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

This is a Discussion Thread, because I really want your feedback. But first, some context.

By late 2008, I was pretty stressed about climate change. Working on the science of climate (and other anthropogenic) impacts on natural systems, as I do, I could foresee potentially insurmountable problems for biodiversity and human civilisation this century. A time of consequences. Things looked grim, unless there was a massive change in attitudes towards energy supply and resource sustainability. This was exemplified by my post on the Olduvai Theory and Paul Gilding’s short essay on “The Great Disruption”. I got really annoyed by ‘climate change sceptics’ because I felt they were undermining our collective will (and political capital) to take effective action, using mostly recycled, pseudo-scientific distractions.

Then, I started to study the energy problem in detail. It was a Damascene conversion, as I came to realise, via the analysis of the real-world numbers rather than hype or spin: (a) the inadequacy of renewable energy as a complete (or even majority) solution to achieving low-carbon future (…and therefore avoiding the worst of climate change impacts), and (b) the comprehensive value of nuclear energy in solving the energy and climate challenges the world now faces, in the race to supplant our dependence on fossil fuels.

At this point, mid- to late-2009, I got really annoyed with anti-nuclear protesters, because I felt that, through their outdated ideology and inexcusable hypocrisy,  they were undermining the collective will (and political capital) needed to pursue a future in sustainable atomic energy. What galled me the most about this was that I felt I was now fighting a war on two simultaneous anti-science fronts — against trenchant ‘fossil fuels forever’ interests (who ironically understood the need for energy security and technological prosperity)  on one side, and hardline ‘nuclearphobes’ (who ironically understood the need for action to avoid serious climate change) on the other.

Now though, I’m much more relaxed about it all. In short, I’ve learned to stop worrying about ‘sceptics’ and ‘antis’ and love energy economics (the real-world outcome, not the academic discipline!). Let me explain briefly, prior to further elaboration in the comments section.

Historical emissions of fossil fuels have come largely from the developed world (US/Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, etc.). In the 21st century, the growth in emissions, and quite soon the total mass of emissions, will come from the developing world (China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, etc.).

In the developed world, there is general recognition of the energy and climate problems, but little real political incentive to do anything meaningful about it (at least in the short term). There are, however, many minority (but influential) special-interest groups trying to block or stymie change. Now, environmental well-being is ultimately very important to these societies, as is steady economic growth and maintenance of high standards of living, but they also (think they) have the luxury of making choices that balance these priorities against more nebulous or philosophical concerns. This has, in turn, led to inaction, endless circular debates, media wars, unstrategic planning, and public policy that is guided by political points scoring and partisanship rather than rational analysis and long-term cost-benefit. In short, slow, suboptimal change.

In the developing world, there’s a race on. A race to higher standards of living and lots of energy, delivered as cheaply as possible. Environmental concerns have tended to take a back seat, although immediate, local problems, such as air and water pollution, are quickly rising to prominence. These nations represent an economic and demographic freight train, and nothing we ‘decide or advise’ in the developed world is going to slow it down. Anti-nuclear campaigners and climate change sceptics are both utterly irrelevant in these places. By the time the dust has settled, and these societies have the ‘luxury’ of paying any attention to special interest groups, it’ll already be game over — be it a ‘win’ or a ‘loss’.

Now, if the Chinas and Indias of this world do end up following a fossil-fuel-intensive pathway to development, we’re all stuffed — whether they manage to make it all the way up the development curve or fail in the attempt. It won’t matter at this point what gains the currently developed world might have  managed to achieve. If, alternatively, these rapidly growing economies are able to develop and deploy non-fossil energy sources cheaply and on a massive scale, we all win. Whether the technology ends up being ‘proven up’ in China, the US, or wherever, the very fact that it will have proven cost-competitive with coal will mean that everyone has won. I return to my favourite quote from Steve Kirsch:

Pouring money into token mitigation strategies is a non-sustainable way to deal with climate change. That number will keep rising and rising every year without bound. The most effective way to deal with climate change is to seriously reduce our carbon emissions. We’ll never get the enormous emission reductions we need by treaty. Been there, done that. It’s not going to happen. If you want to get emissions reductions, you must make the alternatives for electric power generation cheaper than coal. It’s that simple. If you don’t do that, you lose.

Take a nation like Australia. It has very high per-capita carbon emissions. It currently has an anti-nuclear government. It has many noisy, influential climate change sceptics, including leading politicians. It makes token gestures towards subsidising renewable energy, but won’t commit to it seriously (for good reason, in my opinion). The upshot is that we’ll vacillate, debate and tinker with toy solutions for years. Then, when it makes economic sense to do so — when those places with the incentive to make things happen have done so and the cheaper-than-coal alternative energy is available — we’ll follow like sheep as the viable-clean-energy bell calls us home. As such, I see my role as a messenger, a public educator, a futurist, a facilitator (e.g. via SCGI). I won’t change what’s coming, but I might influence the timetable of events!

So, the debating point I open to BNC readers is this. Do climate sceptics and anti-nukes matter? My evolved position is that they don’t — at least not in any way that is meaningful — but I’m happy to debate it below. The floor is open…

(Acknowledgements to Dr Strangelove for the title of this thread. Also, regarding the topic of weapons proliferation and used nuclear fuel, I highly recommend the following essay that has just been posted on DepletedCranium, “Why You Can’t Build a Bomb From Spent Fuel“. It’s the best layman’s summary of the issue I’ve yet seen, bar none, with lots of useful diagrams too. Do yourself a favour and go read it.).

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456 Comments

  1. **GOVERNMENT POLICY OR PEAK RESOURCES CHANGING MARKET REALITIES**

    Personally I don’t have a lot of hope that government are actually serious about climate change.

    Yes, climate change is part of their dialogue, but it’s meaningless. Kevin Rudd’s CPRS (Ceep Polluting Regardless Scheme) issues free carbon permits to King Coal. What the heck is that about? The rest of us have to pay for pollution and buy permits, but King Coal gets them for free? Ummmm, anyone else see something wrong here?

    The EU has done a bit, but are their emissions actually coming down? So I for one am hoping that the University of Newcastle peak coal study placing it between 2010 and 2048 is actually on the earlier side, because physical shortages driving the price up FOR REAL seems to be the only way we’re not going to cook our bacon.

    **WHICH ENERGY SUPPLY STRATEGY WILL WIN**?

    There’s lots of useful data on renewable energy from the EU, which you and Mark Diesendorf can debate till the cows come home. I for one remain unconvinced on the ultimate winner economically because I don’t think the renewables OR Gen3 / Gen4 reactors have enough market penetration and we don’t have enough experience to accurately model the inevitable economic game changers. “Black Swans” could take everyone by surprise.

    EG: Don’t groan, I’m not trying to be a troll, but Better Place V2G electric cars can be seen as just one of a number of interacting factors that could tip the scale. It could become a major new ‘battery’ smoothing out the fluctuating renewable energy sources that many pro-nuclear advocates simply ignore in their thinking. So often I have seen storage factored into the costs of Solar PV or wind, when it:

    * Simply may not be quite AS necessary as they advertise given the rise of true baseload renewable power. (CETO wave power currently being deployed in WA, geothermal across central Australia, and solar thermal of various descriptions working at different times to wind power, together approximating baseload power).

    * Simply may not be an EXTRA cost to the utilities when it might indeed be there anyway, provided free of charge (or built into our car travel costs, depending on how you want to look at it). The V2G market will arguably smooth some of the demand as it becomes economical to sell power back during times of peak demand.

    Also, anyone see the discussion about the new Solar PV at 83% efficiency? That should eventually bring the price of solar PV daytime power supply down.

    Any other game changers I’ve forgotten? Nano-tech new materials that super batteries and make off-grid homes with 84% efficient solar feeding a futuristic superbattery could be a game changer.

    So, while I’m not AGAINST nuclear any more, as long as the material I’m reading on these blogs is accurate, I’ll remain agnostic as to which energy provider is ultimately the best strategy because there are too many unknowns.

    **SUMMING UP**
    Bring on peak oil and gas, as they seem to be our only hope of truly getting this civilisation to WAKE UP and take the emergency action required.

    Lastly: A comment on the Blees points about nuclear desalination.

    Why would we waste so much energy doing desalination the old fashioned way? Anyone that is serious about energy conservation AND water needs to investigate the lectures on the Seawater Greenhouse. This truly is a miraculous technology that only requires a small amount of energy to pump seawater inland to the Sahara desert where the Seawater Greenhouse will do the rest, and produce 5 times the water it needs for the crops grown inside the greenhouse!

    We could green large parts of the Sahara desert while using solar thermal power to pump the water.

    Food + renewable energy + fresh water + a green Sahara that can support more timber, fibre, etc for the population growth of the region.

    Please spend a few hours here. It’s a truly miraculous synergy of needs met, and could easily work here in Australia as well.

    http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/

  2. In my opinion the critical issue to address is the whole decision making process. I believe the time has come in democratic countries to replace adversarial government and with its partnership with a reactive, topical and competitive media. Adversarial government and competitive media encourage misinformation and manipulation of perceptions of people who are unconcerned about issues we all face. This is why the climate change and nuclear sceptics are having such a prominent undeserved voice.

    Attempts to lobby governments in this environment is unable to meet the need for change fast enough, just as renewable energy is not able to meet the needs in time to make a difference. We need to construct a new means of informed discussion starting from the most important issues facing the global community. It needs to gather enough momentum to not merely make governments notice, but to make the current system irrelevant. In this new age of electronic communication there is the potential for this to happen.

    There are powerful websites, such as Avaaz.org that provide a powerful voice, but a person can too easily vote without having any knowledge of the background. Actions are too easily dismissed as electronically generated email or as uncritical followers. There must be ways around this, such as a quiz like those used in on-line training whereby one cannot proceed until the correct answers are obtained to demonstrate familiarity with the content.

    There could be a proxy voting system, whereby anyone could nominate a person to vote on specific issues on his or her behalf. Individuals in the voting public could nominate different people to represent them on different issues.

    I would like to find if others are thinking along these lines at all?

  3. Yes,climate change deniers,nuclear deniers and,even worse,population deniers,do matter- a hell of a lot.We are running out of time.

    Until those sheep you are talking about can be convinced,in sufficient numbers,that the above 3 issues are make or break for this nation then we are going nowhere except into crash and burn mode,sooner rather than later.

    I don’t see any of the available nonpolluting electricity generating methods being cheaper than coal.Not when the full cost of coal extraction and burning is ignored.I don’t see the powerful coal interests allowing a full accounting to happen unless they are regulated by government.Positive action by government to build nonpolluting generators is essential.

    The only way that anything of value is going to happen is if political pressure is applied.The current oligarchy believe that Business As Usual is not only possible but desireable.This is due to stupidity,ignorance,arrogance and greed.Most Homo Saps only learn fom the application of pain to sensitive parts.In this case the pain has to be applied in a bipartisan manner to politicians and senior public servants.Industry will read the lay of the land and make their own arrangements to try and stay in business.

    This is all well and good but is any of this going to happen? Not bloody likely until the aforementioned crash and burn wakes up the sheep – too late.

    As a mere layman without pull,or push,outside of letters to the editor or some useless and corrupt minister there is not much I can do. So I’m not losing any sleep over it.

    Interesting times!

    Podargus – swift,silent hunter of the night.

  4. Both debates have been gravely hindered, if not made practically impossible, by a false democracy, which treats everyone’s opinion, even on highly technical subjects, as of equal value. This is equivalent to a denial of objective truth.

    When the German government established a commission to decide the future of atomic energy with equal numbers of experts and anti-experts, the result was a great number of papers, minutes of meetings, opinions and counter-opinions, responses and counter-responses. Everything was discussed and nothing became clear. And what is worse, the experts were the best experts that could be found, so there was nobody left who could give a final opinion.

    As for climate change, it does not seem to have had much effect on the lives of most people. There are reports of the melting of the Arctic ice, the inundation of New Orleans, and the melting of the permafrost; but these things happen far away, and anyway what can I do about it? People only take action when their own lives are directly threatened. The first priority of governments is to win the next election, not to introduce expensive measures to save the next generation.

    Meanwhile the fossil fuel industry is using their right to employ money-amplified free speech to persuade the world that man cannot possibly change the world’s climate and that continued use of their products is mankind’s wisest course of action.

    These are the real antinuclear forces, these are the real climate skeptics, and the ones that can still do the most damage. The bellicose, and the scare mongers can be marginalized, their message doesn’t have the same impact it did twenty years ago, but it is a mistake to believe that the opposition to nuclear energy is a spent force. They are regrouping even now, and they have come from behind and blind-sided plans for a nuclear power future before.

    Don’t count them out.

  5. I think you are asking the wrong question. the question should be “do anyone’s opinions matter?” You would get the same answer – they don’t or at least not in the way you appear to be hoping for.
    One of the things that emerges from this post is something that, in the years I worked as a an international consultant dealing with China and India and Asia generally, was quite common among westerners – a failure to understand the nature of decision making in these areas.
    When I say our opinions are irrelevant I mean that the motivation to pursue a particular policy direction is not based on any global considerations but purely and simply on what is in the domestic interest.
    What will motivate both India and China is any technology that is affordable and will enable them to increase their economic growth. But affordable is not merely defined by price – it is also determined by expertise – the simpler the technology the more attractive it becomes for they do not want a technology where they will remain dependent on the west.
    But whether I think they should forgo the nuclear route or you think they should go the nuclear route is totally irrelevant as far as they are concerned.
    Indeed if we look at government decision making globally then one would have to conclude that what people think is by and large irrelevant; politicians have learnt the art of selling whatever message they want to sell. The fact the clean coal is being sold to us is one indication of that belief.
    So Barry you do not have a question to debate for both of our ideas are equally irrelevant.

  6. If Rod Adams were here, he might argue that your two-front war is in reality one enemy attacking on two fronts, but whose homeland can be knocked out in a concentrated push against it. He would likely identify these as the current fossil fuel interests.If DV82XL were here he might point out the extreme unlikelihood of the continuous attack from this opponent to be abated by any means of reasoned debate, and the most likely path to victory in the first world leading through mass political action. I also suspect that first-world energy companies have a great deal of potential and motive to maintain their partial monopoly on relatively expensive energy, and won’t hesitate to take action to delay nuclear power everywhere around the world. The economics of scarcity can have its own logic for those in charge of supply.

    In short, I don’t share your judgement that complacency is justified, or that activism is not.

  7. Robert Lawrence,
    You’d probably like a group I used to belong to called “Beyond Federation” where they discussed alternative political models that did not favour the 2 party system.

    However, in light of Lord Monckton’s “COMMUNIST WORLD GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY!” (oh the humanity!), comments about changing the nature of our democracy have to be very carefully spelt out as still being in favour of democracy, or we’ll play right into Moncktons hands.

    Podgarus,
    surely peak oil will take care of the “BAU” mentality, within 5 years I’d argue? Then the “Emergency Economy like WW2″ speaches can begin.

    DV82XL is tempting me to abandon democracy with his speech on ‘treating everyone’s opinion as the same’ shtick, but Monckton might not like it. ;-)

    The thing is, having been involved in political reform groups (Beyond Federation), the energy required to reform one JOT of the Constitution is unbelievable. That document is stuck in the mud,and the constitutional reform processes are stuck in the mud as well!

    So good luck with dreaming up new political formats for Australia, I’ll trust to peak oil.

    John Tons has given us a little Asian political culture, which is essentially pragmatic, about getting the job done, rather than popular opinion.

    But where will the priorities of energy spending be in those nations within 5 years? Once the reality of peak oil hits the world marketplace and the price signals for oil change forever, surely a pragmatic, economic growth model favouring fast trains and electric cars will take off exponentially? I can imagine emergency legislation that basically orders all car companies to be “Better Place” batterys-swap compliant, just to help the international standards along.

    Finrod remains an idealist.
    “The economics of scarcity can have its own logic for those in charge of supply.” Part of me admires this, but I’m so burnt out after various family crisis and failed experiments in activism that I shrug my shoulders and wait for new technology and peak oil and gas to do the job for us.

    Hopefully coal will plateau and we’ll see emissions finally come down because there’s less oil and gas to burn, full stop! And if Gen3/4 reactors, thin film solar PV, and solar thermal can compete with coal, all the better.

    Keep on trucking guys, because apart from the occasional rant on my blog, I’ve got nothing left.

  8. John Tons, I don’t understand what you are arguing against here, or what you think I’m ‘hoping for’.

    By saying “What will motivate both India and China is any technology that is affordable and will enable them to increase their economic growth… But whether I think they should forgo the nuclear route or you think they should go the nuclear route is totally irrelevant as far as they are concerned” you are agreeing almost exactly with the point I was making in the post above. So what is your idea that’s different to mine?

    DV8′s point about fossil fuel interests being the real anti-nuclear and climate ‘sceptics’ is spot on. In the long run, they can’t stop the non-fossil-fuel energy transformation, but they can slow it down enough to make a real difference for climate — especially in the West — but also in Asia. That’s the biggest danger, so the question is, can Western governments do anything to prevent this, even if they decided this was in their interest?

    Perhaps what “we” can do is help in getting costs of low-carbon electricity down. In which case, maybe climate sceptics and anti-nukes do matter after all? This is the discussion I’m trying to get us to knock around…

  9. @Finrod – I am here and you have succinctly captured one of my first reactions – the anti-nuclear movement and the climate change skeptics are aligned in many ways.

    In response to Barry’s original premise, I am not complacent, but I am optimistic. I recognize that there is a tremendous amount of wealth and power behind the twin anti-science fronts that Barry has identified, and that is a bit scary. However, I am consoled by the fact that we have amazing communications tools that do not cost much money to use, and by the fact that there are a hell of a lot more energy consumers in the world than energy producers.

    If fission was just a little bit better than combustion, I would have given up a long time ago. However, it is far more than 2 million times better than combustion and we are still on the early flat part of a traditional technological ‘S’ curve of development. I still converse on a regular basis with Ted Rockwell, a man who was an adult when fission power was first put into human hands and he was part of the team that made that happen.

    That knowledge is quite refreshing when I get down about the seemingly slow progress of the second Atomic Age. We are in a competitive battle with some very well established rivals, but just as inevitably as microprocessors replaced mainframes, so will uranium and thorium replace coal, gas and oil.

    They have fundamental advantages in energy density and in the tiny volume of used material production. The machinery needed to use them is simplified by the reduced need to move massive quantities of material and by the lack of dependency on a lengthy supply chain for continued operation.

    NuScale, mPower, Hyperion, TerraPower, and perhaps many others are going to win as they learn how to produce power that is so cheap that it will impoverish coal, oil and gas producers. That is the way we will win, and the politics of the situation will support us as people recognize the truth of our statements about energy that really is cheap enough to sell on an “all you can eat” basis with a flat monthly rate.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights
    Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast
    Founder, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.

  10. Eclipse Now
    Thanks for the warning about Monckton’s spin.
    I have sat in many meetings involved in the management of a particular large education institution in which each discipline area had an elected representative. The organisation was run democratically without any thought of a bipartisan approach. This approach could happen without any change to the constitution. All it needs is for people to choose representatives and to refuse to vote for political parties. Getting voters to see the importance of this is, unquestionably, an ambitious aim, but so is saving the planet from global warming, overpopulation and acidification of the ocean.

    Barry
    I don’t think Western governments in their current form have any capacity to resist moves to slow the transformation from coal. The major parties in Australia are funded by people in pro-development industries who will do anything to keep environmentally sensitive groups out of government. Our current major parties cannot meet the demands of the Greens because they are funded to be different from them. The major parties are just trying to be a tiny bit greener than each other to woo the green voters who don’t like either of them. They need to be democratically removed. It seems more feasible to make such a change in Australia than in the United States because our government departments stay in place from election to election. There is great scope for improving the way these departments work together. Currently in South Australia we have a population growth aim and dog and cat management policies that are working against the environment. No wonder Western governments are powerless.

  11. I won’t speak about climate change deniers; but anti-nukes matter very much to me.

    First, my personal efforts and professional drive are both spurred on by the increasing trend of former anti-nukes changing their opinions to favour nuclear power.

    Much can also be gained by reviewing the history of anti-nuclear campaigns. For example, in the late 1990’s anti-nuclear campaigners fought against a new Australian research reactor – specifically citing one of its uses (to produce medical isotopes) as redundant and unjustifiable. Fast forward to today and the two research reactors that produce the lion’s share of the most utilised medical isotope in the world (Molybdenum-99 or Mo-99) are now in long term maintenance shutdowns that have resulted in the US FDA and a number of medical associations announcing a worldwide supply crisis. Clearly, alternative production technology does, in fact, not exist.

    Another example is the 2007 Labor political campaign – including anti-nuclear scare tactics and promises of emissions cuts. We were led to believe an easy and obvious cocktail of efficiency, conservation and renewables could do it all; fast, cheap and with very low risk. Subsequently, Labor took the helm. In control of National Government and at all State and Territory levels; I doubt a political climate more favourable to a Labor agenda could have existed, yet tangible action to cut Australian emissions is yet to begin. Worse, large coal stations continue to be planned around the country to satisfy growing demand.

    These historical lessons are quite valuable and should not be forgotten during ongoing discussions.

    Also, it is important to understand that there are different degrees of what may be perceived as ‘anti-nuclearism’. On the much more reasonable end of this spectrum lie hard working and credible scientists providing very valuable input with respect to non-proliferation, waste management options , etc. that may negatively reflect on one or more nuclear deployment option. Open, frank discussions with nuclear sceptics can and often do lead to optimised technology deployments while minimising legacy challenges.

    Furthermore, nuclear advocates are often their own worst enemies, shouting down one technology in favour of another (thorium vs. fast reactors vs. LWRs, etc.). Often times these debates give fodder to the eager and less informed antis.

    Actively engaging anti-nuclear advocates is important to advancing the consideration of nuclear power around the world. Challenging as it sometimes is, engagement helps educate the public, shift political climates and progress technology development.

  12. “anti-nuclear movement and the climate change skeptics are aligned in many ways.”

    **Rod Adams**,
    that’s just a sneaky way of calling everyone an idiot that disagrees with you on nuclear! Play nice. “Climate change sceptic” is not a nice thing for an environmentalist to call another environmentalist.

    “NuScale, mPower, Hyperion, TerraPower, and perhaps many others are going to win as they learn how to produce power that is so cheap that it will impoverish coal, oil and gas producers. That is the way we will win, and the politics of the situation will support us as people recognize the truth of our statements about energy that really is cheap enough to sell on an “all you can eat” basis with a flat monthly rate”
    Or will it be thin film nano-solar with some spunky new nano-materials super-battery we haven’t dreamed of yet? Some of the thermal materials required for Gen4 reactors to become commercially viable are also of interest to the solar thermal guys for high heat retention storage devices.
    Basically, you seem to be counting your chickens before they’ve actually hatched… just as some of the renewables guys have made similiarly bold pronouncements about the way renewables will play out, heck, or even the FUSION geeks! “We’ll have power off the meter because fusion will be here before 1999.” Right.

    I am encouraged that there are so many technologies, but discouraged about the honesty of bloggers that count on things before they’ve been commercially proven and appear so idealogically committed to one position that they alienate other climate activists by calling them names!

    **Hi Robert**,
    coal runs out in NSW in 33 years. Production will peak sometime before then.

  13. honesty of bloggers

    should have been

    “honesty” of bloggers or…

    so called honesty of bloggers who talk it up, while calling their climate activist allies dirty names. Tch tch. (Wags finger).

  14. @eclipsenow – I am confused by your post. If you are not anti-nuclear and not a climate change skeptic, how did I insult you?

    With regard to your dreams of magical devices that somehow turn the sun into a reliable energy source, despite the easily observed phenomenon called “night” all I can say is – huh?

    Bill Gates had an interesting statistic during his TED talk. If you total up the energy storage capacity of every single battery that is in existence in the world, and compare that to the world’s energy consumption, you will find that we can store roughly TEN MINUTES worth of energy.

    I have it on pretty good authority that Bill received some strong technical backup during the preparation of his talk, so I am pretty sure that the statistic is accurate.

    Nano anything is not going to change that fact. Batteries are important devices for a lot of reasons, but they have no significant current or future role in supplying reliable energy to the world economy.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights
    Founder, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.

    PS – I am not just a blogger, but a reasonably experienced practical engineer.

  15. Eclipse Now
    Is the situation with coal the same in Queensland? It is an interesting question to think about how Australia will fair after we have sold off most of our mining resources in the next 50 years.

    Rod Adams
    There may be many other better ways to store energy than batteries. Silicon Chip magazine had an article on some new kind of capacitor that could help fill the gap. Blee’s idea on the use of Boron also has potential.

  16. @Robert Lawrence – so if we add up the ten minutes worth of storage in all of the world’s batteries (think automotive, UPS, portable devices, telco backups, etc.) and then add up “new kinds of capacitor” and “Boron” how much storage would we have – perhaps 10.01 minutes?

    We are not going to solve our energy supply challenges with anything that is being discussed on a laboratory scale. Fission technology is relatively new in the energy world, but it has demonstrated its ability to actually capture significant markets from fossil fuels because it is better than they are.

    There is a reason why US nuclear power plants operate at an average CF of 90+% and why 10% of the grid’s capacity produces 20% of its electricity.

  17. Great questions.

    Does debating climate sceptics matter? Yes. Here are the numbers (Australian polling data from Possum’s Pollytics).

    Basically, for every percentage point increase in global warming scepticism, there’s an equal decrease in support for a CPRS. (I’m assuming CPRS support is a proxy for support for action, despite the legislation’s flaws.) Possum’s commentary is interesting:

    Around nine and a half points of the 12 point growth in disapproval levels of the CPRS legislation can be explained by the growing global warming scepticism in Australia.

    In a political nutshell – Labor is losing the ground war on generic global warming opinion in this country.
    ..
    The battle for climate change policy will not be won or lost on the public battlefield of the detail of carbon abatement policy, it will be won or lost on the size of the majority that believe in the weight of evidence of climate science. It will be won or lost on the numbers of people that the government can convince to believe in the data.

    Global warming scepticism has more than doubled (13% -> 31%) since 2006, and its growing. So if the political strategy is develop a policy on global warming, a much more effective response to the sceptics is critical.

    I believe that this pattern will be the case in every western democracy, which need to be part of the climate solution. So the debate needs to be joined, not just in Australia, but everywhere.

    Does debating anti-nukes matter? Yes. There are significant steps that Australia needs to be taking now if we are going to see nuclear power deployed here sooner rather than later. Regulatory frameworks, establishing departments of nuclear engineering, uranium mining and processing and transport, a public discussion of siting. All these need community support, and this can be confounded or derailed by antinuclear campaigners. Just like the climate denialists, this debate has to be joined in the public sphere to create a more sophisticated community dialogue and provide models of reasonable intelligent people with motives beyond reproach advocating NP, which basically don’t exist in this country, though Barry’s carving himself a niche.

    I assume this applies elsewhere in the West, though perhaps not to the same extent as Australia.

    Barry, I agree with your ‘broad sweep of history’ prognosis – Asia takes the lead in deploying the technology for pragmatic reasons, and we will ultimately follow, for pragmatic reasons. But there are good arguments for pursuing the public debate for some time yet, if the aim is to bring forward NP deployment in Australia, and probably elsewhere. We haven’t reached the point of diminishing return on effort, yet.

    Incidentally, Possum has analyzed polling on both climate change attitudes and nuclear power and how the issues play out in voting patterns. Why don’t you see if he’d be interested in doing a guest post on these topics?

  18. Rod Adams,
    you didn’t offend me, but probably offended many lurkers who might come here for Barry’s climate knowledge but are tradiational greenies, wary of nuclear energy. They will not be won over by calling them names. It will take time, and patience, and facts, and a gentle manner to win them over.

    “With regard to your dreams of magical devices that somehow turn the sun into a reliable energy source, despite the easily observed phenomenon called “night” all I can say is – huh?”

    Nice calm, rational, polite reply there. What the heck is it about blogging that brings this out in Alpha Males? I’ll tell you and Barry something: it wasn’t the *pissing contest* that happens on these blogs that won me over, but the more polite and fact based presentations for Gen4 Reactors that Barry has in his various podcasts.

    As for that terrible phenomenon of the NIGHT (drum rolls!)

    Ever head of batteries?

    Before you scoff there are ways batteries will help. Everyone else can stop reading now, as this is a bit of a rant reply because I’m so sick of some of these myths and cherrypicking.

    1. Radical hippie lifestyle changes that are becoming more commercially mainstream in the culture.

    If one is willing to sacrifice a bedroom or 2 on the size of the average oversized American **McMansion**, and will build a home with proper passive solar tecniques, then you can go off-grid economically. My sister in law has a Phd in passive solar design using thermal mass as an interior temperature controller.

    But check out these even more radical guys that have made the decision to go off-grid. They’re totally off all services, and live a comfortable, *cheap* life. And just as you guys want to turn nuclear-waste into gold, these guys turn other unusual materials into solid walls and thermal mass collectors!

    http://earthship.net/

    UK councils are looking at Earthship designs. This could be going mainstream. Heck, they even built an Earthship on the ABC’s “Grand Designs”.

    2. So Bill Gates and that 10 minutes thang?? That’s because the world sucks at building homes right now, and sucks at transport, and sucks at energy efficiency, and the Better Place Vehicle To Grid cars have not been deployed yet.

    10 minutes of the world’s grid is probably true. I have no problem with that statement as a statement of today’s technologies.

    But you totally missed the fact that *I* was basically quoting Bill Gates, and YOU’VE CHERRYPICKED HIM. Was he saying batteries will *never* be part of the solution? Or was he saying a ‘miracle’ was needed, much as I was above when I referred to a nano-tech miracle?
    Let’s listen to him.
    “We need a big breathrough here, something that is going to be a factor of 100 or better, than the approaches we have now! It’s not impossible, but it’s not a very easy thing”.
    (12 minutes in).

    All I can say is, “Ooops”. There’s that honesty thing again.

    3. Electric cars that can sell back to the grid.
    I NOTE WITH INTEREST that Better Place cars were overlooked by Blees in the debate with Diesendorf. Blees kept hammering home the point that European wind often blew at night, when there was no real need for it. There might not be much of a need for it TODAY but in 5 or 10 years when the market is starting to be saturated by electric cars? When every home has a Better Place V2G car in it, there WILL be a market for that electricity, and it can be sold again in the peak afternoon periods.

    4. Now put Bill Gates dream battery in those Better Place cars. remember, you don’t have to BUY these batteries… they are owned by the Better Place battery swap scheme and the price is covered in the charge cost / km, currently at around 2/3 the price of oil!

    Imagine a 100 fold increase in the power of a Better Place car battery, which would be about 600km worth of juice in it! Just imagine the synergies between various renewable supply times and the grid-demand smoothing capacity of V2G cars.

    5. Who said I NEED to worry about the night anyway? Maybe I like my 87% energy efficient solar panels on my roof for economic reasons, and it belts out the power when I need it most. Then I turn the TV off and stop cooking and go to bed, and local industry shuts down, and guess what? There might be a bit of wind blowing at night, or some baseload geothermal, baseload OTEC, baseload CETO wavepower, or even baseload solar thermal.

    MAYBE I’ll just ignore the night, if that’s OK with you, and just enjoy what PV does… and gives me nice, cheap, clean power during the day!

    Having said all that, I’m now quite excited by the idea of Gen4 reactors eating up all our old waste for the next 500 years, by which time I doubt we’ll need fission *because* of my many sci-fi like dreams of fusion and the miracles nano-science may bring us. But unlike some here, I’m not trying to **count** our chickens before they’ve hatched. I thought the context of my writing clearly showed that I was **guessing at** Black Swans, which by definition are unknowable surprises in the science, and just saying “nano-tech” in front of something these days seems to also indicate magical properties, largely because… they are.

    I was extrapolating out many dreams people were having about the future… including Bill Gates.

  19. Do these posts have a size limit? My last post doesn’t appear to have come up.

    Rod Adams,
    you didn’t offend me, but probably offended many lurkers who might come here for Barry’s climate knowledge but are tradiational greenies, wary of nuclear energy. They will not be won over by calling them names. It will take time, and patience, and facts, and a gentle manner to win them over.

    “With regard to your dreams of magical devices that somehow turn the sun into a reliable energy source, despite the easily observed phenomenon called “night” all I can say is – huh?”

    Nice calm, rational, polite reply there. What the heck is it about blogging that brings this out in Alpha Males? I’ll tell you and Barry something: it wasn’t the *pissing contest* that happens on these blogs that won me over, but the more polite and fact based presentations for Gen4 Reactors that Barry has in his various podcasts.

    I have a few comments to make on batteries, especially your cherry-picking of Bill Gate’s talk, but this post is probably too long.

    [Ed: No size limit, but they do sometimes get caught in the SPAM queue, especially if they have multiple embedded links. If you post something and it doesn’t appear, I suggest you don’t re-write or repost it, but wait until I get to the spam queue clearance, which is usually a few times a day]

  20. @eclipsenow – Being polite and accommodating has not gotten me very far in life, so I have decided to be more like some of my high school friends who moved to Florida from Brooklyn. If I think someone is making false statements or trying to blow smoke, I will say so.

    Nothing anyone says or writes should win you over – what matters is the facts. Solar energy is weak and diffuse and that is a good thing – it allows us to take advantage of the sun’s warmth and light without becoming crispy critters.

    On the other hand, mechanical devices can be made ever cheaper if they can use concentrated energy sources that do not require much much material per unit energy. Nuclear fission fuels are 2 million times as concentrated as the most concentrated combustion fuels.

    With regard to cherry picking Gates’s talk for information about the limitations of batteries, all I did was take a pithy quote that supports my thesis, but also did not misrepresent the remainder of the point that the original source was making. That is exactly what my English lit teachers taught us to do.

  21. Energy economics will win the day if people can read the signals while there is time to act. It seems we will will take decisive action only when there are repeated dire warning signals, and maybe not even then. I think early peaking of fossil fuels or logistic shortages may achieve more than deliberate climate policy. Here’s a couple of reasons why emissions may decline in the next decade even without carbon taxes
    1) Peak Oil slows the global economy and takes coal with it
    2) China and India need more coal, particularly hard coal, than the rest of the world can supply.

    If either scenario eventuates we will get a bumpy and conflict ridden transition to lower carbon, along with decades more climate change. Then the same people who scoff at climate concerns will scream loudest for new sources of energy. It’s not hard to predict the early winner will be gas until it too becomes expensive. Wouldn’t it be nice if the politicians and the ETS lobbyists could acknowledge this well in advance instead of trying to blackmail special deals. I’m talking brown coal, aluminium smelting, soil carbon and so on.

    Sidenote on how politicians think; it’s well known the vanadium redox battery on King Island intended to store wind power has been a disappointment. The island still has $2m a year fuel cost to run the diesel generator. Now that fuel will be even more expensive biodiesel so they can claim to be ‘green’ after all. It’s easy being green when someone picks up the tab.

  22. hi Barry,

    I think your whole argument rests on whether nuclear is cheaper or will soon become cheaper than coal, or not.

    I’ve been reading Tom Blees book, the 2005 IEA study on which he relies, some follow up about France, John McCarthy’s site and also Bernard Cohen’s online book for some historical perspective. There are arguments in these places that nuclear has been cheaper (Cohen), is currently competitive (France), could be cheaper (Blees quotes an IEA study) and should be cheaper in the future (the IFR solution).

    However, I’m still not sure. If in fact it was cheaper or would soon be cheaper then more nuclear plants would be being built or in the pipeline rather than the more modest increase that we are currently seeing. We can’t blame the lack of fast progress just on manipulative coal companies or the failure of nerve and ignorance of politicians, or even the skeptics or anties, although no doubt that all contributes to the churn. As you say, economics is the bottom line.

  23. @eclipsenow – You are quite mistaken about renewable critics trying to be “Alpha Males”, or engaging in “pissing contest”. Mitigation of climate change is a serious business, and we need answers that we can be reasonably assured will work. Barry, Rod, and I are serious people, and we have all asked renewable advocates serious questions, for which they have been unable to provide satisfactory answers. There are some renewables advocates who freely admit that renewables will fall far short of mitigating 80% of carbon emissions by 2050. They offer no ifs, ands, or buts about this admission, although they do continue to believe that renewables offer far more value in mitigating carbon than I do. I have pointed to evidence coming from pro-renewable research sources, that carbon mitigation by onshore wind, will cost 3.5 times as much per ton, than carbon mitigation by supposably more expensive nuclear. No renewables supporter has even attempted to deny my conclusion, let alone to engage me in debate on my evidence or my conclusion. Renewables supporters seem unable to offer support for their contentions that is backed by well attested facts, and tightly reasoned arguments. When challenged, renewable supporters, either withdraw in confusion, simply move on to another previously discredited argument, or engage in ad hominem attacks on nuclear supporters. Terms like “Alpha Males”, or engaging in “pissing contest”, are examples of that tactic.

  24. I have repeatedly argued that climate change skeptics are far less opposed to effective AGW mitigation in practice, than anti-nuclear greens are. AGW skeptics can be persuaded by arguments, such as energy independence, lower health care costs, and lower cost electricity, as selling points for nuclear power, and will willingly accept a nuclear based AGW solution, if that solution has economic advantages.

    There is a band of hard core breens, who are not willing to engage in a dialogue about the use of nuclear power for AGW mitigation. They consistently exaggerate the liabilities of nuclear power, refuse to acknowledge advances in nuclear safety technology, refuse to acknowledge the possibility of further technological conclusion, refuse any comparison between the costs of renewable and nuclear solutions, and attempt to decide the issue be appeals to emotions, rather than science based arguments.

  25. @Bill – economics are the bottom line, but that does not mean that the power system that is the lowest cost is the one that is selected by the people who build and operate power plants.

    Their decisions are driven by building the power plants that can provide them with the most reliable stream of profits.

    Under current rules, at least here in the US, those plants are often the ones that are fueled by natural gas or coal. The reason is a bit complicated – nuclear plants cost more initially because of all of the layers of requirements that drive their construction times to several years longer AND most of the electric power companies are in places where they are allowed to pass through fuel costs but must justify plant investment costs.

    That gives them an incentive to build low cost plants that might have to use high cost fuel. The advantage that nuclear has is that the fuel does not cost much per unit of heat. That advantage is not given much credit under the current rules, even if it would result in lower cost power over time.

  26. @eclipsenow:

    Even if we miraculously improve our tech by several orders of magnitude, what exactly do you plan on making all these batteries and technosolar harvesters out of? Rare Earths? Hope you live in China.

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/09/china-tightens-control-over-rare-earth-metals-vital-for-green-technology.php

    By the way, why would a technosolar advocate choose a name like ‘eclipsenow’? Yet another example of why we would need the batteries…

  27. DV8’s point about fossil fuel interests being the real anti-nuclear and climate ’sceptics’ is spot on. In the long run, they can’t stop the non-fossil-fuel energy transformation, but they can slow it down enough to make a real difference for climate — especially in the West — but also in Asia. That’s the biggest danger, so the question is, can Western governments do anything to prevent this, even if they decided this was in their interest?

    Of course they can, but they have to want to do it. They wont want to do so without strong lobbying by special interest groups with the funds to make themselves heard, or mass political action which threatens to undermine their electoral base.

  28. I think Charles Barton touches an important point with the attitude of the ‘pro-renewables’.

    There are a lot of people out there who accept that we need to ditch fossil fuels, but think that renewables can solve the problem. If they would think critically about the true cost of renewables, they might realise otherwise.

    Until they question their faith in renewables, they will not look any further, so talking to them about nuclear gets you nowhere.

    It may even help when talking to pro-renewable people not to mention nuclear. Eventually, they will bring it up themselves, saying that surely, even if renewables aren’t yet good enough, nuclear is worse, so what choice do we have? By that time their argument is spent, and they may actually be interested in listening to you.

    I suspect that the pro-renewable, nuclear-indifferent camp outnumbers the staunchly anti-nuclear camp, so addressing them may yield better results.

  29. I’d like to chime in on the idea that energy economics combined with peak oil/coal/natural gas will directly help us confront AGW. Unless nuclear, or some other technology, can beat fossil fuels at today’s prices, and do so clearly, it is quite possible we will go down the post peak slope of the famous peak oil bell curve burning all the fossil fuels we can lay our hands on that has an EROEI > 1. It is my understanding that we need to leave fossil fuel in the ground, even the supplies with an EROEI much greater than 1, if climate change is to be avoided.

    If the free market operates in energy as some would advertise it, we can expect rising fossil fuel prices to prompt conservation and investment in alternatives, followed by a drop in demand that prevents prices from skyrocketing indefinitely. Paradoxically, this could allow China, India and the rest to continue using the fossil fuels available with a reasonable EROEI. 100+ years from now, the world’s last highly efficient coal plant could be shut down, the last super advanced kerosene burning jetliner could roll into a bone yard and the last gas fired plant be switched off. Trouble is, it will be too late from a climate perspective by then. It won’t matter that the economy is running on clean electricity, as far as the world’s climate is concerned.

    So, the climate change deniers matter because they don’t see the need to leave fossil fuel in the ground and the anti-nuclear greens matter because they may be standing in the way of the cheapest alternative.

  30. Rod.
    You are just beeing disrespectfull to any PV engineer and researcher.

    Among nuclear bloggers there is something like an kno-it-all-god-like complex.
    Beeing anti-renewable is not better than anti-climatechange or anti-nuclear.
    Artikles like that which mix unrelated topics are just showing that.
    Barry, you should threat this two in extra articles.

    I wonder if you even could recognice the fact that renewables might be cheaper than nuclear solutions.
    Did I just miss the point where you turned form nuclear engineer to pv/storage engineer?

    Eclipsenows first and third post sum it up pretty well.
    It is possible to have solar cells at 83% or just the other way round like Austrian researchers just demonstrated: Cells at 20% of the cost without indium or germanium for that matter.
    It is also possible to have LFTRs or fussion someday. That does not mean one has to support Gen3.

    Battery capacity…so what? How many handsets/mobiles did exist in 1995?
    I can also recall various times when Billy was way of with his predictions.
    He once thought that MS BOB would be an important milestone product …you might never heared of that mutantzoo.

  31. @Marcus – I was once enamored enough with the rosy talk that I had heard about solar and wind to take several 400 level renewable energy engineering courses with a respected researcher and professor. His name is Chih Wu; he actually wrote the book on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion and published a number of papers for several decades.

    After I had run the numbers and designed – but certainly not built – several solar and wind systems; Dr. Wu and I agreed to work together on a paper. It was called “Nuclear Powered Gas Turbines, An Old Idea Whose Time Has Come”. You can find it here – http://www.atomicengines.com/Documents/IASTED_Aug5-7_1992.pdf In other words, I convinced Dr. Wu that nuclear energy had more interest and potential than he had realized. He confessed to me that he only remained involved in renewable energy because there were interesting engineering problems to solve, not because he thought it would actually solve any energy supply issues. (There was also an issue of research funding; at the time, there was essentially no research money available for nuclear energy research in the US outside of national labs and associated universities.)

    Unlike many of Dr. Wu’s students, I was not a typical undergraduate – I had served for 12 years as a nuclear submarine engineering officer and already had earned an MS. I also had developed what Admiral Rickover called a “questioning attitude”. I did not dismiss renewables without detailed knowledge, but once I had taken the courses, done the studies and run the numbers I dismissed them as snake oil.

    You are correct. I disrespect solar PV engineers who are doing anything more than developing efficient cells for emergency communications, calculators, and perhaps space based applications. If they are actually interested in solving the world’s energy problems they are either innumerate or blind. Of course, they may also just be trying to make a living for their families, a motive that I can accept as long as they are taking steps to find a more honest way to earn money.

    I have yet to see an honest accounting of solar performance. The closest I have come to finding an attempt for such accounting is Google’s page about their 1.6 MWe solar system installed in July 2007. Apparently even that monitoring system is out of commission. The total power generated number has been exactly the same since at least February 11, when I wrote to a friend who works at Google to find out if the web page was ever going to be fixed.

    http://www.google.com/corporate/solarpanels/home

    Completely separate topic, but here is a hint for you. If you want respect in an technical discussion, please learn to spell. Occasional typos do not detract too much, but if you have three or four misspelled words per paragraph it will be easy to dismiss you as simply uneducated.

  32. Barry

    Good post. I think we’re both pretty much in the same place.

    The trouble with real world economics though, is how rarely prices equate to real costs. Until our societies learn to properly internalise costs which are distant to us in time and place, I’m never going to love economics (although I’m starting to appreciate how important it is).

  33. Barry,

    You have invited us to debate the proposition that “climate sceptics and anti-nukes don’t matter” which you purport to be your current point of view.

    As far as I can follow your logic, your new position is predicated upon the fact the fate of the world lies in the hands of the Indians, Chinese and, possibly, the Russians and that , because these states are pressing ahead with nuclear power deployment,
    what happens IN the West doesn’t have much significance. However, you spend little time dwelling on what will happen TO the West in such circumstances.

    I think there were revealing comments in the update of Dr Stanford’s last post. His points 7) and 8) seem to be an acknowledgement that failure of the USA expeditiously to adopt an active nuclear stance will doom it to lose its role as the world’s policeman and leave it with a second class status on the technological front. If correct, it follows that power and economic might could permanently move to Asia with no prospect of economic recovery in the States and Europe to follow the financial meltdowns they have experienced.

    In my second paragraph, I attempted to understand your logic. However, I suspect that, to a degree at least, your logic may be driven by your current emotional state which, I suspect, may be a mixture of frustration and despair. As I understand it, you have had an extremely distinguished career and are undoubtedly an adept at communication. You have worked assiduously to diagnose our problems and then gone on to fix on the only solution you deem to have any likelihood of success. With like minded fellows, you formed SCGI which you hoped would make a mighty splash and further the cause you believe in. Notwithstanding, the more you have pressed, the less members of the public have followed, obsessed as they are with leaked e-mails and non disappearing Indian glaciers.

    I can understand that emotions of fury and hopelessness could easily lead to you to say “Bugger it – leave it to Chinese and Indians”. In fact, from an Australian perspective, it could even make sense. You have a large and not densely populated country with excellent reserves of strategically important commodities. Let the Asians commit to the Rand D necessary for efficient nuclear development and then pick the winning designs for future purchase. Keep selling them all the uraniuum they need but demand the waste back as a quid pro quo. Meanwhile start training appropriate numbers of nuclear scientists and technicians. It sort of makes sense. However, as a UK citizen, I have to say that I sincerely hope that you won’t wind down your activities because I still believe you have the potential to be extremely influential if you keep pressing on.

    On a slightly different tack, Dr Stanford’s point 6) in the update acknowledges the greatly increased proliferation risks associated with more widely dispersed knowledge of enrichment and reprocessing techniques. I think he may be mistaken in thinking that US could control the associated risks just by obtaining the appropriate technology itself. However, what becomes clear is that one shouldn’t waste one’s time trying to downplay proliferation risks – they’re already out there. Fortunately, DV82XL has explained that no nation can realistically build up a significant nuclear weapons arsenal without others becoming aware of it. It is also clear that 4th generation nuclear plants will certainly not make proliferation risks greater than they now are – in fact, they will reduce them. DepletedCranium’s post on “Why you can’t build a bomb from spent fuel” is also reassuring. However, short of an all out nuclear war with a resulting climate changing risk of a nuclear winter, all other risks of nuclear accidents or even the odd explosions from nuclear bombs pale into insignificance compared to the risks of AGW. Therefore, though mad mullahs may be a worry, there are greater things to worry about.

    I think Bill Kerr made an excellent point that economic arguments are vital and it is necessary, if one believes in nuclear power, to demonstrate that it has the potential to be the cheapest power source that mankind has or, for that matter, that we ever have had if, in the past,, we had our current know-how. Rod Adams highlighted problems which, in effect, were highlighting the differences between ROI and ERoEI . However, Gen 3 nuclear plants don’t seem to have overwhelming advantages over competing energy technologies when considering ERoEI. Rod Adams states that fission is over two million times better than combustion but, in the real world, this stunning difference is not reflected by reality as understood by politicians and the public.

  34. Google is not the only one. Theres also FedEd in Köln/Bonn and the US.

    http://fedex.com/at/about/enews/articles/0609article1.html

    It obviously saves them money.
    They probably would have considered nuclear if somebody could have provided them with a 2MW reactor that could pay for itself in 5 years.

    The goal of pv engineering is to provide renewable electricity.
    Solving interesting engineering problems is what helps to futher the technology.
    Copper/Indium/Galium/Sulfur/Selenium or CIGSS thinfilm was not around in 1992.
    We can do even better than that. Eclipsenow provides a link on his blog.
    Some pv-research-group based in Vienna/Talin is just industrialising their role to role process for a complete new pv-cell which does not use Indium, Galium or other RE-elements. It still brings cost down by 80%. Once you integrate these technologies in building materials I would not hesitate to get pv power if it pays for itself in 1-3 years. That might even ad some value to your house.
    You might also like that fact that this technology is based on decades of research for the Russian military and Philips semiconductor know-how.

    There are always various ways to solve a problem. To stay in your computer analogy…IBM once discarded the personalcomputer and anounced the main frame to be the future. One reason was the price of computers back then.

    Does price matter? Does it matter if it works in favour of pv, wind, geothermal, nuclear or whatever? Maybe there are different solutions for every part of the world and there is no one-fitts-all.

    Spelling does not make a difference to me but we could also resume the conversation in German (my highschool French and Russian beeing equaly bad as my English).
    If you find miss spelled words you can keep them.

  35. Reading these responses to Barry’s question it seems to me that the majority of the posters are retreating to the territory they understand the best – dealing with the science or engineering issues and I suspect that is also where Barry is coming from – he has come up with a solution and wonders why the rest of the world refuses to embrace that solution.
    The point I attempted to make in my initial response would be familiar to philosophers working in the area of social choice theory. It was first identified by Kenneth Arrow in the fifties and has become popularly known as the impossibility theorem. Initially it was merely applied to voting preferences but subsequently it has become to be more widely interpreted as impacting on social co-ordination and co-operation problems which is really at the root of this discussion – for we need to co-operate in identifying and following through on agreed solution to an an agreed problem. For an introduction to social choice theory have a look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow's_impossibility_theorem

  36. Marcus, there are multiple problems with solar PV. Problems which even free PV will not solve. Problems such as the cost of gathering electricity from widely dispersed arrays. The cost of over night storage,, and what are you going to do about short, cloudy winter days. Solar PV advocates have been telling us for the last 30 years, that solar costs are going to drop 80% in the next 5 years. It still has not happened.

  37. @Marcus – as Charles has indicated, even 100% efficient, free solar collectors will not solve their fundamental weakness – they produce ZERO useful energy for about 2/3 of the 24 hour day. Even when the sun is out, its energy is diffuse and requires massive collectors with the best orientation being at a right angle to the incident angle. If you cover vertical surfaces with solar panels, they will only collect energy at a rate of the

    solar constant X sine of the incident angle.

    With small angles, that number approaches zero.

    I could cover my automobile with 100% efficient solar panels, but those panels would only be collecting approximately 5-7 kw at noon on a clear day when the sun is directly overhead. When I fill up my gasoline tank in 5 minutes, the spout is the energy equivalent of a 10 MWe connection.

    Solar panels might have a chance of supplying a single family home electricity, but they would have no chance at all – even if 100% efficient – of supplying the power needed to operate a factory, a high rise apartment complex, or an office building.

    They cannot push a ship, supply a server farm, or power an off-shore oil rig.

    Small nuclear reactors can, and have, supplied similar power demands for more than 50 years.

    You have faith in the ability of engineers to solve the problems associated with solar energy, but you appear to have less faith in the ability of engineers to solve the remaining technical issues associated with nuclear fission energy.

  38. Marcus – Absence of a decent storage technology means we can’t really time-shift electricity demand. When more electricity is needed more power plants have to be running and feeding power to the grid in real time. There’s no way to run plants at night and store the generated power for daytime use.

    Transmission losses mean our ability to space-shift demand is limited, too, though not as severely. Electricity-intensive industries (the classic example is aluminum smelting) need their own dedicated power plants nearby.

    The combination of these problems means that household energy conservation is mainly a way for wealthy Westerners to feel virtuous rather than an actual attack on energy costs. Household conservation slightly decreases the maximum capacity needed locally where the conservation is being practiced, but has little impact further away, where demand has to be supplied by different plants. Industrial efficiency gains are far less visible; but, because the scale of industrial energy use is so much larger, they matter a lot more.

    The combination of these problems also means we cannot, practically speaking, aggregate lots of very small flows of electricity into one big one. It’s not just total volume of energy production that matters, but the energy density available to high-volume consumers at a given place at and at a given time. This may sound like a dry technical point, but it has huge and nasty implications.

    One is that the most touted forms of “alternative energy” and are largely useless. Solar and wind power are both time-variable and low-density. Lacking good ways to time-shift and aggregate electricity, means you can’t count on them to run factories and hospitals and computer server farms. The best you can hope for is that they can partially address low-density usage applications, as they have done in the past.

    In the real world, there are only four base load sources that matter: coal, oil, hydropower, and nuclear. What they have in common is that you can get lots of energy per gram out of the fuel, thus lots of both energy volume and energy density out of one power plant.

    Both economic arguments and historical evidence tell us that you can’t have an industrial civilization without a fuel that has an energy density at least as high (and thus a cost per unit of energy as low as) coal. Higher density is better, because it means lower cost. Those costs are not denominated just in money; low-density energy sources are more labor-intensive to operate and that causes more illness and death. Compare annual deaths from coal mining to annual deaths in the petroleum industry to the annual deaths associated with nuclear power; the trend is dramatic and favors higher-density sources, even if one ignores chemical air pollution entirely.

    Nothing on offer from advocates of low-density “alternative energy” even comes close to coal as an industrial baseload source. let alone oil or nuclear. Ethanol and hydrogen look like it, until you consider life-cycle costs; basically, making either costs a lot more than mining coal, both in money and in input energy.

    For fixed-location power plants, nuclear is the clear winner. Coal and oil have lower density and serious pollution costs. Renewables cannot produce the power we need.

  39. Rod Adams writes

    … if we add up the ten minutes worth of storage in all of the world’s batteries (think automotive, UPS, portable devices, telco backups, etc.) and then add up “new kinds of capacitor” and “Boron” how much storage would we have – perhaps 10.01 minutes?

    Perhaps, but boron — in English chemical substances’ names are not capitalized — is what Blees and I like for getting nuclear power to cars’ drive wheels.

    So we would have nuclear stations importing threes of kilotonnes per day of B2O3, separating B from O, storing the oxygen in the atmosphere, and exporting kilotonnes of boron per day. I have proposed a stepwise thermal method for the separation.

    A kilotonne of boron per day is 632 MW, but it is inert to air and water, so it wouldn’t have to be exported right away, like electricity. Appropriately pelletized boron — too big to blow away — would allow gigawatt-weeks to be piled on a half-acre out back.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  40. **John Newlands**
    “2) China and India need more coal, particularly hard coal, than the rest of the world can supply.”

    As you point out it is the rate of flow of coal that matters here, which is a really important point!

    **ROD**
    Bill Gates said that all the planet’s batteries might only store enough energy for 10 minutes of the world grid. This is probaby true for now, sounds about right.

    That’s because the world sucks at building homes right now, and sucks at transport, and sucks at energy efficiency, and the Better Place Vehicle To Grid cars have not yet been deployed.

    But you totally missed the fact that *I* was basically dreaming right *along* with Bill Gates, and YOU’VE CHERRYPICKED HIM.

    Was he saying batteries will *never* be part of the solution? Or was he saying a ‘miracle’ was needed, much as I was above when I referred to a nano-tech miracle?
    What he said after the 10 minute statistic was:
    “We need a big breathrough here, something that is going to be a factor of 100 or better, than the approaches we have now! It’s not impossible, but it’s not a very easy thing”.
    (12 minutes in).

    You say Bill received some strong technical backup during the preparation of his talk. Cool, then a factor of 100 better battery is not impossible then. Now imagine that these new super-batteries are included in the Better Place V2G electric cars, and you have a “Black Swan” you guys definitely have not factored in, almost like the 83% efficient Solar PV that’s going to require a re-write of Peter Lang’s anti-solar article.

  41. … in 5 or 10 years when the market is starting to be saturated by electric cars?

    I suppose “saturated” means “more than half taken over” or some such thing, and not “having had enough and not taking any more”, which is its usual meaning (“the sponge will be saturated with water”).

    We’ve been within five to ten years of a millions-per-year rollout of electric cars at all times since they went away in the mid-1910s. Hydrogen cars have similarly been just around the five-to-ten-year corner for many decades.

    The Tesla Roadster is an impressive electric car (and so more than a thousand have already been sold): it can go 182 miles at 70 miles per hour, a 2.6-hour cruise, before needing a 32-hour plugin to a 110-V wall outlet. How does it use so few plugin hours, barely 12, per highway hour? I made a montage of it and a Corolla that should provide a clue.

    The largest cars now being sold in large volumes could similarly go two or three highway hours on Li-ion battery power. All that would be necessary is a 100-hour plug-in. What, though, if we want to electrify motorists who like big cars and are used to having seven to eight highway hours in reserve?

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  42. @Marcus:

    I asked you on another thread during your initial differences with Finrod how, given your beliefs, you envisaged the Austrian economy working in 2040 given that official statistics for eg 2007 in your country showed that only ca. 25% of power consumption was in Private Households, the economic sector you exclusively cite, de facto.

    You kept on referring merely to PV being able to save power expenses for houses (your Landhaus and the homes of Nukies), and to electrical vehicles.

    One could have expected you to cite the Desertec consortium (Munich Re, TREC, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, ABB, E.ON, RWE, Abengoa Solar, Cevital, HSH Nordbank, M & W Zander Holding, MAN Solar Millennium, and Schott Solar), so as to bring the debate up from the level of your wallet to that of national economies such as Austria, but you do not seem to have done that.

    Nor do you seem to have answered my question about Austria in 2040.

    I am aware you will be worried about NPP Temelin 50 km from your border and I am aware of the Austrian constititutional change regarding Nuclear in 1999. However, when the Austrian NPP at Zwentendorf was halted by referendum vote before going live in 1978, the power shortfall was made up in 1987 by the new 757 MW coal-fired Dürnrohr plant nearby. Why was PV not used for that?

    I have the impression that you are looking to possibly deindustrialise your country, inasmuch as you focus exclusively on domestic power usage.

  43. **Some more points on Batteries**
    Batteries

    1. Counting on BAU just as the anti-nuclear people do!
    As someone with an arts background who is not very technical, it drives me NUTS when even I can pick inconsistencies in the technical debate between you ‘experts’. Hearing the inconsistency and, sometimes seeming *intentional* dishonesty in this debate drives me crazy, and I’m including the likes of Helen Caldicott and Mark Diesendorf ALONG WITH the pro-nuclear guys on this blog that over simplify the issues to warp the picture to their perspective.

    It makes me wonder if any of you technical boffins have the whole picture to steer the right course forwards?

    EG: How many times have I heard Barry *correctly* point out that the Co2 emissions from constructing nuclear plants will not always occur, because our transport and mining systems will eventually have to wean off oil as peak oil hits?

    EG: Better Place synergies with the wind market.
    So if Brooks and Blees can point out the changing nature of mining and construction in the face of peak oil, how is it that in the nuclear debate Blees harped on about the fact that certain European Union countries produce their wind power at night when there is *currently* little demand, yet EVERYONE knows that Better Place is about to deploy in those countries and create a market for the wind when it blows overnight, and also create a MASSIVE new V2G battery for the grid?

    This is just one example, I have many more.

  44. **Charles Barton**
    “that carbon mitigation by onshore wind, will cost 3.5 times as much per ton, than carbon mitigation by supposably more expensive nuclear. No renewables supporter has even attempted to deny my conclusion, let alone to engage me in debate on my evidence or my conclusion.”

    I’ve heard Mark Diesendorf claim quite the contrary, especially about solar thermal.

    Re: “Pissing contest”, I was only pointing out the sarcastic nature of the reply I was addressing: as if renewable energy experts had never considered how to deal with the fact of the NIGHT! Now if that ain’t a straw-man character attack, I don’t know what is. I was just pointing out how unhelpful this was in attempting to make a constructive dialogue with the rest of the sustainabilty activists on climate change.

  45. **Charles**

    “AGW skeptics can be persuaded by arguments, such as energy independence, lower health care costs, and lower cost electricity, as selling points for nuclear power, and will willingly accept a nuclear based AGW solution, if that solution has economic advantages.”
    Wow, what universe do you live in? I’ve been in many science forums trying to point out to the sceptics what experts like Barry are actually saying, and how the basic physics of Co2 and the mathematics of the Radiative Forcing Equation are all repeatable, demonstrable, testable phenomenon and have not ONCE seen a denialist change their minds.

    Whereas I am living proof that anti-nuclear greenies CAN be convinced to not be AGAINST nuclear power, even if I remain agnostic as to the ultimate winner at this stage because I see *the potential* for other options.

  46. I’m with **Bill Kerr**
    If nuclear power is so cheap, why did a UK study in the last few years state that it would cost $140 billion to decomission their existing old reactors?
    (Claim by Diesendorf).

  47. **Zachary**

    Cute post, except that I was talking about nano-science, which often produces things out of carbon (with nano-tubes) and other materials not normally associated with electronics. Rare earths are of course an issue with the *current* way we design stuff, but of course I’m not talking about that, am I?

    Eclipse Now came from my previously “Olduvai Gorge” view of the world… I was arguing that we had to Eclipse ourselves, or we would “be eclipsed” by peak oil. It was a pun on the word which can mean both itself and its opposite. The idea was that peak oil was so serious we had to so outperform our previous energy and societal paradigms as to cast them into darkness, or we would shortly be cast into darkness ourselves.

    It was about the crisis being now, and makes for a cool logo.

  48. **Rod Adams**
    So you’ve studied renewables?

    WHEN?

    Have you studied the latest solar thermal storage materials and unique mixes of salts which may be giving longer thermal capacity and less cost / unit electricity? What about the graphite block method of storing energy which can theoretically store thermal energy at only 3% loss / day? What about the solar PV at 83% efficiency, did you study that?

    You sound just like Helen Caldicott, ranting against yesterday’s paradigms.

  49. **Finrod**
    Thank you for pointing that out about Rod’s character attack on Marcus. Rod’s losing any credibility because he spanks others for character attacks, and then behaves like that. How childish.

  50. I doubt that electric vehicles will achieve the market penetration some are hoping. Even GM’s market research for the Volt is not that optimistic. In Australia a lot of people have long commutes to the city from outlying areas due to the cost of housing and lack of public transport. I think those people will turn to natural gas cars. Even a 6 minute high pressure fillup for 300 km range beats 8 hours of 110v battery charging for just 40 km range which I believe are the specs for the GM Volt. EVs are also expensive. Let’s wait and see if the Better Place concept of swappable batteries takes off because I have my doubts.

    If this hunch is right, namely that road transport will move to CNG not batteries, there are major implications for gas demand. I tentatively suggest that for every tonne of oil used in 2010 (in Australia’s case 40-50 Mtpa) we could use a tonne of gas by 2025 or so. That means the Diesendorf plan for gas backed renewables could be even more expensive because transport demand is sucking all the natural gas. Currently gas for transport is 3% of demand but it could go to 30% or more. Combined cycle plant for grid generation may be cheap and quick to build but the fuel cost will be exorbitant.

    A mixed transport solution may be EVs in the city limits maybe with toll exemptions and preferential parking, then NGVs for the highway and outer suburbs. If enough EVs are sold to make V2G workable that is a bonus. Most electricity should come from NP however.

  51. **Douglas Wise**
    Nice summary Doug, and I agree. Keep up the great work Barry, blogging against the climate sceptics and doing what you can.

    One thing I’d love to see is a master podcast page on this site, like the link to the university debates but with all your own podcast and radio interviews.

    Indeed, do you have mates that could help set up an iTunes podcast where you can have maybe a fortnightly or monthly report? I’d subscribe to it. I don’t get to read everything on this blog as I’m studying, but when I’m walking / cooking / doing the dishes, I LOVE listening to good podcasts full of information.

    Anyone else think Barry and friends should form a podcast? Would anyone else subscribe to it?

    I know you’re busy Barry… just saying, I love your work. (When it’s not driving me nuts ignoring the potential for Better Place to act as a partial renewables battery! But that’s all part of the fun! ;)

  52. **John Newlands**
    Long commutes are not an issue with Better Place. Got to drive over 160km? Battery Charge running low? Just pull into a Battery-Swap station and you’re out in 2 minutes, faster than the average fill up. (7 minutes).

    Better Place is coming to many cities around the world, and the Australian leg informs us that Canberra’s trial should be up and running by 2012. That’s not long to wait. The cost / km works out at a petroleum equivalent price of 80cents / litre. Know anywhere you can get that for oil?

    If these pro-nuclear guys are right, electricity will be the transport currency of the future. If Bill Gates is right on batteries that are 20, 50, or 100 times as good not being IMPOSSIBLE… then eventually Better Place’s battery swaps will become outdated. (Just 20 times as good would be 3200 km!)

    But if not, we’ll swap batteries the way the King’s Messenger used to swap out their horses!

    Please google Better Place and get back to us.

  53. **Marcus nails it**

    Marcus mentioned integrated solar technologies built into homes, which leads to point 2 on batteries.

    2. Radical home redesigns.
    Just as the construction industry will be forced to change as a result of peak oil, the house building culture will probably change as the true nature of resource scarcity becomes better understood.

    The following may sound a little hippie and ‘out there’, but some have made an economical **house and lifestyle package** that is attractive and off grid. They see it in terms of trading a room or 2 on the average oversized American McMansion for the more compact home designs of the “EarthShip”.

    Before you laugh at these designs, more conservatively decorated versions are already being considered by UK councils as becoming a mainstream housing platform, and one was even demonstrated on the ABC’s show “Grand Designs”.

    http://earthship.net/

    My sister in law has a Phd in sustainable architecture and we constantly chat about the various changing meme’s in both local scaled home design and city-wide New Urbanism and ecocity changes. (EG: San Francisco’s Mayor is thoroughly on board for an ecocity makeover of San Francisco city).

    Energy efficient homes is just the start, what about energy efficient CITIES? However, we were talking about batteries and my point is that these “Earthship” off the grid homes are economically competitive now, before BEFORE the solar PV has hit 83% efficiency as has recently been announced!
    This is also BEFORE the ‘super-batteries’ of Gates imagination have had time to be developed.

  54. (Oooh, gives me chills down the spine, the terrible night! Dear oh dear! It’s as if you’re all implying renewable experts have never thought of night time. Man this gets old quickly!)

    Who said I NEED to worry about the night anyway?

    Maybe I want 83% energy efficient solar panels on my roof for economic reasons, and it belts out the power when I need it most. Then I turn the TV off and stop cooking and go to bed, and local industry shuts down, and guess what? There might be a bit of wind blowing at night, or some baseload geothermal, baseload OTEC, baseload CETO wavepower, or even baseload solar thermal. Or if the global grid guys have their way, there might even be some other juice flowing from some country nearby.

    MAYBE I’ll just ignore the night, if that’s OK with you, and just enjoy what PV does… and gives me nice, cheap, clean power during the day.

    FREE PV? Even better! Imagine it on every Australian home. Imagine a spray on PV nano-goo (some are working on it) that generates gigawatts of power during the day. Maybe it will be economical to just rely on that during the day and CETO or Geothermal at night?

    What about the rise of smart appliances that store energy? You know what I’m talking about, even though YOU don’t talk about it. Fridges that communicate with the grid and STORE COLD when the grid says the juice is flowing and it’s the right time to ‘charge up’ on the cold. It’s basically turning your Fridge into something like V2G EV’s that can suck down on the juice when it’s flowing, and then help smooth the electricity demand during the day.

    Now I know I’m sounding like a “pro-renewables” only guy at the moment but I’m not! I’m as excited about the prospect of Gen4 reactors burning up waste we’ll have to store for the next 100 thousand years otherwise! It’s the prospect of Gen4 to deal with the horrible legacy of the last generations of nuclear waste that ultimately hooked me into this. Burn it, then store only 10% of the mass for just 300 years, and buy the world 500 years to solve these renewable issues? Who can argue with that?

    But again: My point is that the Blees, Brooks, and Diesendorfs of this world are all very busily ignoring each other on some of the subtleties of this debate, and it is driving me nuts.

  55. @ Rod Page:

    I agree that capital costs are higher for nuclear and fuel costs lower, cf coal. However, the desire of utilities for a quick profit stream that you mention is not going to go away anytime soon.

    Some have argued (eg. Cohen) that excessive regulatory requirements in the USA brought on by the perceived need for super super safety has crippled the nuclear industry there. I can accept that and the USA may be a special case due to the success of anties influencing previous Democrat governments (Clinton, Carter). Blee’s book exposes this.

    However, if nuclear was really cheaper than coal then China would be building far more nuclear plants than they are currently. The Chinese government is more focused on cheap electricity than regulation for safety. For this reason I don’t believe that nuclear is cheaper.

  56. However, if nuclear was really cheaper than coal then China would be building far more nuclear plants than they are currently. The Chinese government is more focused on cheap electricity than regulation for safety. For this reason I don’t believe that nuclear is cheaper.

    Give them a chance, Bill! They’re ramping up nuclear reactor production just about as quickly as they feasibly can. Remember that they’re also putting a whole manufacturing supply chain in place to support domestic production.

  57. From what I can see, China is very heavily focussed on safety — there is no evidence to the contrary. The AP1000 design is the safest ever put to commercialisation, by an order of magnitude, and that is China’s new darling design. One must be careful to separate NRC-style ‘regulation’, and all the contorted bureaucracy that’s involved, with an affirmative ‘get going’ attitude.

  58. @Bill Kerr –

    However, if nuclear was really cheaper than coal then China would be building far more nuclear plants than they are currently. The Chinese government is more focused on cheap electricity than regulation for safety.

    That is an excellent point. I am not sure if you are aware of China’s current deployment plans for nuclear – they get updated pretty frequently and the news is not always tracked closely in places outside the nuclear industry or China itself.

    From a 7 January 2010 article in World Nuclear News titled “Firms flock to Chinese supply chain”:

    China’s ambitious expansion of nuclear power capacity is driving huge growth in its domestic supply industry, with companies quickly diversifying into the sector.

    One example is Guangxi province-based engineering firm OVM Co, which has begun making nuclear equipment after previously specialising in cables and pipes for civil applications. Sales manager Zhu Hongyong said the firm has been supplying post-tensioning systems to local nuclear power plants. “There are more and more local suppliers to nuclear power stations, said Zhu, who showed photos to World Nuclear News of the firm’s staff on site at the Tianwan nuclear power plant in Guangdong province.

    Not least for cost efficiencies, China’s policymakers are keen to wean the country off a dependence on imported equipment. China has 20 reactors under construction: it is aiming for 70 GWe of installed nuclear power by 2020, up from the 9 GWe of nuclear power currently in operation.

    Here is a later quote from the same article:

    China First Heavy Industries (YiZhong) in the northern steel-belt Heilongjiang province, is perhaps the market leader in equipment manufacturing. It produces pressure vessels and pressurisers for nuclear plants up to 1 GWe. It also makes forgings for steam generators as part of a $340 million expansion which could see it outputting five reactor sets per year by 2015.

    Of note is also the fact that the famous coal fired plants that China has constructed in cookie cutter fashion during the past dozen or so years are well suited for what my friend Jim Holm has dubbed a coal to nuclear conversion. (www.coal2nuclear.com) A development that few in the West know much about is a reactor called the HTR-PM, which comes in modules that produce 450 MW of thermal energy at a temperature that is essentially identical to that used in those modular coal fired power plants.

    http://www.iaea.org/inisnkm/nkm/aws/htgr/fulltext/htr2004_d15.pdf

    China has two HTR-PM reactors under construction today, with expected commercial operation by 2013 or 2014. That system is based on the already operating HTR-10 prototype.

    With regard to whether or not nuclear is cheaper than coal, here are the stats for production costs in the US as of 2008 –

    nuclear – 1.86 cents per kilowatt hour
    coal – 2.75 cents per kilowatt hour

    Both of these ignore capital costs, but at least in the US the capital cost for a new coal plant that meets current emissions standards is not much lower than the capital cost of an AP1000 or EPR. The nuclear costs can be reduced through steady production, learning curves, and reduction in first of a kind design costs as more experience is gained.

  59. @eclipsenow, – I have to admit that I am having some difficulty following you arguments, however if you are waiting for 83% energy efficient solar panels, cheap effective storage, and the smart grid, you might as well line-up behind those that are placing their hopes on fusion.

    All of these are ideas that have gotten a lot of play in the press and with the renewables crowd, but very little in the way of practical examples. There are many potential issues with concepts like V2G and demand side management, that have been glossed over, and breathless reports of very high efficiency PV have never come to much in long run.

    On the other hand, current designs of nuclear power plants can be built cheaply and quickly, and can go a long way to replacing coal, right now. While the future may belong to Gen IV, it really isn’t necessary to bring this on-line before we can make a good dent in GHG mitigation.

  60. All these “solar energy is diffuse” posts are boring me to tears. IF science finds an extremely cheap way of producing vast quantities of 83% or higher efficiency nano-solar PV, then we can cover *vast* areas of both domestic and factory and carpark rooftops with it. Trying to argue that this being CHEAP is somehow irrelevant ignores the interaction between consumer behaviour and economics.

    24 hour power supply from solar PV is a function of the cost of the solar PV and the cost of storage.

    IF the solar PV is so cheap, it will change the function significantly. If the battery technology improves 10 fold (let alone Bill Gates wish for 100 fold increases), then the idea of more homes going “Earthship” in design is not so laughable. Going off grid in an Earthship is already fairly economically competitive TODAY, let alone with these 83% efficient solar PV or futuristic batteries.

    As for industry and factories? They tend to have big roofs and car parks that they could cover with 83% solar PV. Flats? Well, heck, maybe they’ll have to buy electricity OFF THE GRID which might have access to massive CHEAP 83% efficient solar PV farms! Imagine that? The grid! Who wood-a-thunkit?

    Or buy some from the next state if it’s rainy.
    
Come on guys… give the FACT of 83% efficient solar PV a bit more play in your imaginations. Surely Peter Lang has to re-write his solar PV article again hey?

  61. **Cowan** is denying the impending roll out of Better Place Renault Nissan electric cars.

    Download the audio podcast here, and get back to us on that.

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/fora/stories/2009/08/14/2656263.htm

    Want to make a wager? I’ll bet at *least* 25% of the market within 15 years and that is conservative once the reality of peak oil hits. The WHOLE car market changes over every 16 years, and when peak oil hits in a few years I can imagine legislation demanding all cars be Better Place compatible.

    Good luck with that one mate.

  62. • **How will the Vehicle 2 Grid work?**
    • So, car has 160km range.
    • Car drives average 40km to work in the morning.
    • Car plugs in & charges on peak solar output during day.
    • Car drives home 40km and plugs in.
    • Car sells maybe 100km worth of electrons back to the grid during afternoon/evening hours of peak demand when everyone is watching TV, cooking, etc.
    • Car will NOT sell below the charge necessary to get to the nearest Better Place battery swap, in case an urgent trip is *suddenly* required.
    • Battery swap not only means you are guaranteed an instant ‘range extension’ on the rare occasions you need it, but you don’t have to keep buying new batteries every 4 years or so. “Better Place” sell you the car, but they own the batteries!
    • Car charges later that evening after 12pm when industries and other demand on the grid starts to wean and there is more power available from baseload renewables like OTEC, CETO wave, solar thermal, evening wind, geothermal, etc.
    • Car is fully charged by morning.
    • 50 thousand cars = 1 gigawatt of “grid smoothing” potential. Australia has 15 million cars.
    • If powerlines come down in a storm, the cars can help power the grid locally for service men to have access to power. In other words, rather than stressing the grid Better Place V2G cars will *assist* the grid.
    • It’s about smoothing supply and demand of the electricity grid.

  63. eclipsenow, I live in a universe in which nuclear supporters who also happen to accept the AGW hypothesis can actually talk to AGW skeptics. We agree that a massive expantion of nuclear power is important, but not on AGW. Are’t you pleased that AGW skeptics will accept some form of mitigation?

  64. “All these “solar energy is diffuse” posts are boring me to tears. IF science finds an extremely cheap way of producing vast quantities of 83% or higher efficiency nano-solar PV, then we can cover *vast* areas of both domestic and factory and carpark rooftops with it. Trying to argue that this being CHEAP is somehow irrelevant ignores the interaction between consumer behaviour and economics.”

    If we find a way to inexpensively produce electric energy from fusion, all bets are off too. I fail to see your point.

    Do you have one?

  65. Hi Tali,
    interesting post on peak resource etc. One observation that blew me away was Michael Lardelli’s talk that said if we burnt all the available economically affordable fossil fuels we’d only hit 460ppm.

    Of course, the IPCC’s 450ppm is now out of date and 350.org is the new mantra.

    We’ll see.

  66. DV82xl,
    83% efficient Solar PV is already here, so no, I’m not counting my chickens before they’re hatched.

    The business model for Better Place battery swap EV’s is already here, with HSBC bank already putting $350 million into it, and a billion promised already.

    Money talks.

  67. 83% efficient Solar PV is already here, so no, I’m not counting my chickens before they’re hatched.

    That’s excellent news, EN. Can you tell me which number I call to contact the Australian distributors?

  68. DV82xl
    “If we find a way to inexpensively produce electric energy from fusion, all bets are off too. I fail to see your point.”

    DV82xl just *ignores* the point and wanders off into the ether….

    My point is that you guys often ignore inconvenient FACTS like the emerging V2G Better Place car market and the impact on smoothing the grid supply & demand this could have.

    You ignore the FACT of CETO baseload wavepower being deployed in WA.

    You ignore the FACT of incremental advances in baseload solar thermal. Where’s the paper critiquing the new solar thermal graphite blocks storage mechanism?

    My point is you guys have not published a new paper critiquing the new FACT of the 83% efficent Solar PV: and all the papers on solar PV on this blog are now out of date as a result.

    My point is that by the time you renewable sceptics have published something, it is out of date because of the speed of renewable increases in technology and deployment, let alone the foreseeable ‘miracles’ that Bill Gates envisages.

    So nuclear may eventually win out in the end of this race, but I’ve got even bets either way. It’s the dogmatic assertions here that ignore other known facts that blow me away, like John’s 40km EV limit. Ha! Laughable. He REALLY needs to read up on Better Place, and HSBC has just given him 350 million good reasons to do so!

  69. Finrod,
    I know there are plans for Gen4 reactors, but when can I buy one? ;-) (Nudge nudge wink wink, say no more! Say no more! Please).

    For those interested in the latest SCIENCE that could soon hit the market, try here.

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/02/15/2818151.htm

    Oh, and my memory was wrong.

    “The scientists claim up to 85% of usable sunlight is absorbed by the new panels, compared to approximately 17% efficiency with current commerically available solar cells.”

  70. Wind can also supply baseload when the grid is big enough or with new wind technology.
    60GW windpowerplants are possible. At 70%CF.
    Wind can also power electric ships…so nuclear is not the only alternative to oil.
    And it is cheaper than reactors and take up less space.

    Thats something that can be installed right now and save fuel right now.

    A 1GW Windpowerplant can also sit on an reactor.

  71. Finrod,
    I know there are plans for Gen4 reactors, but when can I buy one? ;-) (Nudge nudge wink wink, say no more! Say no more! Please).

    If you can come up with the bucks, the Russians would probably jump at the chance to sell you a BN-800 fast breeder, such as they are selling to China. In a few years you might also be able to purchase an Indian fast breeder as well, and possibly even a Hyperion Power Module.

    Oh, and my memory was wrong.

    “The scientists claim up to 85% of usable sunlight is absorbed by the new panels, compared to approximately 17% efficiency with current commerically available solar cells.

    Does ‘absorbed by’ equal ‘efficiency’? If not, what is the true efficiency? What technical issues remain to be resolved? What is the projected timeline to commercialisation?

    I remember reading with interest an article proclaiming 40% efficiency on PV panels. That was about 10 years ago. So far, that technology is still just a laboratory curiosity.

  72. eclipsenow I’m 61% out since you can drive up to 40 miles on the electricity stored in the battery so it seems I muddled miles and kilometres.

    One of my former jobs was a night shift security guard living 65km out of the city. I couldn’t afford to buy a PHEV on such a low salary. I would barely get to work on a single charge and I wouldn’t get back home without recharging. So I hope future night shift employers maintain secure charging points for each of their staff.

    I suggest EVs are for well heeled folks who mainly use them for local shopping in leafy suburbs.

  73. @eclipsenow – I am not ‘wandering off’ (as much as you might wish I would) nor do I ignore things like V2G, and advances in renewable technologies. In fact I pay a great deal of attention to these things as a roundly criticize them on a regular bases, for making claims they cannot back up with fact, or avoiding the many issues that some of these ideas will create, if they were implemented.

    But I see now that you are so ignorant of the science that you cannot differentiate between percentage of sunlight absorbed, and how much of it is converted into electricity, and you have fallen back on insults, a sure sign that you have nothing of any real importance to add to this discussion.

  74. John, wrong again.

    The Better Place cars are so cheap that, with a few foreseeable advances in technology, you might be able to walk into a show room and simply agree to a price / km charge rate for the next 5 or 7 years or so, and get a MASSIVE reduction in the price. This is what the CEO has said on “The Economist”

    http://castroller.com/podcasts/TheEconomist/1443204

    As well as when discussing it in Melbourne.

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/fora/stories/2009/08/14/2656263.htm

    The guy is about to make EV’s mainstream, and as Barry argues above, this sort of thing will only happen because the PRICE DEMANDS it!

    80cents a litre fuel equivalent price / km? You’d be mad to pass it up. They’ll install EV charge points when they “do” a city. Canberra is 2012. Have you written to your local member demanding this yet?

  75. Oops. A pile 40 m across the base and 11.5 metres high (about as big of one as can fit on a half-acre, 2023 m^2) is only enough for about 12 gigawatt-hours, not multiple gigawatt-weeks as I said.

    Fortunately we live in three-space, so if we increase the basal area by some factor, the number of gigawatt-hours increases by the three-halves power of that factor. So giving the pile eight acres instead of a half-acre gets you from half a day to 32 days.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  76. Crystalsol is developing its roll to roll process for monocristalyne cells right now.
    Just like offset printing you can get out hundreds of meters per minute.
    They are using abundant materials…no rare-earth.
    The technology is developed. By 2011 they will be ready to apply their technology to roofing, tiles, metall, windows…many building parts….at 20% of the price today.
    Why would you not integrate that into a new building?
    Maybe on your nukes.

    We also use less energy in Europe. It would be good if Americans could just reduce their energy needs by at least 50%.

  77. DV8,
    sorry, have you got EVIDENCE against the claims of the solar PV link I shared?

    Finrod,
    what happened to the “nuclear power too cheap to meter” that we were promised by now? What if I don’t want to buy an expensive BN-800 but instead want a cheap Gen4 blueprint?

    You’ll *believe in* the *coming* Gen4 reactors being realistic, yet not accept the basic findings of Solar PV scientists. Why is that?

  78. eclipsenow – The onus is on those making claims to provide proof. Nothing in the link you pointed to makes the claim that these cells are 85% efficient. Since you won’t bother, I traced this claim back to source and found that:

    a) No actual solar cells have been produced from the new microwire technology, yet. In other words this is just theroy at this point.

    b) 85 percent of the full spectrum of incoming sunlight absorbed is in comparison to standard photovoltaic cells. Thus these are, and I quote: “almost as good as that of traditional silicon wafers.” The primary benefit being they use less material to fabricate them.

    AND

    c) The new cell can turn 9.6 percent of incoming sunlight into electricity, according to testing from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. A somewhat less spectacular claim than what you are makeing.

    An accessible article discussing this technology can be found here:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=photovoltaic-breakthroughs-brighten-outlook-for-cheap-solar-power

  79. Thank you Dv8, and I apologise if people felt I was misrepresenting the article. However, your SCIAM article is pretty good as well.
    ***
    “”With one one-hundredth of the material, we’ve gotten it to absorb 96 percent of the peak visible light,” Kelzenberg says. “There’s lots of reasons to believe this could be scaled to make thin-film solar cells.”

  80. eclipsenow, – Give me a break son, your contrition comes a bit too late to get any sympathy from me, especially given the ascendant tone of your posts in this thread.

    As for this technology, it is like a hundred other reports that claim some breakthrough in photovoltaic cells, only to be forgotten within the year. And for sure a sub 10% performance is not going to garner much interest from the money. Material costs have not been the limiting factor in solar energy, the boring fact (to you) that solar energy is diffuse, is.

  81. I suggest you drop the “diffuse” argument as you’re starting to sound a bit silly. If one can produce an extremely cheap form of solar PV, it can become *cost effective* to cover absolutely every inch of my roof with Solar PV rather than just a few meters of it. What matters is the price, and if it’s 1/5th the price but requires my whole roof to go solar, why not?

    “Diffuse” is a myth. There’s more than enough space to go solar, and a variety of technologies with which to do so, as long as the dreaded “NIGHT TIME!” is covered by some of the many strategies covered above. (CETO, OTEC, geothermal, solar thermal with graphite blocks, , off-grid Earthships, etc).

  82. We will drop the diffuse argument when you can show it to be wrong, and I suspect that any ‘proof’ you can table will be of the same caliber as what you have offered to date.

    Nothing of substance can be said about the impact these new photovoltaic cells will have on the economic picture based on their stated (not proven) use of materials only. Fabrication costs, useful lifetime and other factors will have to be seen, and I note that in none of the actual papers published by this group, were these issues discussed in any detail.

    And any talk of a ‘world wide grid’ demonstrates a total lack of any grasp of the physics of transmitting electrical energy over great distances.

  83. Whilst I do not hold much hope for governments of any complexion taking much notice of public opinion for those of you who are convinced that nuclear is the solution I suggest you look here http://www.beyondzeroemissions.org/
    It provides a costed plan to enable australia to be powered by 100% renewables by 2020 – for me the frustration is with the pro nuclear lobby that gives government an excuse to procrastinate on taking immediate action – to switch Australia even to a mixture of nuclear and renewables will take considerably longer than even 2050 – so even if ine allows for a degree of hyperbole in assuming the switch can be made by 2020 this proposal is still light years ahead and it quite rightly focusses on what we can do in our own backyard.

  84. DV8,
    ‘diffuse’ is irrelevant, economics is. If it is economic to cover your roof, do so. If it is economic for a forward thinking company to build a few km’s squared of solar pv, they’ll do it.

    EG: If material X is half the price of Y, yet requires double the area, one might still go for it even though it is a more ‘diffuse’ way of collecting the sunlight.

    Economics trumps the ‘diffuse’ argument in this example.

    And you’ll have to call Trec Europe and disprove the Trec-Solar Africa concept because the power can’t travel down HVDC transmission at only 3% loss per 1000km, according to YOU anyway. ;-) I men, there’s some BIG money going into this concept all based on the faulty prmise of a pan-African – European supergrid. Quick, save them the billions, oh the humanity!

  85. John, I saw that, thanks, but the BZE executive summary doesn’t show any of the modelling assumptions, we’ll have to wait until the full report is released to know what to make of it. It is interesting that the cost data for CST comes from the Sargent & Lundy 2003 report, rather than the NEEDS 2008 report. In the latter, the cost-projections were much higher, as real-world figures started coming in.

    The broader question is this – who pays for the BZE plan? Government? If so, why would they not take a no-regrets strategy and invest in nuclear, CCS, geothermal etc. too? Where is the money diverted from? If it’s private money, where is it being invested right now, and how does one convince investors that they’d do better to divert it to this project, and how would the loans etc. be secured?

    I guess I’m left wondering who the target audience of the BZE piece is? Who do they wish to influence, and to what extent is it a real-world plan?

  86. eclipsenow, you wrote:

    “IF science finds an extremely cheap way of producing vast quantities of 83% or higher efficiency nano-solar PV, then we can cover *vast* areas of both domestic and factory and carpark rooftops with it.”

    (Setting aside the problem that absorption ≠ efficiency, not by a long shot . . .)

    So what? IF everybody in the United States just gave me just one thin penny, I would be a multimillionaire. Oddly enough, getting them to do it is not that easy.

    The point: you reference a “we” that presumes the power to “cover *vast* areas” of carparks with solar collectors.

    “We” who? Do you own these carparks? Is eclipsenow an international carpark entrepreneur with the ability to order that carparks all install solar collectors on their “roofs” just as soon as the 83% (or 85%) but actually 9.6% solar panels are available?

    I recently debated an anti-nuclear activist before a group of state legislators who are on environmental committees in the USA Midwest. One of his talks had references something to the effect of “all the rooftops that are available for solar.”

    Says who? There are huge transactional costs involved in appropriating rooftops owned by other people for solar panels, and even if you actually have your 85% absorption/9.6% efficiency solar, you still have to get the rooftops, plus deal with all of the rest of the interconnection infrastructure issues. On millions of rooftops, owned by millions of different people or Companies. Each of which has its own motivations and objectives.

    Maybe many owners of the roofs don’t want to take the chance that anchoring solar installations on their roofs will cause roof leaks through which water can infiltrate and decimate their capital investment and their underlying business. Maybe they have plans to put trees up there (another “green” idea). Or maybe they just want to be left alone, and are busy with other things a/k/a “their life.”

    I would point out to eclipsenow and marcus that, with nuclear, we don’t have to remake the whole energy infrastructure. We knock out coal plants and put in nuclear plants, displacing carbon. There exists a pretty clear path to doing this in the developed world, which produces most of the carbon emissions. No multi-trillion dollar replacement power grid is necessary or changes of consciousness and consumer habits is a precondition to accomplishing this carbon displacement.

    One of the problems with visionary energy solutions is that they tend to assume that all of the institutional arrangements will just fall into place under the notion that everyone will see the compelling logic of the visionary’s notions. Either that or they assume a dictatorship of the visionary.

    In my experience (getting to be long experience) the world does not work that way. The morass of competing institutional interests has a way of making change difficult to accomplish. This is why (and this addresses Barry’s point in launching this discussion) we have to engage in the battle of ideas constantly, though perhaps not so much on blogs where we just talk to each other.

    It is nowhere written that superior economics of advanced Gen IV nuclear energy will, of necessity, lead to displacement of existing energy arrangements. Beta was a better technology than VHS, but who won?

    Gen IV has to come into wide and reliable use. That has to be brought about, and that requires further investment, best sourced from very large entities such as governments. For my part, I hope this is Western governments, because I like that particular civilization.

    Diligent frustrating advocacy is required, and to make it more difficult, we have to remain honest when nuclear opponents are not.

    Nowhere is it written that your advocacy life would be a rose garden, either.

  87. Do you honestly think you can escape with some silly sophomoric argument like that?

    You haven’t got a technology on hand that makes your argument anything more than a vague hypothetical.That’s the point. Anyone can construct castles-in-the-sky on the bases of what ifs, so why not use cold fusion or the claims of the over-unity idiots? In practical terms solar is simply too diffuse to provide real power to run a real civilization, and it is not the cost of the converters that is the limiting issue.

    As for the Trec-Solar Africa concept, please understand that the rules of logic, the rules of debate, and commonsense investment strategies, demand that those making claims prove them. You and nobody else can make an assertion and then pompously demand that it be taken at face value, unless proof is provided the statement is wrong. I have seen all sorts of wild schemes to turn deserts into solar plants, but when push comes to shove, I also see that those countries with vast deserts are turning to nuclear power to meet their comming energy needs.

  88. I can’t anwer for t he rest of the world but I am sure Australia does not need induced nuclear fission to supply its energy needs. Nor does it need coal.

    The alternatives at present seem to be:

    Photovoltaic:
    Disadvanages: currently very expensive and requiring materials such as silicon and only operating when the sun shines
    Advantages: no extra land use for rooftop phoovoltaics, tends to replace peak generation

    Solar thermal
    Less expensive, generally requires land set aside. Heat can be stored either as heat or chemically, for use when the sun is not shining.

    Wind
    Intermittent, but this can be largely overcome with widely dispersed generation. Storage possible. Ealtiviely cheap though more expensive, without factoring in externalities and carbon price, than coal.
    HIghly visible and uses land although stock may be grazed around towers and crops grown. Not suitable for highly secenic spots and bird migration routes or close to houses.
    Some people have complained of noise and visual intrusion. I find some wind generators quite beautiful and would rather look at them than a chimney belching smoke or a cooling tower.

    Tidal, wave and hydro.
    Not able to comment.

    Geothermal (hot rocks)
    A safe kind of nuclear, utilising heat from natural radioactive decay of rocks.Has enough capacity to supply Australia with base load power for several centuries.
    Currently in its infancy, but if it works there will be no need to for coal or nuclear generation in Australia.

    Fourth generation nuclear plants may or may not be safe. There is no long term future for current generation nuclear reactors as high grade uranium ore would be exhausted in about 30 years if all generation were nuclear.

    I favour renewables including geothermal for Australia’s energy future. Some other countries may possibly need to resort to nuclear fission at least in the short term.

    Electricity use:

    People tend to get more electrical appliances and buy more goods as they get richer, but there are other trends in energy use. For instance, I recently managed to save about 800 Wh per day by replacing my 12 cubic foot dinosaur fridge with a new, and admittedly smaller fridge that was adequate for my needs. Electronic equipment has been getting smaller and probably more energy effcient over the years.I am told the LCD screens are more energy efficient than cathode ray screens and accordingly replaced my defunct cathode ray computer monitor with an LCD screen. On the other hand there is a trend at the moment for people to buy huge plasma telelvisons.

    Cars are more energy efficient than they used to be. A trend towards electric transport replacing petroleum based internal combustion engines will increase the proportion of energy coming from electricity but reduce overall energy use.

    The challenge is to become less energy intensive and carbon intensive while not sacrificing quality of life. Even China, which wants to raise its living standards, offered to reduced its carbon intensitiy by 50% (or was it 40%?) at Copenhagen.

    Australia’s economy is one of the most energy intensive on earth. This may be partly due to heavy industry, but one might also note that one can enjoy a high standard of living while using less energy.

  89. Frank,
    ‘we’ the marketplace, society, civilisation in general as the self interested consumers paying for whatever works and earns money. IF the breakthroughs that I’m reading about in dyesolar, sliver cell, etc efficient & cheap solar cell materials come to fruition as advertised, then all I’m saying is it forms a whole new marketplace of cheap Solar PV for myself as a domestic consumer to make use of during daylight hours, and possibly even have some left over to sell back to the grid.

    Selling back to the grid is the key here, that frees up industry to buy from whoever has some spare roofspace left over.

    “I would point out to eclipsenow and marcus that, with nuclear, we don’t have to remake the whole energy infrastructure. We knock out coal plants and put in nuclear plants, displacing carbon. There exists a pretty clear path to doing this in the developed world, which produces most of the carbon emissions.”
    This is a good point Frank!

    “No multi-trillion dollar replacement power grid is necessary or changes of consciousness and consumer habits is a precondition to accomplishing this carbon displacement”.
    This is not so strong, as from what I’m reading the American grid needs a super-makeover anyway due to age, and while rebuilding it… why not make it ‘smart’ and flexible for both nuclear AND renewables?

    “One of the problems with visionary energy solutions is that they tend to assume that all of the institutional arrangements will just fall into place under the notion that everyone will see the compelling logic of the visionary’s notions. Either that or they assume a dictatorship of the visionary.”
    Yeah, some people are like that. However, I’m discussing market behaviours. This is where “diffuse” becomes irrelevant, as if there is a commodity to provide (solar energy) at the right price (“cheap enough”), then the marketplace will find a way… whether that is covering carparks, domestic rooftops, or the local school hall to sell energy back to the local community.

    “It is nowhere written that superior economics of advanced Gen IV nuclear energy will, of necessity, lead to displacement of existing energy arrangements. Beta was a better technology than VHS, but who won?”
    Can you please show me a functional Gen4 reactor that has been mass produced on the production line? Where can I order one? At what *demonstrated* market price? Sound familiar to certain individuals attacking solar PV at 85% of the full spectrum of light wave lengths?

  90. I looked at the BZE website to see where they stood on nuclear. As they have no search engine I used the Google Chrome ‘find in page’ command for ‘nuclear’ and ‘uranium’, not sure to what extent that includes linked pages. Result 0 finds.
    My first thought is that the coal industry is not going to lose a wink of sleep as their approach doesn’t seem that hard hitting.

  91. “One of the problems with visionary energy solutions is that they tend to assume that all of the institutional arrangements will just fall into place under the notion that everyone will see the compelling logic of the visionary’s notions. Either that or they assume a dictatorship of the visionary.”

    This comment applies not merely to renewables it applies equally to nuclear – it applies to any attempt to change the direction in which we are heading – indeed it hearkens back to my initial response to Barry and my earlier reference to the impossibility theorem. We can argue the pros and cons of various solutions until the cows come home but ultimately our opinions do not count for anything other than to give the politicians an excuse to do nothing.
    Perhaps the best way to look at all of it is to assume that politicians and the media circus that accompanies them live in a parallel universe and that only incidentally takes any notice of us mere mortals.

  92. Hi John,
    BZE are anti-nuclear. Their podcast is great on renewable advances, and it is hard to keep up with them all. Just open up iTunes, go into STORE, and type Beyond Zero Emissions into the search field. It will come up and you can download quite a few back issues. Listen to a few, even though you are sceptical, and you’ll soon realise that there are a truly astonishing variety of incremental improvements to all the big renewables areas. New announcements and experts and approaches seem to be coming out weekly.

    After listening to it for a year or so, I have no doubt that we could eventually, with a little trial and error, meet our needs with renewables. Society might look a little different and a *few* behaviours might be a little changed, but it would be a comfortable modern world.

    DV8,
    your post just basically says “I don’t like your arguments”. There is no data there, and nothing of substance, to contradict the REAL money gathering momentum behind the science of solar thermal investment in Africa under the Desertec solar scheme.
    Consortium
    The project is developed by a consortium of European and Algerian companies under the name DII GmbH, Desertec Industrial Initiative, founded in Munich and led by Munich Re.[5] The project company is incorporated under German law.[6] The consortium consists of Munich Re, TREC, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, ABB, E.ON, RWE, Abengoa Solar, Cevital, HSH Nordbank, M & W Zander Holding, MAN Solar Millennium, and Schott Solar.[4][5][6][7] Press investigations point to a number of more interested parties – among them ENEL , Électricité de France, Red Eléctrica de España and companies from Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. The company is supposed to create a detailed technical plan for the DESERTEC realisation and to prepare contracts for the DESERTEC supergrid that can be signed in 2012. On October 30, 2009 Paul van Son, a senior international energy manager, has been appointed CEO of DII GmbH (the Desertec Industrial Initiative).

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

    Money talks, and your substance-less BS will walk.

    Next please.

  93. While generally pessimistic about mankind’s future, I am now heartened by the general rising tide of support for sustainability, global warming and non carbon energy issues despite the climate change sceptics. Many who are paid by the big polluters.
    I write constantly to politicians raising these issues, particularly now I have two grand daughters and would like a life for them as good, as I have been able to enjoy over the past 60 years.
    Forty years ago I first read about the potential for climate change due to CO2 emissions and the effect it would have on Australia’s climate. The prediction was a dryer Australia with stronger cyclones. Over the past forty years I have seen this prediction come true.

    During the 1970s oil crisis, I attended an energy seminar conducted by engineers from the State Electricity Commission. They stated quite clearly that until the military gentleman, Major Breakthrough arrived, the only viable alternative to fossil fuels was nuclear power. Forty years later this statement is also still true.

    Unfortunately, nuclear power generation, like so many other issues was hijacked by so called “green” groups and Governments globally, except France opted out of nuclear power generation at this time.

    Forty years ago global warming was not a big issue as I, like most people thought that its consequences was so far into the future, technology would “fix” the problem. Unfortunately, technology went in the wrong direction. Once nuclear power was off the agenda all our resources and ingenuity went into the large open cut mining of coal, reducing its price and paving the way for massive GHG emissions and other pollutants to generate electricity.

    This massive CO2 increase, coupled with rising global temperatures and melting ice has seen global warming hit the mainstream media as a major issue, particularly this century.

    Billions of dollars are now spent by Governments globally, researching the climate change issue. Unfortunately all the measurements, data and forecasts are bad and the situation is much worse than we all thought. There is high risk of a catastrophic climate change before the end of this century (within the potential lifetime of my grandchildren) that will reduce quality of life and result in the death of many millions of humans.

    I believe that the weight of evidence is so high that during the next decade or so there will be a huge turnaround in public opinion and thus action by governments. In Europe this is already the case with governments spending huge sums (not very wisely in the case of Germany, Denmark and Spain) on non carbon energy. However overall Europe has half the emissions of Australia (going for GOLD as the global climate change bludger!), Canada and the USA.

    I am also heartened by the number of nuclear reactors currently under construction globally, 53 with another 469 planned or proposed, with most in China, India and the USA. However none in Oz.

    Whether the climate sceptics win out and stop us from moving fast enough to keep climate under control remains to be seen. However I am doing my bit, I am very carbon conscious and have solar panels. A very expensive way to generate electricity I admit, but does raise awareness in my neighbourhood and must help with grid electricity peak loading.

    On the other hand, scientists like Lovelock think the sceptics will win out and is very pessimistic. He forecast that while humans will survive as a species, the cull will be huge with the number remaining at the end of the century, a billion or less.

    His advice “enjoy the next 20 years!”

  94. @eclipsenow – if the only thing you can bring is an appeal to authority based on name dropping the members of a consortium then you are the one who is bankrupt of any rational arguments.

    Surely you are not so unsophisticated that you are not aware that these consortium are often constructs that are formed to determine if there is something there worth investing in, but they do not in anyway establish that the idea is viable?

    Since you are quoting that font of perfect information, Wikipedia on the subject, let me show you what also is written there on this matter:

    “Centralized solar energy plants and transmission lines may become a target of terrorist attacks. Some experts fear that generating so much of the electricity consumed in Europe in Africa would create a political dependency on North African countries which have corruption and a lack of cross-border coordination. Desertec would require extensive economic and political cooperation between Algeria and Morocco, which is at risk as the border between the two countries is closed due a disagreement over the Western Sahara. There are also concerns that the water requirement for the solar plant to clean dust off panels and for turbine coolant may be detrimental to local populations in terms of the demand it will place on the local water supply. There is also a fear that due to the large scale cooperation necessary between the EU and the north African nations the project may be delayed due to diplomatic and bureaucratic red tape and other factors such as expropriation of assets, license agreement reneging and corruption.”

    This hardly looks like a project that will be coming on line soon, if ever.

    And again your need to throw out an extraneous insult at every opportunity does little to enhance your credibility.

  95. eclipsenow despite the big names latching onto North African solar thermal a couple of simple considerations raise doubts. First is that the Dakar car rally no longer goes to Dakar because of serious concerns over security. Secondly we have an underwater HVDC cable in our backyard that didn’t work out as planned. Basslink between Tasmania and the Australian mainland was supposed to export hydro. It does in small amounts up to 1,000c per kwh in the spot market and imports increasingly large amounts of cheap coal fired baseload to run heavy industry. Before that no coal power was used for electricity in Tasmania. It seems if you connect dirty energy to clean energy dirty takes over. I’d need some convincing that Desertec can solve these problems.

  96. DV8,
    You’re the one that said the following, not me.
    And any talk of a ‘world wide grid’ demonstrates a total lack of any grasp of the physics of transmitting electrical energy over great distances.
    I mentioned HVDC transmission lines, which you hardly blinked at. Now you”re digressing into the solar thermal discussion while I was presenting the sheer DISTANCES involved in transmitting that power from across the mid-Sahara across Europe, and the billions involved. So I mentioned the physics in the HVDC lines, and the business plans around them. If you remain confused, try wikipedia.

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

    As for North Africa and Desertec:
    1. You’re cherrypicking ONE troubled area.
    Look at this map.

    There are plenty of borders not involving the disputed countries where proof of concept projects can be started, stretchng from Iraq, down through the Middle East, into Egypt and Lybia before we get to Algeria.

    2. Give Africa a chance.
    I remain an idealist hoping that serious money and investment will also create some serious impetus for the AU to actually mean something. A Federated Africa remains a bit of a dream of mine, and so you’ll get no sympathy from me indulging in racist overtones that it can’t be done, because it’s Africa you know. ;-) I’m sorry mate, but I believe in Pan-Africanism and that the process that is already underway will *eventually* consolidate into a single market Africa. Regional zones are already forming single currency zones, and the movement is growing. It’s WAY off topic to this thread, and so not something I’ll bother debating with you, so there it is.

  97. “Can you please show me a functional Gen4 reactor that has been mass produced on the production line? Where can I order one? At what *demonstrated* market price? Sound familiar to certain individuals attacking solar PV at 85% of the full spectrum of light wave lengths?”

    To be accurate I was attacking your flawed understanding of that type of solar PV, nevertheless…

    I for one have not been writing about the need for Gen IV reactors, in fact I have gone on record many times in many forums that it is premature to be looking at this while there are plenty of well-proven, existing designs, that you can order, and that do have a demonstrated market price, and that can be deployed quickly enough to have a real impact on the carbon issue.

    In general it would seem that much of the Gen IV rationalizations seem to revolve around reasons that themselves don’t stand up to much scrutiny, and it is my fear that by overreaching, the growth of nuclear power may in fact be delayed. This is not to say work should stop on these designs, only that they should be put in perspective and scheduled appropriately. The major thrust should be building current designs.

  98. Secondly we have an underwater HVDC cable in our backyard that didn’t work out as planned. Basslink between Tasmania and the Australian mainland was supposed to export hydro. It does in small amounts up to 1,000c per kwh in the spot market and imports increasingly large amounts of cheap coal fired baseload to run heavy industry. Before that no coal power was used for electricity in Tasmania. It seems if you connect dirty energy to clean energy dirty takes over. I’d need some convincing that Desertec can solve these problems.

    I have a vision of north african businessmen and diplomats putting urgent entreaties to the EU to increase their output of coal AND nuclear power to meet the demands of rapidly industrialising countries such as Morrocco and Algeria once the cross-mediterranean HVDC links are established…

  99. Hi John,
    HVDC has a long and complicated history, but it seems there have been a number of successful lines.

    The modern form of HVDC transmission uses technology developed extensively in the 1930s in Sweden at ASEA. Early commercial installations included one in the Soviet Union in 1951 between Moscow and Kashira, and a 10-20 MW system between Gotland and mainland Sweden in 1954.[1] The longest HVDC link in the world is currently the Inga-Shaba 1,700 km (1,100 mi) 600 MW link connecting the Inga Dam to the Shaba copper mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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

    Regards, and did you ever listen to that Economist podcast on Better Place! :-)

    http://castroller.com/podcasts/TheEconomist/1443204

    (I hope to afford one of these one day! Our family budget is a bit stretched these days…)

  100. Finrod, only you mate. The powerful consortium I listed has visions in exactly the opposite direction, on all counts.

    If I ever get a job as a salesman, you’ll be my first on my list of potential customers.

  101. “I mentioned HVDC transmission lines, which you hardly blinked at. Now you”re digressing into the solar thermal discussion while I was presenting the sheer DISTANCES involved in transmitting that power from across the mid-Sahara across Europe, and the billions involved. So I mentioned the physics in the HVDC lines, and the business plans around them. If you remain confused, try wikipedia.”

    HVDC is a viable technology for some long distance connects. Asserting that it can be scaled to make for a ‘world-wide grid’, demonstrates an ignorance of the physics involved. To say nothing of the costs.

  102. Pingback: Länkar 2010-02-22

  103. eclipsenow, has not noticed the Universe I live in appears to be different than his. But I will explain again, that I am in contact with a number of AGW skeptics, who agree that an expansion of nuclear power generation capacity, and the development of Generation IV nuclear technology are important steps for the future of plentiful and low cost energy. I am under the impression that many and perhaps most AGW skeptics would support carbon-replacement, if that was presented to them on grounds other than AGW. There are very good grounds for arguing that coal generated electricity comes at high indirect costs, and that American society would be economically better off if it did not have to pay for imported oil.

    I am certainly not an AGW skeptic, but I am quite willing to get the support of AGW skeptics for carbon mitigation efforts, by persuading them on other grounds. It seems that no one in the 21st century has heard of pragmatism.

  104. I watched the Bill Gates TED video.

    From his final remarks at the end of the Q&A in response to a question about skeptics he said:
    “if you can make it economic … then the skeptics will accept it because it’s cheaper”. So he thinks that nuclear could become cheaper than coal but that it is not cheaper at present.

    I’m not a Bill Gates fan (ubuntu please) but do think he has some understanding of economics.

    His aim is to support more R&D which he argued is badly neglected but is now funding himself (tens of millions), testing out materials to see if they work (hundreds of millions) and to build the first terrapower nuclear reactor which is very expensive (several billions)

    He mentions modular and liquid reactors (“a little hard”) at 23 minutes in distinguishing his preferred approach from them.

  105. Judging by the the discussion(s) taking place so far in this thread, I would say the answer to the question “Do climate sceptics and anti-nukes matter?” is a big YES in the minds of some posters here on BNC.

  106. Pingback: The psychology and sociology of the International Global Warming Debate - Page 11 - Science Forums

  107. Bill Kerr – Years ago many knowledgeable people that had carefully studied both the small computer software field at the time, and their company’s IT needs, where left pulling their hair out by the roots when upper management unilaterally decided to go with Microsoft products, on nothing more that the fact that Bill Gates had impressed them with his business acumen.

    The truth was that his company made shoddy products that really never preformed anywhere near as well as it should have, but that never managed to get past the the fact that he had made billions, when it came to convincing other businessmen to buy his software.

    I am not happy seeing this happen again in the case of nuclear energy. Gates is not some sort of techno-god, in fact, from the outset he was held in contempt by tech crowd because he bought into DOS when everyone had moved beyond it. There is no reason to assume that he has chosen Tarrapower because it is superior, and it would be a shame if the lemmings followed him into it on the strength of his name.

  108. Barry,

    You have candidly acknowledged that your views on AGW solutions have gradually changed as you followed the evidence and interpreted it as you saw fit. I wonder, now, whether you have reached a static position or whether your ideas will continue to adapt with the evidence. I ask because, as an erstwhile close supporter of your thinking, I am beginning to wonder whether it continues to have my full support.

    While I remain convinced that nuclear fission provides the best hope of avoiding the catastrophic consequences predicted by Lovelock (to which Tom Bond alluded), I have been impressed by the contributions of DV82XL, Charles Barton, Rod Adams and several others. I fear that you may have fallen captive to the fixed prescription outlined by Tom Blees. I can see that there may be some sense in picking a 4th Generation winner and sticking with it. MSRs have certainly had more R and D funds devoted to them than other designs and the IFR is probably the closest to being deployable. Thus, the strategy is sensible if we have no option but to close the fuel cycle very quickly. However, what I think I have learned (I’m only a layman) is that there’s not likely to be a nuclear fuel shortage any time soon and that we can do with all the spent fuel we can get to make sufficient start charges for rapid deployment of closed cycle reactors in the future. The other motivation to move rapidly to 4th Generation could be construed as an attempt to disarm the anti-nukes by hammering home its advantages with respect to safety, proliferation and waste issues. However, if such was a motivation, it seems to have largely failed, despite the validity of the arguments presented. Ironically, these same arguments can, in fact, be subverted by the antis and used in support of their continuing attacks on nuclear fission power in general.

    I have also noticed that the only Gen 3 + design that you have any time for is the Toshiba Westinghouse one. Is it sensible to dismiss the Chinese High Temperature Gas Cooled design mentioned above by Rod Adams? It would seem that replacing coal with nuclear in existing coal plants, apparently possible, with this design, would make a great deal of economic sense and be the fastest route to reducing CO2 emissions. (It seems to be a pebble bed type and this, for all I know, might make its waste less easy to reprocess and thus outweigh its other advantages.)

    Most sodium cooled reactors seem to have experienced sodium fires which have reduced capacity factors while not necessarily representing significant risks to the public or site workers. Lead cooling would appear to have advantages but for its corrosive effect on containment surfaces – which may or may not prove to be an insuperable problem. Molten salt cooling now seems to be a relatively “new kid on the block”. Anyway, if there’s no rush, wouldn’t it make sense to research as many closed fuel cycle options and fuel reprocessing methods as possible before committing to a single approach?

    In summary, it seems to me that there is great urgency to move to nuclear fission power and equal urgency to research optimum methods of fuel cycle closure. However, there is less urgency to deploy closed cycle reactors at this juncture. A prescriptive approach may not be the best. I do agree, however, that the most active deployers and researchers will win the economic battle and leave the stragglers to face a dire and unsustainable future. I think that, given the current state of the world, with overpopulation and dwindling resources, economics will become a zero sum game. I also believe that wealth and access to cheap, dense sources of power are more or less synonymous. In other words, without wealth, many will lack the power to survive. The IFR might thus be America’s best hope.

    I appreciate that many correspondents on this thread have greater idealistic tendencies than I. They would argue that the affluent should make their technology available to all and then the poor would stop breeding so fast -perhaps, eventually. Is there time for this strategy before AGW or lack of dense energy sources result in massive die offs? The former may not happen if the latter happens first. Given that, in the former case, die off would be indiscriminate while, in the latter, it might be largely afflicted on citizens of poorer nations, how should one choose? Should one give primacy to one’s kin or pull everyone on to the lifeboat with the probability of all sinking together?

    Barry, please don’t relax. There is urgency. I’m sure you are exerting more influence than you think or, to be more honest, I sincerely hope you are.

  109. Woah! The planets have aligned or something. For once DV8 and I agree on something… we both can’t stand Bill Gates or Microsoft.

    Douglas Wise, great post, especially the sentiments regarding the richer nations trying to develop the poorer nations so they’ll stop breeding so fast. Telling times, and morally compelling questions.

  110. OK, didn’t go to bed yet. Someone will need to address this on Worldchanging.com… just yelling at me doesn’t get the word out to them, OK? You can comment at the end of the link here.

    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/010981.html

    “New Research Ranks Top Renewable Energy Options
    Research from Stanford University ranks the world’s energy options — putting wind, concentrated solar and geothermal at the top of the list, and nuclear power and coal with carbon capture and sequestration in a tie for dead last.”

  111. “President Obama revealed his great support of nuclear energy this week, announcing that the Department of Energy will offer $8.33 billion for a new nuclear plant. Administration officials said it would be the first U.S. nuclear power plant to break ground in nearly three decades.”

    Wow, $8.33 billion for “a” nuclear power plant? Surely that’s a typo, they’re cheap as chips these days aren’t they? Unless of course it is some freak 4 gigawatt plant or something?

  112. eclipsenow, that’s a loan guarantee, not the cost of a nuclear power plant. The two reactors have a combined total cost of approximately $14 billion including balance of plant and transmission and distribution infrastructure. It’s also the US, with a high risk rating for new entries after a 30 year delay. I suggest you read Prescription for the Planet for details of the current problems with pricing/charging in the US.

    The cost for 4 x FOAK plants (Korean APR-1400 units) in the United Arab Emirates has been bid at $3.8 billion/GW. The AP1000 and CPR-1000 are scheduled to come in at $1.8 – $2 billion/GW, and projected costs are falling as ‘settled down’ effects come into play, including construction experience, factories for component manufacture, etc.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.html

    Finally, a suggestion. You would likely engender more measured answers from people if you didn’t consistently take such a sardonic tone in your comments. It does you no favours.

  113. Articles such as this only reinforce my view that rather than a “Damascne Conversion” Barry has actually “jumped the shark”.

    It is completely ridiculous to compare climate change deniers with anti nuclear people.

    There exists a vast body of peer reviewed research, that Barry has contributed to, proving global warming is a real phenomenon and will cause some degree of climate change in the future. What that climate change will be is harder to determine as the climate is very complex and we do not have a complete understanding however most of the current models are far more optimistic than reality as the climate is changing faster than most people predicted. Climate change deniers cherry-pick and/or ignore this evidence to arrive at their world view. Additionally the vast majority of scientists agree that AGW is happening and will cause climate change.

    There is no doubt that we will need to reduce carbon emissions in the future to avoid dangerous degrees of climate change however there exists no body of peer reviewed work that proves one way or another what the best method of achieving that low carbon future is. Therefore Barry’s conversion is only his opinion and his opinion carries no more weight than the hundreds of scientists such as Mills, Diesendorf and Jacobson that have done peer reviewed work on the future of energy and concluded that renewables can in fact contribute a majority of future energy needs.

    Therefore to compare climate change deniers who deny the body of evidence for climate change and renewable advocates that have a degree of science on their side is a fallacy of the highest order and is unworthy of a person so well educated as Barry. Barry’s current obsession with nuclear power is not supported by peer reviewed science and it involves just as many outlandish assumptions and/or stretching of technology than any of the claims of renewable advocates such as myself. There are very real concerns about proliferation and storage of nuclear waste that are ignored by nuclear advocates to arrive at the conclusion that nuclear is the energy source of choice for a low carbon world.

    I am the first to admit that renewables do have a long way to go before they will be supplying anything more than a token amount of the worlds energy. However renewables have one overwhelming advantage over other energy sources and that is by their nature foster a lower energy use philosophy that is sadly lacking with most nuclear advocates. The very core idea of nuclear power seems to be to continue the high energy use society pretty much the same as it is now whereas most if not all renewable advocates acknowledge the truth that our present society is unsustainable no matter how much energy we throw at it. Nuclear power with all its problems without drastic steps to reduce society’s consumption of energy will be at best a band-aid on a wound that really requires surgery.

    Renewables, the philosophy of lower energy consumption and the universal and scalable nature of renewables that are able to be deployed to a village in Africa as well as Sydney means that in my opinion offers more than nuclear power. If we truly want to transition to a low carbon society and avoid dangerous climate change we need to do more than change our energy source.

  114. Douglas Wise, #47571:

    The other motivation to move rapidly to 4th Generation could be construed as an attempt to disarm the anti-nukes by hammering home its advantages with respect to safety, proliferation and waste issues. However, if such was a motivation, it seems to have largely failed, despite the validity of the arguments presented.

    I would not judge success or failure on the basis of an inability to persuade the Mark Diesendorfs and Helen Caldicotts of this world (and a swag of other vociferous people who duck in and out of discussion forums). These people have far too much invested in the anti-nuclear position to ever change their views. I do suspect, on the basis of my day-to-day conversations and much private correspondence, that many — perhaps the majority of nuclear ‘fence sitters’ — are persuaded, or at least are open to consider the nuclear option now that they recognise that the problems they considered to be intractable are in fact simply issues of science, engineering, economics and perception.

    The Gen III+ designs I prefer to talk about at present are the ones that are now being built. This includes the AP1000, the APR-1400, the ABWR (Gen III). The EPR, in my mind, is an over-engineered design that was bound to fail economically. The Chinese HTRs are interesting prototypes, and the Chinese are in the best position to demonstrate their economic competitiveness, just as they seem to be among the first to try and prove up the competitiveness of large sodium-cooled fast reactors — the Russian-designed BN-800 and its planned successor, the BN-1200/1600.

    What is the ‘rush’ for Gen IV, and why not continue to research many designs? I agree that we should continue the R&D, but given the time required to move from first deployment to full scale commercialisation to assembly line roll out of 100s or 1000s of units is in the order of 10-15 years on a fast-track schedule, we need to be building the first commercial-demo Gen IV reactor within the next 5 years if we want them to be going up everywhere come 2030 or so. If we want IFRs to be deployable on a massive scale in two decades hence, we’d better kick start the process NOW. If the LFTR R&D can be completed in 10 years and they’re also coming online in the 2020-2030 decade and massively thereafter, all the better.

    I am not relaxing. I am working with SCGI to get the first IFR built ASAP. It’s a big task to be getting on with.

  115. Reading back over all these 130 comments generated in the last 2 days, I get the feeling that many people didn’t read, or skimmed and then forgot, the context statement that accompanied the title of this discussion thread.

    My point was not whether climate sceptics and anti-nuclear activists matter in terms of delaying effective action in certain jurisdictions (e.g., Australia, US, Germany etc). They clearly do. No doubt. No argument, and we, as a community, should be working hard to try and short-circuit their effectiveness. People like Peter Lang have been doing a particularly impressive job at this.

    But my point, which I still maintain is valid, is that climate sceptics and anti-nukes are irrelevant in the global picture. Since climate change is a problem of the global commons, and the ‘make or break’ decisions over atmospheric CO2 this century will come from the choices made in the developing world, sceptics/antis have, at most, a very marginal influence over whether humanity can effectively tackle climate change and energy shortage problems, or not.

    Go back and read the blog post at the top of this comments thread and, I hope, more of you will understand where I’m coming from. Currently, there seems to be a lot of unnecessary confusion.

  116. Stephen Gloor- To suggest that the case for nuclear energy is not sound or is unsupported by evidence, and peer-reviewed research, is simply dead wrong. To also suggest that renewable energy can reach beyond its very real physical limitations and provide a civilization such as ours with the power it needs to move forward, is to be obstreperously blind.

    When you look at the science of nuclear power, you realize nothing will ever match it for minimizing the impact of human civilization on the environment. Nuclear is the perfect solution to global warming. The energy transformations that take place in the nucleus of the atom are a million times greater than transformations that occur in the electron orbits, which is where coal, oil, and gas derive their energy. That means the “environmental footprint” of nuclear is a million times smaller than fossil fuels.

    According to environmentalism, there is no moral way to produce the motive power that industrial civilization requires. Large-scale power production is incompatible with environmentalism’s injunction against man-made alterations to the environment. Any form of man-made power that supports industrial civilization, regardless of how little it pollutes or how few resources it uses, is immoral because it supports industrial civilization.

    The greens pretend that renewable power sources, which currently supply 2% of the nation’s electricity, are a gigantic untapped resource that would be able to support American prosperity. They pretend that it is only the capitalist system that prevents us from enjoying these bountiful sources of energy—energy that would enable us to live in harmony with nature, in perpetuity.

    But when California’s subsidies—which guaranteed renewable energy generators three times the income of conventional power producers—increased the scale of “alternative” energy in the state, the greens dropped the pretense. They have turned against geothermal, small hydroelectric, and wood-burning generators—and they are turning against wind power producers. Their sin: these generators provide 7.5% of the state’s electricity needs and promised to expand with the growing demand for power.

    Environmentalists ultimately object to the amount of power produced, regardless of how it is produced. The instant that any technology promises to supply power on an industrial scale, it becomes an unpardonable evil that must be stamped out by force—either by government policy or by direct action.

    @Barry – Yes I agree that the current batch of doctrinaire idiots writing and speaking in the West are not going to have any real impact on steps to deal with global warming, or the adoption of nuclear energy. However they are still going to be a factor in Western politics, and while the salvation of the planet may now be in the hands of the Chinese and Indians, the quality of our lives can still be impacted if nitwit ideas drive the price of power through the roof chasing some ideological fantasy of a reduced energy society.

  117. It just seems strange when you can built around 60GW of wind power for 14bilion.
    In future windpower technology (lets call it Gen4) you could built 160GW of centralized wind power plants.

    If you invest half of it in the grid that is still 30GW.

    It would not hurt to test that technology before investing billions in nuclear.
    Its true they would need no fuel chain but you would have mantainance industry also.

    Maybe Bill Gates has not heared about such solutions.

    In contrast to nuclear power it would mean sustainable developement even for small countries or cities that do not need GWs of power.

  118. eclipsenow wrote:

    “Someone will need to address this on Worldchanging.com . . .”

    No, they will not “need to.” You need to address your actual questions as carefully and honestly as you can, using the best information you can find. If you have a specific one, it may well have been thoroughly addressed elsewhere in Barry’s blog or in the outward links mentioned in it.

    Barring that, I would suggest that you at least articulate them in detail.

    My impression is that many anti-nuclear advocates chase around scaring up “something to say against nuclear” and thus scare others. When they find it, they tout as though it means something, not because it necessarily does, but because it reinforces what they want to believe anyway, and gives them a powerful tool – - fear – - with which to manipulate others. Since logic and data do not matter, debates with people like that are only valuable when done in the presence of others who have actual curious and open minds.

    I notice that your response to my point about the difficulties and costs of transitions that involve things like other people’s car parks was addressed by positing super cheap solar would overcome those issues and then the market would assure this triumph. Well, if the solar engineers can make solar film so cheap that all of the secondary issues such as ease-of-use, intermittence, grid integration, fear of rooftop leaks, attachment to the status quo etc., are trumped by the cheapness of the product, more power to them. Have at it, prove us wrong. But don’t think that you have proven anything just because you found some stray fact or comforting projection.

    Based on everything I have read, which is a lot, I doubt it is going to happen, and am unwilling to bet the future on it. Nuclear is here now in Generation III and III+, and Gen IV is coming, irrespective of what happens in the U.S. or Australia or any particular country.

    If you have a real issue, I would urge you to articulate it yourself, not by proxy reference, along with its logic, data, and description of data sources, so all this can be evaluated and talked about. This is the approach participants take on Barry’s blog when it is working at its best, and discussions can then be productive because they are proceeding sort of like science does. It also requires a lot more of you.

    Stephen –

    You write that:

    ” . . . renewables have one overwhelming advantage over other energy sources and that is by their nature foster a lower energy use philosophy that is sadly lacking with most nuclear advocates.”

    This is like saying the advantage for renewables is that they don’t work to provide the energy that people want.

    In a world where people tend to want more, this is not an advantage that aligns with ecological preservation of the biosphere as we have known it.

    Also, I would dispute the notion that renewables advocates tend to want to foster lower energy use. Certainly those in the supply side of the renewables business – - and it is “just another business” once the idealist innovators are supplanted by profit maximizing Companies – - do not want that. They want a market for their product, the bigger, the better.

    You admit that renewables have a long way to go to contribute more than a token amount of energy. We do not have a long time to wait around. By all means, advance renewable technology. But to exclude nuclear, a priori, is, in my view, senseless. And if we are going to have nuclear expansion – - and we will, in this world irrespective of what is said in this blog or what happens in the USA or Australia – - then isn’t the better course to have nuclear advance in the best possible way from the perspective of social equity, environmental protection, and sustainability?

  119. Stephen Gloor, I think your comparison of Barry pro-renewables scientists is unfortunate.

    Barry is willing to answer his critics, while Jaconson avoid’s answering his. David Mills has been Known to be deliberately dodgy about ST costs.

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/11/ausras-first-us-solar-thermal-plant.html

    Mark Z. Jacobson avoids answering critics,

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/01/bill-hannahans-on-his-difficulties.html

    and outrageously fudges on his his CO2 emission estimates for nuclear power:

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/12/review-of-masrk-z-jacobsons-review.html

    In a response to a Jacobson article in Scientific American, Dr. Michael Briggs wrote:
    As a physicist focused on energy research, I find this paper so absurdly poorly done that it is borderline irresponsible. The authors cherry-picked highly inaccurate claims from other papers solely because those were the only claims that could support their pre-determined conclusion (that we can meet all of our needs purely with renewable power).

    The fact that they think hydrogen fuel cells and tidal power have any value in the energy future is enough to illustrate that they either did not spend much time analyzing the actual technologies they are promoting, or are intentionally duping readers (as many in the energy field do).

    David Mills was so dodgy about solar costs, that virtually any price is plausible, including $18,000 a kWh, as I demonstrate:

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/11/ausras-first-us-solar-thermal-plant.html

    Mills appears to have underestimated the price of hot water storage, and over estimated its effectiveness.

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/11/ausras-first-us-solar-thermal-plant.html

    I believe that Mills is no longer the Chairman of Ausra, as he was when he made his glowing claims about solar power, and Ausra is no longer in the electricity generation business.

    As for Diesendorf and your use of Diesendorf as an authority, I would like to quote a comment directed to you by “Atomic” Rod Adams: “Steven Gloor – No it doesn’t. Well dispersed wind requires between 1/3 and 1/5 of the average capacity of gas backup to equal the same amount of average capacity baseload.”

    Here is a quote directly from the Diesendorf paper that you linked to:

    “To replace the electricity generated by a 1000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station, with annual average power output of about 850 MW, a group of wind farms with capacity (rated power) of about 2600 MW, located in windy sites, is required. The higher wind capacity allows for the variations in wind power and is taken into account in the economics of wind power.
    . . .
    “Although a single wind turbine is indeed intermittent, this is not generally true of a system of several wind farms, separated by several hundred kilometres and experiencing different wind regimes.” (Emphasis added.)

    So even the paper that you linked to – which has its problems, like asserting that hot rock geothermal, biofuels and solar thermal already qualify as base load generators – indicates at least a factor of 2.6 additional wind capacity is required (2600 MW wind versus 1000 MW coal) as long as the sites for the wind are distributed far enough apart so that they are in different weather patterns and as long as they are all in “windy” locations.

    From a capital investment point of view, that means that you need to buy not only 2.6 times as much wind turbine capacity as you do steam turbine capacity, but you also are on the hook for a considerable investment in transmission infrastructure to hook those turbines into the grid. It is a reasonable rule of thumb that transmission lines cost about a million dollars (US) per kilometer to site and install. Coal plants can be built close to existing grids; wind farms have to be built where the wind is.

    Aside – this statement from Diesendorf’s paper still irks me “Even an optimal mix of fossil-fuelled power stations is not 100% reliable.” Of course that is true, but in the developed world, we have a pretty high standard for the reliability requirements of a mix of electrical generators – most customers on the grid would be very unhappy with less than about two 9′s of reliability. (That would mean that they would be powerless for an average of 86.7 hours per year. Here in the US, the vast majority of customer outages are caused in the distribution and transmission grids, not due to generator failures.)”

    http://theenergycollective.com/TheEnergyCollective/56111

  120. Marcus, I think you need to check that number… 60GW of wind for 14 billion…. unless my maths is lousy (and it is not all that flash I admit)… that is about $230 per installed kW… quite a staggeringly low figure.

  121. Marcus, The last price estimate for West Texas wind projects was $2500 per kW of name plate capacity. When capacity factor is considered that is about $6250 per average kW of output, a price that is higher than the 2010 going rate for nuclear plants in many parts of the world. The US EIA estimates that the levelized cost of new wind generated electricity in 2016 will be 15 American cents per kWh, while the same source estimates a levelized cost of 12 cents per kWh for new American Nuclear generated power for the same year.

  122. Dear Barry, I watched the video with you and Mark Whatsisname. Adelaide is a funny place. It has been twenty five years since I sat in the Barr-Smith library (nearly married one of the librarians) and it was ever so. Having never really been interested in the life of an academic, rather the “Engineer/Scientist” role it was very pleasing to come across your site. Great information.

    I have always been a rusted on AGW sceptic. I have looked at the numbers over and over and over, and I just can’t see it. Not for the lack of training, the ABS thought I was pretty nifty at computational statistics. It would come as no suprise to let you know that I have been pro-nuclear since age nine. I have no particular problem with burning coal to boil water apart from it is a little 18th century for my tastes, and we can think of a LOT more nifty things to use coal for.

    Anyway, back to Mark Whatsisname, I would have dearly loved to ask “Just how are you going to steal Pu from an IFR? Dip buckets into the core and smuggle it out in Eskys?”. The man hasn’t got a clue. I spent a fair bit of time with energy companies as well, doing power networks, data networks and SCADA. If he thinks a 4GEN IFR is in the distant future then I suggest an affordable (and more importantly do-able) ‘smart’ distributed energy supply system powered by windmills could be finished twelve weeks after the second coming ;-)

    So, good luck with the on-going work, and applause for the work already done. Very impressive.

    Now…..

    “Podargus, on 21 February 2010 at 18.23 Said:
    Yes,climate change deniers,nuclear deniers and,even worse,population deniers,do matter- a hell of a lot.We are running out of time.

    Until those sheep” …….

    Whoops. That is really not a great way to win friends and influence people. It exactly that type of thing that leads some rather brilliant polymaths (ahem) to regard the Green movement as a “load of ill-bred, ill-educated, ill-informed, ill-prepared scruffy wankers that need to go and live in a cave”.

    [...]

    “Podargus – swift,silent hunter of the night”

    If you had any more tickets on yourself you could be a Glenelg Tram Conductor.

    Mark Addinall. Ex Australian Army (Regular), a few universities, Engineer to the Stars!

  123. They don’t matter. I’ve commented on lot’s of these blogs that seem to fuss endlessly over some idiotic statement by someone in the US or Europe, that it seems more and more clear that the countries that will really matter are India and China and they both seem on the verge of a massive buildup in nuclear capacity. It would be nice if we ‘led’, and maybe we still will, but it really doesn’t matter.

  124. “Frank Jablonski, on 23 February 2010 at 2.18 Said:

    [...]

    This is like saying the advantage for renewables is that they don’t work to provide the energy that people want.”

    I think I love you ;-)

    Humans have had about 3000 years of R&D spent on Windmills, and I can’t see much of an improvement. At least the older ones had some aesthetic merit (being a beginner watercolour painter I start to pass an eye on function AND form ;) unlike those ugly product of the eco-terrorist, the Wind Farm.

    “I wanna 400BHP V12 Street Machine”

    Petrol Salesman
    “Sure, but don’t stand behind it, you’ll choke to death, and you have to service it a few times a year”

    Coal Salesman
    “Sure, but you might get a LITTLE performance degredation towing these coal carts around the country, and you have to service it a few times a year”

    Nuclear Salesman
    “Sure, but places exist where the locals will throw rocks at you and will not let you park it in conveniant places, and you have to service it every year”

    Wind Salesman
    “Sure, but when I say 400BHP we actually mean our 72BHP model with a shiny 400BHP sticker. And you can only drive it on Tuesdays, and Friday arvo’s. But sometime Friday is out of the question. HOWEVER, if you buy TWO of them, and stick one in another city, there is a REAL GOOD chance that you could drive that one on a Friday arvo instead. You can get to your other ‘Bitchin’ Wind Machine’ by scooting up the Smart Distribution Yellow Brick Road in a Petrol, Coal or Nuke powered jobbie. How many would you like? Errr. We only have one colour, Green”

  125. “And I forgot to mention. If you try to go slower than 15 mph it will automatically stall. Oh, and if you try to go faster than 68 mph it will also, for your safety, stall. Isn’t that nice and ECO-CARING?”

  126. “Oh, and the car park need to be a LITTLE large. For the 400(72) model, lessee, hmmmm, 20,000 acres should do it. It needs to be on prime beachfront land. And you will need a car park for the “Friday Emergency Smart Balancing Act” machine, so yea, about 40,000 of prime coastal real estate should just about do it”

  127. OT. Apologies.
    Well, hating Bill Gates is an old and well-trodden hobby,
    however, I seem to remember……..(wooooo….)

    “from the outset he was held in contempt by tech crowd because he bought into DOS when everyone had moved beyond it.”

    Well, not quite true. He didn’t buy INTO MS-DOS as such.
    He bought QDOS and re-named it MS-DOS. And shortly
    killed the Daddy of the 8088/8086 set, CP/M. So, the choices were, don’t have an operating system, write machine code. BASIC in ROM. CP/M. QDOS (very briefly), 86-DOS, CPM-86,
    UCSD-P System (a little late), DR-DOS, SCO XENIX System V or MS-DOS(PC-DOS). Having used all of them, I thought MS-DOS was quite sweet :-), XENIX was a pig on a little chip, UCSD-P System was AWSOME! Using a 8088 system with 512 KB of RAM as a multi user server (three users, console, two serial) at a respectable business speed! The various flavours of CP/M dies a death. BASIC became an ugly word. MS-DOS won the OS race hands down. Whilst reading in the Barr-Smith I had a wonderful job porting C-BASIC code and Z-80 assembler from a CP/M environment into Microsoft Business BASIC under MS-DOS and Thus verily, the Adelaide based Sybiz accounting application was born. And the rest, as they say, is history……

  128. Look out, Marcus has linked to KiteGen.

    Marcus, they don’t like any *new* renewable technologies here mate. They’ll harp on about the wonders of Gen4 reactors and how they’ll be cheaper than chips, really truly, there’s this paper that says so, they’ll be totally unlike their more expensive grand-daddy’s…

    …but somehow the same courtesy of listening to the scientists and engineers involved in the latest *renewable energy* does not apply.

    Then it’s all, “Where can I order one?” (giggles.) “Hey, who do I call?” (chuckles). “Yeah, I’ll just rush out and order a dozen.” (whooops with self congratulations and hi-fives all around).

    But mention Gen4? “Oh yes, XYZ paper claims….” (serious self important tone begins).

    Whereas SCIAM states:
    “One of the main arguments against such reactors is cost—a fast reactor is cooled by molten sodium rather than water, and the advanced design is estimated to cost anywhere from $1 billion to $2 billion more per reactor than a similarly sized conventional reactor [see “Rethinking Nuclear Fuel Recycling,” by Frank N. von Hippel; Scientific American, May 2008]. Democrats in Congress blocked most funding for fast reactors late in the Bush administration, and President Obama does not favor them.”

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=rethinking-nuclear-fuel-recycling

    At least Barry had the honesty to publish the following recently:
    “– Nobody knows yet how much IFR plants would cost to build and operate. Without the commercial-scale demo of the IFR, along with rationalization of the licensing process, any claims about costs are simply hand-waving guesses.”

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/02/18/ifr-fad-context/

    So Marcus, don’t you DARE go sharing gigawatt scaled KiteGen wind power systems with higher capacity factors, because although they’ve tested many prototypes and the engineers are quite confident that this will soon be a seriously cheap new energy source, these guys are just not used to thinking of renewables as baseload mate, and so you’ve got to break it to them gently! ;-)

    http://www.kitegen.com/en/

    http://www.kitegen.com/pages/faq_eng.html

    http://www.kitegen.com/pages/technology3.html

    I’m not that stressed about nuclear power after reading this blog, but just imagine if the (to date unsourced) claims of the KiteGen wiki actually developed as claimed!!

    “This can generate 1 Gigawatt of power, equivalent to a medium size nuclear power station but with an estimated capital cost 10 times lower. In other words 1 cubic Km of sky is able to provide 1 GigaWatt of power for 80% of the time in a year.”

  129. Whooops…. typo!

    I meant to say:

    So Marcus, don’t you DARE go sharing gigawatt scaled KiteGen wind power systems with higher capacity factors THAN REGULAR WIND..

    I’m not claiming that KiteGen have higher capacity than nuclear, although if it really works out to be 80% that’s not so bad hey?

  130. The kitegen would be a bit larger for 1GW.
    About 1.6km in diameter.
    For 60GW you would have a 25km diameter ring.

    For now they are commercialising the 3MW Stem. A 27MW kitegen Windpark (9 stem units) is under construction since Dez 09.

    1MW installed will be about 4 times cheaper than conventional windturbines with a capacity factor from 50-85% depending on location an operating high (800-10.000m).
    The Stem could be operated offshore or on a ship.

    Heres much more information on the project (with comments by the Italien engineers).

    http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5538

    http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5554

    I like it because you can service it localy and on the ground.
    No more silly arguments about people falling from roofs or turbines…
    They are beatifull, almost invisible and noiseless.

    Theres also great potential in new kite designs and flight algorithmics design.

    Obama should give them a call and order some. Australia too.
    There is also Makani Power in the US (a google thing) but kitegen is way ahead.
    In Swizerland they just started research and in the Netherlands they have a kitelab at TU Delft where they research “the laddermill” and kite aerodynamics.

  131. Mate, IF this technology works as advertised they won’t need Obama to do anything: the marketplace will be screaming for it.

    Which ironically is the whole point of Barry’s post above. All the bleating from climate sceptics and anti-nukes and pro-nukes won’t mean a thing if these beasts can generate power that cheap at that kind of capacity, AND that level of simplicity in construction. At that price, if you are even remotely worried about capacity issues, just build another 25% and you’ve got it covered!

    Or better, divert some of the economic savings into other diverse and complementary energy streams. If a big wind storm is going to ground the kites, why not have some wavepower and geothermal going as well? The KiteGen people would even argue that having another KiteGen farm a few hundred miles away would probably be cheaper, so we’ll see.

  132. **Hi DV8**
    “According to environmentalism, there is no moral way to produce the motive power that industrial civilization requires. Large-scale power production is incompatible with environmentalism’s injunction against man-made alterations to the environment. Any form of man-made power that supports industrial civilization, regardless of how little it pollutes or how few resources it uses, is immoral because it supports industrial civilization.”
    I’ve met some whacko environmentalists that are in this camp, but Stephen is not one of them. You’ve basically just run up another character attack argument again, and are trying to ‘poison the well’ by association.

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

    (Ways finger at childish argument strategy).

    Do you want me to right-off all pro-nuclear advocates because George Bush was an anti-climate conspirator that called NUKULAR power ‘renewable’? I’m sure I could find other ‘confused’ nuclear advocates… Let’s all lose our credibility as we play…. (drum roll)…. ‘Poison the well’.

  133. @DV82XL:
    Fair comment about Bill Gates software.

    I was citing him because of his economic opinion (that nuclear could be cheaper but currently was not) and added a couple of extra paragraphs because I thought his views were interesting, not expert. I agree with you that we should not follow gurus and make our own independent investigations based on a variety of expert sources.

  134. eclipsenow, -If Stephen Gloor has anything to say about my reply to him, he is free to address me on his own. He doesn’t need any help from you.

    I have come to the conclusion, based on the tone of your postings here that you are nothing more than a noisy little peckerwood, with nothing of consequence to add to this discussion.

    I’ll will not be responding to anything you post until you learn some manners

  135. Well, if you’re going to dive headlong into a LONG character attack post on someone I’ve respected for years, what do you expect? You’ve hardly got an endearing online persona yourself.

    But I was soooo looking forward to your disproving the CETO wavepower, OTEC oceanpower, geothermal, new graphite block solar thermal storage mechanisms, and of course Kitegen. I guess I’ll have to just do what I’ve said I was doing all along, and sit back and watch the energy market unfold, including all the “Black Swans” and twists and turns and surprises of technical advancement. And who knows? Maybe Bill Gates will get his wish for a 100 fold increase in battery performance. If that happens the game will have totally changed. EV’s won’t store 160km worth of juice, it’ll be more like 16,000 km per car. Even a 10 fold increase would be a game changer!

    Then it will be a case of “What storage problem?”

  136. I think the very nature of the response to your initial comment highlights a problem that I believe you consistently underestimate namely that we are caught up in a real life version of the prisoners dilemma and the choices that will be made will not be the optimum choices that are available.
    When I read the various comments I see much the same thing and it seems to happen in every forum where this topic is discussed – people focus on those issues about which they are passionate largely ignoring the larger picture.
    Representatives of sovereign states operate in a similar vein there is a token concern about the global commons but the pessimistic side of me suggests that this will be resolved in much the same way as the problem of the commons was solved in 18th century Europe – the commons were simply taken over by the large land holders.
    We are already seeing some moves in this regard in Antartica where nations are preparing to stake a claim to that last bit of terrestrial global commons .
    The atmosphere and oceans are not so readily appropriated but again there are some initial moves in the WTO that will enable countries to restrict imports on environmental grounds (see Sands Lawless World) hence my scepticism that anyone’s opinion particularly matters – ultimately all that we can be doing is make an impact in our own backyard and hope that our good example will be followed.
    It is also the basis for my continued opposition to nuclear – I can accept that the engeering is at a stage where we can address most if not all of the problems traditionally associated with nuclear energy what I cannot accept is that governments will necessarily implement best practice and furthermore not see nuclear power as an opportunity to develop their own nuclear arsenals – the same twisted logic that applies to Dr Strangelove is still alive and kicking in governments the world over.

  137. barry brook:
    “But my point, which I still maintain is valid, is that climate sceptics and anti-nukes are irrelevant in the global picture”

    How much time we have to develop more large scale and modern Gen III and IV nuclear is important. Also the time line influences whether to focus more on R&D, eg. fusion, or rapid commercial development of what we have now.

    In the IPCC 2007 report the low scenario is 1.8 degrees over the whole century and the high scenario is 4 degrees over the whole century. These upper and lower limits (which are themselves subject to controversy) represent significant differences in how much time we have. You can never remove the role of scepticism in the discussion because that is the nature of science and what is is good for – a means of inquiry, rather than as an official arbiter of the truth.

    Anties have not been irrelevant in the past because they influenced Clinton and Kerry to shut down and suppress information about the IFR. The battle for ideas is always important. I think they are relevant in that they influence career paths in the West. We might be better off if the nuclear science faculty was bigger than the climate science faculty.

  138. Barry wrote up thread:“Perhaps what “we” can do is help in getting costs of low-carbon electricity down. In which case, maybe climate skeptics and anti-nukes do matter after all? This is the discussion I’m trying to get us to knock around…”

    In the near term most new nuclear plants will likely be evolutionary designs often pursuing economies of scale. In the longer term, innovative designs can be developed, but for the moment we are best going in with what we got.

    Capital costs for nuclear plants generally account for 45-75% of the total nuclear electricity generation costs, compared to 25-60% for coal plants and 15-40% for gas plants. Nuclear power’s advantage is in its low fuel costs, relative to fossil, and especially to gas, fired generating stations. Design organizations quote generation cost (capital, operation and maintenance, and fuel) targets in the range of 3-5 US cents/kWh, which are highly competitive with fossil alternatives.

    Reducing the capital cost to meet these generation cost targets presents a significant challenge, which reactor builders are addressing by incorporating both proven means and new approaches for reducing costs into their evolutionary designs. Moreover, there are now available plants scaled for various grid capacities and owner investment capabilities, including large sizes for some markets and small and medium sizes for others.

    Experience has provided proven means for reducing costs of nuclear projects. Economies of scale are being pursued in, for example, the Republic of Korea, India and Japan for new evolutionary water-cooled reactors.

    Shortening the construction schedule reduces the financing charges that accrue without countervailing revenue. The schedule can be shortened by manufacture of modular systems to reduce on-site and tailor-made construction. Addressing licensing issues before start of construction is also key, as is efficient project management. Recent good experience includes extensive use of integrated design tools (Computer Aided Design and Engineering) that facilitate modularization, improvements in system arrangement and accessibility, and coordination of procurement with construction activities.

    Standardization and construction in series offer savings by spreading fixed costs over several units, and from productivity gains in equipment manufacturing, field engineering, and construction. Standardization is also leading to cost reduction for Canada’s CANDU, Japan’s ABWRs, the Republic of Korea’s KSNPs. and India’s AHWRs.

    Closely related is multiple unit construction at a single site. The average cost for identical units on the same site can be about 15% lower than the cost of a single unit, with savings coming mostly in siting and licensing costs, site labor and common facilities. Canada’s Bruce, Pickering and Darlington sites and the 58 PWRs in France built as multiple units at 19 sites are good examples.

    This is what is available now. Not to put too fine a point on it, the rest of the world does not have to follow the United States in nuclear technology anymore. France, Canada, Korea and now India can and do export reactors all over the world, and some of them are just more suitable for many nations than the Westinghouse and G.E. offerings.

    Aside: For the life of me, I do not understand why Australia, with a good supply of uranium, and no plans to build a nuclear weapon capability, isn’t buying Canadian or Indian heavy water reactors. The only supporting element that you are missing is a fuel fab plant, and one would do the whole country for the foreseeable future.[ /aside]

    The point here is that the cost of existing designs can be lowered a good deal more than they have been, just by the application of commonsense and good business practice.

    The question that needs to be asked is what is standing in the way – the answer is those with much to loose, dressing themselves in the mantels of antinuclear, or climate deniers, to hide their true colors.

  139. Eclipsenow – I’ve no problem with your “renewables”, I’d love wind solar et al to play a massive part in our energy future. If KiteGen is all it is cracked up to be, and other potential future renewable technologies then can you explain a couple of comments from Stephen (whom you deeply respect:

    “I am the first to admit that renewables do have a long way to go before they will be supplying anything more than a token amount of the worlds energy.” Did you hear that “A LONG WAY TO GO”.

    “renewables have one overwhelming advantage over other energy sources and that is by their nature foster a lower energy use philosophy that is sadly lacking with most nuclear advocates.”

    because if renewables really can provide cheap baseload, then why would the end user develop a lower energy use philosophy?

    Same goes for your better place cars… if they are so cheap then why would people drive less and adopt more sustainable travel modes. It is arguable that development of dirt cheap electric vehicles will destroy urbanity far more than the internal combustion engine has already managed in terms of urban sprawl and associated environmental issues.

    What I think you really need to do is explain why you want to abandon a safe, reliable and cheap option such as modern nuclear power, and ignore the potential of Gen IV plants that are no more pie in the sky than kitegen? Just what is the rationale for ruling them out? I’m not ruling out renewables, three cheers all round if they manage to pull out some game changing tech breakthrough.

    GEn III nuclear is here now and off the shelf. GenIV and the renewable options you prefer are “A LONG WAY OFF” – why would you put all your eggs in one basket.

    All I can assume is that you are clinging to traditional anti-nuclear reasons, which gets to the point of the blog, which is….

  140. Barry Brook – “Stephen Gloor:

    It is completely ridiculous to compare climate change deniers with anti nuclear people…Climate change deniers cherry-pick and/or ignore this evidence to arrive at their world view.

    It seems quite a valid comparison to me.”

    Which is exactly what you do to arrive at your world view of nuclear power. Simply linking to a list of things that seem valid to you however have absolutely no basis in truth and/or are not supported by peer reviewed research simply reinforces MY point.

    Climate change deniers go against the vast body of research that exists. There is no comparable body of research that concludes that nuclear is the way to go therefore renewable advocates are NOT comparable to climate change deniers and I bitterly resent being put in the same category. It is a measure of how far off the rails that you and this blog have gone that this sort of fallacious comparison is acceptable.

    This is not a return to this blog so you can rest assured that I will be not debating any of the points raised.

    However climate change deniers DO matter as they delay action on climate change as they are extremely effective in what they do and they do have an effect.

    Renewable advocates on the other hand perhaps do not matter other than trying to influence what they believe to be the best form of future energy. What influence they have is debatable when the real money is being wasted on Clean Coal.

    “Nuclear is the answer” is a very short sighted opinion when the problem is much bigger than where our energy supply should come from. Your simplistic notion that all we have to do is roll out nuclear and all will be well is not becoming for a person of your education and experience. I would have expected a far more sophisticated world view than this from you and indeed that is how you started when I first started to read this blog. Your myopia on nuclear is chasing away real debate and BNC is now nothing more than a nuclear echo chamber.

    Only when we realise that our society is the problem and we need drastic change so that we can be truly sustainable for the future will the problem of climate change be addressed. Only then can we begin to consider what is the best energy source. That answer may turn out to be nuclear or at least GenIV however you are not asking the right questions nor are you fostering a free and open debate that may get near the correct questions. Indeed there are many people that question the notion that any society that needs exponential growth can EVER be sustainable and we are just pissing in the wind. They may turn out to be the most correct of all of us.

    I am cross posting this at the Energy Collective.

  141. I’m not really sure why the energy source suited to providing energy for civilisation is dependent on realisation that “our society is the problem.”

    To me it sounds like a recipe for continuing the status quo because I don’t see society choosing “drastic change” or self-flagellation any time soon.

  142. With me, The Energy Collective has lost such reputation as a place for open debate as it once had when a comment of mine got through moderation, and then, somehow, disappeared again. I wondered if I had been mistaken in thinking it had got through, but in Google’s cache, there it was.

    (It was in a discussion of CCS that did the usual listing of options that to me seem superfluous, and as such discussions commonly do, proceeded as if the one that makes them superfluous — pulverization and dispersal of alkaline earth orthosilicate minerals — was undemonstrated and unthought of. What is the point of behaving that way, and animal-farming the comments into compliance??)

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  143. Stephen Gloor –
    You wouldn’t answer my last remarks to you in any detail, and apparently you won’t answer this. You are not going to, or defend your position because you have a religion. Your religion tells them that only renewable energy is “good” and all other energy is “bad.” Your definitions of good and bad are in your mind. There is no objective truth for religion, no foundation. When religious people argue, they’re arguing about opinion, and they can argue forever.

    Wind and solar are stupid little toys; they will forever remain toys. They will never power an advanced civilization. They are a waste of our economic resources, our attention and our time. Real, productive people need real, industrial-sized power. And, don’t even mention conservation. Conservation is no energy policy. Conservation is no more an energy plan than fasting is a food supply. Sure, greater efficiencies save energy, but we immediately have more uses for it.

    As I wrote elsewhere today, your kind are seeking to cut off the motive power of industry. You are quite simply attempting to destroy the Industrial Revolution by starving it to death. Such a reversal would begin a new Dark Age for mankind—a Dark Age in which everyone would be compelled to accept a standard of living well below that of the Third World—a Dark Age that would open with the deaths of billions of human beings who would have become the “surplus” population that could no longer be supported in a world without mass production.

    This is in the end is what you stand for.

  144. ‘Renewable advocates are NOT comparable to climate change deniers and I bitterly resent being put in the same category.’

    I don’t think Barry or anyone was calling you a climate change denier, so I wouldn’t take it personally. However, it is certainly the case that some renewables advocates, in their zeal for advocating an energy roadmap that also satisfies certain philosophical, political or personal identity imperatives, have used the same class of rhetorical ploys as climate deniers, as creationists, as the anti nukes, and the tobacco science lobby. The comparison is spot on.

    You’ve argued here, tenaciously but not convincingly (to me, anyway), that renewables can provide baseload (and peaking) power. But when you say:

    ” .. renewables have one overwhelming advantage over other energy sources and that is by their nature foster a lower energy use philosophy”

    I’m just flabbergasted that you can hold two such contradictory statements in your head at once. This seems to be a sabotage mindset – advocate renewable energy systems ostensibly to provide power, but, cryptically, to ensure power is not provided, because your endgame is a powered down society.

    I think you’d stop tying yourself in contortions if you made it explicit that your aim is a low power society, not a renewable power system for our present civilization. That way we could stop arguing about renewable capabilities, (they clearly have the characteristics you want), and we could stop arguing about nuclear power (it clearly works against your aim). If this is your aim, your energy position makes sense to me (and sorry if I’ve been a bit thick about not recognizing this earlier).

    We could then have a discussion about whether a low power society or a high powered, but clean powered, society is preferable. I might disagree with you on that, but the positions could be argued with integrity.

  145. I’ve been away and haven’t caught up with many things, including all
    the comments on this post, so apologies if I repeat what has already been
    said. Contrarians (Hansen’s favoured term) and anti-nukes matter, and matter big time, because they vote. All those yobbos driving
    round in 4WDs with “I fish/hunt and I vote” stickers have an excellent
    knowledge of the (Western) political process. They visit politicians, they lie,
    they threaten, they bully. These tactics work and there is enough overlap
    in the fishing/hunting lobby and the Contrarian lobby that if they
    feel threatened they will use the same very effective tactics. The anti-nukes
    are rather different and can, hopefully be persuaded with rational
    debate … I was.

    The people involved in IFR promotion and design have plenty of
    work to do. It’s up to the rest of us to deal with skeptics and anti-nukes as
    well as possible. BNC is a great resource.

    While I was away, I read Hansen’s book “Storms of my grandchildren” … definitely a must read!

  146. Just what is a “Climate change denier” by the way?
    The nearest I can see to that rather bizarre description
    is the folk that want to sell windmills and have declared
    that the weather on the 28th of Julember 1981 was just perfect
    and nothing should be ALLOWED to move it from that base.

    This is the “Goldilocks” School of Climate Science.

  147. Stephen Gloor said:

    ‘Renewable advocates are NOT comparable to climate change deniers and I bitterly resent being put in the same category.’

    Well, if it’s any comfort, I’m sure climate change sceptics bitterly resent being put in the same category as anti-nukes. But hey, I’m not in this business to please either group. I’ll just say like like I see it.

  148. Upthread, eclipsenow said:

    One thing I’d love to see is a master podcast page on this site, like the link to the university debates but with all your own podcast and radio interviews.
    Indeed, do you have mates that could help set up an iTunes podcast where you can have maybe a fortnightly or monthly report? I’d subscribe to it. I don’t get to read everything on this blog as I’m studying, but when I’m walking / cooking / doing the dishes, I LOVE listening to good podcasts full of information

    Yes, thanks for the nudge, I’ve been considering doing something like this — to not only capture my occasional talks and extended radio interviews, but also to run a regular series, with guests etc., much as Rod Adams has successfully done for quite some time.

    I’ll get my Environment Institute guys onto it… soonish. I’ll be running a 6-part energy series in conjunction with RiAus in mid-2010, so this might be a good time to launch it.

  149. Stephen, anti-nuclear renewable advocate most are obstructing climate change mitigation and doing so in a far more dangerous way than climate change deniers are. There is a rapidly growing body of research literature that contradicts the claims that renewable supporters make about the carbon mitigation potential of renewable energy.

    When renewable critics point to holes in arguments in support of renewables, to inadequate data, or to data which contradicts the case which anti-nuclear advocates are making, the renewable advocates simply ignore the problem, and simply go on to another argument.

    Anti-nuclear ideologues base their case on several untrue arguments. They argue that nuclear power is unsafe, despite ample empirical evidence that nuclear power has a superior safety record, and is safer than both fossil fuels and wind. Anti-nuclear ideologues argue that nuclear power is dangerous because of the problem of nuclear waste. Yet despite ample evidence that any number of several competing nuclear waste solutions would work, anti-nuclear ideologues continue to oppose any nuclear waste solution. Anti-nuclear ideologues argue that nuclear power is dangerous because of nuclear proliferation. This argument rests on two mistakes. The first is that the possession of civilian power reactors in itself leads to weapons programs. An analysis will of the routes taken by states that currently possess nuclear weapons, demonstrate that most developed their nuclear weapons program before rather than the developed civilian reactor programs. Furthermore, the notion that reactor grade plutonium is weaponizable is contradicted by nuclear weapons experts, and physicists who have worked with nuclear arms control negotiations. No nation has ever developed, and successfully tested a reactor grade plutonium nuclear weapon, despite having abundant raw material to do so.

    Finally, anti-nuclear ideologues argue that nuclear power is too expensive. Yet when the true capital costs of electricity from renewables, that is the cost of the subsidies, and the costs that gets paid by rate payers, the cost of renewables is always higher. Thus none of the anti-nuclear arguments withstands critical evaluation, and people who are interested effective AGW mitigation, such as environmental activist Stewart Brand, should be willing to acknowledge the weakness of the anti-nuclear case. You are not willing to do that.

    Stephen, John D Morgan,has pointed out the contradictions in your claims, that renewable energy can both serve as base load power, and that it will teach us to get by on a low energy lifestyle. Steven, isn’t that what AGW skeptics do, maintain contradictory positions, even after the contradictions are pointed out.?

    You argue ““Nuclear is the answer” is a very short sighted opinion when the problem is much bigger than where our energy supply should come from.” This is what logicians call a straw many argument. You simply, without the slightest evidence, make a blanket attribution of a bogus idea to the people you disagree with, and then say, “you see there, you are wrong.”

    You argue, “Your simplistic notion that all we have to do is roll out nuclear and all will be well is not becoming for a person of your education and experience.” This putdown is totally unjustified because you have not established that anyone holds the simplistic notion you attribute to them.

    You argue, “I would have expected a far more sophisticated world view than this from you and indeed that is how you started when I first started to read this blog. ” Since you have failed to make a case that Barry Brook takes any of the is unsophisticated ideas you attribute to him, this is simply another gratuitous put down.

    You state, “Your myopia on nuclear is chasing away real debate and BNC is now nothing more than a nuclear echo chamber.” Echo chamber? Please! Don’t you see that there are at the moment 167 comments on in response to Barry’s post? Don’t you see that comments are written from a variety of positions, and there is spirited disagreement between commenters? Don’t you see that among the pro-nuclear commenters on this blog there are significant areas of disagreement? Stephen, who is being myopic here?

    You maintain, “Only when we realise that our society is the problem and we need drastic change so that we can be truly sustainable for the future will the problem of climate change be addressed.” You have not established what you think the problem is. I will presume that you are a neo-Malthusian, that is a person who doubts that the earth lacks the carrying capacity for its present and future human population. In fact, I have detected some sympathy for that position in Barry’s writings, and if so it would be one of the areas that Barry and I disagree on.

    In addition to attributing to Barry a position that he might well disagree with, you add a seeming non-sequitor. Even if the claims you are attempting to make are true, how does your no-nuks approach follow. You have laid not groundwork, and have not presented to well thought out argument to which this would be a valid conclusion.

    Finally, you srgue, “That answer may turn out to be nuclear or at least GenIV however you are not asking the right questions nor are you fostering a free and open debate that may get near the correct questions. Indeed there are many people that question the notion that any society that needs exponential growth can EVER be sustainable and we are just pissing in the wind. They may turn out to be the most correct of all of us.”

    Stephen what are “the right questions,” and why do you think that they are? Again you attribute to Barry and others a view, which they might disagree with if given a chance, and if they agree with it, might add significant qualifications. In short you are creating another straw man argument. No one her has argued for exponential growth, and economic growth, need not consume more and more materials. There is, as Richard Feynman pointed out plenty of room for growth by miniaturization, there is plenty of room at the bottom. Economic growth can come by doing more and more by less and less. Secondly, there has not been a realistic assessment of world material resources, and thus there is no grounds for claims that economic growth, at least the sort of growth I suggest is unsustainable. We know that some material resources exist in a sustainable supply. Among the sustainable resources are uranium and thorium, which exist in sufficient abundance that they will outlast and human demands, given that solar evolution will one day maker the earth uninhabitable. Should solutions to our energy problems wait for a world resource assessment? I don’t think so. We have the material resources to solve the energy problem for as long as we choose to, so why not use them.

    Stephen the argument here is that nuclear critics resemble AGW skeptics. One of the ways they do so, I would maintain is by use of irrational arguments.
    I have pointed to numerous flaws in your arguments, flaws which I also find in arguments presented by AGW skeptics. Thus in that regard, I would maintain that yes, your argument style and its flaws does have a lot in common with AGW skeptics.

  150. Someone will need to address this on Worldchanging.com… just yelling at me doesn’t get the word out to them, OK? You can comment at the end of the link here.

    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/010981.html

    “New Research Ranks Top Renewable Energy Options

    Research from Stanford University ranks the world’s energy options — putting wind, concentrated solar and geothermal at the top of the list, and nuclear power and coal with carbon capture and sequestration in a tie for dead last.”

    Been there, done that. Next?
    Critique of ‘A path to sustainable energy by 2030′

  151. “Well, if you’re going to dive headlong into a LONG character attack post on someone I’ve respected for years, what do you expect? You’ve hardly got an endearing online persona yourself.” – eclipsenow

    eclipsenow,, what do you make of Stephen’s long ad hominem attack on Barry, the one I dissected? One is, of course, rarely endearing online when he or she makes a point or using the rules of logic against an opponent, but is what matters getting people to like you, or is it bringing the truth out? One can be a great guy, and kind to his children and still use very flawed arguments, and stubbornly adhere to them, even when their flaws are pointed out. People who are engaged in passionate argument, are likely to say things in the heat of the moment that they may not mean. It happens. Apply your rules consistently and get over it.

  152. ‘Renewable advocates are NOT comparable to climate change deniers and I bitterly resent being put in the same category.’

    Sure… but there’s a difference between “Renewable advocates” and people who come to the discussion with a dogmatic almost religious ideology that nuclear energy is bad, and who refuse to entertain rational, fact-based, evidence-based scientifically sound discussion of the benefits of nuclear energy – and people who refuse to participate in any sensible discussion of the real facts regarding the limitations, scalability, availability and costs of “renewable” energy.

    No, by the way, I’m not saying that the above is a description of you.

  153. There wont be 10.000 nukes overnight or a renewable solution in a matter of some years…
    There is no other chance than to use less.

    The average american household uses what? 11.000kWh? Yet they do not have a very high standard of living compared to countries taht use less than 1/3.

    Use less and shut down some coal plants.
    Providing those people that don`t understand that with energy does not make sense at all.

  154. Conservation is a bad long-term policy. It’s a backwards-looking policy of stagnation. It certainly needs to be part of our short-term goals while so much of our energy comes from fossil fuels, but it needs to stop there.

    Conservation is important when the resource is limited. Energy is not. Conservation helps us maintain the status quo, but it prevents us from moving forward. There’s an implication by those who call for conserving energy — sometimes overt — that an insatiable appetite for energy is a bad thing. But it isn’t.

    The solution to our energy needs is not conservation. The solution is creating, developing, and deploying new sources of renewable energy so we never have to conserve again. Energy lets us do things. With more energy we can do more. Simple as that. If we can’t grow enough food, so we say, “Go a little hungry?” No. We develop ways to produce more.

  155. You have to learn to let go. To share stuff, money, food,…
    As long as 1.800billion or more are wasted for wars I don`t see how we would need more energy?
    There are obviously places we can save energy and ressources.
    Why should you give energy to those that use too much?
    If China was the USA in terms of standard of living they would not push nuclear but restrict the use of energy instead. Now they are investing in every technology…they might even come up with a renewable solution instead.
    But of course a centralized power source does suit a dictatorship.

  156. A centralized power source would definitely suit a dictatorship.

    It would also very well suit a popular democracy, a hereditary monarchy, a socialist collective, a constitutional republic or a theocracy.

    What was your point? Perhaps to create a spurious negative association? Would this be an instance of the rhetorical ploys I mentioned in my response to Stephen, above?

  157. Barry,

    Re: your call to review the original post. I maintain my original position – that anti-nukes do matter. As energy demand sees the most growth in the developing world over the coming decades; existing, aged generation infrastructure will be replaced elsewhere during the same period (in addition to new capacity installation to address more modest growth).

  158. You would not accept the same limitation with the Internet.
    Why would you accept it with power?
    You can`t switch off my PV island solution. (ruling out EMP weapons…)
    You can cut off gas supply, uranium, cole, oil or just switch of a big plant.
    Thats where pv trumps anything in the long term. Plus is cheaper for the individual.
    People that use their own power also consume less power thus saving even more (money/envirement).
    People could actually feel standby, old light bulbs or the fridge that is just too big.

  159. the fact that you get your power off grid would not make it decentralized unless you made the solar or wind power yourself. distributed power is perfectly compatible with production monopolies over that power.

    distributed power deriving from a monopoly would likely be affordable only by the rich.

    No sensible energy system would be primarily off grid for efficiency reasons. Centralized power systems can be owned by multinationals or the public.

    I think we have to resist equating decentralization with dispersed power and democracy; by the same token, as John points out, we should resist equating central power sources with concentrated wealth and economic power.

    If decentralized power proponents had faith in a future human solidarity, they would not make a fetish of decentralization.

    I, having watched many dystopian movies, associate decentralized power with Mad Max scenarios, not William Morris utopias.

  160. Thats exactly why everybody needs pv.
    They would not come for my panels if it was only a shortage for some days…like last winter…they only consequence for them is that those on gas have to find some other place to sleep or wear some serious pullovers.
    PV will also be integrated in building materials. You would have to take apart a roof, fassade or windows.

    Do we want to depend on foreign gas, oil, uranium?
    Material for Indium/Germanium free pv is more easily available.

  161. marcus: perhaps I cannot switch off your pv island, but you have to buy the pvs from somewhere, most likely a multinational. and at any rate, pvs, since they cannot provide reliable base power, would carry their own off switch as part of their constitution. “they” wouldn’t have to switch off your power since you would often not have sufficient power to start with.

    second, as noted above, ordinary people cannot afford to buy their own power sources. third, what does your island imagery tell us about your view of human cooperative potential?

  162. What do you pay for your power?
    At 23€cent/kWh it is economical to go off grid and it saves you money after some years.
    You get payed 60% of your grid tied pv instalation.. Most pv is payed for after 5 years. You will fed in more years because you get money doing so.
    After FIT you will get more (even cheaper panels) and get off grid completly.

    We are rich. Whats the point?

  163. We do cooperate.
    I`ve built s micro hydro gravityvortex plant with my neighbors. It is grid tied and it is also cheaper than buying power. It is also base load.
    Ever heared of batteries? You can also have PV/wind/storage solutions for small cells.
    We got communal grids owned by the people.

    Small citys do not need big power solutions. They are better of if they produce their own power and sell the surplus.
    People from all over the world are comeing to Austria to see how such solutions can work. Güssing would love to welcome you some day.

    http://www.eee-info.net/cms/EN/

  164. austria gets most of its electricity from hydro. yes? over 60 %?

    austria is thus not much of a model for the rest of the world, as the rest of the world does not have such resources. the base power you mention is hydropower I assume.

    what percentage of your electricity comes from solar power?

    what will happen without the significant subsidy you mention?

    I’m glad you are rich and no, I have not heard of batteries? what’s a battery?

  165. Marcus, when there’s no oil, gas, coal or uranium energy, and industrial civilisation has collapsed, who is going to manufacture your replacement solar panels and inverter? As Gregory pointed out. ‘Alternative lifestylers’ and doomists usually also conveniently ignore this little problem.

    Your figures for payback times for PV are wrong — completely wrong. I strongly suggest you read this piece by Gene Preston:
    Key concepts for reliable, small-scale low-carbon energy grids

  166. Just visit the acadamy of Güssing.
    It is Burgenland….there is little to no Hydro in Burgenland.
    There are various renewable solutions for various locations.
    You can get on contact with the EEE- I just provided you with the website.
    The gravityvortex plant is some Austrian invention that enables more people to use hydropower with little overhead.
    I produce about 4.900kWh/a pv power and use 3.600kWh/a.
    It would also pay without the subsidy but take longer. Since we want to switch faster we use subsidies.
    Austria is one of the richest countries of the world. I don`t see a problem in the use of subsidies. You can move a lot when everybody contributes a little money.

    You seem to have money too. You are using time to think about ideas, post ideas on the internet,…
    It does not make a difference for the western individual if power costs 5,6,7, or 15 cent..or 23-27€c like in Europe. We can provide the poor with subsidiesed power.

    OTOH if you visit the EEE ind Güssing you will learn that this is not necessary at all.
    If you visit kitegen.com you will learn that there are many other ideas to produce cheap baseload renewable power.

    We might even consider changes in society. Like the unconditional basic income.

  167. Barry,
    Maybe you should also consider visiting the EuropeanRenewableEnergyCenter in Güssing some day.
    Austria is a beautiful country and there is much to learn from projects that have been realised in this model region since 1996.

    I got pv installed for 2€/W. They do all the paperwork. I get 60% and FIT. You can buy that package from your utility too. Thats how it works.
    That also encourages you to lower your consumption.

  168. Marcus all these subsidies for PV might help certain individuals but for society as a whole it is an extremely expensive way to generate electricity. In Australia peak electrical demand is in summer daytime so in theory PV could help with load following. However in practice it barely makes a dent.

    Therefore you have to ask why politicians are spending taxpayers money on generous subsidies and feed-in tariffs when they make so little difference. I suggest it is greenwashing and vote buying. Some people may tend to become more frugal with electricity once they have grid tied PV installed. I doubt that will ever make much difference to the need for night time generation capacity such as that required for electrical heating in winter. PV does nothing for heavy industry or hospitals that have steady electrical demand day and night, all year round.

  169. That is exactly what I am paying taxes for.
    The fit program is capped at 2.1Mio€

    It will be raised if we vote to get out of Euratom which saves us 40Mio/a (which is very likely).

    PV prices are coming down every year. I already postet the link to crystalsol who developed a monocrystaline cell based on non rare earth material.
    This is what the future of integrated solar looks like with cell cost coming down 80% and integrated in your tiles, fassade, windows or metalroofing (which also cheapons installation).
    You can buy pv-tiles in Austria today.
    When you live in a passive house (no to +5% in extra cost to conventional buildings) with solar energy supply and only need about 4000kWh/a for heating/hotwater/power + 7000kWh for transportation that makes a difference to your 25.000kWh figure (not very much scenarios explored in that small article..you might want to compare this with Güssing which is a real model).

    You can get another glimps of the future if you visit Austrias olympic house in Vancover…which probably is the first passiv house on Canadian soil.

    We will soon have laws for mandatory insulation and energetic certifacation for private buildings as well.

    We go a wide way in conservation and efficiency…which makes it even more depressing when other societies use more than double the energy.

    It is not that easy to push one or another idea in a free democratic society. Keep that in mind when you try to press your visions.
    But like eclipsenow I like the idea of “waste eating” nuclear plants.
    For ships I rather have kitegen/kiteves or skysails technology….which is available now and could be retrovitet on any ship or supertanker and save CO2 today.

  170. Marcus, if your installation cost 2€/W and the program is capped at 2.1Mio€, then the whole things only supporting 2 MW of power. If you pull out of Euratom and put all the savings to the FIT program, you’re still only talking 40 MW a year. Like John Newlands said, it just doesn’t make a dent.

  171. I thought some of you might find the wikipedia entry on renewables “interesting.” Personally, the entry made me want to puke.

    A criticism of some renewable sources is their variable nature. But renewable power sources can actually be integrated into the grid system quite well, as Amory Lovins explains:

    Variable but forecastable renewables (wind and solar cells) are very reliable when integrated with each other, existing supplies and demand. For example, three German states were more than 30 percent wind-powered in 2007—and more than 100 percent in some months. Mostly renewable power generally needs less backup than utilities already bought to combat big coal and nuclear plants’ intermittence.[57]

    Mark Z. Jacobson has studied how wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 per cent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels. He advocates a “smart mix” of renewable energy sources to reliably meet electricity demand:

    Because the wind blows during stormy conditions when the sun does not shine and the sun often shines on calm days with little wind, combining wind and solar can go a long way toward meeting demand, especially when geothermal provides a steady base and hydroelectric can be called on to fill in the gaps.[58]

    From detailed studies in Europe, Dr Gregor Czisch has shown that the variable power issue can be solved by interconnecting renewable across Europe the European super grid and using only existing storage hydro. The costs of power over the lifetime of the scheme are the same as today’s conventional power supplies, indicating that the capital investment is roughly the same as the cost of fuel avoided over the projects 25 year lifetime.[59]

    Lovins goes on to say that the unreliability of renewable energy is a myth, while the unreliability of nuclear energy is real. Of all U.S. nuclear plants built, 21 percent were abandoned and 27 percent have failed at least once. Successful reactors must close for refueling every 17 months for 39 days. And when shut in response to grid failure, they can’t quickly restart. This is simply not the case for wind farms, for example.[57]

    Wave energy and some other renewables are continuously available. A wave energy scheme installed in Australia generates electricity with an 80% availability factor.

    Sustainable development and global warming groups propose a 100% Renewable Energy Source Supply, without fossil fuels and nuclear power.[60] Scientists from the University of Kassel have suggested that Germany can power itself entirely by renewable energy.[61]

  172. @ Matt Buckels
    “I am the first to admit that renewables do have a long way to go before they will be supplying anything more than a token amount of the worlds energy.” Did you hear that “A LONG WAY TO GO”.
    I’m not sure if Stephen had in mind the scale of the DEPLOYMENT or the state of the technology, so I cannot comment on that one.
    “renewables have one overwhelming advantage over other energy sources and that is by their nature foster a lower energy use philosophy that is sadly lacking with most nuclear advocates.”
    because if renewables really can provide cheap baseload, then why would the end user develop a lower energy use philosophy?
    Because, by and large, the mode of energy is electricity, not liquid fuels, and this provides enormous infrastructure issues. Being “into” renewable energy seems to also imply intimacy with the many other resource challenges and city planning challenges we face, and hence the adherents are more likely to be pro-New Urbanism or ecocities, etc, which promote a more pedestrian focussed city plan with *less* (but not necessarily no) cars and car requirements.
    Even if the electricity is abundant, supposedly cheap nuclear energy (and I will remain agnostic about “cheap” nuclear energy until I see it built), we are facing a liquid fuels energy crisis which will strain the world’s airlines and transport systems at a minimum.
    While a bit off topic, I’d love Barry to invite other authors to investigate how abundant nuclear/renewable ELECTRICITY can meet our transport, mining, flight, and agricultural needs and either:
    * replace our modes of transport through electric transport
    * or manufacture the liquid fuels… somehow, in the quantities these niche markets might need. (Assuming Better Place & better city design meet our personal transport needs).
    Might be good for the podcast sometime hey Barry? ;-)
    Note on tone:
    I know I’ve had some acid in my tone on occasions above, when I feel certain points are being obviously neglected. (Like Blees ignoring the revolutionary potential of EV’s to create a whole new demand for that currently ‘useless wind’ at night). But what really brings it out are some of the character attacks, and indeed, sheer internet trolling that seems to go on in the comments.

    @ Charles: When someone of Stephen Gloor’s character and blogging reputation is forced to write:
    This is not a return to this blog so you can rest assured that I will be not debating any of the points raised.
    ..it sadly reflects on the status of this blog becoming ruled by cranky idealogues rather than being an honest exchange of information between like minded, climate concerned activists trying to plot out a better future.

    And then after DV8′s character attack on Stephen Gloor, DV8 sounds positively petulant when sulking that Stephen didn’t immediately dignify it with a response. “Religion” indeed, we’re talking about peer reviewed science and the ongoing, DEVELOPING complementary modalities of energy supply and societal response. It’s a BIG picture, and “Just insert nuclear” is too simplistic. DV8 implying Stephen Gloor stands for the dark ages, well, I guess after my interactions with DV8 I should have known exactly what to expect. Nothing but pure internet trolling!

    @ John Morgan
    “sabotage mindset” no no no! Nuclear advocates just seem more likely to “us” renewable advocates (or advocates of both, as I tend to be a bit in the middle these days) to be more informed about the broader ecological issues.

    Nuclear guys just *seem* to be more BAU and less likely to have thought through the *many other* consequences of industrial civilisation and other adaptation measures and DEPLETION issues that we face! How many nuclear advocates above have a sewerage plan for peak phosphorus, are concerned about biodiversity, are passionate about “Cradle to Cradle” design, are concerned about overpopulation, want to save the whales, etc etc etc?

    I’m sorry if that sounds like a cliche generalisation, and I’m aware of the exceptions like Lovelock etc, but there you have it. If Barry’s happy to dump anti-nukes in the same camp as anti-warming, then I’m happy to dump *many* (not all) pro-nukes in the same camp as pro-BAU on industrial civilisation, which needs reinventing for MANY other reasons, not just energy.

    I mean, just look at DV8. “Conservation is a bad long-term policy. It’s a backwards-looking policy of stagnation.” But with less energy, we might be forced to think through alternative city designs that meet our needs in a more humane manner, brainstorm new ideas that solve MULTIPLE problems at the same time and create a whole new, much better city plan and lifestyle. Some rather fantastic peak phosphorus solutions that also involve city planning could have been lost if the authors had also had DV8′s “just add more energy” perspective above. I rest my case.

  173. Eclipsenow don’t go confusing eco-cities and new-urbanism now. New urbanism borders on being window dressing for suburban sprawl in many circumstances. But like many renewable energy advocates, new-urbanism carries an illogical fear/resentment of genuine high density sustainable development. A politically correct camouflage for nimbyism and twee. Neo-conservatism meets urban design.

    You are absolutely correct about the liquid fuels crisis… It is a problem common to all forms of electricity generation. To me it is a strong argument for moving to nuclear power, so that oil and gas are conserved for the valuable uses for which there is no known replacement. Instead wasted on low end uses.

    I essentially agree with what you are saying here – I just don’t get your opposition in principal to nuclear energy. Why would you exclude it from the mix?

  174. Barry’s initial post is headed how I have learned to love energy economics – it is clear that he either has little understanding of economics or that he is quite selective in his understanding. Indeed this is the problem with the pro nuclear posts generally.
    This becomes evident in the way Barry summarised the anti-nuclear position.
    My opposition to nuclear is not based on the science (ie whether the engineering problems have been solved – I am happy to concede that they may well have been solved.) Nor is it based on the threat of terrorism or nuclear arms proliferation (although that remains a legitimate concern that has not been adequately addressed by any of the arguments that I have seen.) For the sake of the argument I am happy to concede all those points.
    There is still a very powerful economic argument that has not been addressed in these posts.
    It seems that for the pronuclear proponants the economic argument comes down to one of cost – but that is a very limited view of economics. Cost is an issue but not a major issue.
    The real problem is that the problem of climate change appears to be defined in terms of our emissions of greenhouse gasses and all that needs to happen is that we need to solve that problem. If that were indeed the case then many of the arguments in favour of at least considering nuclear as part of the mix of solutions would have some merit.
    However, there is also an argument that runs a little bit like this. Climate change is a symptom of a much larger problem – the problem of unbridled economic growth.
    Given that many of the bloggers here have a science background start by reading Geoff Davies’s Book Economia; here is a physicist who looked closely at the discipline of economics – especially the way it is espoused by the pro-growth lobby and demolished that particular perspective.
    In a world of continuous economic growth you need exponential increases in your energy supply and clearly nuclear is best placed to provide such an exponential increase.
    However, if we choose that option we will only accelerate the rate at which the planet becomes unlivable. There are natural constraints on renewable energy and in a sense these constraints force us to stop treating the environment like a ponzi scheme but instead force us to live within our means. As Lincoln describes only too well In Challenged Earth we are already living beyond our means – nuclear is being sold as the tool whereby we can get even more people on this planet to live beyond their means. It makes as much sense to go nuclear as giving someone who is drowing in a debt an extra credit card to accumilate yet more debt.

  175. marcus: I’m all for the passivehaus. I’ve superinsulated my own house, including nano painting my ceilings (with nansulate).

    stephen gloor: I suspect you are right about exponential growth. This growth will tend to swamp efficiency improvements and it pretty much means exponentially augmented energy thruput.

    the consequences cannot be good for the planet but I’m a bit dissatisfied with this position as it is too “philosophical” for me at this point, too intuitive.

    still, I’d rather have a steady state economy where we all had european level energy consumption.

    to put some numbers on my intuition, when I calculate what the energy requirements would be for a healthy global capitalism (let’s unrealistically abstract out things like class struggle) growing at 3 percent a year for one hundred years, we go from the current 15 TW of energy thruput to 288 TW of energy thruput.

    okay: perhaps this is just being bowled over by the mathematical sublime, but this “sounds” insane to me.

    so: exponential growth I think is a bad idea, but we still need nuclear power.

    saying we can get euro power for the whole world on renewables is story telling, solar/wind just so stories.

  176. This silly mantra that growth cannot go on forever so we’d all better give up this civilization thing, trade, the division of labor and all of that, and go back to living as peasants ensconced in our 40 acres with a mule is getting tiresome Good luck on convincing the majority in the First World with that, never mind India and China.

    The statement “endless physical growth is impossible in a finite physical system” is of course true. The statement “endless economic growth is impossible in a finite physical system” would only be true if economic growth were in fact physical growth. Which, sadly for the argument, it isn’t.

    The physical limit of the globe, how much stuff we have to play with, does not limit the amount of value we can add. Thus continued economic growth is entirely compatible with a finite physical system.

    Narrow-mined neo-Malthusians predictions of doom are misplaced because they do not take into account positive changes that have historically counterbalanced population growth, and resource utilization. The most obvious being that a rise in the standard of living is generally followed by a drop in the birthrate. In other words these forecasts of doom are always predicated on one change that does not take other changes into account.

  177. @John Tons:

    Exponential growth cannot be maintained for long, that is correct. But the real world does not live by a maths equation, 70 / growth rate = doubling time and real philosophy does not either.

    What happens in the real world is that growth occurs or does not occur depending on the resources available. If there are more resources, including energy, then there will be more growth. If there are less resources there will be less growth.

    You cannot demonstrate that we will run out of energy anytime soon. In fact it has been demonstrated that we can have enough energy to raise the standard of living of everyone or double or current population on the planet to current USA levels and more.

    eg. population will stabilise (zero growth) eventually due to increased standard of living – pretty much an empirical fact.

  178. DV: i really don’t know how much you can disconnect energy thruput from economic growth.

    the idea that you can is called “dematerialization” and is favored by people like paul hawken and our favorite, amory lovins. I think this is b.s.

    standard growth narratives call for things like 120 million barrels per day of oil consumption by 2020. that’s to put it mildly augmented physical thruput, and is crazy for other reasons (peak oil, etc).

    A limits to growth thesis is not necessarily equivalent to “neo malthusianism.”
    and the comment about peasantry, 40 acres, etc., is truly irrelevant–a straw man argument unless you’re arguing with Derek Jensen, or someone like that.

    The neo malthusians are the power down folk who talk about reducing population to 2 billion.

    Malthus blamed poverty on population growth instead of on the social system.

    that’s the real point to make about malthusians.

  179. @gregory meyerson – Where did I suggest that there is a disconnect between energy and economic growth? That’s the whole bloody point – nuclear energy can supply essentially unlimited amounts of power and thus allow us to increase the value of the available materials at hand.

  180. A study commissioned by the Howard government in 2006 found that the cost of cheap coal generated electricity was A$28-$38 / MWh compared with nuclear A$40 – $65 / MWh. The nuclear cost was settled down not FOAK (first of a kind)

    http://johnquiggin.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Umpner_report_2006.pdf

    See Fig 4.7 on page 56

    The wikipedia page explaining costs is not bad.

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

    It explains that the large capital costs of nuclear combined with unpredictable future income in a privatised electricity market further combined with expected 10% discount rate (or higher) work against the economics of nuclear

    A 2003 study in the UK makes similar points about nuclear being more expensive than coal

    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/postpn208.pdf

    I can see there are factors in some countries which make nuclear preferable or which make it a good supplement to coal. For example, France has no fossil fuels. Also in part France’s decision was a strategic one for energy independence following OPEC prices rises in the 1970s. China is using half their trains to bring their coal to their coal plants. Also not sure of discount rates in China. It is also possible that future, better designs will bring the capital cost of nuclear down but wouldn’t expect to see dramatic, quick changes in that respect.

    Without a carbon tax coal will remain cheaper for some time.

  181. Hi DV:

    I may have misinterpreted you. You said this:

    The statement “endless economic growth is impossible in a finite physical system” would only be true if economic growth were in fact physical growth. Which, sadly for the argument, it isn’t.

    I thought you were here disconnecting economic growth from physical growth, which I in turn connected to exponentially increasing energy thruput.

    it’s hard for me, dv, to imagine 288 terawatts, even supplied by nuclear power, not being connected to ecological problems due to vastly expanded physical growth, yes.

    I read you with great seriousness so if you can suggest something I might consult that would correct the misimpression I’m under concerning the relation between exponentially increasing energy use and physical growth, I’m listening.

    g

    but this sort of debate has nothing to do with nuclear power and nothing to do with pastoral visions of 40 acres.

  182. oh well: one more comment before bed–john tons, I don’t like your analogy between credit cards and nuclear power.

    nuclear power seems to me able to provide sustainably enough energy for the world’s population to live well or well enough. I don’t think this is the case for the “renewables,” which I doubt are in fact renewable.

    Credit cards are inseparable currently from a society based on endless consumption. I would like to distinguish nuclear power from a society based on endless consumption. You seem to wish to conflate the two.

    That said, I can see your point. A society based on endless consumption would need endless amounts of energy (“unlimited” in DV’s words). NP would presumably provide this.

  183. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Australia will have carbon pricing by July this year. The CPRS bill won’t be discussed in parliament til May. That will be nearly three years of inaction on a core election promise back in 2007.

    Though Peter Lang and others disagree I believe nothing will happen without an imposed carbon price. That price must be nontrivial and with few if any gaps for the big fish to swim through. I also believe we should charge the same carbon levy on coal and LNG exports and pay the money into green funds of the importing countries. Put Cosgrove in charge to sort out the rent seekers.

    With fossil fuel depletion it’s always possible the price may not increase even with shortages eg global oil circa 2012 and Chinese coal circa 2015. Negative income feedbacks may also reduce demand as discussed on The Oil Drum. That will create an involuntary powerdown with many losers. Yet another reason to go low carbon AGW or not.

  184. John Tons, #47775

    I feel your post more or less reflects Steven Gloor’s ideology, stated above. In his own words:

    “Only when we realise that our society is the problem and we need drastic change so that we can be truly sustainable for the future will the problem of climate change be addressed. Only then can we begin to consider what is the best energy source”

    The problem with this type of ideology is that it ignores the trends of the actual direction of worldwide human development. The reality is, we have only a very short period of time to address the threat of climate change, and unless this ideology is seen through in its entirety, we have essentially achieved nothing. I have very strong doubts that we will see that degree of societal change throughout the entire planet in the time frame we’re dealing with – I don’t believe it will happen, not even for a second.

    The world will feel the full effects of global climate change if a minority continue to pursue this “truly sustainable future”, while at the same time successfully suppressing the efforts of the more pragmatic portion of the population – the people who are looking at more achievable, highly beneficial solutions to some of our problems. I believe nuclear energy is one of those solutions. It won’t solve all of our problems, not by a long shot, but it can do a hell of a lot to counter the most pressing and serious challenge facing humanity and earth at the moment – climate change. If we can fix that problem in the short term, then that gives us more time to “solve” the rest of the world’s problems.

    Yes, we may be living beyond our means. Sure, climate change might be symptomatic of human behaviour. But that’s the reality of matter. It’s going to take considerable time for this to change. We don’t have a lot of time to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions.

  185. @gregory meyerson – First phrases like, “peasants ensconced in our 40 acres with a mule” are more in the way of an idiomatic expression than anything else. I know my command of English is not perfect, but I’m reasonably sure most readers would be able to make the distinction.

    Economic growth is really about an increase in standard of living. As I wrote, and you agreed, a higher standard of living, historically at least, leads to a fall in population growth, indeed into negative values in some G7 countries. Therefore it is quite plausible that economic growth can result in reduced physical growth, at least in comparison to the present.

    Will this happen overnight? No, there will be more physical growth before the population begins to shrink, but eventually, with a supply of cheap abundant energy, the physical burden we are placing on the planet will be reduced.

    In the end the same result will be seen as those parenthetically calling for mass starvation – the total population of the world will settle at a manageable level. My way however, is infinity less cruel, and more importantly, is less likely to lead to mass conflict in the way of a Third World War.

  186. Teekay Thank you for your comment. I am not a scientist or an engineer but I do know a little bit about social choice theory which is a sub branch of economics. (it is where political philosophy and economics meet for drinks.)
    When I read the various posters I am struck by the fact that there is universal agreement (at least in this thread) that climate change is man made (I do not think women carry much responsibility for climate change) and that we can do something about it. Secondly there is again agreement that to do something about it implies that we do not live in a deterministic universe – in otherwords we can imagine a different future, a future where there are zero emissions or at least a neglible amount of emissions.
    On all this there is agreement.
    Yet when it comes to developing a vision of that alternative future it seems as if some are locked into the notion that the future will essentially be the same as we are currently experiencing only with coal removed from the equation.
    But why posit such a future? Why not take the next step and use the technology that has been developed to take us into a future where we use far fewer resources to achieve the sort of lifestyle we already have – it is not a choice between the dark ages and the 21st century but a choice between living as if there is no tomorrow and one that actively ensures that there is enough for all.
    Nuclear energy is worse than a business as usual approach . Not only does it make no concessions to our overconsumption it is also in no hurry to tackle climate change. Whereas the renewable industry has demonstrated that it is possible to get to zero emissions by 2020 (For Australia) Nuclear is unable to demonstrate that it can achieve the same goal even in conjuction with renewables by that date.
    Note I am only concerned with Australia – I have spent a considerable part of my working life as a consultant dealing with international trade and know that the chances of getting a co-ordiated global approach are close to zero – certainly no one in the world would pay much notice to what Australia thinks. (Please do not tell Kevin that he still thinks that China, India and the USA are waiting on a nod and a wink from him to make any decisions.)

  187. Yet when it comes to developing a vision of that alternative future it seems as if some are locked into the notion that the future will essentially be the same as we are currently experiencing only with coal removed from the equation. But why posit such a future?

    A deep answer to this question would take much space, but there is a simple way to look at it. Mitigating climate change involves a war against fossil fuels. Nuclear power is a powerful tool in this achieving victory — perhaps the only effective tool. Yet you are proposing to fight this war (without the nuclear power tool), AND open up a new, potentially tougher second front – a war against human nature, behaviour and and the desire of the developed world to claw their way out of poverty. The term ‘snowflake’s chance in hell’ comes drifting into my mind.

  188. John Tons, you ask “Why not take the next step and use the technology that has been developed to take us into a future where we use far fewer resources to achieve the sort of lifestyle we already have”
    Wow I didn’t expect you to convert to nuclear so quickly;)

    “it is not a choice between the dark ages and the 21st century but a choice between living as if there is no tomorrow and one that actively ensures that there is enough for all.”
    Again – welcome aboard the nuclear train!

    Seriously though – nuclear is 100% compatible with your efficient and sustainable future, so can provide the best of both worlds.

  189. John Tons, I don’t follow your thinking here:

    “Nuclear energy is worse than a business as usual approach . Not only does it make no concessions to our overconsumption it is also in no hurry to tackle climate change. ”

    Nuclear energy is being discussed here precisely because we are in a hurry to tackle climate change.

    “Whereas the renewable industry has demonstrated that it is possible to get to zero emissions by 2020″

    The renewable industry has done no such thing. Aside from the massive resource requirements and land use required build up just the necessary nameplate capacity, the requirement for fossil fuel backup for intermittent generation means the main renewable source – wind and solar – come with a Trojan horse of substantial co2 emissions. These generally aren’t figured in to modelling of renewable power deployments.

    John, I think you may not have followed some of the earlier postings on these topics here. If so, I’d recommend a read of the five posts by Peter Lang, and the TCASE 4 post under the “Renewables Limits” tab at the top of the page.

    Peter Lang’s posts are a power systems analysis of the ability of alternative energy sources to displace coal. By the time you factor in capacity overbuild, intermittency, transmission and storage, renewables displace very little co2 and at very high cost, to the point they simply aren’t viable emissions reduction technologies.

    The TCASE 4 article looks at the land and resource requirements for renewables, and again, renewable power systems are vastly more resource intensive than nuclear power, and impose a much greater ecological burden on the planet.

  190. John Tons, I am aware of social choice theory, and aware that AGW mitigation needs to be thought through in light of the insights it offers about human behavior. I have serious doubts that the technology we currently possess will give us sufficient energy to maintain our civilization, let alone to extend the material benefits of western civilization to everyone else on earth. Many of us believe that is possible with Generation IV nuclear technology. We are not in complete agreement about what form of Generation IV technology is best suited to do this.

    Some of us are engaging in a critique of renewables options, and are dissatisfied with the standard renewables narrative, which tends to discount very significant problems with renewables. These include the inherent performance limitations of solar and wind, the need for redundant generation capacity to overcome those limitations. The inherent unreliability of solar and wind electrical generation, which necessitates the problematic use of fossil fuels with the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. These problems make the use of renewables expensive, and indeed per unit of electrical output, more expensive than nuclear power.

    Some of us feel that conventional nuclear technology, while not as expensive as renewables, is more expensive than more advanced nuclear technology would be. In addition conventional nuclear technology has other limitations. It is not a cost effective of reserve and peak electrical generation. It is not a good source of heat for industrial processes. And renewables aren’t either. These will, most assuredly, be energy problems which post-carbon civilization must face. As a consequence, I and others have concluded that new, lower cost, high temperature nuclear technology will be needed. There are several options, but most of the debate centers around two options, the IFR and the LFTR.

  191. @John Tons: so far, the gender issue has not appeared on BNC much, as far as I can see, but it has implications for energy policy-making and any attempt to influence public opinion.

    you allege as a presumed self-accusatory man (if your name matches your gender) that women do not bear much responsibility for climate change. It is not clear what this implies in your view.

    On the one hand, it is my impression that women appear under-represented on BNC and as nuclear activists and over- or equally-represented, at least on admittedly unrepresentative TV footage, among anti-nuclear activists in the Anglosphere and EU.

    How to quantify “responsibility”? I suspect that (rich country) female per capita kwH useage of fossil and hence AGW power has gone up strongly since 1945 (domestic appliances) , as also thousands of km. driven in private vehicles driven by women, given the motorisation in rich countries (two and three-car families, higher female workforce participation since 1945 using private cars for commuting; higher divorce rate and hence number of persons living alone whose living spaces require fossil heating and power etc. )

    It could however be that you mean that rich country women are not equally represented in policy-making positions as CEOs of fossil fuel companies or politicians, and hence are not “responsible”. The question arises: would AGW have proceeded any differently since C02 levels started to rise above pre-industrial levels if women had been driving policy? Why?

    From a nukie standpoint it could be that exculpating rich country women from AGW responsibility is a tactical mistake. And from a poor country perspective as expressed by Bolivia/Venezuela/Cuba at Copenhagen, gender is immaterial in AGW anyway.

    Would you desist from attacking AGW contrarians if studies showed most were women? Would you desist for the same type of reason that liberally-minded people attacked Bush junior as a white male but kept conspicuously quiet about his black and female Secretary of State?

  192. Comments to:
    Matt re: New Urbanism
    Gregory on baseload CETO wavepower.
    John Tons on economic growth.

    ********
    @Matt

    have you read my blog? My summary page on Rezoning?

    My sister in law has a Phd in this stuff and helped design “Christie Walk” in Adelaide, I’ve had dinner with some of Australia’s leading eco-city designers, and spent many, many hours on New Urbanism blogs, met Claude Lewenz of Village Town fame at TED Sydney last year, and have just been involved in Transition Town activism. I *know* the various flavours of medium to high density city design out there, and think that it’s a big world and there’s room for various approaches in various places.

    You’ve misrepresented New Urbanism terribly though, and I think a 15 minute dose of Worldchanging might help. There’s some density averages in here that will really help: go straight to point 6 if the article looks a little long (but it really is one of my favourite articles on city design ever, and deserves a coffee, and a slow and careful read… and then a re-read once a year).

    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html

    “I essentially agree with what you are saying here – I just don’t get your opposition in principal to nuclear energy. Why would you exclude it from the mix?” I don’t. Why do these guys exclude it from the mix, and with the vibe of Barry’s posts above, alienate and exclude and frankly, just plain *turn off* many otherwise completely sane, committed environmentalists.

    There are reports of plenty of “Black Swan’s” in renewable technology and how we use it. I suggest a little humility on both sides of the debate, and more care not to straw-man either side. I have seen both pro and anti-nuke experts strawman each other’s arguments (EG: Blees forgetting imminent EV markets when discussing European wind, Caldicott ignoring that nuclear waste is now fuel, etc).

    ********
    @ Gregory Meyerson.
    “The costs of power over the lifetime of the scheme are the same as today’s conventional power supplies, indicating that the capital investment is roughly the same as the cost of fuel avoided over the projects 25 year lifetime.[59]”
    Sweeeeeet!

    “A wave energy scheme installed in Australia generates electricity with an 80% availability factor.”
    Is that CETO in WA?

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

    It’s a personal favourite becuase it is baseload and could supply 60% of the world’s population with power without requiring huge transmission lines.

    • Wave energy is a renewable, zero emission source of power.
    • 60% of the world lives within 60 kilometers of a coast, minimising transmission issues.
    • Since water is about 800 times denser than air, the energy density of waves exceeds wind many times over, dramatically increasing the amount of energy available for harvesting.
    • Waves are predictable in advance, making it easy to match supply and demand.
    • CETO sits underwater, moored to the sea floor, meaning there is no visual impact.
    • CETO units operate in deep water, away from breaking waves. The waves regenerate once they pass the CETO units, meaning there is no impact on popular surfing sites.
    • CETO units are designed to operate in harmony with the waves, rather than attempting to resist them. This means there is no need for massive steel and concrete structures to be built.
    • CETO is the only wave energy technology that produces fresh water directly from seawater by magnifying the pressure variations in ocean waves.
    • Any combination of power and water can be achieved from 100% power to 100% water.
    • CETO contains no oils, lubricants or offshore electrical components. It is built from components with a known sub-sea life of over 30 years.
    • CETO units act like artificial reefs, because of the way they attract marine life.

    @ DV8
    “Economic growth is really about an increase in standard of living.”
    How do you define standard of living? Does it have to be material goods? Can it be an increase in time becuase one is living more locally in a modern, comfortable, nuclear/renewable powered city with less noise, less cars, less smog, less pollution, less overt consumerism, and yet all our needs met? Is it a life filled with Brangelina and Oprah’s favourite consumer goods, or is it a life with more time for reading and community? Is it a big shiny car, or a pleasant New Urbanist street to live on that does not require that car in the first place? Is it driving through peak hour traffic to work for an hour and arriving stale and exhausted from the traffic, or walking past your friends in the butcher’s, the bakers, the candlestick makers, with the smell of coffee and freshly baked pies wafting down the street as you chat with friends waiting for the trolley-bus?

    When Stephen Gloor talks about our society being the problem, and you talk about just throwing heaps more energy at the problem to enable Business as usual, it just seems you’re missing the bigger picture. There is **so** much more to sustainability than just the energy debate, even though I agree with you that heaps of clean, renewable energy is ONE of the main solutions we need. But seriously… 60% of the world’s population live close to the shore, and CETO is baseload. Beware the Black Swan’s mate, or you may soon be eating your own words, and ducking for cover behind lame excuses like “I never actually said I didn’t believe renewable energy could EVER do the job… it was just my view at the time… no really…. ;-)

    (Nudge nudge wink wink!)

  193. eclipsenow, I strongly suggest you read this (part II, on CETO, is coming soon, but the energy physics are not different to Pelamis):

    TCASE 5: Ocean power I – Pelamis

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/25/tcase5/

    A snippet:

    …to put it in the build-rate context of TCASE 4, the hypothetical limit analysis of 680 MWe/day equates to 116 km of linear wave farm to be deployed per day (70 km2 total area), using 770,000 tonnes of steel and an approximately equal weight of ballast. Not only would that be a huge length of coastline to industrialise and isolate from shipping traffic, but the logistics of transmission connection (each of the 2,210 units/day would need to be hooked up) and ongoing maintenance (in often rough ocean conditions) would also be challenging. It is not clear how long each unit would survive before requiring replacement, but other wave technology has claimed to last 20 years.

    An 80% ‘availability factor’ is pretty meaningless. It means it is generating some power 80% of the time, but this is often far, far below its peak rating.

  194. @Barry,
    replying to your TCASE4 rebuff on the “About page” here because I just posted about CETO above:

    CETO is underwater and does not necessarily obstruct shipping and is invisible from the coast. No visual pollution that I am aware of, apart from the power plants along the coast now and then. This is a TOTALLY different technology to standard wave power as there are no electronics out at sea, just pumps and under water buoys and piping, which pumps fresh-water in an enclosed system (to minimise salt damage to parts) onto the land where it drives a traditional hydro-power turbine.

    If you have friends who can do it for you, or time yourself to analyse the CETO construction footprint and time to deploy, go for it! That would be a really interesting excercise, and I’ll try to notify the CETO experts and bring the founders in on your post on the matter. It should make for great science, and if your hunch is right about *all* this, help spread awareness of the nuclear-only solution meme.

    If, however, you are wrong and CETO can be demonstrated to be a cheap and reliable power source, then all the more power to CETO!!!

    The net effect would be another appropriate technology, and bury some of my Olduvai Theory nightmares even further!

  195. Barry,

    I still don`t know where ou get your prices from?
    10€Wp? (Even Gene used 7$Wp)

    The price including installation, 20%VAT, inverter, cable, no subsidies,… is 3104,50/kWp.
    I am sure that you can get it even cheaper if you get more quotes.
    Thats 4.46$/W (including 20%VAT) and not 7$/Wp like Gene used for his calculations. (maybe I am doing him wrong and prices have fallen since Nov.09…just hope the downtrend continuse at that rate).

    He also concludes that sales will go through the roof with solar tiles (some DOW product he mentions) 2$/W.

    Now I will just use Crystalsol technology and lower the price by 80%….
    I will go easy on the price and keep the VAT and only lower by 70%…
    ~1,3$/Wp (0,67€) is quite a realistic price for PV in 2012-2014.

  196. South Africa Plans to Displace 7 Gigawatts of Coal Power Plants with Nuclear Energy

    South Africa’s Director General at the ministry of energy Nelisiwe Magubane said a fleet nuclear plants will be used to replace ageing coal-fired power plants, adding that between 2020 and 2030 some 7,000 MW would need to be built.

    Bidders for the nuclear plant included France’s Areva (CEPFi.PA) and Westinghouse (owned by Japan’s Toshiba)

    Something to make note of is that the explicit statement is nuclear energy will be used to displace air polluting coal. There are many environmentalists who like to dispute that nuclear energy can displace coal.

    Via: Next Big Future

  197. ‘Meanwhile, in NSW 2 Gigawatts of coal power will be displaced with wind and solar developments.

    Oh wait! No it won’t:

    “TWO new fossil fuel power plants that will increase the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 5 and 15 per cent will move a step closer to construction this week after developers claimed renewable energy cannot feed a growing hunger for electricity.

  198. I find it mind boggling that new coal fired plant is even on the drawing board. It seems the NSW and Qld governments have had a wink from the Feds there is nothing to worry about. Mind you parts of WA are about to record their driest ever summer. Even if the CO2 cap reduction was a strict 0% it means that new plant would have to replace old, not add to total generation. I gather the new rule is that only an average of 23 Mt a year will be free permits for generators

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/cprs/esas.aspx

    Cleaner coal like IGCC and supercritical won’t go far enough to achieve long term CO2 reductions. CCS cannot work on the required scale. If we go to a double dissolution election the Greens could hold the balance of power. They would then prevent not only nuclear but new coal being built. I’m tempted to vote Green to bring matters to a head rather than more years of hypocrisy and back sliding.

  199. gregory meyerson, Jacobson’s work is a mixed bag. He mixes his data sets with speculation, uses arbitrary definitions, and some times fails to draw obvious conclusions from the data he presents, when those conclusions tend to contradict the thesis he is arguing. He ignores costs. He also tends to ignore criticism. I happen to take the view that the critical process is very much a part of science, and that scientists are under an obligation to respond to substantial criticisms of their work.

  200. eclipsenow, Your assessment of SG ‘s character is different than mine. Previously commented on statements by SG, which attributed to Barry viewpoints which I did not think Barry held. At the very least SG should have documented his contention that Barry held those views. Following what might be characterized as a staw man argument or a series of misattributions, SG used what I would call a series of argument ploys to put Barry down. He offered a number of putdowns, which I would view as assault on Barry’s character. I asked you once before, what you made of it, I will do so again.

  201. John Newlands
    I’m tempted to vote Green to bring matters to a head rather than more years of hypocrisy and back sliding.
    I’ve been thinking along the same lines.
    Lets see them try to replace coal without nuclear. If The Greens have to concede to coal while holding the balance of power, it would send a powerful message: If the Greens can’t do it, no-one can. Of course, The Greens will push gas, and call it a victory.

  202. I agree with you, charles.

    I posted that wiki piece so everyone could see what puffery it was.

    the whole thing really looks like a propaganda piece for wind and solar, not a thorough, well researched assessment.

    that’s why it made me want to puke.

  203. John Morgan you wrote:
    John Tons, I don’t follow your thinking here:

    “Nuclear energy is worse than a business as usual approach . Not only does it make no concessions to our overconsumption it is also in no hurry to tackle climate change. ”

    Nuclear energy is being discussed here precisely because we are in a hurry to tackle climate change.

    Part of the problem with discussing an issue such as this in a blog is that arguments are not always fully developed. the reason I argue that nuclear is not a rapid solution to climate change – certainly not when compared to renewables is as follows. (These are back of the envelope calculations.)

    Let us assume for the moment that Australia makes a commitment today to convert all its current energy needs to achieve zerocarbon emissions as soon as is practicable.
    Let us further assume that we are prepared to do whatever it takes our only consideration is one of time. (in other words we will ignore questions of comparative cost)
    To simplify it further we will also assume that we have overcome the usual Not In My BackYard (NIMBY) problems . In otherwords we have carte blanche to rollout whatever technology that will achieve our objective in the shortest possible time frame.
    When we consider renewables our only candidates that are ready to go onto the market Beyond Zero Emissions has done this exercise for us. It argues that a combination of solar thermal, wind and bio mass will do the trick – their argument is that this can be achieved by 2020.
    I suspect that achieving this within a 10 year time frame from our current base is optimistic – even assuming that the NIMBYs have been effectively sidelined. Note also that there are a range of promising technologies that are not considered – wave power and hot rocks the most obvious simply because they are not as yet in the commercial stage.
    However, assuming that their claims for generating potential of their energy sources are correct one can readily see that there are very few impediments to switching to renewables – the technical expertise is not so demanding that we cannot retrain existing civil/electrical engineers to work on these projects. The task of building them is again relatively straight forward so even allowing for the interesting perspective that builders have with regard to time (if builder says they will finish a project within a week it usually means it will be finished by the end of the month.) we should be able to make the switch to zero emissions by 2030 using just renewables.
    If we now switch our attention to nuclear. Since to the best of my knowledge most nuclear advocates see nuclear as being part of the mix let us assume that we are aiming for 20% of all energy being generated by nuclear. (Since we are limiting our discussion to technologies that are ready to go IFR as I understand it are out of the picture but as this is an argument soly about time that is not critical problem.) Can we still hit 2030 as our target?
    The reason I do not think we can is as follows.
    The first relates to expertise. There is a world wide shortage of suitably qualified engineers to build nuclear plants. Since we are looking simply to Australia we can address this by retraining some suitably qualified engineers as well as embarking on a major education campaign to generate the expertise. We run into two problems here time is the obvious one but the other relates to suitably qualified teachers to get people to the requisite standard in maths and physics. (Does anyone reading these blogs disagree that the quality of our science education is a disgrace? There are still far too many instances of people teaching physics and maths who have not completed a maths/science degree.)
    For the same of argument lets assume that we can get a substantial pool of suitably qualified people by 2020 – this is about the standard time frame that is required for increasing the pool of qualified professionals in other fields (medicine, dentistry are two examples where that research has been done.)
    In the case of renewables I allowed 20 years of building the various plants around the country – the reason for allowing such an extended time frame is that there will be material shortages, labor shortages (not everyone will want to work in some of the locations earmarked for renewables.)
    These limitations apply equally to nuclear. With one added problem – nuclear power stations are more complex to build and commission, however, because we are only looking at 20% of the total mix being taken up by nuclear it means that we will need as many facilities so maybe we can get away with a 20 year time line for Nuclear as well. However, that still means that our time line is extended by 10 years – 100% renewables come in at 20 years, a 20;80 solution will take 30 years.
    Adding IFR in the mix will not shorten these time lines.
    My concern is that the nuclear debate will give governments an excuse to procrastinate even further on climate change.
    We need to face the reality that rhetoric aside governments are not keen to do anything that upsets the fossil fuel lobby – nuclear because of its extended timelines can be yet another reason not to take action and at the same time appease the fossil fuel lobby for it gives them a plan B it allows for extended use of coal and they can gradually include uranium in their mining portfolio so they can stay in business as we switch the nuclear.
    I apologise for the lengthy response but if you want a quick solution then nuclear is not it.

  204. I want to make one correction in perception here that has dogged nuclear energy for some time.

    Nuclear reactors are not complex assemblies.

    As boilers go a coal fired supersaturated steam boiler is a much more complex piece of engineering than a reactor.

    If Australia went with ether the Indian or Canadian design of heavy water reactor, you could probably build them with the industrial and engineering base you already have. That is what motivated Canada to go this route with the CANDU.

    The Americans cut-off the exchange of information that had been happening at the start of the Manhattan project, leaving us to ether buy their technology or build our own. Since we did not have the capacity to forge large pressure vessels, and we did not have (or need) enrichment facilities nor did we have the infrastructure the Yanks had created for their weapons program, we went with a design we could make ourselves with what we had.

    To suggest that Australia doesn’t have the skills or industrial base to build this type of NPP is just plain wrong.

    Frankly I am shocked to see Australians putting themselves down like this, my own experience with them actually would suggest quite the opposite, the ones I have met were up for anything.

    I mean really guys, Australians saying they can’t do something Canadian can do? :)

  205. John Tons: please read all the critiques here of renewables achieving 100% penetration, or anything close to that (this is especially so for the world. you are perhaps limiting yourself to austrailia?). click on the renewable limits link.

    this will force you to defend your assertions, which just look like nice stories at this point.

    charles in several places in this thread nicely summarized the critiques of renewables made here. Please respond to them in detail. why is jacobsen/diesendorf right and Brook/Lang/Preston et al wrong?

    I think the Jacobsen arguments hardly pass the laugh test.

    g

  206. Does ‘it’ matter?

    Obviously this question has to be considered in terms of each individual’s personal context. For example does ‘Western Imperialism’ matter to the Jihadist suicide bomber as opposed to the lapsed Muslim?

    Blogs such as these are and reflect nascent political movements, existing in our mercantile democracy. As such they will be evaluated on their merits and subject to many ‘interests’. So though I accept the question as provoking, the real question should be; ‘Is being a ‘sceptic’ and pro-nuclear power right and why?’

    Extremism, even in ‘goodness’ I find repugnant. So in answer to the question, ‘does it matter?’; for me, the answer is: ‘not really, but it would be nice to do the right (reasonable) thing for once.’

    P

  207. Marion I agree it is likely that Greens will go for conspicuous renewables with hugely increased gas generation behind the scenes. However that may come unstuck with high electricity prices. Some industries like aluminium smelting who allegedly pay 2-4c per kwh couldn’t cope with say a 10c increase.

    Barring recession it is evident that nothing serious will happen on emissions if either Rudd or Abbott are elected. Surely with a large Green parliamentary bloc things will change by the second term if not the first.

  208. JN, via your link, I see one of the measures (#17) of “The Greens” is to: “…close the OPAL nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights”

    I presume they would therefore also vow to NEVER accept any medical diagnostics or medical treatment that involved the use of radioisotopes. Or… maybe not. They just haven’t thought this through, have they? I’m sorry, but even when politicking is considered, I cannot bear to vote for such a blatantly hypocritical and anti-science party. So, once again, I say “beam me up, Scotty”.

  209. John T, thanks for taking the time to give a detailed response. The great thing about this blog is that it is open to such detailed argument.

    Your response stands on two premises – that nuclear deployment is too slow, and that we could build a zero carbon energy system by ~2020. I don’t accept these premises, in particular the latter, which has been argued at great length here.

    The Beyond Zero 2020 plan is based on CST with 17 hour molten salt storage, wind, biomass and hydro. CST has been analysed by Peter Lang in these posts:

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

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

    Barry has looked at the resource requirements for wind, solar and nuclear here:

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

    He also looked at CST requirements in particular here:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/12/06/tcase7/

    One big difference in Lang’s assumptions is a three days storage requirement, not just overnight, to take account of cloudy days. If that seems unreasonable, see his note on cloud cover in the first link:

    “A loop through the midday images for each day of June, July and August 2009, shows that much of south east South Australia, Victoria, NSW and southern Queensland were cloud covered on June 1, 2, 21 and 25 to 28. July 3 to 6, 10, 11, 14. 16, 22 to 31 also had widespread cloud cover (26th was the worst), as did August 4, 9, 10, 21, 22..”

    The 17 hour storage implementation would have seen the grid shutdown for several days in each of those months. I assume those months are not atypical.

    The BZE study costs the required new transmission capacity at $92b. Peter costs the trunk lines in the new transmission at $180b (Perth to Sydney trunk), and notes that the lines probably represent about half of the required upgrade costs. (For reference, Peter costs the entire nuclear option at $120b, less than the cost of the new power lines for renewables).

    In the second link, Peter looked the build rate, the total cost, and the dollar cost of co2 avoided, for different energy source mixes. He assumed coal was being decommissioned at the same rate for each option (1.4 GW/year). You can go have a look at that piece and check his assumptions – I’ll just quote the conclusion:

    “The nuclear option reduces CO2 emissions the most, is the only option that can be built quickly enough to make the deep emissions cuts required, and is the least cost of the options that can cut emissions sustainably. Solar thermal and wind power are the highest cost of the options considered. The cost of avoiding emissions is lowest with nuclear and highest with solar and wind power.”

    On his modelling, it costs 4x as much to eliminate a tonne of carbon with renewables than with nuclear.

    In the TCASE4 post, Barry looked at the material inputs required to roll out renewables. For the same power deployment rate, they use about an order of magnitude or more concrete, and steel, and land.

    In TCASE7, Barry looked at scaling up just an Andasol type plant, in comparison to an AP1000 reactor. Materials usage on a comparable power basis was solar:nuclear

    Concrete = 15 : 1; Steel = 75 : 1; Land = 2,530 : 1

    The material resources, capacity overbuild, land requirements, intermittency, storage requirements, transmission infrastructure, grid integration and cost just don’t get factored in to the renewable projections on a realistic basis. You write as if we have a choice between a renewable power system and a nuclear power system. But I don’t think we do. I think our choice is between a nuclear power system and a carbon power system.

  210. I think the Greens will get a high protest vote in the forthcoming SA and Tas State elections. The intent being to put a scare into the major parties. If the parties respond well the Greens can be dumped the following election. Is this cynical and manipulative? Well perhaps if we didn’t have a rigged political system with fines for not voting and public funding of party electioneering expenses. Consider it blowback.

    To their credit the Greens are not smug hypocrites like those incumbent State and Federal politicians who are doing everything possible to help the coal industry while espousing the climate change line. Those creeps should be the first to go.

  211. John D Morgan, thank you for your response. I am assuming from your response that you question the basic assumption i make about the viability of renewables but that you would agree that if we can indeed make a switch to renewables then that can be achieved at a faster rate then we would be able to switch to nuclear.
    However, your discussion of the viability of renewables also presents us with the nub of the problem.
    I think it should be clear by jnow that I have no pretensions to any knowledge of science or engineering. In every sense of the word I am an informed lay person.
    The problem that people like me have with this debate is that we are presented with two conflicting and contradictiory views both delivered by people who may be regarded as having the expert knowledge to have an informed understanding of the topic.
    On the one hand you have a group of people all of whom argue cogently that a switch to 100% renewables is both feasible and achievable. On the other hand you have a group of people with very similar qualifications who argue the contrary position.
    On that basis I have no rational basis to favour one position over the other – this is not a matter of democracy either one group is right or another is wrong. or perhaps even they are both wrong and there is yet a third,- at present unconsidered, position.
    In this sense I am very much like Adam Smith’s Impartial spectator and wonder whether or not either or both sides of this debate are not blinded by personal prejudice.
    So how does one decide?
    In my case I remain unconvinced that the problems inherent with nuclear have been solved. Even if the engineering is excellent I shudder at the thought of living in the shadow of a nuclear power station that is operated by Homer Simpson (I can accept that they may be fool proof but I doubt if they are Homer proof.)
    Thus since neither side has a bullet proof case with regard to renewables one has to go with what appears to be the ‘safest’ course of action.
    I doubt if that will convince many people participating in this thread but I think in response to Barry’s original question I would suggest my rejection of nuclear is considerably more nuanced then that of your average climate sceptic.

  212. John Tons- Are you honestly holding up an argumentum ad ignorantiam as a position?

    Because if you are all I see is someone too damned lazy to inform himself sufficiently to make a considered decision. There are confounding statements are there? Well tell me are you a passive victim of every advertising campaign that you are exposed to? Do you buy any major item like a car at random because you are not an automotive engineer, thus unable to determine which one is best? You just move through life blown about by the winds of chance do you, and you think this position is one that we should respect?

  213. I think this is relevant to this thread as an illustration that the anties do matter especially if they are running governments.

    I live in Adelaide, South Australia where a State election is looming and just saw an ALP advert on TV which attacks the Liberal leader, Isobel Redmond, for a statement she has made in the past suggesting that it was “probably the right answer” to put nuclear wastes here. There is no argument or debate in this advert, it just plays into the fear of nuclear waste. Although this doesn’t prevent the ALP supporting uranium mining ( Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs, Beverley, and Honeymoon ) but it is a nice example of political opportunism on behalf of the SA Rann government.

  214. John Tons, You have offered a number of confusing comments, and I am wondering if you are the sort of person who likes to skip the main course, and go straight to the ice cream. You state your conclusions with out offering a demonstration of facts, and without offering an analysis of well attested facts.

    You are like Tevya the milkman, after listening to one side of an argument, Tevya exclaimed, “he’s right!” But after hearing the other side, Tevya announced, “he’s right too.”

    When a bystander observed, “they can’t both be right.” Tevya replied, “Your also right!” Sorting through arguments is hard work. It requires that we engage in a serious effort to determine facts, and then rigorously adhere to the use of valid argument forms. Valid arguments are argument forms which produce true conclusions from true assumptions. Doing this is hard work. I am convinced that a number of people who write for and comment on this blog, do this. Perhaps not all of the time or on every issue, but enough of the time so that they often have worthwhile things to say. I take the decidedly old fashion view that truth matters, and that the process of determining the truth is hard work. So far you have not offered evidence that you have engaged in the hard working through of the issues under debate here. You do need to do that.

  215. When they’re really pressed on the subject of the ANSTO research reactor and the fact that you absolutely cannot replace a reactor with a cyclotron, some anti-research-reactor activists say that we should simply import the radionuclides required for medicine. (And forego completely things like like neutron activation analysis and neutron diffractometry, and earnings from sales of radioisotopes and transmutation-doped silicon).

    Therefore, they’re saying that (somehow) a reactor is totally dangerous and we can’t have one in Australia. But it’s OK if there’s a reactor in another country – and that country has to deal with the supposed burden or danger of having a reactor, while we just enjoy the benefits the radioisotopes provide.

  216. Charles,
    Your view is a pro nuclear and frankly I can understand why you are getting ignored by jacobson.
    One can find your LFTR comments all over the internet. But thats it. It leaves people wondering if this is your only pasttime, religion and whole point of existenz. Eventually they turn away and stop reading your repetetive text.

    Maybe you should visit Güssing and learn more about renewable energy.
    They will show you how renewables support a whole region including industry.
    Realised since 1996 even more possible today.

    There is no reason why your view should matter more than reality.
    Telling people they are idiots when they have come to another conclusion is not really helping your case.

    Maybe you should take some time off and start traveling, chill down, stop thinking about this whole energy thing for some time.

    DV8
    There is no best car, no best camera, no best…

  217. John Tons, I completely sympathize with your predicament. I can only encourage you to continue to engage the subject with diligence, pragmatism and critical thinking.

    I honestly believe most of this material is not particularly difficult, certainly not beyond anyone capable of, say, running a household budget. But it does require a bit of time to get your head around some of the detail, to know what should be accounted for.

    I think the top-down approach is the easiest way to come at the problem, that is, look at the energy requirements at a whole society level, look at the energy sources available, and make sure they add up, paying attention to land and resource use, intermittency, storage and cost.

    The great exemplar of this approach is David MacKay, in his book ‘Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air’, available free on the web. I highly recommend a read, if you haven’t already seen it. Good luck.

  218. @ Charles re: Stephen Gloor: no idea what you are talking about mate. Can you link to a specific post? No. Strike that. I’m not going to debate what YOU think about someone I respect. The proof is in the daily behaviour, not a few abberant posts late at night.

    I *still* have trouble with Barry, whom I respect as a climatologist, equating my pro-renewables anti-nukes environmentalist friends with Denialists.

    Show me which scientific body has reached a full consensus on this? Is every scientific academy on the planet either pro-nuclear or at least neutral, the way every scientific academy on the planet either accepts global warming, or is (at least in the case of the American Petroleum Association) neutral? When there is no reputable scientific academy on earth against nuclear power, and the vast majority apart from 1 or 2 neutral voices are FOR nuclear power, then it might be in the same camp.

    @ Matt: Did you read the worldchanging article I linked to on New Urbanism?

    @ Barry, do the Greens REALLY want to close medical radioisotopes? Do you have a link? Because if that’s the case, wow…. my son had a few circumstances when he needed those for his Leukaemia treatment.

    Hi John D Morgan,
    just wait till we have the CETO test plant results… and as long as we can all remember costings will be higher because this IS a TEST plant…

    @ John Tons,
    don’t worry about DV8, he’s always like that.
    “too damned lazy”

    “Well tell me are you a passive victim of every advertising campaign that you are exposed to?”
    Don’t worry John T, every time DV8 indulges in contentless character attacks his own character is on display loud and clear.

    @ DV8, nice work there mate, keep it up. “How to make friends and influence people”. You’ll go a long way towards helping your cause! (Nudge nudge wink wink).

  219. “@ Barry, do the Greens REALLY want to close medical radioisotopes? Do you have a link? Because if that’s the case, wow…. my son had a few circumstances when he needed those for his Leukaemia treatment.”

    Here are the official policy statements of The Greens concerning nuclear technologies and related issues:

    http://greens.org.au/node/787

    The Australian Greens will:

    12. end the exploration for, and the mining and export of, uranium.

    13. maintain the prohibition on the processing and enrichment of uranium in Australia.

    14. prohibit the import and export of nuclear waste and fuel rods.

    15. prohibit the reprocessing of Australian nuclear fuel rods.

    16. promote the development of non-reactor technologies for the production of radioisotopes for medical and scientific purposes.

    17. close the OPAL nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights.

    18. ensure that nuclear waste is stored with minimal risk and is monitored above ground, in dry storage at or near the site of generation.

    19. require uranium mining companies to meet enforceable standards to safely contain and to monitor their radioactive tailings wastes for at least 10,000 years.

    20. require uranium mining companies to rehabilitate mining sites.

    21. immediately close Australia’s ports and territorial waters to nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed vessels.

    22. prohibit the treatment of food with ionising radiation (food irradiation), and the importation of such food.

    23. support compensation for the victims of British nuclear weapons testing in Australia.

    24. support the creation of nuclear weapon free zones, municipalities and ports.

    25. strengthen the radiation security and preparedness of Australia’s airports and ports.

    Now, concerning “development of non-reactor technologies for the production of radioisotopes for medical and scientific purposes”, it is simply not possible on a scientific, technical level, but this seems to be conveniently ignored by the Greens. Therefore, the Greens standing policy amounts to having a total reliance on imported radionuclides.

    This means that we accept the benefits of those radionuclides in Australia, but some other nation is running a research reactor and producing the radionuclides. Since running the research reactor and dealing with the radioactive waste from that process is (so they say) so terrible and dangerous, this is a morally bankrupt position.

    This policy also means that neutronic science and technology, such as neutron activation analysis, neutron transmutation doping, neutron diffractometry, boron neutron capture therapy and other neutron science which is done with a research reactor is completely eliminated from this country.

  220. Marcus, You know nothing of my life circumstancesm or of my goals. My lifestyle is my business, and has relevance to the question of whether my arguments help clarify issues, and whether I argue from well attested facts, to valid conclusions. These are the only issues that matter. I believe that the future of energy is thew most important issue we that is all people, will face during the next 40 years. After examining other peoples views on energy, and not finding satisfactory answers to my questions, I decided to think through the issues on my own. I am not trying to please anyone with the work I do, and I am certainly not trying to prove that I am a good person. I am simply arguing for solutions to energy issues that I believe will work. I also argue against energy solutions which, after careful examination I have concluded will not work. I will continue to express my views, and my blog gets a respectable number of hits, so not everyone feels like you.

    As for learning more about renewable Energy, I have read and reviewed numerous reports, especially about wind. I have repeatedly found support for my views in this literature even when the authors themselves do not agree with my views. If you think there is something I don’t know but should, then tell me. What is it about renewable energy that you think I should know? What gap in my education could I fill by visiting Güssing?

    Telling people that they argue badly, is far from telling them that they are idiots. You don’t tell an idiot what his or her mistakes are, because they are not going to learn. Telling SG what his mistakes are might actually help him to clarify his thinking and to develop better arguments.

  221. eclipsenow, I twice pointed to the following argument:,
    “Stephen, John D Morgan,has pointed out the contradictions in your claims, that renewable energy can both serve as base load power, and that it will teach us to get by on a low energy lifestyle. Steven, isn’t that what AGW skeptics do, maintain contradictory positions, even after the contradictions are pointed out.?
    You argue ““Nuclear is the answer” is a very short sighted opinion when the problem is much bigger than where our energy supply should come from.” This is what logicians call a straw many argument. You simply, without the slightest evidence, make a blanket attribution of a bogus idea to the people you disagree with, and then say, “you see there, you are wrong.”
    You argue, “Your simplistic notion that all we have to do is roll out nuclear and all will be well is not becoming for a person of your education and experience.” This putdown is totally unjustified because you have not established that anyone holds the simplistic notion you attribute to them.
    You argue, “I would have expected a far more sophisticated world view than this from you and indeed that is how you started when I first started to read this blog. ” Since you have failed to make a case that Barry Brook takes any of the is unsophisticated ideas you attribute to him, this is simply another gratuitous put down.
    You state, “Your myopia on nuclear is chasing away real debate and BNC is now nothing more than a nuclear echo chamber.” Echo chamber? Please! Don’t you see that there are at the moment 167 comments on in response to Barry’s post? Don’t you see that comments are written from a variety of positions, and there is spirited disagreement between commenters? Don’t you see that among the pro-nuclear commenters on this blog there are significant areas of disagreement? Stephen, who is being myopic here?
    You maintain, “Only when we realise that our society is the problem and we need drastic change so that we can be truly sustainable for the future will the problem of climate change be addressed.” You have not established what you think the problem is. I will presume that you are a neo-Malthusian, that is a person who doubts that the earth lacks the carrying capacity for its present and future human population. In fact, I have detected some sympathy for that position in Barry’s writings, and if so it would be one of the areas that Barry and I disagree on.
    In addition to attributing to Barry a position that he might well disagree with, you add a seeming non-sequitor. Even if the claims you are attempting to make are true, how does your no-nuks approach follow. You have laid not groundwork, and have not presented to well thought out argument to which this would be a valid conclusion.
    Finally, you srgue, “That answer may turn out to be nuclear or at least GenIV however you are not asking the right questions nor are you fostering a free and open debate that may get near the correct questions. Indeed there are many people that question the notion that any society that needs exponential growth can EVER be sustainable and we are just pissing in the wind. They may turn out to be the most correct of all of us.”
    Stephen what are “the right questions,” and why do you think that they are? Again you attribute to Barry and others a view, which they might disagree with if given a chance, and if they agree with it, might add significant qualifications. In short you are creating another straw man argument. No one her has argued for exponential growth, and economic growth, need not consume more and more materials. There is, as Richard Feynman pointed out plenty of room for growth by miniaturization, there is plenty of room at the bottom. Economic growth can come by doing more and more by less and less. Secondly, there has not been a realistic assessment of world material resources, and thus there is no grounds for claims that economic growth, at least the sort of growth I suggest is unsustainable. We know that some material resources exist in a sustainable supply. Among the sustainable resources are uranium and thorium, which exist in sufficient abundance that they will outlast and human demands, given that solar evolution will one day maker the earth uninhabitable. Should solutions to our energy problems wait for a world resource assessment? I don’t think so. We have the material resources to solve the energy problem for as long as we choose to, so why not use them.
    Stephen the argument here is that nuclear critics resemble AGW skeptics. One of the ways they do so, I would maintain is by use of irrational arguments.
    I have pointed to numerous flaws in your arguments, flaws which I also find in arguments presented by AGW skeptics. Thus in that regard, I would maintain that yes, your argument style and its flaws does have a lot in common with AGW skeptics.”

    My argument is that when anti-nuclear arguments are formed by misstatement of facts and presented through recourse to fallacious argument forms, then nuclear critics are guilty of doing the same things that AGW skeptics do. My point is to educate. If nuclear critics are serious about AGW issues they need to get both facts and logic straight. To often I find that both AGW skeptics are more concerned about winning public support for their respective positions than they are about truth. But we are embarked on a deadly serious business, one in which we can only succeed, if we adhere to truth. As Richard Feynman observed, “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

  222. @Charles – Man, you and I are too old, and have seen and done too much with our lives to be fighting with this lot. If this is the best that the antinuclear side can come up with, then Barry’s thesis is proven correct: antinukes don’t matter anymore.

    We shouldn’t grant them status by acknowledging their existence.

  223. @Charles:

    http://fora.tv/2009/05/14/Americas_Energy_Future_A_Debate#fullprogram

    shows a debate in May 09 including the ex-head of CIA, Woolsey, praising the German feed-in tariffs which are condemned on BNC and speaking against LWR rollouts in the USA on account of capital costs and proliferation, also mentioning Three Mile Island. He is countered by ex-head of EPA, Todd Whitman, using various arguments found on BNC eg N. Korea or Pakistan are said to have A-weapons quite irrespective of USA not having built an NPP for over 30 years; that all rods from all 104 US NPPs would fit on a football field; that there is such a thing as reprocessing, after all; that chemical factories are a more vulnerable target than NPPs, etc.

    Post-CIA, Woolsey appears to be in a business that promotes renewables. As he is putting the same argument against nuclear that Kerrey put against the Argonne IFR , I would ask you 2 questions, leaving aside the question of the saga of AQ Khan for Pakistan and the involvement of the West in “proliferation”:

    1. Woolsey is by definition not a man readily identified with counter-culture, green, Malthusian positions. He would thus seem to have strong credibility as anti-nuclear in the the eyes of the US public, on the grounds of appearing to want to retain US hegemony unter Art. VI Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? do you agree?
    2. would you say he is merely pushing his own business interests but actually knows better? if so, was Kerrey arguing in bad faith too?

  224. Peter Lalor, Woolsey is in the RMI crowd. His wife serves or served on the RMI board. Kirk Sorensen had communications with Woolsey prior to the 2008 election when Woolsey was John McCain’s energy advisor. Who knows what all these Washington elite types see in Amory Lovins. My assessment is that this reflects a whole lot more about our national leadership than it does about energy. Woolsey would appear to be reciting the Lovins party line on nuclear energy.

    The public does not know who Woolsey is, and his stance on nuclear power makes little difference to most people. God only knows what is going on with Woolsey, I sure don’t. What is even more interesting is Colin Powell’s involvement with Bloom Energy, an Amory Lovins project if there ever was one. Powell lends legitimacy to this dubious venture, but his presence will not compensate for a bad business plan. Maybe Lovins runs an employment service which places Washington types like Woolsey and Powell on the boards of “green” companies. Your guess is as good as mine.

    It is an interesting cultural phenomena, this Lovins cult, in some respects it resembles the relationship between Rasputin and the Russian Royal Family.

  225. Bill Kerr I agree with the SA Libs that the State is the most logical site for a waste repository. Politicians refer to Woomera SA as preferred to Mucakaty Station NT. I presume ‘Woomera’ means Arcoona Station. That has both a logistic advantage (being near Olympic Dam) and a whimsical appeal in that some material will be returned next to where it originated.

    I hope SA voters grasp that Rann is denying the State jobs and profits by not allowing the nuclear industry to expand. In contrast I note in Sweden there was a rare outbreak of IMBYism when two towns each wanted to host a deep geologic burial facility.

  226. Charles,
    The Bloom Box is what can work in that scenario

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/11/22/small-low-co2-energy-systems/

    against the 300kW nuke.

    Combined with cheap wind and cheap solar it will produce hydrogene and reuse it.

    1500€ box+ 8000€ 8kWp pv system ….make it 10.000€
    Half the (fantasy) price of the (fantasy) nuke solution, cleaner and needs no refueling or constant service (which you estimated at 46.000/a or 230per unit).

    And you are secure because you can refuel it yourself with biogas/hydrogen/fuel/ng/….

    Smart idea and everything done on venture capital.

  227. These two comments:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/02/21/dr-strangelove-redux/#comment-47778

    DV82XL, on 24 February 2010 at 13.50
    and

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/02/21/dr-strangelove-redux/#comment-47783

    DV82XL, on 24 February 2010 at 14.23

    really sum it up, I believe.

    Further I would give a + to this comment

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/02/21/dr-strangelove-redux/#comment-47863

    DV82XL, on 25 February 2010 at 10.54 Said:
    “Nuclear reactors are not complex assemblies.

    If Australia went with ether the Indian or Canadian design of heavy water reactor, you could probably build them with the industrial and engineering base you already have. That is what motivated Canada to go this route with the CANDU.”

    Elsewhere I found a reference to the cost India quotes for their CANDUs (about AUD320 million for a 220MWe HWR), although I don’t know if that is an export cost.
    How much does India or Canada want to do CANDUs overseas? Would it be cheaper than AP1000s?
    The nutty greens would shut down OPAL but it seems to me a good example of simply paying some money and getting a turnkey result.

  228. This is really in response to Robert Smart on Open Thread 2, but it fits better here.
    If the only party who will accept NP as the only viable emissions free alternative to coal are the climate skeptic Libs, then I have to agree with Barry; climate skeptics don’t matter. Make it cheap so it makes sense regardless.

  229. “How much does India or Canada want to do CANDUs overseas? Would it be cheaper than AP1000s?”

    Both AECL and NPCIL are actively exporting and looking for more offshore contracts to supply reactors.

    At the moment, AECL has booked three new builds, and NPCIL one.

  230. Marcus, The Bloom Box is more expensive than nuclear, is fueled by expensive natural gas, and is less energy efficient than the combined cycle gas turbine, and there produces more CO2 with every watt of electricity it generates than a CCGT. According to the United States Energy Information, cheap wind is more expensive than nuclear and cheap solar is way, way more expensive than nuclear. Do you homework, and stop grasping for every straw that comes along.

  231. I thought some of the radioisotopes had such a short shelf-life that importing them wouldn’t work? I hope I’m wrong.

    @ Charles, I don’t know what a ‘straw-many’ argument is but I am well aware of the straw-man, as it has been used frequently in these comments, indeed by DV8 so frequently against others that it is not worth bothering with that character any further.
    EG: Attributing neo-primitivism goals to all environmentalists, etc.

    We’ve already been over the “huge power supply” verses “lower energy lifestyles” discussion, and all I pointed out is that “necessity is the mother of invention”.

    There are many other amazing benefits to society of brainstorming how we’ll survive a lower energy future as peak oil and gas kick in. It could indeed serve as a matter of national security!

    EG: I’ve not yet seen a report that states how fast we could roll out nuclear AND adjust our liquid fuel dependent transport, agriculture, and mining systems to electricity systems. The BZE plan may come close, but it of course focusses on renewables. This is the kind of brainstorming I think Stephen Gloor meant. His words may also indicate broader concepts of reacting to BAU with more sustainable technologies and lifestyles and city plans that then solve a whole gamut of problems, as I tried to indicate above. You have not replied to this. You even said: “Stephen what are “the right questions,” and why do you think that they are?” and then just tried to intimate that this was all straw-man arguments. Way to go Charles! That’s really indicating a mind open to the many other real and peer-reviewed crisis we face as a society, such as peak phosphorus, ecosystem services failure, fisheries are in decline, access to cheap fresh water is in decline, soils are drying up and blowing away, deserts are increasing, biodiversity is decreasing, and forests are decreasing. On and on it goes. There are certain undeniable peer-reviewed *facts* coming in on a daily basis from the ecologies and biologists. There are many other Limits To Growth that we must manage successfully *in addition* to sustainable energy supply, and that is most definitely what SG referred to when he said “Our society is the problem”.

    One of the great themes that comes out of the peak oil literature is that energy has enabled this. Now *some* of them, and I’m not saying SG is one of them, would try to argue that a high-energy society is therefore the problem. Some would try the blunt force argument that a high-energy society is the only answer, as you could then supply all their energy needs through nuclear power to stop the desertification.

    I would argue that a *smart-energy* society is the main way we should solve the problem, IF we can enable all the other right technologies. The blunt force nuclear argument SG was replying to would have missed the interesting synergies that come out of low energy thinking.

    Instead of chopping down too many trees to make traditional western homes that then require SO MUCH air-conditioning and heating we’d have to build an extra nuke per city just to cope with it, we could have a low-energy systems approach that asks DIFFERENT QUESTIONS!

    EG: The earthship. The earthship came out of a desire to have a comfortable home WITHOUT needing to heat or cool it! What does it use for construction? Old discarded car tyres. We have MILLIONS of car tyres to dispose of, huge mountains of them, that sometimes catch fire and pour toxic smoke into the atmosphere.

    Earthships turn a real waste problem, car-tyres, into building materials, save on energy costs, and prevent the need for an extra nuke to be constructed in that city. And this is just one of *many* problems that the ecocity guys can solve with lower energy solutions, and I really respect their creative problem solving.

    Many of these issues are closely related to how we perceive our ‘right’ to grow, how far we want to exponentially role out more and more suburbia, what biodiversity loss and ecosystems services damage we are going to cause as we do so, etc. So many pro-nuke guys just come across as industrial developers that want to pave over and plough up the planet. I think that is what SG was reacting to.

    *********
    From what I’m reading from the likes of Herman Scheer on mixed supply super-grids, and supplies like Geothermal and CETO which are baseload anyway, renewable energy *can* serve as baseload power: the only debate seems to be about the cost and time to deploy.

    DV8
    “Ya, you’re probably right Charles, if we won’t set them straight, who will?”
    Don’t flatter yourself kid. My stance on nuclear power changed as a result of *Barry’s* podcasts, but if changing my mind were up to you, it would never have happened! You don’t inform, but just sit back and insult. You’re worse than some of the Denialists I’ve debated, and go straight for the cheap shot and character attack every single time. For the sake of your cause, GROW UP, otherwise younger forum members will just write you off as an **irrelevant** grumpy old man whose tired old views are just not worth respecting.

    @ Peter Lalor, thanks for mentioning the CIA head Woosley.

    @ Charles
    “Who knows what all these Washington elite types see in Amory Lovins.” Umm, perhaps a visionary thinker that is trying to solve multiple sustainability problems at once, not just energy with the blunt force of nuclear power?

  232. It CAN be fueled by ng or biogas (Güssing) or from a variety of other fuel….including hydrogen from its own production when combined with wind and/or solar.
    It was originaly intendet to produce hydrogen from water found on Mars. This is like a hydrogen batterie.

    It is 100 renewable options combined that add up faster and faster.

    Do your homework and stop playing grumpy old man.
    Its not your 400mil, ease up a little.
    and stop grasping for every straw that comes along

    You can still approach Kleiner Perkins with the LFTR.
    But better don`t tell them about your dislikes for wind cause they have just shoved another 34,5mio to a wind techology firm.

    At least bloggers don`t make any difference.

  233. One interesting observation about AGW skeptics and anti-nukes — opinion polls in the USA have shown that those people most skeptical about AGW are also the most supportive of nuclear energy, and conversely, that those most convinced about AGW are the least supportive of nuclear energy.

    I rank myself as an AGW agnostic. Having said that, I also strongly support the development of nuclear energy: present-day light water and heavy water reactors; advanced designs of all sizes; future designs like the LFTR and the IFR. Perhaps one may say I am doing the right thing (supporting nuclear) for the wrong reasons (AGW agnostic). Does the exact motivation matter if the right thing is done? I have no problem with those who use AGW as an argument for nuclear power.

    I also support renewables, and have put my money where my mouth is — I pay a premium to my local power utility company so that averaged over the year, my 100% electrically-powered home is supplied by wind power, and then some. But I voted against the state mandates for renewable power — I don’t believe those who cannot afford the extra expense should be forced to pay it. But so long as renewables such as wind can be integrated into the grid without causing extra problems, go for it. This way, real-world data on reliability and cost can be generated. If they prove out, then we know which way to go. If they don’t, we can still continue the research.

    If I am an AGW agnostic, why nuclear and why (possibly) renewables? Because there are many problems with burning hydrocarbons beyond CO2. And I believe that hydrocarbons (and carbon) are simply too valuable to just burn when there are alternatives (at present, it looks like there is no practical substitute for hydrocarbons in aviation — yeah I know about hydrogen). Future generations will need plastics, fertilizer, and chemicals just as we do, and burning the raw materials for this stuff boarders on criminal. For me, this argument alone makes the AGW controversy irrelevant.

    My studies lead me to believe the nuclear will win in most situations, especially if the regulatory environment is made more encouraging — not to compromise safety (I believe it should be more safe), but to make sure that there is truly safety-added-value in regulatory requirements. The proper balance can be arrived at by contrasting the safety of the nuclear power source with the alternatives.

    John Ton wrote:
    In my case I remain unconvinced that the problems inherent with nuclear have been solved. Even if the engineering is excellent I shudder at the thought of living in the shadow of a nuclear power station that is operated by Homer Simpson (I can accept that they may be fool proof but I doubt if they are Homer proof).

    There are problems inherent in every energy technology. The question is, per unit of output, what is the magnitude of the problems. How many people died due to the Three Mile Island accident? Hint: More people died in the past year (and the year before, and the year before,…) due to natural gas explosions or coal mining or petroleum refining than died due to Three Mile Island. Would that all industrial and energy-related accidents were like TMI, i.e., an economic event, but, in the end, not a safety event.

    I doubt that anything can be made Homer Simpson proof, but Homer is an insult to the professionals who work at nuclear power plants. One can see that humor is being used effectively to disseminate an anti-nuclear message to the public. Unfortunately, that message is untrue.

  234. eclipsenow, I wouldn’t look to peak coal to solve climate change problems. It offers no comfort. Even if we manage to hit peak global production within the next few decades, there’s enough on the downside of the depletion curve to take us to over 1 trillion tonnes cumulative carbon burned.

  235. eclipsenow, we have a fundamental difference about what the future of society should and will be, and a fundamental disagreement about the carrying capacity of the world. I have repeatedly documented that there is enough recoverable uranium and thorium in the earth’s crust to to provide a high energy future for everyone who lives as much energy asthe need and want until the sun becomes a red giant and wipes out life on earth. This is not a myth, this is a fact. The choice to take advantage or not take advantage of this resource belongs to the people of this earth. If they decide to live without air conditioning so be it, but I suspect that they won’t. The people of India and China certainly seem to be deciding for air conditioning. This argument is getting silly. One person’s visionary thinker, may seem to another person to be a crackpot. One would hope that visionary thinkers would get his predictions right more often than Amory Lovins has.

    After your brainstorm about what think Stephen Gloor meant. I had a brainstorm about what you meant about what Stephen Gloor meant. I think you meant hat Stephen meant that Barry Brook thinks he is a Prince from Africa, and that he should be teaching is children how to hunt small domestic animals in Adelaide with fire harden pointed sticks and boomerangs. Of course I can’t point to anything you or Stephen said, but I don’t have to. Quoting the actual words of people is not part of the rules of the language game you play as you attribut thoughts and ideas to them. Of course I am being silly, but then I meant to be, but I suspect that you are incapable of recognizing when you are silly. This is my final word on this trip into the absurd.

  236. Marcus sez: Do your homework …

    Indeed.

    What is the unit cost of these Bloom Box stacks?

    What is their mean lifetime?

    Will it be shorter with low-grade inputs, like some biogas that’s full of CO2 and NOx?

    What materials does it use that haven’t been talked about?

    Are they hard to get? Are they hazardous? Do they need special treatment to render them harmless, when the stack is time-ex?

    Before you start declaring victory on the back of a press release and a spot on a US news magazine Television show, it’s best to look at details.

  237. @ Barry,
    1 trillion tons sounds bad, but by then won’t Biochar => syngas agricultural relationships be in place that will be locking away a ‘wedge’ per year?

    “2. What is IBI’s goal for carbon removal from the atmosphere?
    IBI is focusing presently on the feasibility of one “wedge,” which equals one gigaton of carbon per year. The term “wedge” comes from an often-quoted analysis (Pacala and Socolow, 2004) showing a need to have seven gigatons of carbon per year (seven wedges) of reduced carbon emissions by 2054 to keep emissions at the 2004 level.
    3. Is a one gigaton per year biochar wedge achievable by 2054?
    Yes. In the four basic scenarios we have examined, we found several ways to create at least one wedge by 2054.”

    http://www.biochar-international.org/images/final_carbon.pdf

    So that’s a gigaton of carbon per year, not Co2, which I understand has a different method of calculation.

  238. @ Barry
    Yes, but my point is the biochar takes the edge off the rate at whcih we are emitting carbon while the price of carbon rises due to peak fossil fuels. It will slightly slow the rate at which we emit that trillion tons, hopefully while seriously different market forces are at work. Forget the ETS, peak resources will fundamentally shift the market behaviour long before we actually “run out” of the resource.

    For instance, last year out of ALL new energy investments 54% were in alternatives to fossil fuels. The market is already at a tipping point for investors considering where to put their dollars for maximum growth. In a few years when both global warming AND peak resource are in the average punter’s mind, I for one am hoping that the marketplace will finally tip over into simply seeing coal as a shrinking, not growing energy market.

  239. @ Charles,
    You’re purposely ignoring my main points so badly you’ve just straw-manned me.

    * I have not disagreed that there is lots of uranium or thorium.

    * I am not saying that people have to go without comfortable modern lives.

    * I AM saying that there are a variety of ways to do that!

    EG: I did not say we had to live without air-conditioning, but was just explaining some of the broader systems thinking you seem incapable of.

    I repeated that was just ONE example of how paradigms can change and we can solve more than 1 problem with a lower-energy paradigm.

    I’ve already told you I’m not going to debate every sentence where Stephen Gloor ever disagreed with you. I’ve been on discussion threads long enough to know what Stephen’s concerns and paradigms are, and simply do not have to justify what I wrote above. Just because YOU don’t like the points I was making about the broader eco-cide we are committing — whatever our energy sources are — doesn’t mean I was misintepretting Stephen’s paradigms.

    But you want to bleet on and on about Stephen… what he wrote, the mean things he said to you. Poor diddums! It is too petulant to bother with. What, do you want me to hold your hand while you cry into your milk?

    Then after whining about Stephen’s *supposed* strawmanning, YOU hypocritically go on about him and fire-sticks? You’re not worth bothering with.

    @ Barry:
    Can’t wait to subscribe to your podcast, because there is some good stuff in your public debates.

    However, the comments here are sadly detracting from the quality of some of your arguments, especially when they over-indulge in character attacks and not content.

  240. @eclipsenow:

    Frankly, the only one here behaving like a horses arse is you, which is quite disappointing, because I remeber the many occasions on which you’ve made worthwhile contributions to the discussion. Specifically, I recall that people have walked you through the issues surrounding nuclear vs renewables before, and you have demonstrated a good understanding of the matters at hand. Now after an absence of a few months you’re back where you started, accusing everyone else of your own faults, unable to see past your own prejudices. I know you’re better than this. what’s going on?

  241. @ Finrod,
    not a lot, sadly. Charles is not communicating, but straw-manning. It seems EVERYONE that ever acknowledges problems other than our energy supply is immediately a neo-primitivist. And Charles is accusing SG of using the straw-man?

    As for nuclear: I love the idea of burning through all the waste but will say again that I remain agnostic about the price until I see Gen4 Reactors coming off the production line.

    I also hope battery, transmission, thermal storage and nano-tech technologies jump along to the point where *some combination* of renewables will prove even cheaper than nuclear. Why? Because we need abundant, fast to deploy clean energy solutions soon, and I for one see heaps of anti-nuclear activists that are going to be a real problem in changing world political culture fast enough to prevent dangerous climate change.

    Peak oil and gas may change some attitudes, but if the society is not geared up around a particular energy solution by the time these things bite, we’re in trouble.

    Hopefully though the synergies of new “industrial ecosystem” thinking (google “Cradle to Cradle”) and ecocity planning will have more play in the discussion than is apparent above.

  242. Many environmentalists claim that putting the earth first only requires man to switch his power source from one technology to another; that the only thing their ideology requires is that the production of man-made power not deplete the earth’s “limited” resources.

    In reality, these claims that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels and nuclear power are a fraud. In California, moreover, environmentalists have revealed that their real attitude toward renewable energy is no less hostile than their attitude toward all other forms of man-made power. After the installation of hundreds of “alternative” energy plants in the state—in the nation’s most ambitious program to build environmentally correct power plants—the greens have begun to reject one renewable power technology after another.

    California’s mandate for “green” power technology has demonstrated for all to see that the most highly acclaimed renewable energy technologies are a sham. Worse, for environmentalists, the large quantities of electricity generated by the more productive of the renewable technologies—quantities that have made them indispensable to Californians during their current electricity crisis—have converted these types of renewable energy into a threat to the earth.

    The extent to which a renewable energy technology has proved its usefulness is the exact extent to which environmentalists now oppose it. The extent to which a technology has proved unproductive is the exact extent to which environmentalists continue to embrace it. Listen to the idiots rail about the evils of large-scale hydro, yet wax romantic about wind and solar. The only reason why environmentalists love solar power is that there are no prospects for growth of central station solar power. After two decades of subsidized development, it remains hopelessly ineffective.

    There is an air of both desperation and credulity in the quest for a non-nuclear solution, a mad scrambling for something that is basically an object of blind faith. To “desperation and credulity” could even be added “intemperance.” How many forms of “alternative energy” would humans need to find and utilize before the needs of our civilization could be met?

    I sympathize with those who, since the 1960s, have been putting their money and their hopes into the bottomless pit of alternative energy, but my compassion does not extend to prevarication. There is really no sense in devoting vast amounts of time in trying to prove that 2+2=5. But the case is worse than that: unfortunately, so many people who get into discussions over alternative energy have simply never bothered to do their basic homework.

    This is the unfortunate dynamic that has split the climate camp into warring factions, where little more that bruised egos, still hang on to the belief that some solution, any solution, will show up that will make the inevitable turn to nuclear unnecessary.

  243. DV8,
    some extremist pro-nuclear advocates probably just want BAU in other areas of suburban growth to the detriment of biodiversity on this planet and the ultimate collapse of ecosystem services and impoverishment of the gene pool of earth.

    Does that mean I rule out nuclear power because there are some nuclear nutters out there?

    (Yawns). Next.

    “How many forms of “alternative energy” would humans need to find and utilize before the needs of our civilization could be met?”
    Depends on which country you’re discussing. But for Australia CETO wavepower and geothermal would provide regular industrial baseload. And we could use irregular wind whenever it blew to charge up the inevitable Better Place fleet.
    Next.

  244. Although those who are arguing that the problem we face is larger than just climate change are persistently shouted down by some of the pro nuclear lobby there seem to be sufficient people who are both pro nuclear and capable of listening to a reasoned argument to make a rejoinder worthwhile.
    Those who have been following the climate change debate for some time will be aware that there is at least one peer reviewed report which argues that the rate at which we are running down our natural resources is such that we will run out of stuff to burn before climate change hits with all of its force.
    The point of that paper was not that these were climate change sceptics but rather that they were pointing to the fact that the rapid depletion of our natural resources is a major problem. From that reality has come the notion that globally we are operating a ponzi scheme.
    This in turn implies that the solutions to the problem of climate change have to go beyond merely extrapolating from our current energy consumption to determine future energy needs. Much of the criticism of renewables that I have read such as David McKay’s work does seem to start from the often unstated premise that progress is linear – it is inevitable that people in the future will want the same lifestyle that we currently ‘enjoy’.
    Bush senior when discussing the issue of climate change simply stated that “The American Lifestyle is not up for neogtiation.” this seems to run a bit of subtheme in this discussion. Yet one only has to read something like Inequality Matters (ed Lardner) to feel compelled to ask the question whose lifestyle is being defended? The work that has been done on global economics illustrates that the lifestyle that requires such massive amounts of energies is the sort of lifestyle that is enjoyed by about 5% of the world’s population. (See Schweickart After Capitalism or he puts it down to 1% and Collier The Bottom Billion or A Sen Development as Freedom.) So those of us who have been arguing that as far as most of are concerned we can enjoy the same lifestyle with much less energy. (in my own case I have been purchasing more efficient appliances for both my business and home – my consumption has gone down from an average of 31KWH per day to 13 and there are still three major appliances that i need to replace with more efficient appliances. Given that this is roughly what most people use domestically the fact that I run both a business and home using 13 kwh without compromising on the quality of my life is an indication of the savings that can be made.)
    Essenially thos debate remains at the same point where it started – what is our vision for the future? Are we looking for a future that resembles the past? Or are we taking this as an opportunity to invent a different future – a future with different attitudes towards energy consumption? A future with different attitudes to watre consumption (It would be cheaper and more responsible to invest in new water infrastructure then desal plants – new infrastructure would mean that we stop flushing expensively treated water down the toilet or use it to irrigate our gardens.) We would stop living and working in buildings that require airconditioning to be remotely habitable. We should designing an urban environment that requires people to own cars in order to get to work.
    Gore wrote about inconvenient truths but we need to be equally wary of convenient half truths or down right falsehoods.

  245. Hi Lawrence,
    nice. Join the “nasty nukes” character attack gang straight away why don’t you?

    I for one remain open to new information, but I guess the dogmatists and cranky old farts here just can’t.

    http://www.carnegiewave.com/index.php?url=/ceto/base-load-wave-power

    2009 – 2011
      CETO III
    • Finalisation of CETO design development and testing
    • CETO manufacturing & deployment
    • Deep water demonstration and testing
    • Commencement of commercial project site works
    • Commissioning and operation of commercial operation
    • Production and sales of zero-emission power and desalinated water

    http://www.carnegiewave.com/index.php?url=/ceto/global-wave-energy

    Wave energy is generally considered to be the most concentrated and least variable form of renewable energy. It is the high power density of wave energy that suggests it has the capacity to become the lowest cost renewable energy source.
    The World Energy Council has estimated that approximately 2 terawatts (2 million megawatts), about double current world electricity production, could be produced from the oceans via wave power. It is estimated that 1 million gigawatt hours of wave energy hits Australian shores annually and that 25% of the UK’s current power usage could be supplied by harvesting its wave resource.
    Double click on this one and it will show you the CETO units being deployed.

    http://www.carnegiewave.com/index.php?url=/media/videolibrary-2

    This animatino shows what a whole field might look like.

    http://www.carnegiewave.com/index.php?url=/media/videolibrary-1

    So, my point is that these are coming off the line now, and we’ll have a far better idea of what they cost / megawatt than the paper-plans for Gen4 reactors, which I am also very interested in, but ultimately have questions about the price.

  246. Three quarters of the United States’ geothermal electricity is generated in California. The 47 plants are capable of producing 2,560 MW, 4.9% of the state’s current generating capacity. The plants run around the clock, producing 4.8% of the electricity consumed in the state. The scale of operation of California’s geothermal plants has attracted the use of force against producers. In 1995, the Northern Sonoma County Pollution Control District and the Sonoma County District Attorney sued Central California Power Agency over hydrogen sulfide emissions at the world’s largest geothermal plants at The Geysers. They imposed a settlement payment of $150,000.

    Two years later, an EPA repair crew rushed out to The Geysers. The emergency: caps on 41 spent geothermal wells were judged to be faulty. In terms reminiscent of the kind of hysterical fears conjured against nuclear power. Panicy claimes that an uncontrolled release of the hydrogen sulfide that’s in these wells could result in a large concentration of gas that would kill everything in its path.” In reality, the amount of gas released from these wells—two-foot-diameter holes drilled 1.5 miles into the earth—would be negligible. It would certainly be no greater than what is already released from the natural source after which the geothermal facility is named.

    Capping geothermal plants has become much easier than building them. Plans to build a pair of 48 MW geothermal plants near Medicine Lake are facing the kind of obstacles environmentalists used to reserve for oil drilling. Local environmental groups claim that the project threatens the system of lava tubes and volcanic aquifers surrounding the lake and that the Shasta crayfish, an endangered species, might be affected. In May, a group of geothermal producers went to Washington, DC, to complain to the Bush administration that the projects they’ve pursued on federal lands have been held up by the Department of the Interior for up to 20 years. Nearly all of the nation’s geothermal resources are on federal lands.

    With these kinds of obstacles, California’s geothermal electricity production has declined 20% from its peak in 1992.

    Felice Pace of the Klamath Forest Alliance explains the environmentalist opposition to geothermal power: “Essentially, in our minds, what it boils down to is any human act, any energy development, has to be stopped because it is going to have some impacts.”

    You all seem to think that big renewable projects are going to be embraced, simply because they claim to be ‘natural,’ (i.e. not nuclear) they are not. Diffusion and intermittency will marginalize most efforts to decentralize these types of generators whether their supporter want to recognize it or not.

    Its time to face up to the fact, that as imperfect as GenII/III nuclear energy is, it is simply the best choice at this juncture to attack global warming and supply us with the power we need to move forward

  247. Barry re peak coal upthread I think there are some possible saving graces. Firstly peak oil might reduce overall economic activity and take coal demand with it. For example globalised manufacturing may lose its cost advantage if shipping costs escalate. I note that perennial BNC favourite Amory Lovins believes oil demand is now simply levelling out, nothing to do with constrained supply. Coal-to-liquids can’t scale up quickly enough to replace crude oil.

    The second issue with coal is that those who want it can’t get it . For the foreseeable future Australia will be the swing producer of hard coals in the Asia Pacific region. India’s steel industry needs imported coking coal. South Africa appears to be conserving coal. If China’s coal production does indeed peak in the next few years Australia, Indonesia and others simply can’t bring Chinese consumption back up to 2.5 Gtpa. Rudd has obviously closed his mind to the hypocrisy of coal exports so he will give Asia as much coal as they want but it won’t be enough.

    Therefore I think oil depletion could slow the global economy (some say it already has) and there will be bottlenecks in supplying enough coal to China and India. I think IPCC and others with good models should base a warming prediction around this scenario.

  248. DV8,
    tomorrow is another day mate.

    I don’t CARE what greenies have done in California. We have completely different geological circumstances where our deep HDR geothermal would come from, so don’t even bother comparing the two.

    Also, you don’t seem to know a thing about CETO power. It’s about the same cost as wind power, but *baseload*.

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2007/10/17/2055750.htm

    My understanding from Lester Brown is that wind is already competitive with coal in the USA, where the coal is not as subsidised as i is here in Australia.

    • Just 60 hectares of ocean used this way could supply all of Sydney’s drinking water!
    • Just 2000 hectares would supply all Sydney’s electricity!

    Watch Catalyst to get your head around it.

    http://tinyurl.com/ybg3mm2

  249. Finrod
    Is this a case where we send an email to eclipsenow’s address advising him/her that someone has hijacked their id and is sending out crazy missives in their name?

    Unfortunately, his current behaviour is too reminiscent of the time he first arrived here last year to be able to let him off the hook for these ridiculous posts. this is the sort of thing that first led me to think he must be fairly young. Only after reading his blog did I realise he was roughly my age.

    Oh well.

    eclipsenow:

    As I told you quite some time ago, you can be as triumphal as you like after these ‘just-around-the-corner’ renewable schemes actually work out in practice. We’ll happily applaud you once it’s happened. What the hell do you think you’re doing to your reputation for rationality by leaping onto every random pro-renewable press release and trumpeting it as the One True Faith? You recognised the folly of this some months ago, but you seem to have forgotten that now.

  250. “In my case I remain unconvinced that the problems inherent with nuclear have been solved. Even if the engineering is excellent I shudder at the thought of living in the shadow of a nuclear power station that is operated by Homer Simpson (I can accept that they may be fool proof but I doubt if they are Homer proof).”

    I think the Homer Simpson thing is a little bit of a strawman.

    Let’s look at the history of nuclear energy for real, in the real world, not in the make believe world of The Simpsons.

    Putting aside the disasterous ways of the Soviet Union, has civil nuclear power ever hurt or killed anyone? If so, who? In what circumstances? How many people?

  251. Finrod, it’s not triumphalism, it’s false bravado.

    The hard truths are sinking in as we move forward, everyone now from negawatts to nukes has to put out or get out, and it is becoming painfully apparent even to its most ardent supporters that most renewable energy schemes can’t do as promised.

    The renewable side has lost because it is crystal clear that Chinese and Indians, are going to build nuclear as fast as they can, and the Third World will Follow. What the West does, just isn’t relevant any more in this area. If it wants to speed up its marginalization by chasing dreams,that’s it funeral

    This is exactly what the point of this thread is: the opinions of the antinukes and deniers just doesn’t count for anything.

  252. I’m not even agnostic about Gen IV, I don’t think its is a technology that should be pursued except as experimental at this point. I have been an observer of the nuclear industry for a very long time, and I know enough engineering to tell if something is ready for launch, and Gen IV isn’t.

    There is any number of good, functional designs of nuclear reactor, that can be built now in sizes from 250MWe to 1600MWe. The companies are tooled up, there are running examples that can be used for training, and most importantly, the bugs have been ironed out. And yes they are being deployed even now.

    I personally think that running for Gen IV tech is as ill-advised as pushing for more renewables – there is just too great a chance for failure at this critical time.

  253. So Finrod, which is being deployed and tested as we speak?

    CETO, no doubt a few other renewables projects, Chinese pebblwe-bed reactors, Indian fast-breeder reactors, Russian fast breeder reactors, Japanese fast breeder reactors and Chinese fast breeder reactors.

  254. I personally think that running for Gen IV tech is as ill-advised as pushing for more renewables – there is just too great a chance for failure at this critical time.

    Well, I wouldn’t advocate everyone drop everything and immediately go for broke building IFRs tomorrow, or even BN-1600s, but I’m happy to see the pilot projects go ahead.

  255. No one has debunked that CETO alone could do the job, let alone a combination of all the others. Again with the character attacks without any facts!

    Sadly, it looks like they’re only testing one CETO unit in WA this year, but it won’t be too long before we get the actual data on a sizable CETO farm.

    http://www.carnegiewave.com/

    We’ll have a 12.5 million dollar, 5mw plant hopefully by next year. The WA State energy minister says it is important that they fund projects that can be commercialised rapidly.

  256. No one has debunked that CETO alone could do the job, let alone a combination of all the others.

    Acyually, I’m pretty sure Barry did just that last year sometime after you kept on nagging everyone about it.

  257. eclipsenow, as I said earlier, you need to read this and understand its implications for CETO — I will do a follow-up that looks more closely at the CETO performance and expectations, but the basic physics of the energy wave front and capacity factors don’t change — neither does the conclusion that wave power, in general, will not be scalable and probably never economic:

    TCASE 5: Ocean power I – Pelamis

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/25/tcase5/

  258. That’s funny because just the other day he told me he’d get to CETO one of these days. He debunked another, totally different wave energy concept, but that’s the very problem I keep talking about: no one person can possibly keep up with ALL of the approaches coming to market in renewable energy.

    And when someone has a blog stating their outright devotion to one energy proposition, it’s very easy to hear “wind” and think they’re talking about giant fans on poles, instead of high flying kites on wires, or one kind of wavepower and extrapolate all the problems to another form when it is actually a totally different approach.

    Barry, does the wave power you reviewed try to generate power at sea that limits capacity factors? CETO doesn’t generate power at sea, OK? Totally different approach, and it works in far smaller waves than previous approaches.

    It all comes down to price. Now, concentrated energy means less construction materials, and that might beat dispersed energy with no fuel costs. We shall see. But right now I see a lot of pissing contests about renewables projects that have no real world data in from the deployment tests yet.

  259. Eclipse….it’s up to you to provide your own evidence…..don’t leave it to everyone else…..Can’t you see that any sort of renewable power generation just can’t ‘feed the world’ .
    All these feeble atttempts are just that…….satisfying a small minority albeit with good intentions. Read previous posts….read previous posts…read previous posts etc etc etc

  260. If you READ the previous posts mate you’d see that what I’m saying is there is a degree of arrogance here when the data HASN’T come in yet, OK?

    CETO works, it just needs to be proven economically. The sites I have linked to (the evidence) says it can supply 2 times the world’s power needs.

    So we’re just waiting on the costings.

  261. Following my intro is a link to a CETO article, from which I glean:
    $400m for 50MW. Thus $8 billion for 1GW peak, or $16billion for 1GW average. Latter would need 12,000 CETO units to be installed. Requiring about 550 ha of ocean sea floor (about 300 AFL ovals), or a 5.5km by 1km array.

    I found it interesting also that the WHOLE of Australia’s water needs can be provided by CETO units that would also produce 300MW of electricity… So if rolled out everything past the first 300MW would offer no water benefits and have to stand economically on energy alone.

    My interpretation is that CETO has a lot of potential as a provider of clean water, with a side benefit of some electricity, which while making it potentially an excellent little technology for water, it will be limited to providing a niche role for energy.

    http://www.investegate.co.uk/Article.aspx?id=200705170700587513W

    “‘We are currently finalizing details for the world’s first base-load renewable
    energy power station. A 50MW demonstration CETO Wave Farm would supply power
    for around 40,000 households and cost around $400 million.’ Dr Ottaviano said.

    ‘If the project gets the go ahead this year, then we will be able to start
    construction in 2009, with full capacity achieved in 2012. Once it is in
    operation, the generation cost should be competitive with fossil fuel
    alternatives because it has zero fuel costs’.

    The preliminary proposal involves the deployment of around 300 CETO units which
    would provide 50MW of peak installed power capacity and 25MW average capacity.
    Additional onshore desalination infrastructure is included as an option in the
    proposal which would allow the 300 unit wave farm to also act as a 50GL/year
    zero-emission desalination station.

    All of Australia’s southern mainland cities’ current water needs could be
    satisfied by CETO units covering an area of 155 hectares (70 AFL football ovals)
    of sea floor at around 75% of the price of current desalination projects. In
    addition, these Wave Farms would generate around 300 MW of zero-emission power,
    enough for about 300,000 households.”

  262. eclispenow: Also, you don’t seem to know a thing about CETO power. It’s about the same cost as wind power, but *baseload*.

    No, it most definitely is not baseload. It has a high availability factor, but it is (a) not dispatchable and (b) has a capacity factor of ~40% (optimistic). Go back and read my TCASE post — CETO is no different to Pelamis in these respects. We have NO idea about costs of electricity delivered at this stage — all projected costs are speculative.

    MattB: I found it interesting also that the WHOLE of Australia’s water needs can be provided by CETO units that would also produce 300MW of electricity

    I don’t believe this figure — it is wrong on first principles. But I agree with your assessment that CETO would be best deployed in a desalination role. More when I write up TCASE8. Nice little summary by the way.

    eclispenow: My understanding from Lester Brown is that wind is already competitive with coal in the USA, where the coal is not as subsidised as i is here in Australia

    Well, Lester Brown is wrong, as the recent EIA figures on LCOE most clearly show. Also, just think about it logically. If wind is competitive with coal, and wind can be built much more rapidly and incrementally than coal, WHY does it need ongoing subsidies?

  263. Hi Barry,
    What are the subsidies? What states subsidise it at what rates? How does it compare to the coal subsidies we offer in tax kickbacks,and dare I say it, the ETS?

    And the EIA doesn’t even seem to really recognise peak oil yet, so teI don’t know what I think about them.

    “Overall, U.S. wind-generating capacity expanded by 36 percent in 2005, reaching 9,149 megawatts. This year it could expand by 50 percent. At the end of 2005, there were commercial wind farms in 30 states…..Wind energy is emerging as a centerpiece of the new energy economy, because it is abundant, inexpensive, inexhaustible, widely distributed, clean, and climate-benign. Three of the 50 states—North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas—have enough harnessable wind energy to satisfy national electricity needs. The cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen from 38¢ per kilowatt-hour in the early 1980s to 4¢ to 6¢ today, offering an almost endless supply of cheap energy.
    Beyond that, these wells will never go dry. No one can cut off the supply or raise the fuel cost. And wind can supply our energy needs without disrupting the earth’s climate.”

    http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2006/Update52.htm

    You’ve been doing the rounds in the media and are a heavy hitter. I’d love a (polite) debate between you and Lester on a podcast one day. :-)

  264. Barry,
    I’m very upset about the CETO thing at the moment.

    It seems science journalism ain’t what it used to be. Catalyst reported CETO as true baseload, I’ve seen it on a variety of shows and listened to a few podcasts, and now… the PDF from the company itself confirms only a 45% capacity rating… which I understand, in layman’s terms, means…

    **It only works just under half the time!**

    http://www.ceto.com.au/ceto-technology/pdf/pb-report-full.pdf

    Which means that to back it up, you have to build 2 or 3 instead of 1.

    (Where with nuclear you have to build a “spare” reactor to cover every 5 or 6 reactors? Isn’t that what 85% capacity means?)

    So the ONLY way CETO can make a comeback in my thinking, is if that high price included the backup wave farms and I just haven’t found the explanation of that tidy little detail yet!

    Baseload my ar$e! 45% capacity? I’ll have to write to BZE about this one!

  265. Barry,
    one water, seriously: check this out all. It’s amazing.

    Designed by forward thinking architects. Only the energy to PUMP the water is required, the rest is passive solar.

    http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/

    Also, it is configured to produce synergies with growing foods in the Sahara desert. The greenhouse shields against excessive heat, produces water, and grows food, and produces 5 times more water than it needs for its agriculture. And so they really could green the Sahara with this one!

    They also have some great maps that locate regions where certain regions are below water and could be flooded to produce more evaporation right in front of mountains with prevailing winds collecting the moister air.

    Some cluey people on this project.

  266. What are the subsidies?

    http://www.masterresource.org/category/windpower/subsidiescost-of-windpower/

    The Energy Information Administration, an independent agency within the Department of Energy, in its 2008 report, Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy Markets 2007, compares subsidies related to electricity production, the sector where wind is used. In table ES5, they show that the traditional fuel sources (coal, natural gas, and petroleum liquids) received $1,081 million in Federal subsidies for electricity production in 2007, while wind received $724 million, a ratio of 1.49. However, in that year, the traditional fossil sources generated 2,865 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), while wind generated 31 billion kWh. On a per unit basis, the traditional sources, received a subsidy of $0.00038 per kWh, while wind received a subsidy of $0.0234 per kWh.

    So, wind in the US gets 62 times more subsidies than coal on a per unit energy delivered basis. One may argue separately about externalities not being priced in coal, but your basic thesis, “My understanding from Lester Brown is that wind is already competitive with coal in the USA, where the coal is not as subsidised as i is here in Australia”, is wrong, or such a massive subsidy would not be required.

    As you know, I don’t support the ongoing use of coal, but it is asking for trouble to make claims about the relative competitiveness of an energy resource on the basis of wishful thinking, like Brown appears to do.

  267. eclipse, if compiling the TCASE series has taught me anything, it’s that you CANNOT take the developer’s promotional material, and media coverage, of any energy system at face value. I’m glad you chased up the CETO claims for yourself.

    45% capacity factor (if that is achieved – probably only in the very best locations) means sometimes it is delivering close to 100% of rated capacity, sometimes close to 0%, sometimes 10%, sometimes 70% etc. Cumulatively, it averages 45%, but the actual output is variable. Thus, as Peter Lang has explained in his many posts, to ensure system reliability, you have to have backup for the whole thing, or for the minimum system-wide output of a geographically dispersed deployment.

  268. eclipse: I agree with barry that it is very cool and much to your credit that you dug up some reality stats on ceto.

    when I posted a little while ago that stuff from wiki renewables and said I wanted to puke, here’s why:

    It’s been my experience–I’ll give two prominent examples–that renewables advocates repeatedly talk the most incredible nonsense with great confidence.

    I heard last november at an anti nuke panel about shutting down vermont yankee (due to “dangerous tritium levels” [b.s.]) a grassroots, long time anti nuclear activist claim that we didn’t need to worry about shutting down the diabolical nuclear plants because we had solar and she claimed solar pvs provided 60% of Germany’s electricity: it was .6 %. off by two orders of magnitude.

    I heard Van Jones (Green Collar Economy) whine about all the concrete and steel used by nuclear plants (“tons”) and claim that concentrated solar could produce the same power output per area as nuclear (he used solar one in Nevada as an example): he was off by just about two orders of magnitude and this did not take into consideration the intermittency issue (solar one had 64 MW nameplate compared to 1 GW nuke–add to that solar’s 25 % capacity factor, which is probably optimistic and you see the point. And solar one is located in the desert I assume.) as far as the material claims, barry has shown how off they are: nukes use way less material than wind/solar–10-40 times less.

    Then of course there are the maneuvers like Jacobson’s upping nuke ghg production by building in a nuclear bomb every 35 years or WWF upping France’s ghg numbers by treating nuclear like it was natural gas, because they are against nuclear.

    I don’t know how any honest person can be anything other than nauseated by this sort of thing. I’m sure the nuclear industry has done really grotesque things also nausea worthy.

    The thing is, I’m sure many anti nuclear activists got their start from rage at nuke industry lying and now due to my experience with renewables hyperbolic or dishonest claims, my tendency is to shut down when I hear such claims: which is also a bad idea. It’s hard to keep an open mind once the nausea begins to set in.

  269. eclipsenow

    I am enjoying your spirited defence of renewable solutions and your open mindedness, demonstrated by readiness to reject any particluar one when the downsides have been convincingly revealed to you.

    I also agree with you that not all sustainability issues will necessarily be resolved by the provision of unlimited cheap (affordable) energy. Furthermore, there are clearly ways in which we could live and use energy in a more efficient manner that would not necessarily make us poorer (except, possibly, in an extreme, material sense). Passivehaus and heat pump technologies are obvious examples.

    Having said this, it still seems to me fairly obvious that, in the mid term, we will need all the affordable fossil fuel-free energy we can get plus all the efficiencies we can muster, merely to keep pace with population growth in the pipeline. The very amount of extra clean energy needed means that it must be generated as cheaply as possible if we are to get through the approaching bottleneck. The alternative is to get to the other side of the bottleneck with markedly fewer human numbers – obviously, a less humane solution! I believe that few of those who take a pro nuclear stance on BNC are cornucopians, believing exponential growth to be sustainable. Rather, most have probably gone through the journey you are on and come to the conclusion that renewables can’t deliver.

    I wonder whether you have read David Mackay’s “Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air”. It is freely downloadable on the web and deals with most possible energy solutions from the point of view of first principles – physics, scalability etc. The author is now a scientific advisor to the Department of Climate Change in the UK. The book doesn’t deal with economics/costs but is, nevertheless, a good starting point.

    My personal journey into energy solutions has taken me along a route that leaves me with the view that all renewable solutions fail, either on grounds of non scaleability or cost. CCS coal, with internalised costs, also fails on both cost and sustainability grounds. The only solution left which can hack it from a first principles (numerate) point of view seems to me to be a nuclear one, but only if deployed cheaply and quickly can it become a total one.

    You are currently promoting seawater greenhouses. They seem like a very promising idea. If I were farming in a sunny, dry area by the sea, I might invest in one. However, the developers of the concept do point out that financial viability is dependent almost entirely on the profits to be generated from the plants grown therein. I guess that most such plants would be horticultural rather than basic food staples such as cereals. It’s all very well to grow tomatoes for the rich and make a profit but it won’t feed many people. Effectively, all one’s doing is adding value to packaged water by providing flavour and a few minerals and vitamins rather than energy and protein which are what really matter. Pigs have gastrointestinal tracts similar to our own. We feed them as cheaply as possible, mainly on cereals and soya but certainly not on horticultural crops. If your greenhouses could produce a combination of staple food affordable to the local population and freshwater at a profit, they would represent a useful (very) partial solution to the problems we face.

  270. “The thing is, I’m sure many anti nuclear activists got their start from rage at nuke industry lying”

    What lies are you referring to? The antinuclear (power) movement, is a direct spin-off of the antinuclear (weapons) activism that got its start with the ‘Ban-the-Bomb’ groups in the 1960′s. These groups segued into fighting power plants when the SALT and START treaties pulled the rug from underneath them. I remember. I was there.

    The only lies that have been told are those against nuclear energy: spent fuel is horribly dangerous and has to be guarded forever, nuclear power plants emit hazardous levels of radiation, nuclear energy lead inevitably to nuclear weapons, there isn’t enough uranium, it produces huge amounts of CO2 on the front-end of the cycle, and on and on. Not one of these has any foundation in fact, yet you are telling us the industry are the ones telling lies.

  271. actually DV, I was probably being too charitable to the anti nuclear protesters.

    I’m referring to lack of transparency around nuclear accidents. Most accounts I’ve read indicate that the nuclear industry did not handle the PR particularly well.

  272. btw, DV, your response to me is intemperate.

    99% of the focus of my post is on the lies and hyperbole coming from the renewables camp. and so you say the following:

    “yet you are telling us the industry[nukes] are the ones telling lies.”

    don’t you think your response is out of whack? cause it is.

    g

  273. eclipsenow asked:
    Where with nuclear you have to build a “spare” reactor to cover every 5 or 6 reactors? Isn’t that what 85% capacity means?

    Well, not quite. I see capacity figures misused and misunderstood, often by advocates of renewables. While 85% may be a correct capacitory factor for nuclear in certain countries (it is over 90% here in the USA), one must distiguish between planned and unplanned outages. Planned outages for refueling and maintance are done during times of the year when demand is low (typically spring and fall). That “one extra” power plant is not needed at that time because demand is low.

    The outages during times of high demand, even if planned (e.g., wind stops blowing on a hot day) or unplanned are the ones that really hurt.

  274. When you are forced to shut down some nukes you get in trouble rather quick and have to buy power from all over europe at a premium price…
    You also start to fear rolling blackouts…just like France.
    Ironicaly it is in winter when their rivers run low and the electric heating is running full trottle.
    In January 2010 France was importing power in the magnitute of 4 reactors again…
    The capacity was there….but it was not working.
    France is importing power in winter …France is importing power in summer.
    Great technology.
    BTW you should visit more french forums to get a better picture of your paradise.

    When you live in Germany it is not a very big problem if 2/3 of your nuclear capacity go offline due to technical problems and lack of cooling.
    In 2007 17 nukes went offline or had to reduce capacity and Germany was still exporting power.

  275. marcus: france is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity.

    Oh man: you want rolling blackouts, take a look at california. their solution to the rolling blackouts problem (see Tucker) was to build natural gas plants.

  276. @Marcus: I think I have pointed out to you more than once on BNC that you keep on referring solely to private household power useage in your country and encouraging BNCers to save money by a decentral power supply. But annual statistics that I quoted you, with URL, on that other thread show that for example in 2007, household consumption was only 25 % of the total across the whole Austrian economy.

    You apparently live in a rural setting and can instal microhydro of 9 kW. So I asked you before how you envisaged 1. the state of Austrian industry in 2040 if it were using the renewables you praise for households: do you want to deindustrialise your country? do you long for a bucolic village society across all of Austria? if so, please outline its modus operandi 2. what do you envisage for urban apartment dwellers in Vienna who have no waterfall for hydro or southern PV apartment frontage handy?

    To date you have declined to answer me. Possibly you are not basically interested in what happens to your country as a whole. (Bis dato haben Sie davon abgesehn, mir überhaupt zu antworten, evtl. interessiert Sie im Grunde nicht, was Oesterreich als Ganzes widerfährt).

    Another thing is that as isotherms have been moving polewards for decades, your country itself can possibly expect less rain and hence hydropower (hence recent power blackouts in Ecuador, which is 40% power-dependent on a hydro dam in the Costa which suffered from drought from late 2009 to just now). So it seems strange to me that you do not factor in global warming.

    Lastly, what are you insinuating about Germany? that Germany is a clean power producer because it has only 17 nukes? and given that fossil fuels coal and natgas supplied 60% of power in 2007? are you not aware that German Greens refer constantly to “die fossil-atomare Lobby” in one breath?

    “Germany’s electricity production in 2007 was 637 billion kWh gross, about 6300 kWh per capita. Coal provides about half of the country’s electricity. Gas supplied 12%, wind 6% in 2007. Electricity exports exceed imports by about 15 billion kWh, but Germany is one of the biggest importers of gas, coal and oil worldwide, and has few domestic resources apart from lignite and renewables.”

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf43.html

  277. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/utilities/article6626811.ece

    Maybe they could just use less air conditioning…about 8000MW…
    Or they could just stop heating in winter…

    otoh GB and Ger can export enough power even when Germany has to shut down some nukes in summer.

    Since German utilities make more money every year…why not let them built much more renewable energy.

    There is no need to save money when you are rich btw.

  278. @Marcus: ich komme zu dem vorläufigen Schluss, das Einzige, was Sie interessiert ist Ihre persönliche Finanzen. Soll das eine grosse Volksweisheit sein: there is no need to save money when you are rich? Sie erinnern mich an den Unterschied zwischen neoliberalen Betriebswirten und sonstigen Volkswirten. / My provisional conclusion is that the only thing that interests you is your personal finances. Is that supposed to be a great bit of homespun wisdom: “there’s no need to save money when you are rich”? You remind me of the difference between neoliberal businness management graduates on the one hand and (other) Economics graduates on the other.

    I said above that Germany’s power export is coming off 60% fossil fuel-based power production, in reply to your attempt to spin that export as an argument against having to spend money (the thing you seem to hate doing most) on power imports (but see below for your country, Austria)

    You are a national of a country that turned a nuke into an investment ruin by a bare referendum majority in 1978 at Zwentendorf and met the demand that it had been meant to meet with a coal-fired station instead in 1987. Congratulations on the C02 it emits.

    Your country had net power generation in 2000 of about 70% hydro, 30% fossil. And Austria has to import power in winter when the hydro is not flowing, does it not?

    So never mind preaching about Germany, what about reducing that 30% for the sake of global warming?

    I now rest my case, as you are seemingly incapable of raising your fascinated gaze from your wallet.

  279. A few points in response:

    1. I don’t represent the renewables industry: I’m not a scientist, let alone renewables specialist. I’m just another blogging trying to collect peer-reviewed executive summaries because I don’t have the time or training to run the figures myself. So convincing me of anything does not really *mean* anything, and the “Black Swans” could still be out there. They are, by definition, unpredictable.

    2. I’m still concerned by the debating tactics of Blees when he points out *one* of the limitations of wind which is right on the verge of becoming irrelevant. The “no demand at night” routine discussed at length above, when EV’s will soon all be charging at night, and indeed, by the nature of being ‘plugged in’ 22 hours day, can help smooth the demand cycle greatly. When the wind blows, or any other intermittent renewables starts pushing down some serious juice, then there will soon be an *armarda* of EV’s ready to take that juice and use it.

    3. Depending on cost, it’s not an either / or dichotomy. Baseload nuclear can fit nicely with the extra supply from renewables, especially as a whole range of ‘smart appliances’ start talking to the smart grid. Imagine the Diesendorf / Herman Scheer renewables super-grid backed by some nuclear. You guys would be able to sell nuclear waste as “providing fuel for the next 1000 to 1500 years!” based on the mix of renewables and nuclear available.

    4. I’m still not sure why I saw SUCH strong hype around CETO’s baseload if it is only 45% capacity. Even the former Liberal resources minister (with the croaky voice… forgotten his name temporarily) said it was baseload! But at 45% capacity, the ONLY way it could be is if the price included a backup site somewhere else…. if they were making assumptions about the future Australian grid and supply situation. I mean, I’m no expert in ocean behaviour. While one side of Australia might have a lower swell, what is the other side doing? And is all this included in their budget forecasts? Only time and a huge degree of reading will tell.

    5. Seawater greenhouses: They produce 5 times the water they require for the food inside the greenhouse. So fruit trees and permaculture farms and biomass energy farming schemes can spring up around them, in addition to the foods grown inside. That is roughly the plan as advertised.

    6. Barry, if you are happy to quote the EIA they state wind as 55.8 dollars per mwh, while coal is at 53.1.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/archive/ieo06/special_topics.html

    America seems to be at peak coal as your friend Michael explained recently: their energy produced remains stable but the tonnage burnt is increasing vastly. (Moving from an era of highly concentrated good coal to harder to extract, less energy dense “bad” coal).

    I can only assume their wind subsidies are to get new companies started and running at scale faster, ultimately bringing the LONGER TERM costs down. There is a difference between having a good idea that might prove viable in the long term and actually getting a company and factory and workforce large enough and skilled enough to run at full efficiency to bring the cost-per-unit down.

    The above EIA link also finishes with this very interesting paragraph:

    “An illustration of levelized cost calculations for a typical coal plant, an advanced combined-cycle natural gas plant, a wind plant, and a nuclear plant to be built in the United States is shown in the table below. The cost estimates are based on assumptions used in EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2006, expressed in 2004 dollars per megawatthour. For U.S. plants that would begin operation in 2015, the combined-cycle plant is the least-cost option and the nuclear plant the most expensive.”

  280. @ Peter Lalor is accusing Marcus of neo-primitivism again.

    EG: “do you want to deindustrialise your country? do you long for a bucolic village society across all of Austria?”

    When is this boring, and oh-so-predictable straw-man character attack going to stop? Drop the dramatics Peter, or you’ll soon be in the same books as Charles and DV8.

    Marcus: re: air conditioning.
    New office buildings are starting to be built with as much passive solar technology as they can cram into the building, and geothermal ground heat pump technology to moderate the interior temperature. As I said, my sister-in-law has a Phd in this stuff and hangs out with the crowd responsible for this quote:

    “EcoCity Builders is advocating transformation of cities for radically lower energy use. We plan energy demand so low that transition strategies to environmentally benign renewable sources like solar and wind become not just practical but ample.”

    http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/articles/394

    They have elsewhere calculated that they can build cities that can run from 50% to 10% of modern requirements, and yet still be modern, comfortable places to live with the best of high technology, and yet cutting a lot of the crap.

    If you want a REAL treat, watch this 15 minute video at the top of this page.
    http://www.villageforum.com/ This is Claude Lewenz who developed the “Village Town” concept, where 20 villages of 500 people group around a central “town”. This is his presentation to the UNSW. If this idea takes off, I’ll be so jealous of the next generation as our rather bland suburbs are slowly rezoned around these principles. It seems like a very attractive way to live!

    A “Village Town” is being built south of Sydney, and will ultimately house 10 thousand people. This is not for permaculture village hippies, but mainstream citizens. He’s part anthropologist (and came up with many of the core principles from a mate who is an anthropologist), part ecocity builder, part architect, part pragmatic developer who can get these passive solar homes built FAST when a critical mass of people commit. This is going to be a very interesting project! What is neo-primitivist about living “more European than the Europeans”?

  281. Davod McKay’s excellent book has been quoted a number of times. Perhaps it is time to remind some of you of two quotations from that book:
    “we live at a time when emotions and feelings count for more than truth and there is a vast ignorance of science.”

    He then compares Lomborg and Goodstein’s analysis of the problems we are facing and asks:
    “How could two smart people come to such different conclusions?”

    Both these quotations are the basis for my continued opposition to nuclear notwithstanding what I have read in these posts.

    The relevance of the first quotation is this. I think any reasonable person would have to concede that a properly designed, constructed , maintained and operated nuclear power plant does not present any risk – furthermore the capacity of IFR to process nuclear waste eliminates another problem.
    So in theory nuclear is clean and safe so why oppose its implementation? Because of the widespread ignorance of science there is an unacceptable risk that the expansion of nuclear power will lead to major environmental problems. Problems that will make Bhopal seem like a sunday school picnic.
    I simply do not have the confidence that nuclear reactors will be built in a safe manner – I have seen too many instances where builders have made minor adjustments to engineering specs just to save a little bit of money, where workers could not be bothered getting measurements just right . Once you shift to mass production of nuclear reactors as some seem to be advocating you will also increase the number of errors and cockups.
    In terms of civil engineering the principle is that structures are over designed so that they can cope with events that may only occur once every 100 years – that principle cannot allow for human greed, or human incompetence – in most instances the risk of greed and incompetence is localised. As we saw with Chernobyl the consequences of incompetence and poor construction are not locaslised by affect people far and wide.
    The nuclear power lobby is inviting me to accept the proposition that the people who will be building the nuclear reactors to combat climate change will not cut corners to make a few bucks extra, will be well trained in science so that they understand the importance of following the specifications to the letter, will religiously maintain the plant and finally operate the plant safely. (The last point is particularly problematic – most of the time there will be very little to do, so the temptation is to cut down on staff and equally staff who are employed will find it difficult to stave of boredom.) I remain sceptical.

    The relevance of the second quotation is this. Anyone who bothers to read the various arguments for and against the capacity of renewables to deliver baseload power cannot help but ask the same question as McKay did.

    He documents the impact of attempting to switch Britain to renewables and concludes that it cannot be done. Or more precisely it will require a huge amount of negawatts for it to be practicable. On the otherhand Amory Lovins has done a similar exercise and shown it can be done.
    Two smart people coming up with different conclusions. So how does one decide?

    Of course we can resort to the ad hominem arguments popular by some in this thread and dismiss Lovins’s conclusions on the grounds that he is anti nuclear and so has a vested interest in showing renewables can work. The problem is that same argument applies to the pro nuclear lobby – they have a vested interest in demonstrating that renewables will not do it .

    Finally of course one cannot help but feel that emotions are getting in the way of reason.

  282. accepting your argument for a moment (I DON’T accept it and think M is more persuasive than L), that Lovins is no more persuasive than mackay and vice versa, then there is no basis for deciding one way or another in the absence of better information.

    so if neither position is rationally defensible, then what?

    are there any demonstration projects that would convince you to change your mind about renewables?

    question goes in the other direction to of course.

    BUT, Mackay didn’t intend you to make the inference you do about those opening quotes. I think his point is that such differing assessments are based on the failure to do the numbers–relying on adjectives instead. THUS IT IS THE BOOK’S PURPOSE TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF SUCH DISAGREEMENTS AND TO DISSOLVE THEM WITH BETTER NUMBERS–”comprehensible, comparable and memorable.”

  283. Thank you for your links eclipsenow.
    I am into architecture myself and was involved with “Energy Base”…the most efficient (passivhaus certified) office building in Vienna.

    I like that earthship design…not really a solution for Austria but nice idea anyways. (Saw something about homes dug into the earth somewhere in GB once.)

    We like to compaire houses with sleeping bags. The body heat, excess heat from appliances and sun have to be enough to heat your home.
    You would not have a 1mm sleeping bag but drag some oil or gasbottles along. Just scale up your sleeping bag and that is your house without active heating.
    People who built new houses sub this standard are plain stupid.
    Austria will get laws in place that demand you to built and refit your existing buildings up to a standard.
    You have to have an energycard (much like paperwork for your car) that shows how much energy your building uses when you sell, rent out, built or adapt a building.
    We go from 200-250kWh/m²a (or 3000l oilequivalent) to <10kWh/m²a (200l).

    Nuclear power is not going to be cheap. I only trust my friends from IAEO (nuclear engineer, proliferation expert…) when it comes to nuclear policy. Just built more nuclear sounds really easy….same line since the seventies…

    The IEA once projectet 1400GW installed nuclear by 2000. What a joke. Nothing has changed since. Nuclear won`t make a difference (or dent like they call it around here) when it comes to burning fossile fuels. 2% primary energy….way to go.
    German plants would not receive licensing today.
    China does what the west has done before…paying with military money for developement of nuclear.
    You wish wind or solar would receive that money…

    I won`t make a difference for nuclear energy…but every passiv house I get built and every solar panel I get installed does make a difference.

  284. @eclipsenow: I can safely assume that your personal knowledge of German-language renewables advocates, their sayings and writings is close to zero. The municipality of Schönau as the “shining German beacon” of decentral hydro generation, for example, means nothing to you, does it?

    Close reading of your effusion incl. bewildering reference to your sister-in-law and mates – if I need your advice on dramatics, by the way, I’ll ask for it – reveals that like Marcus, you too imply that power generation happens only in places where people live, or in office buildings. Have you ever been inside a factory, by the way?

    You write: “What is neo-primitivist about living “more European than the Europeans”? This is risible. Which of the several hundred million EU nationals in 20+ countries with differing power mixes are you on about? And I note your verbal sleight of hand: to “LIVE” can mean 1. dwell, reside and 2. conduct the whole of one’s existence in society, including consumption of goods and services no longer produced by human muscle power or animal traction. You are passing off 2. under the guise of 1.

    So, as we are actually talking about meaning no. 2: are the 10,000 persons in the Village Town going to consume only self-or remotely-generated renewable power? And will they resolutely refuse to use any NSW physical asset or service e.g. an aluminium beer can, manufactured or run using coal-fired or natgas, directly or indirectly? Pull the other leg…

    @John Tons: I share your concern about nukie bureaucratic malfeasance and cost-cutting plant safety/operation, see my conflict with DV8XL on this. Or
    for the video interview with Vermont nuclear engineer-cum-whistleblower Arnie Gundersen:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/24/in_historic_vote_vermont_poised_to

  285. peter: thanks for that interview. it’s interesting.

    even if the problems are being blown out of proportion, it does show the nuclear authorities around vermont yankee in an unflattering light.

    the idea that any corporate industry would be beyond lying is impossible for me to believe.

    I’d be interested to know rod’s response to this interview.

  286. gregory meyerson – I was not taking at shot at you, as much as I was reacting to what has become a throwaway remark against the nuclear industry. Almost all the accusations of lies and cover-ups, when examined in detail, turn out to be tempest-in-a-teapot events.

    A release of tritium, equivalent to the amount in a self-illuminating exit sign, is blown out of proportion, with the media demanding to know why the state wasn’t evacuated, when in fact the amounts radiation were far below what would constitute a real danger.

    Accusations of a facility trying to hide a problem, because they had some component failure that was at any rate redundant, and was detected and fixed. And so on.

    Blithely accusing the industry of lying or covering-up, has been treated like a given by the antinukes, and they have repeated it so often I think they have begun to believe it themselves.

  287. I think I read that the radiation leak was in the area of 1.5 millirems.

    That’s why I said “blown out of proportion.” The democracy now did not mention any numbers.

    Run for your lives!!

    Still: not honest on VY’s part and bad PR, as Gundersen noted.

  288. Rod writes: That is the way we will win, and the politics of the situation will support us as people recognize the truth of our statements about energy that really is cheap enough to sell on an “all you can eat” basis with a flat monthly rate.

    Certainly that could be the case, but we’ll still have to charge on a consumption basis if only for the sake of behavioral engineering so people don’t leave their lights and A/C on all day while they’re at work, or similar foolish wastefulness. After all, we don’t want to have to build a bunch of extra power plants just for the sake of such foolishness. But the point is most certainly true that it will be too cheap to meter, as much as that quote has been maligned.

  289. Everyone just ignored the EIA’s figures, so once again:

    The EIA they state wind as 55.8 dollars per mwh, while coal is at 53.1.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/archive/ieo06/special_topics.html

    America seems to be at peak coal as your friend Michael explained recently: their energy produced remains stable but the tonnage burnt is increasing vastly. (Moving from an era of highly concentrated good coal to harder to extract, less energy dense “bad” coal).

    I can only assume their wind subsidies are to get new companies started and running at scale faster, ultimately bringing the LONGER TERM costs down. There is a difference between having a good idea that might prove viable in the long term and actually getting a company and factory and workforce large enough and skilled enough to run at full efficiency to bring the cost-per-unit down.

    The above EIA link also finishes with this very interesting paragraph:

    “An illustration of levelized cost calculations for a typical coal plant, an advanced combined-cycle natural gas plant, a wind plant, and a nuclear plant to be built in the United States is shown in the table below. The cost estimates are based on assumptions used in EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2006, expressed in 2004 dollars per megawatthour. For U.S. plants that would begin operation in 2015, the combined-cycle plant is the least-cost option and the nuclear plant the most expensive.”

  290. Hi EN, the assumptions behind the EIA models are given in this document:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/archive/aeo06/assumption/pdf/renewable.pdf

    For wind, they assume a capacity factor of 45% – quite unrealistically high. They appear to not include any form of storage. There is no overbuild to compensate for intermittency. The assumed transmission costs appear to be far less than would be required for geographic dispersal to smooth supply fluctuations.

    In other words, the cost seems to be that for adventitious wind power supplied directly to the grid – a situation that is possible for small wind penetrations, but not possible if you get up to any significant fraction of wind power. This cost is not the cost for a contribution from wind that displaces any amount of coal burning that matters. It is not the cost for wind as a useful generation system, just for every random joule that winds up on the grid.

    By the way, I applaud your research into the CETO data and coming to conclusions that you can own – I don’t recall anyone else here digging into that data to produce that result. Bravo.

  291. eclipsenow writes: If one is willing to sacrifice a bedroom or 2 on the size of the average oversized American **McMansion**, and will build a home with proper passive solar tecniques, then you can go off-grid economically.

    This and many more of your posts betray a fantasy that won’t hold water: The idea that we can solve the world’s problems by changing human behavior to make everyone more virtuous. Good luck with that. What we have to do is to deploy/employ technologies that make people’s personal lifestyle decisions immaterial. Make everyone a passive environmentalist. The idea that we can solve our energy problems by people building houses of straw bales (or whatever is your flavor of the day) is ridiculous. We have a whole world full of homes/businesses that will last for half a century or more, with all their energy faults. We have to deal with that, not pretend that a magic wand will replace them all with cutting edge designs.

    You’re blowing smoke. If you get called on it, please don’t play the injured party. One thing about Barry’s blog is it’s got plenty of people that call a spade a spade, and fanciful ideas about magic batteries and the like aren’t going to get you too far here.

  292. eclipsenow the EIA table has ‘levelized costs’ but doesn’t explain how they were derived. That could be either
    for backup or overbuilding. Thus for wind I’d
    a) add capital and admin costs for a similar MW of gas fired and apply 75% of fuel costs. Wind is now about $95 per Mwh not $56 or
    b) multiply wind costs X4 and add new transmission costs. Wind is now at least $220.

    Strangely the EIA table seems to omit carbon taxes in fuel costs after 2015. Does that mean they don’t think Obama will bring in carbon pricing? This nitpicking game is wonderful.

  293. John Newlands writes: 2) China and India need more coal, particularly hard coal, than the rest of the world can supply.
    If either scenario eventuates we will get a bumpy and conflict ridden transition to lower carbon, along with decades more climate change.

    China isn’t going to let that happen. They plan to deploy 1000GW of nuclear by mid-century. They understand the down side of coal as much as anybody. They’re nuclearizing like France decided to do a few decades ago. But meanwhile their continued use of coal (and still opening new coal plants) is bad news for all of us. Expect the transition to kick into high gear once their new nuclear plants get up and running and they start mass producing them.

  294. @ Tom Blees: The average size of home is starting to change in Sydney, Australia. According to a Science Show interview, I believe with Robyn Williams interviewing public transport and New Urbanist expert Dr Peter Newman, people ARE starting to build slightly smaller homes, but it is a trend that can of course increase exponentially once the economic and lifestyle advantages become apparent.

    I’m not talking about a tiny little eco-home but just returning to the average household size of maybe 30 years ago. We’ve become ridiculously bloated in our home designs, and are all working too hard to pay for space we don’t want or need. IN other words, people don’t have to become saints to want to live off grid (or “low grid”): this is about comfort, lifestyle, personal finances and ultimately, self interest.

    Also, cities are always evolving over time. So just as starting a nuclear renaissance now might not solve things until 2050, starting to rezone our building codes and city designs can *mostly* solve it by 2030. Don’t trust that statement? Try this article at Worldchanging.com. These guys present talks at TED.com regularly, and are regarded by many as one of the most important sustainability blogs on the planet.

    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html

    Compared to their outside the box thinking, which solves multiple problems at once, including traffic congestion, public health, social equity issues obtaining good food locally, etc, your comments *here* just sound like so much industrialist technocrat corporate BAU propaganda.

    Now I’m not saying that IS your position, because I have not read your book yet and am fascinated by some of the other technologies you refer to in the book. I would love to know more about how we can reach a sustainable world in the face of peak phosphorus and many other challenges we face, and may just have to study your work (in a year or so, when I’ve finished my mid-life career change).

    I’m not against nuclear power because of your and Barry’s arguments, I’m really not, not any more. But I’m not betting against renewables either. Only time will tell.

    Magic batteries? We’ll, I was referring to Bill Gates TED wish for batteries 100 times more powerful, so we’ll see what the next generation’s tech comes up with. That was in the same talk where he praised the merits of TWL reactors by the way. But from what I saw of your debate with Diesendort you plain ignored the Better Place electric car scheme about to be unrolled in the 10′s of thousands of cars across the globe, growing exponentially over the next few years, when you charicatured European wind as blowing when no-one needed it. With a massive electric car grid, EV’s will be plugged in around 22 hours a day and that creates a market for renewables WHENEVER they are blowing or shining or pounding in the surf.

    AND Better Place has Microsoft writing the smart grid technology that will enable the cars to talk to each other every 3 seconds and maximise the interactions with the grid, as these will be V2G compliant and able to sell back to the grid during peak demand, acting as a massive battery for renewables that utilities didn’t have to pay for and is covered by our 80cents/liter fuel equivalent electric charge price.

    So keep up the good work on nuclear and explaining this OPTION to the public, but don’t make a caricature of yourself when explaining wind not blowing during times of peak demand, because when the EV’s arrive there will be a “smart grid market” that can use renewables whenever they’re sending juice down the wires. And then sell it back, should that grid need it.

  295. @ John:
    The EIA says they counted all that.

    From my link:

    “Levelized cost comparisons give investors one basis for choosing a technology. In addition, other factors are considered, such as the operating characteristics of different technologies. For example, intermittent technologies like wind and solar produce less power over time than do coal, nuclear, or combined-cycle natural gas plants. There may also be tradeoffs between capital costs and fuel costs. Nuclear generators are expensive to build, but their fuel and operating costs are low; combined-cycle plants are far less expensive to build, but their fuel and operating costs are much higher. “

  296. Yes, I read that statement. Then I went and looked in their detailed assumptions. And, as I said, there is no accounting for anything other than the directly generated output of the installed turbines, and local transmission connections. ie. no storage, no capacity overbuild, no geographic dispersal. This is not the cost for wind as a generation system that can displace fossil fuels.

  297. I fear that you may have fallen captive to the fixed prescription outlined by Tom Blees.

    Barry, keep your eyes on the swinging watch. You are getting sleepy…sleeeeepy….

    Svengali

    Just for the record, Doug, I suggest in my book that we will want to build Gen III+ reactors for a while, but the clear advantages of Gen IV make it a goal worth shooting for, especially since we could start building the first one any time the political will is there.

  298. Tom you made this comment

    a fantasy that won’t hold water: The idea that we can solve the world’s problems by changing human behavior to make everyone more virtuous.

    as well as this one:

    but we’ll still have to charge on a consumption basis if only for the sake of behavioral engineering so people don’t leave their lights and A/C on all day while they’re at work, or similar foolish wastefulness

    I agree with both those comments.
    But neither of them is an effective rebuttal to switching to a low energy , renewable energy economy.

    Rather taken together they acknowledge that if you want to change human behaviour you have to change the rules of the game.

    This is why in the first instance, if we want to make meaningful changes, we need to change the assumptions that people operate on.

    For example people assume that they can have as much power as they want if they are prepared to pay for it. We can start by rationing the amount of power households can access – how they use it is pretty much up to them but they have to learn to do with a certain amount of power.
    Similarly businesses have to do with less – start by reducing the amount of power to which they have access by x% and keep it reducing their entitlements by increments of y% every year.
    Individuals and businesses will respond by using energy more efficiently and by generating as much of their energy on power on site as they can.
    Whilst this cannot go on ad infinitum it is an important first step in training people to think in terms of energy being a scarce commodity and valuing it appropriately.
    I remain convinced that focussing on various technologies to solve a problem that still few people acknowledge as real is premature – instead by rationing people’s access to power you are creating an awareness that we need to work much smarter.
    This will also lead to ensuring that products which are highly energy efficient will come to dominate the market.
    Can governments change people’s attitudes by changing then rules of the game?
    There is clear evidence that they can: just consider equality of opportunity and smoking as two major changes that governments have made about the way people think about their ‘rights’.
    The one big difference between equality of opportunity, and the elimination of fossil fuels is that we have a cashed up business that is not going to go quietly – having a debate between renewables and nuclear plays in their hands for it means that we are not considering the root of the problem a society and economy that is addicted to cheap, unlimited energy.
    Of course it could well be that there are those who are concerned about climate change and think we can solve it without making any changes to our lifestyles. It is they who are the real fantasists.

  299. Hi Tom,
    Is this the General Electric blueprint you refer to? I thought there were still significant materials improvements required to pull Gen4 off… something I seem to remember from a SCIAM article recently… but can’t seem to find the link.

    Anyway, I should be studying.

  300. eclispenow, you cited this:

    “Levelized cost comparisons give investors one basis for choosing a technology. In addition, other factors are considered, such as the operating characteristics of different technologies. For example, intermittent technologies like wind and solar produce less power over time than do coal, nuclear, or combined-cycle natural gas plants. There may also be tradeoffs between capital costs and fuel costs. Nuclear generators are expensive to build, but their fuel and operating costs are low; combined-cycle plants are far less expensive to build, but their fuel and operating costs are much higher. “

    But you misread it. The EIA were saying that they calculated the levelized cost ONLY. They IGNORED all the other factors, such as intermittency impacts, backup, HVDC to bring power from good resources to demand centres, etc. as John Morgan pointed out.

    I was actually referring to this EIA data table:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/electricity_generation.html

    This still leaves out intermittency etc. but is a forward projection to 2016. It has wind at $150/MWh, nuclear at $123/MWh and conventional coal at $100/MWh.

  301. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/02/21/dr-strangelove-redux/#comment-47999

    “How much does India or Canada want to do CANDUs overseas? Would it be cheaper than AP1000s?”
    I just realised I was using idiomatic english, or perhaps englishish.
    I wasn’t asking how much joy India or Canada would obtain, I meant how much do India and Canada want monetarily.
    What price do India or Canada want for their CANDUs for doing turnkey overseas installations a la the Argentinian OPAL installation.

  302. Tom Blees:

    I was not attempting to hypnotise Barry – though I have to admit that, in the past, some of my students showed a remarkable tendency to go to sleep during my lectures. By the same token, I was in no way attempting to downplay your extremely important contributions in the field of global warming solutions.

    I am not sure of the pressing need for an IFR commercial demonstration unit when the Russians and Chinese appear already to be building sodium cooled fast reactors. I can see that it would be in the national interests of the USA not to get left behind, but that is a different matter.

    I suspect that my lack of technical knowledge may have led to an erroneous conclusion in the paragraph above. Otherwise, I can’t rationalise why it appears to be the case that the Russians are keen to collaborate with GE to the extent of being willing to build the reactor component of the IFR while leaving the Americans to build the pyroprocessing part. Is it because they really need to share access to the latter technology which GE wouldn’t otherwise release?

    The main point of my comment to Barry, which may have been badly explained, was that we shouldn’t deploy Gen IV in too much of a hurry and without first having been satisfied that the basic Rand D had been undertaken. My reasons for suggesting this were twofold:
    1) The International Gen IV Forum Roadmap, I think, lists about $700 million worth of Rand D necessary before the IFR could be deemed ready for demonstration. You suggest it is ready now. Whom am I to believe?
    2) It has been pointed out here before that the best technology isn’t always the technology that is deployed on a large scale. Rather, it’s often the first that gets itself ready for roll out.
    3) We’re apparently not going to run out of nuclear fuel any time soon, even if we massively expedite deployment Gen III or even Gen II in the medium term (as, I believe, we should).

    I have one other question that I don’t think has been fully explained here. I can appreciate that Gen III nuclear has the potential to produce electricity somewhat more cheaply than even dirty coal. However, I am unsure why you think that the IFR will produce electricity that is too cheap to meter. I agree that it will have a phenomenal ERoEI but not necessarily an impressive $RoI. For the IFR, there will initially be no mining requirements and start charges will come from existing “waste” which might be cheap or free and which would remove the necessity for enrichment. However, there will presumably be additional reprocessing costs. At present, however, fuel costs are not a big component in nuclear electricity prices. On build costs, it has been suggested that secondary heat exchange loops more than offset the advantages accruing from lower pressure operation.

    I would really appreciate an explanation as to why the IFR design is inherently better than a similar lead cooled reactor that might not need the secondary loops (I think I have learned that corrosion problems must first be solved) or an LFTR.

    In summary, I consider that Gen IV , even at the commercial demonstrator stage, should work smoothly. Technical gremlins would be of huge PR value to antis. It is possible to envisage that more haste will result in less speed.

  303. It’s amazing how projections for CETO or other renewables are laughed at, but paper-plans for nuclear are hailed as FACT. Gosh, after reading the above I’m starting to side with DV8 on something… the almost religious certainty some on this list have about GenIV’s deployability. Talk about counting chickens before they’re hatched!

    Forget the $700 million in R&D, recent SCIAM articles repeatedly point out Fast Breeders are a more expensive than conventional nuclear reactors by a billion dollars each!

    I’m becoming increasingly sceptical of believing *any* discussion about any new energy technology.

  304. Barry, I’m aware of dozens of new wind technologies that could lower the price of wind. 50% extra cost on energy is not the end of the world, Japan pays double our cost of electricity. DON’T ask me to count how much it will cost to store the wind, as I don’t have to… EV’s can be the market, and nuclear / solar thermal / geothermal combinations can supply the baseload power for the grid, factories, industry, etc.

    Indeed, there’s a mine in the Northern Territory that is building a solar thermal plant to run their mine. If a mining corporation thinks it’s an economical proposition to build solar thermal instead of paying for diesel & gas generators, then we’re at a market tipping point.

  305. Jon Tons

    I think you took David MacKay out of context. He concluded that the UK (and many other parts of the world) could not achieve a secure (non imported) energy supply with a renewables only policy, regardless of cost. However, the USA and Australia, in theory, could.

    As an agnostic, therefore, you have to weigh up the economic aspects of power generation against the risks you perceive arising from nuclear deployment. I would argue that renewables cannot be deployed in affordable amounts that will be anything like sufficient to offset the adverse effects of, first, peak oil and, next, global warming. I also judge that the types of nuclear accident that you anticipate will have consequences that pale into insignificance relative to the adverse effects of having inadequate energy. I am not a cornucopian or a fan of BAU but I would hope that my grandchild, currently aged one, has a better than 50% chance of living beyond forty – selfish of me, perhaps. Notwithstanding, for my hope to be fulfilled, I, personally, have come to the conclusion that rapid nuclear roll out will be a necessity. I do, however, live on a small overcrowded island and others might reasonably deem that it would be for the greater good if our population were to be drastically pruned. The case, in Australia, is obviously different.

  306. Douglas I hope you are not saying that Australia does not have a population problem – we are already well and truly over populated – realistically Australia can comfortably sustain a population of 12 million we are sitting at 20 million and have a political consensus that more is better.
    If you are from the UK then take a look at the transition town movement; I would have thought your grandchild would be far better off within that paradigm than investing more tax dollars in nuclear.

  307. eclispenow: Which NT mine? What subsides are they getting for building it? (is it the $1 billion solar flagships?)

    Dispersed wind with gas backup won’t be just 50% more. That was the LCOE for standard wind.

    Who here is talking about certainties for costs of any given Gen IV design? I suggest you take the effort to read P4TP before you try to critique what Tom Blees is saying here. His assumptions are fully justified in his book. But I’ll admit you have to read the book to understand them. So, I suggest you do this if you wish to comment/critique this. It’s a simple proposition.

    Anyway, in the immediate term, we’re talking about getting the commercial demonstration units built ASAP, whilst deploying Gen III units in large numbers to solve the immediate energy/climate problem.

  308. “realistically Australia can comfortably sustain a population of 12 million”

    You’re sounding like some of my neo-primitivist doomers that I’ve met in the peak oil world. This is what gives us greenies a bad name.

    Why 12 million when we currently feed something like 50 to 60 million, depending on how you count the calories?

    Why when “all” we have to do is move transport to electricity, harvesters to alternatives (biochar syngas, hydrogen, take your pick), and a bunch of other substitutes for existing technologies?

    I’m prepared to grant that peak oil will *probably* cause (without claiming any prescience in the matter, and just going off current trends) a Greater Depression of greater severity than 1929 as we have to ration & prioritise fuel to both run society AND build the next infrastructure. But Australia only support 12 million? Come on… we’ve already been down this doomer route with Mike Stasse.

    I’d support 100% commitment of ALL energy funds to the R&D and rolling out of Gen4 nuclear before I’d support the “Australia can only support 12 million” meme. This pushes so many buttons in me I can’t begin to explain… suffice to say that I met up with the father of a 19 year old boy who committed suicide over this peak oil doomerism. There’s a whole world of pain out there for parents of young people that give up hope in the face of the challenges in the future. I TRIED to warn Mike Stasse’s cult of doom, but to no avail. And now this kid is gone, thanks to exactly the kind of rationale above.

    Please reconsider *all* the data on new forms of agriculture, including experimental stuff like biochar, hydroponic and aquaculture syneries, Seawater Greenhouses etc before trotting out that 12 million line so… easily, OK?

  309. Hi Barry,
    I can’t find the link to the specific BZE podcast episode where I heard that sorry.

    By the way, how good are the Life Cycle Analysis on solar thermal plants. This next piece seems to imply the solar thermal plants have a long time to pay for themselves, without the cost of fuel.

    “Mr Ogge conceded the estimated investment was huge, but said it should not seen as just a cost.

    All these power plants pay themselves off over their lifetime. When you finish we’ve got a brand new renewable energy system that is going to last 50 years at least and have no fuel costs,” he said.”

    http://myresources.com.au/index.php/component/content/article/48-latest-news-2/1135-40bn-shift-to-renewable-energy-possible

    I hope this has all had thorough LCA’s by dozens of peer reviewed studies from verifiable, independent agencies, because to the layman this stuff is starting to sound like arcane magiks mysterious to all but the elite initiates of some ancient cult. One “expert” says this, another that. Even the same agency will contradict itself: one EIA report says wind is cheaper than nuclear, another nuclear marginally cheaper than wind.

    So I’m sure Blees makes a great argument, but… then would Mark Diesendorf and Matthew Wright and Dr Herman Scheer and Mike Stasse (if you’re kid had cancer 6 years ago, you were acutely sleep deprived, and it seemed like the end of the world anyway… winks).

  310. You may be thinking of the Worley Parsons announcement in 2008:

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/worleyparsons-billiondollar-solar-plan-20080812-3u3u.html

    It sounds great it they’re really willing to invest in getting some built. Unfortunately nothing concrete has materialised. I suspect because they could (or haven’t yet) got enough co-investment from government.

    Solar thermal systems pay their energy cost back, but it takes time, as they have higher material inputs per kWh delivered than other high density energy systems, as described in TCASE 4 and TCASE 7.

  311. I may have spoken too soon… all seems to be in the “study phase”. Matthew Wright might remember the details better… I can’t find it on his site.

    The pre-feasibility study is investigating a number of forms of concentrating solar thermal (CST) power including parabolic trough, power tower, Compact Linear Fresnel reflectors, and solar dish/engine. The study is also investigating the various thermal storage technologies that are being developed for CST technologies. Depending on the outcome of the investigation Newmont will potentially escalate this into a full feasibility study in 2009.

    http://www.beyondthemine.com/2008/?l=3&pid=5&pt=150&parent=19&id=152

    …and grant money seems involved…

    The Solar Thermal Power PFS is scheduled to be completed by the end of May. The results of this PFS will form the basis of a submission to the Federal Government for a Renewable Energy Demonstration Program (REDP) grant that will facilitate a full feasibility study on the viability of the Solar Thermal Power option. The Pre-feasibility Study is expected to be completed in the June quarter. The draft Public Environmental Review document has been submitted to the Environmental Protection Authority for review. It is anticipated the final document will be available for public review mid-year.

    http://www.infomine.com/index/properties/TROPICANA_EAST_%28JV%29.html

    The mining industry seem to be listening to BZE!

    http://www.austmine-event.com.au/news/february/february-18-10/other-top-stories/zero-emissions-electricity-by-2020-but-not-at-expense-of-coalminers-report

  312. Eclipse now – I see you refer to Prof Newman above. If you are referring to him as a New Urbanism expert then I LOVE New Urbanism:) I’m not so sure he’d consider himself to be a New Urbanist as such (although I don’t know). I note that on the front page of your blog is a bit on Landmark Education… The New urbanism I’m not a fan of is the kind that is a bit like Landmark Education (and yes I talk from direct experience of both). FYI Prof Newman is pretty much why I do what I do – from sustainability to transport planning to being a local councillor.

  313. All this talk of CETO, HDR geothermal, Kitegen and dare I say IFR reminds of the tale of when Ebeneezer Scrooge is taken to visit his grave by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
    said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

  314. @ Matt re: Peter Newman,
    yeah, I was really chuffed when he quoted a peak oil article I wrote back in 2005. There I was, basically having a nervous breakdown during my kid’s cancer treatment because I discovered I not only had to save him from cancer but Mad Max just around the corner! Such was the influence of Mike Stasse’s brand of doomerism on my thinking back then. I was sure by now half of Australia would have starved to death. Peter quoted my rambling, uninformed piece to demonstrate the level of stress that the subject can cause as a worst case scenario.

    Peter’s also dones some great work in WA.

    But on the broader topic of sustainable cities I think there are a number of different patterns we can develop as appropriate to each area, and I don’t want to rule any of them out as societies are flexible, have their own cultures, etc. Australian suburban life will adapt in ways different to the city of Manhattan, for example.

    There are also New Urbanists that have an almost religious aversion to anything higher than 4 stories. They basically want to plan around maintaining buildings with “Middle-Ages” technology, as some of them see industrial civilisation inevitably collapsing. Blaargh! I’m so over that.

    Check out my collection of New Urbanist / Ecocity links… everything’s derivative, nothing new to see here folks.

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/solutions/rezone/

  315. @ John Newlands re: CETO & Scrooge’s “things that may be”. That’s exactly my point for *economical* Gen4 as well! SCIAM states that Fast Breeders are still a good billion dollars more than their regular nuclear counterpart.

    At least CETO has been proven as a concept in pilot projects, now they’re running commercial demonstration tests that should be very revealing.

    IFR’s have also been proven to work as a concept, but commercial demonstrated to be economically competitive? Forget about it.
    Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?” equally applies.

    I remain agnostic about whether or not CETO is baseload as I need to hear their response regarding only 45% capacity. Was the over-build cost of baseload built into their pricing projections? I don’t know for a *fact*, do you? In all this discussion about what is happening with one test plant and the costs of that, we don’t know what the *real* experts are saying about the longer term projections.

  316. @ John Newlands again:

    I would suggest they are drawing their baseload claims from the availability and predictability of the resource, not from any one unit or farm. Depending on the cost / unit at *full commercial scale* this may yet prove baseload.

    “Wave Energy as a Base Load Power Resource

    Unlike solar, hydro and wind energy which, due to their intermittent nature, are primarily suited to peak power supply, a number of factors contribute to making wave energy suitable for base load power supply. These include:

    * the inherent reliability and predictability of wave activity;
    * the fact that any variability in wave activity happens gradually and with significant warning, making issues of grid interfacing manageable; and
    * the proximity of favourable wave energy sites to ultimate end users, thereby minimising transmission issues. Notably, approximately 60% of the world’s population lives within 60 kilometres of a coast.

    In addition, CETO can operate efficiently in swell in the 1 to 2 metre wave height range, greatly increasing the number of potential base-load sites globally. For example, much of Southern Australia receives significant wave heights in excess of 1 metre 100% of the time.”

    http://www.carnegiewave.com/index.php?url=/ceto/base-load-wave-power

    In other words *it’s doable* and just like Gen4 it is a matter of price.

  317. @Lawrence – The Qinshan NPP III CANDU-6 with an installed capacity of 2×728 MW. was built for $2.88 billion USD.

    NPCIL, has yet to build a NPP outside India, so there are no hard numbers. I suspect it would be less expensive, but their reactors are smaller. However I am positive Australia could get a great price from them with a uranium deal held out as a carrot.

  318. Eclipse Now it seems to me if the Federal govt can give dry rock geothermal nearly $300m perhaps they could do the same for CETO. If steady scalable electrical output doesn’t happen then the cash should dry up. That is cash for experimental purposes and then cash as feed-in tariffs later on. Carbon pricing should be the main long run form of economic assistance.

    Personally I think it reeks of desperation to put all hopes on a particular salvation technology and that includes Gen IV. If it falls short ( seemingly the case with nonvolcanic geothermal) then we pin our hopes on something else. It’s doubly disappointing because in the meantime we burn as much coal as ever.

  319. John Newland – this is precisely why I argue that the debate between nuclear and renewables is premature.
    We have not begun to tap into the negawatts (at least not in Australia.) The Rudd government could, if it was serious about climate change initiate these changes immediatedly without going to Carbon Polution Reduction Tax (which is merekly another toy for the guys who caused the BFC to play with.) .
    All comercial building in Australia to be retrofitted with the shaw airconditioning system or similar. (The Shaw system reduces energy costs by up to 60% – it averages out at around 45% – been tried is a South Australian invention that has now been sold to Johnson Electronics because of lack of interst in SA – the Chinese have takne it on and it is part of the Clinotn Climate Initiative.)
    All new electrical appliances to meet at least a 5 star energy rating or whatever rating is currently the best available. Again we continue to allow the importation of cheap appliances that are horrendously wasteful to run – few people appreciate that a cheap inefficient airconditioner cost the community as much as the purchase price as we struggle to upgrade the system to meet the extra demands the system places on the grid.
    Introduce energy audits for business and private individuals. I know that in Tito’s Yugoslavia this was something that was commonplace as early as 1990. The role of these energy audits was not merely to determine how much energy was used but to identify ways in which energy could be reduced. (Important for Tito to be able to supply reasonably cheap energy – the way to keep the costs down was to make sure that it was used efficiently.)
    Such audits could produce a statement of how much energy is used and how much could be saved if some simple changes were made. To do this effectively the audit would basically come up with the amount of energy per quarter the business/ individual could use. Some sort of carrot and stick approach ought to be used so that people get a rebate for reductions they make.
    Retrofit insulation to make buildings more efficient – we have had one disaster of rolling this out without making sure the appropriate infrastructure was in place – nothing wrong with the idea but a lot wrong with the quality of the implementation.
    The second part of that strategy should be to undertake the necessary R & D to secure Australia’s energy supply without relying on coal or gas with the aim of being able to roll out the new technologies over a ten year period. (Again we should be pushing for governments to identify benchmark dates for without a sense of urgency the government (whatever its ideological flavour) will continue to procrastinate.
    To get a switch to new technologies will be the hardest sell be it solar, wind, nuclear or whatever mix. The reason it is a hard sell is because the climate sceptics will remain unconvinced that it is necessary to make any switch and those who understand the need to make a switch will argue passionately for their own particular solution.
    But if we start with energy efficiencies we have some chance of convincing people.

  320. I did obtain some good replies from rod adams to my assertion that coal was cheaper than nuclear but I don’t think rod’s replies were conclusive or that he intended to show that nuclear was cheaper

    Still not satisfied so I went looking on other thread comments and found some material from Peter Lang on this question which I’ll attempt to briefly summarise here:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/27/tcase1/#comment-28986

    Why do I beleive nuclear can be lower cost than coal?
    1. Hanford B was built in 15 months in 1944. It ran until it was retired in 1968. During its life the original plant was progressively uprated from 250 MWth to 2250 MWth. If the first ever large nuclear power station could be built so quickly and be capable of a 9 times increase in its power output, and run for 24 years, and that was achieved 65 years ago, why cant we do far better now?

    The answer is: of course we can do much better now. What is stopping us is politics and bureaucracy.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/27/tcase1/#comment-29030

    Peter Lang links to external costs study and argues that external cost of fuels should be internalised to their price

    http://www.externe.info/externpr.pdf

    and later links to this summary of the same study:

    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/the-external-costs-of-electricity-generation/

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/27/tcase1/#comment-29037

    Barry Brook agrees with Lang about external costs

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/27/tcase1/#comment-29045

    Peter Lang expands further providing 4 examples of why nuclear might be cheaper than coal

    1) the first nuclear reactor was cheap
    2) average build times around 4 years and less for GenIII, reference to another thread but not linked
    3) China is building NPPs now at what they expect will be about $1400/kW. That is less than the cost of new coal fired generation in Australia
    4. We have Russia building floating nuclear power stations to power aluminium smelters to sell aluminium on the international market. Those floating NPP’s are obviously expected to produce electricity at a cost competitive with the price the Australian aluminium smelters pay Australia’s cheapest coal fired power plants.
    —-

    I don’t think any of the points outlined by Peter are conclusive in showing that nuclear is cheaper or will soon be cheaper. They are interesting points and worth further discussion but I would argue not conclusive.

    This is very relevant to this thread since Barry’s alternative title is: “How I learned to stop worrying and love energy economics?”

  321. For what’s it is worth, I also live in Austria. Perhaps unlike Marcus, I strongly support the expansion of nuclear power as part of a diverse strategy to ensure energy security while minimizing carbon emissions.

    European power industry data are compiled by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity. Annual statistics yearbooks are linked below (2008 is the most recent available).

    http://www.entsoe.eu/index.php?id=55

    Some of those statistics:

    Austrian fossil generation increased by 73.7% 1998 – 2008. [No other generation sector experienced notable growth in Austria over the same period.]

    In 2008 fossil accounted for 32.2% of all Austrian electricity generation, hydro for 55.2%.

    Austria transitioned from a net electricity exporter (289 GWh in 1998) to a much larger net energy importer in 2007 and 2008 (6,618 and 4,879 GWh resp.)

    Austria’s 2008 electricity imports originated from (in order from largest to smallest) Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, and Switzerland. – All relying on nuclear power.

    In my opinion, Austria needs to do more to reduce its [growing] contribution to global carbon emissions. I would welcome a serious discussion of nuclear energy here.

  322. The situation over Vermont Yankee is not that cut-and-dry. To start off with, the leader in the Vermont legislature’s upper house, is making a run at being governor, and this vote was a bit of grandstanding. This is because licensing nuclear plants in the US is a federal responsibility, and the feds have gone to court to establish that they are the ones calling the shots on nuclear issues, not the individual states.

    Secondly VY is not in any major violation of its license, the bit of tritium released was insignificant. It is my understanding the the regulator must show cause before closing a plant, it is not something that can be done arbitrarily.

    I have a feeling that VY will be operating well past 2012. What you are`seeing is US politics in action, and little else.

  323. John Tons I agree that efficiency could be improved without the ‘hair shirt’ conditions some think would be needed. Shorter showers, microwave cooking, lower wattage appliances and so on could all help without being too onerous. I think more tightly stepped pricing of electricity and gas perhaps assisted by smart meters could achieve this. I believe at one time ETSA wanted to ration air conditioning via radio controllers.

    I looked at a description of the Shaw air conditioning system. With an ageing population and summer temps approaching 50C efficiency will have to be improved. If the 2020 MRET can be regarded as equivalent to 5 GW new generation I wonder if we could save that amount by efficiency alone. I suggest to achieve low emissions the order of priority could be
    1) NP 2) efficiency 3) renewables.
    Yup that puts renewables 3rd not 1st.

  324. John The Shaw system is suitable for commercial application only – however given that this is the case we should be asking the question why have neither the federal government nor the state governments mandated this system for all buildings overwhich they have control? The Art Gallery in SA reduced its energy bill but 50% and fully recovered the cost of the retrofit in a two year period from the savings alone.
    In my own case being a business I was entitled to some stimulus money to buy new freezers etc. I spent a little more on the most efficient in the market as well as that made some minor changes as to the location of these various appliances – result I reduced my energy consumption by almost 2/3rds. Even if the best every consumer (ie both business and domestic) can do is to reduce their energy consumption by 30% we will already have exceeded the laughable target of 5% set by CPRS – whats more that target will have been achieved by providing a stimulus to the manufacturing industry for there will be an incentive in producing efficient products.
    Whilst I agree that negwatts and efficiencies should be one and two – we need to aclnowledge that these alone will not be sufficient we will also need to develiop sustainable form of energy generation – ideally in a format that can be readily exported to developing countries so they too can improve the quality of their lifestyles. (The problem remains that with globalization there is a tendency for businesses to dump their environmentally unfriendly products on to the developing world markets.)

  325. I also support the use of nuclear power however it will be difficult to obtain support (see point 4 towards the end of this post).

    I am one of those classified as a ‘climate change sceptic’. This is an incorrect term. I am not sceptical about climate change. It exists and is always occurring. I am very very very very very sceptical that we are causing it. Nature is causing it.

    The science is very very clear.

    The biggest problem is there are many people who ‘believe’ we cause the problem and pretend there is science to show it. The science was taken from Dome C in concordia. 1000km inland in antarctica. The ice core samples were taken by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA).

    People who complain about anthropomorphic or anthopogenic global warming (AGW) have usually never even observed the results of EPICA.

    Very poor self-called ‘scientists’ took the data and put it into a computer model and said “oh no the world is ending”. They also look at satellite photos. Show me satellite photos of the same phenomenon from 50,000 years ago and I will stop trying to convert you to the truth. If we had the imagery it would show the opposite effect. I also program computers and will never trust fully a computer model as it only reacts the way it was programmed. A poor programmer or an error can create very poor results.

    It is very difficult to explain science to the uneducated but I will try.

    The EPICA results show clearly and without debate that co2 levels rise and fall approximately 800 to 1000 years AFTER temperature change NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND.

    Universities and corporate institutions are competing for funding to investigate climate change. I have worked in Universities and related bodies and understand clearly the bias that is given. As an example, one ‘laboratory’ was funded to investigate a natural product (i think it was sunflower seed extract but the years have dimmed the memory). The investigations found that patient health would be worse if the product was taken. The report was never published! Yes, that may have nothing to do with climate change but it is just one of a plethora of examples of the effect of funding on results.

    Satellite photos do show receeding patterns of ice. I would like to see the satellite photos from 100,000 years ago and it would show the same result. Show the ones 50,000 years later and the opposite effect will be seen.

    Each day we have a period of warming and cooling.
    Each year we have ‘seasons’ which are periods of warming and cooling.
    Each 5,000 years we have periods of warming and cooling.
    Each 100,000 years we have periods of warming and cooling.

    The people who rant about AGW (the nature-sceptics or truth-sceptics), and who have usually never even looked at real results and data but jump on the wrong bandwagon, dont argue that each day we have a hot period (usually just after mid-day when the most photons of light are hitting the earths surface) and a cool period (most usually when our location on the earth has rotated away from the sun – we call this night). They also dont argue that we have a period called summer when the earths axis postions us relatively closer to the sun, or in a more direct path, so more photons of light hit us again. Then we have winter, the cooler period, when the opposite occurs. There is also a 100,000 year cycle. It is clear, it is well known and it is very very consistent with the data obtained by EPICA. Just because they didnt mention this 100,000 year cycle in school doesnt mean you should pretend it doesnt exist.

    Please, please look at the EPICA data. It is the source of all the information. I have programmed computer models. I know quite well how information can be misconstrued. The raw data is the real data. EPICA have all data available in .csv format. You can download it (very large file) and run it through excel to view the data yourself. It is clear. They set out to study or prove AGW but insted just proved GW/GC periods.

    There have been ice ages every 100,000 years for as far back as we can prove. The ice core samples go back approximately 900,000 years. the samples were taken down approximately 3km until they hit solid ground.

    It would be interesting to see the ‘scientific’ opinion if someone started providing grants to universities to find the real reasons for GW / GC and prove AGW doesnt exist. We would then be given the alternative and truthful story.

    Thousands of years ago, despite popular belief, people did NOT think the world was flat. They did, however have ‘theories’ that it was like a mound of dirt or a disc etc. We now think that those people are less intelligent and knowledgable than us. In 5,000 years from now I think people will look back and wonder how a population could ever think we cause climate change (or more importantly can change it). If we could change it, why cant we change it on a daily basis to make it perfect every day and rain when we want. The sun affects the hadley cell, not us. We can not alter the earths rotation, we can not make it rain, we can not heat the earth, we can not alter our elliptical path around the sun nor our interaction with other planetary bodies, we can not change nature.

    Now for some subjective and objective thoughts…
    1. We need day and night, summer and winter in order for nature as a whole to survive. Even if we could change the climate and weather, would we be killing the earth.
    2. It has been estimated by the nature sceptics (those that believe the doom and gloom and incorrect AGW theories) that the earths temperature will increase by 4 degrees. The governments were attempting to get a 5% decrease in co2 levels. Even if we wrongly assume that co2 is the total contributor to climate change, and even if every country reduced co2 emmissions by 5%, it would be a change of 5% x 4 degrees = 0.2 degrees. So tomorrow, instead of 40 degrees celsius it would be 40.2. Great thinking guys!
    3. Reducing co2 levels WILL have a positive effect on health. If nature-sceptics and truth-sceptics argued for co2 reductions for health reasons there would be very few, if any, arguments because real scientists dont argue against the truth. We will constantly argue AGW while the idiots(who wrongly call themselves scientists) refer to retreating ice and satellite images. Everyone has seen ice retreat. Lakes freeze in winter and the ice receeds in summer. But there has always been another winter. Its what nature does to continue the life cycle. Not all plants can survive in a cold climate, and not all in a warm one so the alternating nature of our earth is probably one of the reasons we have a living planet rather than all the others in the solar system.
    4. The ‘green’ energy debate is being largely driven by those that have invested in ‘green’ energy. This is one of the reasons they dont support nuclear power. They cant invest in nuclear power.

    Just please use fact not belief. EPICA data is the truth and fact that all wrong conclusions and manipulations were taken from. View it yourself, dont just open your mouths because you have an opinion. View evidence and fact first then have an opinion. I am certain your opinions will change drastically when you actually view the data and dont listen to the idiot-badwagon. If your information comes from television or radio then you are gullible. Read the truth from the source.

  326. RealScientist, on 12 March 2010 at 12.00 — Here we see temperatures following CO2 downwards for the past 5 million years:

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/File:Five_Myr_Climate_Change_Rev_png

    Here we see CO2 and temperature going more-or-less hand-in-hand for the past 650,000 years (note reversed direction of time):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon-dioxide-temperature-plot.svg

    From the Arrhenius formula giving the change in temperature due to the change in CO2, we know that temperatures will now go way, up possibly to the temperatures of the mid-Miocene:

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

    long before the lines leading to the central chimpanzees diverged from those leading to genus Homo, not to mention the much higher sea levels.

    All told, this seems quite a bad prospect.

  327. @ Realscientist,
    I thought *I* was long-winded. Try to keep your posts much shorter. I saw your rambling introduction philosophising on how wonderful your ‘scepticism’ was, and splitting hairs to justify it, and immediately flicked on to the next post. I just couldn’t be bothered reading any more of the top 28 Denialist myths being re-packaged in a long, rambling lecture.

    Yep, I just glanced up by mistake and saw something typical… “Please use fact not belief”. (Yawns) Typical of a Denialist believer!

    The top 28 *myths* recycled by your lot were debunked here 3 years ago. Get a life.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462

    @ everyone else…
    GE’s CEO had some interesting comments to make on nuclear power in the recent SCIAM short post. Another reason why I remain agnostic over cost.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=a-need-for-new-nukes-modular-reacto-2010-03-05&sc=CAT_ENGYSUS_20100311

    or try

    http://tinyurl.com/yacthom

    ****
    “”Nuclear will still be a small portion based on what’s seen today,” said General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt at the ARPA-E summit, one of the would-be manufacturers of new nuclear power plants who notes that either new nuclear, coal with carbon capture and storage or both will be absolutely necessary going forward for reliable electricity with low greenhouse gas emissions. “Someday there’s going to be some CEO of GE that makes money on nuclear. I can tell you honestly the last two have not.”

  328. Oh wow, I accidentally caught this bit when deleting your email from my in tray!
    ” If we could change it, why cant we change it on a daily basis to make it perfect every day and rain when we want.”

    Mate, you *really* need to get a life and stop writing about this, because you’re bad for your team. If I was undecided, an unbalanced and dishonest argument like that would have me embracing climate science just to distance myself from the loonies! Look up 2 words in the dictionary:

    1. Climate
    2. Weather

    Learn to tell the difference.

  329. eclipsenow. before you criticise, read the post. I never said climate and weather were the same. Typical nature-sceptic. You dont read anything but jump at everything without getting the facts. Good effort. Look up two words in the dictionary
    1. moron
    2. you

    I suggest you research micro-climate and learn some science.

  330. and eclipsenow…
    you say these points have been debunked. If you know what you are talking about they clearly havent. That is the problem. someone tells you science is wrong and we are actually heating the planet and you believe them. The main gist was evidenced by this quote
    “This proves that rising CO2 was not the trigger that caused the initial warming at the end of these ice ages – but no climate scientist has ever made this claim. It certainly does not challenge the idea that more CO2 heats the planet.”

    That statement is correct BUT I could change the last line to say It certainly does not challenge the idea that using photovoltaic cells to trap and convert cosmic radiation and thereby preventing the realease of terrestrial radiation heats the planet.”

    Both statements are ludicrous however the first one is the worst. No-one has EVER proven human cause. The only thing we ever see is true science state evidence and fact but the nature sceptics jump on any small part that hasnt been commented on and say “well it doesnt prove human cause but you havent said it wasnt”.

    Prove human cause. that is your challenge. To refer to your faulty article that you cling to, if co2 keeps temperature high and at the peak of every heat period the co2 is at its highest then why does the temperature fall? The co2 at that point is at its highest level. Go on ! Give a scientific reason! Even your unscientific article you refered me to as a poor attmept to debunk truth and science can not answer this questions.

    Previously there has been a debate between science and religion. If something was unlnown, the religious population blame god while wannabe scientists blamed chaos theory (fractal theory). Real scientists just say we dont have enough information yet but when we get it then all will be clear. Now it seems we have replaced our answers for fear of the unknown from religion and fractal theory to “humans cause it”. We cause global warming, we cause earthquakes, we cause volcanoes. Please, your statement that the truth has been debunked is ridiculous if you quote one biased individual who writes an article in a magazine that rates lowly in the scientific world. Let him publish that article in a peer reviewed reputable magazine and see the responses. He may as well have put that in Womens Weekly or the tv guide.

  331. “Prove human cause”…

    1. Spectrometry of Co2
    2. Radiative Forcing Equation of Co2 at 280ppm V today’s 385ppm
    3. Count other forcings
    4. Change = warming by human causes

    Now I *know* sceptics will jump all over 3, but even sceptics are now trying to avoid the “cooling since 1998″ myth, as came up at a recent Heartland Institute conference. (That “noble bastion of science” — ha ha ha!)

    I’ll now hand over to Barry, who unlike you and I, actually *knows* what he is talking about in this regard.

    Your science and religion paragraph oversimplifies the issues from *your warped perspective* and is as insulting to the history and philosophy of science as it is to the worldwide climate community. My suggestion to you? When you’re stuck in a hole, stop digging.

  332. “Prove human cause. that is your challenge. To refer to your faulty article that you cling to, if co2 keeps temperature high and at the peak of every heat period the co2 is at its highest then why does the temperature fall? The co2 at that point is at its highest level. Go on ! Give a scientific reason! Even your unscientific article you refered me to as a poor attmept to debunk truth and science can not answer this questions.”
    2 words…
    Milankovitch cycles.

    Co2 is not the only forcing on climate.

    You NEED to read more!

    Read EVERYTHING on the 28 myth New Scientist article, because right now every time you open your mouth your brains are on display.

  333. Lastly, I said above that I’d hand over to Barry, but now it is becoming less about Barry interacting with you on the science and more about Barry protecting this blog from trolls. You repeatedly assert bizarre conspiracy theories and nasty allegations of professional misconduct (with all climatologists falling prey to jumping to conclusions without scientific evidence, and falling into a religious mode of thinking) while your OWN posts lack evidence, rationale, or links to peer reviewed literature.

    In short, you’re coming across like every other Denialist internet troll I’ve ever met, not really interacting with the science and just using every post as an opportunity to SNEER! This is not debate, it’s just childish name calling and I’d ask you to stop it or I’m not going to bother with you again. Try posting with evidence to back up your nasty assertions, and we’ll see how that goes.

    Barry, if you’re equally bored of this guy’s groundless character attacks then I for one would support you closing this thread and being done with it. But I’m not sure if you’re interested in seeing whether or not this contributor is actually going to try and back up his assertions? It’s up to you mate. I’ll but out for now as I’m in a career change and too busy to let myself get riled by these tinfoil hat wearing weirdos.

  334. RealScientist

    I don’t understand your requirements for proof. What branch of science deals in proving things, other than mathematics? I have worked with research scientists and proving things has not been part of their role. In law there are different standards of proof from beyond reasonable doubt to who presents the better case. What standard do you require?

    My understanding of science is that it is a discipline that relies on building theoretical explanations of the real world. There is never a point where a scientist knows enough to say all the variants are completely known and understood and that a case is proven.

    Given what is understood about how greenhouse gasses work and about increasing levels of carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels, isn’t the conclusion inescapable that there must be some level of global warming from human activities? Aren’t computer models the best tool that we have to quantify the likely effects?

  335. you are very obnoxious and rude eclipsenow. Fear not, I will no longer visit this poorly educated site. I make comments so that anyone who chooses to read the incorrect theories suggested may at least see reason to question the poor science.

    I DO know what I am talking about. I work in the field every day and because of the profile of the IPCC, we find it increasingly harder to get the truth back out there. The profession did not appoint its best to the IPCC. There were other means. The data was scientifically raped long ago and current motion is fuelled by people who have an agenda. People like you will never listen to reason or truth. Fine but others reading this may want to.

    FYI, comparing current atmospheric modern co2 levels with those obtained from ice core samples is ridiculous. If Barry is a scientist and does know what he is talking about as you suggest then he would agree.

    I do have evidence. I already told you to read the raw source data from EPICA. You choose not to. Your choice but dont expect to get respect if you ignore the data and listen to conspiracy theorists.

    Robert, I could gladly discuss issues with you as you question rather than criticise. I respect your views however people like eclipsenow prevent scientists like myself staying on sites like this to educate. I will leave this site realising it is just another backyard conspiracy blog however in respect to your question, we do create co2 plus a multitude of other gases however our input is insignificant compared to natures ability to regulate and also contribute itself. Also, computer models are okay however dealing with them each day I have never observed them to be accurate. They are programmed by people. People dont understand nature in depth enough to be able to program them. I could quite easily take the vostok data and manipulate it via a computer model to show humans prevent warming. We, as a profession, do not take this irresponsible action. I can not be bothered dealing with the insults from this site though.

    As a leaving thought, what do the so called “climate change scpetics” have to gain from preventing action against global warming. The answer is nothing. We dont do it for an agenda. We do it because we have an obligation to prevent poor science. There is a large highly-funded movement by investors who have already invested in green technology and want us to all believe we need to buy it. There is no reason we cant adopt greener practices and in fact we all suggest strongly that we should. We just have to do it in the right way and without conspiracies driving us to it for an agenda. By all means, please go green. It is good for the environment and our health, it just wont change our climate. Remember, none of us are saying dont go green.

    goodbye

  336. @ RealScientist:

    I have known a few scientists and academics in my time, and they certainly do not express themselves as you do. I don’t know what you are (a bored teenager, I suspect), but you are no scientist.

  337. Farting against thunder is a phrase that comes to mind as I review these posts (and indeed those on New Matilda on a similar topic)
    Barry by lumping climate sceptics with those opposed to nuclear power you have done those of us who oppose nuclear a serious disservice.
    Looking through these posts I see little evidence of those on either side of the nuclear debate being scientifically illiterate – the disagreement is based on matters of public policy not on questions regarding the science or engineering (at least not in a way that betrays a misunderstanding of the scientific method)
    The sceptics are another matter entirely. With rare exceptions they seem to be totally devoid of any understanding of how the scientific method works.
    This is worrying given the importance that science has in our society. I know from my own teaching it is quite common for undergraduates to refer to something (eg evolution) as just a theory with the inference that one can choose to believe it or not. When you point out that there are very ‘facts’ in science (what happens to matter at absolute zero is one of these but that colud be regarded as more a matter of definition than of fact) That science is theory based and that those theories need to be continually re-inforced and vindicated by observation then it seems as if one is opening up a new universe.
    The ignorance of science and the dearth of good quality science teaching is a major problem facing all of us.
    Australian readers are invited to look at Page 20 of the Weekened Australian where you will find an article entitled: Texa Show Down over School Books – apparanetly Texas supplies 90% of America’s textbooks the chair of Texa Board of Education one Dr McLeroy is “a creationist who believes the world is 10,000 years old [and] who has said he believes humankind and dinosaurs once cohabited on Earth” is overseeing the complete review of all textbooks (apparently this happens every 10 years and McLeroy and his cohort hold an eight to two majority on the board.) If this gives us an indication of the way the USA is going with its science curriculum then we are in real trouble.
    However, I believe it goes further than this. I have previously argued that one of the reasons one needs to be sceptical about the nuclear solution is that it requires a high level of expertise to ensure nuclear plants are built and managed safely.
    To achieve that level of scientific expertise we would need a major revolution in the quality of the teaching of science and maths. When one considers that in Australia at least the teaching of maths and science is going backwards where is this expertise going to come from?
    So Barry sceptics matter because they reinforce a scientific illiteracy. They also matter because a community that is scientifically illiterate is ill equipped to evaluate the arguments about nuclear energy.

  338. Woah, yeah, RealScientist’s final post included *so* much reference to peer reviewed scientific material rebuffing all this climate foolishness! ;-)

    Honestly, one of the paragraphs there it seems that he expected Barry to recant of all this climate foolishness, sit at his knees, and bow down to him as the new “resident Guru”.

    “we do create co2 plus a multitude of other gases however our input is insignificant compared to natures ability to regulate and also contribute itself.”

    He didn’t read all 28 myths did he?

    Myth 8:
    Climate myths: Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11638-climate-myths-human-co2-emissions-are-too-tiny-to-matter.html

    Pfffft! I find myself agreeing with Finrod! I’m not a scientist myself, or even very technical, but even I found the language uninformed and amateur, and I’ve met some very informed and technical sounding sceptics.

    I find myself agreeing with your assessment that this was just another bored teenager thinking he could change the world by posting on a blog.

    @ Barry: I find myself morbidly fascinated by trolls, especially of the Denialist flavour. I want to look away, but just can’t….

  339. I suppose I should just stop this thread landing in my inbox but in response to John Tons decision to state that nuclear-sceptics are okay but anthropogenic global warming sceptics (yes i corrected your incorrect terminology) are illiterate and lacking knowledge… here is a precious IPCC quote from the third assessment report

    “To a large degree the coupling between oceans and atmosphere determines the energy budget of the climate system. There have been difficulties modelling this coupling with enough accuracy to prevent the model climate unrealistically drifting away from the observed climate. Such climate drift may be avoided by adding an artificial correction to the coupling, the so-called “flux adjustment”. ”

    In other words, the models are inaccurate so for the IPCC to try to prove their incorrect assumptions they add a ‘flux adjustment’ to prove AGW is real. Otherwise their own models disprove it or at the very least the models disagree with their published predictions.

    Also, a graph from the IPCC also in their TAR can be seen at http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/fig11-4.htm
    Notice approx 100,000 years ago. shock, horror, the same situation as today.

    Heres the EPICA data if you want to run it through excel or other software of your choice.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/antarctica/domec/domec_epica_data.html

    Maybe you shouldnt criticise us. It is most probable we know more about climate change than you know about nuclear energy. Perhaps I should think lumping you ‘nuclear-sceptics’ with us is insulting.

    The nature-sceptics and conspiracy theorists try to discredit anyone who suggests the models they use to prove AGW are inaccurate yet the IPCC admit it themselves. AGW-critics perhaps are the growing thunder. The IPCC and their sheep should stop farting. We were quiet too long and let the conspiracy theorists have their way for too long.

    Try not to criticise others since you obviously dont like it yourself. Perhaps being called a sceptic you now understand a little more clearly about how the term is used as a childish defensive mechanism by those whose who feel threatened . Your respect for the labeller diminishes doesnt it.

    So here is the deal; any time someone uses the incorrect phrase climate-change-sceptic (which any self-respecting scientist would realise is a wrong term and wouldnt use it unless they are content having a diminished reputation) or criticises anyone for their views against AGW, I will respond. If you dont want response, as Barry says, dont feed it! Debate is what science is about. Deconstructive criticism is not.

  340. @self-styled Real Scientist: deals are off. Anybody comparing your denialist, repeat: denialist effusions with the writings of real scientists eg Gavin Schmidt or Mike Mann or Richard Alley at http://www.realclimate.org can literally smell the difference.

    You should be grateful that anybody at BNC even bothers to wipe up your dribble.

    Your joint and several AGW denialist pretense to scientific status is gainsaid by the documented death threats and hate mail received by climatologists from denialists. Or the fact that Jim Hansen needed police protection when speaking in the USA . Now since when do real as opposed to self-styled scientists issue death threats to those of different opinions on scientific issues?

    In closing: as has been said many times for those able to read, the IPCC is merely a small coordinating body of thousands of climate scientists whose work has been in the public domain for years.

    Over the last few years, IPCC forecasts based on the models you allege are fake underestimated the empirical reality of what is happening eg Arctic ice cover reduction.

    Conspiracies in history got betrayed from inside even when the number of conspirators was very small. So the notion of a successful scam involving thousands of scientists working in many countries and with no oath of silence that any denialist has ever been able to furnish as evidence is as farcical as anything else you people exude.

  341. eclipsenow. Catherine Brahic is a reporter..and worse, for new scientist. I, and other scientists, have never stated her biased views were accurate. that is just the way you want it to be. The world is round. If she wrote is was flat and you link to it then I am not sure who is the least intelligent. Just because she and others say its a myth doesnt make it so. The reason you keep hearing the same points is because its the truth. Get used to it. The world is round. Deal with it.

    Peter Lalor, I see you didnt quote any peer-reviewed papers to dismis my claims. Good effort! Follow your own advice. Also are you seriously suggesting that because I say I am a real scientist that I therefore give death threats. This was supposed to be a scientific style forum. It isnt here for your childish taunts. You sound like finrod and eclipsenow.

    eclipsenow wrote “I’m not a scientist myself, or even very technical”.

    See we can agree on something. I didnt think you were either.

    I will continue defending myself and the truth. I will respond each time however it would be hoped Barry will realise his threads are being diluted by those immature children trying to ridicule and criticise me. If he kicks you off then maybe we can get back to scientific debate like this is meant to be.

  342. @ RealScientist… by all means attack me, I’m an easy target. By all means attack the *reporter* at New Scientist, because she’s an easy target. But whatever you do, do NOT address subjects like the Milancovitch cycles (which explains the 100 thousand year oscillations in climate), the natural variability with the La Nina / El Nino cycle which can disguise longer term warming trends, or any of these other things we call….

    THE ISSUES!

    See mate, when I link to something I’m working as a layperson saying: “This is what I think the experts say about that.” It’s up to you to prove otherwise. All you do is *state* otherwise, and that is mere assertion, also called your opinion, also called… NOT SCIENCE.

    Your smug, groundless, nasty accusations about climate scientists like Barry got my heckles up from your first post… so stop trying to sound pious and hurt when people deal it back at ya mate.

  343. Realscientist: how about you tell us what you want us to find as we run the EPICA data through our own software? What is *your* predetermined outcome? (winks)

    You don’t even share what you think is wrong… and like a B-grade magician you say, “Here it is, TA-DA!” and the trick just falls flat and the audience shuffles with embarrassment.

    In other words, just saying “Here it is… self explanatory folks” is not an argument.

    Also: you asked why the climate has previously dropped even when the atmosphere was at relatively high Co2 levels, and I answered by mentioning Milankovitch cycles. You didn’t reply.

    Do you even know what they are?

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

    See, even legitimate climate scientists like Barry will admit that there are times when Co2 is not the only climate driver, or even the *strongest* climate driver, right Barry?

    Just because under the right circumstances a Milankovitch cycle might throw us into an ice age, even with high Co2 levels, doesn’t mean:
    1. That we are due for a Milankovitch cycle any time soon (I thought we were 30 thousand years away from the next big one)
    2. That Co2 is a *weak* forcing, just because a Milankovitch cycle is stronger. Co2 is one of the stronger forcings for the foreseeable future.

    Yet Plimer and Monckton and others are want to point out these cycles as if Co2 plays no major feedback role, and they just embarrass themselves as the confuse the less-broadly read.

    Even I can recognise their flimsy straw-man arguments, and as I keep telling you, not being technical myself, the fact that I can see the flaw so easily is really saying something about the likes of Plimer and Monckton!

  344. you should be glad that I ignored your Milankovitch
    cycle previously (or you would be if you realised the repercussion). So you agree that every 100,000 approx there is an ice age and this is followed 50,000 years later and every 100,000 years thereafter by a warm age.

    Good! progress!

    So if you think it is warm now, wait 50,000 years. Nature will adjust.

    no-one embarasses themselves by suggesting co2 plays a minor role. you do by saying it does. Your suggestion is unfounded (except for your new scientist link).

    I feel we are going in circles.

    You said
    “Just because under the right circumstances a Milankovitch cycle might throw us into an ice age”
    Well it must be one hell of a coincidence that the ‘right circumstances’ are cyclical every 100,000 years…maybe day/night, summer/winter are coincidences too if the ‘right circumstances’ occur. You forgot to mention the 400,000 year cycle too. Maybe that is a coincidence too.

    keep trying.

  345. In terms of the epica data: download all data then overlap them on the same graph. co2 continues to rise while temperature drops. We just keep saying it and you keep denying it because otherwise your arguments are discredited. similarly, co2 continues to drop while temperature rises.

    Would you now like to say that ice core samples can not be trusted. The IPCC trust them implicitly and they form part of the basis of the majority of models.

    You havent mentioned the phytoplankton problem yet. I suggest you research the carbon isotope ratio before you comment.

    Your arguments are without substance

  346. Your post about the Milankovitch cycles was utterly unintelligible.

    I’m pretty sure this climate crisis will have worked itself out in 50 thousand years… and how many species we lose with it, and how much damage we do to OUR civilisation and OUR grand-children’s lives, well, it’s unthinkable. But go ahead… talk about some problem that could be 10′s of thousands of years away!

    Milankovitch cycles don’t explain what is happening now, do they?

    You obviously have problems with your powers of comprehension. Where did I say it was a co-incidence? Milakovitch cycles are an incredibly powerful climate forcing!

    I’m saying Milankovitch cycles were THE forcing, but that is more like a trigger, with Co2 as the gunpowder that amplified the climate effects. (EG: the more it cooled and the more Co2 got locked up under ice, the more it cooled. The more it warmed, the more it warmed… etc. This is from the peer-reviewed papers, not my own musings).

    So try again… I’ve got *no* idea what you were actually trying to say. At the moment you’re coming across like a 14 year old Creationist?

    “In terms of the epica data: download all data then overlap them on the same graph. co2 continues to rise while temperature drops. We just keep saying it and you keep denying it because otherwise your arguments are discredited. similarly, co2 continues to drop while temperature rises.”

    1. I shouldn’t have to compile my own graphs, there’s enough already out there that cover this subject on any time-scale you’d like to discuss. Last 10 years through to last 10 million. What are you trying to say?

    2. So define what you’re talking about… the post WW2 temperature Co2 discrepancy which is easily explained by global dimming, or some other time period?

    3. Please, please, PLEASE be talking about the “cooling since 1998″ myth… that would be a *WONDERFUL* example of non-scientific, trend ignoring, fanatical religious dogma. Even some of your own Denialists are warning not to go on about that one! (Such as at the recent Heartland Institute conference).

  347. actually your response was unintelligible. What you suggest is the milankovitch cycles are the ‘trigger’ and play no further part. You suggest they start the increase in temperature after an ice age and then co2 takes over. Yet after a warm age, according to your theory, the milankovitch cycle ‘triggers’ temperature to decrease but the co2 that you previously blame is all of a sudden no longer able to trap the heat. Seriously? Is that what you want to say? Or maybe you are saying that the milankovitch cycles can cause cooling but not heating? I am not sure what you are dribbling, you obviously arent either. You understand eccentricity doesnt mean the sun leaves the system right?

    Also, once again you refuse to look at the epica data. I realise you dont want to prove yourself wrong but until you accept the evidence you sound like a whinging 10 year old. “co2 causes global warming coz i sed it does”. Sorry, that argument will never get you respect.

    - We are still evaulating the function of carbon sinks.
    - As ice caps form, 016 is sequestered leaving behind higher concentrations of 018. Foraminifera calcium carbonate tests obtained from deep sea sedimentation confirms data obtained from ice-core sampling. Concomitantly, c12:c13 ratios give an indication to the extent of biomass supported by the oceans as plant life preferentially uses c12. All evidence shows an abundant buffering effect capable of sustained function throughout either warm or cold periods far in excess of what has been experienced previously.
    - University of Leeds and the University of Kuopio have identified that wind speeds below the ozone layer are increased. the resultant sea spray changes cloud composition, incorporating salt, which now acts to reflect incoming radiation. As the earths temperature is increases, wind speeds will increase globally. This will result in the same phenomenon occuring globally not just under the ozone depleted area. This has not been taken into account in any modelling. similarly, as our planet warms further we enter into conditions not experienced since the last milankovitch cycle (100,000 years). no documentation or historical records exist. We are constantly discovering new geographical climate phenomenon and more will no doubt appear as conditions change. No computer models take any of these natural buffers into account.

    Until you can provide a SCIENTIFIC reason for temperature decreasing when co2 levels continue to increase you cant be taken seriosly.
    You said “but that is more like a trigger, with Co2 as the gunpowder that amplified the climate effects. (EG: the more it cooled and the more Co2 got locked up under ice, the more it cooled.”
    but it cooled WHILE co2 kept increasing. It wasnt being trapped in ice it was still being realeased but it couldnt stop the cooling effect.

    As long as scientists and reporters continually provide comment for cash, the repuatation of scientists will continue to be scrutinised. Respect will suffer. I am affected by their incompetent biased actions.

    Here is the reporter you constantly link to trying to win a trip by demonstrating what a good girl she has been in writing losts of AGW propaganda

    http://www.wfsj.org/resources/page.php?id=117

    Cash-for-comment is heavily disrespected in the scientific community and yet funding fuels the AGW debate. AGW propaganda can not be trusted so long as funding occurs exclusively for it.

    Perhaps you can link to a secondary school project that obviously proves that co2 is to blame for increased temperature but there is some magical reason that even though co2 continues to increase the temperature can decrease. You obviously cant explain it with science.

    Nothing I have said is wrong or can be proven wrong. You however say plenty of things that you get off the conspiracy sites. you did keep trying for a while to link to newscientist’s reporters pages. Those attempted debunking theories were disproven numerous times and settled a long time ago. No scientist believes it except you 10 year old AGW conspiracy theorists

    The new religion is AGW. Who is your god? Perhaps whoever pays the most cash-for-comment

  348. I wonder how “Real Scientist” will explain away the latest report from CSIRO and BOM.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/15/2845519.htm?site=news

    Probably like the idiotic McGauran -according to him CSIRO scientists and BOM meteorologists are told what to say by the government! Another conspiracy I suppose!!

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/16/2847627.htm

    Maybe the butterflies are in on the conspiracy and also do as they are told by the government.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/17/2848242.htm

    After all they seem to agree with the CSIRO that the temperature is getting hotter with more CO2 in the atmosphere, and not with Real Scientist who thinks otherwise. Call me crazy but I think I will go with the butterflies!
    Sorry Barry – I couldn’t resist:)

  349. @ Barry, yeah, true

    @ Real Scientist: how’s the physics and spectrometry of Co2 mate? Seen the candle demonstration at 1 minute 30 seconds?

    Global warming a conspiracy? Can someone please tell all physicists that the laws that govern the movement of planets down to the energy refracting off Co2 molecules are all wrong… Real Scientist says so! ;-)

    Dude, your paragraph on Milankovitch didn’t actually engage with anything I wrote. It just came across that you couldn’t actually read what the real climatologists and ice-core experts have identified about how the Earth’s ‘wobbles’ and climate and Co2 all interact. It’s a complex dance I tried to spell out in a simple analogy of a “trigger”, but as always you dodge the evidence and just ASSERT stuff without linking to anything.

    Here’s a link to a New Scientist report that links to the REAL science mate.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11659-climate-myths-ice-cores-show-co2-increases-lag-behind-temperature-rises-disproving-the-link-to-global-warming.html

    Increased wind speed will increase global dimming? Sounds nice… got a link to a specific study, of which I require you to post the pertinent paragraph? (Rather than just saying “The vibe of the thing”). Get specific.

  350. @Eclipse Now:

    I admire your doggedness but you are dealing with a dead weight tied to your ankle, self-styled Real Scientist, who not only uses suspect or wrong English grammar and spelling but has not even realised how self-revealing the nonsense below is:

    <>

    Assuming only for the sake of argument that this allegation is well-founded:

    Science citations never cite entire universities but only the persons or teams thereof who conducted the research. Any exchange between any two given climatologists is referenced by personal name and not by the name of their employers. This Denialist error is rather touching, actually. It shows that this AGW Denialist has the layman’s faith in Tertiary Institutions, not realising the controversies that go on within them.

    Conversely, the error will be a deliberate attempt to sow confusion, in that anybody checking the nonsense would be required to waste time finding out which academics at those institutions are supposed to have worked on wind patterns.

    Please remember that the habit of shooting the bearers of bad tidings has a long pedigree; this Denialist fits well into that. These people tend, statistically speaking, to have a set of other political beliefs the invalidation of which by AGW pushes them into Denial.

  351. @ Peter, agreed. It’s a waste of time.

    @ Real Scientist who wrote:
    “Until you can provide a SCIENTIFIC reason for temperature decreasing when co2 levels continue to increase you cant be taken seriosly.”

    Global Dimming from
    * really dirty coal processes (before Co2 reached a certain critical mass of climate effects),
    * Global Dimming from large volcanic eruptions,
    * Global Dimming from large enough meteor strikes,

    and of course,
    * Milankovitch cycles which affect how much sunlight actually reaches the earth and at what angle. They’re still valid science and totally consistent with the climate picture, despite your incoherent 6th grader ramblings.

    But until *you* can explain why the candle went invisible to the thermal camera, I think you’re the one that has a *real* problem with credibility.

    Come on sunny, where’s ya spunk? Have a go at it.

    (Oh, and try to use short sentences. Like this one. My 11 year old is practising complex sentences, but I don’t think it is for you, as you tend to wander off rambling and then contradict yourself. So write like this. Stick to the point. Say something substantial that is on topic.

    Avoid anything with the word “conspiracy” in it. I’m constantly ducking to avoid having my eyes gouged out by all your pointy tinfoil hats, and it is getting tiresome.)

  352. *yawn*
    msperps – religious AGW fanatics are always saying ‘climate sceptics’ which as i have previously stated is an incorrect term and any self respecting scientist would not use it. We never said climate doesnt change. We say quite strongly it does change but we dont cause it and there is no evidence for us causing it. Get your facts straight.

    Peter, at what the hell are you talking about. I never gave any “self-revealing” quote that you made up

    eclipsenow – good one, not. so the volcanos and meteors strike at the peak of a warm period in a milankovitch cycle huh? hah ha ha ha ha . geez lucky they dont hit when we are in an ice age. We would never recover.

    thanks for the youtube link. 2 points
    1. you religious agw fanatics have now turned to using 1951 movie quotes to try to prove your religion
    2. We never said carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas. We just say that nature has coping mechanisms and has demonstrated this every 100,000 years. Introduce an air filter into that tube and try it again.

    Previously you said
    “and like a B-grade magician you say, “Here it is, TA-DA!” and the trick just falls flat and the audience shuffles with embarrassment”
    It isnt my fault if you dont know how to read a graph and need me to explain. I would suggest you everyone else applauded but you and other religious agw fanatics shuffled your feet with embarrassment because you didnt understand.

    Your candle experiment is your magic act. there was no shuffling of feet because people have seen your acts before, know the incompetence and didnt turn up this time

  353. oh and peter, that dead weight around my ankle is all you religious AGW fanatics that cannot swim in the oceans of science and are now drowning and trying to grab out for anything at the surface. Let go. Accept your fate.

  354. so the conclusion to the question
    “Do climate sceptics and anti-nukes matter? ”

    Not sure about climate sceptics. I would think it would be very difficlut to find one. OH you meant to say anthropogenic global warming sceptics. Dont worry, that is a common error for those in the agw religion

    AGW scpetics do matter as there are those that attempt to force a religion upon us. If people tried to force Islam or Christianity upon us the result would be the same. You can have your religion, but you pay for it not me.

    Anti nuke opinions matter also. Many many years ago I did not welcome the use of nuclear energy until I learnt about the methodology. I can understand fully the concerns people have. There is much more we need to discuss about where and how to store the waste for example. Pushing ideals on people is never the right way. The fear factor is after all what caused us to rename nuclear magnetic resonance imaging to just MRI. I would bet the majority of the public would not realise the source of x-rays for their scans nor where the material is currently stored. By listening to their points of view we have an opportunity for forward progression, not by belittling them but by hearing their fears and overcoming them.

    This thread has deteriorated to new lows due to the constant childish actions of those who constantly detach from intelligent conversation in order to attempt (albeit poorly) to belittle me and anyone else who tries to oppose their views. I have vowed to reflect every attempt with equal and opposite rhetoric. Hardly scientific and it largely devalues your site and labels it as just another backyard site with conspiracy theories for science so what do you say we close this thread. Start a new one if you want but this is getting very boring and I have better things to do with my time.

  355. I have been surprised by the animosity expressed in the comments on this post recently. I see the value of blogs as a form of communication being that they enable people to express a view with the possibility of changing the view of others. In doing expressing views openly they can also be challenged and there should be an expansion in the thinking of all concerned. Patience is required between people with very different points of view. May I suggest that the overall aim in posting comments is to win support from those who differ?

    RealScientist has been treated as an intruder into a territory where he does not belong. I think that those of us who are concerned about the threat of Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) should encourage such people to be involved in discussions.

    I have not been following all of the scientific discussion in this thread; I am interested in some of the broader questions. I am interested in the question of how a person not familiar with the specific arguments can make an informed decision.

    Personally I can’t see any reason for questioning the concerns expressed by the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) except that they have not addressed the threat of tipping points. I understand that climate change and sea levels are tracking on the worst case for their projections. If there was something wrong then there should be a basic flaw in the IPCC approach to atmospheric physics.

    Computer models are an easy target because they can be portrayed with the garbage-in/garbage-out approach to computers. I rely on computer models to predict weather and they have remarkable accuracy compared with a decade or two ago. Using mathematical calculations taking all of the factors into account is the best option we have. If the results of the IPCC were based on an incorrect approach then there should be dissenting models that show a lower sensitivity to Green House Gasses (GHG). If these exist, I am not aware of them. There should be a discussion of alternative safe levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It seems to be an all or nothing approach based on baseless statements such as “humans can not influence climate.”

    Conspiracy theories are a convenient strategy. By claiming there is a conspiracy it is possible to attempt to discredit the IPCC. This avoids looking at the specifics of the case. This is science by innuendo. If there is a discussion of strategy of making public statements or corrections to data these are labelled as evidence for “ClimateGate.” This is simply unhelpful towards the aims of intelligent discussion. If there is a serious problem, it makes sense for there be an international approach.

    Accusations of vested interest are not relevant. There are very obvious incentives for driving people to question the result and implications to the IPCC projections. Responding to them, or not responding, will affect all of us. We who are affluent (in the global perspective) want to continue to enjoy our consumer-driven lifestyle. I have a bit more trouble trying to identify the cause for support for the IPCC approach. There are people who make a living expressing alternative views, but this is to be expected.

    Another strategy is to react to the worst projections. Somebody concerned about the future expresses the worst implications of projected climate change and others react by saying they don’t want to listen to things that are alarmist. This effectively rules out considering the future.

    I have tried asking people who are sceptical of the IPCC approach, but I have not found any satisfactory answers. People seem to develop these opinions based on vague notions and by hearing the opinions of individuals who influence them.

    I wonder if this is the basic question to ask those who question or oppose the IPCC is the reason for developing their opinion in the first place?

  356. RealScientist has been treated as an intruder into a territory where he does not belong. I think that those of us who are concerned about the threat of Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) should encourage such people to be involved in discussions.

    I’m not sure that RealScientist is interested in having a discussion. Actually, I’m not even convinced that he holds the views he claims to hold.

  357. Whether Real Scientist holds his views or not does not invalidate the burden of Robert Lawrence’s argument. In the various online fora where this topic is discussed it does not take long for it to degenerate into a slanging match.
    The science of climate change does not readily lend itself to a sensible discussion outside of the area of peer reviewed literature. The role of the scientist when communicating their findings to the broader public is to describe their findings in a way that are readily comprehensible to a lay audience.
    The problem that arises with those scientists who are sceptical about AGW is that generally they seem to think what they have to do is demonstrate that one can have legitimate doubts about all of the science and those doubts are sufficient by way of a rebuttal.
    Yet in these public fora the issue is not so much about the science but about the appropriate public policy response to the findings of scientists.
    If public policy can only be shaped once there is absolute certainty about the science then there is very little that can ever happen.
    With respect to AGW we can argue that there is no absolute certainty; we can point to the fact that are scientists who reject AGW but neither of those facts is sufficient reason to argue that public policy should simply ignore the findings of those scientists that indicate that AGW may well be a reality.
    The reason that there is such resistance to the proposition that AGW is a concern has little to do with the science but, I suspect, with the uncomfortable conclusion that it requires us to make a major shift in the way we source our energy. Government action on lead in petrol and asbestos removal was based(initially at least) on far more tentative science than is the science that supports the AGW hypothesis.
    AGW is a hypothesis and it would not be the first hypothesis that was subsequently disproved as the forces under consideration become better understood. But it would be irresponsible to frame public policy on the basis that there is no absolute certainty that the hypothesis is right.

  358. Well, I am happily unconflicted in this matter. It is my considered opinion that nuclear power is not just the only practical solution to CO2 emissions from the energy sector. It also happens to have such incredible properties that it is an excellent idea to implement it anyway, even if it somehow turns out that AGW is incorrect.

  359. Finrod

    Sorry if I am being pedantic here, but I don’t agree that AGW can be “incorrect.” It may be less of a concern than expected. Unless the basic concept of greenhouse gasses is wrong or they are not increasing due to human activities, then some effect is a logical consequence. It is a question of how much, not whether.

    I entirely agree that even if AGW was not significant enough to be an issue of concern, there are enough other reasons to stop using coal and reducing other forms of CO2 emissions (and I would add, as a matter of urgency).

    It is an interesting question as to why those concerned about AGW are not concerned about the other effects of CO2. This is a reason for seriously questioning their objectivity to science.

  360. Sorry if I am being pedantic here, but I don’t agree that AGW can be “incorrect.”

    I’m of the same view, but I would like to point out that even people who genuinely doubt AGW can still be recruited to the cause of nuclear power on other grounds… and if they support the solution to AGW, I’m not too concerned about their ‘skepticism’.

  361. Jon Tons said:

    But it would be irresponsible to frame public policy on the basis that there is no absolute certainty that the hypothesis is right.

    Actually, it’s a lot more than a hypothesis. It is now an explanation for the climate anomaly for which there is experimental corroboration. Your broader point is right though. If you want absolute certainty, then you need not science, but religion.

    Science is progressively revelatory. It provides the tools needed to probe the observable world and make sense of its behaviour. Sometimes, our inferences are inadequate, because our grasp of the data in context is flawed, or because the data is too spotty to make the kinds of inferences that would be useful in policy.

    Accordingly, because one cannot ever be certain that one has all the data one needs, and interpreted it aptly in context, since this would imply final knowledge of the very thing we are probing, we must accept that we will be denied certainty. At best, we can make a very well tutored guess, based on our growing knowledge and the body of research that precedes us.

    Yet is not fair to say that because we are denied certainty, all areas of uncertainty have the same value, or that all probability short of 100% is much of a muchness. No actuary or bookmaker would be in business doing that. When faced with the need to make decisions, we prefer greater confidence to less confidence, and we weigh the hazards of being wrong in deciding what to do. It is wise to allow good science to guide us in this. If we simply said we were untinterested in anything that did not offer certainty, public policy would be bankrupt and human welfare in a shambles. Of that we can be almost certain.

    The logic of the view that some uncertainty vitiates a field of scientific inquiry is intellectually nihilistic and logically demands a reversal of civilisation in favour of a return to barbarism and fantasy. The deniers of science accuse “greenies” of seeking this lifestyle, but the reality is that is the deniers and dissemblers that deserve this brickbat.

    Robert Lawrence says:

    RealScientist has been treated as an intruder into a territory where he does not belong. I think that those of us who are concerned about the threat of Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) should encourage such people to be involved in discussions.

    I don’t agree. “RealScientist” brings no new insight to this discussion. Like his fellow travellers, all he can do is recycle long debunked talking points in an attempt to give them status they ill deserve and to waste the time of serious people. Let him educate himself on the science he claims to know and publish contrary findings in journals of scientific record if he can, showing his methodology and data collection methods, and then let us explore whether he has a substantive point. Merely copying and pasting the latest drivel doesn’t qualify.

  362. Ewen Laver, Said:

    “I don’t agree. “RealScientist” brings no new insight to this discussion. Like his fellow travellers, all he can do is recycle long debunked talking points in an attempt to give them status they ill deserve and to waste the time of serious people. Let him educate himself on the science he claims to know and publish contrary findings in journals of scientific record if he can, showing his methodology and data collection methods, and then let us explore whether he has a substantive point. Merely copying and pasting the latest drivel doesn’t qualify”

    Well said, and neatly underlines the whole point of this thread. If the likes of “RealScientist” are the best the deniers can throw at the topic, there is really no need to worry too much about their impact. In fact if Eclipsenow hadn’t kept rising to his bait, “RealScientist” would have faded away by now.

  363. John, Robert and Finrod… thank you. Those responses were the type I expected to find on this site. (i am truly saying thanks, not being sarcastic just to clarify). The common gist is there is room for discussion. The abruptness and political push before the Copenhagen Summit is perhaps one of the largest reasons the previously quiet AGW sceptics have started raising their voices. It was handled very poorly from a political perspective. We had an impression of it being rammed down our throats whether we like it or not. There are scientists on both sides of the argument. We could start an International Panel Against Anthropogenic Global Warming (IPAAGW) however I would hope this never happens as I believe it would be counter-productive. We arent against reduction in emmissions but just a measured and considered approach. If IPCC acted a little less like greenpeace and more like an organisation that considers both sides then we would no doubt embrace it more.

    Robert, you commented
    “I entirely agree that even if AGW was not significant enough to be an issue of concern, there are enough other reasons to stop using coal and reducing other forms of CO2 emissions (and I would add, as a matter of urgency).”

    Once again, I thank you for your comments and your consideration. We have differing views on AGW and yet we at least agree on the basics and the rest I guess we agree to disagree. I respect you and your views regardless. I have previously indicated that even though I doubt AGW I have absolutely no doubt that human emmissions should be reduced.

    Perhaps the best way to make forward progress is to avoid the factors that create division and embrace those that unite. Health is one such thing. Barack Obama indicated he was going to Copenhagen with the view to decreasing co2 based on health. Perhaps he already realised the unifiying point that we have missed.

    Anyway, long post and it is definitely my last. Barry, please remove my email from the database so I no longer get posts. To the latest two posts, I respect your right to comment but no-one will respect those comments (I would suspect not even those on your side of the argument).

    Feel free to bait me further…I wont be here

  364. @ Robert:
    @ John Tons:

    I’ll try my best to discuss something with people sincerely out to learn about these matters, but from the first post RealScientist basically accused all climateologists like our friend Barry here of being either morons or religious fanatics devoted to anti-science.

    The blowback is all earned.

    Sadly it is worse than that. It’s what he wants!

    He’s a troll, and that’s all there is to it. Note the moronic attempts to debunk the well known phenomenon of Milankovitch cycles and various forms of global dimming. There’s no actual SCIENCE being discussed here.

    He wants us to keep arguing with him to provide him a platform where he can keep saying “AGW religious dogma” etc.

    And we’re providing it for him! For free! Every time we disagree with him we “feed the troll” and KEEP giving him the platform he wants.

    I suggest we close this thread to kill his platform, as BNC emails are starting to become repulsive… and I don’t want that association about BNC.

    @ DV8: Sorry, you’re of course right but there’s just something I find I can’t get my head around with internet trolls. I just can’t believe I’ve met yet another one. Again. And so I try and try… and waste my time… and then after 10 or 20 exchanges, finally realise: yep, one more internet troll really does exist. :-)

    How futile and embarrassing. Sorry all for bothering… how pointless!

    I’m going to turn off my computer, take a walk outside, and play with the kids and breathe the fresh air and remembe that there are real human beings that appreciate real conversations, not this hideous distortion of communication that we call an internet troll.

    PS: Oh, and I just noted RealScientist is apparently ‘leaving’ us. So soon? ;-)

    If you want to remove YOURSELF from the email list, click on the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the BNC emails you get… called “One click unsubscribtion”

  365. Things got a bit willing there folks. I think Real Scientist and Eclipse Now should take a Bex and have a lie down. Personally, I’ve gone from “believer” to “agnostic” and currently to “denier” of AGW. And that’s pretty much on the strength of just having read “THE EMAILS”. The incompetence and essential dishonesty of these climate scientists[Mann, Jones, Santer Briffa etc], covered up with decades of manipulation and “stacking the deck ” of peer review has left us with no idea whether the earth’s climate has been affected to any appreciable degree by mankind. The science is NOT settled in my view. Perhaps Barry and others can convince me otherwise. By the way, Climate Change is and always has been a fact of the behaviour of the earth. I taught geology for 30 years and countless times pointed to the evidence of sea level change around the SA coast and in the inland as well for that matter to the hundreds of students in my care. Most important of all, I don’t care whether AGW is happening or not. What I do know is that we need to change our main power source from the filthy fossil fuels especially coal, to the only source that can take coal’s place. And that is nuclear power. Fortunately for the planet, 33 countries already have nuclear power and an additional 20 are building reactors now. I would suggest that they’ve considered all of the arguments that we’ve been having on Barry’s blogs [well done Barry] and have reached the conclusion that nuclear is cost effective, safe, clean and able to deliver baseload power without greenhouse emissions. And that’s surely what the world needs. Right??

  366. The climategate emails are a storm in a teacup, and I’m sure Barry has another thread on that kettle of fish going somewhere. Hang on, teacups and kettles… OK, moving right along.

    “By the way, Climate Change is and always has been a fact of the behaviour of the earth.”

    This is a variation of the Denialist myth: “It’s been far warmer in the past, what’s the big deal?”

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11647-climate-myths-its-been-far-warmer-in-the-past-whats-the-big-deal.html

    Yes it has, in the DEEP past, before human beings walked the planet. All of which REAL climatologists willingly acknowledge!

    Climate changes for many reasons, such as Milankovitch cycles, heavier volcanic periods, heck, even continental drift over 10′s of millions of years can change the climate.

    As I understand it, it’s not an either / or scenario. Human beings can drown in natural tsunamis just as they can drown when a dam breaks: and both can look pretty much the same.

    “And that’s surely what the world needs. Right??”
    Yes, but the *urgency* with which we leave coal will be lost if Denialists win the misinformation campaign.

    We shall see if you are just another Denialist or in fact are an actual sceptic still interested in genuine conversation, and genuine learning, by the way this conversation unfolds.

  367. @Ewen Laver:

    re: “gish galloping” (half-truths, lies, straw men, and bullshit to such a degree that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised, usually resulting in many involuntary twitches in frustration as the opponent struggles to decide where to start.)

    as the methods of the obscure US biochemist and creationist Duane Gish were not invented by him it might be useful in the interests of general comprehensibility on BNC to eschew such arcane terms in favour of more standard terms to describe such rhetorical devices, which have existed for millennia. What do you think? BNC runs enough specialised vocab. already.

    Denialist geology teacher Krieg’s smear of e.g. Michael Mann and Phil Jones as incompetent (sic) and essentially dishonest (sic) indicate that Krieg may well have learned his geology from Ian Plimer. However, as Krieg says he can read e-mails, it does indeed seem he is functionally literate.

  368. Thanks for the barbs chaps. I’m just an ordinary layman who has been struggling with the whole issue for some years now. But a hell of a lot more”informed” scientists including climatologists subscribe to the Plimer view including David Bellamy . He’s been banned by the BBC for daring to deny that AGW is happening. I think there’s plenty of evidence out there which does call AGW into question and at the moment, their views have swayed me to the Denialist/Sceptic camp. It seems to me that Mann, Jones etc have commited a gigantic fraud with their fudged figures. But I’m prepared to be convinced otherwise. So, go for it Eclipsenow. And when you’ve made your case, I’ll do my best to understand it and make further comment if I’m still not convinced. You can send it to my address if you like. We don’t need to burden all of the other guys with our private disagreement as you and Realscientist have done. By the way, I didn’t learn my geology from Plimer. I’m a good deal older than he is and taught his like back in the 60′s.

  369. But a hell of a lot more”informed” scientists including climatologists subscribe to the Plimer view including David Bellamy . He’s been banned by the BBC for daring to deny that AGW is happening.

    OK … the old bellamy was banned for dissent canard … now we know you’re a troll because this one has been repeatedly shown to be utterly without merit. This crank was a has been long before he pronounced on AGW …

    No published climatologists “subscribe to the Plimer view”. You plainly want to waste people’s time.

    As with the “realscientist” troll, you need to get acquainted with the facts of the matter.

  370. OK … the old bellamy was banned for dissent canard … now we know you’re a troll because this one has been repeatedly shown to be utterly without merit.

    I will speak up ,for Terry here. I’ve communicated with Terry on a couple of occasions concerning nuclear power, and I have no reason to believe that he is anything but completely sincere in his views. I disagree with him about AGW, but I have no problem acknowledging him as a fellow concerned citizen and valuable ally in the pro-nuclear community. I am sure we’ve all quoted something or pointed to a reference at one time or another which we’ve later reassessed.

  371. Ok Fin, if YOU attest for him, I’m prepared to accept that perhaps he was simply outrageously careless in his choice of talking points. Just because he talks like a concern troll need not make him so. I remain doubtful however.

    The trouble with the Bellamy claim is that he keeps shifting the goalposts:

    see for example …

    You have to laugh or shake your head in disbelief.

    The salient point here — the mark of the concern troll — is that they grab any claim they’ve seen and treat it with complete credulity if it fits their preferred narrative, while calling themselves “skeptics”. The irony should not be lost on even the thickest out there in blogland. Even more amazing, they announce it in a tone that sounds like nobody has ever heard the talking point before, which is just damn insulting. It’s hard to escape the impression that that was their intent.

    It would be as if I came here and said “Gee … I don’t know about nuclear power. Sure it sounds good, but look at Chernobyl …”

    That sort of trolling is utterly tiresome and deserving of complete contempt.

    So I’d say to “Terry Krieg” if you are not a troll, before you post again, come back here and post something that shows you have thought about the standing of your last two bogus claims. Alternatively, you could just concede they were made recklessly, were total bollocks and apologise for insulting our intelligence.

    While you’re about it you undertake not to post talking points from the denier favourites list unless you can show that you have considered the objections in a serious way. Checking out “climate crock of the week” as suggested and skeptical science would be a good start.

  372. Strange – first pseudo sceptics- like Real Scientist – deny that the earth is warming at all, then when they are faced with incontrovertible evidence that it is, they suddenly change tack and say, they concur that it is warming, but it is not due to human emissions of CO2.
    They roll out all the drivers of climate that applied to previous climate change (which no scientist denies) but have been shown not to be related to the present warming.
    Shifting the goalposts but still not kicking any goals:)

  373. Thanks Finrod and John D Morgan. As I said earlier, I’m just a layman struggling with all of the pro and anti AGW stuff that has come to light recently. I’ll post some other stuff that has helped sway me towards denial for Ewen Laver in the near future. I might be wrong, but I suspect he’s never seriously considered the anti AGW argument, choosing rather to accept, as I did at first, the pro AGW arguments. Tell me I’m wrong Ewen.

  374. You are wrong Terry. I take nothing but the bleeding obvious at face value. I started off genuinely agnostic in the 1990s (i.e I had an open mind on something that sounded plausible).

    I became interested and began looking at the progress of the issue through the 1990s until I became utterly persuaded that no explanation of the climate anomaly that did not factor in CO2 could fit the data we have on temperature. In the 12-13 years since then the data we have acquired has served to corroborate that inference.

    It’s really quite simple. If you wish to challenge the claim you must show that the data we have

    a) could in principle have been produced by some other combination of measurable phenomena that rising CO2

    AND

    b) those phenomena were present during the time frame in which we are interested.

    To date, no denier has achieved both these things. An increase in insolation could do this for example, but the trouble is that no such increase has occurred. Moroever, stratospheric cooling shows clearly that this can’t be an explanation of the lower tropsheric warming since increases in solar output would also heat the stratosphere. That the statosphere has cooled both excludes the sun as the driver and positively affirms the lower tropospheric GHG effect.

    And contrary to popular denier practice, simply adding up a whole bunch of silly claims that cannot all coexist doesn’t make a sufficient argument. You must show that each claim is confirmed in observable reality, really does go to the climate pattern we have seen and does not conflict with any other datum that would exclude it. In the case of AGW there are nearly 30,000 independent pieces of data confirming that change is occurring rapidly. Satellite measurements of the “radiation budget” of the Earth not only positively affirm the data in the proxies relating to lower tropospheric warming. They also affirm the depletion in outgoing radiation is in the bandwidths one would expect if CO2 were the driver of increased insolation. Isotopic analysis of CO2 shows that it is indeed of fossil origin and this is increasing at a rate consonant with actual fossil fuel consumption.

    How many people accept the science is utterly beside the point. The physical realtionships between elements of the ecosystem of our world cannot be changed by people simply thinking something else. So your personal cultural trajectory on this is simply moot.

    So far as the deniers are concerned though the telling point is that their focus is on debunking CO2-as-climate-driver while keeping a deafening silence on the other reality — that increasing CO2 emissions damage the seas, and that almost all of the activities that lead to anthropogenic emissions also harm humans in the here and now and also deplete finite resources. So it is clear that they are trying to protect the value of fossil fuel assets and the associated culture associated with it by pretending that the only issue is the uncertainty they suggest exists over CO2-as-climate-driver. This is high-order special pleading and shows that they are not skeptics but self-appointed lawyers for a section of the elite.

  375. Thanks Ewen. Pretty compelling stuff you’ve given me and I commend your long experience in working through it all. And I concede that your two requirements seem acceptable. But, really, a lot of what you and other AGW people believe must to some extent be negated by what Jones et al have put out in recent years. Doesn’t that at least make you think again? A lot of respectable scientists and others reckon he and his helpers have been fraudulent. And Jones himself has admitted that there has been no “statistically significant” global warming since 1995. And the 0.7C increase in temperature over the past century is entirely consistent with well-established, long term, natural climate trends. And James Hansen of NASA said in a simulation of temperatures from 1880 to 2000, soot accounted for 25% of observed global warming. and further research suggests that soot may have nearly as much impact on climate change as CO2.And IPCC lead author Ben Santer openly admits that he altered portions of the 1995 IPCC report to make them “consistent with other chapters.” And Mann’s hockey stick graph was created using only portions of a data set. And Nils Axel-Morner, a sea level specialist when asked as an expert reviewer on the IPCC’s last two reports was “astonished to find that not one of the 22 contributing authors on sea levels was a sea level specialist”. And the IPCC reported that 55% of the Netherlands was below sea level when in fact it’s 26% below sea level. They were forced to retract the claim. And according to the US Historical Climate Network, 90% of US climate monitoring stations have been found to be “poorly situated” meaning they have a margin of error greater than 1 degree C, which is more than the global warming in the entire 20th century. And US surface data is generally considered the best surface data in the world. And in 1978 there were 6000 surface climate-monitoring surface stations. At present there are about 1200. The vast majority of climate monitoring stations that were lost were rural ones which have been shown to give the most accurate data. And the Hadley CRU, the institution at the centre of the “climategate” scandal, threw out original temperature data because it claimed it did not have storage space. And these are just a few of the problems I have with accepting AGW Ewen. It’s bloody tough for an ordinary bloke like me to discount these facts as of little/no consequence on the issue. They’ve certainly helped put me in the Skeptic’s camp. But my mind is still open and so over to you Ewen

  376. Terry

    as you massively disregarded my earlier suggestions:

    1.So I’d say to “Terry Krieg” if you are not a troll, before you post again, come back here and post something that shows you have thought about the standing of your last two bogus claims

    AND

    2.While you’re about it you undertake not to post talking points from the denier favourites list unless you can show that you have considered the objections in a serious way. Checking out “climate crock of the week” as suggested and skeptical science would be a good start

    (You did the gish gallop …)

    AND

    3, despite acknowedging my two benchmarks for data were acceptable, you then ignored them, reiterated the memes and some more and said “over to you”

    AND

    4. Again self-avowed as a skeptic without being skeptical of the things in your gish gallop (an irony I had pointed out above

    I’m going to stand by my opinion that you are simply trolling. I don’t care what Finrod and others take you for. Your posting pattern exactly conforms to concern trolling of the kind one sees all the time on this issue. The Phil Jones admits not statistically significant warming since 1995 lie — exposed by The Economist of all placed — is a trademark for the genre. Your posts are not substantively different from “realscientist”. I’d love to see the IP addresses.

    Enough already. Your name may suggest war, but you deserve no more than a wave of the hand.

  377. Peter Lalor

    re: Gish galloping

    Exhibit A: Terry Krieg above.

    Interesting you mention Plimer in the same post:

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

    Massimo Pigliucci, who has debated Gish five times, noted that Gish ignores evidence contrary to his religious beliefs.[10] Others have accused Gish of stonewalling arguments with fabricated facts or figures.[11]

    Ian Plimer, head of the Geology department at the University of Newcastle, Australia, debated Gish in 1988. Plimer considered the debate to be political rather than scientific, and thus refused to argue genteelly about scientific minutiae. Instead, Plimer debated Gish in a street-fighting style which a Sydney Morning Herald reporter described as going in “boots and all, aiming for the opponents kneecaps”. “Professor Plimer mocked, ridiculed and challenged every tenet that the movement holds dear, and made a string of blunt personal accusations about some of its more prominent members.”[12]

  378. Are the Denialists really pushing climategate still? If anyone mentions “Hide the decline” I’ll simply vomit out their illiteracy. There’s this thing Year 7 High School kids learn in English called *context*.

    As for the accusations of manipulation of data…

    “After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee could not make a definitive finding whether there exists any evidence to substantiate that Dr. Mann did engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that deviated from accepted practices within the academic community,” reads the report. This final point will now be at the centre of a further investigation.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18474-us-climategate-scientist-all-but-cleared-of-misconduct.html

    But of course, New Scientist is in on the conspiracy theory! (Runs away to put on Tinfoil hat and rub myself in Vegemite to scare off the aliens).

  379. Ewen,
    Re the clearing of Mann’s name by an internal university enquiry. Sounds a bit like the internal inquiries that our Australian police forces are famous for. I would have thought that an outside body would have been a better option for the enquiry. Has Jones also been cleared? Likening me to Gish is a bit over the top. When teaching geology back in the 70s, I invited the local Creationist Crazy to speak to my class. The kids thought he was nuts as you and I both do. And as for being a troll. I’ve been out of the cave for years or do you mean that I like to trail some bait in the hope of catching a fish. You’re starting to sound a bit intolerant indeed, self-righteous. I guess you’re a bit frustrated with having to continue to air your superior knowledge and understanding of AGW to nongs like me. Could it possibly be that the believers have it wrong, despite all of the “evidence” that you appear to know? When you reply, try hard not to insult me. Meanwhile try hhtp://joshfulton.blogspot.com/2010/02/75-reasons-to-be-skeptical-of-global.html. Sorry it’s not a study which answers your two demands, but it comes in the hope that you will not dismiss it out of hand as more ‘denier trolling” and that maybe, just maybe, a couple of points will strike a chord and give you pause for thought. And as for Plimer, he’s an arrogant sod and his book is “Hell” to read, being mostly footnotes. But when he was taken to court on the ‘Creationist” issue some years ago, I sent him $100 [in response to a call from Phillip Adams] to help fight his cause. He’s not all bad and you can’t dismiss all of his arguments out of hand. After reading Heaven and Earth, I shifted from agnostic to denier where I still reside. But my mind is still open. Is yours Ewen?

  380. Terry,
    if you’re open to scientific input on “Heaven and Earth” have you even bothered to read the counter-arguments?

    Just because climate science is *complex*, and sometimes even counter-intuitive, doesn’t mean it is *wrong*.

    Plimer’s book review:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/ian-plimer-heaven-and-earth/story-e6frg8no-1225710387147

    One such document that arrived last week was Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth. What makes this case unusual is that Plimer is a professor — of mining geology — at the University of Adelaide. If the subject were anything less serious than the future habitability of the planet Earth, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of writing this review.
    Plimer sets out to refute the scientific consensus that human emissions of CO2 have changed the climate. He states in his acknowledgments that the book evolved from a dinner in London with three young lawyers who believed the consensus. As Plimer writes: “Although these three had more than adequate intellectual material to destroy the popular paradigm, they had neither the scientific knowledge nor the scientific training to pull it apart stitch by stitch. This was done at dinner.”

    This is a remarkable claim. If Plimer is right and he is able to show that the work of literally thousands of oceanographers, solar physicists, biologists, atmospheric scientists, geologists, and snow and ice researchers during the past 100 years is fundamentally flawed, then it would rank as one of the greatest discoveries of the century and would almost certainly earn him a Nobel prize. This is the scale of Plimer’s claim.

    Before reading any further, I examined Plimer’s publication list on the University of Adelaide website to see what he has published in refereed journals. There are a scant 17 such papers since 1994, two as first author with the titles “Manganoan garnet rocks associated with the Broken Hill Pb-Zn-Ag orebody” and “Kasolite from the British Empire Mine”. Absolutely nothing on climate science.
    Now, before I am accused of attacking the man and not the argument, let me point out that scientists regard peer-reviewed journal publications as fundamental for advancing science. They allow ideas to be exchanged, tested, improved on and, quite frequently, discarded. If Plimer can do what he claims, and can prove that human emissions of CO2 have no effect on the climate, then he owes it to the scientific community and, in fact, humanity, to publish his arguments in a refereed journal.

    Perhaps we will find a stitch-by-stitch demolition of climate science in his book, as promised? No such luck. The arguments that Plimer advances in the 503 pages and 2311 footnotes in Heaven and Earth are nonsense. The book is largely a collection of contrarian ideas and conspiracy theories that are rife in the blogosphere. The writing is rambling and repetitive; the arguments flawed and illogical.
    He recycles a graph, without attribution, from Martin Durkin’s Great Global Warming Swindle documentary, neglecting even to make the changes that Durkin made following an outcry over the fact that the past two decades of temperature measurements had been mysteriously deleted.

    Plimer claims that scientists such as himself, who do not agree with the consensus, are labelled deniers, “yet their scientific doubts are not addressed”. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of Plimer’s arguments have been addressed ad nauseam by patient climate scientists on websites or in the literature.
    To appreciate the errors in Plimer’s book you don’t have to be a climate scientist. For example, take the measurement of the global average CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. This is obviously important, so scientists measure it with great care at many locations across the world.
    Precision measurements have been made daily since 1958 at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, a mountain-top site with a clear airflow unaffected by local pollution. The data is in excellent agreement with ice cores from several sites in Antarctica and Greenland. Thousands of scientific papers have been written on the topic, hundreds of scientists are involved from many independent research groups.

    Plimer, however, writes that a simple home experiment indoors can show that in a week, CO2 can vary by 75 parts per million by volume, equal to about 40 years’ worth of change at the present rate. He thinks this “rings alarm bells” on the veracity of the Mauna Loa data, which shows a smoothly rising concentration.
    While it is undoubtedly true that if you measure CO2 in your home it could vary by large amounts from day to day — depending, for example, on whether you have the windows open or closed, or how many people are in the house at the time — this is not the right way to measure a global average. That’s why scientists go to mountain-tops or Antarctica or to the isolated Cape Grimm on the Tasmanian coast rather than measuring CO2 in their living rooms.
    Incredible as it may seem, this quality of argument is typical of the book. While the text is annotated profusely with footnotes and refers to papers in the top journals, thus giving it the veneer of scholarship, it is often the case that the cited articles do not support the text. Plimer repeatedly veers off to the climate sceptic’s journal of choice, the bottom-tier Energy and Environment, to advance all manner of absurd theories: for example, that CO2 concentrations actually have fallen since 1942.

    Plimer believes “global warming” occurring on Mars, Triton, Jupiter and Pluto proves human emissions of CO2 don’t affect Earth’s climate. He believes that once CO2 levels reached 200ppmv (about half of today’s value) the CO2 had absorbed almost all the infrared energy it could, and further increases will not have much effect. He believes global warming does not lead to biological stress. He believes volcanoes emit significant quantities of chlorofluorocarbons. He believes the sun formed on the collapsed core of a supernova. All these ideas are so wrong as to be laughable: they do not offer an “alternative scientific perspective”.
    Plimer probably didn’t expect an astronomer to review his book. I couldn’t help noticing on page120 an almost word-for-word reproduction of the abstract from a well-known loony paper entitled “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass”. This paper argues that the sun isn’t composed of 98 per cent hydrogen and helium, as astronomers have confirmed through a century of observation and theory, but is instead similar in composition to a meteorite.

    It is hard to understate the depth of scientific ignorance that the inclusion of this information demonstrates. It is comparable to a biologist claiming that plants obtain energy from magnetism rather than photosynthesis.

    Plimer has done an enormous disservice to science, and the dedicated scientists who are trying to understand climate and the influence of humans, by publishing this book. It is not “merely” atmospheric scientists that would have to be wrong for Plimer to be right. It would require a rewriting of biology, geology, physics, oceanography, astronomy and statistics. Plimer’s book deserves to languish on the shelves along with similar pseudo-science such as the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Daniken.

  381. Terry Krieg, on 20 March 2010 at 10.09 Said:

    “But my mind is still open. Is yours Ewen?”

    The notion of ‘keeping and open mind’ arises so often in the context of these types of debate that it warrants separate discussion. Time and time again, someone is scolding us to ‘keep an open mind’ or some similar phrase. The implication is that an open mind is a characteristic of the fair, the reasonable and the intelligent. By implication, anyone who does not have an open mind is unfair and unreasonable, and hence their views can be dismissed. This is nonsense.

    An open mind is appropriate in situations where we have no good evidence one way or the other, it means not looking at evidence with prejudiced. It does not mean giving every hypothesis equal weight.

    In cases where prior knowledge is available, the alternative to ‘an open mind’ is not ‘a closed mind.’ It is ‘an informed mind’ or ‘an analytical mind,’ In such contexts, any appeal to ‘keep an open mind’ is an appeal to prefer ignorance over knowledge. This is not advisable.

  382. Terry Krieg, on 19 March 2010 at 17.53 — Using HadCRUv3, the last 15 years has a 19:1 chance of warming trend; using GISTEMP instead, the last 15 years has at least a 20:1 chancge of a warming trend, i.e., statistically significant. But even using HadCRUv3 and the last 16 years the warming trend is statistically significant. You’ve been had I fear.

    As for reasonable lengths of time, 13 decades, one easily sees that the excess CO2 accounts for almost al of the observed variance:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/whatevergate/comment-page-23/#comment-164509

    I recommend reading “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    after reading Andy Revkin’s review:

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E7DF153DF936A35753C1A9659C8B63

  383. DV8 spoke well above but added:

    In such contexts, any appeal to ‘keep an open mind’ is an appeal to prefer ignorance over knowledge.

    Giving knowledge and frivolous speculation equal value would have been both right and more in keeping with your argument.

    Mr Krieg has a bet each way of course. He wants to claim an open mind but expalined his transition from “believer” (ugh!) to “agnostic” (double ugh!) to “sKeptic” (the wholy trinity for those who try to sneak in the demier meme that AGW is like a religion).

    In this discourse, “believer” asserts the Crichton smear, “agnostic” is just “skeptic” with a trolling figleaf and skeptic is dissembling to cover the fact that their minds are culturally fixated on business and culture-as-usual.

    Again, Mr Krieg is clearly trolling.

  384. Thanks David Benson. I enjoyed the discussion with Charlie Chutney, Ray etc. Ewen, I read the critique by the astrophysicist on Heaven and Earth’ It sure was a fairly comprehensive demolition job. I saw it when first printed. I take it that he and you have junked the entire piece as nonsense. I think it a bit dangerous to write it off like that. I take it that you did not and will not check the link I sent mainly because it wasn’t a peer reviewed scientific study. However, it did arrive courtesy of two co-retirees one a scientist who worked at Lucas Heights [I've been there] and a former professor who taught reactor and nuclear physics. I visited LH with him a few years ago. We’re all AGW “deniers” and advocates of nuclear power for Australia and that’s what I spend most of my time researching and speaking and teaching about, within my own limited capabilities, and since turning pro nuclear in 1981 while on teacher exchange in Canada. And as I’ll be away from my computer for the next 10 days[I don't have a laptop], I’ll have to excuse myself from this and Barry’s other blogs. I’ll hopefully catch up on my return. And despite the advice from Ewen about “open mind” -”denier”-”skeptic” [ugh,ugh,ugh], I shall continue my search for the truth about whether or not it’s our CO2 emissions in recent years which are producing the obvious warming which I acknowledge is occurring. There are far too many scientists that don’t believe AGW for my liking and I’m staying with them until I’m persuaded otherwise. Aaarrrggghhh. You’ll like that I’m sure Ewen.

  385. I think it a bit dangerous to write it off like that.
    No, not at all. Even I can debunk some of the arguments this guy makes, and I’m not even very technical. Straw-men are straw-men, whatever your qualifications.

    I take it that you did not and will not check the link I sent mainly because it wasn’t a peer reviewed scientific study. However, it did arrive courtesy of two co-retirees one a scientist who worked at Lucas Heights [I've been there] and a former professor who taught reactor and nuclear physics.
    Correct, I will not be checking the links because again, no matter what their level of qualification, when scientists take alternatives to the peer reviewed process, something stinks. And that’s whether they are blogging or making money selling books like “Heaven and Earth”. And Plimer has the gall to accuse thousands of climatologists of peddling crap for self-interested financial gain, when he’s the one who can’t get peer reviewed and is selling a book outside of the normal scientific process.

    Yeah, pull the other one mate, it plays jingle bells!

  386. Note the shift … now Mr Krieg stops self-describing as a skeptic and uses the more accurate term, denier.

    Open mind? It’s hard to see how this could be so for him.

    So is the evidentiary base sufficient for others? It is for me. Krieg is simply trolling.

    The prosecution rests …

  387. Terry Krieg, on 20 March 2010 at 15.37 — Well, if you actually bothered to read Weart’s book you would discover just how long everybody [how has actually studied the matter] has been certain about the role of CO2 in global warming.

    But stay with the flat-earthers as long as you can, I guess.

  388. Ewen Laver

    Your quote on 19 March is an interesting about the “debate” between Ian Plimer and Duane Gish. I am not surprised that Plimer did not argue about scientific details. Ridicule and personal attacks seem to be more his style. How many creationists were won over by Plimer? My guess is zero. The concept of a creationist saying “Plimer really got me thinking about the validity of my beliefs” is difficult to conceive, at least in my mind. The scientific community loved Plimer for attacking creationism because they did not want to think about it. Polarisation was all that was accomplished.

    There needs to be a large paradigm shift for a creationist to change views, but this is possible if they think enough about the science. Creationists start fighting among themselves when trying to find the start and end of supposed deposits from Noah’s Flood. In particular, one could ask for an explanation of where the geology of the Flood ends in the south of Israel and how the deposits fit in with the biblical history of the area. Another issue is that fossil footprints occur throughout the fossil record from the first appearance of vertebrates and this is hard to explain. One in particular likes drawing attention to deposits with mixtures of marine and terrestrial fossils, the kind one would expect after a “local” catastrophic event, and to attribute them to a global catastrophe, but this takes the particular layer out of context of having multiple events before and after. Creationists are vulnerable if science is addressed in a way that understands and challenges their paradigm.

    Sorry for this diversion, but I want to make the point that change is possible with a reasoned approach. Timed debates and public confrontations do not help settle the issues.

    I am not sure that the critics of AGW want agreement. As long as there is division in society they can stall any adequate response to the emissions problem and business can continue as usual. The world needs to work together to achieve solutions.

  389. Well, there’s more at stake for a Creationist to give up their ‘science’ than a Denialist to give up their ‘science’. The sad fact is that many Creationists think that if they give up Creationism, they give up any evidence for Christianity. But as far as I can tell it is a strawman to attack Christianity on a literal understanding of Creationism, as this is simply not required! It is more based upon the person and works and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth than an incorrect, literalistic reading of Genesis!

    Most mainstream Anglican leaders I know assert a more “Framework” view of Genesis, which, put simply, sees Genesis as a provocative reaction to the creation narratives in surrounding cultures. Genesis both asserts it’s own agenda’s, and corrects or ‘marks’ the surrounding narratives like the Babylonian creation myth of the Enuma Elish, with Marduk splitting the chaos water-goddess Tiamet into 2 halves, and one half becomes the earth and the other the sun (or was that the moon?)

    Whereas in Genesis, God merely speaks and the waters are divided. There’s no war or battle between the Gods to divide the waters, as there is only one God.

    Basically, to understand Genesis properly one has to read the pre-existing works of the cultures surrounding the ancient Hebrews and compare and contrast to see what a clever polemic it is! Comparing it with Darwinism and sneering is like trying to critique Shakespeare with Quantum Mechanics…. might make an interesting Phd for a bit of fun, but not really what Shakespeare was all about!

    For more, see my favourite article on the subject by a friend of mine with a Phd in History, Dr John Dickson.

    http://www.iscast.org/journal/articles/Dickson_J_2008-03_Genesis_Of_Everything.pdf

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

    It all reminds me of the bizarre manner in which RealScientist sneered at Global Warming because the Earth has previously recovered from higher levels of Co2. Milankovitch cycles? Nah, he just sneers at them without understanding the context of the complex scientific argument. But just because something is complex does not mean it is wrong.

  390. Pingback: The gentle art of interrogation « BraveNewClimate

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