefully such technical arguments will win people over to the point where they will disagree with the politicians.

    But Barry did specifically ask for hypocrisies regarding renewables too, so I thought I’d mention a handful relating to wind, there’s plenty more :) (as I’m sure you are aware).

  65. Ewen and Peter, thank you for your comments.
    I found the graph very interesting, as I had never seen it before.
    One of the things that annoy me about anti-nuclear activists is when they say “but would you want a nuclear power station in your back yard”.
    Well probably not, if I had a choice, but I would definitely prefer a nuclear power station in my back yard, than a coal fired one or a forest of wind turbines…

  66. Ewen, Peter,

    OK, quick bucket of cold water in the face, back to the MAIN ISSUE i.e. wind being ineffective at GHG emissions reduction.

    As I said, I wholeheartedly agree with that point, and agree its THE key issue. I also saw that point made from a very good website I should share with BNCers :

    http://www.northnet.org/brvmug/WindPower/articles.html

    which is put together by an American physicist called Dr John Droz, who as a man of science is pretty outraged at the wind industries outrageous and bogus claims. It has a great collection of articles on why wind doesn’t work. It specifically reinforces that point. Excellent stuff.

    The other page I would highly suggest which has a big collection of wind GHG reduction research docs (including Peter’s with links to Peter’s BNC posts) ->

    http://www.amherstislandwindinfo.com/co2.htm

    Incidently, Dr John Droz is also involved with the excellent (and only?) doco on industrial wind called “They’re Not Green” ->

    http://web.me.com/thrnotgreen/thrnotgreen/Home.html

    although this doco is more on the emotive issues angle, its certainly worth a viewing for the non-technically inclined.

    I’ll give Dr Droz the last word then in this comment :

    “Whether an alternative/renewable is acceptable is a highly technical matter that should be decided on the basis of a comprehensive, independent, objective and transparent evaluation of three key conditions:

    a) its technical performance,
    b) the economics of the power produced,
    and c) its FULL environmental impact.

    All independent evidence to date indicates that industrial wind power fails on all three of these critical counts.”

  67. They are married with wind power firms.

    This means concrete and steel, to say emissions of tens of billions metric tons CO2 per decade for construction.

    And tens of millions acres of native sea , even the same area of native land and mountains. Your only scenery is wind mills, where ever you take a look.

  68. skyler hype, on January 19th, 2010 at 3.18 — Fossil fuel burners are “subsidized” in that they don’t pay the cost of externalities, in particular CO2 emissions.

    I don’t know know the removal costs precisely, but I find not paying for any of it “excessive”.

  69. Irrespective of the actual economics (whatever those are), the current crop of wind turbines in the Columbia Basin will all be constructed as those are already under contract. Then further development will stop for some time. The resaon is that the cost of CCGTs just now, because of low natgas prices, undercuts even the incentivized cost of the wind turbines around here.

    In any case, wind power is rather unlikely to ever be more than 20% of regional power production, because that is all that BPA can back up with hydro. Interestingly, perhaps, that is the same as the power regionally provided by coal burners, which emit about 85% of the CO2 from power production.

  70. skyler hype, on January 19th, 2010 at 3.18 Said:

    They complain about capital costs of a nuclear plant but ignore the fact that renewables must be subsidized at excessive levels to be considered competitive

    Good point. The current capital cost of Wind power in Australia (that is wind power that can provide power on demand as all other generators must be abloe to do) is:

    $2600/kW for the Wind farms (Note 1)
    $1000/kW for extra transmission and grid stabilisation
    $1000/kW for natural gas back up
    $4600/kW total capital cost

    Compare this with the recently awarded contract for 5300 MW of nuclear power stations in UAE at a total capital cost of A$4100/kW (US$3700/kW).

    Add to that, the O&M cost of wind plus gas plus grid stabilisation would be higher than nuclear.

    So why is wind being Mandated?

  71. How would you feel if 2, 3 or 4 sides of your property were lined with 150m tall wind turbines? How would you feel about the loss of your night time sky view to bright red aviation lights visible up to 50km away?

    Peeved if they were makinf a sub-optimal contribution to the public good, but OK if these were optimal (though as you point out, they couldn’t be. Moreover … wind shadow issues would present themselves …)

    I’m for optimising the public good and leaving us private folk to work around that. If I don’t like living as close to some infrastructure as is compelled by the public good, I should move and share the good with the rest of the public.

  72. Amory Lovins, long the darling of the media and politicians, has been getting away with some ridiculously absurd statements for years, but is still receiving rewards and was even named one of Time’s top 100 scientists and thinkers for 2009. He’s made claims like “renewables” provide more energy than nuclear, which is true only on a global level and only because nearly all is hydro– even though he doesn’t support hydro. And even that is true only because greens like him are the biggest obstacles to a nuclear expansion that would allow it to outpace hydro. This article is a great read:

    http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=676

  73. Barry:

    I think Al Gore is more interested in the money to be made:

    “A statement, representing almost 200 investors with $US13 trillion ($14 trillion) in assets, was due to be presented overnight (Australian time) at the United Nations in New York at a meeting with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the billionaire investor George Soros and a former US vice-president, Al Gore.

    The group said its ”hands were tied” unless governments introduced policies which created a stable investment environment. The group’s requests include:

    ❏ Short- and long-term emission reduction targets.

    ❏ A price on carbon emissions to help shift investment.

    ❏ New financing mechanisms to mobilise private-sector investment on a large scale.

    ❏ Requirements for full corporate disclosure of material climate-related risks.”

    Sounds like they don’t want any risk – just guaranteed returns.

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/delay-climate-policy-at-your-peril-governments-told-20100114-ma67.html

  74. One of the things I’ve noticed Peter and Barry, doing the rounds of the blogs is that solar thermal plus back up (gas hybrid) is back in front as the big renewable alternative to coal.

    I seem to recall a cost-benefit analysis here some time back of CSP which included an analyisis of daily insolation variance in Australia.

    Do I recall correctly?

  75. DavidC has provided another hypocrisy:
    They decry satirical exposures, such as this list, as ‘Hysterical distortion and propaganda’ but completely miss the joke, which is that much of it is a parody, built from a template of their own ridiculous, hysterical distortion and propaganda.
    An example:
    Hypocrisy 16 – No-one here would seriously suggest that people should stop building passive solar houses because they emit a very low, and completely acceptable dose of radiation, but the anti-nuclear “drum bangers” call for the closure of nuclear power plants based on their radiating an even lower dose per year than the stone house. Thats not just hypocritical, it’s ridiculous!
    This list was begun with the tongue in cheek premise: I’d cry, if it wasn’t so funny. But perhaps it’s more a case of : I’d laugh, if it wasn’t so true.

  76. Ewen Laver,

    You are correct. There were quite a few comments on this on several threads.

    The main authoritiative sources that I have been referring to are NEEDS (2008) and EPRI (2009).

    NEEDS includes detailed costs, material quantities, and embedded emissions and projects all these to 2050. NEEDS assumes that, by 2020, Solar Thermal can have sufficient energy storage to be able to generate 8000 full olad hours per year if located in the Sahara Desert. However, the paper, although it has lots of good information, it is clearly highly optimisitic in its projections of the rate that costs will decrease over time. They assume a reduction of some 10% cost reduction per year. This is largely dependent in being able to move from hybrid mode to full solar mode by 2020. NEEDS gives the costs for solar thermal hybrid and solar thermal only.

    The costs in EPRI (2009) are for hybrid. The costs are US$225/MWh, or A$250/MWh. Compare this with current coal power at around A$30 – $40/MWh.

    By the way, I believe the projected electrcity costs are rediculously low. Have a look at footnote 17 and 18 here:

    http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/lang_2010_emissions_cuts_realities_v1a1.pdf

    Here are links to the references quoted above:

    1. NEEDS (2008) http://www.needs-project.org/docs/results/RS1a/RS1a%20D12.2%20Final%20report%20concentrating%20solar%20thermal%20power%20plants.pdf

    2. EPRI (2009) http://my.epri.com/portal/server.pt?Product_id=000000000001019539

    Here are links to other relevant threads on the BNC web site:

    1. Scaling up Andasol 1 http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/12/06/tcase7/

    2. Solar Thermal Questions http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/31/solar-thermal-questions/

    3. http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/18/tcase4/

    4. http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/03/18/the-solar-fraud/

    5. http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/10/solar-realities-and-transmission-costs-addendum/

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

    7. Emission Cuts Realities http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/lang_2010_emissions_cuts_realities_v1a1.pdf

  77. Ewen Laver,

    Further to my previous post.

    I seem to recall a cost-benefit analysis here some time back of CSP which included an analyisis of daily insolation variance in Australia.

    You maay have been referring to the discussion on the Solar Power Realities thread. Here is one of the early comments:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/#comment-23002

    If you follow through from this post, John D Morgan did a good job of extracting the information from various contribibutors and summarising the effects of insolation and also the effect of tracking CST as oppose to fixed arrary. Stephen Gloor and several others (perhaps Neil Howes) were raising issues with the analysis and John D Morgan Chgarles Barton and others were addressing them and making sense out of the discussion.

  78. Ewen Laver,

    Could you please post a link(s) to the best references you have seen that have the costs for solar thermal hybrid.

    Here is a copy of Footnotes 17 and 18 from the Emission Cuts Realities paper:

    17 The NEEDS (2009) costs are based on constructing the Andasol 1 solar thermal power station in Spain. The cost of constructing widely distributed solar thermal power stations over an area of some 3000 km by 1000 km in Australia‟s deserts will be higher than the cost of constructing in Spain – where there is well developed infrastructure and larger work force nearer to the sites. To construct the solar thermal power stations in areas throughout central Australia will require large mobile construction camps, fly-in fly-out work force, large concrete batch plants, large supply of water, energy and good roads to each power station. Air fields suitable for fly-in fly-out will be required at say one per 250 MW power station. That means we need to build such air fields at the rate of about two, then three, then four per year.
    18 There is an alternative to solar thermal with sufficient energy storage for 90% capacity factor. The alternative is solar thermal hybrid. Gas generates power when the sun isn‟t shining and there is insufficient energy storage. The hybrid options emits much more CO2 than CST alone and the electricity costs are higher (EPRI, 2009a, page 10-20), although this comparison is made at a capacity factor of 34% not 90%. NEEDS argues that the solar thermal with 8000 full load hours energy storage will be available and electricity costs will be less than the hybrid option by 2020. The hybrid option is not included in the options considered here.

  79. @dv82xl Your point is well made, and logical re the proliferation risk
    Obviously Iran is b*****ing when they say they want nuke technology for “”peaceful “” purposes.
    They could buy nukeplants off the shelf from a number of sources. The Russians even offered to sel them the fuel for such plants.
    In the case of Pakistan , they assembled an ” Islamic” bomb ?!?! (However that is an altogether different subject and ot, but well worth discussing on a different blog perhaps) Anyway I always like your well argued and logical posts and I usually learn something new and useful.

  80. I wonder if the water pumping could be desalinated water for later domestic and industrial applications, not necessarily to recover the energy from elevation. For example the USS Carl Vinson is now supplying 1.5 ML/d to Haiti. Another form of load switching could be stored hydrogen production. Both desalination and hydrogen production could use the electrical route if thermal output needs to be steady. I would guess that a NPP has to be optimised for load switching.

  81. Jim Green, You write of “evidence regarding the unwillingness of nuclear advocates to provide any help to tighten the safeguards system. I can’t think of a single example of a nuclear advocate making a useful contribution to this work over the past decade.”

    I have certainly made an attempt to contribute to contribute to a better understanding of proliferation issues, and in particular to a better definition of the proliferation problem, and the role of new technological options in the motivation of proliferation attempts, and the relation of the relative proliferation difficulties of technological options to he overall probability that a possible proliferator will chose to build nuclear weapons. For example, I have pointed out that if a would be proliferator has a simple and low cost proliferation option available, the availability of a technically more difficult and high cost option is very unlikely to increase his or her motivation to build nuclear weapons.

    The failure to appreciate the effect of technology on would be proliferators motivation leads to wasted effort. If relatively simple, low cost and difficult to block routs to proliferation are available, it is a wasted effort to block, difficult and high cost routs to proliferation. Instead, anti-proliferation methods should seek to reduce a would be proliferator’s motivation. I view this analysis as the sort of positive contribution to tightening the proliferation safeguard system.

    in addition, I have pointed out the writings of Alexander DeVolpi, an American scientists who actually worked with the Soviets on nuclear disarmament issues. DeVolpi has brought his knowledge of the practicalities of nuclear weapons control, to the examination of proliferation issues.

    Your attack on nuclear supporters is ill informed, and appears to be simply an ad hominem argument.

  82. One more aspect of the claimed slow construction time:

    The claim that nuclear energy is slow to construct ignores the size of the contribution. Looked at per MW of average power, nuclear energy build times are much better than wind or solar, even on the inflated timescales that antis offer.

    A wind example is easy, since I understand that Cape Wind has already been ten years in wrangling without any power. More concretely perhaps is any moderate windfarm, say 150MW peak that might perhaps take 2-3 years to build. If a ten-year lead time is granted for a 1500MW nuclear plant, and taking that as equivalent to 4500MW of wind on capacity factors, the nuclear plant is effectively at least 6 times faster to build.

    There was some solar panels erected recently on the Patriots stadium which there was trumpet blowing about because the time taken was only two months. For 525kW peak. That’s about 160 times slower build rate than the nuclear plant above.

  83. Gordon, on January 19th, 2010 at 10.31 — Utility investors are risk adverse, expecting a modest return and safety of principal. That ordinary has worked fine, except when new technologies are introduced. Then the utility investors demand that “someone else” assume the (unknown) risks. Examples include nuclear power in the USA but also wind power; for the latter, the investor payback time demanded is quite short, just 15 years including construction time; in addition the principal at risk is small enough to recover the entire principal in the event of backruptcy of the part of the wind power producing company.

  84. I just read the following from Scott Ludlum in my “Notes from National” Greens newsletter, in case anyone wonders what the tenor of the Australian Greens’ thinking on the issue is:

    “Predictably, the most recent and least-convincing converts to climate change science are now the most ardent advocates for nuclear power as the solution.

    2010 will see the Greens working hard to highlight the global consequences of the unsightly corporate scramble to mine uranium across Australia.

    We will be keeping the link between uranium-mining, nuclear energy and the spread of nuclear weapons uppermost in Australians’ minds during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference this May in New York, an event that I plan to attend in part. Last December, Kevin Rudd confirmed that nuclear weapons are the most inhumane, indiscriminate and unnecessary weapons ever devised, in a joint release with Japan’s Prime Minister to launch the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament report.

    ..

    The report also naively conveys that a nuclear weapons-free world can be achieved at the same time as expanding the struggling nuclear energy sector – a contradiction that the nuclear energy industry simply cannot get past.

    The Greens have been working for a nuclear-free world since our formation, and in 2010 we’ll be at the forefront as the campaign kicks into gear.”

  85. Kevin Rudd confirmed that nuclear weapons are the most inhumane, indiscriminate and unnecessary weapons ever devised,

    This is debatable at best, even allowing that one can scale weapons for their ‘inhumanity’.

    Biological weapons are surely at least as nasty as nuclear weapons and potentially could be made a lot more so. Chemical weapons are capable of very long term effects.

    I don’t endorse deployment of nuclear weapons, and would like to see them decomissioned as soon as possible, but this kind of hyperbole is unhelpful.

    That they were ever used is most regrettable — shameful even. Then again, the real failure surely lies in the flaws in human systems that create a context in which violent conflict at industrial scale seems reasonable to so many people.

  86. Here is the real foundation of the Antis motivation, from the FOE website:

    “Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for clean energy solutions and against uranium mining and nuclear power for 35 years. With our allies, we’ve been an important part of some great victories such as stopping the Jabiluka mine, limiting the expansion of the uranium industry in Australia and scuttling proposed nuclear waste dumps.
    Now we face major challenges with plans under development for at least five new uranium mines. With your support we can repeat past successes and stop the expansion of the dirty and dangerous nuclear industry. Please support the campaign.”

    It is all about money. You can get people frightened and they will send money. Even though Boeing is horribly behind in the production of their 787 (Dreamliner) aircraft because of structural problems and other issues, no one would start an anti aviation or a stop Boeing fund raising campaign it would be unpopular and unsuccessful. People just accept that Boeing will in time work out the technical problems and the regulatory agencies would not allow an unsafe aircraft to fly. But, Nuclear Energy like immigration and gay marriage is one of those hot button topics and therefor profitable to be against.

  87. http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/Chemical-Engineering/10-391JSpring-2005/01F57E71-FD32-4656-B130-E869BD5140F8/0/0426s05sol_therm.pdf

    The following are short on numbers but include some. The argumentaiton sounds like that used by Stephen Gloor:

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/05/13/concentrated-solar-thermal-power-csp-with-storage/

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/08/18/hybrid-csp-concentrated-solar-natural-gas-power-plants-provide-power/

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/solar-and-gas-together-at-a-power-plant-near-you/

    Solar thermal, by the way, is living up to its claims. The two decades-old solar thermal plants in California’s Mojave Desert “have not missed one hour of peak output in their lifetime,” Morse said. “When Mt. Pinatubo blew ash into the sky, they just burned a little more gas.”

    Last year, California experienced six days of peak demand. The solar thermal plants produced at 110 percent capacity at that time. Wind turbines produced a measly 3 percent.

    Some numbers on specs on this one below, but again, clear financing details are not in evidence.

    http://www.ecoworld.com/energy-fuels/solar-thermal-power-in-india.html

    This comment on the coal-CSP interface is interesting …

    But the overall efficiency of retrofitted hybrid solar-gas plants is still limited. That’s because a gas steam turbine that has been modified to accommodate waste heat plus solar heat will suffer an efficiency penalty from running at partial load whenever the sun goes down. This is part of the reason why none of the solar-gas hybrid plants under construction rely on solar for more than 15 percent of their power.

    This is the Desertec site … surely the one people here most like to quote:

    http://www.desertec-australia.org/content/concentratingsolarpower.html

    As my last post implied, numbers on everything one would want are hard to come by. Many of the references I had come acorss were quite old — up to 14 years old … I was actually hoping you had better ones.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if somewhere there was an accurate $ per Kw Installed chart for the various options, with allowances for grid connection, storage (various kinds) etc?

    I’d also like some modelling on recurrent costs. After all, if these installations are going to be on heavily insolated land, one would expect that maintaining them would be costly as environmental conditions would be harsh. There seems also to be an asumption that rapidly ramping up and backing off gas plants would be cost-free to the gas plants, but is this so? Not as I understand it.

    Perhaps if there were offsets — e.g. using waste heat to do desal or water treatment that you were going to do anyway with fossil fuels, then the costs might come down a bit, but without hard numbers it’s just impossible to know.

  88. Ewen Laver,

    Thank you for your comments and references. I haven’t looked at your links yet. But your questions made me realise you may have missed my first post at: January 19th, 2010 at 18.22 (it was held in Barry’s pending tray)

    The NEEDS report is a 2008 report and does have much of the information you are seeking. However, I beleive the projected costs and development rates are highly optimisitic. And the material quantities and build rates needed in the Australian deserts are not properly accounted for.

    You are absolutely correct that actual output and cost figures in commercial operation are not available. Solar is in the early part of the technology development cycle – its in the RD&D stage which is before “bleeding edge” in the Technology Development Life Cycle:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_lifecycle

    From a layman’s perspective, the technological maturity can be broken down into five distinct stages.

    Bleeding edge – any technology that shows high potential but hasn’t demonstrated its value or settled down into any kind of consensus. Early adopters may win big, or may be stuck with a white elephant.

    Leading edge – a technology that has proven itself in the marketplace but is still new enough that it may be difficult to find knowledgeable personnel to implement or support it.

    State of the art – when everyone agrees that a particular technology is the right solution.

    Dated – still useful, still sometimes implemented, but a replacement leading edge technology is readily available.

    Obsolete – has been superseded by state-of-the-art technology, maintained but no longer implemented.

  89. The Proceedings of the 2008 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “Scoping Meeting on Renewable Energy Sources” contains the IPCC’s look at renewables :

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/supporting-material/proc-renewables-lubeck.pdf

    This document reports ongoing research and investment into all renewable energy sources, conducted by Working Group III, and will conclude with a Special Report in December 2010. This report discusses renewable
    energy options and issues, in parallel with the IPCC’s other documents leading up to the 5th Assessment Report in 2014.

    Not sure how much credibility the IPCC has these days with all this climategate business, but its got some interesting stuff. Of course not everything is in there and there is some obvious bias in some areas. It will be interesting to see the content of the updated Dec 2010 report, but it is certainly worth a read in readiness and for pointers to ref’s.

    The ANU Solar page also contains all their pubs as freely downloadable pdf’s :

    http://solar.anu.edu.au

    Interestingly though I cant find any Solar Thermal papers published after 2007, it is mainly PV pubs. This may change with the recent influx of gov money, $5M last year, although methinks they will need more than that to kick solar research up a notch. Perhaps there is some more in the pipeline.

  90. Not sure how much credibility the IPCC has these days with all this climategate business …

    Nobody outside of the teabagger/birther fringe is taking the ‘climategate’ meme seriously. The whole thing was a red herring contrived for Copenhagen by those opposing mitigation policy.

    Pachauri has to go through the motions of course — PR and all that — but it’s a beat-up.

  91. I generally agree with all these arguments about hypocrisies, but would like to make a correction about natural gas.

    Yes, natural gas emits 1/2 the CO2 of coal. BUT it can be burned in a combined cycle generator, such as the GE Model H, with a thermal/electrical conversion of 60%, 2X the efficiency of a coal plant.

    So, a natural gas generator emits 1/4 of the CO2 per kWh generated.

    Of course, we’ll have peak gas, just like peak oil.

  92. I don’t think we should burn gas for electrical generation if the nuclear option is available. Currently Australia consumes 954,000 barrels of oil a day, 60% imported. That’s about 47 Mt a year or 954,000b X 159 L/b X 365 X .85kg/L. While some of that goes into plastics not fuel if we wanted to replace that with natural gas we are talking about a comparable weight of gas, allowing for differences in energy density.

    High end estimates of Australia’s natural and coal seam gas reserves are up to a billion tonnes or 500 trillion cubic feet. I think for practical purposes that may be an order of magnitude too high due to problems like saline water discharge and the need for enhanced recovery techniques. I believe Australia’s LNG exports are currently around 20 Mtpa which could double once Gorgon and CSG liquefaction get going. Demand for compressed natural gas as transport fuel at home seems likely to go prime time within a decade or when diesel hits $5/L. First trucks and buses then cars and farm tractors. I suggest electric cars will be a urban status symbol, shunned by ‘battlers’.

    Therefore I suggest that the transport sector must be given priority of gas supply over stationary generation. We will end up with both expensive transport and expensive electricity if the sectors have to compete. Better to generate as much electricity as possible with nuclear and save gas for transport. Don’t increase LNG exports.

  93. Ewan
    I’m disappointed in your post January 20th at 15.36.
    I thought you were an objective type of person, not given to “ad hominem”. You did pull me up for an attack on the “Friends of the Earth” earlier, and I apologise for that.
    You said:
    “Nobody outside of the teabagger/birther fringe is taking the ‘climategate’ meme seriously. The whole thing was a red herring contrived for Copenhagen by those opposing mitigation policy.
    Pachauri has to go through the motions of course — PR and all that — but it’s a beat-up.”

    I have read some of them and it seems to me, that even if the e-mails were not proof of fraudulent behaviour, and I believe they were, then they are at least proof of poor scientific practice.

    Lord Monckton of Brenchley says the following about these e-mails:

    * The Climate Research Unit at East Anglia had profited to the tune of at least $20 million in “research” grants from the Team’s activities.
    * The Team had tampered with the complex, bureaucratic processes of the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, so as to exclude inconvenient scientific results from its four Assessment Reports, and to influence the panel’s conclusions for political rather than scientific reasons.
    * The Team had conspired in an attempt to redefine what is and is not peer-reviewed science for the sake of excluding results that did not fit what they and the politicians with whom they were closely linked wanted the UN’s climate panel to report.
    * They had tampered with their own data so as to conceal inconsistencies and errors.
    * They had emailed one another about using a “trick” for the sake of concealing a “decline” in temperatures in the paleoclimate.
    * They had expressed dismay at the fact that, contrary to all of their predictions, global temperatures had not risen in any statistically-significant sense for 15 years, and had been falling for nine years. They had admitted that their inability to explain it was “a travesty”. This internal doubt was in contrast to their public statements that the present decade is the warmest ever, and that “global warming” science is settled.
    * They had interfered with the process of peer-review itself by leaning on journals to get their friends rather than independent scientists to review their papers.
    * They had successfully leaned on friendly journal editors to reject papers reporting results inconsistent with their political viewpoint.
    * They had campaigned for the removal of a learned journal’s editor, solely because he did not share their willingness to debase and corrupt science for political purposes.
    * They had mounted a venomous public campaign of disinformation and denigration of their scientific opponents via a website that they had expensively created.
    * Contrary to all the rules of open, verifiable science, the Team had committed the criminal offense of conspiracy to conceal and then to destroy computer codes and data that had been legitimately requested by an external researcher who had very good reason to doubt that their “research” was either honest or competent.

    I know that many scientists do not agree with the IPCC’s reports and conclusions, even some that were contributors to the science behind them. I can give references if required.
    The IPCC is not a scientific organisation, it is a political one.

    As a final remark, although I am an “AGW sceptic”, I support wholeheartedly the advancement of nuclear power, as I believe that coal should be kept for use as a valuable store of chemicals for future generations.

  94. Another one.

    They point to a limited uranium supply as a constraining factor in nuclear expansion, (further exploration, IFR aside) but ignore the fact that renewable fuel supplies are limited to a much greater extent both by their geographical constraints and/or by their diffuse, intermittent, variable nature.

  95. Kevin B

    Some questions without notice

    1. Would you [include yourself in/exclude yourself from] the teabagger/birther fringe? (Choose one)
    2. Would you [include Monckton in/exclude Monckton from] the teabagger/birther fringe? (Choose one)
    3. Do you believe that the AGW-based explanation of the 20th and 21st century climate anomaly is the result of some sort of conspiracy or wholesale academic fraud?

    Just wondering. Just yes or no will suffice.

    For the record, the points you raise have been dealt with here comprehensively debunked on this blog. I don’t propose to participate in a thread hijack. As I understand it, the moderator of this site, Professor Barry Brook, will shortly be debating the curious Mr Monckton.

    What has been dubbed the Swifthack scandal at East Anglia (who the criminals were and their motives) is still being investigated. The email contents show that the scientists are human beings who are troubled at the constant assault by intellectual Lilliputians, psychotics and advocates for the interests of polluters.

    That’s hardly surprising and no scandal.

  96. Quiggin seems to be arguing exclusively on the ground that nuclear power is too expensive, relative to other options and that the settled costs can never come down enough to be competitive with coal, barring a very significant carbon price and that at the moment, it’s as expensive as wind and solar.

    Quiggin is amongst those who speak of “the baseload myth” his view that much of the power being produced is “artificial” in that demand for it would not exist but for the low price it is offered for. This allows him to write down the costs of redundancy since during the post-dusk off-peak (when solar can’t supply)little power is actually needed.

    His past view on this (see the baseload myth) is that baseload of 25% (presumably largely gas) would suffice and that renewables could supply the other 75%.

    He relies on Diesendorf 2007 for his analysis so this is the one people who want to challenge him need to have in mind.

  97. Diesendorf’s paper is so flawed it is laughable. His “key logical steps” are nothing more that a list of unsupported assertions and the rest of it shows a pathetic lack of understanding of how power systems work.

    It reminds me of the sort of rubbish one used to find in a science/engineering undergraduate’s private journal, you know the one they kept with all their word-changing ideas. That is before they learned just how little they really knew.

    Personally I don’t think we should grant the whole idea any legitimacy by acknowledging its existence. It is so utterly flawed that there is little danger of it ever becoming a foundation for any energy policy. The same cannot be said for some of the other ideas floating about like Smart Grid. We should focus our efforts elsewhere. This piece of nonsense will choke to death on its own premises in due time without any action on our part.

  98. It is so utterly flawed that there is little danger of it ever becoming a foundation for any energy policy.

    That’s true — as you couldn’t run an energy policy that way, but the fantasy possibility is strong enough to hold off serious discussion of viable nuclear options and so support the business as usual position.

    Really, it ought to be debunked as misconceived and misleading.

  99. There are some fights we can win without going into too much technical detail, but others we cannot. Already this idiocy is being called The Baseload Fallacy (note the caps) as if it was already an established thing instead of a conceit.

    William James (1842-1910) The father of modern Psychology is quoited as saying: “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.” (He seems to have been the first although similar aphorisms have been attributed to Goebbels and Lenin)

    It is operative here because to debunk this to those without a minimum technical background will be extremely difficult. We both know the fallback position of those that support it is that baseload is just propaganda, and few will take the time to analyze the arguments. The more we argue it, the more it gets repeated, and the more it will be believed. If we don’t fight it every time it comes up, we don’t provide them with a platform to proselytize it.

    Our biggest and most important tool in the fight with renewables is cost. Everyone understands it, everyone thinks it’s important, and we can call them out on it because all of their costings are a tissue of lies that can’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny. In my opinion the bulk of our efforts should be focused on this, because it is the opposition’s weakest flank.

  100. Ewen Laver,

    I’ll give a short answer. Please also look at the section here titled: The fallacy of Dr Mark Diesendorf’s “The Base Load Fallacy”:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/13/wind-and-carbon-emissions-peter-lang-responds/

    1. We do not have economic energy storage at the scale required.

    2. There are occasions when there is negligible wind over large regions, for example all of south eastern Australia.

    3. Any wind power system that is required to provide base load power would need to have the full capacity installed in every region so that there is sufficient electricity on the occasions when only that region is generating.

    4. Now lets us consider the case where we are drawing 25 GW of power in the Eastern States and only south west Western Australia has significant wind.

    5. Assuming a capacity factor of say 50% (while the wind id blowing strongly), we would need 25 GW / 50% = 50 GW of wind capacity.

    6. The current average capital cost for wind farms in Australia is $2.6/W. So the cost of $50 GW would be $130 billion. (Just for interest that is higher than the cost of sufficient nuclear capacity to power the whole NEM)

    7. But that’s not all. We need transmission to get all the 25 GW of power from WA to Eastern Australia. Assume $0.6 million per MW.km. The transmission line cost from WA would be about: 4,000 km x 25,000 MW x $60,000/MW.km = $60 billion

    8. But there’s more. We need the wind generating capacity and the transmission capacity in every region. Let’s assume ten regions would give us a reliable wind energy. The total cost would be 10 x $130 billion + say 10 x $20 billion (because the average transmission line length would be less than to WA) = $1.5 trillion. For comparison, nuclear could supply 25 GW reliably for about $120 billion.

    9. So what about the option of using gas for occasional back up to reduce the amount of wind over build and transmission required?

    10. The cost of wind power with gas back up, transmission and grid stabilisation is roughly:

    a. $2600/kW for Wind capacity
    b. $1000/kW for gas capacity
    c. $1000/kW for the extra transmissions and grid stabilisation capability
    d. $4600/kW total

    11. Compare this with a probable settled down cost of nuclear of around $3000/kW.

    12. Add to this, the much higher emissions from wind when the gas back up is included, the much greater land area required (even comparing only the wind turbines’ foundation areas and access roads), the greater material quantities required, which means more mining, more land area disturbed, more transport between all the production steps: mining, milling, processing, manufacturing, fabricating, constructing, decommissioning and waste disposal.

    Wind power makes no sense. The Diesendorf “Base Load Fallacy” is a fallacy.

    See:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/13/wind-and-carbon-emissions-peter-lang-responds/

    And (for transmission costs):

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/10/solar-realities-and-transmission-costs-addendum/

  101. John Newlands and DV82XL

    Gentlemen, you both seem to share the view that natural gas should, in the medium term, be reserved for making liquid fuels for the transport sector because making them from CO2 and water would be uncompetitive, almost regardless of energy source used.

    I am in no position to challenge this view but wonder whether I could ask you to look at http://www.dotyenergy.com (technology section) and let me know what you think. There are claims that the Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis has been made significantly more efficient such that fuel can be manufactured competitively using wind energy (and presumably also nuclear energy). I have not managed to gather whether there the company is claiming that stranded wind would be OK to produce the hydrogen in the improved electrolysers or whether the power supply would need to be constant/continuous. If the former, perhaps Tom Blees’ suggestion that wind might, after all, have some use should not be as denigrated as it was on the thread to his post on the subject.

  102. Bluntly Douglas, I have little confidence in the information contained in this sort of website. They simply don’t have any credible backing for their claims, expecting us to take what they say at face value.

    Even if they are legitimate, (which is not a given) they are not going to release any proprietary information on their web page, and will make any potential investor sign non-disclosure agreements. Consequently there is no way to evaluate their claims.

    In general however I find it somewhat implausible that a small group can beat out the major players fine-tuning a well known processes like Fischer-Tropsch and the Reverse Water Gas Shift, and more importantly, being able to scale it to an economically size.

  103. DV82XL

    Thanks for your quick response which, I must say, didn’t surprise me. I accept that you areone almost certainly correct to be sceptical of the claims. I suppose it is also correct that ,in the unlikely event that the claims were justified, there is no way, at this stage, to validate them because of commercial confidentiality.

    One does wonder, at times, the extent to which commercial confidentiality/competition is slowing the roll out of nuclear energy.

  104. Douglas, one other consideration on these types of projects is that we are talking about a significant piece of industrial infrastructure which we are then proposing to run part-time, either 15% (wind-powered) or 50% (nuclear-powered). Now the costs of such infrastructure – the effort and resources – will be balanced against the effective operation of such a plant. The current equivalent industrial plants are usually run flat out round the clock – how will it be found effective to run these part-time, and especially on doubly-scavenged wind-power (that portion of already-intermittant wind-power which is surplus to grid requirements), with its uncertain scheduling?

  105. Joffan,

    An excellent point. I’m afraid I know so little about the operation of chemical plants that I don’t know which need to run continuously to make profits and which, if any, can make economic sense if run only intermittently. If there are any of the latter, they could be matched with stranded wind as an energy source. If there aren’t, then wind seems to make little sense. Notwithstanding, many more governments appear to be backing/subsidising wind than nuclear.

    It would also be instructive to hear your views on suitable/efficient uses of off peak baseload power.
    I have read about the virtues of battery charging and desalination in this regard. May I take it, therefore, that desalination can be a 12h/day process and still make sense? Does it also apply to electrolytic hydrogen production?

  106. Douglas Wise I’m no chemist but I have been regularly brewing up 50-100L batches of biodiesel since 2005. I think the key to synfuels is getting the cost of hydrogen down and hoping the carbon side of things pays for itself in some sense. Synthetic (Sabatier) methane at 40 MJ/kg is energy dense. We may be able to get hydrogen at say $3/kg. Based on relative atomic weights in CH4 of carbon 12 to hydrogen 4 we could combine 3kg of hopefully near free carbon with that 1 kg of hydrogen to get 4 kgs of fuel, averaging 75c per kg. That could be equivalent to 65c for a litre of petrol which allows a good margin for inefficiencies or further conversion to methanol or dimethyl ether. So on paper the numbers look doable but the practicalities may not work out.

    I think research should establish least costs of
    1) combining H2 with waste CO2
    2) producing H2 via wind and solar
    then combine the two. Doty’s claims will then be confirmed or disproved.

  107. Have you noticed how we are all getting very excited about electric cars? Of course they will only make sense in an economic AND CO2 ABATEMENT way ,IF we can charge their batteries off peak. Gee I wonder which sort of powerplant would be perfect for that purpose??
    (Also then the Euros could stop lighting up their freeways at night to virtual daylight intensity in order to provide baseload for nukeplants , but that’s another story)

    Don’t know if you can use that argument in your list barry and Marion , but feel free .

  108. Douglas,

    In Sydney, the Desal plant is claimed to be powered by wind from Capital windfarm. A quick look at the AEMO data for Capital windfarm will show such claims are false / misleading.

    This data can be obtained from here :

    http://www.landscapeguardians.org.au/data/aemo/

    or

    http://windfarmperformance.info/

    or if you want to wade through the AEMO data directly :

    http://www.aemo.com.au/data/csv.html#nsgendata

    On the day the Capital was opened by Kevin Rudd et al it was running at 2MW, the Desal requires 40MW (continuous).

    You can examine the Desal agreements here ->

    http://www.sydneywater.com.au/Water4Life/Desalination/overalldocumentation.cfm

    Basically there is a clause in the agreements so they buy Renewable Energy Certificates or GHG abatement certificates for when Capital is not operating at 40MW or above. Based on the AEMO data of Capital’s performance, Sydney Desal would be doing this a lot. It cannot work by the windfarm powering the Desal directly, otherwise you only get water when the wind is blowing. Also note the 3 times overbuild required for the REC’s i.e. Capital is a 132MW wind farm. There is also the distance, Capital windfarm is in Bungendore on the ACT border. If they had built the windfarm at the Desal plant they would have needed a huge land area, and because of the number of people living nearby there would have a been a massive number of objections to the 67 wind turbines.

  109. I think that may have been a lightbulb moment for the PM when he opened the Bungendore wind farm on a day it was becalmed. After 12 months of simultaneous operation the number of Mwh used by Kurnell and the number of Mwh supplied by Bungendore should be compared. If by chance the numbers are comparable then an estimate needs to be made of how much additional CO2 was needed to keep Kurnell in continuous operation vs CO2 displaced when Bungendore was going full tilt. Note the Greens now want a minimum CO2 price of $20.

    I’ll even write a headline for the tabloids ‘Greenwash – wind farms do not offset desal carbon power use’.

  110. John,

    Include in your tabloid piece :

    For Bungendore the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)and embodied energy payback have not been worked out at all. Capital needs to run for the payback period first before it can even be considered to be supplying electricity to Desal, to offset the emissions for its construction / operation / decommissioning. This point seems to have been missed in the documents & press trumpeting.

    Reports from the locals say that a number of the turbines are not working, and at least 6 have had to have the gearboxes replaced. There are also reports of transformer problems at both turbines and substations. If you look at the data you can see this quite clearly. Also there are people suffering from noise problems.

    All of these (including the noise issue) will affect the LCA. A detailed LCA for Capital/Bungendore I have yet to see. Simply quoting manufacturers and other limited studies is misleading. All those studies contain many caveats & a detailed LCA for the “complete project” is necessary to obtain the correct payback figure. This has still not happened. Until such a detailed study takes place any embodied energy payback figure is pure speculation / spin / greenwashing.

  111. Also meant to add :

    It is not clear at all whether the LCA / embodied energy payback time is included in the REC allocation. I would be grateful if someone could give me a heads up on that. If this time is not allocated, then it means that REC’s are generated as soon as a windfarm or whatever (e.g. solar panels) goes online. Which would mean that any emissions reductions are over estimated.

  112. Bryen I searched REC on the DCC website. For starters REC can mean Renewable Energy Certificate which I presume is a brownie point towards the 2020 MRET. It can also mean Renewable Energy Credit which I presume is an offset that can be sold to an emitter to get off the hook. I also see weird stuff about solar credit multipliers. Can the ETS be ready to hit the ground running in just 5 months time? That’s assuming the legislation will be passed.

    I have this feeling that having failed to start 1/7/09 the teething problems will be too vexatious for a 1/7/10 start. That’s partly because nobody understands the FUBAR legislation.

    Re wind power offsetting desals I wouldn’t worry about LCA just yet over say a 20 year time period. When Kurnell officially opens later this year I think we should just analyse its energy use from that date. Sydney Water are adamant in their PR that the Bungendore wind farm completely offsets their energy use. In that case they won’t mind careful scrutiny or benchmarking against other desals in case a few porkies slip through.

    I remember a time when we trusted government announcements. Now we have to check everything.

  113. They constantly talk of “the unsolved problem of what to do with nuclear waste”, yet oppose the construction of modern nuclear power plants (integral fast reactors) – the ONLY way to get rid of this “waste”.

  114. The hypocrisy here is astounding and endemic. Once more folk are insisting on one way or the highway to the detriment of all. Yes, we need nuclear, but we also need wind and solar and efficiency, and even natural gas, all as replacements for coal and petroleum as energy sources. AND we need whatever we can get to produce energy NOW, not five years from now or later. Greenhouse gases are an accumulating problem

    The circular firing squad is every popular.

  115. Eli Rabett – do you have anything except your own ill-considered opinion to back up what you are asserting?

    We have discussed at length why wind and solar are not going to meet a fraction of our energy needs and that without contributing any reliable capacity, they will nonetheless make nuclear, by far our most practical and reliable form of zero carbon energy, less profitable.

    Existing plants will be caught in a trap and new construction will be discouraged entirely. Already the British Nuclear Group is complaining that it can’t build any new reactors if they have to compete against subsidized wind farms. Anti-nuclear activists are turning handsprings, claiming joyously that wind is finally replacing nuclear. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, nothing will be replacing existing capacity–namely, the coal burning plants that are one of the largest sources of carbon emissions–as demand increases in years ahead. That means carbon emissions won’t be meaningfully reduced, since coal plants will have to stay on line to provide backup.

    It would be best if you showed us the consideration of reading what has been discussed, on this very thread, before extending your views on the subject.

  116. Douglas, I too know very little about the economics of chemical plants beyond the fact that they are fiendishly expensive and they make economic sense to run continuously.

    Off-peak power (surplus to baseload, since we are already using that!) might well make sense for desalination, especially in conjunction with some solar heating for the day phase.

    If EVs do become common, “smart” overnight charging will be a great way to level electrical demand, with suitable pricing. I could even imagine batteries using strategic algorithms to charge as cheaply as possible for a given full-charrge deadline… :-) probably just a techie’s dream.

    More interestingly on batteries, clearly any easily-deployable energy storage system that could smooth and spread the unpredictable inputs of wind and solar will even more directly benefit nuclear power, using predictable off-peak nuclear power to respond to daytime peaks.

  117. Making mortar (or at least concrete) releases a lot of CO2. The point is that the problem is cumulative, so things done NOW which CAN be done now considerably reduce what will have to be done later. Thus, it makes sense to deploy efficiency, gas, biofuel, wind and solar right now. They probably won’t do the whole job, but they will have significant, although fractional effects. Some of the these are no to low cost and they make the most sense.

    Eli has always said that nuclear will have to play an important role, but, as a nuclear engineer told him a few years ago, “Yeah, pebble bed reactors are great, but no one knows how to make the pebbles.” which is Jim Green’s point. OTOH, we do know how to make pretty good standard vanilla systems (see France and Japan for examples and look at the improvement on the up time for the US ones).

  118. Eli Rabett – You are making statements that are not backed up by anything except your opinion. Just saying wind and solar can contribute does not make it so, you have to back it up with some analysis. Many on this site have, and found these modes wanting, when not actually contributing to the CO2 problem.

    If you want to argue otherwise, you need to bring some supporting evidence to the table.

  119. Pingback: Do climate sceptics and anti-nukes matter? or: How I learned to stop worrying and love energy economics « BraveNewClimate

  120. Nos Lapre, Sydney Australia.

    Why use all those technical jargons and claims, that AGW sceptics all work for the big oil-/auto- and power-companies etc. , but use simple, common-sense. I am now 76 years of age and I have heard many, many doomsday predictions in my life and sofar nothing has happened! The pseudo-scientists from the Left have since the late 1940′s predicted, that those “horrible bombs” on Hiroshima and Nagaski would render those cities uninhabitable for many thousands of years and there were huge demonstrations everywhere in the West until the 1970″s. Alas for those activists, only 26 years after the bombs were dropped, the American occupying forces with the help of Japanese labour, managed to clean up, rebuild and repopulate those 2 cities, with the result, that they have now more, than double to original populations, are healthy, prosperous and visited by tens of millions of tourists from all over the world! No demonstrations anymore, but the silence from those doomsayers was and is, deafening! As survivors from the brutal Japanese occupation in the former Dutch East Indies, all our families, together with billions of people around the globe, were all too happy, that because of those 2 bombs, the Japanese had to surrender and millions of lives were saved, because of the shortened duration of that terrible war. Doomsayers also managed to stop the use of DDT, with which I myself and all my family and millions of people in the 1940′s/early 1950′s were treated to eradicate our head-lice and get rid of many insects and I am still alive and kicking, while the abolishment of DDT has sofar caused the death of 100 million of innocent people in the 3rd world countries and each year 3 million more are killed by malaria and thypoid (mostly little babies and children). I even see a parallel between environmental doomsay and the communist ideology, when Marx and Lenin warned the working-class of the world, that only by following their manifesto, could they exist. The result: more, than 100 million lives were lost and are still being lost at the present. It is a worrying phenomenon, that so many millions of people are so easily conned into fanatically following demagogues with very slick tongues (especially when they were trained as lawyers). We are not sheep and should learn how to use common sense. Also worrying is, that doomsayers do not like open debate on national or international t.v. and insist, that their word is the bible and that there is consensus among all scientists! And they have a knack to call everybody, who does not follow them, working for those big, polluting companies, even while all my dozens of friends and relatives and I, have never worked for any of those!
    And is it not true, that the new fangled “alternative power-industry”, is now worth some one trillion dollars and growing?
    And do not those ugly, metal wind-turbine monsters, pollute the air, when being manufactured at great cost in electricity and infra-structure, that needs the building of access-roads (ruining the habitat of ground-dwelling birds and other animals), maintenance etc. etc. Plus the horrible killings of tens of thousands of migrating birds (many are endangered species)!
    Doomsayers: please grow up!

  121. A really interesting and useful blog|! My own experience with a local activist drumming up opposition to a new plant near me in the UK is shown in his reply to my mail….
    ‘Like you believe I am wrong, I believe and know that nuclear is wrong!’.
    Because he ‘knows’ he is beyond science and beyond reason and therefore we waste our time trying to argue with him directly.
    I think the thoughts here should be put into ordinary folks language and be pushed out to the general public through every channel possible to counter the purely religious fervour of the antis. How can we get this into the british tabloid press??? Do we have our own PR experts??

  122. David C,
    Please check Why Patrick Moore, founding chair of Greenpeace quit that organisation.He’s actively promoting nuclear power and so is James Lovelock for that matter. And Jim Green, check why Bishop Hugh Montiefore was sacked from the board of FoE.
    Thanks everyone for a stimulating conversation. Ewen, in the light of what has been coming out around the world, are you still absolutely certain about AGW. Apparently Jones reckons the science is not in

  123. Please check Why Patrick Moore, founding chair of Greenpeace quit that organisation.

    There’s no such possition asd “founding chair” in Greenpeace and Patrick Moore was not a founder member, though scandalously, he allows others to claim this on his behalf without contradicting them. He didn’t quit as much as he was asked to leave when he became involved in endorsing development for personal profit, tainting Greenpeace.

    He was and is very close to fishing, forest and other anti-environmental interests so Greenpeace is well rid of him.

    Ewen, in the light of what has been coming out around the world, are you still absolutely certain about AGW.

    Absolutely. The most reliable data recently to emerge simply affirms what previous analysis has revealed, though here and there, it seemsd that some IPCC estimate may have been optimistic.

    Apparently Jones reckons the science is not in.

    That’s one of the sillier claims by the proponents of b-a-u, as you would surely know if you’d troubled to pay attention.

  124. Ewen, you obviously know the truth about Bishop Hugh Montiefore and his sacking from FoE. Although I wanted Jim Green to comment, perhaps you could enlighten us with the truth. You are obviously the fount of ALL wisdom on this AGW etc issue. I await your expose of Montiefore.

  125. THORIUM–try a nuclear power plant powered by thorium rather than uranium. It solves most (maybe all) of the objections of the antis.

    As an ex soft-core anti, I sugget that the main objections revolve around the disposal of waste–it will take 100,000 years or so to decay–and the hazards of the plant malfunctioning–witness Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. For all the inefficiencies and difficulties of renewables and oil, their risks are on a much smaller scale.

    But thorium solves it! It should appeal to both sides of the debate. Google it; you’ll find lots of cool websites. It’s made a convert of me.

  126. mary:

    if you read the entries in this blog, you will find people up on thorium, and you will find much material to calm your fears about the 100,000 years (and other writers who will try and scare you shitless).

    the radiation we have to worry about is the radiation with a shorter half life, and radiation that has a significant “body burden.” (you can have the former without the latter but the latter normally implies the former).

    CANDU reactors in canada emit seemingly huge quantities of curies legally and safely (I think CANDU reactor Bruce B is allowed 60 million curies of tritium annually though it emits a fraction of this amount). Other substances that emit this amount would be lethal if you happened to be in the same room with it–cobalt 60 for example, since it emits hi energy gamma rays, not tritium’s low energy beta rays.

    Tritium thus carries a low body burden, as do radioactive inert (they’re inert, thus don’t react with your body) gases sometimes vented by power plants. Iodine 131, on the other hand, is readily absorbed by the body and has a short half life.

    Fears over radiation are often completely irrational, or at least based on lack of information. the consequences are huge, like shutting down perfectly clean energy sources for no reason (see rod adams blog on vermont yankee).

    I am an english/philosophy professor who knew little about nuclear power before I started perching here. stick around and you will learn a lot.

    Graham, if I’ve said anything in error about radiation, please correct me.

    gm

  127. 6 months late to the debate (great list, and site, by the way, thanks).

    So on to more hypocrisies:
    They happily promote biomass-burning powerplants (at least here in Finland) to replace nuclear power, when there are still lots of coal/peat-powered plants pumping fossil CO2 to the atmosphere.

    They also forget to mention that biomass has other uses (like biodiesel to replace oil or timber for building-materials), is harvested and transported (and therefore subsidied) with oil and that growing biomass will reduce biodiversity due to landuse. Of course they also demand that there should be more natural forests that are not use for industrial sector. (which I support, to an extent)

    And they rarely remember to mention that according to a recent study, small particles kill around 2000 people in Finland every year (even though there is lots of other sources for these, like diesel-powered cars and forest fires). What would be the outcry if Nuclear killed even 1 person a month?

    Given that Finland is not totally deforested and has only 5+ million inhabitants, biomass is actually of some use here and has a sizable portion of the energy-production.

    Rauli @ http://kaikenhuippu.wordpress.com (blog in finnish)

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