Nuclear century outlook – crystal ball gazing by the WNA

I’ve talked recently on BNC about various recent energy plans. which seek to replace fossil fuels with low-carbon alternatives. On the whole, I’ve been left dissatisfied. For instance, there was the Scientific American article ‘A path to sustainable energy by 2030‘ (technology = renewables only, critiqued by me here) and the UK Royal Academy of Engineering study Generating the future: UK energy systems fit for 2050 (technology = renewables + nuclear, critiqued here). Neither pass muster, even when evaluated on general principles.

In this post, I’ll describe a third study. It provides a contrast to the other two, because it doesn’t start with the (preordained) premise that renewables and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage WILL together do the heavy lifting. Instead, it focuses on nuclear power deployment as the primary ‘decarbonisation silver bullet’ (although other techs do play a role — perhaps an overly generous one at that). This energy map was developed by the World Nuclear Association and is called the ‘Nuclear Century Outlook‘ (NCO).

The NCO projects out 90 years, to the year 2100 — I use the term ‘project’ loosely, as really, any forecast that stretches beyond about two decades will axiomatically fall into the ‘crystal ball gazing’ category. But that’s not meant to dismiss the value in such an exercise (or others that attempt to take the long-term view). I just want to make it clear that any such long-term projection represent a ‘storyline’ (sensu IPCC SRES) rather than a ‘prediction’.

The aim of the NCO is to conceptualize nuclear power’s potential worldwide growth in the 21st Century, based on country-by-country low/high build-out assessments. Nationally aggregated data are given in tabular form here, for 2030, 2060 and 2100.  The figures in this table are updated as new information comes to hand (for instance China recently upgraded their 2030 forecast from 150 to 200 GWe, and India’s 2060 goal from 350 to 500 GWe). The low/high projections are considered boundaries of a possible domain, with “low reflecting the minimum nuclear capacity expected and the high assuming a full policy commitment to nuclear power“. The forecast includes nations that currently use nuclear power, those which have expressed intention to entering the market (e.g. UAE, Egypt, Poland, Turkey) and potential future entrants (including Australia and Italy). Here is the overall projection:

As you can see, the domain (in green) is wide (!), with the lower bound approaching 2 TWe by 2100, and the high bound being >11 TWe (that’s the equivalent of 11,000 reactors, worldwide, of the size of an AP1000). To quote:

This order-of-magnitude estimate of future Clean-Energy Need gains credence from an alternative calculation. Today the IEA judges that that nuclear power’s 370 GW represent 6.3% of world primary energy consumption. If so, world energy consumption corresponds to the output from 5,875 Nuclear GW. If total primary energy consumption doubles by 2050, 85% of energy must be supplied by clean technologies in order to attain a 70% GHG cut from 2000 levels. On that basis, Clean-Energy Need in 2050 would be 9,990 Nuclear GW.

Here’s how the projections line up with the NCO’s anticipated demand curve (which factors in population growth and some serious energy efficiency):

Bold stuff, no doubt. Here’s my brief take — we can explore the pros/cons of the forecast further in the comments section.

Important features of the NCO include its explicit recognition of the need to deal urgently with the climate problem (and associated issues of environmental degradation), and the imperatives of a relatively rapid replacement of transportation fuels, whilst meeting the changing needs of the developing world. Some problems include a lack of transparency about how the low/high scenarios were parameterised, and overall, a lack of ambition for some countries — and for the worldwide 2050 target — which stands in juxtaposition to the grand ‘vision’ goals (in short, 3.7 TWe by 2060 just ain’t gonna cut it fellas). At least they admit the problem of this ‘clean-energy gap’ in the period 2000 to 2080 (red area of the above chart) — it’s just a pity they don’t really seek a way to plug it.

One underlying problem with the NCO forecast — a problem that is common to all large-scale energy outlooks I’ve seen — is the lack of explicit detail about technology type/role and their relative contribution to overall system reliability. Like other plans like those cited at the top of this post, the NCO also sets aside the (ultimately crucial) question of cost – which makes it difficult to assess feasibility and likelihood. Now don’t get me wrong — I can understand their reticence to tackle this thorny problem.  The ‘nuclear renaissance’ might well be gearing up big time, but hasn’t really produced the goods yet, and this makes ‘settled down costs’ tough to gauge, even for Gen III nuclear power, let alone Gen IV. But leaving economics out does beg the question of how realistic it is assess relative fractions of nuclear vs fossil-CCS and ‘new renewables’. Indeed, it might be that some technologies never even make it to the starting gate, let alone see major commercial deployment, if allowed to compete on a cost-levelised playing field. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind. On that point, I’m co-authoring a technical paper with Martin Nicholson (lead author) on this very topic at present, which we plan to submit to a peer-reviewed journal within a month or so.

What of the technological mix WITHIN the nuclear domain? For instance, what is the likely proportion of Gen II, Gen III and Gen IV technologies, and how will that mix of contributions change over time? Which of the current Gen III designs will see the major deployment in the 2010 to 2030 period? What would such a massive nuclear build-out mean for uranium demand? How might nuclear power growth rates be constrained (or otherwise) by the availability of fissile material? On these seemingly rather important points, the NCO is, alas, silent. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to make an informed guess as to the answers…

In an upcoming post I’ll try to do just that (for a teaser, read this and this), and will propose a plan that’s even bolder than the NCO high scenario. But, before I write more on this technology breakdown, I need to add one more post, on fissile inventories, to the IFR Facts & Discussion series. That’s next.

Okay, for now, I want to hear your view on the NCO storyline. Shoot.

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460 Comments

  1. Well I find their upper bounds in particular somewhat overly optimistic, although I suppose that can be expected to some extent from a WNA document. However a concern that I have been writing about elsewhere, is not the potential limiting factor from a shortage of fuel, but with a shortage of skills, which at every level, are more difficult to develop on short timescales.

    It is not just at the engineering level that we are about to face a crisis in skills, and with all due respect to my engineer colleagues, these others will be harder to replace. Worse, from a nuclear energy perspective, most of these are skills that cross several technology domains, and thus not only will there be competition for them within the nuclear industry, but with other high tech industries as well.

    This simply can’t be swept under the table, nor can the West count on back-filling these trades and skills with imported labor. All ready two Chinese friends of mine, who risked everything to get out of Hong Kong before it was repatriated to China, ‘to give their kids a better chance in a free country, ‘ are watching their Western educated, Chinese speaking sons, leave to go back – to where the action is. Point being that we cannot depend on emigration to fix manpower shortsightedness as we have in the past.

    This is going to have to be addressed, quickly before the generation that can train them goes into retirement (or dies) or not being able to build reactors is going to be just one of a series of industrial problems we will be facing.

  2. Barry, it is hard to comment…or to know which to comment on: your analysis of the report or the report itself. I will choose the latter.

    I think even projecting an unchanging increase in *load* is awfully optimistic. It’s based on HUGE assumptions about the stability of the worlds political economy. In this area I am NOT optimistic. However…

    I think one can be MORE optimistic than the lower double digit nuclear share WNA projects. Why? Because the WNA, even though giving lip service to Generation IV, hasn’t EVERY internalized in a report the *potential* for LFTR and/or IFRs.

    I’ve written extensively on the 100% “Thorium Economy”. I’m sure the method could be transferred to the IFR as well. If WNA were to think ‘outside the box’ not in projections of the LWR technology (“Gen IV PWRs”) toward breeders in a serious way (IFR or LFTR) then even their 100 years out projections might seem anemic.

    BTW…it’s not crystal ball gazing beyond 20 years. If you look at the Indians, Koreans, Japanese and, of course, the Chinese, this is exactly what they have done. They generally project out 40 to 50 years VERY seriously. It’s way their national planning actually works, what guides their investment policies in terms of infrastructure and allows them to do what they do.

    It’s a policy so-called “Western” countries (except Japan) have generally not done for quite a long time (the last serious US venture in this was the Interstate Highway System planned for in the early 1950s). The US had a “2000 by 2000″ plan for nuclear, politics and economy intervened. But we should all look out to at least 2050.

    D. Walters

  3. It’s hard to see the high NP scenario getting off the ground. The current policy seems to be to hang on to coal as long as possible then switch to gas hoping the public will accept the price increases. The joker in the pack is liquid hydrocarbon fuel. Looming shortages could slow everything down and gas demand will be torn between stationary generation and transport. I don’t see electric cars being of much benefit to ‘spaced out’ Australia. I think WNA is off the mark with hydrogen fuel cells with hydrogenated carbon synfuel being more likely.

    What I fear is that far from expanding the world middle class will actually shrink. Those literally left out in the cold will enact a heavy price so it will be impossible to secure anything like 11,000 large NPPs. So I’m torn between two views expressed in yesterdays’s media; James Lovelock says we’re doomed regardless and the Reserve Bank Governor says it’s gonna be OK.

  4. In the current (political) climate, the WNA document sounds more
    like a rallying call
    for the troops than a plan. In Australia, its becoming clear that Rudd doesn’t
    think he can win a climate election so is positioning on Health. Obama’s
    nuclear loan guarantee announcement made it clear that he was being
    driven primarily by national pride and fear of being left behind on a technology
    than climate concerns. Is fixing the climate on top of anybody’s todo list?
    Sorry but my mood is rather despondent today :(

  5. Even given cost-leveled playing fields, how is any plan to be funded or financed?

    In my opinion, that is where the needed energy revolution (among other problems) is being held back: hang-ups about economics. There is an extreme difficulty raising capital for multitudes of large worthy projects for some time now. Also, supposing they occur, worldwide energy plans are going to be so large that they would affect the economy as a whole hugely.

    Small actors, making individual decisions, any one of which doesn’t greatly affect the whole, seems to be the economic model understood best (or is easiest to analyse and predict). Capital flows into markets that behave in this way. But that doesn’t describe very well a rapid wide-scale transformation of the energy economy.

  6. DV82XL:

    You are sceptical about the practicality of reaching the nuclear upper bounds stated in the Report that Barry discussed. Meanwhile, Barry regards them as being insufficiently ambitious.

    Your reasons for scepticism relate to lack of skilled personnel, but I think this lack only obtains if we continue with the economic/political model that presently exists. To get to the capacity desired will clearly require something different. Going on to a war footing is a term often used to describe what it would take to achieve the energy transition necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. The effort, furthermore, would need to be global. Admittedly, there is little indication to date that the world’s leaders are yet ready to take this step. However, were they to be so, would you still believe that the upper bounds couldn’t be breached? Alternatively, do you discount the AGW concerns of the likes of Barry as alarmist?

    FWIW, my own view is that if we lack the ambition to make an all out maximum effort very soon, we might as well not bother at all because the civilisation as we know it will crash , rendering us powerless to make even the “realistic” progress that you seem to think possible. Given my respect for your technical knowledge, I, like Geoff Russell, find your current conclusions very depressing. I am left to hope that you are wrong.

  7. Douglas Wise

    This is why massive projects have to be done by the young – they’re generally successful at these things because they’re too stupid to know it can’t be done.

    Less facetiously, the possibility of getting the planet on a war footing over this can only come from a groundswell of support from the masses. I hope that this will manifest itself in tme, but it’s not going to happen unless there are more of us pushing the idea on the streets. That is where I have always believed this fight will be won or lost, because it is painfully apparent, it won’t be coming from the top down.

  8. Barry, A nuclear buildout can proceed at a far faster pace than almost anyone now believes. It is quite conceivable that 80% of American electricity could be produced by nuclear power by 2030, if a large LFTR factory were to come on line by 2020. This would be quite possible, were a mini-Manhattan Project crash development program undertaken by 2012.

    A IFR buildout might be slower, because much larger start up charges would be required. In addition, IFR manufacture is likely to take more time and be more expensive, but surely the IFR would reach the same goal before 2040. The same stipulation, a mini-Manhatten project would probably also be required to produce a commercial IFR by 2020. It should be noted that the Indians plan to build as many as 160 GWe worth of fast reactors by 2050-60.

  9. I believe that is possible too Charles, but I also think the chances of that happening under the conditions that currently exist, and over the objections of the fossil-fuel lobby, highly unlikely. barring a massive public demand, as I said above.

    We can argue the logic until we are blue in the face (and in our case we have) but it will never move the powers-that-be to launch a program. Only until we can threaten the seats of enough elected representatives of government to the point where they are assured of political death for failing to support such an initiative will we be successful.

    Until that happens we are howling at the Moon.

  10. DV82XL, i expect that we may soon see a change as society is forcefully confronted with an existential choice, by a run of very hot years. Once the climate trend become more evident, expectations and behaviors will change.

  11. DV82XL,

    The reason we are “howling at the moon” is we want:

    1. clean elnergy

    2. low cost, and

    3. near infinite safety.

    We vcan have 1 and 2 but not with 3 as well.

    So we need to work out our priorities.

    I think 3 is ridiculous.

    I also think we will continue to howl at the moon for as long as we avoid addressing the main factor (cost) that most people are concerneda about.

    I agree with you about the need develop the skills. That is why I say this has to start by a federal budget line item to set up the faculties in each mainland university.

    But, if we cant tackle the key problem – cost – we will be howling at the moon for a very long time.

    We can tackle the cost, but there is little interest. The alternative of aising the price of carbon is going to be fraught with problems for ever.

  12. I agree with Douglas Wise that going on a war footing will be necessary to get non polluting electrical generation up and running on an urgent time scale.

    But let’s just leave the global scale out of it.You are never going to get agreement on virtually anything at the global level.It is more than enough to get what is required at the national level.

    I am no supporter of either of the major parties but I am increasingly seeing Abbot as being the least worst option in the coming federal election.

    It just maybe that he is enough of a Mad Monk to make the difficult decisions and take the road less travelled.

    Almost anything would be better than the Ruddbot & clones.

  13. Impediments to low cost nuclear:

    1. anti nuclear policies in each state and federal government

    2. Regulations and incentives favouring renewables, coal and gas

    a. Mandatory Renewable Energy targets
    b. Feed in tariffs
    c. Direct subsidies
    d. Grants to research establishments
    e. Funding of CSIRO, CEEN ANU Solar and similar such renewable energy groups in most major universities

    3. lack of education facilities for nuclear

    4. lack of skills

    5. Lack of clear support from our political leaders

    6. Ridiculous safety requirements imposed on nuclear power, world wide.

    a. We require a nuclear plant to withstand high earth quake loads and a direct impact of an aircraft
    b. Yet we don’t require the same of a football stadium, or large public buildings, nor of the many highly dangerous chemical facilities that are cited throughout our cities
    c. An air crat crashing into any of these or a major earthquake would do far more damage – immediate and long term – than a radiation release from an nuclear power station
    d. But the population does not understand this
    e. That is why we need education.

  14. Spot on Podargus. I agree, Tony Abbott is our best option to possibly make some progress in getting the nuclear power bandwagon going. In one of my letters to him, I challenged him to get nuclear power generation in the Coalition policy platform. . In his reply, he noted that ” Energy sector assessments indicate that nuclear power is not an affordable option for Australia at this time given the numerous energy alternatives available to us thanks to our nation’s range of resources. That said, I am happy to see an honest debate on the future potential for nuclear power in Australia.” He’s a better bet than Rudd even though he seems to believe that the renewables, efficiencies, CCs etc are going to be our saviour. I replied that I was disappointed that he could go no further than saying he was happy to have a debate on nuclear power. I also contacted Isobel Redmond with the same challenge in the lead up to the recent state election. As you know, Rann survived and so nuclear will continue to get the thumbs down in SA. However, I shall keep at Redmond and by the time of the next election, I’m hoping that she and her party will have nuclear power in their policy platform and that the people, by then, will be ready to give it a go. I’ll be writing to all other premiers as well on the issue. I’m now half way through my 20 year campaign to get nuclear power in Australia. Could some of you others please get stuck into our politicians and urge them to get their heads out of the sand and understand that nuclear is the energy of the future and that with the biggest uranium reserves and the world’s best waste burial site [both in SA] on the planet that it’s incumbent on Australia to do better than just making yellowcake for the rest of the world to generate greenhouse free energy.

  15. Well said Peter Lang. There’s a huge list of impediments for an Australian nuclear future, including cost. That has not stopped an additional 20 countries who are busy now building nuclear reactors however. That’ll make 53 countries with nuclear power in five years. They’re all going or increasing nuclear for two reasons, secure energy supply without greenhouse emissions. Let’s keep pointing this out to our politicians and the people. Eventually the penny will drop.

  16. All the things you list are very pertinent, but in the end nothing is going to change except from the bottom up. The message needs to get out that nuclear is a viable option, and we don’t have to go around the hard way all the time ether.

    I recall questions being raised over the Churchill River power projects, built by Hydro-Quebec in Labrador. When asked about the payback issues, a government of Quebec spokesman pointed out that as long a water ran through the scroll-case and the turbines spun, the project would pay for itself and any interest incurred eventually.

    We can repackage this same message when we are fielding cost arguments about nuclear.

    This is not to say the other factors you listed can be ignored, but we can push back a bit with our own rhetoric too.

  17. Terry K I’ve just spoken to a dozen Safstrines visiting Tas. They all know that Cooper Basin gas and Leigh Creek coal are doubtful long term. They didn’t seem to know about 10% windpower c.f. in heat waves. They seem to think that tropical storms in Queensland will always put water back in the Murray. As for industry there will be electric Holdens, more diesel submarines (seaworthy this time) and immigration. For now they don’t want to think about the nuclear industry.

    However I sense that SA public opinion could shift. In July seems likely Rann and Garrett will reward the true believers by effectively nixing the Olympic Dam expansion. As it happens I agree that the proposed Whyalla desal for OD is in the wrong place; it should be on the Bight. I note when the owners of Mucakaty NT visited ANSTO they seemed receptive to even high level waste storage, another loss to SA. If the proposal goes ahead to export uranium-copper concentrate to China some might see this as ‘value subtracting’. If Rann maintains his anti-nuclear stance I doubt he will get back next time.

  18. DV82XL

    You said

    All the things you list are very pertinent, but in the end nothing is going to change except from the bottom up. The message needs to get out that nuclear is a viable option, and we don’t have to go around the hard way all the time ether.

    and

    This is not to say the other factors you listed can be ignored, but we can push back a bit with our own rhetoric too

    I hear you. However …

    To be very clear, we can take two routes to clean electricity:

    1. the high cost route, or

    2. the low cost route

    1. The high cost route entails: raising the cost of carbon by government intervention. This assists CCS, and renewables. These technologies will be encouraged. There will be more of what has been going on for the past two decades – delay and avoidance. The often repeated line by people like Mark Diesendorf and David Mills: “Just give us more money and wind and solar power will be economic any day now” will be more frequent. The higher the price of carbon, the more will be the call “were nearly economic now, just gove us a bit more”. This can continue for decades. And while this is going on, there will no be a real determination to investigate and remove the impediments to nuclear.

    2. The low cost route entails: Educating the public about the costs and benefits of nuclear, reducing the impediments to nuclear and removing the subsidies and regulations and polices that favour fossil fuels and renewable energy. We will also need to assist nuclear with loan guarantees until we get past the FOAK period. This is justified because

    a) the high cost of nuclear is a result of actions imposed by societies decisions over a period of four decades, and

    b) we’ve been doing exactly the same with fossil fuels and renewable energy for several decades – who realises for example that nuclear power in Germany subsidises coal mining, coal power stations and renewable energy? How ludicrous is that?

  19. Peter Lang writes that the low cost route to clean electricity entails “removing the subsidies and regulations and polices that favour … renewable energy.” I find this appalling. Even if nuclear energy proves to be safe, can deal satisfactorily with its waste and security problems, and can do it at a reasonable cost – three big IFs – renewable energy will always be preferable. We should be encouraging R’n’D into this and other areas as a matter of principle, just as research into and development of nuclear energy has received enormous government assistance in the past (and will demand it in the future).

  20. Goodness me Martin, nuclear waste is and has been handled safely and securely ever since it was first generated back in the 1950′s. It has NEVER killed anyone nor will it. The IAEA however wants to get it off the surface and safely underground. Years of research have shown that the Officer Basin in the SA desert is the best place on the planet to bury it. High grade nuclear materials including waste have been shipped across the oceans since the 1960′s with never an accident that leaked nuclear materials into the environment. On secutity problems, no one to my knowledge has ever fired a nuclear weapon at anybody else since 1945 when the US wiped out Hiroshima/Nagasaki. Interesting that the Japanese have got over that and now have 53 nuclear reactors producing power for their people. Martin, you are dead wrong in your claim of enormous subsidies for nuclear power. The big subsidies have and are being directed to the totally inadequate, dilute, discontinuous renewables which will NEVER meet base load needs. I’ve driven past wind farms on 10 occasions since November on my way to Adelaide. On only two occasions were the rotors working. NO WIND EQUALS NO POWER. When are our misguided governments going to wake up.

  21. Martin said:

    Even if nuclear energy proves to be safe, can deal satisfactorily with its waste and security problems, and can do it at a reasonable cost – three big IFs – renewable energy will always be preferable

    On what basis? Why would it be preferable, especially given that renewables can’t meet the standards needed for modern industrial societies at acceptable cost?

  22. Hi Martin,

    I’ve had a glass of wine, so can’t resist another reply to your comment.

    Peter Lang writes that the low cost route to clean electricity entails “removing the subsidies and regulations and polices that favour … renewable energy.” I find this appalling. Even if nuclear energy proves to be safe, can deal satisfactorily with its waste and security problems, and can do it at a reasonable cost – three big IFs – renewable energy will always be preferable. We should be encouraging R’n’D into this and other areas as a matter of principle, …

    In previous articles and posts on BNC I have argued the following:

    1. There is no shortage of uranium. As we need more we will explore for more, our mining and exploration methods will improve. When the cost gets too high we will extract uranium from phosphate, fly ash, sea water and move to Gen IV power plants which will run for ever on the uranium we have minded for ever

    2. There is no real problem with used nuclear fuel (waste to some). It is just public perception problem.

    3. Nuclear is already 10 to 100 times safer than coal, and we accept coal at its current level of safety. So why are we demanding that nuclear be so much safer? This is irrational.

    4. Electricity at least cost is our moral responsibility. Raising the cost of electrcity by government intervention is morally wrong.

    5. Therefore, subsidising and mandating renewable energy in production is morally wrong. Renewable energy is only preferable if it is cheaper (on a life cycle basis of comparison).

    6. Renewables have and still are receiving far higher levels of funding for R&D than nuclear on a per MWh electricity generated basis and on a Return on Investment basis. This is the only fair way to do the comparison. Furthermore, renewables are receiving massive subsidies for production and nuclear none. Solar PV is receiving massive subsidies for the initial investment and on top of this is receiving subsidies for the electricity generated that are 10 to 15 times the cost of electricity from a coal fired power station (nuclear should be cheaper if all impediments were removed).

  23. Peter Lang:

    Nuclear power can be produced cheaply or expensively as you suggest. The price is principally determined by up front costs (more so now that enrichment efficiency has been vastly improved). I think we can probably all agree with that.

    So, if you want a discussion, let’s try to unpick those factors that determine upfront cost and determine their relative financial contributions:

    I imagine that the time from taking the decision to build to the time of first power generation may have the major bearing on the issue insofar as interest charges and, probably, labour costs will increase as length of build time increases. To break down factors affecting build times, one must consider planning delays, FOAK issues with new designs, previous lack of standardised designs (a factor likely to disappear), inexperience/ mistakes by building contractors and changes of mind by regulators. A current factor will also be the 27% extra interest demanded by investors to compensate for the uncertainty surrounding nuclear relative to certain other investments. Finally, you highlight the “excessive safety ” cost.

    My question, Peter, is what proportion of total up front costs do you attribute to overdesigned safety? This is not a rhetorical question – I really don’t know the answer. However, I suspect that an extra concrete box and earth mound might not figure greatly as a proportion. The public, egged on by the media, is increasingly risk averse. Their response to your desire for less safeguards is more likely to be increased demands for more safety at chemical plants rather than the other way round. Simultaneously, many would conclude from your comments that nuclear could never be competitive unless you stripped out so many safeguards as to make it dangerous. In other words, unless this really is the case, I would infer that your advocacy is hindering the acceptance of nuclear power (whether you are technically correct or not) over a possibly trivial issue.

    At present, nuclear is probably more or less competitive with dirty coal in several countries which are not “skimping” on “perceived” safety issues. Modular construction of certain components in factories and the licensing of non site specific standardised designs are on their way and will bring down costs even more. Planning delays can be reduced by law (In the UK, planners, until recently, reckoned on an average delay of 8 years from application to start of build. It has now been reduced to one.) Furthermore, once a government declares an interest in nuclear build, it can either use its own money (I know it’s either the taxpayers or created out of thin air by using the printing presses and debauching the currency) and, in effect, nationalise the nuclear industry or it can give signals to private investors that they will be well looked after, thus “disappearing” the current 27% risk premium. To accelerate things even faster, I, personally, would fund construction from a temporarily-imposed hypothecated carbon tax but I know that that would be anathema to you.

    Peter, you are constantly calling on others here to substantiate their comments with figures. You did a superlative job of demonstrating how this can be achieved in your various main posts from which I learnt a great deal. However, your comments subsequently have given no indication that you have other than a totally fixed view on how best things should be done – your way. If anyone has presented an alternative view or disagreed, you have responded by re-stating your original opinion without directly addressing your interrogator’s points. Until such time as you are accorded dictatorial powers, might I suggest that you try a new approach which might better serve your aims. A good start might be to come up with the figures that suggest that excessive safety is a major technical (as opposed to political) component of nuclear build costs. I admit, it’s beyond me to do so but i lack your qualifications.

  24. Podargus:

    If one is to start nationally to go on to “war footing” rather than internationally ( the latter would be better but, as you say, possibly not so readily achievable), would you accept that those taking positive action should protect themselves with tariffs on imports from non compliant states?

  25. And Douglas … this is essentially the argument I have put to Peter.

    We should insist that coal and every other source become as safe as nuclear power and have the same lifecycle stewardship as the world’s best nuclear power. That is a far better way to proceed, if one wants to advocate nuclear power, for it directly confronts the principal concern attending the technology raised by those opposing deployment.

    Rather than implying standards should be cut, others should be raised sounds a lot better, is truthful, and puts nuclear’s main rivals on the defensive.

    Renewables could also meet these safety standards without serious cost implications, but of course they will not be as low cost as nuclear per unit of output nor can they deliver despatchable power at industrial scale and on an industrial schedule at the same cost and for these reasons are not serious competitors.

    The renewables crowd will not want to argue for coal and so they will be left arguing for higher cost CO2 and pollution abatement and lower targets.

  26. Ewan:

    I have read previously what you have written on the subject of safety to Peter. I think I would adopt a position half way between you.

    My reasoning is based on our family’s experience in attempting to run a business in the UK and trying to deal with planners, building inspectors and health and safety officers. It’s surprising that manufacturing business exists at all in the UK, given the ever expanding dead hand of bureaucracy. As an example, although we are a smallish business, Health and Safety arrived unannounced and demanded we put in costly dust extraction equipment which our privately consulted specialist deemed unnecessary. The arrival of the officials was due to the fact that they were tipped off by a competitor. The competitor had been done by them and, quite reasonably, thought he’d be at a competitive disadvantage unless we were likewise burdened by additional costs. He kindly gave us the contact details of the dust extraction equipment company that had offered him the best deal. Fortunately, we can pass on the costs to our customers because our activities can’t realistically be moved offshore. Otherwise, more work for the Indians or Chinese and less here.

    I think Health and Safety is a one way ratchet. I think Peter is being naive in wishing to go back on what’s already there for nuclear, particularly in the current political climate. Highlighting the fact that risks associated with other industries are greater than those of nuclear is a legitimate pro nuclear debating point but, not, in my view, a sufficient justification to add costs to other sectors by upping/ goldplating the safety demanded of them.

    If you would like me to be really controversial, I’d suggest that the (non CO2) external costs of dirty coal are vastly exaggerated because of spuriously costed adverse impacts on human health. Well, people have to die of something and we’ve got too many people. It would be better concentrate on these finer points when we can afford to do so. Imposing extra costs on coal to be spent on safety (which both you and Peter want) would obviously put up costs but the extra money spent wouldn’t be available to spend on nuclear (which it would if it took the form of tax). Thus taxing coal would give more bangs for one’s buck than cleaning it up. Would you agree? i suggest we can’t afford the luxury of doing both simultaneously.

  27. Goodness me Terry, Peter, Ewen et al,

    You blokes seem to be experts in this field. I’m not, and am thus prepared to accept that my views lack credibility. But I’m the kind of bloke you need to convince if you are to succeed politically. So far you haven’t done that – although give me more time and the chance to study some of the recommended documents and you might convert me. At the moment I’m a sceptic. At the risk of generating howls of outrage, I’ve read books by, and am an admirer of, someone who’s no doubt persona non-grata on this page: Helen Caldicott.

    In the meantime, do you have a professional relationship to the nuclear energy industry and therefore a conflict of interest? If so, this doesn’t necessarily invalidate your views, but it would make it harder for you to convince thegeneral public.

    Terry writes: “nuclear waste is and has been handled safely and securely ever since it was first generated back in the 1950’s. It has NEVER killed anyone nor will it.” How can you be so sure it won’t kill anyone or cause cancers, birth defects etc? It might not have yet caused damage yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t at some point in the future. Safety, security etc depend on people, and people get careless and make mistakes.

    Terry: “The IAEA however wants to get it off the surface and safely underground.” This implies that it’s NOT safe above ground. He goes on: “Years of research have shown that the Officer Basin in the SA desert is the best place on the planet to bury it.” Would you be happy if the best place on the planet to bury it was underneath your house? In other words, would you be prepared to put your life where your mouth is?

    Peter: “Nuclear is already 10 to 100 times safer than coal, and we accept coal at its current level of safety. So why are we demanding that nuclear be so much safer? This is irrational.” Does this take into account the death sentences handed out to Chernobyl’s victims, continuing today? All it would take, surely, would be one more major disaster for nuclear to be reckoned to be far more dangerous than coal.

    Barry writes: “This ‘spent fuel’ can be … secured for eventual storage in a deep geological respository (hint: bad idea) …” Seems the experts are not in agreement here.

    Barry: “The (fission products) are encased in a highly durable, inert glass (or perhaps a synroc), and must be isolated for 300 to 500 years to allow for 10+ half-lives of Sr-90 and Cs-137.” That’s better than the tens of thousands of years, or more, needed for other ‘once-used nuclear fuel’, but it’s still a huge burden on future generations. It’s a moral issue. I accept, however, that if there’s no other way to ensure the survival of the species, and thus that future generations are born, then moral issues are irrelevant. But Peter believes they ARE relevant; he writes, post wine: “Electricity at least cost is our moral responsibility. Raising the cost of (electricity) by government intervention is morally wrong.” This ignores other factors, like damage to the environment. It would be morally wrong NOT to raise the cost of electricity if [a] electricity generation caused huge irreparable damage and [b] there was an alternative. In this case, it would be morally wrong NOT to subsidise and mandate renewable energy in production.

    Peter: “Renewables have and still are receiving far higher levels of funding for R&D than nuclear on a per MWh electricity generated basis and on a Return on Investment basis. This is the only fair way to do the comparison.” Two points: [a] renewables have not yet produced a whole lot of MWhs, so of course the level of funding per MWh is high; [b] it beggars belief that if you add up all the funding for nuclear energy, world-wide, since the 50s, it has not been massively more than the funding for renewables.

    Terry writes that I’m “dead wrong in (my) claim of enormous subsidies for nuclear power. The big subsidies have and are being directed to the totally inadequate, dilute, discontinuous renewables which will NEVER meet base load needs.” This is a big claim given that the research, for which Peter wants to remove “the subsidies and regulations and polices that favour … (it)”, has not been done. I’m aware of the base load problem with renewables, but I don’t see why they might not be solved at some time in the future. Just as Peter claims that “our mining and exploration methods will improve”, so too will our renewable technologies.

    Ewen asks on what basis will renewable energy always be preferable? “Why would it be preferable, especially given that renewables can’t meet the standards needed for modern industrial societies at acceptable cost?” Here again the assumption is that sufficient progress will not be made in the renewables area. I believe that renewables are preferable precisely because they ARE renewable. We have, I believe, a moral duty to use up as few of our planet’s resources, and to do as little damage, as possible – even to leave it to future generations in a better state than it was in when we found it. If, given adequate research, renewable energy can enable us to do that, then we should go for it. In the meantime we should look at all alternatives, including nuclear, and make rational decisions based on factors such as efficiency, safety, security, waste storage (sorry: once-used nuclear fuel storage), expense, and environmental damage.

  28. @martin – “Once more into the breach, dear friends…”

    - Helen Caldicott is certainly welcome here, (if she hasn’t already been incognito) to defend her views. She doesn’t because she knows that nothing she has written or said publicly can stand up to any scrutiny, by knowledgeable people.

    I can categorically state that I have never, at any time in my life had any relationship with the nuclear industry. You can click my name at the top of this posy for a short bio. if you wish.

    A nuclear fuel rod is made up of two types of uranium: U-235, the fissionable isotope whose breakdown provides the energy; and U-238, which does not fission and serves basically as packing material. Uranium-235 makes up only 0.7% of the natural ore. In order to reach “reactor grade,” it must be “enriched” up to 3% — an extremely difficult industrial process. (To become bomb material, it must be enriched to 90%, another ballgame altogether.)

    After being loaded in a nuclear reactor, the fuel rods sit for five years before being removed. At this point, about 12 ounces of U-235 will have been completely transformed into energy. But that’s enough to power San Francisco for five years. There are no chemical transformations in the process and no carbon-dioxide emissions.

    When they emerge, the fuel rods are intensely radioactive — about twice the exposure you would get standing at ground zero at Hiroshima after the bomb went off. But because the amount of material is so small it can be handled remotely through well established industrial processes. The spent rods are first submerged in storage pools, where a few yards of water block the radioactivity. After a few years, they can be moved to lead-lined casks about the size of a gazebo, where they can sit for the better part of a century until the next step is decided.

    So is this material “waste”? Absolutely not. Ninety-five percent of a spent fuel rod is plain old U-238, the nonfissionable variety that exists in granite tabletops, stone buildings and the coal burned in coal plants to generate electricity. Uranium-238 is 1% of the earth’s crust. It could be put right back in the ground where it came from.

    Of the remaining 5% of a rod, one-fifth is fissionable U-235 — which can be recycled as fuel. Another one-fifth is plutonium, also recyclable as fuel. Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes.

    What remains after all this material has been extracted from spent fuel rods are some isotopes for which no important uses have yet been found, but which can be stored for future retrieval. France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains — from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy — beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague. Once sequestered in a vitrified form, this material cannot harm anyone from radiation, nor can it be released into the environment.

    Compared to other industrial wastes like mercury, and PCBs, nuclear ‘waste’ can mostly be recycled, and what cannot be can be made into a stable, inert form. I would personally prefer to have vitrified nuclear waste buried in my backyard, than the ashes from a coal plant, because the latter are full of heavy metals and nasty organic compounds that are very mobile in things like ground water.

    Consequently we can take the necessary steps to keep these things from being a burden to future generations, although personally I think they are going to see these ‘dumps’ as gold mines.

    ****

    Chernobyl killed about 56 people directly. As for secondary deaths, these simply have not manifested. Beyond a slight rise in one type of easily treatable cancer, the the huge number of radiation induced problems predicated have yet to surface.

    Chernobyl’s victims are one of the most closely monitored group of exposed people, since the victims of the WWII A-bombs. In fact there is evidence that even the apparent increase in that one cancer is due to this scrutiny, in a region with poor heath care in general. Also it is often forgotten that the area around the nuclear plant was a well known industrial wasteland before the accident, and this makes factoring out other insults very difficult in any broad epidemiological study.

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

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

    ****

    The most touted forms of so-called “alternative energy” and are largely (though not entirely) useless. Solar and wind power are both time-variable and low-density. Lacking good ways to time-shift and aggregate electricity, this means you can’t count on them to run factories and hospitals and computer server farms. Practically speaking, one cannot 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.

    Wind energy is hopelessly flawed in a way that will probably never be overcome. It is completely fickle, rising and falling in cycles that have nothing to do with demand. Balancing supply and demand on an electric grid is an extremely delicate task. Unexpected power drops can cause brownouts while unexpected power surges can wipe out data and ruin equipment. Under these constraints, utilities view wind as more a liability than an asset. Ireland recently refused to take any more wind energy on its grid. In August Japanese utilities announced they too had had enough. Electrical engineers everywhere generally regard wind as little more than an expensive nuisance.

    Most important, wind is doing nothing to reduce carbon emissions. Even when the wind is blowing full blast, utility companies must keep their coal and gas plants running in case it suddenly dies down. At best, windmills only produce one-third their rated capacity of electricity. In a recent study, Denmark found that only 9 percent of its 3,000 MW in wind energy was available when most needed on hot summer afternoons. Despite the claim of generating 25 percent of its electricity from wind energy, Denmark’s carbon emissions continue to rise and not a single fossil fuel plant has been shut down.

    The cost of solar cells has not come down in the last decade as much as some optimists projected, and the high cost remains an impediment to widespread growth. Airborne dust and dirt can reduce output by as much as 15 percent – a significant loss for conservative utility planners. Heat – the unavoidable byproduct of sunny summer days – also reduces the efficiency of solar cells.

    In practice, only relatively small amounts of energy are available from tides, and extracting it will have devastating effects on the ocean ecosystem. Good sites for tidal power are all in extraordinarily rich and ecologically fragile straits and estuaries that are critically important spawning grounds for marine life. Strong tides are what make these waters so productive: their turbulence stirs up nutrients vital for life.

    Hydropower and geothermal are not going to support any larger share of what energy economists call base load — the day-in, day-out demand for high-density power from industrial operations, and everything else. There are not enough exploitable areas left, AND these are not environmentally neutral by any stretch of the imagination.

    The industrial base load is the life blood of technological civilization; without it, we’d have a hideous global population crash, and then revert to pre-1750 conditions in which the economy is almost entirely subsistence farming and life is nasty, brutish, and short.

    Statements to the effect that we don’t know what advances will be made in renewable and alternate energy, thus we should not write them off as potential solutions are only made by those that have little technical background. In most cases, all of the big potential gains in any technological domain, are made near the beginning of the development cycle, not at the point renewables are now. Furthermore, the energy sources these systems tap, are very low grade, thus arithmetic gains in output generally imply geometric growth in the size of the equipment to harvest the power.

    There is also an implied hypocrisy, in asking use to accept that the technology you favour will develop exponentially, while assuming nuclear technology will not make any gains from where it is now. It would seem your touching faith in science and engineering is reserved only for those that work in your camp, the rest you dismiss apparently, as incompetents.

  29. … the death sentences handed out to Chernobyl’s victims, continuing today?

    No-one can prove, or even establish a high likelihood, that Chernobyl did not, by exposing European populations to a little extra radiation, save 50,000 human lives.

    If we who favour civil nuclear power were only after the most impressive number in our favour that cannot be disproved — if we were just pro-natural-gas casuists in mirror image — we might slyly build an assertion that such lifesaving had in fact happened into a question.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  30. Goodness me Terry, Peter, Ewen et al,

    You blokes seem to be experts in this field. I’m not, and am thus prepared to accept that my views lack credibility. But I’m the kind of bloke you need to convince if you are to succeed politically.

    No, you are not the target audience we need to convince for political success. You and your hard-core anti-nuclear cohort are a small and increasingly marginalised minority whose chief value lies in remaining what you are so as to provide an easy target for criticism and ridicule in service to the pro-nuclear cause. Most of the anti-nuclear folk who were amenable to reason on the issue have already abandoned the cause, The fanatics who remain are no longer a concern in the larger demographic scheme of things. The direction of success for the young, fast-growing pro-nuclear movement is in the organisation and mobilisation of the larger passively pro-nuclear masses for political action.

  31. Doug

    [...] I’d suggest that the (non CO2) external costs of dirty coal are vastly exaggerated because of spuriously costed adverse impacts on human health. Well, people have to die of something and we’ve got too many people.

    That’s simply wrong all over the place, and incoherent as well.

    If we indeed have “too many people” then what happens to any of them/us is absolutely irrelevant. The costs aren’t so much exaggerated as non-existent. Nothing matters at all, including CO2. All of public policy can go out the window.

    That there are costs starts from the view that human life is worth something — a very great deal as most of us reckon.

    I understand that this is a devil’s advocate position you are taking but I’m not sure where this goes.

    Coal harvest, transport and combustion doesn’t merely kill people. It also makes them sick — debilitated progressively on first contact with one or more of the toxics, imposing misery, community costs for care, losses in productivity and an early death. It bears down with especial ferocity on the young and fit, who do most of the coal mining and their families, and the neighbours of the places it is burned and transported.

    The costs are understated.

    Imposing extra costs on coal to be spent on safety (which both you and Peter want) would obviously put up costs but the extra money spent wouldn’t be available to spend on nuclear (which it would if it took the form of tax).

    I’m on record as wanting full internalisation — which could take the form of a tax, but in practice I lean towards the cap and trade model, for reasons I’ve outlined previously. It ensures a least cost approach to internalisation and ensures phase out of CO2 and toxics. Some hybrid of taxes and a cap might of course be useful to cover all externalities. Peter, being a conservative, is against taxes and charges, claims these can’t be measured properly and he doesn’t trust the government — and so my counter-proposal is OK just make them do what nuclear does right now in terms of safety and let them pass on that cost.

    That would not and should not be cheaper than cap and trade/taxes but it satisfies Peter’s angst about government and taxes while meeting the legitimate concern we should have about internalisation, which Peter claims to favour. We no longer have to guess. Of course, regulation doesn’t come cheap so it would be more expensive. Who knew that fundamentalism came with a price tag?

    Martin said:

    We have, I believe, a moral duty to use up as few of our planet’s resources, and to do as little damage, as possible – even to leave it to future generations in a better state than it was in when we found it. If, given adequate research, renewable energy can enable us to do that, then we should go for it. In the meantime we should look at all alternatives, including nuclear, and make rational decisions based on factors such as efficiency, safety, security, waste storage (sorry: once-used nuclear fuel storage), expense, and environmental damage

    This is a mess.

    I don’t at all dispute the first claim — responsible stewardship. I do dispute that renewables yet meet this standard. One day they might but until that day, the need to use up as few of the Earth’s scarce resources speaks for nuclear. Renewables, as Peter and Barry have easily shown in the TCASE series, use far more resources per unit of output or unit of mitigation than does nuclear.

    Worse still, as a matter of practice, the attempt to rely on renewables will inevitably mean greater reliance on resources such as coal, gas and oil, since on demand energy supply is not politically negotiable and no country will pay the inordinate costs entailed to supply this with renewables only, or mainly. This side of some currently unimaginable developments in storage and/or efficiency of harvest and in cost reduction in delivery, your position would simply be cover for greenwashing coal and gas — until the pernicious consequences of this reckless course became unavoidable even for those inclined to defend the polluters rights.

    How ironic.

  32. Finrod, on 3 April 2010 at 3.47 Said:

    “You and your hard-core anti-nuclear cohort are a small and increasingly marginalised minority whose chief value lies in remaining what you are so as to provide an easy target for criticism and ridicule in service to the pro-nuclear cause.”

    I love it !

  33. Martin, 10 years ago when I first suggested that SA has the best geological conditions on earth to dispose of high level nuclear waste, among other things, I said that I would be quite happy to have it buried at depth in my back yard. And I stand by that still. I notice Chernobyl got its usual run in this discussion. Here are the facts about the “Radiological consequences of the Chernobyl accident” as stated in the Report to the General Assembly of the UN by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation 2000.
    para 18. The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was the most serious accident involving radiation exposure. It caused the deaths within a few days or weeks of 30 workersand radfiation injuries to over a hundred others. It also brought about the immediate evacuation , in 1986 of about 116,000 people from areas surrounding the reactor and the permanent relocation, after 1986 of about 220,000 people from Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. It caused serious social and psychological disruption in the lives of those affected and vast economic losses over the entire region. Large areas of the three countries were contaminated, and deposition of released radionuclides was measurable in all countries of the northern hemisphere.
    para 19. There have been about 1800 cases of thyroid cancer in children [this type of cancer is treatable but it is thought that about 10 kids died of the effects] who were exposed at the time of the accident and if the current trend continues, there may be more cases during the next decades. Apart from this increase, there is no evidence of a major health impact attributable to radiation exposure14 years after the accident. There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality or in non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure. The risk of leukemia, one of the main concerns owing to its short latency time does not appear to be elevated , not even among the recovery operation workers. Although those most highly exposed individuals are at an increased risk of radiation-associated effects, the great majority of the population are not likely to experience serious health consequences as a result of radiation from the Chernobyl Can we please put the Chernobyl bogey to rest. There have been more half-truths, indeed downright lies told about this incident than any other in our accident history.

  34. Douglas and Ewen,

    I will get back to you on your posts. We have discussed most of this many times before and we keep going over the same old ground. I need to get the answers together in a coherent reply.

    Eewn, I accept that you position does represent a major belief in society. However, wwe all agree we need to make a radical change to our energy supply system. Therfore, I argue we need to make radically changes to the politics that have prevailed for the past 40+ years and are blocking progress. We need to challenge the widely held beliefs that you are articulating. We will not be able to implement the radical changes we need until we do get over this emotive but irrational beliefs about nuclear energy.

    I’ll come back to both your posts later. I may post partial replies, bit by bit.

  35. DV82XL, what an excellent post you made for Martin on 3 April 2010 at 1.55.

    There just one minor point you made that I’d suggest could be better phrased in future:

    You said:

    Chernobyl killed about 56 people directly.

    I understand this figure is a mixture of ‘early deaths’ and ‘latent deaths’. My understanding is ‘early deaths’ are those that occurred within 30 days of the accident. ‘Latent deaths’ are those that occurred after this but are attributal to the accident.

    World Health Organisation (WHO):
    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index.html
    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs303/en/index.html

    From memory, there were 31 early deaths (3 in the actual explosion and 28 from accute radiation sickness within 30 days), and 27 latent deaths so far.

    From my perspective, although it is the worst nuclear accident ever, the total actual and projected fatalities pale into insignificance when compared with the fatalities due to coal fired power stations, and accidents such as Bopal (6000), hydro dam failures (22,000 in China, 2000 at Vaiont, Itally, and many others), gas pipe explosion (1000 in Siberia) oil rig explosions, and the 9/11 twin towers collapse disaster (2000+). My point is not to try to diminish Chernobyl, but to put the consequences in perspective.

    If we demand such high safety for nuclear, why wouldn’t we first demand equally high safety for sports stadiums (protection against a plane crash), major public buildings, and our very dangerous chemical plants that are located throughout our cities.

    The discussion about the safety of nuclear is very irrational in my opinion. Safety demands for nuclear are excessive, costly, and delaying the rate of roll out of clean electricity generation.

  36. A couple of thoughts
    1) Long term nuclear waste storage.
    Those who claim this requires active rather than passive control must envision a Mad Max kind of society. We’ll no longer have centralised electricity generation but somehow enough energy to roam around in gangs. I think it’s either-or. We’ll either have a coherent connected society or we’ll live in huts with wood fires. Therefore the line that nuclear waste imperils future society requires an implausible scenario.

    2) coal gets expensive on its own.
    I don’t think this will happen for 20 years. If Garnaut’s suggested $20 levy per tonne of CO2 gets up it effectively adds about 2.4 X $20 = $48 to the cost of thermal black coal, current spot price about $90 ex Newcastle. A 50+% natural price increase seems unlikely anytime soon.

    However the ‘psychic’ price of coal mining keeps escalating. For example the physical and aesthetic damage to the NSW Upper Hunter Valley as dusty coal trucks thunder past tranquil horse farms. As China and India demand more coal the public must increasingly ask whether there are less irksome alternatives to coal. I suspect this will come to a head within the next few years with some willingness to pay more for energy.

  37. @Peter Lang –

    I was working from memory too, as Terry said we have been over this topic ad nauseum, and I admit I’m getting sloppier in direct relation to the tedium I’m beginning to feel about this subject.

  38. Peter said: “If we demand such high safety for nuclear, why wouldn’t we first demand equally high safety for sports stadiums (protection against a plane crash), major public buildings, and our very dangerous chemical plants that are located throughout our cities.”

    Human beings perceive and calculate risk in a very non-linear fashion. This may have been OK till prehistoric times but in the modern world, our perception of risk means we are often unable to take the correct decisions when we need to evaluate relative danger. Our brains are not very good at probability and risk analysis, especially when it comes to rare and unfamiliar events. We tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar and common ones. Our brains are much better at processing the simple risks we’ve had to deal with throughout most of our species’ existence, and much poorer at evaluating the complex risks society forces us to face today.

    People tend to base decisions more on vivid personalized detail rather than on information and data. Someone could tell you the accident rate of various types of vehicles at various times of the day and night on various types of roads. Using this information, you could make an informed decision about what is safe and what is not. However, when you switch on the television and witness the sorrow of those who’ve lost family members in an accident, your brain is going to fixate on that individual event and exaggerate the chances of a similar accident happening to you.

    The fact is that if something is in the news, you shouldn’t worry about it. The very definition of news is ’something that hardly ever happens’. Just because TV news covers spectacular accidents but doesn’t cover individual heart attacks doesn’t mean that an individual’s chances of dying of the former are greater.

    Over coming this perception of high risk, is one of the most important PR tasks we have in front of us, and one that we must constantly press forward with.

  39. Martin,

    Peter: “Nuclear is already 10 to 100 times safer than coal, and we accept coal at its current level of safety. So why are we demanding that nuclear be so much safer? This is irrational.” Does this take into account the death sentences handed out to Chernobyl’s victims, continuing today? All it would take, surely, would be one more major disaster for nuclear to be reckoned to be far more dangerous than coal.

    The way this question is worded seems that your mind is made up and locked in.

    The answer to your question is: yes. The safety record of nuclear does take into account the fatalities to date and the projected future fatalities from Chernobyl. Not only that, but it takes into account a much higher rate of fatalities from the full nuclear fuel chain than have occurred to date. So even if the number of accidents increases in the future and the rate of fatalities from the nuclear fuel chain increases over what has occurred to date, nuclear will still be the safest electricity generation technology. The comparison must be done on a properly comparable basis such as the amount of electricity supplied (e.g per MWh).

    For more you may want to look at Figure 2 in the first link I provided yesterday.
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/13/wind-and-carbon-emissions-peter-lang-responds/

  40. Ewen Laver, on 2 April 2010 at 21.07 Said:

    We should insist that coal and every other source become as safe as nuclear power and have the same lifecycle stewardship as the world’s best nuclear power.

    Ewen, this is totally impossible. That means IMPOSSIBLE!!. We’ve been over this several times in posts on other threads. We can make incrimental changes to the safety of coal over time. However, if we demand carbon capture and storage we will greatly increase the risk of fatalities from the coal chain .

    Please just think about the mass of materials that must be handled in the coal chain cycle and understand that there is no way in the world these can be contained and managed as they are in the nuclear fuel cycle. I’ve provided references in the past. I wonder if you have read them.

  41. Douglas,

    You said:

    Highlighting the fact that risks associated with other industries are greater than those of nuclear is a legitimate pro nuclear debating point but, not, in my view, a sufficient justification to add costs to other sectors by upping/ goldplating the safety demanded of them.

    And

    Imposing extra costs on coal to be spent on safety (which both you and Peter want) would obviously put up costs but the extra money spent wouldn’t be available to spend on nuclear (which it would if it took the form of tax).

    You have seriously misunderstood me!

    I am not arguing to raise the safety of coal to that of nuclear. I am saying the current level of safety of coal is acceptable to the public as it is now. So why don’t we demand the same level of safety for nuclear rather than demand nuclear must be far safer. Gen IIs have proved to be 10 to 100 times safer than coal for 40+ years and we are still not satisfied. We want Gen III to be far safer, and Gen III+ to be even safer, and Gen IV to be ridiculously safe. It is totally irrational.

    Safety costs money. The higher cost makes nuclear less competitive with coal. So the higher cost will reduce the rate that nuclear will be built, will reduce the rate it will develop and improve, will reduce the rate that costs come down. Therefore, the higher costs will reduce the rate that clean electricity will replace dirty electricity.

    This seems so obvious to me , I can’t understand why it is not obvious to everyone. Hence, my apparent frustration from time to time. I apologise for displaying my frustration.

    Another major point of frustration is I can’t understand why contributors here do not seem to recognise the enormous benefits and value of low cost electricity to mankind and societies – world wide. To me it is immoral to intentionally raise the cost of electricity, especially while avoiding dealing with what is preventing us having low cost clean electricity at an acceptable level of safety.

  42. Peter quoted me:

    We should insist that coal and every other source become as safe as nuclear power and have the same lifecycle stewardship as the world’s best nuclear power …

    and then continued:

    Ewen, this is totally impossible. [...] Please just think about the mass of materials that must be handled in the coal chain cycle and understand that there is no way in the world these can be contained and managed as they are in the nuclear fuel cycle.

    I suspect that is right, but it’s the politics of energy that we are arguing now rather than the engineering questions. We want the coal producers lodly complaing that they can’t meet the safety standards of nuclear and giving detailed reasons why to people who don’t understand who much safer and more environmentally friendly nuclear power is than coal (or gas). That is the whole point. It would be political suicide for them and so they would then get behind a proper cap and trade or carbon tax system which would create the context for nuclear power to be taken up.

    It’s so obvious I’m surprised you can’t see it. This is who one makes progress in politics.

    Of course you don’t get this — possibly because of your conservative pro-big business ideological blinkers. Hence you respond to Doug saying:

    I am saying the current level of safety of coal is acceptable to the public as it is now.

    This is the same public who thinks nuclear is incredibly dangerous and should never be contemplated and who think rooftop solar panels = clean energy. It’s only acceptable because people are grossly (and not at all accidently) misinformed with the result that they are doing themselves harm. If people understood how bad coal was, it would not be accepable. Consider the brouhaha over home insulation. Four people die because of the activities of shonky business people and houses with old wiring and a whole program has to be stopped and perhaps 500 million in remediation has to take place. What do you suppose people would say if they engaged with the reality of black lung disease and mercury poisoning and radiactive fly ash being released into the environment? It would not be acceptable.

    Another major point of frustration is I can’t understand why contributors here do not seem to recognise the enormous benefits and value of low cost electricity to mankind and societies – world wide

    Misleading. Electricity from coal has non-monetized costs in the imposition of illness and premature death on people, and damage to biodiversity and ecosystem services and amenity. There is no free lunch to be had by covering this up under the banner of “cheap electricity”. To me, it is unethical (your word “immoral” I don’t like because I’m not religious) to impose premature death and suffering on others including small children in order to allow wealthier others to have cheaper electricity to waste.

    Again, your ideological blinkers aside, there’s no obvious reason why this point eludes you.

  43. Peter Lang, Said: ” Another major point of frustration is I can’t understand why contributors here do not seem to recognise the enormous benefits and value of low cost electricity to mankind and societies – world wide. To me it is immoral to intentionally raise the cost of electricity, especially while avoiding dealing with what is preventing us having low cost clean electricity at an acceptable level of safety.”

    Ewen Laver, Said: “To me, it is unethical (your word “immoral” I don’t like because I’m not religious) to impose premature death and suffering on others including small children in order to allow wealthier others to have cheaper electricity to waste.”

    Well I’m not numbered among those, but to me its not so much immoral or unethical, as it is ridiculous. No modern country on this planet is going to follow any path that would clearly lead to national penury, nor is anyone going to fool enough people into believing in such a path for it ever to be seriously considered.

    But again I reiterate that the West is no longer making those decisions for the rest of the world. The majorities that are running the show now are in China and India, and they are not going to see any value at all in some neo-Calvinist appeal on the moral superiority of doing without. They have done without, and now they want their slice, and will not give nonsense ideas like rasing the cost of energy a second look.

  44. Martin, I’m not an expert but I’ve researched, as a layman, the whole nuclear power generating industry ever since turning from an anti to a pro nuclear position in 1981 while on teacher exchange in Canada. I’ve spent most of my time, apart from taking groups on tour through the Flinders Ranges on reading anything and everything I could lay my hands on the world nuclear industry. I have gathered a huge amount of information and have made several speeches [pro nuclear] to professional and other groups over the past five years. I start every one of my speeches by telling people that to the best of my understanding, I’m telling them the facts. So far I’ve reached 2000 people and I’m pleased to report that a majority are persuaded by my arguments. Many admit to having never having heard what I tell them. That’s hardly surprising since for most of the past 40 years, they’ve only ever heard the misinformation, half-truths and lies of the anti-nuclear brigade.Could I suggest that you borrow a copy of ” Power to save the world- the truth about nuclear energy ” by Gwyneth Cravens and published by Alfred Knopf and sons , New York 2007. She started as an anti-nuke but following ten years study of every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle she has become a strong advocate of it. I”ll lend you my copy if you send me your postal address. And I’ll pay the postage. You WILL be converted, I promise you, as indeed any rational person would be.

  45. Douglas Wise, @ 2 April 2010 at 20.55

    Your three introductory paragraphs are a good summary of the position as I see it. Then you ask:

    My question, Peter, is what proportion of total up front costs do you attribute to overdesigned safety? This is not a rhetorical question – I really don’t know the answer. However, I suspect that an extra concrete box and earth mound might not figure greatly as a proportion.

    I know your question is not rhetorical. I don’t know the answer either. I suspect over design may increase the total cost by in the order of a factor of two or more.

    Regarding the “extra concrete box and earth mound”, I see the extras as much more than this. Consider all the redundant systems, and complexity of control systems and safety systems, all tripping over each other. Think of the cost of the containment buildings that must withstand a direct hit by an aircraft and a maximum earthquake. Thinks of 40+ years of design work by thousands of engineers, submission to NRC, changed requirements, redesign, ever increasingly stringent new requirements, more design changes. All for what should be a simple heater making steam (perhaps a slight exaggeration). I expect the excessive safety requirements increase the cost of the nuclear plant by more than a factor of 2.

    I also expect that the investment premium is at least 27%, probably more. The investment premium is a result of many factors. Not least of which is that the investors are investing in an infrastructure project with a design life of 60 to 80 years, yet the some argue that the government is entitled to devalue the investment because of a political decision. We see this now with the attitude that the government should close down the coal fired power stations without fair compensation to investors. If we want cheap nuclear, we need to ensure that the investors will be compensated if the politics change. For example, if there are major nuclear accidents overseas, and we decide to close down our nuclear power stations, then we must compensate the investors. The investors must be sure they will be compensated no matter how governments change their mind in the future. If we are not prepared to ensure the investors will be compensated fairly, then we can expect very high cost nuclear power. We should also accept the risk of accidents just as we do for other major accidents. If a plane crashes into a stadium full of sports fans, that risk is carried by the community, not the owner of the sports stadium. We do not, and cannot, require that the coal fired power stations carry the risk for all the damages they cause. So, to require that the nuclear power plant carries all the insurance risk for accidents, is just raising the cost of the electricity generation infrastructure.

    My gut feeling is that we could have power from nuclear for about 25% of what it is under the existing safety requirements, and it would still be safer than coal. That’s just a gut feeling. It is based on these unrelated considerations:

    1. Hanford B was built in 21 months from the breaking of ground to the reactor going critical. That was 65 years ago. That was the first ever large reactor. Furthermore, it was no dud. That reactor operated for 24 years, and during that time its power was increased by a factor of nine (from 250MWt to 2200MWt). If our engineers could achieve that success with a FOAK design, 65 years ago, they could do much better now if told “give us nuclear power at least cost with acceptable safety”. Hanford B was not a generating station, but the generating component can be built in parallel (I know I am simplifying here, but let’s stick with the big picture)

    2. Nuclear powered submarines, aircraft carriers and ice breakers have been operating for some 50 years. They are reliable. I imagine they are relatively simple, much simpler than what is being demanded for civil nuclear power plants. Since we’ve been able to build and use these nuclear power plants for 50+ years for ships, we should be able to build low cost, reliable civil nuclear power plants.

    3. Russia is building nuclear power plants to smelt aluminium which is to be sold on the world market. If Russia believes it can smelt aluminium and sell it at world competitive prices it means it expects to produce electricity at a cost equivalent to the cost of electricity from our Victorian brown coal fired power stations. That means Russian nuclear power stations could produce electricity at the same cost as our heavily subsidised cheapest coal fired power. That is very cheap power!!

    4. Korea claims its new AP1400’s can generate power at US$29/MWh. That is less than electricity from Australia’s old, existing power stations. And that is using Gen III which have all the most extreme safety requirements that have been accruing over the past 40 years and are now mandated by the IAEA and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Most of those regulations are embedded in the AP1000 and AP1400 designs. http://www.smh.com.au/business/nuclear-not-the-cheapest-path-for-australia-oecd-20100326-r36f.html

    5. DV82XL has mentioned capital cost figures for CANDU 6 of around $1300/kW to $2200/kW. Those are below the cost of new super critical black coal plant in Australia.($2239). The operating cost of nuclear is less than coal, so electricity cost from CANDU 6 nuclear at this capital cost would be less than new coal (assuming the investor risk premium was the same, and construction time was the same).

    Gen II’s are already some 10 to 100 times safer than coal. So there is no reason to go to Gen III unless it produces electricity for less cost than Gen II (the cost of electricity includes all costs: waste management, decommissioning, mid-life refurbishment, etc.)

    Even Gen II is far safer than is needed, based on the fact that coal is acceptably safe. So we do not need the enormously expensive requirements.

  46. Finrod says that I’m part of a “hard-core anti-nuclear cohort”, a “small and increasingly marginalised minority whose chief value lies in remaining what you are so as to provide an easy target for criticism and ridicule in service to the pro-nuclear cause.” Pleased to be of service! However, I wrote: “give me more time and the chance to study some of the recommended documents and you might convert me. At the moment I’m a sceptic.” Thus despite DV82XL’s enthusiastic endorsement of Finrod’s claim (“I love it!”), my position is the same as his when he writes (in his blog): “I consider myself a scientific skeptic, a commonsense utilitarian, and a rational pragmatist.” It seems to me a bit rough to deride me as a “hard-core anti-nuclear cohort” and an “easy target for … ridicule” when I’m willing to be convinced. Peter writes: “The way this question is worded seems that your mind is made up and locked in.” Fair go! Even if this criticism were true, which I dispute, the same could be said about most comments on this site.

    Surely the reason why nuclear energy is having a tough time getting established is political: the need to convince the general public, and thence politicians, that it’s the way to go. Ridiculing sceptics who are making a genuine attempt to understand the issues might be counter-productive.

    I realise that some of you have dealt with these topics ad nauseam and that it must be tedious in the extreme to keep going over them for people like me. But that’s politics. It doesn’t matter whether or not the pro-nuclear energy camp wins the argument if it doesn’t put in the hard yards to convince voters.

    As it happens, I’m pretty much convinced by Peter’s argument about relative safety rates of different ways to generate power, and by Peter’s and Terry’s posts about Chernobyl, and Peter’s points about “Safety costs money”. Nowhere have I said anything that justifies DV82XL’s claim that I dismiss those who work in nuclear energy as “incompetents”.

    I will continue reading, sceptically, the arguments on this site. In the meantime, thank you to all those who have patiently explained their positions, and who have presented the physics and the evidence. Perhaps your efforts will pay off and I will become an advocate for nuclear energy.

    P.S. Thanks, Terry, for your offer to lend me Gwyneth Cravens’s book, but I’m happy to buy my own copy.

  47. John Newlands,
    Nice to hear from you again John. I’m hoping that Redmond will take her party by the scruff and drag them to an acceptance of nuclear power some time fairly soon. I’ve offered to speak to her people on how important it will be, socially, environmentally and economically were we in SA to start using our world’s biggest uranium deposits and world’s best nuclear waste disposal site[Officer Basin] for our own as well as the planet’s good. I know Business SA are on side and I get the feel that deep down, BHP Billiton are as well. I know retiring chairman Don Argus is. Are any of you bloggers interested in reading my latest speech ” Climate change, future energy and saving the Murray /Darling system” I’ve given it twice so far. You get three speeches for the price of one. The last group who heard it nominated me for PM. Fair dinkum!

  48. “Finrod says that I’m part of a “hard-core anti-nuclear cohort”, a “small and increasingly marginalised minority whose chief value lies in remaining what you are so as to provide an easy target for criticism and ridicule in service to the pro-nuclear cause.” Pleased to be of service! However, I wrote: “give me more time and the chance to study some of the recommended documents and you might convert me. At the moment I’m a sceptic.”

    You professed admiration for Helen Caldicott. That’s usually a bit of a giveaway. But if you are, as you claim, open to reasoned discourse on the issues surrounding nuclear power, then go right ahead.

  49. @martin you said: “I’m aware of the base load problem with renewables, but I don’t see why they might not be solved at some time in the future.”

    As long as one believes that the problems with renewables can be solved, and concurrently claim that nuclear is burdened with its own that preclude its widespread use, there is a implication that solutions can be found for the former, but not the latter.

    This is a recurring error that has been made over by renewable supporters, don’t take it personally.

    As for Finrod’s statement, please understand, that we do run into a large number of doctrinaire antinukes, not just here, but in many places, and Finrod and I have tag-teamed a few of them over the years, and I was just congratulating him for his bon mots, which I thought was very puissant and amusing, in and of itself.

  50. An irrelevant tit bit. The Australian government has blown $3 billion dollars on insulation in houses. It is a disaster and much will have to be pulled out. The cost of avoiding a tonne of CO2 with this scheme is estimated to be $200/tonne CO2 avoided.

    The $3 billion could have been much better invested in out first nuclear power plant. It would last 60 to 80 years and provide near emissions free electricity for all that time.

  51. Terry K I’m interested in your thoughts on the Murray Darling since I’ve sailed or canoed different parts of it from top to bottom. Here’s a couple of ideas you might want to incorporate. First it’s crazy to rely on Cat 4 cyclones in the tropics to push enough water down the headwaters 2,000km away. Any water use regime should rely on ‘normal’ flows whatever they are.

    Second any desal for Olympic Dam should comfortably supply that whole region. I believe the 100 ML/d pipeline from the Murray keeps inching towards the Bight due to local groundwater depletion. If OD wants 187 ML/d make the output spec an even 300 and reverse the flow in the network ie supplying Pt Augusta, Pt Lincoln etc as well as OD/Roxby from the desal. Oh yes OD also want 690 MW of electricity. If Ceduna ever gets into processing zircon and monazite they will want more water as well. Switching off the river pump at Morgan lets that water flow downstream. The word is that the near landlocked Whyalla desal will not be approved due to cuttlefish or whatever. Good…move it to the west coast and power it with a big nuke using flash, osmosis or a hybrid system. Happy cuttlefish, happy river irrigators.

  52. Ewen,

    Your politics are extremist left-wing. Not main stream. I believe these ideologies are extremely damaging to mankind. Bordering on evil.

    This is an example from your post at 14:25:

    To me, it is unethical (your word “immoral” I don’t like because I’m not religious) to impose premature death and suffering on others including small children in order to allow wealthier others to have cheaper electricity to waste.
    Again, your ideological blinkers aside, there’s no obvious reason why this point eludes you.

    I used the word “immoral” because the extremists, like yourself, use this term frequently to justify their irrational causes.

    You talk about your desire to reduce the deaths caused by coal fired electricity in the developed countries but give no importance to the deaths caused by lack of electricity in the developing countries. The latter exceeds the former by many orders of magnitude. Can you not understand this?

    Furthermore, raising the cost of electricity in the developed countries means slowing development and less electricity. That means less hospitals, less education, less doctors and nurses, less ambulances, less clinics, less road infrastructure to get people quickly to medical facilties and more costly pharmaceuticals. Can you not understand this?

    I think your extremist political agenda is too far to the extremist left for us to be able to make headway. I’ll leave discussion with you to others.

  53. Peter

    In your own way, you affirm my point that your inability to see the obvious (and to understand why others don’t share your perspective) really does derive from the ideological blinkers I described above.

    It is the case that the toll from coal is even greater in the developing countries than it is here. And no, I don’t propose raising the effective cost of electricity in any country. The cost is what it is, I merely say that the cost should be borne explcitly rtather than fall upon the heads of the socially disadvantaged. If you were not blinded by your primary desire to protect the elites, you’d be able to see this.

    I’m no leftwinger by the way. I’m merely someone who believes in everyone playing nice. Damaging ecosystem services to save money so one can supply cheaply and make a profit is not playing nice and doesn’t make economic sense for anyone, except the elites.

    As I said, I’m not religious but there’s a biblical saying about the beam in your eye that comes to mind.

  54. @Martin re Chernobyl:

    on trend, BNC appears growthist cornucopian out of Julian Simon via Björn Lomborg, notwithstanding AGW denialism on the part of the latter’s supporters.

    Concerning Chernobyl, the line taken on BNC is that of Chernobyl Forum, the report of which was based on a mere 300 studies and which had what is referred to as “an agenda”.

    Residual anti-communism in the West, i.e readiness to discount scientific studies undertaken by “communists” in funny, weird and stupid foreign languages such as Russian and the subsequent interests of malfeasant eastern European govts. after 1986 may be tending to suppress any epidemiological information casting Chernobyl in a bad light. Statistical error in studies by Greenpeace or IPPNW on this subject have been compounding the problem.

    You might like to look at:
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17571

    I mentioned this translated NY Academy of Sciences study by senior ex-Soviet managers Yablokov and Nesterenko some weeks ago on BNC. Resounding silence ensued.

    I find it intriguing that BNCers find it necessary to keep downplaying Chernobyl. After all, its faulty RBMK design is quite different from that of the AP 1000 now being built in China. That is, the more BNC admitted Chernobyl mass death, the better Generation III, ie., the AP 1000 would look, or the EPR for that matter.

    My provisional conclusion is that secretly, BNC posters do not believe that they can allay the Chernobyl-based fears that the public has by illustrating technical design differences. This in turn would seem to place a question mark against the efficacy of the policy option of “education and social engineering” advocated by BNC posters in various shapes or forms.

  55. Peter Lang and Ewen Laver:

    Thank you for your responses. Peter, sorry if I misunderstood your position with respect to the internalisation of coal costs. My memory may have deceived me but I thought, in the past, that you had argued in favour of internalisation (quoting ExternE as a basis for determining what the extra costs would be) but against a carbon tax. Like you, I consider the safety of coal is acceptable to the public as it is now. I think that DV82XL is spot on with his comments that relate to the situation in China and India. In fact, though I don’t know, I suspect that life expectancy might even be increasing in those countries.

    I believe Ewen is sounding idealistic and giving the impression of wishing to remove all risks without evaluating the relative scales of those risks (non CO2 emissions versus CO2 emissions). However, in his recent comments, he appears to accept that coal’s non CO2 emissions costs cannot and won’t be internalised. Notwithstanding, he wishes to argue that they should be for political/PR reasons because he thinks that this will assist nuclear roll out and put the backs of coal producers to the wall. However, his policy might be counterproductive and encourage a rush to “clean” coal.

    Ewen, when I commented that people had to die of something and there were too many people, I knew it was a somewhat flippant and trite remark but I couldn’t resist a wind up. I accept it was counterproductive. However, I would point out that, as a vet who has been involved in wildlife management, I regret that the global population of African wild dogs, for example, is only in the region of 5000 while that of humans is more than a million times greater. I note that some African nations are attempting to protect their elephants by shooting those who persecute them. I wonder how I’d react were I to be an African smallholder trying to support a family if an elephant wandered in and trashed my year’s food supply. No easy answers until we have fewer people. However, we have little option but to hope we get through the current bottleneck and that ,subsequently, demographic transition theory actually works and kicks in. I think this is getting OT so will revert to the main current issue.

    Peter, you appeared to agree with my list of the factors that contribute to nuclear costs. I was attempting to invite you to assess the relative significance, in financial terms, of those teased out factors and, in particular, that of engineering in the excessive safety that you complain about. We both accept that we don’t have the technical knowledge to answer the questions. Can we ask others to help out (DV82XL, Charles Barton et al)? You did go on to guess that excessive safety was doubling the costs of nuclear electricity in the West. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree but you went on to list your reasons, once again conflating all the teased out factors that I was hoping to get separate proportions for. Thus, even your guess, was not as helpful as I had hoped. I will therefore repeat the question in a different manner. What are the engineering costs of redundant safety as a proportion of total costs that may be impacted by delays for planning, regulatory holdups, poor builders, interest charge penalties etc? I would suggest that, if the proportion is small, your campaign to have them removed is counterproductive. If, however, it is high, reassessment may be justified. Anyway, as new and inherently safer designs emerge, I believe the engineering costs of redundant safety are likely to fall anyway.

    Finally, Peter, I would like you to address another issue. It relates to your concern for the interests of private investors in the nuclear industry. Given the need for a crash programme of nuclear build, might it not be sensible for the nuclear industry to be nationalised? Private investors could still be encouraged to purchase appropriate bonds and possibly get tax breaks for so doing. While bureaucrats/regulators tend to assume an adversarial stance to private enterprise and are allowed to bully by their political masters, they might curtail their negative tendencies if they could feel some pride and responsibility for an enterprise they felt directly part of and which wouldn’t be seen as an attempt to impart large profits to the “filthy rich”.

    Oh – and one more finally for you, Peter. I want to try an analogy on you. Your business is doing quite well but you are anticipating cash flow problems ahead because of the need to replace aging equipment with something new and more efficient which, ultimately, should increase your profitability . You have a lavish lifestyle which you enjoy. You have a choice to consider. Do you go into debt by borrowing from the bank to get the new equipment and maintain your lifestyle the while? Alternatively, do you cut back temporarily in lifestyle standards and buy the equipment without going into debt, anticipating even better lifestyle in the long term? I suspect that you might opt for the latter. I would and that is why, in simple terms, I favour a temporary energy transition levy on carbon. You’ll no doubt tell me I’m wrong but can you, at least, understand the underlying reasoning for this point of view?

  56. Ewen:

    One more thought. In the UK , we have quite a few dirty coal plants that EU legislation requires that we shut down. In the view of the government, the energy gap thus created can only realistically be filled by commissioning new, cleaner coal plants from which it is hoped in the future, should the technology emerge, to capture and sequester the CO2.

    I would prefer that we kept the dirty coal plants open for a few extra years until we had enough nuclear capacity to decommission them. What do you think?

  57. Douglas Wise,

    Yes, I do agree with internalising externalities to the extent practicable for coal, all electricity generators and all industry. But that is not what you said in the statement I replied to.

  58. Peter:

    Why internalise externalities to the extent practicable for coal? It will cost money which might otherwise be available for nuclear. Sooner or later, coal will be replaced – sooner rather than later if we don’t waste scarce resources on a side issue.

  59. What are the engineering costs of redundant safety as a proportion of total costs that may be impacted by delays for planning, regulatory holdups, poor builders, interest charge penalties etc? I would suggest that, if the proportion is small, your campaign to have them removed is counterproductive. If, however, it is high, reassessment may be justified. Anyway, as new and inherently safer designs emerge, I believe the engineering costs of redundant safety are likely to fall anyway.

    I don’t know the answer to this question. I don’t know how to get a reasonable answer from the way you are suggesting we approaching it. The alternative method, that I was aluding to with my list in the previous post, to get a rough estimate of what nuclear could cost without the impediments, is to effectively start with a new sheet and work out the cost for the most basic possible plant. For example, how much would it cost to take the nuclear reactor, generators (as many as necessar) and perhaps the flash distillation, from a warship and put it on land, connect it to the grid and run it. How much would that cost? That’s the mimimum cost. How much are the small research reactors? How much are the least cost Gen II plants?

    You asked for a gut feeling on what proportion safety is costing. I said in my previous post, my gut feeling is at least a factor of 2. The items yuour ae listing are only a small part, as I mentioned in the previous post.

    Anyway, as new and inherently safer designs emerge, I believe the engineering costs of redundant safety are likely to fall anyway.

    There is no sign of that. NRC is still adding new requirements. At the rate we are going nuclear plants will have to be able to withstand a comet impact. For your statement to be true, ther would need to ba a reversal of the trend of the last 50 years.

    What I do believe will reverse the increasing cost is competition and the gains from increasing sales and implementations. To get that benefit we need to get started. To get started we need to focus on the things I’ve been mentioning on the previous posts.

    Finally, Peter, I would like you to address another issue. It relates to your concern for the interests of private investors in the nuclear industry. Given the need for a crash programme of nuclear build, might it not be sensible for the nuclear industry to be nationalised?

    This is definitely an option. I am open to this. This is the ground I would like to see the conservatives and Labor parties fight their election campaigns on. So both major parties agree we need clean electrcity at low cost, they both agree than nuclear is an essential and major component, they both agree it will need major government intervention to get it started and nurse it through the FOAK stage, but they disagree as to whether it should be public or proivate onwership. I am not convinced either way on this. There are arguments both ways.

    While bureaucrats/regulators tend to assume an adversarial stance to private enterprise and are allowed to bully by their political masters, they might curtail their negative tendencies if they could feel some pride and responsibility for an enterprise they felt directly part of and which wouldn’t be seen as an attempt to impart large profits to the “filthy rich”.

    I think this is naïve. If this was the case, why doesn’t it apply in any of the other government managed organisations, such as Sydney Harbour Ferries, NSW Rail, or Telecom before it was corporatised and then transferred to private ownership. Compare the service we get from the banks (transfer money immediately from your computer kwey board, but anything any where) with trying to deal with government departments. As I say, there are arguments both ways, and I’d be happy to see the election fought on whether the ownership should be public or private.

    Private investors could still be encouraged to purchase appropriate bonds and possibly get tax breaks for so doing.

    I am not sure what you are suggesting here. Are you suggesting treasury bonds or government infrastructure bonds? But I think this is not really worth concerning ourselves with.

    What we need to address is how to remove the impediments to nuclear. I listed some in a previous post. I hope we can consider the list, expand it and suggest how we could remove the impediments.

    Your hypothetical question in the last paragraph is hypothetical to deal with. There is no such thing as a temporary tax, especially for infrastructure with a 60 to 80 year life. And it is not just for the first NPP (10 to 15 years). We will be trnasferring from coal to clean electricty for 40+ years. And the developing countries for probably 80 years. Your temporary tax will last a century. There are many reason why raising the cost of electrcity is dead wrong in my opinion (other than including externalities as discussed before). Perhaps you’d like to go back to the previous list, pull it up, and we can go through the items, if you want to.

  60. Douglas

    Although it would be ethically tidiest if ALL externalities were internalised for all industrial processes I do accept that as a matter of political reality, thios isn’t going to happen. Howver, that’s no reason not to create the kind of expectation in the community that allows us to put these characters onto the backfoot and extract a deal that effectively puts an end date on their business near the sunk cost recovery time, makes new plants unviable and funds nuclear in the interim. Given that regulation is expensive, we ought to get a good price at very close to the health costs.

    In the UK , we have quite a few dirty coal plants that EU legislation requires that we shut down. In the view of the government, the energy gap thus created can only realistically be filled by commissioning new, cleaner coal plants from which it is hoped in the future, should the technology emerge, to capture and sequester the CO2

    This is a pipe dream (pun intended). It cannot happen and won’t. It’s simply not viable. You will have your preference for prolongation of dirty coal.

    Personally, I’d prefer the government bit the bullet, ramped up nuclear ASAP and shut down the coal plants on the same timeline, if necessary compensating for stranded assets.

    CC&S is at least as big a red herring to keep coal in the game as renewables are.

  61. Douglas Wise,

    I don’t know what this means:

    Why internalise externalities to the extent practicable for coal? It will cost money which might otherwise be available for nuclear. Sooner or later, coal will be replaced – sooner rather than later if we don’t waste scarce resources on a side issue.

    Perhaps we have a different understanding of what externalities means and what is meant by internalising these costs. I am using these terms as used in ExternE.

    I was a little annoyed that firstly I felt you had misquoted me and then when I corrected this you seemed to have twisted what you’d said and what I’d corrected.

    However, I think this is not central to what is important, so perhaps we should just leave it.

  62. Ewen Laver:

    I agree with your first bit. However, your response to the second is a cop out. I was not suggesting CCS coal was practical. I was referring to the policy of my government and asking about a simple choice (which you declined to make). As a nation, we are definitely going to build nuclear plants asap but won’t get them soon enough to prevent an energy supply gap if we go ahead with planned dirty coal plant closures. The government’s plan is to spend a lot of money on more modern coal plants with minimal non CO2 emissions, hoping eventually to be able to grab the CO2 out of them as well. I would prefer to save that money by keeping the dirty coal plants going until such time that nuclear could plug the gap. I think, overall, this would result in less CO2 emissions but more non CO2 emissions. That was the choice I was inviting your opinion on. Having your cake and eating it wasn’t on my agenda but you opted for it anyway!

  63. Peter Lang:

    Peter, I am trying to progress this debate and learn at the same time. If I have misreprented you, I apologise. I am confused by your position:

    1) You argue against anything that will add to electricity costs.
    2) You adjudge the public to find coal plants to be acceptable as they are.
    3) You advocate internalising the externalised costs of coal where practicable.

    Why isn’t your point 3) incompatible with 1)?

    You think it possible that we misunderstand each other’s interpretation of internalising costs. My understanding is that this would involve demanding that coal plant operators reduce their non CO2 emissions to the extent practicable (although Ewen is now citing a paper that suggests that this means we’ll drink the pollutants rather than inhaling them!) In any event, this will put up the cost of coal electricity.

    I would also like to suggest that the extra electricity price borne by the public will be greater than cost benefits they will receive through improved health. Even If I am wrong on this point, I would not expect that the savings to health authorities from cleaner coal would be used for clean energy transition. Were they to exist, they would be more likely to be lavished on other death denying aspirations by the health professionals. I am cynically choosing to ignore economically immeasurable health benefits because I have more pressing worries over the health consequences of AGW if we delay transition.

    On the question of teasing out the relative proportions of the different factors contributing to excessive nuclear costs, it seems that we will need to rely on others to sort this out because neither of us has the requisite knowledge. I do agree that we are probably spending a lot more than necessary. However, I’m not convinced yet that much would be saved by reducing redundant pumps, valves, and containments. I do agree that escalating demands by regulators and consequential delays are not acceptable. What do you think about internationalising regulation? Tom Blees certainly favours this approach, but , as far as I can gather, he is not advocating winding back the safety ratchet, merely stopping its progression from ultra safe to insanely safe.

  64. No discussions on the cost of nuclear power can avoid the fact costs have been distorted both upwards for nuclear and downwards for fossil-fuels by Rod Adams, on his blog Atomic Insights posted an excellent reply to someone named Arnold Sabastian commenting on the Nuclear Energy Facts Report

    Rod wrote: “If it was “easy” to build new nuclear plants, why would anyone invest in new fossil fuel capital equipment? In fact, if it was easy to build new nuclear plants, how would the people who already owe hundreds of billions on capital equipment and mineral rights pay off their multi-decade loans?”

    This brought to mind the situation in Ontario. The government of the Provence committed to eliminating the last of its coal-burners, and replacing them with ‘clean’ energy. This of course will mean natural gas, greenwashed with a few high profile renewable projects.

    The Nanticoke Generating Station, located on the north shore of Lake Erie is the largest coal-fired power plant in North America, it is also the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution anywhere in North America. It is slated to be shut and decommissioned in the (progressively extended) future.

    Bruce Power is a nuclear power plant operator in the Provence, well regarded for their management acumen. They floated an idea to replace the coal plant with a nuclear power station made up of several CANDU 9 units. They were PUBLICLY told by the Ontario Government NOT to apply to the CNSC for a permit to explore this possibility. The reason of course is that this would have had a deleterious impact on finding investors interested in new gas-fired plants.

    Several months later an ‘estimate’ for a new ACR 1000 build in Ontario was released to the public, projecting costs that were breathtakingly high, and so far beyond any reasonable price, that the project (and that design) were buried forever.

    This has gone on all over the World, in many jurisdictions, sometimes less obvious, sometimes more so, but nevertheless shows that the major issues when it come to costs are artificiality created to defend the value of fossil-fuel interests. Breaking that political Compact is going to require more than reasoned logic.

  65. Wow! What a great discussion. FIRST: Martin, welcome. It’s good to have a *honest* anti-nuclear person here who is not intimidated by all the Ph. Ds, nuclear geeks, etc. I hope you stick around. I want you think about something Peter noted:

    Peter Lang, Said: ” Another major point of frustration is I can’t understand why contributors here do not seem to recognise the enormous benefits and value of low cost electricity to mankind and societies – world wide. To me it is immoral to intentionally raise the cost of electricity, especially while avoiding dealing with what is preventing us having low cost clean electricity at an acceptable level of safety.”

    This is a point of unity between free market libertarian types (as fringed as left-wing socialists I might add) and…left wing socialists like myself (see my web site).

    Peter is 100% correct when he has argued that *cheap, abundant, reliable* electricity is a key to developing our planet in an environmentally friendly fashion, raising the worlds standard of living and otherwise advancing human culture (Peter, forgive my s t r e c h of your positions!)

    Peter and I are opposites politically be we recognized facts, especially historical ones. We know that advancing toward this goal with fossil fuels is a *disaster*. We know that this goal IS worthwhile and that the world is heading toward trying to developing out of the morass of under development (3 billion people live on less than $5/day, 2 billion on less than $3/day, 2 billion people with NO electricity, etc etc) and that governments are simply *going* to do what they need to get out of this situation.

    My view, I’m sure most of us here, Martin, believe that nuclear, specifically the Gen IV reactors, can help provide this “fission bullet”. Renewables, on the other hand, hold this back. The Chinese, for example, while investing in wind for the world market, are never going to run their extensive rail system on wind. Vietnam is not going to develop it’s bauxite/aluminum industry on solar.

    David Walters

  66. More…and back to…China. Has anyone calculated the multiplier factor on this extremely heavy component industry? Not just in China, but in Japan, the UK and Korea as well. It’s quite huge and having, or will have, major ripples across the manufacturing network globally.

  67. @DV82XL, on 4 April 2010 at 2.31
    Thank you for this post. It is these insights I find particularly valuable, since I can never figure these things out myself, despite understanding the general idea that Rod Adams makes. Every time someone points these things out it blows my mind that there can be such high level shenanigans. Someone has to point these things out because the newspapers never do.

  68. OTOH, putting on my anti-conspiracy theory thinking cap – presumably AECL (and anyone) could see the RFP dictated a very high price – why would AECL have bid on this if it was clearly designed to ensure an unacceptably high price? Rejection has cost them hasn’t it?

  69. The biding process for that project which AECL wished to fulfil with an ACR-1000, was politicized from the outset, and designed to fail to produce a viable winner. That is why Westinghouse, AREVA and the other off-shore applicants withdrew their bids. AECL was unable to do so because it is a creature of government, and was ordered to continue. Clearly the Ontario Liberal Party had planed to hide behind what ever the final bid was to hold off growing the nuclear sector in that Provence.

    AECL has the best project management record for on time, on budget delivery, and Canada’s supply chain has the best and deepest capacity of any jurisdiction. That’s due in part to the fact that AECL and its Team CANDU partners are the only nuclear vendors in the world who have been building reactors almost continuously for the past 30 years. A distinguished panel of experts appointed by the China National Nuclear Corporation concluded that CANDU is the ideal reactor design to further China’s nuclear power program. AECL is already in advanced discussions with potential customers in Argentina, and Jordan, and has booked more reactors for Romania and China.

    But at the same time AECL has been so hobbled by every level of government every time it takes on a domestic project that it would be funny, if it wasn’t obviously criminal. Everyone wants the jobs and money from offshore CANDU builds, but don’t want NPPs challenging fossil-fuels at home. It’s pathetic I know, but that is just how it is.

  70. As I assess the situation from here in the Pacific Northwest, the cost of electricity is going to rise. Hydro is maxed out and the four (or so) coal burners in the region are going to have to (eventually) begin paying for carbon offsets. Up to 20% of the power could be wind, in effect extending the hydro capacity. Most of the other new capacity will be cambined cycle gas turbines, the gas largely from Alberta.

    Despite excellent sites on the Hanford reservation, there are currently no plans to add to one operating NPP there.

  71. Douglas Wise,

    I am confused by your position:

    1. You argue against anything that will add to electricity costs.
    2. You adjudge the public to find coal plants to be acceptable as they are.
    3. You advocate internalising the externalised costs of coal where practicable.

    Why isn’t your point 3) incompatible with 1)?

    The “where practicable” words are important. There is no point in internalising costs if the cost of doing so outweighs the benefits. (I agree with your point to Ewen on this) The benefits of low cost electrcity are immense. If we raise the cost of electricity we lose some of the benefits, as I mention in a previous post to Ewen. I suspect that at the moment, the balance is probably about right. That is, we have already regulated the coal fired power stations to remove most of their toxic emissions. I suspect if we try to internalise more of coals externalities, the downside may outweign the upside for society as a whole. I think the present balance has been reached in the developed countries and I suspect it is roughly right.

    So what should we do now? To me it is clear. We must remove the impediments to low-cost, cleaner electricity. We have been forcing our governments for decades to pick losers (MRET, feed in tarrifs, subsidies, etc). We need to reverse this. We need to focus on fixing this problem, not gettin distracted by more wrong policies such as Carbon Tax and ETS. All these do is paper over the problems. They are a distraction. They will entrench the problems forever.

    Let’s start off by getting serious about why we demand that relatively clean and safe, nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than coal!!!!!

    You think it possible that we misunderstand each other’s interpretation of internalising costs. My understanding is that this would involve demanding that coal plant operators reduce their non CO2 emissions to the extent practicable.

    I suggest we internalise the costs of CO2 by regulating emissions from a mix of generators as I proposed here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/. We must remove the impediments to nuclear as a first step, and bring low cost nuclear to Australia at a rate that can replace the coal fired power stations as they reach the end of their economic lives (many are overduedue for retirement now but are being maintained rather than replaced because of uncertainty and lack of the appropriate policies to all the clean option, nuclear, to be built).

    Every way I look at this, I come to the conclusion we must tackle the fundamental problem of removing the policies that are causing the cost of nuclear to be far higher than it should be. Carbon taxes and ETS will bury the problem. It will never be addressed.

  72. Douglas

    Let’s clarify areas of agreement and disagreement

    Agreement:

    1. All three of us would agree that an aggressive rollout of nuclear (even if that meant Gen2 plants) at the expense of coal and gas would be a very good thing.

    2. None of us favours CC&S or other coal plants as viable/desirable

    3. None of us favours raising safety of nuclear plants to levels above where they are intrinsic to the design or non-trivial in cost implications

    Disagreement:

    1.Peter and you think that the externalities of coal are acceptable

    2. To differing degrees and for different reasons we are willing to hand the coal fuel cycle people a subsidised pass on these. I favour aggressively withdrawing this. You favour doing it less aggressively and Peter is indifferent because for him, cheap electricity is a “moral” thing. Apparently it’s so moral that avoiding killing people is the greater evil.

    For me, the questions are political.

    We need to stop the merry go round and reframe the debate. Let’s invite the coal people to defend their business model explicitly.

    Perhaps our slogan should be: but is it as good as nuclear?

  73. Martin, 2 April 2010 at 22.57 Said

    Peter: “Renewables have and still are receiving far higher levels of funding for R&D than nuclear on a per MWh electricity generated basis and on a Return on Investment basis. This is the only fair way to do the comparison.” Two points: [a] renewables have not yet produced a whole lot of MWhs, so of course the level of funding per MWh is high; [b] it beggars belief that if you add up all the funding for nuclear energy, world-wide, since the 50s, it has not been massively more than the funding for renewables.

    I just saw this comment and realised I did not respond.

    You are correct about point a). And this is the point. Despite 50+ years of subsidies for R&D into renewable energy, and despite the fact that wind mills have been generating electricity for over a century and solar PV for half a century, renewables are still totallly uneconmic and provide next to no useful power. Wind in particular is more of a high cost nuicance than a benefit. Solar has some value in remote sites but is also a high cost nuisance when connected to the grid. The amount of public funding in R&D needs to be compared on the basis of the return on investment. That is, on the amount of useful electricity each has provided. As you point out in your point b), much more public money has been spent on nculear than on renewable energy. But divide that public money by the energy produced, you find that the research funds spent on renewables per unit of electrcity produced is far higher for renewables than for nuclear. So the return on the funds invested is far greater for nuclear than for renewables. There is no likelihood that this trend will change in the future. Wind solar and all the other renewables (except hydro) will never be a major contributor to electrcity generation for all the reasons pointed out on the various BNC threads and comments.

  74. Ewen,

    You misrepresented me (intentionally, I believe) when you said:

    Peter is indifferent because for him, cheap electricity is a “moral” thing. Apparently it’s so moral that avoiding killing people is the greater evil.

    I have repeatedly said that the your policy of raising the cost of electricity will kill more people than low cost fossil fules. All you have to do is look at Gapminder charts to see that for your slef. I’ve pointed you to those repeatedly in the past. You can find out this otherways to.

    Your repeated misrepresentation of my position, I find typical of those with your deep-green idelogical bent. Anything goes. I do not trust the objectives of the deep-green extremist activists. I find their policies naieve and extremely damaging. Dishonesty is not an issue for these people. The end justifies the means.

  75. Peter

    Your claims about the link between cheap electricity and human wellbeing have been shown up as misleading. This is particularly true in the developing world.

    You are the one misrepresenting your position.

  76. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/09/ontario-launches-comprehensive-system-of-feed-in-tariffs

    “The tariffs are precedent setting in North America not only for the number of different technologies listed, but also for the prices offered. Solar energy advocates will be particularly pleased. Ontario’s proposed tariffs, if implemented, will be the highest in North America. For rooftop solar they will be comparable to those offered in Germany and France.

    Ontario is expecting a boom in rooftop solar installations as a result of the program. The province will pay CAN $0.80/kWh (US $0.69/kWh; €0.51/kWh) for electricity from small rooftop solar systems less than 10 kilowatts for a period of 20 years.”

    http://www.ontarioliberal.ca/pressreleases.aspx?id=289

    “A consortium led by Samsung C&T Corporation and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) will invest $7 billion to generate 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar power.”

    It sounds like Ontario is doing what Germany was doing under Chancellor Gazprom.
    Ye gods…

  77. This discussion is helping me clarify in my own mind what I see as the prioirites.

    For me, the first priority is the ability to supply low cost electricity for all peoples on the planet.

    We can do that best by developing least cost electricity in the developed countries. Therefore, artificially raising the cost of electricity through imposing Carbon Tax or ETS is the wrong policy. Such policies would burry, forever, the imposts of our irrational western beliefs (such as espoused by Ewen). And would cause higher cost electricity to be passed on to everyone. What right do we have to impose the costs (and in Ewens’ emotive terms, the death sentence) of our irrational ideologies on everyone.

    We can have clean, low-cost electricity. But we need to confront the ideologies that have got us into this mess, not avoid confronting them. The policies that many of the deep green extremists espouse are immoral, unethical, evil and deadly (in their emotive language).

  78. Lawrence, on 4 April 2010 at 11.39 Said:

    It sounds like Ontario is doing what Germany was doing under Chancellor Gazprom.
    Ye gods…

    Yes, Lawrence. And, as if this isn’t enough, these deep green-extremist activists want to bury these subsidies and entrench them forever by making governments impose a carbon tax and/or ETS. Oh shucks, let’s have both.

  79. Ewen,

    Your claims about the link between cheap electricity and human wellbeing have been shown up as misleading. This is particularly true in the developing world.

    I expect one of the groups you trust for your information has said this. Many others who I would trust have said the opposite. It is absolutely clear to me from looking at the UN stats what is truth. You’d need to be extremely twisted to believe electrcity is not a main factor in lifting people out of poverty and giving them a better, healthier, longer and more fulfilling life.

  80. Most of my friends don’t worry about this stuff. They are all much happier than me.
    See I am convinced we are going to have an oil shortage within five years. It will be permanent, and economically devastating. We HAVE TO implement nuclear power now (actually decades ago). Yet everywhere I look I see it being derailed. I cannot understand how any rational person can think that renewables can work.
    I mean look at this absolute garbage:
    http://news.ontario.ca/mei/en/2010/01/backgrounder-20100121.html
    “The Consortium’s renewable energy projects will deliver an estimated 110 million megawatt-hours of emissions-free electricity over the 25-year lifetime of the project. That’s enough power to supply the electricity needs of all Ontario homes for nearly three years.”
    LIES!
    Really words fail me. The ones that come to mind are unprintable.

  81. DV82XL @ 4 April 2010 at 2.31,

    Very interesting points.

    This has gone on all over the World, in many jurisdictions, sometimes less obvious, sometimes more so, but nevertheless shows that the major issues when it come to costs are artificiality created to defend the value of fossil-fuel interests. Breaking that political Compact is going to require more than reasoned logic.

    And implementing a Carbon Tax or ETS will not help address the underlying issue. It will just help renewables, CCS and all these other irrational schemes. We need to confront the irrrationaility and ideologies that are supporting this nonsense, not avoid and bury the real issues.

  82. So the project is for 2500MW.
    Ok. Maths time.
    110 million megawatt hours over 25 years.
    110000000000 kwhrs over 25 years.
    4400000000 kwhrs per year.
    502283 kW.
    500MW.
    i.e. capacity factor of 20%.
    Ontario has peak demand of about 25GW in summer. 7 billion is going to provide 1/2GW of intermittent power. Somehow this is going to power all of Ontario’s homes for 3 years out of 25.
    What they hell does this mean?
    Why would I spend 7 billion dollars for 1/2 a GW of intermittent power production?
    It’s crazy and indefensible.

  83. I’ve got that wrong. The Koreans are investing $7B, but that’s not the cost to Ontario of the project. I don’t know what the cost of the project is really. I do know that 500MW of unreliable power is not worth much.

  84. Lawrence,

    I haven’t checked the maths, but what you are showing is the sort of monstrous fraud that is being perpetrated in many of the western countries. We’ve become too wealthy and therefore complacent. We can afford to waste our wealth on these crazy schemes that are generated by crazy irrational idealists. We have people with the time to spend promoting these irrational schemes and spinning them to media, politicians and the public. While these people, many of whom are on the public payroll and therfore have time on their hands to to propogate this nonsense, keep dreaming up these schemes and propogating them. They get into positions where they can influence governemnt policy, such as greenwashing the Canadian Atomic Control Board, or what ever its new green equivalent is.

    I say again, these deep green extremist activistis are evil.

  85. The news I quoted appears to say the cost of the renewable power is standard rates + the EDA with NPV of 437 million.
    437 million / 110 million megawatt hours = 0.4 c/kWhr as the extra cost over standard rates for the power.
    Doesn’t sound like much. I basically don’t believe it, but even if it’s correct I don’t see the benefit of paying anything extra for unreliable power.

  86. Let me clarify my point . The money could be spent on nuclear power, which is much more reliable, cleaner and safer. We don’t know just when the power from this renewable project will come online – they are saying the first 500MW (actually an average of 100MW of unreliable power) will come online around 2015 (2012 plus 38 months), but the rest is contingent.

  87. Lawrence, I share your frustration on the lack of nuclear in Australia especially but I’m encouraged that around the world there are currently 53 reactors under construction adding to the 435 currently generating power. We just have to keep at our politicians to wake up to the enormous possibilities for Australia when we finally go nuclear.

    John Newlands I’m very happy to share with you my idea of how to save the Murray/Darling system. My experience of the Murray concerned a land use survey of part of the SA section done as part of a geography major done in 1958. There was water everywhere as it was just two years since the biggest flood ever recorded viz 1956. You are dead right John about the forlorn hope that big tropical cyclones will keep the supplies up. They won’t as they vary greatly in their intensity and the rainfall produced. That’s a big worry at the moment following the considerable rains in the catchment this last year. Irrigators and others might delude themselves into thinking that things are returning to “normal” rainfall regimes whatever they are. The owners of Cubby Station see themselves as having enough water for two year’s crops. That water should be released into the system and the phasing out of Cubby must continue as part of the major rationalization of the total irrigation effort in the system. This is what I’ve been advocating now for 10 years and the late Prof. Peter Cullen said just before he died that the total irrigation effort throughout the basin needed a 60% reduction. I agree with that figure, in fact it was a figure I suggested to him and James Lovelock during a meeting in the Adelaide Town Hall during the 2007 Festival of Ideas. I’ll be as brief as I can John. The Federal Government must take control of the entire system and if this needs a referendum then we just do it. Once in control, the Feds TELL the states to reduce their total irrigation affort by that 60 or thereabouts%. All of that saved water stays in the system to restore environmental flows, wetland rehabilitation and allow the Murray to flow out to the sea unaided. The 40% of remaining irrigation water allows for a sustainable level of agricultural production which will of course be less than before the rationalization occurred. But it will be sustainable and if as we all believe, future “normal” flows will be less than previously because of “climate change” and shifting climatic boundaries then that’s a good thing. The states have to organize fairly the exit from irrigation of those who leave the system buying their water entitlements generously and redeploying them in a major revegetation scheme of much of the lands which were previously cleared for agriculture. That keeps them in work and over coming decades, return the lands to something approaching the vegetation cover which existed before clearing. Instead of growing food crops etc, they grow native plants in their billions and gradually restore the seriously degraded farm lands. This is a radical, long term, expensive programme and so how are we going to pay for it. And this is where we initiate the development of the full nuclear fuel cycle. Australia agrees to take some/all of the world’s high level nuclear waste for burial in the Officer Basin in SA. According to Access Economics 1998 figures, one waste dump has the potential to generate 20,000 infrastructure development jobs, 2,500 operational jobs and $2.5 billion in taxes and royalties per year from user countries. This is the money we earmark for the irrigation buyout and the rehabilitation of our degraded farmlands etc. over coming decades. We solve a number of serious problems doing this. We get rid of the world’s nuclear waste, safely and securely, we bring the Murray/Darling system back to life and we create a whole lot of new/ different jobs for our people. John, this was the argument which I put on Phillip Adams Late Night Live in March 2003 ][for goodness sake] when debating Prof. John Veevers from Macquarie Uni on how we could save the Murray. Nuclear waste could provide the money to finance the salvation of the river system. Veevers said that we could make as much money by going into wholesale Heroin production. That’s true. Ask Phillip Adams.
    After all of that John, we get busy doing all of the other necessary things over the same decades to develop the full nuclear fuel cycle as I outlined in my vision piece which I think you would have seen on a previous thread.It’s all part of my vision for SA and Australia and is what I had hoped to put to the masses at Rudd’s Best an Brightest talk fest. I wasn’t invited. I was going to mention the dreaded nuclear word. The current Chair of the Murray /Darling Basin Authority has said that we are not going to save the system with the piddling incremental improvements we are currently making. We need a radical plan for the whole basin and soon. I think we need something like I’ve suggested above.

  88. More number crunching related to my comments.

    110 million megawatt hours over 25 years.
    110000000000 kwhrs over 25 years.
    4400000000 kwhrs per year.
    366666666.66666666666666666666667 kwhrs per month.

    Average home uses 920 kWh/month.
    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/electricity_faqs.asp

    366666666/920=398550
    so about 400,000 homes can be run on this energy.
    Ontario population is about 10 million, if 4 people per home then 2.5 million homes.
    400000/2500000 = 0.15669
    or about one sixth of all homes. That’s actually higher than the number 3 out of 25 they say.

    I think it’s misleading. Homes are not the economy. What counts is total usage. Ontario needs 25GW of power availability. How do you get that much power from renewables? At a 20 percent capacity factor (the best the Koreans can do in Ontario) you need 125GW of capacity, and that would still only provide an average of 25GW of unreliable capacity. I bet the capacity in this Korean/Ontarian project is not backed up. How much does 125GW of renewables cost? How long would it take to build?
    At the AECL rate of 26 billion for 2GW the cost is $13/W so 25GW would cost 325 billion. 325/125=2.6. Can renewables be built for $2.6 per watt? And it still wouldn’t be as reliable as the nuclear power.

  89. Peter

    You are simply passing off shonky accounting as public policy and slandering those of us who want transparency as evil.

    Could there be a clearer example of the dead end into which your pro-polluter fundamentalism leads people?

  90. Terry K I need to ponder your ideas on the MD basin. Where will the food be grown?

    In other news in the Sunday paper I see those who want to stall carbon pricing might have got their wish..it’s not gonna happen this year at least. The departmental fixit team ACCRA are going to use their 154 staff and $57m budget on getting insulation right. I was hoping they might have at least explained what the solar energy multiplier was all about. Even if the Libs and Greens pass the ETS legislation next session of Parliament it seems it will go on hold for another year. I seem to recall it was one of Rudd’s two big promises way back in 2007. Personally I think stiff carbon pricing is necessary.

    Another snippet is talk of a second underwater HVDC cable from Tas to the mainland though I doubt it could supply two way pumped storage at say $5 per watt capital cost. Also a proposed new 250 MW wind farm will have to be ‘eagle friendly’ to sell RECs, just as my neighbour’s micro hydro will have to be ‘platypus friendly’. It’s all sort of warm green and fuzzy.

  91. Lawrence …

    Re: shonkly accounting

    Peter claims that coal is “cheap electricity” because he zero ratyes the subsidy from the commons, which turns up in Quality Life Years (QLY) costs associated with damage to ecosystme services.

    He also fattens the pig by trying to associate one factor in civilisation — energy — with all the benefots of civilised society. While general provision of despatachbale energy is certainly one key factor in human development statistics, it is not a sufficient condition and certainly, at the margins, having access to more energy may make very little difference at all.

    Having access to refrigeration, rapid bulk transport, lighting, the treatment and supply of bulk potable water, the materials for housing and food production at industrial scale and so forth are doubtless good things which energy enables. Yet if one’s energy choices entail poisoning or injuring sections of the populace, and particularly the children or the able bodied, then this is a cost against the system.

    Peter simply expunges this from the ledger.

  92. Ewen,

    Personally I think those who think our economy / society / civilisation depends for it’s productivity and value on energy consumption, i.e. GNP is linearly related to energy consumption, are correct. And I think Peter’s referencing the Gapminder cites is also correct.

    There is just one thing I see wrong with Peter’s comments – if burning coal is a chief cause of climate changing emissions, and if these emissions are likely to cause the most and a lot of trouble for the developing world e.g. messing with the monsoon, increasing sea level (probably disproportionately), then that’s a cost that should be factored in when talking about costs to the developing world.

    But perhaps he has addressed that and I just didn’t see it.

    But the general observation that nuclear has been overpriced because of extraordinary safety measures I’m sure is correct.

  93. But the general observation that nuclear has been overpriced because of extraordinary safety measures I’m sure is correct

    I doubt that that is in fact the case. The FOAK costs would surely be the key issue in price, along perhaps with the unnecessarily long lead times for environmental assessment..

    I like the standards for nuclear but think they should be general.

    I also like the bumper sticker I’ve proposed but is it as good as nuclear?

    Perhaps I will make some and market them, with variations (e.g. clean, safe, sustainable, eco-friendly etc)

    Peter seems to want to wind back safety. Apart from being politically destructive to the campaign, I can’t imagine that it would make a fly speck’s bit of difference to the costs, and if it did, this would be worse because we would have opened the door to bad faith objections on both sides — affirmning coal and letting big business trade safety to force it through.

    I don’t know whether nuclear will make it to Australia, but if it does Peter’s approach will not be the way it happens.

  94. Ewen,

    I don’t think I can agree.
    FOAK costs occur only once.
    Peter says (paraphrasing) if we impose unnecessarily high costs on power production we make everything worse.
    He says (now I remember) all power production should meet the same emissions (or generally speaking, safety) standards.
    If you do that, nuclear wins.
    That’s it.

  95. John Newlands. The M/D Basin will continue to produce a lot of food although probably there will be less for export. I think that a sustainable level of production which will feed Australia with still considerable export is preferable to a continually degrading agricultural environment which will ultimately die if we don’t do something fairly radical. If we ultimately kill the system then no-one will derive benefit from it. And I think we are at present on track to kill the system. If we don’t rationalize our irrigation effort, I reckon the rivers will do it for us. Very pessimistic to be sure. I was in the Riverland last week and there are lots of irrigators who have pulled the plug. We need to make it possible for many more to exit the industry as soon as we can as per my suggestion.
    Thanks Peter Lang for your positive support for my vision. Cheers Terry K

  96. FOAK costs occur only once

    Not if one keeps coming up with new reactor designs.

    if we impose unnecessarily high costs on power production we make everything worse

    That’s true, though the issue turns on what is unnecessary

    The costs of power production are what they are. The only question being discussed is on whose shoulders should each factor of production fall?

    Allowing coal, for example, to allow gas from mines to vent freely into the air without cost, to allow dust from coal mining to fill the lings of miners or for production to continue when mines are unsafe, or for small children to go down the mines or for dust from coal transport to asphyxiate people en route, or for large volumes of water or air to be contaminated with effluent from combustion all free of charge means that all those affected bear these costs instead of the users of the output … and then the cost shows up in poorer health outcomes and ruined lives and in lost production and in higher health costs in the system.

    And we haven’t even mentioned CO2 …

    Peter’s argument has the same form as those who argue that because CO2 is part of the cycle plants use to produce sugars that more CO2 in the air must lead to a fall in world hunger. The argumentation is utterly facile because it simply ignores the complexity in human systems which authors human development outcomes.

    There are all sorts of ways in which we could insist upon those in the coal cycle progressively internalising what is externalised — a concept to which Peter occasionally pays lip service — and which would, if implemented, eventually make nuclear — which already internalises nearly everything — the cheapest industrial scale energy source not just in practice but on paper too. Peter urges a course that would be a massive own goal with virtually zero upside rather than one which would force nuclear’s main rivals (coal and to a lesser extent gas) to score an own goal

    Need one point out how utterly diabolical the politics of this would be within the constituencies one would want to target?

  97. Ewen,

    You seem to be liking nuclear and arguing about the politics of getting it accepted.
    I don’t suppose Peter knows how to do that, I thought he was asking for input about that.
    As the saying goes, I can’t speak for Peter.
    He seems to think the realistic approach is based on making nuclear cheaper, which he thinks would require lessening the safety expenditures of nuclear.
    I’m terrible at politics, so don’t ask me. If DV82XL is right, the hard part is overcoming corrupt politicians, not the public.

  98. He seems to think the realistic approach is based on making nuclear cheaper, which he thinks would require lessening the safety expenditures of nuclear.

    The bulk of those making up their minds on nuclear power are not going to be greatly exercised by the costs. Renewables will cost a lot more but most people who favour them don’t care. They think renewables are clean and safe and that is all that matters. Self-evidently, trying to sell nuclear on the basis of “now at 10% off the marked price and 10% more dangerous” isn’t going to sell people who in their ignorance think it is already much too dangerous. In fact, a better sales pitch would be the opposite — now twice as safe and twice as expensive.

    We don’t have to do that of course, and we should not. Our objective should be to make the flipside of Peter’s point — that what is wrong with coal and gas is that under no circumstances could these be as safe as nuclear power and that nuclear power should be the benchmark for measuring the worthiness of industrial scale energy systems.

    Once that argument starts, we are well on the way to getting acceptance of nuclear power.

    I strongly suspect the pollies here would mostly favour nuclear power, but the problem is that unreasoning prejudice infects the ranks of both parties and advocacy of nuclear power is strongly associated with the right. This means that although the majority of both parties might think it a good thing there is a Mexican standoff in which the proposer will be wedged by the other side, who cares more about power than good public policy.

  99. Isn’t the whole point of GEN3+ increased safety, decreased material input, decreased complexity, lower construction time and lower construction cost? If we want to push Nuclear then I feel we also have to push all of the advantages GEN3+ brings. Also, let’s not forget that the planned AP1000 units at Vogtle are over twice as expensive as the identical units being built in China.

  100. Ewen,

    It’s getting late so my brain is getting fuzzy.
    But now you seem to be saying the public should accept nuclear power for reasons that require a pretty good knowledge of the amazing safety of current nuclear power operation. Do they know that much? Do they know how poor the standards are of fossil fuel power production? Do they know how poor the economics of renewables are, if renewables were really required to provide the majority of our power (which eventually, when the fossil fuels run out, and if we don’t go nuclear, they would have to)?
    I don’t know what the pollies think. Good old Noam Chomsky I think would say it’s not important to know what they think – only to oppose what they do when it is not in the public interest.
    I’m sorry to have to stop for the evening, but I think my brain is shutting down.

  101. Scott,

    The last flickering embers of my mind tonight recall just this one possible objection to Gen3+ as a practical matter – like all PWRs they require a pretty massive pressure vessel which in the world today can only be manufactured by one place – I can’t remember the name – Japan Big Welding or something – if we want to do a fast rollout of nuclear (not Gen4), the alternative is CANDUs that don’t require that pressure vessel.

  102. Without (yet) studying the issue in depth, it seems to me that Peter Lang’s point about renewables (except hydro) never being a major contributor to electricity generation gets a tick. I also go along with David Walters when he says “Peter is 100% correct when he has argued that *cheap, abundant, reliable* electricity is a key to developing our planet in an environmentally friendly fashion”. I’m not sure I fully appreciate yet why renewables hold back nuclear, or necessarily have to hold it back, but I suppose I will when I’ve read some more (no need for people to educate me here). In the meantime, DV82XL, I believe that research into all areas, nuclear as well as renewables, can only be of benefit to personkind. And while I remain impressed by Peter Lang’s and Terry Krieg’s posts about Chernobyl, I’m grateful to Peter Lalor for reminding me, if no-one else, that official reports can be tainted by politics and other factors.

    Thank you, David, for your welcome! But I’m not necessarily “anti-nuclear” – having read quite a lot of the anti-nuclear arguments, I’m now looking at the pro-nuclear side in order to arrive at my own position. As for not being intimidated by Ph.Ds, nuclear geeks etc, I’ve found that many experts lose sight of the big picture and thus can have only a limited input to an argument that involves many disciplines, points of view, and factors such as people’s fears (rational or not), ignorance, prejudice etc. I don’t know John Newlands’ qualifications or background, but his denigration of people’s genuine and heart-felt concerns about eagles and platypuses (“It’s all sort of warm green and fuzzy”) is the kind of thing that could lead to a public relations disaster for the pro-nuclear lobby.

  103. Steady on there Martin. What I’m doing is ridiculing the idea that Renewable Energy Credits which heavily distort energy markets can be so subjective in nature. As it happens I make a slight surplus of household electricity, make most of my own car fuel from veg oil and pay no water or sewage rates. Alas I’m not that good at food self sufficiency.

    What I’ve learned from all of this is renewables cannot underwrite the lifestyles of the global middle class. It’s a fantasy that is being propped up with undiminished coal burning and handouts (like RECs) to make renewables look better than they are. The longer we kid ourselves the harder the eventual reality check will be.

  104. Scott, on 4 April 2010 at 18.06 Said:

    Isn’t the whole point of GEN3+ increased safety, decreased material input, decreased complexity, lower construction time and lower construction cost? If we want to push Nuclear then I feel we also have to push all of the advantages GEN3+ brings. Also, let’s not forget that the planned AP1000 units at Vogtle are over twice as expensive as the identical units being built in China.

    I agree with all these points. However, I don’t know the following:

    1. Is the AP1000 less expensive (total life cost per MWh) than the CANDU 6 or other Gen IIs?

    2. Is the AP1000 more expensive than a simple, nuclear power plant with equivalent safety to the coal plants we accept now? For example, would a relatively simple NPP, like those in a nuclear powered ship, be less expensive than an AP1000?

    3. Would the Russian NPP’s be less expensive than the AP1000? Their safety record is far superior to coal fired plants, so why not these if they are less expensive?

    Do you know the answer to these three questions?

    I realise I am pushing the envelope with my comments and questions. I am doing so to try to get people to think about the cost of requiring ridiculous levels of safety. And also to get them to consider why we are wanting to impose carbon taxes and ETS while we are not prepared to tackle the policies that are causing nuclear to be more expensice than it needs to be.

    I realise the ‘start from scratch, low cost NPP’ are not ready to go and would take a long time to develop and gain approval so it is not a realistic option. But it gets some people thinking about the inflated costs and delays their excessive demands are causing.

  105. Ewen Laver:

    I think the points you have been making have been reasoned and have merit. I can’t really see that they are incompatible with the objectives espoused by Peter Lang and several others here but for a single exception. This relates to Peter’s wish to reduce electricity costs by reducing “redundant” safety of nuclear plants. You suggest that this would be politically inept and I’m inclined to agree. For some reason, Peter has decided that you are from the extreme green left and this seems to generate such an emotional response in him that it appears to preclude the use of his normally astute cognitive faculties.

    I have tried to argue, and I think you and Scott are inclined to agree, that the engineering costs of nuclear safety, redundant or not, may not be the principal factors determining the overpricing of nuclear power in western democracies. Should this not be so, Peter’s case becomes stronger.

    The debate about the internalising of externalised coal costs is becoming more nuanced and is unlikely to progress further. After all, we all want to see its use for power production phased out as soon as practicably possible and must accept that the Chinese and Indians will continue using it until they have something better to replace it with. None of us has faith in CCS coal so we agree that this has to be nuclear.

  106. To which, Douglas, I would merely add that those who need to be won over are precisely those whom Peter would label “deep green” (and thus agents of “evil”) whether they are in fact deep green or not.

    If these people could be brought to look at nuclear power favourably — making it a green issue the policy could go forward very quickly.

  107. Ewen,

    We’ve been trying to win over your mates with rational arguments for 40 years. It hasn’t worked. You and your mates want to add Carbon Tax and ETS to increase electricity prices but don’t want to look at what is making nuclear more expensive than coal. As long as you and your ilk take this approach there will be resistance from the wiser, rational, vast majority. I am trying to get you to go after you brethren and change their mind, rather than try to burry the problem under an ETS or Carbon Tax.

    If you want to impose an ETS or Carbon tax without first committing to remove the cost imposts on nuclear, I submit we will keep mucking around for another 40 years, or for however long it takes to get over these irrational policies.

    Renewable Energy Targets, feed in tariffs, subsides for renewable energy production, and funding for renewable energy research while none for nuclear, need to be stopped before I would be willing to support an ETS or carbon tax. While I see your ilk arguing for all these distorting and money wasting policies and also wanting an ETS and Carbon Tax, I just feel it is green-wash. I don’t trust the motives.

  108. Peter Lang:

    You very reasonably wish to do everything possible to encourage transition to clean energy while keeping electricity prices from rising. Your recipe is to avoid the imposition of carbon taxes and, instead, regulate coal out of production at a rate that would allow its replacement with nuclear. How will your prescription prevent a dash to gas? What will it do to facilitate the electrification of transport?

    Might I suggest that, if you favour the dictatorial (regulatory) route rather than a free market one, you would achieve a better outcome by mandating nuclear while phasing out both coal and baseload gas? If you were to take this route, you might as well nationalise the energy sector in its entirety. This would allow you to ride roughshod over those attempting to delay your aims (nimbys, planners, regulators), prevent gouging by nuclear plant providers and remove the need to rely on private investors with short term investment predelictions. It would also remove the need to greenwash and subsidise renewables. To summarise, the best outcome would be best achieved by adopting a Chinese political model and suspending democracy. If that’s what is needed to get the job done, I might back you to be my dictator but you wouldn’t need my backing in such circumstances anyway.

    OK, this is somewhat tongue in cheek. However, power is shifting away from western democracies and the shift will accelerate and lead to terminal decline if we continue to dither. Peak oil will see to that before the added woes of AGW even kick in in their more severe manifestations.

  109. @Lang: you appear to be writing to Ewen Laver that you (undefined) have been propounding rational policies for 40 years, i.e. 1970.

    For AU this includes part of the career of e.g. Sir Ernest Titterton, d. 1990. You can easily find a listing of the positions he held on various boards in AU. These show how military and civilian use of atomic energy have been conflated.

    Looking at December 1969, just outside your time frame, it would appear that the forerunner of ANSTO supported the construction of a plant at Jervis Bay NSW that could produce weapons-grade plutonium.

    If I may mention the name Diesendorf on BNC without having to wash my mouth out with soap: he adverted to the conflation of military/civilian in AU in his videoed debate with the Blog Owner and Blees in ADL.

    Your “rationality” has thus included that of mutually assured destruction, MAD.

  110. 1. It can be difficult to tell when GENII ends and GENIII begins. My understanding is GENIII are essentially the same in principle and operation as GENII but with advances in operation, cost, and safety. Both GE & Westinghouse have products that are simplified compared to existing reactors, utilize modular construction techniques and have improved or passive safety. The AP1000 doesn’t require active systems for safety which probably cuts down the cost significantly. I have no figures or direct comparisons, but it’s clear the world wants to head in the direction of GENIII. I don’t know a whole lot about CANDU technology, however the Enhanced CANDU 6 is a GENIII design, but a quick search lists the following advantages it has over the CANDU 6:

    Increased plant margins, both operational and safety
    Enhanced environmental protection
    Improved severe accident response
    Improved fire protection system
    Improved plant security
    Modern computers and control systems
    Improved plant operability and maintainability
    Optimized plant maintenance outages
    Reduced Overall Project Schedule
    Advanced MACSTOR design for spent fuel storage
    Ability to perform deep load-following (50%-100% FP)

    http://www.nuclearfaq.ca/cnf_sectionA.htm#ec6

    2. I have no idea. I suspect an AP1000 without all the enhanced overblown safety like the crash-proof containment would be cheaper. This could be eliminated by reducing the regulatory burden which is probably the lowest hanging fruit. I suspect this is followed by further plant simplification with designs such as the B&W mPower. They integrated the steam generator into the RPV virtually eliminating the possibility of a loss of coolant accident, and all the safety systems designed to deal with it. This also is supposed to make the plant cheaper and easier to construct. I also believe that our future plants must have similar or better safety to existing plants – I wouldn’t expect the public to accept anything less.

    I think the best question is:
    - Why is the AP1000 in the west over twice the cost of the AP1000 in China?

    3. I haven’t seen any cost projections on them. I can’t help but liken the Russian Nuclear industry to that of the Russian civilian aerospace industry. They build cheap hardware that is very unpopular internationally that pretty much nobody buys. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s my perception. (even China is proceeding with plants that are based on the AP1000 – the CAP1400)

    4. Hyperion is not in production and is not licensed. I don’t think we will know that for some time.

  111. Peter Lang:

    I apologise if I did not specifically comment on your comment 52619. Problem is that I’m in a different time zone and a lot of water has gone under the bridge before I get to reading everything here. This means it often seems too late to make specific responses to comments that appear soon after I’ve gone to bed. However, since you have invited a reply, I’ll have a go.

    You stated that you couldn’t answer the questions I raised but that your gut feeling was that “excessive safety requirements increase the cost of the nuclear plant by more than a factor of 2.” However, you went on to conflate the extra costs of redundant pumps, valves, containment etc with “changed requirements, redesign, ever increasing new requirements, more design changes …” I don’t dispute your gut feeling but the information I was hoping for – namely the actual extra build costs associated with redundant safety- was not provided, even from your nether regions. I agree that ever increasing new requirements and design changes are unacceptable.

    Later in your comment you suggest that “we could have power from nuclear for about 25% of what it is under existing safety requirements.” I wonder what the reference point for your 25% is – the cost of nuclear power in France, the UK, theUSA , Russia or China? In the UK, there are several reliable sources that suggest that new nuclear will produce electricity as or more cheaply than that produced from a new coal plant with no CCS. Am I to take it, therefore, that your gut feeling is that nuclear electricity should cost one quarter that of coal electricity on a level playing field?

    Finally, can I ask you to reconcile your “more than doubling build costs” to your 25% electricity costs? I’m not sure what you are including in your build costs. I believe the up front costs of nuclear plants contribute roughly 70% to the costs of electricity emanating from them. Up front costs are made up of more than build costs. Also, build costs of nuclear reactors are not the same as total build costs for a nuclear power plant. I am therefore struggling to understand how your separately stated gut feelings are consistent.

  112. Douglas Wise

    How will your prescription prevent a dash to gas? What will it do to facilitate the electrification of transport?

    I must have answered this about 10 times already in different posts on different threads. I am worn out with repeating the same thing over an ovr again when it seems it is slipping right past.

    Might I suggest that, if you favour the dictatorial (regulatory) route rather than a free market one,

    That must be a joke. You call imposing an ETS or carbon tax as a free market approach. You must be joking.

  113. Let me reiterate what I wrote in my last post – I don’t think safety is what causes the high nuclear construction costs. Something is causing AP1000′s proposed in America to cost $6000 a kilowatt, and something is causing the AP1000 to cost $2000 per kilowatt in China. The Korean (aka CE) reactors that will be built in UAE were about $3500 kilowatt iirc. Something must make up these differences:

    - Is it because China can produce things cheaply?
    - Is it because China has cheap labour?
    - Is it because China is developing and building many units at the same time?
    - Is the regulatory burden different?

    We need more expertise in this area.

  114. Scott,

    Thank you for all those answers. What I am really asking about is costs. The AP1400s Korea has contracted to build in UAE are about US$3700/kW. That is FOAK in UAE and FOAK for Korean export. So we should expect them to cost less next time, everything else being equal.

    DV82XL has mentioned capital cost of about $1300 to $2200/kW for the CANDU 6.

    New Super Critical coal plant in Australia is estimate at about $2239/kW. Nuclear in Australia at $5200 (FOAK), but I argue that is too high. It is because of the impediments. We need nuclear at somewhere between $2500 and $3000/kW (settled down cost) to be competitive with coal.

    I realise what you say about the Russian plants, but let’s push the envelope. We want low cost electrcity for all the benefits it brings. It will also be easier to bring clean electrcity to Australia quickly if it is cheaper than coal. So what do we have to do to get low cost nuclear in Australia? I am not really advocating Russian or Chinese reactors, although it might seem like that. I am trying to get the people blogging here to get away from their one track solution of an ETS or Carbon Tax and look at the problem of the impediments to nculear. These are the real block to nuclear in Australia; and an ETS or Carbon Tax are not going to bring nuclear to Australia until we tackly the fundamental underlying policy issues. That is, the greenie and Labor objection to nuclear. That is what we must tackle. Let’s not hide or avoid the real isue by arguing about ETS or Carbon Tax.

    So let’s, look at what could/should be the cost of nuclear in Australia if we removed all the impediments. And let’s identify the impediments and work out how best to remove them. Forget about the ETS or Carbon Tax until we’ve done this. That is what I am getting at.

  115. Douglas Wise,

    You are asking never ending questions for clarification. I feel I am answering them, and have been for a long time, but they are spread through many posts on many threads. It nis not possible to bring it all together in short web posts. I think if you read back over them you will see the difference between the factor of 2 and the 25% and that these are big picture gut feel figures in answer to your earlier questions. I feel I gave you the basis for these, but you are not picking up on them. Enough from me from on this for tonight.

    Why don’t you have a go at trying to come up with some answers to my questions instead of turning them back on me to answer?

  116. Why was FOAK in UAE $3700 per kilowatt and FOAK in Australia projected to be $5200? Also, my math puts Qinshan Phase 3 CANDU at $2100 USD per kilowatt in 2003, $2500 today taking into account inflation. That’s higher than AP1000 iirc.

  117. Peter Lang:

    True to your instructions, I’ve been browsing. This seems to give good information on relative costs. You may, of course, be au fait with it already.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf02.html

    I only ask never ending questions of you because your answers rarely strike me as entirely convincing. Perhaps most others here have more knowledge and greater intelligence and are thus able to accept that you are almost always right. Sorry to be so irritating.

    Happy Easter.

  118. Scott,

    Thank you for that update on the cost of Qinshan Phase 3 CANDU. Do you have a link to an authoritative source for that figure? It would be useful for me to have that for future use.

    Here is the source of the $5200/kW capital cost for FOAK nuclear in Australia: http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/419-0035.pdf

    It is based on an Australian study by ANSTO. However, it is consistent with EPRI and MIT (2009) projected costs converted to Australian conditions. It gives the projected costs through to 2030.

    I don’t know if you have seen this paper: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/.
    It has the projected capital costs and electricity costs to 2050 for coal, gas, nuclear, wind and solar thermal.

  119. Douglas Wise,

    Happy Easter to you too. We can continue discussions another day. I am sure we are not really very far apart. I am hoping you and otheres will eventually drop the obsession with ETS and Carbon Tax. I suspec Ewen is rusted on to that because that is what the Greens advocate. And Peter Lalor simply wants renewables and thinks nuclear is evil, so that will never go anywhere. There will always be some on the fringe that will never be rational. I’d include in this group: Jim Green, Mark Diesendorf, Mark Jacobson, David Lowe and all those who belong to WWF, FoE, Greenpeace and ACF.

  120. Peter said:

    Renewable Energy Targets, feed in tariffs, subsides for renewable energy production, and funding for renewable energy research while none for nuclear, need to be stopped before I would be willing to support an ETS or carbon tax.

    This is precisely what I do say. Once nearly everything is internalised i.e we have a nearly level playing field then these are an impediment — they are kind of like your proposed counter-subsidy for nuclear as a response to the public subsidy to coal you want to keep.

  121. All – happy Spring Equinox celebrations,

    The Qinshan Phase 3 savings calculation in that pamphlet Scott linked to seems to be for total plant cost end-to-end, so it probably is a good ball-park number to use. The contract with China was a complex one and involved some technology transfer, so that the next builds could have greater local content. AECL has made it clear that they will sell rights to build CANDUs independently to groups that qualify, and this was part of moving the Chinese in that direction, as their plans for new plants are quite ambitious.

    One last item that needs to be factored into the the equation when looking at appropriate reactor designs in the fuel. CANDU reactors do not require enriched fuel. For all others currently available an enrichment facility will have to be built, or fuel imported. No one is giving SWUs away and the cost is likely to go up long before it comes down, thus difference between these two types of fuel should be factored into the discussion.

    I believe that this conversation needs to take a moment and settle some definitions on the mater of ‘safety costs,’ in my opinion there seems to be some confusion in how that idea is interpreted, which is causing the appearance of conflict where none might exist.

    In general safety is a function of system design, quality control/quality assurance, operating procedures and discipline (a term here meaning the degree to which the prior functions are adhered to.) This breakdown is important because the areas in NPP construction where costs are driven upwards unnecessarily is in quality control and quality assurance. Over zealous application of regulation and licensing terms, particularly in areas that are far from critical, like ridiculous demands for ever finer environmental impact studies after the plant design has already passed the previous three, for example is typical.

    Refusing to allow even the smallest substitution in materials, even if that substitution is standard industry practice, without a lengthy review; demands that all systems preform initially exactly as described in the licence application, even if they are preforming well within design limits for normal plat operation, and similar nit-picking is typical. Demands on fail-safe and no-fail systems, far exceeding those required by any other technical domain (like aviation, for example) are also another source of delay and expense.

    Which brings us to how this impacts NPP costs. Normally the capitalization of a project of the nature of a NPP requires that the firm building it set and adhere to a schedule of payback for the funds borrowed. Money in the volumes involved here cannot wait for interest payments and as a result most projects of this kind in the West finds itself paying lenders before there is revenue from the plant to draw on. Every delay of one or two months, drives the price of that borrowed money higher, and to service this debt, the builders often must float even more loans, now at higher rates, and the cycle continues.

    Antinuclear forces know this effect well, and they too move to file injunctions, or make other legal manoeuvres even knowing that these will fail, because they know it will drive up the costs.

    Both of these sources of delay, although they are framed as such in the media and the propaganda, are not over true safety issues, and it is the the lack of this sort of activity that permits export CANDUs to be build for so much less that domestic projects. It is this aspect that needs cleaning up, not a general reduction in standards, as is often implied when criticizing these effects.

  122. Someone asked about the dichotomy between the very low price per KW installed of the AP1000 in China (and other places) vs that of the US where the prices are similar to the far more expensive EPR.

    The cost figures in the U.S. are not given by the contractor building the project, nor by the vendor (in this case, Westinghouse) but by the customer, that is, the utility that has to negotiate the loans and other monies involved. Thus, these costs are very broad estimates and, based on the ability of the utility recover the costs through rate increases to the ratepayer. Thus, additionally, there is a huge incentive for the utility to overprice the costs of any project since it’s assumed that the costs are “cost-plus” but given statically, a one shot, “we’ll let you recover this amount but no more” by the various state Public Utility Commissions.

    Secondly, regulatory expenses are huge in the US, not just upfront feeds (200 million USD at least) but by ancillary reports for environmental impact studies, grid tie-ins, huge delays and host of other costs associated 100% with the paper work.

    Thirdly, wage labor costs. Westinghouse stated once that it takes about 10,000,000 to 20,000,000 “man-hours” to build an AP1000 in the 36 to 42 month period they *estimate* it cost. If we use the *low* number, 10 million and multiply that by a hefty wage-benefit package of $60/hr average (say, $30/hr average for craft-labor plus another $30 for various insurance, vacation, sick leave benefits), you get a $600 million dollar price tag for wage labor alone excluding salaried positions for engineering, regulatory paper work, etc etc.

    If we use the high 20 million man-hours, that’s about 1.2 billion USD alone for the costs. The Chinese? About 1/10 to a likely 1/40th that cost. Essentially the labor power costs for a reactor there is statistically irrelevant.

    None of the financial and regulatory expenses exist under Points 1& 2 above for the PRC. There is an engineering expense for plant citing, obviously, but there is almost zero paper work vis-a-vis the kind of requirements the various state PUCs, and ISOs demand nor the large forest-killing requirements of the NRC.

    David

  123. Martin, think about the consequences, if your views on nuclear power are wrong, and they prevail. There have already been numerous efforts by nuclear supporters to answer the questions you have raised. What more do you want?

  124. David Walters – I agree with your analysis of the financial picture in the U.S. as well as the bureaucratic paper-burden, however, in the case of labor, I think you are a little off when you write that the labour costs for a reactor China is statistically irrelevant.

    While China still has a vast pool of cheap unskilled labour it is already a relatively difficult skilled labour market. The World Bank’s 2008 Ease of Doing Business Report ranked China 86th out of 178 countries in terms of ease of employing tradesmen, well below regional peers such as Thailand, Vietnam and India, with non-wage labour costs being comparatively high as well.

  125. For those many thousands of you who were following along my attempt to criticize an example of renewables that I don’t like in Ontario with my maths here and here and here,
    I thought of one or two more points.
    Homes in Ontario are commonly heated with natural gas. Renewable electricity will have to be replace more than current power consumption if it is to replace heating in homes in Ontario. Just generally speaking as the use of fossil fuels decreases, if we want to maintain overall energy usage, electrical energy usage will have to increase. The current peak usage in Ontario is about 25GW in summer, but the peak usage in a future without fossil fuels might well be more than 25GW in winter. Add the extra usage of electricity for transport, and extra usage of electricity for industrial heat, and peak electricity generating capacity goes up even more.
    So now to replace the grid in Ontario with renewables requires more than 125GW of renewables. I don’t know how much, but it’s a lot of windmills. If renewables were expanded in the ratio of the Korean/Ontarian 2500MW scheme of 80% wind and 20% solar and lets guess the electricity demand would be 50GW, then 40GW of 5MW windmills at a capacity factor of 20% would be 40,000 5MW windmills.
    Using the numbers I arrived at of nuclear power costing $13/W and therefore renewables would need to be cheaper than $2.6/W to be a better deal, I know that windfarms can be built at that rate, if you don’t count the extra powerlines needed and there is no backup other than the 5X capacity built to make up for a 20% capacity factor. So you can argue that it’s workable and cost competitive to do renewables rather than nuclear, but I don’t think it’s realistic. Looking after such a lot of renewables and wires has got to be more expensive and time consuming than 50 1GW reactors, placed near to where the power they generate is used, and from which excess heat can also surely be used too.
    But for now, having in one hand an estimate for nuclear of $13/W, they can point to renewables and say this is cheaper and doesn’t produce nuclear waste.

  126. Small point Lawrence, but “windmills” is the wrong term to use. Firstly it is wrong as the wind harvested will never turn a “mill” and it sounds like an attempt to deprecate as outdated a technology that many take seriously and is still being refined by serious engineering firms.

    Resort to wind is unlikely to prove feasible in producing industrial scale energy, but using terms of derision in an ostensibly serious piece is likely to subtract from the credibility of your contribution.

  127. Ewen,
    I’m fairly sure that we need to make deprecatory remarks about wind because as you say , it is unlikely to prove feasible in producing industrial scale energy. You are correct in saying this. In SA , our government is going gangbusters on wind farms and building them all over the place. I’ve driven past three different farms on a total of 12 occasions over the past three months. On only two of the 12 occasions were they producing any power. Denmark, the biggest wind power producer isn’t building any more farms as far as I know but they are maintaining their production to sell to suckers like us. [They don't want to close down an industry employing 30,000 people]. We need to expose wind for the fantasy that it is and to encourage our governments to stop building such dilute discontinuous sources of power. You and I know that if we want a secure, greenhouse-free energy supply, then we have to get our governments to start getting serious about introducing nuclear power. And at the risk of being simplistic could I suggest that we all accept that various costs of introducing nuclear in countries, while important, has not stopped an additional 20 countries from building new reactors. In five years there will be 53 countries with nuclear power. They all want secure, clean power and know that nuclear is the way to get it within the time the planet would appear to have to beat the global warming problem. And they’re not letting the cost stop them. Australia should be right up there giving some leadership on future world energy supply and use. Let’s get stuck into Rudd, Abbott and the rest of them and urge them to wake up and see what our biggest uranium reserves, world’s best waste disposal site and political stability can do for ourselves and the rest of the world. I think I’m saying that we should perhaps reduce the amount of discussion we’re having [all interesting to be sure] and start targetting the general population and the politicians with our ideas. Peter Lang and I have been doing it. How about a few of you others joining us?

  128. As one of the contributors to the Nuclear Century Outlook I was pleased to see it reviewed here and the general debate that has prompted.

    If nuclear generation is needed to develop on a path nearer the upper boundary of our outlook the debate laid out here will have to be resolved, matched by political commitment.

    Barry, you highlight that there is a ‘clean energy gap’, even with the highest boundary of nuclear generation and regret we do not seek a way to plug the gap. Providing such an answer was not the intension of the NCO. We put forward separately our assessment of future need for clean energy and our assessment of realistic boundaries for nuclear development. That even the upper boundary does not meet that clean energy need highlights the severity of the challenge we face and should act as a spur to policy action to support nuclear energy.

    Ensuring there are sufficient skilled people is a necessity, as DV82XL states, and is very much an issue that needs to be addressed now. The World Nuclear University is one contribution to meeting that need, providing a opportunity for the best of the industries young employees to learn from some of the most experienced people in the industry.

    David Walters describes our projections of steadily increasing load as optimistic, I’d agree. We show an on-going clean energy gap. If that gap is met by polluting energy sources the environmental and subsequent economic consequences are dire. If we fail to meet that demand through any means the it will consign a significant proportion of the world’s population to ongoing desperate poverty.

  129. DV8

    While you offer here almost always amounts to good sense, pointing out that some retailer of garden equipment likes the term windmill doesn’t flatter you.

    Strictly speaking, a windmill is a mill drawing the energy for its motion from a wind. The turbines are not the mill. What you are looking at in those painting of traditional Holland is the energy harvesting device for the mill. There’s also no technical reason why a windmill could bot be powered by a kitegen-style collector. As you may know, there are also watermills in which the power of running water drives the mill. If someone described hydroplants as “watermills” people would laugh but it would make rather more sense. The turbine at the other end is at least a kind of mechanical mill.

  130. More real-life numbers

    http://www.silvertonwindfarm.com.au/silverton/project.htm
    planned capacity in excess of 1,000MW
    (not very exact)
    Silverton http://www.silvertonwindfarm.com.au/silverton/project/benefits.htm
    598 turbine layout
    construction cost of approximately $2bn
    3,500,000 MWh for 430,000 homes
    3500000000 kWh
    3500000000/8760=399543.37899543378995433789954338
    i.e. 400MW
    so they expect a capacity factor of up to 40% – wow.
    At $5/W.
    http://www.silvertonwindfarm.com.au/silverton/project/timetable.htm
    started planning late 2007
    Start building 2010
    expected to reach full operating capacity by 2015

    I don’t know if there is built in backup power. No mention on the pages quoted.

  131. Yes the second link was an error on my part, however

    http://www.workingwindmills.com/

    is not a garden equipment retailer and any time with Google shows that the term is in wide common usage when describing electric generating systems, driven by the wind, particularly in N.A.

    The point here being that it is not automatically regarded as a diminutive term in all parts of the Anglosphere, which is what you contend.

  132. In terms of the politics of the nuclear issue, let us be clear.

    The number one issue, daylight to second, for most people (and especially those who are uncomfortable with the concept is “are they safe?” broadly defined.

    Deal effectively with that issue and the other issues largely vanish, in part because while safety is a fairly nebulous concept, issues like cost are not.

    People who fear nuclear power generally accept that accidents are rare and don’t want to sound like people with irrational or baseless fears and so what they tend to do is to elevate secondary issues to prime importance or cite values issues (e.g. a preference for “clean and green” country)

    Some years ago, when my own view on these issues began to change I began discussing with my peers what they thought about nuclear power. Know that these are by and large teachers and other people who are far from being the least well educated in our population. And yet if you probe carefully unquantified fears of “nuclear meltdown”, “dirty bombs”, “terrorists with suitcase bombs”, “another Chernobyl” are never far from their minds.

    “Meltdown” doesn’t even mean what a nuclear power plant engineer would understand by the term. In the public mind, one has the image of the “core” becoming so hot that it melts its containment vessel and leaks through the floor of and penetrates the water table spreading its insidious cancer-causing and baby-deforming radiation over an indefinite area for all eternity. Some people think that Chernobyl exploded like an atomic bomb. Nuclear waste is like a running sore and seen as like tumours on the face of a hitherto untainted land that we leave as a legacy for future generations to remember us by.

    This is why the idea that one would compromise safety to save a few dollars would be a massive own goal. To do so is to open the door to all manner of hysteria. Within reason, people don’t care how much they pay for secure energy supply, but allowing them to think that we want to put them at risk of annihilation, even a small risk is simply not a serious proposition.

    Instead, what we should do is to allow the coal burners to defend these charges — insidiously and silently poisoning the country and the planet for all time and leaving a barren wasteland as a monument to us while nuclear contains its footprint to the piddling area within its plant perimeters.

    Simple really.

  133. Using the simpleminded formula of multiplying the capacity factor up to 100%, always on power from Silverton would cost $5*1/0.4=$12.50/W. That’s fairly close to the price Ontario was quoted for absolutely guaranteed power, isn’t it?

  134. Safety need not be compromised ether in design or in construction of NPP and other nuclear reactors, however as I wrote up thread there is much that is assumed to be safety issues that are nothing of the kind, and these can be rationalized, without compromising anything.

    For example, in the strange world of reactor licensing, credit in safety analysis is taken only for the second trip on the slowest shutdown system. This is just ludicrous from an engineering point of view, and is unique to nuclear reactors.

    Rationalizing B.S. like this is not a case of making nPP any less safe, it only lowers the cost of proving them so.

  135. @Lawrence I think that the Silverton wind farm fails the requirement of being seen from a Sunday afternoon drive while the gas generators are tucked away in an industrial suburb. Eerily that is the Mad Max country from the movie that prophesied Peak Oil some 30 years ago. No mention in your link of extra transmission requirements from Broken Hill to Sydney.

    I think the 250 MW Cattle Hill wind farm is more likely to get built. If you read the link you see it has to have low eagle mortality. This is apparently necessary to sell RECs as offsets. The desired REC price seems to be around $50 or so per Mwh. Thus more wind farms will allow more coal burning since they generate offsets. I wish the Dept of Climate Change would explain the logic behind that instead of spending the next year debugging the insulation scheme.

  136. Scott @ 4 April 2010 at 23.09,

    Thank you for the AECL Quinshan sheet. Simple, ‘back of an envelope’ figures like you have done are great. However, when I see publicity sheets like this I wonder what is included and what is not. Is the cost they quoted for the AECL part only or does it include the cost of the Hitachi and Bechtel components (the balance of plant).

    This http://www.nti.org/db/china/qinshan.htm and this says the project cost was US$2.9 billion which I presume is the full project cost (for two 728 MW units). This http://www.cnnc.com.cn/tabid/168/Default.aspx says “The total construction cost of the Project is US$2.88 billion.”

    This calculates to US$1,978/kW (A$2,197/kW). This is roughly half the cost of the Korean AP1400’s contracted to the UAE (US$3,700/kW = A$4,100). Of course, the Quinshan Phase III cost needs to be escalated to 2009 $ to be equivalent to the UAE AP1400 contract price.

    If these costs are comparable, the CANDU 6 would seem to be the way to go, and would seem to be competitive with new coal in Australia (A$2339/kW for new super critical black coal, air cooled).

    As an aside, the 728 MW size units would be more easily incorporated into the Australian grid than 1,000 MW units.

    With the design improvements incorporated in the CANDU 6 they should be considerably safer than the Gen II’s that have been operating for the past 40 odd years and which have a proven safety record that is 10 to 100 times safer than coal. How much safety do we want, or don’t we want nuclear at any cost?

    By the way, regarding the CANDU 6’s load following capability I noticed this:

    “The CANDU 6 can operate continuously in the reactor-following-turbine mode and be capable of load cycling that typically involve a rapid reduction of power from 100% to 60%, steady-state operation at 60% power for 6 hours, and a return to full power over the following three hour period.

    The plant power-maneuvering rate is limited by the turbine design, and is typically 5 to 10 percent of full power per minute.

    During normal plant operation, assuming an initial power of 100 percent, xenon load at a steady state level, and with a normal flux shape, the reactor power may be reduced to 60 percent of full power at rates up to 10 percent of full power per minute. The power may be held at the lower level, indefinitely. Return to full power can be accomplished within three hours, or less, depending on the degree and duration of the power reduction.”
    http://canteach.candu.org/library/20054402.pdf

    Looks good to me :)

  137. I think my maths is wrong. Multiplying a number by the reciprocal of the capacity factor after deriving the number using capacity factor already can’t be right.
    Somewhere there must be statistical math to figure out what it would take to get a 90+% real cap fac. Something to do with two or three standard deviations.

  138. It seems to me that the wind blows steadily on the coastline but tends to be all or nothing at inland locations. In a mountainous area you’d think wind-electric pumping using variable speed motors might scale up for large hydro dams, though this hasn’t taken off.

    I’m not sure if using capital cost/capacity factor is the right proxy for the required overbuild in the same location e.g. ($2.50)/(0.25) = $10/w. This would seem to require steady wind or solar without extended lulls. If the repeat builds are spread out to avoid lulls add extra transmission costs.

  139. @Peter Lang-

    Consider too that one of the features of the Enhanced CANDU 6 (a GenIII) is superior load-following, if that is a consideration and there is also the CANDU 9 – a single unit design with an output of ~950 MWe if you’re looking for something bigger.

  140. Multiplying nameplate by capacity factor I believe gives the right figure for mean capacity and then dividing cap fac into nameplate cost gives the mean $/W. But nowhere does the wind blow at the mean rate – it’s totally statistical. So to get how much capacity to build requires some statistical model over an area deemed big enough to always have wind. There must be some simple approximate statistical model for that. My memory from maths class is that everything becomes Gauss normal eventually so that would be the basis I suppose. I still don’t quite know though. Have to think about it.

  141. DV82XL,

    Thank you for those comments.

    All I am interested in is least cost of electricity, what is the earliest achievable commissioning date for the first unit, and build rate for the next units.

    From my perspective, the safety of all NPP’s is more than adequate, including Russian and Chinese NPPs.

    I do agree with your’s and others excellent posts on safety and what is causing costs in western countries to be higher than they could be.

    I also agree, that to get around these problems, there are reasons to consider public ownership. But that is an enormous issue. Would the government buy back the Australian electricity system (assets of A$120 billion http://www.esaa.com.au/ )

  142. Scott 5 April 2010 at 15.08 Said:

    Thank you. I had included a sentence and figures for CANDU 6 = 650 MW net but deleted it. I thought it would confuse the message because I don’t know the net for the APR1400.

  143. Peter Lang:

    Thanks to DV82XL’s intervention and your response to it, it appears that our points of view are not poles apart (as, indeed, we had both suspected anyway).

    I would still like to debate the most favourable economic route to clean energy transition. In no way would I claim to know the answer, but I think it can be hepful to throw up a variety of ideas and, also, to point out the possible pitfalls in the ideas of others.

    It would be helpful if we could first agree with the following statements:

    a) transition to clean energy is extremely urgent
    b) transition should be achieved at least possible cost
    c) In pursuing objective b), we accept DV82XL’s position on nuclear safety
    d) objective b) requires that the “heavy lifting” will be achieved by nuclear power
    e) we oppose subsidies to renewables – totally or at least until such time as equivalent subsidies are available to nuclear providers
    f) that, for the purposes of this discussion, we do not, at this stage, get distracted by arguing over the pros and cons of different nuclear designs and generations
    g) we accept that, even were we to arrive at some sort of agreement, it is only politicians, responding to signals from their electors (in the case of democracies) that can influence matters and we may therefore be wasting our time

    To start the ball rolling, I will list what I think are the options and hence potential areas for disagreement:

    1) nationalised or privatised approach to transition or a combination of both
    2) method of raising the finance necessary for transition:
    a) general taxation
    b) ETS type schemes
    c) Carbon Tax with returned dividend
    d) Carbon tax, hypothecated, and to be spent only on clean energy transition

    As I believe you know, I like a nationalised approach and option 2d). You are open minded on the choices in 1) but are unequivocally in favour of 2a).

    I suspect, by now, that you are already foaming and thinking that I’m starting to misrepresent you. You will tell me that you favour regulation, not general taxation. I will finish this comment, while hoping for ongoing debate, by explaing why I don’t think I’m misrepresenting you at all.

    You wish to regulate out coal and regulate in nuclear at a rate that allows the majority of coal plants to reach end of life first. This gradual approach may or may not be fast enough to avoid the worst consequences of peak oil or climate change (I don’t know and don’t want to get distracted by this) and it may or may not be as quick as one could practically transition anyway from a technical perspective. Anyway, I think we could agree rate of transition has financial consequences with the gradual approach being the immediately more affordable. I still think that your approach will not be fiscally neutral. Starting on a nuclear trajectory while winding down coal is almost certainly, in the short term, going to be more costly than BAU. In effect, this means that the discretionary income of taxpayers has to fall. This will either be effected directly by an increase in general taxation or by a reduction in their purchasing power, which come to the same thing.

    I accept that your proposal is not without merit, particularly if one has the luxury of a gradual transition without danger. My gut feeling is that we may need to transition faster, but I don’t want to go there in this debate. This leaves me to come up with alternative criticisms:
    1) Your regulatory approach seems to leave the oil and gas sectors alone. You have already told me that you have explained why this won’t lead to a dash for gas or delay transition to electrical transportation and invited me to look back to your past posts. I have done so but may have either missed something or been too thick to understand.
    2) If the public are going to have to accept a drop in living standards to enable transition, I believe they would more readily accept the necessity, for the benefit of the younger generation, if they could see how the extra money was being raised and what it was being spent on. An increase in general taxation or a general drop in purchasing power would, in my view be less acceptable. Furthermore, the more transparent approach would be more likely to influence public habits in favour of energy efficiency.

    I await your response with interest in the hope of a continuing and amicable discussion. I hope others will join in and then i might learn even more.

  144. Douglas Wise,

    I suspect, by now, that you are already foaming and thinking that I’m starting to misrepresent you.

    Far from it. This is excellent. This is as far as I’ve read. I’ll think about this post and get back to you, but probably not tonight.

  145. Peter Lang:

    Thanks, Peter, for your holding reply.

    I note from one of your comments in your pumped storage post that you have already come up with a figure of, I think, Au$35 billion net for transitioning to nuclear rather than continuing with coal. This, obviously spread over a number of years, is quite modest. Does it include any compensation to coal plant investors or would you rely on coal plants ending life to avoid the necessity to compensate? What about coal mining investors or would they be left free to export?

    I thought , again for purposes of the discussion, it might be better to assume that the same level of extra finance will be necessary for a given rate of transition’ regardless of how it is acquired. This would make it possible to discuss the pros and cons of the different money raising scenarios.

    As you know, I suggested a limited period of hypothecated tax to be used for transition and you doubted that limitation would be adhered to. However, depending upon build rate of nuclear, I would have thought that something like 15 years, possibly less, could be sufficient. This would enable the income stream from the earliest nuclear plants to fund the continuing build.

    As to nationalisation, you asked about investor compensation. How about share issues in nuclear instead of money for forceably retired fossil fuel investments, starting from a nationalised position that would transform to a public/private hybrid?

    As an aside, one of your previous comments caused me great hilarity. You chose banks to illustrate the superioity of the private sector over the public. I think you might chosen a more apt example. You said you could always get your money from a private bank but would be kept waiting by a public body. Perhaps Australian banks haven’t been in the trouble ours have. The only reason our banks can return depositors their money is because the taxpayer has made good all their losses. Bank investors have lost most of their investments. I write this as one who is probably more right of centre than you (judging by the opinions of my friends who think it impossible to be more to the right). However, in an emergency, which clean energy transition is, I think philosophical or party differences are likely to get in the way of the optimum solutions.

  146. Douglas Wise,

    Here is my response to your first section of numbered points (the points we think we agree on). I’ve changed some of your words and added some clarification of my thinking.

    1. transition to clean energy is important – Yes

    2. transition should be achieved at least possible cost – Yes

    3. In pursuing objective b), we accept DV82XL’s position on nuclear safety – Yes, as long as Australia can have electricity from nuclear at less cost than from coal. Otherwise, I see no reason to require nuclear at 10 to 100 times the safety of coal. I am willing to reduce the safety and educate the public that there is a trade off between safety and the cost; and the cost is borne by all of society – we are all poorer when we impose irrational policies. Educate the public regarding how many hospitals and nurses and doctors the public loses and what effect requiring extreme safety is having on life expectancy etc for no benefit. Then let the public decide, but get the facts out to them first.

    4. objective b) requires that the “heavy lifting” will be achieved by nuclear power – That is my belief too, but I’d advocate we frame it in a non ‘picking winners’ way. So I propose we frame it as ‘least cost, acceptably safe, clean energy’

    5. we oppose subsidies to renewables for production. We support R&D but the funding of R&D will be distributed according to expected return on investment, not on ideology. We continue to fund commitments already made, but stop further commitments for renewables such as MRET, feed in tarrifs and subsidies for power stations and solar panels etc.

    6. that, for the purposes of this discussion, we do not, at this stage, get distracted by arguing over the pros and cons of different nuclear designs and generations – Yes

    7. we accept that, even were we to arrive at some sort of agreement, it is only politicians, responding to signals from their electors (in the case of democracies) that can influence matters and we may therefore be wasting our time – Yes

  147. Scott, on 5 April 2010 at 16.53 Said:

    “What happened to the ACR? From reading world-nuclear, it seems like a significantly better reactor over the CANDU 6.”

    To make a long story short, CANDUs advantage on the market has always been that it uses NU fuel, is available in smaller sizes, and is comparatively simple. These factors have lead to generally lower construction and operating costs, which makes the reactor attractive to smaller markets.

    The ACR was designed to compete with the larger offerings, and in attempting to do so they chose to abandon all the better aspects of the standard design. ACR need enriched fuel, both heavy and light water circuits, and are large and expensive. Nor are there any examples of this type built, and shake-down costs are going to be high for any first of a kind build. No one in Canada wants the reactor, and AECL cannot compete in a market that has little room at the top, with an untried product, especially given their last attempt at a mixed water design was a total failure (Gentilly I)

    I strongly doubt this design will ever see the light of day, as anyone that wants a 1000MWe CANDU can go for the well-tested CANDU 9.

  148. Douglas,

    I am finding it hard to answer all your long posts because I often need to reply to almost every sentence. Unfortunately, the BNC website doen not allow me to copy your post, insert text in uyour text and highlight it in another colour. So I cant keep up.

    However, I notice that a lot of clarification will be needed unless I can persuade you to have a pretty good understanding of this paper http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/
    And less important this one too: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

    I note from one of your comments in your pumped storage post that you have already come up with a figure of, I think, Au$35 billion net for transitioning to nuclear rather than continuing with coal. This, obviously spread over a number of years, is quite modest. Does it include any compensation to coal plant investors or would you rely on coal plants ending life to avoid the necessity to compensate? What about coal mining investors or would they be left free to export?

    This figure is from the first paper mentioned above. It is based on no payment to coal fired power stations for early retirements. It assumes coal fired plants will be replaced at 40 years of age (many are already over due and replacement is being delayed because of 20 years of uncertainty in what is happening with government changes in rules, regulations and threats.) The cost figures is based on the very high cost of nuclear ($5200/kW in 2010). This figure is the ACIL Tasman cost estimate and is based on US costs, transferred to Australia and with most of the imposts in place. In fact the terms of reference from the regulator to ACIL Tasman provided an indication of the sorts of restrictions that DV82XL referred to that apply in Canada.

  149. Douglas,

    As you know, I suggested a limited period of hypothecated tax to be used for transition and you doubted that limitation would be adhered to. However, depending upon build rate of nuclear, I would have thought that something like 15 years, possibly less, could be sufficient. This would enable the income stream from the earliest nuclear plants to fund the continuing build.

    If you want to discuss Carbon Taxes, ETS and other options for raising the cost of electricity, its going to be a long discussion. The more I’ve thought about it the more opposed I am to that route. I have given my reasons in a number of posts on a number of threads. I don’t have them all together, and it would take me a while to gather them. Perhaps you’d like to have a look back. I think the majority were on this thread http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/
    and perhaps a thread or two before and after, but I am saying that from memory, I haven’t checked.

  150. Douglas,

    As an aside, one of your previous comments caused me great hilarity. You chose banks to illustrate the superioity of the private sector over the public. I think you might chosen a more apt example.

    No. I think the banks are an excellent example to demonstrate the difference between the public sector and the private sector. The banks have been competing and have kept their costs low through implementing technology, efficiency and focusing on good customer service. I can move money from my computer. I can purchase on line.

    If I compare this with the public sector I have memories of waiting on line for half an hour in England for any of the public sector run organisations to answer the phone. It was just a standard practice. The service levels in the public sector here are pretty much the same. When I was in Canada I could go to a phone shop, provide my details and the address for house I was moving into, pick up a phone, go to my house, plug it in and it would be comnnected the same day. When I returned to Australia our Telecom was still a public owned, union controlled, organisation. It would take 3 months to get connnected from the time you submitted your request in triplicate with carbon paper. Then a technician would come around, drill a hole through a leg of a chair, put the telephone cable through it just to show who was in charge around here, and come back a week later to plug it in. That’s public sector for you. Sydney Harbour Ferries keep crashing into the wharfs. NSW trains get lost. Want to know more? :)

  151. Douglas Wise,

    I’ve just realised, we are not focusing on the key issues. The key issue is: how do we remove the impediments to nuclear? DV82XL pointed out a lot of them. How doo we remove them?

  152. Peter Lang, on 5 April 2010 at 23.31 Said:

    “In pursuing objective b), we accept DV82XL’s position on nuclear safety – Yes, as long as Australia can have electricity from nuclear at less cost than from coal. Otherwise, I see no reason to require nuclear at 10 to 100 times the safety of coal.”

    In terms of real safety you don’t have a choice, unless you want to develop a system from scratch. The manufactures have designs that have passed type approval in several jurisdictions, and are not likely to agree to derate their product for your market.

    For example the CANDU has a ‘defense in depth’ emergency shutdown feature (SCRAM) that has four independent ways to kill the reaction if needed. Without asking I can tell you AECL would not be amenable to a modification that would eliminate any of them. There are similar examples. Now to what extent the regulator will need proof that all methods will function – that’s another story. It would be fiendishly expensive to demand that the reactor be run up 20% above rating to see if the last-ditch, neutron poison injection will work in real time, as it would require a full replacement of the heavy water charge. However there are ways of testing this without a full SCRAM.

    These are the areas where costs can be reduced, without compromising safety. All others are fixed into the design.

  153. Peter :

    Thanks for taking the trouble to keep this discission going. You have made 5, so far unanswered, responses. I will deal briefly with each.

    #52921 Agreed, with the proviso that we acknowledge that DV82XL’s most recent post (#52930) places reasonable constraints on what can and can’t be done over the issue of safety.

    #52925 I should have recalled that you were planning to avoid compensating coal plant operators by the expedient of allowing the plants to operate for 40 years. Sorry. However, you didn’t answer my point about coal mine operators and possible compensation. I am a bit concerned that, with no compensation, they would wish to continue to export, but at a higher than previous level and thus prevent any overall global emissions improvements. They might also contemplate going into the coal to liqids business. I also recall that you were suggesting an (I think uncosted) accelerated educational push to make up for the nuclear skills deficit. I am therefore suggesting the possibility that your Au$ 35 billion may be an underestimate.

    #52927 re carbon taxes, ETS and the extra tax implications of your regulatory approach. I was trying to suggest that, for a given rate of transition, the extra money that would need to be found would be more or less the same by whatever means it was raised. Your objections to carbon taxes and ETS seem to assume that more would have to be raised by the last two approaches (actually I agree over ETS because of gaming and dealers). I think the amount needed is more a reflection of the rate of transition required. As a matter of fact, though quite radical, one might even consider a total rebasing of the tax system based around carbon but, I think, at this stage, it would be distracting. In other words, I am suggesting that, having decided how much extra money is needed and for how long, one then discusses the best way of raising it. If you can persuade me that transition can be achieved at a satifactory rate by the additional expenditure of AU$35 billion at a rate of $1 billion/annum for 35 years, then I will try to persude you that you’d get more bangs for your buck through a carbon levy than through general taxation.

    #52928 On the more frivolous matter of banking, the fact that you have totally missed my point persuades me that Australia hasn’t experienced the worse- than- 1930s- crash attributed to the banking crisis. We could argue whether it was regulatory failure or banking failure that was primarily to blame. However, in the States and Europe, most banks would have failed but for governments using taxpayers’ money to bail them out. As an aside, when one rings one’s “private” taxpayer owned bank in the UK, one will most likely be answered with a usually unintelligible voice from an Indian call centre. In fairness, the voice’s owner generally endeavours to be polite, despite the often rising frustration and irritation of the caller.

  154. Peter,

    I forgot to reply to #52929. I thought we’d already agreed that, should we fail to persuade politicians, we’d probably be wasting our time. I originally added this proviso precisely to accommodate DV82XL’s reservations, which related to the inadequacy of politicians in their ability to stand up to fossil fuel and renewable lobby groups. It was his impression that this could only be rectified from the bottom up rather than the top down. I am pursuing the current debate so that I can focus my mind sufficiently to influence others with a possibly coherent strategy. I’m definitely coming from the bottom!

  155. Peter Lang, on 6 April 2010 at 0.23 Said:

    “The key issue is: how do we remove the impediments to nuclear?”

    The key, in my opinion is to avoid what is called regulatory ratcheting during the course of a project.

    You can always improve safety by spending more money. Even with our personal automobiles, there is no end to what we can spend for safety — larger and heavier cars, blowout-proof tires, air bags, passive safety restraints, rear window wipers and defrosters, fog lights, more shock-absorbent bumpers, antilock brakes, and so on. In our homes we can spend large sums on fireproofing, sprinkler systems, and smoke alarms, to cite only the fire protection aspect of household safety. Nuclear power plants are much more complex than homes or automobiles, leaving innumerable options for spending money to improve safety.

    According to one U.S. study, between the early and late 1970s, regulatory requirements increased the quantity of steel needed in a power plant of equivalent electrical output by 41%, the amount of concrete by 27%, the lineal footage of piping by 50%, and the length of electrical cable by 36%. And of course in addition to increasing the quantity of materials and labor going into a plant, regulatory ratcheting increased costs by extending the time required for construction. In the States, quite aside from the effects of inflation, this quadrupled the cost of a nuclear power plant.

    One point of view often expressed privately by those involved in design and construction is that it has bought nothing. A nuclear power plant is a very complex system, and adding to its complexity involves a risk in its own right. If there are more pipes, there are more ways to have pipe breaks, which are one of the most dangerous failures in reactors. With more complexity in electrical wiring, the chance for a short circuit or for an error in hook-ups increases, and there is less chance for such an error to be discovered. On the other hand, each new safety measure is aimed at reducing a particular safety shortcoming and undoubtedly does achieve that limited objective. It is difficult to determine whether or not reducing a particular safety problem improves safety more than the added complexity reduces safety.

    Regulatory ratcheting applied to new plants about to be designed is one thing, but this ratcheting applied to plants under construction has been shown to cause much more serious problems. As new regulations were issued, designs had to be modified to incorporate them. In nuclear power plant construction, there were situations where the walls of a building were already in place when new regulations appeared requiring substantial amounts of new equipment to be included inside them. In some cases this proved to be nearly impossible, and in most cases it required a great deal of extra expense for engineering and repositioning of equipment, piping, and cables that had already been installed. In some cases it even required chipping out concrete that had already been poured, which is an extremely expensive proposition. Often changes included features that were not required in an effort to anticipate a rule change that never materialized.

    Requiring elaborate inspections and quality control checks on every operation also frequently held up progress. If an inspector needed extra time on one job, he was delayed in getting to another. Again, craft labor was forced to stand around waiting. In such situations, it sometimes pays to hire extra inspectors, who then have nothing to do most of the time.

    This supercharged regulatory environment had other impacts For example, in the course of many design changes, miscalculations might cause two pipes to interfere with one another, or a pipe might interfere with a valve. Normally a construction supervisor would move the pipe or valve a few inches, but this would be a serious rule violation. He now had to check with the engineering group at the home office, and they must feed the change into their computer programs for analyzing vibrations and resistance to earthquakes. It might take many days, if not weeks for approval, and in the meanwhile, pipefitters and welders stand around with nothing to do.

    As you can see these sorts of antics have nothing at all to do with safety, by any rational interpretation of the term. The root cause of this is really the regulatory philosophy that is in force at the time. There is a huge difference between attitudes and what is required to understand the fine details of a nuclear reactor design enough to regulate it. A large part of that requirement is knowing which potential problems are part of the critical path to demonstrated safety and which are utterly superfluous.

    Clearly, this regulatory ratcheting is driven not by new scientific or technological information, but by public concern and the political pressure it generated. Changing regulations as new information becomes available is a normal process, but it would normally work both ways. The ratcheting effect, only making changes in one direction, was an abnormal aspect of regulatory practice unjustified from a scientific point of view; it was a strictly political.

    Thus to my mind the single most important thing that must be done is to establish good, competent regulation, before embarking on a project, which means employing people with the education and the experience to do the job, and constitute the agency such that it is not being blown about by external political pressure.

  156. Scott – the study was Spiewak and D. E Cope, “Overview Paper on Nuclear Power,” Oak Ridge National Laboratory Report ORNL/TM-7425. I have only a hard copy. I tried to find it on the web, but I can only find reference to it, not the text itself.

  157. DV82XL:

    I think , once again, that this comment from you is extremely valuable. When responding to Peter’s question about avoiding the impediments to nuclear, I thought he was thinking in terms of your other comments which had more to do with the inability of politicians to distance themselves from lobby groups. However, your present point, relating to gold plating of regulations is, undoubtedly , another impediment which, as you say, applies in many other spheres. It is almost certainly, as you say, more pernicious and damaging when the attitude is applied to nuclear power, given the irrational fear of the public in this area. This will encourage the media to whip up these fears even more and encourage the bureaucrats/regulators to ever greater endeavours in irrationality.

  158. Peter Lang, Douglas Wise and DV8. Thanks for your last few points. Surely to goodness, with 60 years of nuclear power generation behind us, the World nuclear Association and others can agree on a mutually acceptable regulatory framework for the construction of new power plants. The continually changing requirements, thanks to the totally irresponsible actions of the anti nukes who persist with frivolous law suits etc have got to be standardised for all new plants wherever they are built. That will ensure a huge cost save and it will probably ensure that the public will accept the already over the top safety requirements for nuclear power as being sufficient. With 20 additional countries now building reactors [53 in total] it seems to me that many new countries and their people are prepared to trust that nuclear is clean, green ,safe [safer than most other energy forms in fact ] and cost competitive with filthy coal which we all agree needs to be replaced in coming decades.

  159. There are studies attempting to define “rational risk analysis”, how much to spend now for how much risk reduction. These assume, AFAIK, that the probabilites and outcomes are known.

    Now NPPs might be overly safe, I wouldn’t know. But coal burners are overly dangerous from emissions and improper disposal of fly ash, risks only now beginning to be addressed in the USA at any rate.

  160. DV82XL, on 6 April 2010 at 0.36 Said:

    In terms of real safety you don’t have a choice, unless you want to develop a system from scratch. The manufactures have designs that have passed type approval in several jurisdictions, and are not likely to agree to derate their product for your market.

    DV82XL,

    Thank you for the great posts and great info.

    I do understand and agree with what you say in this post. My reason for harping on that we don’t need nuclear to be 10 to 100 times safer than coal is to get through, with a sledge hammer, to those who keep arguing for government taxes or any other way to increase the cost of electricity, that artificially raising the cost of electricity will get enormous, ongoing resistance. It will be fought at every election and the laws and regulations will change with every change of government. The changes will be as frequent and far more disruptive than the continual changes to Superannuation and taxation. So I am trying to persuade those who keep on arguing for ETS, CPRS, Carbon Tax and EST (Extreme Safety Tax, because this is what it is), to drop this approach and focus on what has to be done to bring nuclear to Australia at a cost competitive with coal.

    Your posts are a great help in identifying some of the costs we need to get rid of. Now we need to expand the list (I presented some in an earlier post either on this thread or another thread, but hope others will take up the challenge. And we also need to focus on how government could establish a regime without all the imposts on nuclear.

  161. Douglas Wise

    I am a bit concerned that, with no compensation, they would wish to continue to export, but at a higher than previous level and thus prevent any overall global emissions improvements.

    That is not related to electricity. It is not Australia’s role to tell other countries what fuel they can use. If they want to use coal, we should export it to them. If we don’t, others will. This idea that we can tell the rest of the world how to behave is totally ridiculous. You cannot change the demand. You can only cut off your nose to spite your face.

    My objections to ETS and Carbon taxes are many. I’ve stated them before. And here is an example as the lead article on the front page of todays Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/kevin-rudd-32bn-health-and-hospital-funding-favours-labor-seats/story-e6frgczf-1225850109365 .What I take from this article is any money governments collect or control is used to get that government re-elected. So, I say no to the ETS, no to Carbon Tax or any other way for government to raise the cost of electricity. Let’s focus, instead on what we can do to get nuclear generated electricity in Australia at a cost less than coal. If you want to talk about these damned taxes, can you please go back and review the numerous reasons I’ve provided as to why I believe this is the wrong approach. I may come back to being interested after we’ve explored fully what can be done to get nuclear to Australia at a cost less than coal.

    I don’t understand this comment:

    I forgot to reply to #52929. I thought we’d already agreed that, should we fail to persuade politicians, we’d probably be wasting our time. I originally added this proviso precisely to accommodate DV82XL’s reservations, which related to the inadequacy of politicians in their ability to stand up to fossil fuel and renewable lobby groups. It was his impression that this could only be rectified from the bottom up rather than the top down. I am pursuing the current debate so that I can focus my mind sufficiently to influence others with a possibly coherent strategy. I’m definitely coming from the bottom!

    It was in reply to my comment where I said:

    I’ve just realised, we are not focusing on the key issues. The key issue is: how do we remove the impediments to nuclear? DV82XL pointed out a lot of them. How doo we remove them?

    I emphasise again, this is where I believe we need to focus our attention. Not on taxes and how to fund the higher cost of nuclear. There will be no higher cost of nuclear once we get nuclear cheaper than coal. So you can forget all your government taqx schemes. If we sort this out, then nuclear will be cheaper than coal. Nuclear will replace coal. We simply need to set up the right regulatory framework. Forget the damned carbon taxes. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  162. Here is another reason I don’t want carbon taxes (it’s about my 15th reason).

    The only reason we would need a carbon tax is because nuclear is higher cost than coal. The only reason this would be the case is because the Greens, ACF, Greenpeace, WWF, FoE, Mark Diesendorf, Mark Jacobson, Jim Green, Peter Lalor and their ilk are still arguing against nuclear instead of strongly for nuclear. By so doing they are preventing the imposts and distorting regulations from being removed. If that is the reason for a tax, I don’t want it. I want us (chatting on BNC) to make it clear what needs to be done to make nuclear cheaper than coal. Then set up the education faculties in each university so that the academics can work it out for themsleves, and then explain it to the media, public and politicians.

  163. DV82XL, on 5 April 2010 at 11.49 Said:

    Lots and lots of good info!!!

    I have a suggestion directed to Barry and DV82XL.

    DV82XL, could you compile the info you’ve provided in these posts (and any more that comes to mind) and put them in thread of their own.

    If you were able to expand it in any way that would be great too. For example if you are able to suggest how much could be removed, in man -hours of cost, I reckon it would be a great contribution. It would be really dissapointing if we lose this material you have posted and we can’t get back to it and find it easily.

  164. Douglas Wise,

    Here you go. Here is the authoritative reference for my assertion that the cost of nuclear should be 25% of what it is now: :)

    .

    According to one U.S. study, between the early and late 1970s, regulatory requirements increased the quantity of steel needed in a power plant of equivalent electrical output by 41%, the amount of concrete by 27%, the lineal footage of piping by 50%, and the length of electrical cable by 36%. And of course in addition to increasing the quantity of materials and labor going into a plant, regulatory ratcheting increased costs by extending the time required for construction. In the States, quite aside from the effects of inflation, this quadrupled the cost of a nuclear power plant.

    Authoritative source: DV82XL @ 6 April 2010 at 4.10

  165. DV82XL @ 6 April 2010 at 0.23:
    I thank you again for the fantastically informative posts.
    Now I’ll get flippant (again)

    One point of view often expressed privately by those involved in design and construction is that it has bought nothing. A nuclear power plant is a very complex system, and adding to its complexity involves a risk in its own right. If there are more pipes, there are more ways to have pipe breaks, which are one of the most dangerous failures in reactors. With more complexity in electrical wiring, the chance for a short circuit or for an error in hook-ups increases, and there is less chance for such an error to be discovered. On the other hand, each new safety measure is aimed at reducing a particular safety shortcoming and undoubtedly does achieve that limited objective. It is difficult to determine whether or not reducing a particular safety problem improves safety more than the added complexity reduces safety.

    This is why the Russian safety record in manned rocket launches and space flight is not much different to the American’s safety record. Despite the Americans much higher expenditures, the safety is little better. As far as I can see, the Russian nuclear reactors (excluding the now mostly decommissioned graphite moderated reactors), have a sufficiently good safety record – it far better than coal. Therefore, if we cannot have CANDU or AP1000 cheaper than coal, then I am happy to consider Russian and Chinese plants. I think 10 to 100 times higer safety than coal is ridiculous. Did I mention that before? :)

  166. Well at this point in time CANDUs have not been subject to this sort of modification, what I wrote mostly applies to the US experience. I don’t think you will find that Russian and Chinese plants are much less expensive, Indian reactors`on the`other hand….

  167. DV82XL,

    I still don’t have a cost estimate for a complete CANDU 6 generating plant with fuel, training, turbines, and all the balance of plant for build in a western country. We have the cost for CANDU 6 in China at about US$2000/kW. And we have Korean APR1400 in UAE for about US$3700/kW. Can you give me a link to some reasonably authoritative cost per kW figure for CANDU 6 in Canada, Argentina, Turkey in 2010 US $?

  168. Peter said:

    I want us (chatting on BNC) to make it clear what needs to be done to make nuclear cheaper than coal.

    It is already cheaper than coal, if coal were priced to internalise what it externalises. That’s the problem and it’s why if they can’t or won’t internalise, we must deem them as if they had. The simplest way of doing this is with a cost on emissions.

  169. Ewen Laver,

    Not acceptable. Why should I accept your view of what is the cost of the externalities? Why should I accept your view of what price should be put on Carbon? I would never trust the green extremists with such a decision. And because the green extremists have such a powerful influence on left-wing governments, I would be reluctant to trust this to government either.

    The problem is that you want to avoid addressing the real issue, which is the imposts on nuclear. You want to leave those in place and hide the problem by increasing the cost of electricity. You do not recognise the cost to society of doing this.

    I, on the other hand, want to remove the imposts on nuclear and allow it to compete so we can get to the lowest cost electricity. Not a high cost caused by masses of embedded distortions imposed by the deep-green extremists.

    You are not addressing the externalities of all the other industries, so I do not trust your motives.

    This is the sort of thing that needs to be sorted out, because there will be a broad proportion of the community thinking as I am expressing it to you.

  170. Ewen,

    You really are absloutely stuck on wanting a carbon tax, aren’t you?

    For some reason you totally avoid looking at what is causing the cost of nuclear to be higher than it should be.

    The answer is: the beliefs and politics of your deep green extremist mates. That is what is stopping nucear in Australia, and has been for some 30+ years.

  171. Peter said:

    The problem is that you want to avoid addressing the real issue, which is the imposts on nuclear

    correction: the free ride to coal and fossil fuels more generally

    You want to hand them the right to, for example, kill approximately 3 miners in the Ukraine for every million tonnes hauled out, or to mass poison people with mercury at the other end of the cycle. You think black lung disease costs for example should be carried by the community as a whole. You think even the lowball estimates of ari pollution externalities associated with coal of about $US40 per tonne should be a free gift.

    Why when nuclear does none of these things and in part costs more because it doesn’t, coal should get freedom to do it is anybody’s guess. This is quite separate from whether we could change things to make nuclear cheaper to implement.

    Some of the things DV8 speaks of sound absolutely stupid in cost-benefit terms and I’d have no problem abandoning them, but when you propose a race to the bottom on safety, I can’t but wonder what you are thinking. Effectively, this is an argument for b-a-u.

    I can assure you, nobody who currently opposes nuclear power will be won over by promises to reduce safety so it can be implemented at a discount, even if that means a similar end price to coal. And I also doubt that many who do support it will be impressed either. I’m keen on rapid replacement but if someone quoted your lines to me in arguing against it, I’d be finding ways to explain that people like you were simply an irresponsible minority, that most of us take safety very seriously and are pushing nuclear precisely because it is 100 times safer than coal and for that reason a lot less expensive on humans.

    Let us compete on safety and sustainability rather than the nominal end price and let no energy producer get away with cost shifting to the public.. That’s what will sell this to the doubters and drive the change.

  172. Ewen,

    It is a pointless discussion. You cannot see the big picture. You cannot see the balancing benefits of low cost electricity to society. I do recognise these costs of coal. If you look at ExternE and the contained NEWEXT study you’ll see the fatalities from coal per MWh of electricity produced. So I do understand this. But I also recognise the benefits of low cost electricity which you do not.

    You seem to have completely missed the point of my argument which is to focus on getting nuclear to Australia at a cost that is competitive with coal (i.e. for cheap electricity). Instead, you want to leave all the deep-green extremist driven distorting policies in place so that nuclear will be more expensive than it needs to be. And you want to hide this by raisning the cost of electricity. I say absolutely no way to that. The more I’ve seen of your extreme agenda the more it has convinced me that you guys are dangerous. These extremist activists have caused enormous problems and damage in the past and continue to do so.

    If you want to do something useful why don’t you convince Ian Lowe to change his mind. He has a letter in today’s Australian: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/nuclear-is-unnecessary/story-fn558imw-1225850093561

    Once you’ve convinced Ian Lowe and the ACF to become strong supporters of nuclear and to renounce renewables, then do the same with Bob Brown, Mark Diesendorf, Jim Green and you get my drift ….

  173. It is indeed “pointless” to talk if, Peter, if you simply keep repeating your mantra in the face of evidence which you claim to acknowledge i.e. the externalities.

    As I’ve said a number of times, I’m for removiong tyhe impediments to nuclear and other market distortions (FiT, MRET etc) . Why aren’t you willing to price externalities?

    I don’t want to raise the cost of electricity. In fact, I want to reduce its total imposition on humanity by ensuring that the true cost appears in the price rather than showing up in hidden subsidies to prolong waste.

    In practice, you are the one wanting to underpin electricity costs. Yoiu just think the burdne sharing should include the imposition of negative health consequences on humanity. You want people to pay with their lives for “cheap” electricity.

  174. I think Peter may be attempting to win from within the system according to the current system rules, and Ewen wants to change those rules.
    According to Dodge vs Ford, corporations must act ruthlessly to increase shareholder wealth. To get a different outcome the only variants are costs and revenues. Nothing has anything like intrinsic value. Human life is just a resource, a cost to be minimised with a capability to produce revenue that should be maximised.
    Peter is trying to get there from within that system, Ewen is not, as far as I can see.
    If I’m right, the two things are not much reconcilable.

  175. Why aren’t you willing to price externalities?

    Because, as I’ve explained before, it is too difficult. Also, it is not necessary until after we’ve got rid of all the imposts that are making nuclear uneconomic. Thirdly, it is just a distraction from tackling the real issue.

    Once we’ve actually removed the distortions, we wont need to increase the cost of electricity by government intervention.

    That is the short and simple answer. In fact, I do agree that we will internalise some of the costs of coal (but not with a tax), but I am not interested in chasing that rabbit until we’ve properly dealt with the removal of the impediments to nuclear. My reason is that I do not trust the motive. Partly because I know that the deep green activists have no intention of removing their opposition to nuclear. They simply want to raise the cost of electricity to make renewables and all their other irrational schemes closer to being viable. There is no limit to how far these extremists would like to push the cost of electricity. So, if we impose a cost on carbon now, we’ll never remove the imposts. The Greens will love it, raise the cost of electrcity, get their carbon tax to waste on all their irrational policies (MRET, feed in tarrifs and many more). They have no compassion for humanity. They just pretend to have.

  176. Lawrence,

    I can’t respond to your comments because I don’t understand them – they are outside my area of expertise. However, I can say that I do not see business as evil. I see it as essential to our way of life, and infact what ultimately provides the funds that pay for it – all of it. When we have a business friendly environment, with appropriate light regulation, society is better off. There are always balances and nothing is perfect. But we are better off over all – much better off. The idea of raising the cost of electricity because of the demands of groups with a single issue agenda, is just plain dumb as far as I am concerned, at least until we’ve removed all the distortions that are preventing low cost clean electricity for substituting for coal.

  177. [Greens] simply want to raise the cost of electricity to make renewables and all their other irrational schemes closer to being viable

    Your reasoning makes little sense Peter.

    Assume (as I do) that you are right in that renewables cost orders of magniture more than coal or gas or nuclear. Even a price of $100 per tonne isn’t getting wind or solar into the game, especially when one factors in the carbon cost of all that steel, copper and concrete.

    All a system like that does is force the government to take nuclear power seriously. MRETs and FiT aren’t getting them there either because the pool of money to buy them won’t be large enough.

    Garnaut, for the record, thought with a proper cap and trade, MRETs and other similar measures were redundant, and he was right.

  178. Good on you Ewen,. I ditched the ACF years ago when they made a very sharp left turn. I noticed Ian Lowe had a little anti nuke letter in the Australian today and asserted that we don’t need nuclear because efficiencies and renewables and coming technologies will save us. He’s got his head and the collective heads of the ACF well and truly in the sand. They just don’t,won’t get it. We have to do our best to discredit them, and to stop them making out of date claims about the dangers of nuclear power and also unrealistic claims for what the renewables can achieve. Worldwide,sun and wind account for 0.6%of the world energy total and by 2030 that is expected to reach 2.8%. Of course, clean coal will ultimately pick up the balance needed. Pull the other one.

  179. Lawrence said:

    I think Peter may be attempting to win from within the system according to the current system rules, and Ewen wants to change those rules

    Quite right, because as you say, the current rules put not value of human life chances. I want them priced in. Peter says its too tricky, but it is not hard to calculate and model. We do this all the time when deciding what to put on the PBS, for example. Law of tort is well established. We know what it costs to treat emphysema and black lung for example. We can work out the costs of mercury poisoning.

    Not hard at all.

  180. It is not hard for us enlightened people to make these calculations (my lack of ability to make wind calculations notwithstanding).
    Well seriously, I suspect we don’t have much time, and to some extent we have to hold our noses to get a specific outcome. It is surely crazy to sideline nuclear power. We have to do our best to unsideline it. However each of us has our principles, and practicalities, and hopefully we can get a good result somehow.

  181. I seem to be made in such a way that I would like to have a complete understanding of the whole world and it’s workings so that I can take a consistent, fair and hopefully optimal way forward.
    I don’t have this so that’s not going to happen.

  182. Peter Lang:

    Peter, from your most recent remarks, it would seem that you think that, given a robust attitude to nuclear safety, it should be possible for Australia to switch from coal to nuclear electricity at no cost to the exchequer – even, possibly, to save money in so doing. In other words, your original estimate of an AU$ 35 billion cost would disappear altogether if one could contain the goldplating activities of regulators.

    If the above is, indeed, a fair reflection of your views then I can fully appreciate your hostility to ETS or carbon taxes. Before endorsing them, however, I would like to raise certain issues:

    1) I don’t know whether you take anthropogenic climate change seriously or not and it might be helpful to know. I see your route as more suited to dealing with problems relating to energy security and peak oil.
    2) If it is necessary to obtain most of our energy electrically, then we are going to have to do a lot more in the way of nuclear construction than merely to replace exising baseload coal generated electricity with nuclear.
    3) However much you manage to contain them, the upfront costs of nuclear power will be high, even though, over the lifetime of the plants, electricity from them will be the cheapest available.
    4) I suspect that, in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, one will need a large scale transition to nuclear at a rate faster than you are envisaging. Should such be the case, it will need to be paid for and the money will have to come from somewhere.
    5) If I am wrong (and I’m not alone with my views), perhaps you could explain how we can avoid dangerous climate change at no cost in the short term. If you can convince me about that, then I’ll willingly endorse your regulation/no tax approach.

  183. Doug

    Regardless of whether coal could be replaced with nuclear at acceptable speed for zero dollars (and one has to doubt that seriously) the broader question is — why should the polluters continue to get a free ride at the public expense?

    For example, in 2004 in the US it was found that 20% of women of childbearing age had mercury levels in their hair that exceeded federal health standards. This is largely the direct and indirect result of the combustion of coal in the US.

    As this paper shows coal clombustion has a whole host of nasty consequences

    teeth and bone fluorosis has been documented in cattle (UK) and humans (China) exposed to the combustion of fluorine-rich coals in power stations. Fluorine is highly phytotoxic, as was demonstrated by its adverse effect on vines downwind of a power station in NSW, Australia

    Again, why is Peter so keen to let these systematic poisoners off scott-free and to shift their responsibility to the public? Why does he imply that this is all simply “deep green” misinformation?

    There is a persuasive explanation, but it speaks against him.

  184. Again, why is Peter so keen to let these systematic poisoners off scott-free and to shift their responsibility to the public? Why does he imply that this is all simply “deep green” misinformation?

    Possibly Peter recognises (quite apart from the moral argument he has framed around the issue) that to cripple coal by artificial price rises before an equivalent-price-or-cheaper alternative is percieved to be ready is politically impossible.

  185. Finrod says:

    Possibly Peter recognises (quite apart from the moral argument he has framed around the issue) that to cripple coal by artificial price rises before an equivalent-price-or-cheaper alternative is perceived to be ready is politically impossible.

    What makes the price rises artificial? It’s not as if these costs are not being borne one way or another by the public in lower health outcomes, increased public expenditure, lost productivity and generational debt.

    The reality is that such an alternative will never be ready, but for the act of forcing these parasites to unlock their fingers from the public purse and indeed the public’s throat and to compel them to pay their way.

    If tidying up nuclear regulation can also make it cheaper while not opening the door to spurious campaigns about declining safety, then that is all well and good, but success should not depend on this. Peter’s program sounds far too close to the protection of the interests of these unscrupulous rentseekers, in my opinion. In the US their cousins try to persuade people (ie their intended victims) that the toxic waste they dump in streams is “just like dirt”. These “people” can and will say anything, and here Peter comes along and says that our focus should be on how to abet them in their crime.

    And there’s nothing the least bit “moral” (I would say ethical) about that.

  186. Douglas

    “3) However much you manage to contain them, the upfront costs of nuclear power will be high, even though, over the lifetime of the plants, electricity from them will be the cheapest available.”

    Thats exactly the problem once a cheaper energy source comes along.
    Now it is not cheap. There is only the promise that it is going to be cheap.
    Despite all the claims about cheap indian or chinese nuclear programs there is no way to prove these figures.
    The UAE can tell you any price. They would not admit failure either if it does not turn out a success.
    (Their whole society is a failure to beginn with, they would not need that much energy in the first place)

    Utilities are raising prices every year. Their profit also rieses every year. I suspect that electricity prices are not really reflecting production prices.

    In the end it does not make a difference if you try to go renewable or nuclear.

    Some intelligent way to cope with the proplem would be to use energy when it is available. Sleep when the sun goes down. Work when there is power.
    Take some time off. Maybe store some energy.
    Siesta when the sun is killing you.
    People work too much and use too much.

    A cut down in use and a built up of nuclear generation are both unrealistic.
    A forced cut in use through carbon taxes is much more realistic.

  187. Douglas Wise, @ 6 April 2010 at 19.28

    Responses to you points as follows:

    1) I don’t think this is something that can be discussed on BNC. Too many extremists with deeply held beliefs. I am approaching this from the position that we need to change to clean, sustainable energy for many reasons, and reducing CO2 emissions is one of them. However, I do not agree with damaging Australia’s economy when other major emitters are not prepared to do so. It is a futile exercise. I also don’t believe the approach, espoused by some, that Australia should show the way to the rest of the world. How naive is that? I’d argue that my position is widespread and growing and my proposed approach can address everyone’s beliefs, if we stay rational.

    2) True. If you would re-read the paper http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/ , you would see that this is addressed. We also need to recognise that the new demand does not develop overnight. It will increase over decades. We know we can gear up quickly in the developed countries if we need to. We’ve proven that in wars (remember the post by David Walters or was it DV82XL which described how USA ramped up to make tanks in the WW2). What we need to concern ourselves with is providing a way for the developing countries to move as quickly as possible to clean electricity. That means it must be cheap. Much cheaper than the developed world has now. So we need to develop as quickly as possible, cheaper ways to produce clean electricity, not, more costly ways. So we definitely do not want to take a step backwards and raise the bar on the cost for electricity in the west. We want to reduce the cost as fast as we can. Get it Ewen?

    3) Please look at the paper. It shows the rate of capital expenditure (in figures not adjectives). And this is for high cost nuclear, which is exactly not what I am advocating. The investment funds will definitely be available if we establish the appropriate investment regime. The investors (e.g. the superannuation funds, international investors and mum and dad investors) will invest if they believe there is a stable regime, their capital investment is safe and the return is acceptable. We need to regulate to establish those conditions. That means getting rid of all the imposts to nuclear.

    4) No, Douglas. It’s your turn. I’ve explained repeatedly my reasons. So now it’s your turn to reply to the points I’ve made on this issues (many of themn in reply to your continuing question about this). I will do submit, however, we can handle whatever build rate we need, certainly in the west. It is the developing countries that are the problem. So, again, we want to reduce the cost of clean electricity. I’d like to see us aim to halve the cost of nuclear and then halve it again. If you and the Alarmists really want to move faster, that is what you should be thinking of, not raising the cost with ETS and Carbon Tax.

    I am getting a bit frustrated with the lack of input from others (except DV82XL) on how to reduce the imposts on nuclear. It seems there is an enormous belief that a carbon tax or ETS will fix all evil. Everyone keeps asking the same questions about them over and over and over again. But there is almost no attention to reducing the cost of nuclear.

  188. Ewen

    Wouldn’t the answer to coal pollution be to replace coal with nuclear? If nuclear was cheaper than coal wouldn’t that be more likely to happen? If nuclear was cheaper than coal we would get the benefits of both cheap energy and pollution free energy. Why aim for just one?

    I understand your concern about lowering nuclear safety but I don’t think anyone is proposing that. Peter is (I think) is looking to do away with superfluous safety. On this point DV82XL made some pertinent remarks. For example:

    “One point of view often expressed privately by those involved in design and construction is that it has bought nothing. A nuclear power plant is a very complex system, and adding to its complexity involves a risk in its own right. If there are more pipes, there are more ways to have pipe breaks, which are one of the most dangerous failures in reactors. With more complexity in electrical wiring, the chance for a short circuit or for an error in hook-ups increases, and there is less chance for such an error to be discovered. On the other hand, each new safety measure is aimed at reducing a particular safety shortcoming and undoubtedly does achieve that limited objective. It is difficult to determine whether or not reducing a particular safety problem improves safety more than the added complexity reduces safety.”

    Why risk superfluous safety measures when they unnecessarily increase cost and can in fact be counterproductive?

  189. @ Laver: I congratulate you once more very strongly both on style and content, this time in regard of the internalisation issue.

    @Lang: the Besse-Davis NPP incident and other NPP incidents in e.g. Japan show how cost-cutting by your beloved private operators in the area of operator training led to injury or death.

    I realise you are a neoliberal engineer with no interest in/knowledge of economic history. if you even knew something about the history of AU/UK, you would know what corruption and financial abuse and death (respectively) were bound up, to the benefit of your ideological forebears, in eg. the private mails and private railways in the 19th century before the State took them over, eg. the penny post in 1840. This is evidenced by documents of the time: the legislators were quite explicit.

    I thus find it amusing that you claim rationality for your side and impute evil to all others.

    So just hope, assumung that the Chinese install their 100 AP 1000s by 2020 or so, that it is not the profiteering offspring of Communist functionaries (see recent article in the FT. London) who have the cost-cutting oversight of them.

    I haave read Tom Blees’s book. Have you? Why do you think he wants GREAT as a international regulatory solution, to use his acronym?

  190. “What makes the price rises artificial? It’s not as if these costs are not being borne one way or another by the public in lower health outcomes, increased public expenditure, lost productivity and generational debt.’

    The fact that you’d have to impose legislation of some kind in order to reach them. As for the health effects, they’re real, but the benefits of cheap electricity from coal outweigh that consideration (without it, there would be more disease, not less).

    “The reality is that such an alternative will never be ready, but for the act of forcing these parasites to unlock their fingers from the public purse and indeed the public’s throat and to compel them to pay their way.”

    I take it you’re arguing that politics is the main obstacle here, not technology (at least I hope you don’t mean that you think it will never be technically possible to produce cheaper power from nuclear plants than from coal). I don’t get what you mean by ‘never be ready’. If the proposals are technically ready to go, then adroit propaganda can get the point across to the public. That is the point when some political action will be necessary, to get the regulatory framework and workforce developed, and the first build underway.

    I rather suspect that when it comes down to it, the program will be designed and overseen at every stage by the government, rather than relying on indirect economic incentives to cajole the nation towards a low-carbon economy.

    “Peter’s program sounds far too close to the protection of the interests of these unscrupulous rentseekers, in my opinion.”

    I actually saw it as the protection of the (short term) interests of society as a whole, the poor included, given the utility of cheap electrical power. Hence my description of the position as moral. I’m aware that various ethical systems have different criteria for assessing morality.

  191. Marion asked

    Wouldn’t the answer to coal pollution be to replace coal with nuclear?

    Most assuredly …

    If nuclear was cheaper than coal wouldn’t that be more likely to happen?

    Nuclear is cheaper than coal, but we aren’t getting it, mostly (in Australia) for political reasons but partly because coal is allowed to store its poisonous waste in the biosphere including the living tissue of human beings, for free.

    That must stop, regardless of what we do about making nuclear a more cost-effective solution. There’s really no connection between the two issues. Trying to cut the cost of nuclear by 75% so it can compete with a subsidy in lowered human jhealth handed to coal (and fossil fuels more generally) is likely to defer nuclear for much longer than is desirable and present it as if it was a demand to lower safety.

    Recall home insulation. Was that discussed rationally? Of course not. Do you think a concept such as “superfluous safety” would fly? Nope. QANTAS isn’t getting away with it and it has a much better reputation than nuclear power.

    For the record. I agree that genuinely superfluous safety measures ought to be dispensed with, but that wouldn’t be a selling point I’d make in the campaign. I’d be selling the opposite — nuclear power — 100 times as safe as coal and one million times as clean.

  192. Ewen,

    While I can see your point of view from an ideological perspective, I’m not sure you are correct from the practical point of view.

    You seem to be ignoring already existing emissions control regulations which are improving air quality and imposing extra costs on coal plants. Even the new plants being built in China produce less non CO2 emissions than their old ones. In the UK, these regulations are making it very expensive to use biomass waste for carbon neutral energy, thus they may be actually contributing to more CO2 emissions than necessary while reducing non CO2 emissions.

    You mention the high mercury levels in 20% of US women. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if female longevity isn’t increasing in the States. As one who has been involved in the licensing of animal pharmaceuticals, I know that regulators demand residue levels that are very many times lower than those that might possibly do any harm. (Perhaps they’re a bit like nuclear regulators!) You refer to fluorosis in British cattle. As far as I am aware, this occurs in stock grazing downwind of brickworks but I have never heard of such a phenomenon downwind of coal plants.

    Anyway, we can all agree that the sooner we can get rid of coal the better. I endorse the views of Peter and Marion that, by keeping nuclear low cost, this will happen more quickly.

  193. “I am getting a bit frustrated with the lack of input from others (except DV82XL) on how to reduce the imposts on nuclear.”

    1. Initially only use designs which have been licensed in jurisdictions whose safety record we approve of as suitable for Australia. Use the work that has already been done, and don’t reinvent the wheel here.

    2. Enact legislation to prevent cost blowouts from frivolous lawsuites by antinukes, and enact stiff penalties for sabotage (in the form of ‘direct action’ by antinukes).

  194. Finrod

    The fact that you’d have to impose legislation of some kind in order to reach them.

    I’m fine with that.

    As for the health effects, they’re real, but the benefits of cheap electricity from coal outweigh that consideration (without it, there would be more disease, not less).

    That’s like the problem in which two people agree to kill the third person so the majority will be better off, only more complex. Some people are better off and some people are a lot worse off. The tradeoff is false too because as we both agree, with nuclear one need not make the trade.

    I take it you’re arguing that politics is the main obstacle here, not technology

    I’m arguing politics and economics. We need to make coal pay its way. It has an unfair advantage much larger than the subsidy to renewables.

    The first thing we need to do is to realise that coal is the principal rival to nuclear and the biggest threat to human welfare right now. To get the opponents of nuclear to see that they would be measurably better off with a nuclear-centered energy system is a first goal. Pitching the rights of polluters is the antithesis of such a program.

  195. “The fact that you’d have to impose legislation of some kind in order to reach them. As for the health effects, they’re real, but the benefits of cheap electricity from coal outweigh that consideration (without it, there would be more disease, not less).”

    The health impacts of coal may be “less costly” than the impacts of the absence of the electricity a coal power plant would generate, but for new build would it not be the case that the price of (coal + external impacts of coal) would be more than price of (nuclear + external impacts of nuclear).

    However, in the absence of any carbon price or other internalisation of externalities those investing in new generation capacity only have to take onboard the direct generation costs and not the overall costs to the economy and society. New coal more costly than new nuclear but in essence coal plant investors are being subsidised by society as a whole that has to pay for those external costs.

  196. Doug

    You mention the high mercury levels in 20% of US women. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if female longevity isn’t increasing in the States.

    OK … so they live longer but have reduced mental acuity and also have children that are similarly afflicted — this is your calculus?

    I have never heard of such a phenomenon downwind of coal plants

    Please research more then — or just read the whole quote.

    As I’ve said, as long as coal is subsidised to the extent it is, there will be no parity in practice. This is a program for b-a-u and I find it completely retrograde.

  197. “That’s like the problem in which two people agree to kill the third person so the majority will be better off, only more complex. Some people are better off and some people are a lot worse off. The tradeoff is false too because as we both agree, with nuclear one need not make the trade.”

    Actually, a society without electricity will be medically far worse off than one with electricity powered by coal. In all likelihood, many if not most of the people who currently succumb to respiratory and other ailments attributable to coal pollution would probably not live long enough to be eligible for that death in the unelectrified alternative. With nuclear we don’t need to make that trade in the future, but for now we’re stuck with the infrastructure we have.

    “We need to make coal pay its way. It has an unfair advantage much larger than the subsidy to renewables.”

    Coal’s greatest unfair advantage over renewables is that for all its failings, it actually works and does it pretty well. That’s the real obstacle to getting rid of it; it’s just so damn useful! So useful, in fact, that our dependence is currently extreme, and screwing around with the supply is going to cause major problems. Peter is right. We need to undercut it.

    “The first thing we need to do is to realise that coal is the principal rival to nuclear and the biggest threat to human welfare right now. To get the opponents of nuclear to see that they would be measurably better off with a nuclear-centered energy system is a first goal. Pitching the rights of polluters is the antithesis of such a program.”

    I agree with the first sentence, but I do not agree that the second follows on logically. The first goal of the pronuclear movement at this time should be the organisation of current supporters into an effective political force rather than engaging in outreach to our adversaries.

  198. The health impacts of coal may be “less costly” than the impacts of the absence of the electricity a coal power plant would generate, but for new build would it not be the case that the price of (coal + external impacts of coal) would be more than price of (nuclear + external impacts of nuclear).

    Of course. I’m all for phasing out coal by replacing it with nuclear worldwide in as short a time as practical.

    “However, in the absence of any carbon price or other internalisation of externalities those investing in new generation capacity only have to take onboard the direct generation costs and not the overall costs to the economy and society. New coal more costly than new nuclear but in essence coal plant investors are being subsidised by society as a whole that has to pay for those external costs.”

    I’m given to understand that the new coal plants which are going to come on line in the future will cost more than the current generation, so our electricity prices will be going up anyway. Going over the information provided here and elsewhere on the economics of nuclear power, I have reasonable expectation that in this country it should be able to match or undercut coal in cost.

  199. Peter Lang #53801:

    Peter, undeterred, I’ll try another bite of the cherry.

    Your response to my point 1 indicates that you think it would be foolish to transition to clean energy at rate faster than any other economy lest it put Australia at a competitive disadvantage. This was reinforced by an earlier comment that coal producers should be free to export the extra coal that wouldn’t be needed by the redundant Australian coal plants, thus avoiding any need to compensate them for leaving it in the ground. This is a reasonable attitude for one who isn’t a global warming alarmist . However, the wait for global agreement, a desirable goal, might be a long one. By then, we would probably be kissing goodbye to civilisation. Podargus, I think, made the point that we can’t wait for the last passenger to board the bus. A consortium of states could go ahead with rapid transition, protecting themselves from non compliant states with import tariffs until the latter got on board.

    Your response to my points 2 and 3 was yet another invitation to read your excellent paper on Emission Cuts Realities. I have now been through it 4 or 5 times but regret that I haven’t yet managed to learn it off by heart. Looking at those of your assumptions which relate to the escalating need for electricity to 2050, they were based on ABARE (2007) figures which you then projected forward from when they stopped in 2030. Roughly, this provides 60% more in 2050 than currently generated. This was, I think, a BAU figure. You then made a further assumption that efficiency savings would cover the electrification of transport and other such activities that currently generate CO2 (eg desalination). I hope you’re right. I don’t know what proportion of Australian energy use is provided by electricity. In the UK, it’s about 20%. A 60% hike would bring this to 32% (for simplicity, I’m assuming that electrical energy is equivalent to other types – which it isn’t). Anyway, I would have thought that this would have been insufficient, regardless of efficiency savings, to achieve 80% emissions reduction.

    On my point 4, you invite me to explain why I think transition rate needs to be faster. I get that impression from the copious reading I’ve done but I’m not an expert on climate science. However, if Barry were to endorse your Emission Cuts plan as a sufficient and proportional Australian response to AGW, then I’ll change my opinion and back you. In other words, if all Western democracies and BRIC countries followed the Australian example you recommend, to an equivalent degree and in proportion to their current levels of emissions, would we have stabilised CO2 at less than 450ppmv and avoided dangerous climate change (350ppmv for those with a more cautious disposition)? I know Barry endorses your view that nuclear is the most most economic transition technology but that is a separate issue. Anyway, Peter, I hope you can appreciate that I’m trying to be flexible as well as to learn and provoke others to express their views.

    I share your frustration that relatively few others are joining in. I suspect that they may be bored to tears so perhaps we should shup up for a bit.

  200. Ewen

    Nuclear is cheaper than coal, but we aren’t getting it, mostly (in Australia) for political reasons but partly because coal is allowed to store its poisonous waste in the biosphere including the living tissue of human beings, for free.

    O.K. I agree, in Australia it’s mostly political and coal is allowed to shirk the responsibility for much of it’s consequences, but Australians just aren’t scared of coal. Arguing for more expensive coal when there is no price-equivalent alternative, isn’t going to wash either. That is, people are not going to be happy to pay more for coal and be forced to continue using coal, this is just going to lead to more climate denialism. We need to get nuclear accepted as an option – before we even think about messing with prices – so they actually have a least cost option.

    In Australia we appear to have a two pronged problem. Firstly, we need nuclear to be as cheap as coal currently is (largely to keep pensioners, low paid workers, conservatives, climate skeptics, head in the sanders, etc happy) and secondly, we need to allay the general publics’ fear of nuclear power. Can these two problems be any more at odds?
    :
    To lower nuclear costs without raising the cost of coal we need to address issues such as over-regulation/legal stalling but these issues are a consequence of public fear. So, to address over-regulation we need to address public fear. If we can reduce fear, then we can reduce regulation, then we will reduce cost.

    How do we reduce fear?

    We need people to take a serious look at nuclear. Ideally the public needs to be presented with something like two clean energy scenarios, one for nuclear power and one for renewables. For anyone in the least concerned about climate change, nuclear power’s lower cost and greater capacity for emissions reduction compared to renewables has got to lead them to consider nuclear power. But Australian politicians won’t do that because they are afraid the public is too afraid of nuclear.

    We won’t look at nuclear because we’re afraid of nuclear, but we can’t resolve our fears surrounding nuclear without being prepared to look at it. Arrgh. It’s all so frustratingly circular.

    I don’t know the answer, so I guess my question is, how would you address the issue of fear, in order to get nuclear accepted as viable and reduce costs?

  201. Someone asked for more estimates for the CANDU 6.

    The Ontario Power Authority in its report Supply Mix Advice Report calculates the capital cost of a CANDU 6 nuclear generating station at $2845CDN/KWe and the Canadian Nuclear Association sets the price at $2598CDN/KWe, but assumes two are built at the same time, which is common practice, as certain features can be used in common (like fuel handling.)

    However, as I wrote up thread. export pricing is based on how much local content is being used, which can reduce the price.

    AECL will not release cost breakdowns for turn-key contracts, considering such information to be proprietary.

  202. Marion Brook, on 6 April 2010 at 23.38 Said:

    “I don’t know the answer, so I guess my question is, how would you address the issue of fear, in order to get nuclear accepted as viable and reduce costs?”

    It is important to understand that most of the regulatory shenanigans I described above were not due entirely to fear, incompetence, or ignorance, but were transparent efforts to raise the cost of nuclear to make it uncompetitive.

    The role of the fossil-fuel lobby simply cannot be discounted in this matter, and it is this group, working behind the scenes that drives the antinuclear climate.

    Canada’s 22 nuclear generating stations were built under the regulatory watch of the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), which was made up of professionals, and who’s mandate was to drive the orderly and safe development of nuclear energy in Canada. There was not one single serious accident on their watch, other than the Chalk River incident, which was with a non-power reactor, and which occurred very early on in the story. Not one power reactor ever had a major problem.

    This agency was replace by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) which is a creature of dirty politics and exists primarily to get in the way of progress in nuclear energy. It was initially chaired by a certified agrologist, previously working for Agriculture Canada, who also happened to be deeply involved in the Liberal Party of Canada. The current chairman was taken from the Ministry of State for Urban Affairs. Other members have similar credentials: one from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, another from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, yet another an ex-Member of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly . You see the pattern.

    These are the clowns responsible for the medical isotope shortage, and the reason why a nuclear generating station has not been built in the country since. Not only that their meddling in the Point Leperau refurbishment has beggared Energy New Brunswick, and guaranteed that the plans to build a second merchant NPP there has been shelved for ever.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this group is nothing more than a creature of natural gas interests, out to protect their master’s turf.

    This has nothing to do with public fear.

  203. Peter said:

    I have a suggestion directed to Barry and DV82XL.
    DV82XL, could you compile the info you’ve provided in these posts (and any more that comes to mind) and put them in thread of their own. If you were able to expand it in any way that would be great too. For example if you are able to suggest how much could be removed, in man -hours of cost, I reckon it would be a great contribution. It would be really dissapointing if we lose this material you have posted and we can’t get back to it and find it easily.

    I would be most happy to do this, if DV82XL wishes it. He has my email if he wants to pursue this.

    I also wrote about regulatory ratcheting and regulatory turbulence in my book. One important source of information for me was Cohen’s excellent book, chapter 9, “COSTS OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS — WHAT WENT WRONG?”

  204. I’ll see what I can do.

    I am currently working on contract doing a technical audit, and much of what I write here is off the top of my head, with a minimal amount of research and verification. Were I to write a lead article, I would have to compile my comments in some sort connected way, check that all my facts were straight and reference them properly. It also goes without saying that I would need someone with a better command of English than I have to point out the errors that would surely accumulate.

    To do this properly will take some time given the demands of my current project.

  205. Marion said:

    people are not going to be happy to pay more for coal and be forced to continue using coal, this is just going to lead to more climate denialism. We need to get nuclear accepted as an option – before we even think about messing with prices – so they actually have a least cost option.

    The reality is that if, for argument’s sake, fossil fuels (including coal) had a carbon cost of $100 per tonne, but the ban on nuclear were maintained, the big winner would be gas. Coal seam bed methane, other NG, and maybe landfill. A lot more waste biomass would also be used. The coal that was used would be used a lot more carefully to extract maximum value from it. Cogen would be done.

    The money raised could be used to progressively evacuate people from the footprint so that toxicity would be minimised and there would be cash to clean up emissions substantially. The most toxic plant in the world — Hazelwood — would go. So would Muja.

    It’s possible we would import more aluminium, but since that is heavily subsidised, that would be a good thing economically as well as environmentally. People would be more careful in how they used their electrical power. Designing buildings around energy efficiency would become viable and the whole McMansion-on-the-urban-fringe thing would begin to disappear. We could move to higher urban densities and begin more intensive use of public transport. The air in our cities would be cleaner and this would cut the money we need to spend in health. Carbon intensity would fall dramatically.

    In short, this would move us in the direction of picking the “low-hanging fruit”. It would buy us the time we need to have the policy debate we must have on nuclear. As Tom Blees noted recently, by 2015 the IFR will probably be up and running in Russia. I see this as being an excellent opportunity to revisit the nuclear question with the old shibboleths about nuclear “waste” and non-proliferation now working for us rather than against us. The truth of the matter is that even if we got the cost of building nuclear plants down to about $2000 per Kw and even if we won the debate by 2015 it would be 2025 at the earliest before the first plant could be operating. In the meantime a whole bunch more coal and oil will be burned and we won’t have laid the foundations for a clean energy economy. If by 2025 we have reconfigured our cities and have large swathes of our vehicles running on the grid then that nuclear capacity will really make a difference.

  206. Finrod said:

    Actually, a society without electricity will be medically far worse off than one with electricity powered by coal. In all likelihood

    Well yes, but who said anything about zero electricity? That’s a strawman. The question is how do we trade the risks and costs of producing electricity effectively with the risks and costs of having none of it?

    See my answer to Marion …

    Given that the main obstacle is political, I don’t see how you can avoid reaching out to those who currently oppose nuclear. We must show good faith. We must persuade them that we are more consistent and pragmatic environmentalists than they are and not at all the catspaws of big business. Only when we do that will our political groups apeear to be more than handfuls of eccentrics handing out leaflets on street corners.

    If for argument’s sake, the bulk of those who saw themselves as environmentalists were on board, do you think this would make no difference? Do you think that you can get them on board without making fossil fuel meet its obligations?

  207. Douglas Wise,

    I saw your first sentence here and didn’t bother reading any further.

    “Your response to my point 1 indicates that you think it would be foolish to transition to clean energy at rate faster than any other economy lest it put Australia at a competitive disadvantage.

    I didn’t say that. Itis a complete distortion. I am not happy that you keep attempting to put words in my mouth to suit your argument. Please be more careful.

  208. Dougflas Wise.

    I wwant Austrralia to transition to clean electrcity as fast as possible. I also want elevtrcity to be as cheap as possible. You problem is you can only think of carbon taxes. You mind is locked into this being the only solution.

  209. Marion Brook

    What an excellent, clear thinking comment. Let’s consider how we can progress from from the question in your last paragraph, which asks:

    I don’t know the answer, so I guess my question is, how would you address the issue of fear, in order to get nuclear accepted as viable and reduce costs?

    My suggestion is we need to establish a faculty in at least one university in each mainland state capital, and Canberra.

    The faculty’s Terms of Reference would be:

    1. Determine how Australia can move to clean energy (or perhaps just electricity) as quickly as possible.

    2. Determine practicable options, and the overall costs to the country of each option.

    3. Determine ways to proceed – how to implement the changes, fund them and facilitate the earliest start and optimum roll-out rate.

    4. Advise how to provide the needed skills.

    5. Establish education and research facilities in the universities for nuclear engineering (if it is a necessary component of achieving low cost, low emissions energy in Australia)

    6. Establish education and research facilities for the social engineering that will be needed to enable Australia to implement the changes as quickly as possible. This is the one that addresses Marion’s question: “how do we address the issue of fear?”

    7. Continually brief the media and politicians on progress in an open and transparent way. (like Barry’s new web site is intending to do).

    This to be funded in the May 2010 budget !!!. Just 4 weeks to go or we wait another year !!!!. Better get started !!!!!. We’ve wasted a lot of time already talking about raising taxes. A total ‘no go’ area !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Marion, as I progressed I move from talking with you to talking AT others. Sorry. I’m told I do this all the time.

    Oh. By the way, in parallel with the education revolution (not Rudd’s, mine, as laid out above), I also propose we set up the modern equivalent of the Snowy Mountains Authority. This is to be a federal government body (like the Reserve Bank Australia), headed by an engineer (the modern equivalent of Sir William Hudson). This will be charged with bringing lowest possible cost, acceptably safe, clean electricity to Australia. They will work out the best way to achieve the stated objectives within their terms of reference which will be set by government.. The best way to progress the transition may involve public ownership of electricity system or whatever is determined to be the best able to achieve the objectives.

  210. “Oh. By the way, in parallel with the education revolution (not Rudd’s, mine, as laid out above), I also propose we set up the modern equivalent of the Snowy Mountains Authority. This is to be a federal government department, headed by an engineer (the modern equivalent of Sir William Hudson). This will be charged with bringing lowest possible cost, acceptably safe, clean electrcity generation to Australia. They will work with government to work out the best wauy to do this. That may involve public ownership of electricity or any option. Whatever is best able to meet the challenge.”

    I suspect that the people at ANSTO would consider that they should be in charge of most of the stuff you’ve advocated here. They were ready to ramp up their activities in that direction just before the last change of government.

  211. Peter Lalor has eluded to the reactor problem associated with the 6.8 Richter Scale earthquake near Niigata in NW Japan on July 16th 2007. That earthquake caused four Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power reactors close to the epicentre automatically to shut down safely. This is as they are designed to do at a ground acceleration at less than half of the “keep operating” design basis for each reactor. Three other units at the plant were not operating at the time. All will be checked for damage before returning to service. Some 1.2 cubic metres of water containing radioactivity equivalent to three household smoke detectors[and well within regulatory limits] was spilled from a storage pool and drained away. Oil from an electrical transformer at the plant caught fire and was not extinguished for two hours. In the city, 10 people were killed and there was major damage to houses and infrastructure. At this stage, the most notable feature of the event has been the media attention implying significant radiation leaks and damage of which there has been no evidence, and corresponding local government nervousness.
    These facts were gleaned from the World Nuclear News weekly digest of July 20th 2007 Peter. In May 2009, all reactors at the site resumed operation.

  212. “Given that the main obstacle is political, I don’t see how you can avoid reaching out to those who currently oppose nuclear. We must show good faith. We must persuade them that we are more consistent and pragmatic environmentalists than they are and not at all the catspaws of big business.”

    No, we don’t have to persuade them, we have to pursuade the general public.

    Only when we do that will our political groups apeear to be more than handfuls of eccentrics handing out leaflets on street corners.”

    The pro-nuclear movement isn’t even at that stage yet, and when we start, it will probably have the immediate effect of generating interest from those who’ve only ever seen the anti-nukes in that role.

    If for argument’s sake, the bulk of those who saw themselves as environmentalists were on board, do you think this would make no difference? Do you think that you can get them on board without making fossil fuel meet its obligations?

    If by “the bulk of those who saw themselves as environmentalists” you mean the mass of citizenry who think we ought to do our best to protect the environment and keep the planet liveable, of course it will be good to have them on board, but I expect that to happen naturally as the campaign ramps up anyway, since the pro-nuclear cause is the best policy match for those aims. We just have to inform people that this is so. They’re not who I’m talking about. I’m saying we shouldn’t waste our time and effort trying to convert the unconvertable, waiting forever for a sanctioning of our aims which is never going to come. These people must be marginalised, not elevated to the status of respected critics.

  213. I don’t suppose Finrod, you’d include Barry Brook in the “unconvertible” would you? There was a time when he was opposed to nuclear power on environmental grounds. James Lovelock came across. So did Mark Lynas.

    So was I, for most of my life as I really believed that it was a risk not worth taking and that renewables would do the job nicely. I believe our correspondent John D Morgan also shared this view.

    While there probably are some obsessives who really are moved by the kind of angst that puts them beyond the reach of reason, in my opinion, most are not. Most of us have spent the last decade not merely convinced that evidence-based policy is key to good outcomes but repeatedly asserting that to others. When it dawns on most environmentalists just how advantageous nuclear power can prove I have no doubt these will prove an invaluable resource for progress on this matter.

  214. DV82XL @ 6 April 2010 at 23.43

    The Ontario Power Authority in its report Supply Mix Advice Report calculates the capital cost of a CANDU 6 nuclear generating station at $2845CDN/KWe and the Canadian Nuclear Association sets the price at $2598CDN/KWe, but assumes two are built at the same time, which is common practice, as certain features can be used in common (like fuel handling.)

    However, as I wrote up thread. export pricing is based on how much local content is being used, which can reduce the price.

    AECL will not release cost breakdowns for turn-key contracts, considering such information to be proprietary.

    Thank you. That is exactly the information I was looking for.

    I have two questions. Are these figures 2009 C$? If not, could you please give me what you would expect them to be in 2010 $?

    Secondly, could you give me the expected cost of electricity ($/MWh sent out from the power station.

    If you can give me these two figures, I can plug them into the spreadsheet I used for the “Emission Cuts Realities” paper, and see how much more we need to cut to be ahead of new coal.

    In the meantime, let’s play with the figures you’ve provided.

    The $C and $A are close enough to call them equivalent. Let’s take the cost for the twin system at say $2600/kW. I’ll call this a $ figure for 2010 for now so we can compare it with the ACIL-Tasman figures that are the basis of the “Emission Cuts Realities” paper. The ACIL-Tasman report to the Australian Energy Market Regulator is here. It is a mine of very valuable, up to date and authoritative information of present and future electricity generation costs and CO2 emissions for Australia’s National Electricity Market. http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/419-0035.pdf

    Table 35, p58 gives the capital cost for new super critical, air cooled, black coal as $2,291/kW, and ultra-supercritical as $2.451/kW. The equivalent figures for brown coal are: $2,520/kW and $2,697/kW. So the twin CANDU 6 at $2,600/kW (settled down cost) sits fairly well in amongst the coal.

    I argue it is fair to use Air cooled in the comparison rather than water cooled for these reasons:

    1. We are a dry country, desperately short of water, and we will need the water for other reasons – eg for our projected 35 million inhabitants which will be here while these power stations are operating.

    2. Our two newest coal fired power stations, Millmerran and Kogan Creek are both air cooled, super critical black coal, so I can see Australia ever building a new water cooled coal power station.

    3. Nuclear should be located on the coast so it uses sea water for cooling (IMHO), so it is fair to compare air cooled coal (which have to be located inland near where the coal is mined) with sea-water cooled nuclear.

    For your interest and completeness (although I don’t believe these figures) the table provides projected costs for Ultra Super Critical with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as follows: Air cooled black = $3,922/kW and Air Cooled Brown = $4,415/kW. Who’d want CCS in preference to nuclear at these costs? I guess for completeness, I should say the this table gives the cost of nuclear as $5207/kW. However, the terms of reference for the nuclear make it clear that it is not wanted, thank you very much, and certainly anywhere near the coast!!

  215. Finrod,

    Much as I respect ANSTO for what they do, and do very well, they are totally the wrong type of organisation to head up an engineering effort like the modern equivalent of the Snowy Mountaisn Authority. ANSTO is a science and research organisation – definitely not an engineering organisation – appologies to the engoineers at ANSTO, I am sure you appreciate what I am saying. I am talking about implementing a massive build program with fantastic project management, design control and construction supervision – with least-cost being a major focus.

  216. i>Much as I respect ANSTO for what they do, and do very well, they are totally the wrong type of organisation to head up an engineering effort like the modern equivalent of the Snowy Mountaisn Authority.

    You may well be right Peter, and I’d say that our host at ANSTO was probably not referring to a role quite as wide as the one you’ve proposed here, but he seemed very confident that if we ever have a nuclear power program in this country, they have all the skills necessary to underpin that effort.

  217. Sorry. Try this.

    Much as I respect ANSTO for what they do, and do very well, they are totally the wrong type of organisation to head up an engineering effort like the modern equivalent of the Snowy Mountain Authority.

    You may well be right Peter, and I’d say that our host at ANSTO was probably not referring to a role quite as wide as the one you’ve proposed here, but he seemed very confident that if we ever have a nuclear power program in this country, they have all the skills necessary to underpin that effort

  218. I don’t suppose Finrod, you’d include Barry Brook in the “unconvertible” would you? There was a time when he was opposed to nuclear power on environmental grounds. James Lovelock came across. So did Mark Lynas.

    So was I, for most of my life as I really believed that it was a risk not worth taking and that renewables would do the job nicely. I believe our correspondent John D Morgan also shared this view.

    Is this supposed to be a serious question? Anyone of goodwill who has remained anti-nuclear to this point will most likely change their minds as our campaign ramps up. they should not be considered a priority.

  219. To clarify once again, I was never opposed to nuclear power on environmental grounds. I was simply not an advocate of it as a primary solution, until I looked into the matter in depth (the science/engineering behind both nuclear power and the alternatives). The history of this blog details the evolution of my thought on the matter quite clearly.

  220. @Peter Lang – Any attempt I make to adjust the figures I offered to 2010 values would probably distort the picture more than it would clarify it, The numbers I quoted were from late 2008, and given the path of the global economy since then are probably as accurate as we can hope for estimating the cost of a domestic NPP in Canada, before the usual array of cost overruns caused by the bureaucracy, banks, barratry, and other bastards that bugger nuclear builds, cuts in.

    Retail price for the power is a difficult thing to give a reliable number for, since the only one that matters is the net cost to the generating station that produces it, and the only numbers we are likely to find are net retail. Bruce Generating Station in Ontario sold power to the grid for an average of about 2.4¢/kWh, last year but the cost of it to them I could not determine. Keep in mind that the power market is very volatile here and for several hours, a few months ago, the spot price Bruce was offering was -5.1¢/kWh (yes, negative!) due to warm temperatures this Winter.

  221. DV82XL,

    Thanks you. I didn’t realise the foigures were from 2008. I got the report you mentioned on line (or thought I did) and I thought the figures were 2005 figuresd. Knowing how much the capital cost of baseload plants had increased from 2003 to 2009 (reported in the MIT update for coal and nuclear) I was concerned that the figures could be too low by as much as 50%. Hence, my asking for what year the figures applied to.

    Regarding electrcity cost, I wwas definitely not interested in price. This is a totally different issue and varies enormously by the minute. I was looking for the long run marginal cost which is calculated from factors like: overnight construction cost, build period, investment rates for debt and equity, cost of fuel and operation and maintenance costs, expected life of plant, etc. This figure is commonly used for comparing options such as coal versus gas versus nuclear.

  222. Electricity cost…

    This discussion is certainly the longest or almost longest on the BNC in quite some time.

    We don’t need “taxes”. We need “policy”. We need decisions by countries that we are going to end fossil fuel and replace it with nuclear generated electricity and nuclear synthesized fuels.

    For sure, if you “let the market decide” nothing will get done. Things that are of national policy ‘size’ are not decided…quite literally “willy nily” by “the Market”. The COST of electricity is actually less important here than the PRICE ratepayers pay.

    All the base load power sources come in at between, in the US, from under 2 cents/ KW (coal and hydro) to slightly above that, up to, if you include NG when the price is higher, about 6 or 7 cents a KW. SO WHAT? It ALL comes in cheaper than what I have to pay for it at my brand new “smart meter” PG&E installed last year. I pay 11 cents folks. Admittedly, high for the US, where it averages 7 to 9 cents. So, *anything* that comes in UNDER 11 cents (it goes to 14 cents if I use more than 260KWs/month) is then acceptable by “the masses”.

    So then WTF are we really talking about? The actual differences are so little that we need a policy that states, clearly, *legally* that country “A” is going to phase out coal and natural gas and replace it with nuclear over the next “X” number of years. We will will finance it with a combination of state credit and private investment where appropriate. Costs can be recovered the following ways….

    No market, no “I’m cheaper than you are” crap. It doesn’t really matter. We are talking about the future of the planet from the point of view of our climate and the future of humanity from the point of view of development. We need to do it, so we need to convince people we need to do it and make it The Law.

    David

  223. Thats probably a fair reflection of my position from about two years ago, Ewen, although to be perfectly honest I have difficulty now recalling exactly my thinking on NP from that time. I believe that is simply a consequence of my thinking not having been rationally constructed. I think my views were probably formed around reservations regarding waste, safety and proliferation, uncritical acceptance of typical ‘anti’ ideas on those topics, and a dose of political and cultural tribalism thrown in for good measure. Along with a fair amount of techno-optimism for renewables without an appreciation of how serious their limitations were.

    But I changed these ideas fairly quickly and fairly painlessly just as soon as I chose to look at NP in any detail. And I think a lot of the opposition would fall away with a little bit of education.

    Your point about Lynas, Lovelock et al. is well taken, and is why I think there is much to be gained by courting the environmental movement – at some point fear of real climate change will trump fear of fantasy nuclear disasters.

    But I also agree with Finrod that they are not the most important demographic. Mainstream Australia, without strong views, when faced with brownouts and blackouts, will simply look at their taxes and look at their rates and look at their power bills, and choose to build the cheapest available electricity that can be trusted to be reliable. This will never be renewable power, so we’d better make sure nuclear is cheaper than coal.

  224. Peter Lang – As far as I know that report was 2008 however you may be right, I was working from a collection of notes I keep, and draw on for these comments. As I mentioned up thread I cannot at this moment verify everything I post to the degree I would like to.

    Unfortunately I think I have come to the limit of what I can offer in the way of cost/price data without investing more time than I have at my disposal right now, and again I reiterate: your mileage may vary. Canadian pricing is not by any means an accurate reflection of the export price of a CANDU nuclear generating station, and it would be an error for you to assume that any figures derived from such would apply to an Australian project. I assume that there would be a fairly high amount of local content, which could drive the price down, and other factors based on market segmentation, delivery dates, and just how many other projects AECL (or its successor company) has in progress or already booked. And it should not be forgotten that there is now a competitor in NPCIL for PHWR plants which may also pull down the price in the short term.

    Consequently I caution you from attempting to refine these numbers much beyond what they are now – they are ballpark estimate. Nevertheless they do illustrate that a CANDU NPP is competitive with other modern thermal plants before the carbon burden is factored in, which is the key point I wished to make.

  225. And the rough account of your thinking on the nuclear issue probably also reflected mine. I had some ill-defined fears of waste and nuclear weapons, an optimism in relation to renewables (and perhaps some pride that we here in Australia were so fortunate to have it all) and a basic suspicion of anything to do with the Liberals since if they said it, it was probably part of an attempt to trash the environment make some some shonky operator rich.

    Like you though, AGW concentrated my mind on the issues and forced me to think about it a lot more closely. And in the mid 1990s, I had no idea just how dreadful coal was. I suspect many greens even now don’t know.

    I disagree with you though on which is the most important demographic. While only about 10-12% are green voters there is probably a further 15-20% who are sympathetic to green issues. The ALP could not move against this group even if 55% of the population were in favour, because most all of them would be people who are tribal Liberals and would not vote ALP, while the ALP base would defect. The Libs would oppose and leave the ALP wedged.

    OTOH were the Greens to adopt a positive posture, the ALP left would likely follow, neutralising the potential wedge. All the tribal voters stay where they are and the Liberals can hardly declare their opposition. –> Policy change.

  226. What a really good debate has just finished at the National Press Club. It was between Ziggy Switkowski (for nuclear energy) and Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Greens Party, (against). Very enjoyable.

    My short review:

    Ziggy Switkowski – sane, balanced, factual. Pure sanity throughout.

    Bob Brown – all emotive. Where will the power stations be located? What about the proliferation? We can do it all with energy efficienty, solar panels and windmills!!.

    Ziggy does advocate a price on carbon of $15 – $40 tonne carbon and says that will raise electricity prices for the household consumer from 15c/kWh to 20 c/kWh by 2020. (as you know, I don’t agree, but I haven’t managed to get through to him on that yet :) )

    There was lots of good stuff from Ziggy in this debate and lots of enjoyment from Bob Brown. I belly laughed my way through his stuff (I think even he knows how ridiculous most of it is, but it’s great politics and the irrational Greens love it and will vote for him and no nukes).

    I loved the whole hour. You should be able to view it on line somewhere.

    This is a great start to the debate in Australia. Bring it on!

  227. One line that does strike a chord with the public is hypocrisy. Rudd’s two major election promises back in 2007 were repeal of anti-union legislation and climate action. Apparently the latter turned out too hard. I’ve found that it’s not just me who is irritated with Rudd basking in the limelight of a climate champion. Recall the Bali hi fives and giving a condescending speech at Copenhagen. For what? His only serious mitigation program, the insulation scheme, was screwed up. Coal exports to new customer China are going gangbusters, shame about the odd glitch like damaging the Reef. The ETS won’t be implemented this Parliamentary term even if the Libs and Greens approve it. In any case it is convoluted and weak.

    The Qld, NSW and Vic governments all want to build or extend coal plant though expensive gas seems more likely. While I’m sure the public doesn’t want higher power bills I think they like dishonest politicians even less. The public should now insist they put up or shut up about carbon cuts.

  228. DV82XL,

    Thank you for the cost data you provided and for all the other very wise advice too. It has all been very helpful. I think it has progressed the debate on this thread enormously. I hope you can find the time to keep contributing and sorry if I pushed too hard.

    It is really hard to get compartable cost data. I accept/agree with your points on this. It is way to hard for citizens to try to do these sorts of copmparisons properly. We have to depend on expert reports such as ACIL-Tasman, EPRI, MIT who all do these comparisons on a comparable basis within in each report, but we cannot compare the costs in one report to those in another because of their different assumptions. And none of them compare all the technologies we are interested. ACIL Tasman, the most useful for what I want, did not include wind or solar, for example. The costs for geothermal and CCS are obviously low biased, and the nuclear high biased to suits their client’s political master’s policies. And none of the comparison reports I have seen include an ecvaluation of the costs of the CANDU NPP’s.

  229. David Walters.

    I agree with almost all you say in your recent post, but have to pick on one minor point, (for the sake of an argument , and perhaps to correct a potential misunderstanding that could arise in some readers minds.

    It is the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), not the price, we need to concern ourselves with if we want to compare technologies. And we need to compare on the basis of equivalent power quality, same year cost basis, and ‘sent out’ electricity. We need to use properly comparable: discount rate, rates for debt and equity, plant life expectancy and other factors.

    The price to the consumer depends on lots of other factors. Starting at the PRICE the generator gets for its electricity, this varies between negative and +$12,500/MWh in the Australian National Electricity Market. It can swing wildly every five minutes. The difference between cost and price can be compared with what happens when a farmer takes his cattle to a sale where they are auctioned. His cost, is his cost of production for those cattle. The price he gets at the sale depends on many factors on the day of the sale, such as how many bidders, what other cattle are offered, are their more or less cattle at the sale than the buyers want to buy. This is similar to what controls the sale PRICE of the electricity sent out from the power station.

    Next, the grid operator needs to add on his costs.

    Then the retailer has to buy the electricity from the generator at these wildly varying prices. But the retailer is forced by market regulation to sell his electricity at set rates set by the market regulator. This is the PRICE the consumer pays.

    So we can now see we are not at all interested in the price the retailer pays. We want to know the levelised cost of electricity. Over the long run, that is what must be returned to the generator, plus profit, or the generator goes broke. So that has a major effect the consumer price over the long term.

    As and aside, Ziggy Switkowski said in the debate at the National Press Club today, that raising the cost of electricity with a price on carbon of $15 to $40 per tonne would only raise the price of electricity to the retail consumer by 5c/kWh (from 15c/kWh to 20 c/kWh.

    I don’t believe that. I think it is to low. His own report say that if we double the cost of sent out electricity from a power station we can expect to raise the retail price by 50%. The price he quotes for carbon will certainly double the cost of electricity sent out from the power station. So this would lead to a 50% increase in the price paid by consumers. We have already had a 35% increase in electricity prices in the last two years which are attributable, in part, to the scare of the ETS/CPRS and all the solar panels and windmills we’ve been building. The price of electricity is expected to increase by another 60% in the next two years (I think from memory).

  230. Peter Lang, Yes, Ziggy did well and Bob Brown looked a bit silly I thought. I noticed that he thought Mark Diesendorf”s 900Square Km solar panel would help save us. When are Brown and the Greens going to stop their outrageous claims of what the renewables can deliver? Damn it all, wind and solar aren’t even green besides being too dilute and discontinuous. And it’s anticipated that by 2030 they will deliver just 2.8% of the total world needs. There are some who will never be persuaded by fact or reason. Let’s ignore them and speak to the more rational population of whom there is now clearly a majority.

  231. It seems to me that if CO2 is penalised at $x per tonne then much of Australia’s electricity should go up $x per Mwh or (x/10) cents per kwh. That’s based on 1 tonne of CO2 per Mhw in a conventional black coal fired plant. Example if carbon tax is $20/t then 2,000c/1,000kwh = 2c additional cost per kwh.

    That assumes other costs like labour and depreciation are unaffected. I’m mystified how all those power resellers were awarded hefty price increases when the ETS won’t even start this year if ever.

    Re air cooling didn’t ACIL Tasman claim that it negated the claimed ~20% efficiency gain of using supercritical water at Kogan Ck power plant? I also seem to recall there was a standby plan for spraying river water on the outside of the heat exchanger during heat waves. So much for preventing evaporation.

  232. John Newlands,

    You are correct that air colling reduces the efficiency of the panst. If everything else is equal, an air coolled plant will emit more CO2 per MWH sent out than a water cooled plant. So this offsets (to some extent) the gains that would othewise be achieved from the greater efficiency from super ctitical.

    The point is that the water is a valuable resource and there is a cost to using the water. It seems we will have to accept the efficiency, cost and CO2 penalty of air cooled if we want to build new coal fired power stations. Or we can accept just the cost penalty by moving to more efficient power stations – super critical and then ultra super ctitical.

    However, nuclear can be located on the coast and use sea water for cooling. So we dont need to use fresh water for cooling and we don’t have to incur the efficiency penalty. And of course there are no CO2, particulate or toxic emissions, as you know.

  233. Peter Lang:

    I will make one more attempt at persuading you that the programme outlined in your Emission Cuts Realities paper would not be sufficient to effect the level of emissions reduction that I think is needed by 2050. This is not in any way to detract from the principal lesson that I thought I was supposed to take from it, namely that any route other than a nuclear one would be economically suicidal.

    Forgive me if I attempt to make my case with UK data with which I am more familiar. I link to official government statistics to which you might wish to refer:

    http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/publication
    s/ecuk/ecuk.aspk

    Total end user use of energy was 154000 million tonnes of oil equivalent/annum in 2008. Total energy use was 226.5 MTOE (the difference due to 40% efficiency of energy conversion of coal to electricity).

    If one breaks down the end user use by fuel, one arrives at the following percentages for each fuel : 44% petroleum; 34% gas; 19% electricity; 2% coke and coal; 1% renewables/waste.

    For interest, percentage breakdown by sector is as follows: 38% transport; 29% domestic; 21% industrial; 12% service.

    In your paper, you project forward to 2050, using a BAU approach, which doesn’t assume any significant changes in the percentage use of different fuels (I am referring, of course, to the ABARE case and your continued projections therefrom). It delivers twice as much electricity in 2050 as currently used. This factors in hoped for increases in GDP/capita and population growth. In your Assumption 9, are you really relying, as implied, on efficiency to enable electricity to replace all other ghg-producing fuels not currently used to produce electricity?

    I would suggest that your assumption is lacking in validity unless the Australian pattern of fuel use is massively different from that in the UK. I take this view despite the fact that the potential for efficiency savings in Australia ought to be far greater than that in the UK due to your per capita energy consumption being double ours. In fact, were one to extrapolate from the UK figures and to replace all fossil fuel use with clean electricity, factor in the ABARE doubling to 2050, but ignore efficieny altogether, one would need to increase current electric power by a factor of 10 by that date (hence my cynicism about your factor of 2).

    This is why I talk about the need to go on “a war footing” and worry where all the money is going to come from while you take the laid back view that transition to clean energy could even save the Australian exchequer money if only you could get nuclear costs lower. Furthermore, I’m not sure that you’ve considered that efficiency can give long term savings but only after short term extra expense.

  234. Douglas Wise – There are several influential studies that suggest that we can dramatically reduce and stabilize GHG emissions. In particular, these studies suggest that cost-effective energy efficiency investments that are not undertaken by consumers in the marketplace can provide a massive reservoir of carbon abatement investment options.

    However the logic does not hold in the context of productive capital markets. The hypothesis implies a deeply flawed capital market causing massive economic losses along with political and institutional failure to implement available cost-effective remedies.

    Any critical review of the arguments for energy efficiency shows some are inconsistent, at odds with available data, simply anecdotal, and often misinterpret evidence. In addition, many of the the suggested remedies involve fixes that have already been implemented or remedies that involve very high additional costs. Finally, available evidence does not substantiate the existence of massive, unproductive misallocations of energy at the scale implied to cover the cost of redirecting capital to reduce and stabilize GHG emissions in any substantial manner.

    Your claim that Australians use much more energy per capita than consumers in the U.K., may well be true, however like North America, the climate and the distances that must be traveled, and the lack of legacy infrastructure, are vastly different from conditions in the British Ilses. Once this are factored in, along with the different industrial activities between these two nations, the spread in energy usage may not be as substantial as the raw numbers suggest.

    Having said that, I do agree that we must indeed go on a war footing to deal with this issue, but as I have often written, the impetus for this must come from the bottom.

  235. And just to make my point on the question of externalities and coal, lets’ seer an example of what this means at the pointy end of the discussion …

    Massey Coal (Author of the West Virginia Mining Disaster

    to all “Deep Mine Superintendents. (From CEO Don Blankenship, 2005)

    SUBJECT: RUNNING COAL

    If you have been asked by your group presidents, supervisors, engineers, to do anything else other than to run coal (i.e. – build overcasts, do construction jobs, or whatever) you need to ignore them and run coal. This memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that the coal pays the bills.

    As the article notes:

    Mine “overcasts” are critical to proper mine ventilation, and for many miners, Blankenship’s memo made it abundantly clear exactly what Massey’s “top priority” was, and is.

    The article continues:

    Blankenship has a Twitter account. He hasn’t tweeted in the last week, but it’s the real thing, and prior to late March, he, or someone acting on his behalf, was fairly active, addressing “issues broadly affecting the American economy, worker (sic) and environment.”

    Here’s his last tweet, from March 26:

    Here’s a list of 22 Senator who support higher taxes, higher electric bills and fewer American jobs. http://qorv.is/feb

    The article concludes aptly:

    The wonder of Massey’s Don Blankenship is how consistent he is. Whether the problem is properly ventilating a mine, or keeping the entire atmosphere of the globe stable, he’s sticking to his guns. If it will hurt his bottom dollar, he’s opposed.

  236. I’d like to have another go at presenting the case for no carbon tax.

    Let’s say that the current cost of electricity generated from existing coal power stations is $30/MWh and from new coal power stations will be $50/MWh (Table 52, p82, http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/419-0035.pdf )

    We have two options:

    1. We do not add a price on carbon, but instead we bring nuclear to Australia at a cost that can undercut new coal; or

    2. we add say $40/tonne = $35/MWh to the cost of coal generated electricity.

    If we invoke option 1 we maintain cheap electricity, and get all the advantages that brings. And the benefits are huge (I am allowed that adjective). We also are helping to bring costs of electricity down for the whole planet, because we are setting lower benchmarks for competition, and the lower costs will influence costs everywhere (including in the developing world) going forward.

    If, however, we invoke option 2, we will increase the cost of electricity (sent out from the power station) by some 70%, and the cost increase will be locked in forever. Nuclear will then compete and substitute for coal, over time, but it will compete in a market where the floor price is $85/MWh instead of $50/MWh. So the price of electricity would be raised for ever, compared with what would have happened if we’d invoked Option 1. This means, Australia would permanently ratchet up all energy costs. Our international competitiveness would be reduced. Some industries, such as aluminium, would move to other countries where electricity is cheaper. This is what happened in Europe. It forced much of its heavy industries to move to Asia. The poor Europeans (including the Brits) have become poorer than they would have been.

    Ewen advocates internalising more of the externalities of coal. Anti-nukes often argue that the state should not subsidise the insurance for nuclear plants.

    I suggest (I know this is a bit of a change of opinions I stated previously) we do not internalise more coal externalities (it is too hard). Instead we accept these as a cost to the community and balance this up by also accepting the insurance risk for nuclear. This brings the cost of nuclear down a lot. It is also justified for another reason. The high cost of insurance for nuclear is caused by the anti nuclear perceptions. These have been caused by society’s anti nuclear stance. It is the community’s fault that the cost of nuclear is so high. So it is best for society to ameliorate that higher cost, over time, b accepting the risk premium for severe accidents. (and yes the word severe is included intentionally to get all those fear hormones and adrenaline rushing).

    Conclusion:

    1. Do not add a cost to carbon
    2. Public owns the risk of nuclear accident
    3. We remove all imposts to nuclear
    4. Proportion of public versus private ownership is a subject for future discussions, but not until we’ve worked out how to reduce the cost of nuclear.
    5. What level of safety will be required will be a cost versus risk relationship that must be put to the public for them to decide. More safety means higher electricity cost and lower standard of living. You choose what level of safety you want.

  237. Peter Lang, on 8 April 2010 at 8.48 — Exprience in the USA with your point 5 shows that people will underestimate the risk of (flood, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, you name it) and then taxpayers have to pick up the resulting costs via FEMA.

    Much better, as the contrast between Haiti and Chile shows, is to insist on appropriate levels of safety for the risk.

  238. David B Benson,

    There really is no way I can see to progress with cleaner fuels if the sort of irrational statment you have just made is going to prevail. We might as well just throw our hands in the air and stick with coal, because you and so many others are happy with the known consequences of coal and scared stiff of nuclear.

  239. Douglas Wise,

    You are reading more into the “Emission Cuts Realities” paper than you should. I did not intend to discuss the basis of the ABARE projections. I just accepted those projections and used them as they are. To start discussing the assumptions upon which they make their projections is another subject altogether. ABARE do allow for energy efficiency improvements at roughly historical rates. I agree with their approach, but that’s another story. They have not factored in a massive swing to electric vehicles or other such changes towards electricity and away from fossil fuels. Such changes in assumptions would require a separate discussion and I’d need a replacement demand and supply projections.

    One of the major assumptions underpinning the “Emission Cuts Realities” paper is the rate at which coal power stations can be replaced with low emission alternatives. I was trying to take a pragmatic approach to what may be achievable. I assumed that owners of coal plants would be prepared to replace their plants with new plants at the end of their original design life (40 years) and this would not require a government subsidy to do so. This would be true IF there was a rational market – that means the investors believe we have progressed past our state of continual government intervention (such as proposed by Ewen and yourself).

    To enable the change to be to nuclear (instead of other alternatives) we need either regulation on the emissions from a mix of generators (as I proposed here http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/ ), or clean electricity to be cheaper than coal, or a combination of these two. (Forget the carbon tax idea for now for many reason as explained in earlier posts on this and other threads). I prefer reducing the cost of nuclear because I believe this is by far the best option and I believe it is achievable if we can get past the fear of nuclear. I feel you and Ewen are not advocating the best approach. You seem to be totally opposed to even considering this notion. You just want a tax, and your minds are locked in on this one solution. That is my impression.

  240. Douglas

    Do you agree that if we raise the cost of electricity (or all energy) the world will be poorer?

    Do you recognise that this will make us less able to take the actions we may need to take in the future?

    If you agree with these, can you understand why I am arguing to not raise the cost of electricity? (Especially given that the cost of nuclear electricity is grossly inflated due to a long history of grossly irrational policies leading to massive cost imposts on nuclear).

    We can remove these imposts, have nuclear at a price less than coal (much less, I believe, eventually. But we need to focus on that, not on the easy band-aid to cover a badly infested wound.

  241. I see all this talk of carbon taxes and caps as just the final stupid chapter in the near religious obsession that big business and their lackeys has with market forces. Never forget that the “hidden hand” is in your pocket and groping your privates!

    Ewen has a point, but his whole market forces idea is just plain dumb. Won’t work and too much churning

    What we should do is this.

    1. Abolish all restrictions on bringing in nuclear power
    2. Bring in regulations progressively reducing the pollution (not just CO2 but all pollution and environmental damage associated with the lifecycle of energy production) to that of the best nuclear we have. This could be phased in over 20 years, to avoid massive disruption to current energy supply.
    3. Bring in serious fines for those who in any year don’t meet the targets up to and including forfeiture of assets for repeat offenders.
    4. Offer to buy the assets (pro-rata) of anyone who sells up before the 40-year lifetime of a plant
    5. Where pension funds or similar hold assets, offer separate compensation to the fund for any losses associated with the new regulations on assets for shares/assets bought before the regulations were announced
    6. The state tenders for construction and operation of shadow nuclear assets on a timeline matching the phase out of coal or gas. When these come into operation, they can compete with coal and gas to drive down costs. As always, the coal and gas people can sell up to the state at market price.

    If that were done, we would have, at worst, all primary energy assets at the ecological footprint of nuclear by 2035. Since more than half are over 25 years old, most would have been replaced by 2025

    Simple. No fancy trading schemes or churning or expensive pay offs to polluters. We clean up our energy supply within 25 years.

    Coextensively with this we require all non-commercial or rural/farm vehicles to have tailpipe emissions no more than 80g per km by 2020 and zero by 2035. Vehicles not meeting the standard must show that they are used substantially for agriculture, mining, or some other commercial activity and pay a fee based on emissions to operate.

  242. You are sounding more and more like Helen Caldicott ever day.

    Hardly. She thinks nuclear is unthinkable. I regard it as utterly essential. That these polar opposite positions seem similar to you or even incipiently connected, suggests that it is you who are blinded by your own paradigm. If we are to make comparisions, I’d say you were a lot cloers to Mr Blankenship above than I am to Ms Caldicott.

    You offer no basis at all for accepting that full internalisation or cost equivalent — which you now candidly admit you don’t favour — is too difficult. You simply restate it as if repetition proves it so.

    Yet one could simply impose these costs, in the form of mandated action, restitution, strict liability, tort and so forth at the various points of the chain and allow these to wash into prices. That would work. I’d be thrwoinbg in costs for cadmium and mercury and the other toxics as well of course. I’d be getting the coal companies to acquire property within the footprint at the market value it would have been without a the contamination of coal. I’d get the haulers to buy along their corridor and the miners to have to restore land to something like its pre-harvest state and stability. They’d have to pay to decontaminate rivers and not use these for dumping. And we’d charge them of course with the likely pro-rata costs for climate change on the mid range modelling scenario for 1 mettre sea level rise. They could chip in for all the costs of damage to coastal infrastructure, depreciation in land values, climate displaced persons, drought and so forth. I’d leave them to offset their losses by approaching thowse who thought they would benefit from climate change for a dividend and wish them luck. And if they challenged I’d make sure that the lawyers’ costs alone doubled each of the above.

    A carbon tax or cap and trade looks pretty soft beside that scenario.

    Jonathon …

    I must admit, your proposal sounds pretty good, but a little too much like picking winners to me. We have a market economy and as the health issue showed in your country (I assume you’re American since you spioke of “pension funds”) whole slices of America are borderline potty about anything that can be described as “socialism”.

    Then again, you may be onto something. If they really hate Al Gore all that much, maybe the government stepping in and regulating is what they should get instead.

    Having an ETS is a low cost way to implement a transition and would allow each business to calibrate its response either by innovating or paying or some tradeoff between the two. You could have a much smaller bureaucracy. Then again, despite the squealing, much of the public would understand this a lot better than an ETS and it might actually be easier to sell, politically.

    Oddly enough,

  243. Peter Lang, on 8 April 2010 at 9.31 — You completely missed my point.

    Setting safety standards requires something far more thoughtful than everybody choosing their own level of risk/safety. If the safty standards are set too low (or the saftey inspectors are corrupted), society as a whole eventually pays when some extreme event occurs.

    Of course, with coal there are various extreme events such as slurry pond failures as well as continual environmental damages. I find all such unacceptable and hope to help create better national standards via the EPA and even stricter laws.

    Your point 5 appeared to me to be overly libertarian and much experience shows such an approach is eventually highly costly. Instead saftey standards need to be set in concert, with some rationality attached to the process. That dosen’t appear to be your view.

  244. Ewen,

    The quotes you have posted and make a big deal of are routine messages that get passed day in and day out in operations of all companies.

    Activists take bits and pieces out of the millions of emails and instructions and make a great deal out of it. Extremist activists thrive on this sort of stuff.

    Your posts scare the hell out of me. What scares me is that people who have absolutely no experience in the real world and no understanding at all of what goes on in an operating business, have such strong opinions about how businesses should manage their operations and staff. I am scared that people like you can have such a strong influence on how the country is governed. It’s really scary.

  245. And of course Matt, Peter Lang, despite repeatedly being corrected on this, continues to utter an entirely false premise — which is that a price on carbon dioxide emissions will raise the cost of electricity. Done properly, it merely shifts the cost factors from one column to another.

    In a free and competitive market with nuclear power allowed to compete, fairly, (including with other suitably regulated nuclear power businesses) the price of electricity will fall. The kinds of regulatory reform that DV8 suggests can proceed in a much more systematic way.

  246. Well said Johnathon Price. Yours is a most commendable plan to phase out the fossil fuels and phase in nuclear and at a rate and cost that is affordable. It seems to me that most of us want nuclear instead of the fossil fuels, we understand that the renewables and yet to be developed technologies will not meet the world’s power needs,EVER and so we need to get on with convincing the people that nuclear is the way to go. A majority in Australia already agree to introducing nuclear into our energy mix and so we have to get stuck into our leaders to start looking at nuclear as necessary. 20 additional countries over and above the 33 already with nuclear power are building reactors. All of the barriers, including COST, have not deterred them from going nuclear. They are going nuclear for two main reasons. They want a secure energy future and without greenhouse gases. It’s as simple as that. We need to get on with it in Australia and urge our governments to do it, as Ziggy Switskowski did at the Press Club yesterday. It’s time for all of us to stop talking and start doing something.

  247. Jonathon I think what you are alluding to is a de-scammed simpler ETS. That is no dodgy offsets, feed-in tariffs or renewables targets. I do think CO2 permits should be purchased not given out but any subsequent trade confined to those alone, not credits. It sounds like a deadweight loss but there must be some method of keeping check on aggregate CO2. I think a no-copout CO2 cap can work, the govt just needs the cojones to do it.

    Since we want 80% CO2 reductions by 2050 that is only 2% arithmetic reduction per year. The catch is that may be inevitable given fossil fuel depletion and/or high prices. Better to ease back at 2% in 2010 et seq than say 20% in year 2020 alone because of a sudden fossil fuel crisis.

    I also think we should reduce coal exports 2% a year to help other countries find their way. On nuclear loan guarantees and accident liability the Australian government has already given a form of free insurance to fossil fuel. If any of a future 120 Mt of sequestered CO2 leaks from under Barrow Island the company (Chevron) is off the hook. The next step is nuclear indemnity.

  248. John Newlands said:

    That is no dodgy offsets, feed-in tariffs or renewables targets.

    I’d endorse such a thing but I don’t see that as what Jonathon Price is after. He is proposing change by government fiat, though in this case the fiat is a Mack Truck.

    For the record, I’m not totally against doing it his way. If we have a clear (and near) end point for the phase out of the right of holders of fossil fuel assets to poison at large, then I guess I can live with that. Effectively, his system would mean that there would be no new investment in coal assets for local combustion and in practice, there would probably be a clamour to offload the assets in the market since they would decline rapidly as they approached 2035 or 40 years.

    The government would probably get these at firesale prices and even though, in a way, the state would be compensating these criminals, in the spirit of looking forward rather than back and getting stuff done, it’s probably a reasonable compromise.

    I’m not sure what your distinction between “credits” and permits is. If you simply mean you’re against allowing offsets that aren’t verifiable, or RECs then I’m with you on that. Ultimately though a permit that is issued is a credit.

  249. Peter Lang #53289:

    In suggesting that I am trying to read too much into your Emission Cuts Reality paper, you signally fail to acknowledge what I wrote in the opening paragraph. You constantly exhort others who try to discuss matters with you to go back and re-read what you have previously written. This, I have done and, to an extent, it has clarified my thinking. Might I suggest that you try the same? It seems to me that you instantly make up your mind about another commentator and then assume you know what he is likely to be writing without taking the care to read what he has actually written.

    You, yourself, state that “ABARE have not factored in a massive swing to electric vehicles or other such changes towards electricity and away from fossil fuels.” (PRECISELY MY POINT).

    Until such time as ABARE do factor in these massive swings, you won’t know exactly what amount of new electrical generating capacity you’ll need, but I’m prepared to bet that it will be a hell of a lot more than a mere doubling, however much more efficiently it is used. Furthermore, I contend that it is this higher level that will be necessary if dangerous climate change is to be avoided.

    If I am right (I don’t profess to your level of expertise), I suggest that your paper could be very misleading. Perhaps others have read too much into it as well. It would be extremely dangerous to leave the impression with anyone that your coal to nuclear electricity plan represents other than a (possibly small) part of a realistic clean energy transition package.

    Should any other readers think that it does, they would probably find the logic of your low cost nuclear/(no ETS or Carbon Tax) approach to be flawless. (I do wonder whether you may have deluded yourself, thus explaining why you think that others who believe that some form of carbon levy might be necessary are merely crazed, ideological lefties.)

    Please recall that I have already accepted that a carbon levy may not be necessary to achieve a satisfacory transition. One could attempt to achieve one’s objectives entirely by regulation. However, my point is that transition will be costly in the short term and regulation won’t be fiscally neutral. This is why the choice you offer – cheap nuclear or tax – is spurious. I horribly fear we need both.

    Peter, please appreciate that I’m trying to move this debate forward. Can you explain why I’m wrong to think the choice you repeatly return to is a false one?

  250. DV82XL:

    Thanks for your response. I wouldn’t wish to suggest that one should in any way discount what should and must be achieved through efficiency. In fact, in my post on Britain’s Energy Future, I suggested that generating capacity should be increased 4-5 fold rather than 10 fold which would be necessay were there to be no efficiency savings and continued GPD and population growth to 2050. Nor was I having a dig at Australians (or Canadians) for their greater use of energy when I suggested that they possibly had more potential for efficiency savings. I was, in fact, trying to make it clear that I was aware that Australians used double the per capita energy but, notwithstanding, considered that their possible consequential potential for increased efficiency would be insufficient of itself to negate the thrust of my argument. I had feared that Peter might otherwise muddy the waters by reverting to Assumption 9 in his paper and suggest that a doubling of electricity plus efficiency would hack it. If, in fact, he really does think that, then I would like him to explain why he considers this is the case.

    To the extent that you agree with the need for a “war footing” approach to clean energy transition, I take it that you are less sanguine than Peter appears to be. I agree that “bottom up” may be needed but could be slow. The UK is in such an economic and energy infrastructure shambles that a temporary suspension of party politics may be a quicker route. We talk “war footing”. In the last world war, Britain did, indeed, suspend party politics and instituted a National Government – a quicker and non bottom up approach. I do accept, though, that Hitler represented an immediate threat which the human mind has evolved to deal with. Such, unfortunately, is not the case for untutored minds where the threat is less immediate. Nevertheless, an election campaign is starting here and it is becoming clear that many in the electorate know we have massive problems and are getting infuriated with politicians who appear unwilling openly to discuss the severe tax rises and public spending cuts that will almost certainly be required. However, it remains the case that any political party that was honest would lose votes. It is for this reason that we might actually have a chance of National Government. Any party that won in the current circumstances would be so unpopular if it administered the correct medicine that it would be likely to lose power at the following election.

  251. Douglas Wise @ 8 April 2010 at 18.38

    I accept your criticisms in your first two paragraphs.

    However, you did start your post I was answering (@8 April 2010 at 1.44) by saying:

    I will make one more attempt at persuading you that the programme outlined in your Emission Cuts Realities paper would not be sufficient to effect the level of emissions reduction that I think is needed by 2050.

    You want to discuss what you think the demand projection should be. You think ABARE has underestimated the rate of demand growth.

    I agree the ABARE projections may be an under estimates. They realise that. They make assumptions. You do need to read the background and all the assumptions before we could discuss this. ABARE do many different projections for many different scenarios. But this is the central projection (as at 2007) and the one used by the government for planning. If I was to use a different set of projections I’d need to justify why. And anyway, from any perspective it is off the critical topic. So it is a diversion. There are many, many reasons I am not really interested in trying to go off on a tangent from what is the most important issue.

    Likewise, I urge that we should not be distracted into discussing ETS or Carbon Tax approaches until we have fully explored what we can do to reduce the cost of nuclear. Because, from my perspective, as long as we are taking the approach of adding costs to electricity, rather than reducing them, we are taking an exactly wrong approach (as explained in many previous posts on this and other threads). The cost of energy has been decreasing for 10,000 years in real terms. We can continue that trend by allowing and encouraging competition.

    The critical point that it seems we are unable to stay focused on here, although there have been some excellent contributions, is how to reduce the cost of nuclear so it can undercut coal in Australia. It is definitely possible and achievable – I’ve given reasons why up-thread. But we are being blocked by the attitudes in the community that are propagated by the Greens and their activist groups. These are the sorts of attitudes that have held us back for 40 years. Ewen is expressing quite a widespread view that exists amongst articulate and influential groups in Australia, so it is valuable that he is expressing them here. What we need to do is work out how to get over the fears but also realise that business is what drives the economy and gives us our wealth and standard of living. Successful, profitable business is our friend not our enemy. It plays within the rules we set. If we implement laws to favour renewables, coal and gas, that is what we’ll get. Business responds to the rules we set. Unfortunately, too many people with no business knowledge and experience are arguing for laws to constrain business and direct them in ways that are not good for society. Some of the ideas expressed by some posters here about evil business and investors are so naive it is astounding.

    At the moment I feel we can’t even agree on the most basic facts, so there is little chance of us getting to the key issue – which is: what do we have to do in Australia to bring nuclear here at a price that can undercut coal?

    One more point. I’ve discussed my reasons for believing that the amount of energy efficiency that can be achieved, is grossly exaggerated by the proponents. DV82XL has pointed this out too. We’ve been through all this before in the 1990’s with the same overblown claims. The ‘hard heads’ with experience said at that time that the claims were greatly exaggerated. They were proved correct. The same is the case this time. Look at our pink bats insulation program for one example that was supposed to pick the lowest hanging fruit of all. The insulation will reduce emissions for a cost of $200/tonne CO2 avoided. Some low hanging fruit that is !!

    And another point. You state that you believe the demand projections are underestimates and therefore cheap nuclear wont solve the problem so we need an ETS or carbon tax. I don’t agree. If we are going to reduce emissions world wide, then we have to electrify, everywhere, with clean electricity. To achieve that we need cheap electricity, not higher cost electricity. The total focus needs to be on low cost clean electricity. The fastest way is to reduce the cost of nuclear, fast

    If we set engineers the task to give us “clean electricity at least cost and acceptable safety” they will achieve that!!! We do of course have to specify what we mean by those terms. The researchers will provide the community with the cost benefit curves and we can then make our decision what balance of cost versus benefit we want.

  252. Douglas Wise, on 8 April 2010 at 18.38 Said

    Please recall that I have already accepted that a carbon levy may not be necessary to achieve a satisfacory transition. One could attempt to achieve one’s objectives entirely by regulation. However, my point is that transition will be costly in the short term and regulation won’t be fiscally neutral. This is why the choice you offer – cheap nuclear or tax – is spurious. I horribly fear we need both.

    “One could attempt to achieve one’s objectives entirely by regulation.”

    That is not the primary approach I’ve been advocating. The primary approach is to remove all the impediments that are making nuclear more costly that coal.

    How can I make this any clearer?

    Low cost, clean electricity is neutral to government finances. Infact, because it makes the nation more wealthy, it is a positive to government finances.

    There is a cost to get through the FOAK stage and that should rightfully be carried by society. Also the incentives to investors and loan guarantees should be carried by the community. This balances the community’s carrying of the externalities of coal, gas and renewables.

  253. Peter Lang:

    Peter, we really are not that far apart. For example, I agree that “successful, profitable business is our friend, not our enemy as long as the right rules are set” (though I do worry about some aspects of globalisation and consequential massive trade imbalances – something of a red herring).

    More importantly, I agree that “low cost clean electricity is neutral to government finances. In fact, because it makes the nation more wealthy, it is positive to government finances.” What you seem unwilling to accept is my point that this is true only in the longer term. Because of up front loading on costs, transition will create cash flow problems in the short term.

    One way to address this is my suggested short term, carbon levy which Joe Schuster (SCGI) came up with. However, I have, from time to time, considered alternatives. These have included added inducements to pension fund investors looking for long rather than short term returns. Another idea was to incentivise the very rich to avoid increased rates of tax at the top rate by offering them the alternative of nuclear investment. Anyway, whether you agree or not, I think a carrot or a stick or both are required to cover the short term funding issues, given my belief that we’ll have to transition at a rapid rate. I would not rule out the possibility that the carrot might prove more expensive to the taxpayer than the stick (particularly with the no- picking- of- winners model with or without continued renewable subsidies). Overall, I have argued for short term pain for long term gain. It is implicit in this statement that I accept that transition need not be painful in the longer term.

    I agree that the points I am discussing do not deal directly with the issue to which you attach the major importance – that of driving down the costs of nuclear energy. However, I do see them as highly relevant to the determination of what is required to transition at an appropriate rate.

    I think you are prepared to agree that full clean energy transition by 2050 may require considerably more than a doubling of electricial generating capacity, particularly given your acknowledgement that emissions savings through efficiency measures are not necessarily cheap and seldom achieve their theoretical potential.

    Maybe we’re done arguing!

  254. Peter, I agree with your position, that our priority should be to bring in nuclear cheaper than other alternatives. This I think is a sine qua non for dealing with our emissions problem. I see no evidence that the community would demand clean power if at comes at a higher price, and I don’t believe a carbon penalty (or complete internalization of costs if you prefer) would be sufficient by itself to drive a transition. Therefore dropping the cost of nuclear below coal is an absolute necessity.

    I remain agnostic, hopeful even, about the potential of some form of carbon pricing to accelerate or ease that transition, but only if clean energy is cheaper. If its not, I don’t believe we will move to a higher cost power system by carbon pricing.

    One requirement for making this happen is to get the regulatory framework right. There are many nuclear regulatory agencies we could examine as models. Can we evaluate existing regulators for their cost effectiveness? Are there existing regulators which fail to ensure an acceptable safety regime? Are there regulators which gold-plate their safety requirements? Are their regulators that ensure safety at a fair price? Which ones, and how do they do it? Is there an existing model for regulation that would achieve your goal?

    The Australian nuclear regulator, ARPANSA, has as its slogan, “Protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation”. A noble aim, to be sure, but maybe it needs to change to something like “Building a clean and safe power system”. Our ANSTO hosts feelings towards their regulator weren’t exactly warm.

  255. Thanks Peter Lang and Douglas Wise. Some fine concluding remarks on this topic from both of you and with I think a nice conciliatory tone. I’ve enjoyed the debate greatly [thanks Barry] and apologize for my ignorance in these weighty cost and transitional issues. But I make “no apology” [I'm sounding like Howard and Rudd now] for urging us all to get out there and start convincing the people and the pollies that Australia has to get on with nuclear power development like most other developed countries are doing. We have to start soon.

  256. John D Said:

    I don’t believe a carbon penalty (or complete internalization of costs if you prefer) would be sufficient by itself to drive a transition. Therefore dropping the cost of nuclear below coal is an absolute necessity

    I challenge the therefore in your passage.

    Full internalisation would drive the change not merely because of the economic imperatives, but more importantly, on political grounds. As with any change, if you can combine carrots (lower cost nuclear power) and sticks (higher end user cost fossil power) you get maximum effect. Politically though, we need to put the fossil people on the defensive and an ETS based on full internalisation does that far better than a tax, which in turn does that far better than nothing at all.

    Does that mean we should be indifferent to cost hikes in nuclear unconnected with any commensurate public benefit? Of course not. Consistent with good cost-benefit practice, we should aim for the lowest cost energy production we can have. That applies to all energy policy — not just nuclear.

    It’s why renewables won’t work and would be rejected. Peter wants to give free passes to coal and to compensate coal by giving free passes to nuclear. I say there should be not be any free passes because a fair and rational system would mean that we would get nuclear.

    I believe that the political benefits of an ETS (and the potential for reconciling across jurisdiction make them a preferred system. Forcing the energy producers to guess what long-term costs for emissions will be is the way to mobilise fear to the advantage of clean systems and to wedge business. Politically it would be especially effective — and that is where we need to win the battle.

    Jonathon’s proposals above require a far more bold and interventionist regime than I’ve seen in this country since the 1970s, but they certainly could work, in theory. Admittedly, it affirms the right to pollute (and thus to poison), which grates with me, but as a matter of practical politics, that is going to happen anyway and it does put a stiff timeline on ending the practice, so if some government proposed this approach, I’d certainly support it.

  257. Douglas Wise, on 8 April 2010 at 22.27 Said:

    What you seem unwilling to accept is my point that this is true only in the longer term. Because of up front loading on costs, transition will create cash flow problems in the short term.

    If the regulatory environment is set appropriately the private sector will fund what we want. Alternatively, we can issue bonds if we want to pay for some encouragement. Alternatively, the public can take over the electricity system (buy it for about $120 billion) and pay for the replacement generator systems using government bonds and revenue from electricity sales, as the private sector does (I can’t see a mix of private sector and public sector generators being attractive to investors).

    “What you seem to be unwilling to accept is” that the electricity generation assets must be replaced on an ongoing basis. The design life for coal plants is usually 40 years. We are well over due for a lot of replacement, but no one is game to invest in replacement generator assets because of the uncertainty as to what governments are going to do next. This uncertainty has been ongoing since about 1990 and the days of the “Ecologically Sustainable Development” ideology driven policy (just like now). We could progress if we could remove the uncertainty for the generators, give them a pro-investment environment that they could be confident would not change for the economic life of the plants they invest in (i.e. the investors have certainty that idealists wont come along at some time in the future and say “nuclear is bad, close it down, the investors should have known so they don’t deserve to be compensated”).

    If we could get over this uncertainty, and provide certainty for investors and a genuine level playing field, investors would begin replacing the coal fired plants that are way past their used by dates. NSW is in a desperate situation with its lack of investment in generation assets. It is importing electricity from Victoria (brown coal) and Queensland (black coal). They urgently need to start building new baseload plant. They need new baseload plant before they retire any. The new plants could be nuclear if the governments would send the right signals. If Rudd would change his opposition to enthusiastic support, before the 11 May budget, and announce his government’s wholehearted change in policy on this, the NSW government would make it their policy before their next election. We could have our first nuclear plant operating in NSW by 2020 (just). It is up to the federal government, and our prime minister, to lead on this. If he leads on this, the Opposition will support it (as long as it is going to be done economically and not disadvantage us economically)

    The ETS or carbon tax will not provide certainty to investors. They know that governments will for ever be changing it. That is the last thing we need. It will favour gas (high cost power) because of the low capital cost and short build time – that means less risk for investors).

    Douglas, you are focused on how to fund the transition to clean energy and a faster rate of transition. I will be interested in discussing that but after we’ve focused on how to get the cost of nuclear down. If we focus on how to fund nuclear before we work out how to get the cost down, we will be working out how to fund the high cost option rather than the low cost option. You are ‘putting the cart before the horse’.

    Forget the ETS and Carbon tax for now. Focus on what needs to be done to get nuclear competitive with coal.

  258. John D Morgan,

    You always make very sensible, balanced and mediating comments. Thank you for this one too. I realise I am stretching the argument a bit, but it is intentional: the purpose is to try to get us to discuss HOW to reduce the cost of nuclear, rather than just follow the easy line put out by the pollies – put a price on carbon. The pollies approach – put a price on carbon – leaves us with higher cost electricity for ever plus more revenue for pollies to give out as suits them.

    I’ll admit that I agree with you on this:

    I remain agnostic, hopeful even, about the potential of some form of carbon pricing to accelerate or ease that transition, but only if clean energy is cheaper. If its not, I don’t believe we will move to a higher cost power system by carbon pricing.

    However, I stress that if we focus on carbon pricing before we solve how to lower the cost of nuclear, we’ll never succeed.

    One requirement for making this happen is to get the regulatory framework right. There are many nuclear regulatory agencies we could examine as models. Can we evaluate existing regulators for their cost effectiveness? Are there existing regulators which fail to ensure an acceptable safety regime? Are there regulators which gold-plate their safety requirements? Are their regulators that ensure safety at a fair price? Which ones, and how do they do it? Is there an existing model for regulation that would achieve your goal?

    Excellent questions. Can we (the BNC contributors) follow thorough on answering these questions and see where this leads us. Let’s try to address these questions for a while. Let’s leave any talk of Carbon Taxes and ETS and internalising the costs of coal, gas and renewables, for a later time.

    There are many nuclear regulatory agencies we could examine as models. Can we evaluate existing regulators for their cost effectiveness? Are there existing regulators which fail to ensure an acceptable safety regime?

    I believe Sweden was very successful at regulating their system before Chernobyl sent the world berserk with over regulation and raising the regulatior requirements to the worst possible via the IAEA. I don’t blame the IAEA they were forced to do so.

    The point is that, Sweden is a small country with a small population and small GDP. They built their own excellent reactors, regulated them, they were very economic. They also led the world in the research into the long term storage of unsed nuclear fuel, and I believe will be the first to have an operating facility. Regulation worked for the Swedes, provided economic, clean, safe electricity. Sweden is smaller than Australia. If they can, we can too. Does someone know more about Sweden’s regulatory environment than I do. What about the regulatory environments in Canada, Korea, UAE, Taiwan, Argentina, Romania, and many of the other small countries?

    Are there regulators which gold-plate their safety requirements?

    USA, NRC
    UK,
    France,
    Most of Europe,
    Japan
    All the larger countries because they can afford to.

    Details would help from those who know more than I do.

  259. Douglas Wise,

    I didn’t answer this paragraph in you post at

    One way to address this is my suggested short term, carbon levy which Joe Schuster (SCGI) came up with. However, I have, from time to time, considered alternatives. These have included added inducements to pension fund investors looking for long rather than short term returns. Another idea was to incentivise the very rich to avoid increased rates of tax at the top rate by offering them the alternative of nuclear investment. Anyway, whether you agree or not, I think a carrot or a stick or both are required to cover the short term funding issues, given my belief that we’ll have to transition at a rapid rate. I would not rule out the possibility that the carrot might prove more expensive to the taxpayer than the stick (particularly with the no- picking- of- winners model with or without continued renewable subsidies). Overall, I have argued for short term pain for long term gain. It is implicit in this statement that I accept that transition need not be painful in the longer term.

    I don’t buy this arguments about ‘short term taxes’. It is naieve. If we raise the cost of electricity now, it will remain high for ever. It will slow the rate that electricity substitutes for gas and oil for heat and land transport. It will slow the rate that clean electricty penetrates into the developing countries. It is a totally WRONG approach. And it is not necessary. It is only being advocated because we cannot accept we made a massive mistake by forcing the cost of nuclear through the roof over the past 50 years by being irrational We listened to the wackos. We still are. What we need to do is to unwind all those imposts we’ve placed on nuclear. That is the solution, not raising the cost of electricity by more government intervention like this mass of distorting policies you propose in your paragraph I quoted above.

    I am repeating myself because you keep repeating yourself with these same arguments for raising the cost of electricity.

  260. I’ve been trying to get some others involved in this discussion on the BNC web site. I am going away for the weekend so will miss out on how you (BNC contributors) resolve all Australia’s energy woes while I am away. However, I have confidence the task will be complete when I return. In the meantime, here is an email just received from someone who should be posting here. His reply is as a result of my prodding:

    I think we discussed this briefly before, but with a bit further thought I don’t see that a study of overseas nuclear regulatory systems and attempting to define the best would be of much use here. Here the federal government has its own history of regulation and how it sets up such things. Not that I have any expertise in such but a comparison with Australian air safety regulation (ATSB & CASA) would probably show what would be developed for nuclear, and from what I recall the history of air safety regulation in this country has not been an altogether happy or competent one. Perhaps this is because the tradition of federal governments of all stripes is to keep tight political control of things that could make them look bad, and air safety is certainly one of these and nuclear would be another. As such I would anticipate that the regulation in the nuclear sphere would be carried out by elements of the public service, an organisation which is designed to carry out the expressed or inferred wishes of the federal pollies and which places more emphasis on internal politics than technical expertise. As an indication of the latter I remind you of my friend who used to work at ARPANSA and did, for a time, run it – well he quit when he found that they had more lawyers on staff than engineers.

  261. What is the point of adding an ETS or CPRS or Carbon tax to the cost of electricity without us sorting out this mess first?

    What is the point of working on notional savings to the build costs and operational parameters of plants that are not yet politically acceptable? Doesn’t it make morew sense to lay down a cost environment in which all externalities are internalised and then to argue for a solution based on best value per dollar of expenditure?

    Until the principle that there is no free lunch is accepted, there will be a an interminable squabble over who pays for whose lunch and who gets the big salad.

  262. Peter Lang:

    So I’m naive – or naieve as you would put it. Might I be allowed to suggest that you could be construed as being culpable of the same fault?.

    For weeks now, you have been demanding that all debate on this blog be focused on the single issue of how nuclear power could be made cheaper. You seem to expect someone else to supply you with some sort a magic bullet to target a simple solution. However, it should, by now, be perfectly clear that a combination of interacting factors, all of which have been individually discussed here many times, will have a bearing on the issue of nuclear costs. I would suggest that , if you’re really seeking insight, that you follow your own advice and read back through the various past posts. I suspect, however, that you already know the answers and that your motivation is to try to persuade others that there are but two paths to clean energy transition. The first is your cheap, painless one and the second is that selected by all others who have the temerity to appear to disagree with you. You seem to be constitutionally incapable of seeing matters in a more nuanced way than simple black and white. You apparently don’t realise that few here disagree with you on the desirability of driving down the costs of nuclear power to the extent compatible with safety, as well defined by DV82XL.

    I trust you enjoy your weekend break and return in a less choleric frame of mind. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to put up those who disagree when you KNOW you’re always right.

  263. Ewen Laver, on 9 April 2010 at 14.39 Said:

    “What is the point of working on notional savings to the build costs and operational parameters of plants that are not yet politically acceptable?”

    This is the crux of the matter just about everywhere that there is a running debate on nuclear energy.

    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 the wisest course of action.

    Apparent or not, this is the real source of almost all antinuclear activities. Defeating such a foe, will require more that showing that nuclear power is economically competitive, as certainly in the U.S. and Canada, nuclear generating stations make money, and provide good returns on investment, in spite of the harsh regulatory environments the industry endures in those two countries.

    The necessary changes in the political climate, (from which all other issues stem) must be via a popular movement, because there is no other option. Reason and logic are not going to change the minds of governments that are beholding to fossil-fuel interests, and even if a NPP design was offered up at half the cost of its cheapest competitor, this would not have the effect of causing a change in policy; it would probably make it worse.

    The CNSC is holding public hearings across Canada this Summer to gather opinions on new type-approval regulations for small reactors. This is unusual, because that commission rarely goes to the public to hear on technical matters. I am trying to get Rod Adams to come up and present with me, mostly because I fear that this will turn into a platform for the antinukes to demand tighter regulation on these designs, effectively keeping them out of the country, and I’d like to put up some resistance.

    In short nuclear energy’s problems start and end in the political arena, and that is the only place they can be effectively fought.

  264. Just so DV8

    Arguing about how to contain costs of nuclear build in places where there’s political opposition at government levbel to using nuclear at all, is about as relevant as deciding where to spend your 20th wedding anniversary or to build the marital home when you aren’t convinced you should get married.

    Obviously, it will become important in due course, but getting the settings right to have nuclear accepted as the key component of energy policy is a starting point. Peter’s approach radically undermines the possibility of that happening.

  265. Peter Lang, on 8 April 2010 at 11.51 — Thank you. I found
    http://www.ier.uni-stuttgart.de/forschung/projektwebsites/newext/
    and skimmed the shorter of the two reports. Therein there was a sentence to the effect that the risk of an NPP extreme event was so low that steakholders would have to assess it.

    I disagree with that. It is so low than even meteorite strikes are more probable.

    But the rather ugly externalities for coal don’t even include the CO2 contribution. Add a samll cost for carbon offsets (or whatever) and already here in the PNW the cost of a new coal burner exceeds that of a new Gen III NPP, measured in cents/kWh.

  266. New electric power production facilities, of whatever type, are costing more in cents/kWh. The era of very inexpensive electric power, on demand, is over; instead it’ll just be inexpensive.

    The best way to lower the cost of NPPs is to produce in facories, transport and assemble on site. I am under the opion, although not well informed, that Nuscale (Oregon) has such a design, slowly making its way through the NRC process. An interesting feature lowering the cost is that everything except the cooling towers is to be underground. So rather than an expensive outer concrete and steel shell to fen off airplane strikes, there is some 10s of meters of dirt; highly effective.

  267. DV82XL how small could a CANDU be made? I’m a long way from a nuclear expert, but don’t the Adams engines use non-recyclable pebbles for fuel? I guess CANDUs can’t run as hot, so can’t use gas turbines.

  268. Watching horse racing on TV I was amazed when the tipsters launched into a 10 minute tirade against coal mining in the Upper Hunter Valley. I understand that may also be the subject of Monday’s ABC ‘Four Corners’ program.

    Add that to fatal mining accidents in China and the US, the coal ship still run aground on the Great Barrier Reef and mountaintop removal in the US. If there truly were centuries of coal left it should be easy to dig in less sensitive locations. It lends credence to a predicted global coal peak circa 2030 with Chinese production peaking in the next decade.

    I suggest all cheap fossil fuels could run out earlier than we think in the order of oil, gas and coal. Already I believe brown coal generators are resisting secret government overtures to switch to gas fired baseload. Nonetheless I still think we should penalise fossil carbon now while it’s cheap to smooth the inevitable transition.

  269. Ewen and DV82XL:

    I’m sure you’re both correct in your comments relating to the political problems relating to the widespread adoption of nuclear power.

    However, from a UK perspective, matters are definitely moving in the right direction. Upthread, Peter Lang was discussing the difficulties and uncertainties associated with energy infrastucture planning, contrasting the longevity of power plants with that of parliamentary terms and pointing to the need for a regular programme of investment.

    It occurs to me that, given the parlous financial state of many Western economies and the backlog of investment needed for energy infrastructure, many politicians would be glad to hand over the responsibility for the latter to independent bodies. In this way, they could effectively wash their hands of the responsibility for taking decisions which are likely to be unpopular. Furthermore, they may feel less constrained by the pressures arising from lobbyists and pressure groups.

    It was this sort of thinking that led Gordon Brown to hand over control of inflation to the Bank of England. The Labour Party had always had a reputation for financial irresponsibility and this one measure – seemingly removing itself from temptation – won it a lot of support. This was warmly applauded at the time and seems to have worked well, judged by inflation alone. The Bank relies on advice of “12 Wise Men” who meet on a monthly basis and whose discussions leading to recommendations for Bank Rates are published retrospectively. These advisors are professional economists. Unfortunately, Brown also removed the powers of the Bank of England to regulate the financial activities of other banks and financial institutions and gave them to a so-called Financial Services Authority. Brown and the latter should take most of the responsibility for our current economic crisis. The Conservatives are going to wind up the FSA and repatriate its powers to the Bank.

    Britain also has an Energy Regulatory Body. This has repeatedly warned of a looming future energy crisis arising out of lack of investment but its essential role is to strike a balance between the interests of energy suppliers and energy users.

    I would like to see a revamped Energy Body handed the responsibility for planning and delivering energy infrastructre as well as for regulation. The new Conservative model for the Bank might give an indication of what is required.

    While I may merely be expressing pious hopes and, no doubt, Peter would brand me as naive, I do think that current circumstances provide the best opportunity to de-politicise energy infrastructure planning.

  270. Lawrence, on 10 April 2010 at 13.59 Said:

    “DV82XL how small could a CANDU be made? I’m a long way from a nuclear expert, but don’t the Adams engines use non-recyclable pebbles for fuel? I guess CANDUs can’t run as hot, so can’t use gas turbines.”

    AECL currently offers the CANDU 3 which is a 450 MWe unit.

    The smallest CANDU ever built was the Nuclear Power Demonstrator (NPD), this reactor commenced operation in 1962, supplying 20 MW of electricity to the Ontario Hydro system, and served as a working prototype of all later CANDU nuclear generating stations. The first commercial CANDU 1 was the 200MWe NGS at Douglas Point, Ontario which was the design sold to India for their first units. They have made some improvement on this design, and it is the one they are now trying to export.

    CANDU’s probably could not be modified to have a gas a working fluid. The British Magnox designs do, running on CO2.

    @Douglas Wise – I would not presume to comment on the situation in the UK which may be different from others in this regard, however if it is as you say, then you are very fortunate. The rest of us still have to contend with fossil-fuel interests, and that isn’t going to go away of its own accord.

  271. DV82XL and Peter Lang

    DV8, I was not suggesting that the UK is in a fortunate position except insofar as the acceptance of the need for ,at least, limited nuclear power by both major political parties with little overt public opposition. This is almost solely due to our unfortunate position in most other respects relating to public indebtedness and an ageing energy infrastructure.

    In case it is of interest, I will provide a few quotes from the Business Section of my today’s newspaper. There are two generating companies wishing to build NPPs in the UK – EON and EDF:

    “EDF has lobbied hard for a carbon floor price, which could add an estimated £40 a year to energy bills”.
    “And David Cameron, the Tory leader, gave his backing to the policy last month in the hope that it will kick-start the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain”
    “At the moment, companies must buy carbon allowances to cover every tonne of emissions – theoretically rewarding those who invest in clean energy and penalising heavy polluters.”
    “But at a price of of around £11.80, it is cheaperfor companies simply to buy the permits than build expensive nuclear or clean coal plants.”
    “The Conservatives would set a fixed lower limit – of, say, £30.50 per tonne – to support the price of carbon allowances.”
    “But Dr Golby (CEO of EON) argues instead for a “low carbon obligation”,
    “This would force suppliers of energy to buy a certain percentage of their power from low carbon sources, regardless of whether they are wind farms, nuclear plants or clean coal.”
    “Energy companies are frustrated are frustrated by the fact that renewable energy is subsidised to a greater extent than nuclear.”
    “”For me to build nuclear power stations, I need confidence people are going to buy the product at an acceptable price”, said Dr Golby”

    In a separate interview, Golby states that he believes that it is still just about possible for the UK to stimulate an ambitious £200 billion of low carbon generation and reduce emissions in line with EU targets over the next decade – if it hurries.
    Like the other big energy bosses, Dr Golby takes fright at the mention of draconian suggestions, made by the regulator, Ofgem, of a return to the old days of a centralised energy buyer, amid concerns over potential shortages.
    Golby states that he is not a great supporter of a carbon floor price , because it seems to be a tax and that money doesn’t always go to the purpose for which it was intended.

    For interest, EON is German owned and EDF is French. Peter, I think Golby’s views would be to your taste.

    I send these quotes to demonstrate, if nothing else, that the nuclear debates at the political and business levels in the UK and Australia are very different.

  272. The problem with EON is that they maximise their rising profits every year and still continue building coal plants.

    Would that have anything to do with Germany’s stupid nuclear phaseout legislation, and the need to build a couple of dozen coal plants to cover what the fig leaf of wind and solar can’t cover?

  273. They could built wind instead of coal.

    Besides what is stupid about the phase out? It is a legit political decission by a democratic society that you should learn to accept.
    Not all countries can have regimes (or absolutes) like China or the UAE and do what they want when they want without any transparency.

  274. @Heavyweather – how often must you be shown the facts on wind and solar before you understand that they simply cannot provide anything other than a token amount of real energy?

    As for a legitimate political decision made by a democratic society, that’s fine until the detritus from their coal plants begins to impact everyone else.

  275. It is relatively simple for Anglosphere residents in Australia and Canada at a long distance from the Ukraine and currently blogging on BNC to pontificate retroactively on western European reactions to Chernobyl in 1986.

    Suffice it to say that it impacted Italian, Austrian and German law, and even the Austrian Constitution, in respect of civilian atomic energy. That impact has been sustained ever since. Note that windborne fallout from the defective Soviet NPP design at Chernobyl caused great fear and anxiety at the time, compounded by the secretiveness of USSR officials.

    Note that in France, the State found it expedient at the time to black out news of Chernobyl, even though it might have assumed that this would not be necessary, given the generally positive attitude to NPPs on the part of French citizens.

    The notion that German power companies such as Eon or RWE would suddenly drop coal-fired stations in favour of NPPs if German pro-renewables law were revoked fails to consider the business strategies of such companies. They operate in jurisdictions outside Germany. Eon for example is building CANDUs in Romania.

    http://www.urgewald.de/_media/_docs/RWE_Atomplaene_Maerz_09.pdf

    states by the way that CANDU’s weak point as a design is its reactivity (?). That is, when coolant is lost, it allegedly behaves like an RBMK. Comments?

  276. DV8
    If it was like you want to make everybody believe there would not be that much wind power all over the world.
    Norway would not built sea cables to store European wind energy and nobody would buy turbines.

    You seem to like coal more than wind and you also seem to like the fact that EON is making record profits while building coal plants.
    Theres nothing wrong in forcing them to built windturbines instead even if it cuts in their dirty record profits.

  277. Heavyweather, – show me supporting coal anywhere. I don’t. But you seem to think you can make all of the technical issues with wind go away just by building more. That is because not only are you an ignoramus, you are a fool.

    We have discussed this here to the point of tedium, and you ether cannot understand, or will not except wind’s limitations and persist in believing it is a matter of evil business practices, and not physical limitations that wind is not replacing coal.

    I am not going to bother to rehearse the reasons you are wrong again, simply because it is plain you cannot be convinced to change your mind.

    This discussion is over.

  278. Besides what is stupid about the phase out? It is a legit political decission by a democratic society that you should learn to accept.

    Stupidity remains stupidity, be it supported by one person or one hundred million. What is stupid about it is that the Germans committed themselves to phasing out the one form of power which can adequetly provide them with reliable power, and as a result must continue to rely on coal. Wind and solar cannot help bridge the gap in supply.

  279. Not all countries can have regimes (or absolutes) like China or the UAE and do what they want when they want without any transparency.

    Without transparency? I reckon it’s transparently obvious that the UAE determined that it was much better to sell their oil and gas overseas for good hard cash than to burn it at home for power after spending good cash to build a couple of useless solar stations and pretending that’s where all their power came from.

  280. Did Grant King suggest:

    removing all distortions in the energy market? NO!

    removing the Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets? NO!

    removing all tax incentives for fossil fuels? NO!

    removing all impediments to nuclear? NO!

    So I wonder what his agenda might be? Anyone have any suggestions?

  281. This just in:

    British Green Party Candidate Chris Goodall accepts nuclear power in Mix, cites David Mackay with approval

    Scroll down and check his comment in the body of posts responding to his original article.

    Like many of the readers of the Guardian web pages, I am a big enthusiast for Prof David MacKay’s rigorous approach to the issue of how we build a portfolio of electricity and other resources to provide the UK with 120 kWh a day per person. He thinks that we probably need nuclear and I don’t disagree with him. (For the avoidance of doubt, this is NOT Green Party policy and remains a minority opinion within the Party).

  282. “He thinks that we probably need nuclear and I don’t disagree with him. (For the avoidance of doubt, this is NOT Green Party policy and remains a minority opinion within the Party).”

    Now that’s interesting. I can only wonder if the anti-nuclear force is strong enough to initiate a spontaneous fissioning of the BGP.

  283. We may well ask the same question about the BBGP (Bob Brown Green Party) and the ALP.

    Well… I don’t think the ALP would fracture over the issue. They’ll always just be pro or anti nuclear power, and stomp in internal dissent either way. Before declaring the Australian Greens to be in peril of splitting over nuclear power, I’d want some indication of serious internal debates over it, or prominent members publicly calling for a rethink of their anti-nuke position.

  284. Tom Blees tagging nuclear opponents “environists” is an insult to the majority of Australian citizens and a very good reason why this forum preaches only to the converted.

    A glaring omission on this forum is the stark reality that Australia’s regulators are not up to the task of regulating a nuclear industry and could not detect a beer in a brewery – nor do they wish to.

    Why would one expect stringent regulations in a nuclear industry when Australian regulators in the 21st century remain incapable of regulating any pollutant industry to protect human health and the environment?:

    1: Lead (Lead poisoning of Esperance)

    2. Mercury (Kalgoorlie contamination),

    3. Hazardous waste industries (the largest chemical fire in history at the Bellevue hazardous waste plant and its dire ecological ramifications)

    4. ERA’s Ranger mine ( poisoning workers with radioactive drinking and bathing water 400 times in excess of “normal” levels )

    5. Ranger mine (tailings dam currently leaking an estimated 100,000 litres every day of toxic solution (with impunity) containing all radionuclides, into the Kakadu surrounds).

    6. In 2003, a Senate committee found that regulation of the Ranger mine was “flawed, confusing and inadequate”.

    7. And lest we forget, I’m reminded of Ansto’s recent fudging of their online poll where they changed the “No” votes to “Yes.”

    8. “Over fifty years ago the WHO’s assembly voted into force an obscure but important agreement with the IAEA – founded just two years before in 1957.

    “The impact of this agreement has been to give the IAEA an effective veto on any actions by the WHO that relate in any way to nuclear power and so prevent the WHO from playing its proper role in investigating and warning of the dangers of nuclear radiation on human health.”

    A “brave new climate?” There is nothing new or brave about a nuclear industry that pollutes with impunity or the spin from nuclear lobbyists, the IAEA or WNA – two of the very few agencies that continue publishing ‘glowing’ scientific reports, devoid of references.

  285. Webs and Weavers – I could list a similar collection of regulatory failure in Canada in the environmental domain, nevertheless we do manage to run a safe and effective public/private nuclear power industry.

    I find it breathtaking that there are Australians that would publicly declaim that Canadians are better at them at anything other than eating snow. I have seen bar fights break out over less of a slight than what you are suggesting.

  286. “A “brave new climate?” There is nothing new or brave about a nuclear industry that pollutes with impunity or the spin from nuclear lobbyists…”

    I always thought the blog title “Brave New Climate” refered to the issue of climate change, rather than anything to do with the nuclear industry. Welcome back, Helen.

    By the way, what kinds of radionuclides would you expect to find in uranium mine tailings you wouldn’t find in the environment around a major uranium ore deposit in the first place?

  287. Webs and Weavers, the primary reason for nuclear advocacy on this forum is because it is the energy generation system with the lowest environmental impact. If you can describe an alternative power generation system that meets our energy needs and offers a better environmental outcome than nuclear power, I will abandon my support for nuclear power and advocate for your alternative.

    So, can you describe your alternative energy infrastructure?

  288. Tom Blees tagging nuclear opponents “environists” is an insult to the majority of Australian citizens and a very good reason why this forum preaches only to the converted.

    Rubbish. I believe the majority of Australians are now pro-nuclear, and most of those who are not will become so as soon as they understand the issues properly. The term is an insult to anti-nuke dinosaurs like Caldicott who have nothing but emotion to peddle in the name of their cause.

    A glaring omission on this forum is the stark reality that Australia’s regulators are not up to the task of regulating a nuclear industry and could not detect a beer in a brewery – nor do they wish to.

    Presumably you have some evidence for this assertion? From what I could determine during our recent visit tom ANSTO, the staff there are highly competent professionals, and our host made a point of mentioning that if Australia were to develop a nuclear power industry, they had all the expertise necessary to oversee the effort.

    Why would one expect stringent regulations in a nuclear industry when Australian regulators in the 21st century remain incapable of regulating any pollutant industry to protect human health and the environment?:

    1: Lead (Lead poisoning of Esperance)

    2. Mercury (Kalgoorlie contamination),

    3. Hazardous waste industries (the largest chemical fire in history at the Bellevue hazardous waste plant and its dire ecological ramifications)

    4. ERA’s Ranger mine ( poisoning workers with radioactive drinking and bathing water 400 times in excess of “normal” levels )

    5. Ranger mine (tailings dam currently leaking an estimated 100,000 litres every day of toxic solution (with impunity) containing all radionuclides, into the Kakadu surrounds).

    6. In 2003, a Senate committee found that regulation of the Ranger mine was “flawed, confusing and inadequate”.

    7. And lest we forget, I’m reminded of Ansto’s recent fudging of their online poll where they changed the “No” votes to “Yes.”

    8. “Over fifty years ago the WHO’s assembly voted into force an obscure but important agreement with the IAEA – founded just two years before in 1957.

    “The impact of this agreement has been to give the IAEA an effective veto on any actions by the WHO that relate in any way to nuclear power and so prevent the WHO from playing its proper role in investigating and warning of the dangers of nuclear radiation on human health.”

    I’m not sure why you’re pointing to non-nuclear incidents. The safety record of the civilian nuclear power industry worldwide is superior to that of all other forms of power generation. There is no doubt Australia could effectively regulate a local nuclear power industry. Also, you may wish to provide some references or links to material backing your claims. You have been somewhat vague.

  289. Ewen Laver @ 9 April 2010 at 14.39 said:

    What is the point of working on notional savings to the build costs and operational parameters of plants that are not yet politically acceptable? Doesn’t it make more sense to lay down a cost environment in which all externalities are internalised and then to argue for a solution based on best value per dollar of expenditure?

    Until the principle that there is no free lunch is accepted, there will be a an interminable squabble over who pays for whose lunch and who gets the big salad.

    You argue that we should implement the CPRS first and then the costs of clean electricity (e.g. nuclear) will come down because you believe the politics will make this happen.

    I agree that the imposts on nuclear will be removed eventually, but I believe it will take decades. It will not happen until the population in the developed nations get over their aversion to nuclear. I expect it will take decades to remove the imposts on nuclear by following the route you advocate.

    The alternative, that I support, is to tackle the imposts on nuclear that are causing the costs to be higher than they could and should be. I believe the best time to tackle this is while the population’s attention is on the need to reduce CO2 emissions.

    If we implement the CPRS or carbon tax before we address the cost imposts on nuclear, we will ratchet up the base cost of electricity. The higher base will remain as a distortion for a very long time. This means a higher base cost for electricity than the cost would be without the CPRS or carbon tax. I’ve argued previously, it is a fundamentally wrong approach to strive to artificially raise the cost of electricity (see comment on externalities below). Raising the cost of electricity in the developed countries – the countries that lead in the development of new, lower cost technologies – will slow the rate that clean electricity replaces fossil fuels for heating and transport – not only in Australia but world wide. This will reduce the rate that electricity will be implemented across the developing world. Electrifying the developing world with clean electricity generation should be a primary goal if we want to maximise the rate of reducing emissions (compared with BAU) over the coming decades. To reduce emissions as fast as possible we should do all we can to reduce the cost of clean electricity, not raise it.

    I understand your argument that we should include all externalities. In principle, I agree with you. However, there are limitations to what can be achieved in practice. And why just pick on the externalities for electricity generation or for fossil fuel use? And why just pick on the externalities of CO2? Picking winners is fraught with problems. It becomes fraught with picking winners based on what is the popular belief at the time. It is fraught with the influence of special interest groups such as WWF, Greenpeace, etc, and the ideological leanings of political parties, their leaders and their special interest groups.

    It still seems to me that a CPRS or Carbon Tax will hide the real problems not help to solve them. It is avoidance. Governments can say they are building windmills, subsiding solar panels and implemented a price on carbon. That solves the political problem because the government is seen to be ‘doing something’. It does not address the fundamental problem – that the cost of clean electricity is artificially far too high because of four decades of bad policies – picking winner policies! The CPRS is a continuation of these picking winner policies. More bad policy.

    The extract below is an example of one of the distortions we need to tackle directly, not sweep it under the carpet for another few decades.

    I think we discussed this briefly before, but with a bit further thought I don’t see that a study of overseas nuclear regulatory systems and attempting to define the best would be of much use here. Here the federal government has its own history of regulation and how it sets up such things. Not that I have any expertise in such but a comparison with Australian air safety regulation (ATSB & CASA) would probably show what would be developed for nuclear, and from what I recall the history of air safety regulation in this country has not been an altogether happy or competent one. Perhaps this is because the tradition of federal governments of all stripes is to keep tight political control of things that could make them look bad, and air safety is certainly one of these and nuclear would be another. As such I would anticipate that the regulation in the nuclear sphere would be carried out by elements of the public service, an organisation which is designed to carry out the expressed or inferred wishes of the federal pollies and which places more emphasis on internal politics than technical expertise. As an indication of the latter I remind you of my friend who used to work at ARPANSA and did, for a time, run it – well he quit when he found that they had more lawyers on staff than engineers.

  290. This is a case where we can have our cake and eat it! We can have clean electricity and we can have it at a lower price than dirty electricity.

    That is the key point. We don’t have to choose between cheap and dirty versus clean but more expensive.

    To get clean, safe low cost electrcity, all we need to do is get rational!

    I know that is a difficult thing to do politically. It requires somehow convincing the anti-nuclear groups to get rational! I realise how hard that is. We know who they are. They are led by the likes of Greenpeace, WWF, FoE, ACF, Ian Lowe, Mark Diesendorf. Mark Jacobson, Helen Caldicott, Amory Lovins, David Mills, etc. These groups are egged on by the renewable energy industries, the researchers and of course the coal and gas industries.

    If we want a rational solution we need to convince the anti-nuclear groups to lead the change. I suggest the people on the BNC web site who are arguing for a CPRS and/or Carbon Tax, should do a U-turn and work on getting the anti-nuclear groups to U-turn to becoming enthusiastic advocates for nuclear. Not just advocates for nuclear, but advocates for removing all the impediments to nuclear as quickly as possible. They could begin by renouncing their support for mandatory renewable energy targets and subsidies for renewable energy.

  291. Peter

    If we want a rational solution we need to convince the anti-nuclear groups to lead the change. I suggest the people on the BNC web site who are arguing for a CPRS and/or Carbon Tax, should do a U-turn and work on getting the anti-nuclear groups to U-turn to becoming enthusiastic advocates for nuclear. Not just advocates for nuclear, but advocates for removing all the impediments to nuclear as quickly as possible. They could begin by renouncing their support for mandatory renewable energy targets and subsidies for renewable energy.

    This is exactly what I am doing. Not a day would go by when I don’t lobby a couple of people in authority or write a letter to a paper to make the case. Most recently today, I wrote in response to Christine Milne at The Drum, both emphasising my sympathy for the Greens position and explicitly arguing for them to have a pro-nuclear position, even though it was not on topic. Admittedly I didn’t put the case against MRET and RECs but I wanted it snappy and have put this in writing to Senator Milne before.

    I can earnestly say there is no conversation in the public space where nuclear is relevant where I don’t put the case.

    That said, I believe approaching full internalisation as rapidly as possible is the way to ensure our case is taken seriously and isn’t simply picking winners.

    For the record, I don’t confine this idea to energy processes either.

  292. “I always thought the blog title “Brave New Climate” refered (sic) to the issue of climate change, rather than anything to do with the nuclear industry.”

    Finrod – Thank you so much for confirming that the aggressive lobbying for nuclear energy has no relevance to climate change. Could you now advise the Australian public of the industry’s motives?

    “By the way, what kinds of radionuclides would you expect to find in uranium mine tailings you wouldn’t find in the environment around a major uranium ore deposit in the first place?”

    Finrod – Since you appear astonishingly ill-informed on the comparisons beween the radioactive emissions from an intact ore body and the radionuclides in a tailings dam, and also the significant different volumes of activity between uranium and radium 226, I have no intention of wasting valuable time in assisting a person who lacks the basic knowledge, necessary for a lay person to grasp the fundamentals of environmental toxicology.

    “Also, you may wish to provide some references or links to material backing your claims. You have been somewhat vague”

    No Finrod, I may not wish to waste time retrieving documented evidence to back my claims and it is not I who is “vague.” The literature is widely published and distributed, here in Australia (and beyond) so do try to keep up.

    However, random links at hand refer to previous Items 1 – 8:

    1. WA – Parliamentary – Education & Health Standing Committee – Inquiry into the Cause and Extent of lead pollution in the Esperance Area:

    Page xxiv: “The Committee has identified major failings in DEC’s industry regulation.

    Finding 18 Page xxxv: “Industry regulation by the Department of Environment and Conservation is grossly inadequate.”

    3. Bellevue Chemical Fire: “The inquiry found the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Minerals and Energy had shown leniency towards waste control and at no time over the past decade had the plant complied with its licences”:

    http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:CQfIsd1odRkJ:abc.gov.au/news/stories/2003/04/13/831147.htm+bellevue+chemical+fire+parliamentary+enquiry&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

    ERA’s Ranger uranium mine- miscellaneous:

    “Energy Resources Australia has had 200 environmental incidents logged against Ranger uranium mine, and it was also the first mining company to be successfully prosecuted in the Northern Territory for environmental breaches.”

    http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=913

    http://uranium-news.com/category/1-issues/page/5/

    http://ntne.ws/articles/article.php?id=3722

    Uranium tenements (approved and pending) in Western Australia and the resulting land grabs are prolific and bear little resemblance to the map provided by Barry Brook:

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&t=h&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=101724410662104548145.0004757aca0e25c4e05e5

    It is not up to me to prove the officially documented evidence correct. It is your responsibility to prove that it is not! Why not ask Jaborowski, radiation expert and climate sceptic who shills for the Heartland Institute?

  293. “I always thought the blog title “Brave New Climate” refered (sic) to the issue of climate change, rather than anything to do with the nuclear industry.”

    Finrod – Thank you so much for confirming that the aggressive lobbying for nuclear energy has no relevance to climate change. Could you now advise the Australian public of the industry’s motives?

    Now that’s just bizzare.

  294. Finrod – Since you appear astonishingly ill-informed on the comparisons beween the radioactive emissions from an intact ore body and the radionuclides in a tailings dam, and also the significant different volumes of activity between uranium and radium 226, I have no intention of wasting valuable time in assisting a person who lacks the basic knowledge, necessary for a lay person to grasp the fundamentals of environmental toxicology.

    Really? When trying to present a case for something in a public forum, isn’t it standard practice to present the information backing the case up, rather than dismissing any request for clarification?

    As it happens, I am aware that radium is more radioactive than uranium, and I’m sure that the radioactive emissions from intact ore bodies differ in intensity from those of radionuclides in tailings dams. I take it you see a problem with this.

  295. Ewen Laver,

    I can earnestly say there is no conversation in the public space where nuclear is relevant where I don’t put the case.

    I accept you are doing this, and I congratulate you for all your efforts.

    The fundamental point we disagree on is whether or not raising the cost of electricity is good policy. I do not believe it is good policy for either the short or the long term. I believe implementing the CPRS, in the absence of a genuinely workable international ETS managed by the WTO, would be putting our effort in the wrong place. We would be “brushing the problem under the carpet”. The problem is of course, political not technical. The solution is available. Without impediments to nuclear we could have electricity from nuclear cheaper than from coal, and coal generators would be displaced over time. This would be the best way to remove the externalities from coal. The rate of displacing coal will depend on how much cheaper is nuclear. So our focus should be on removing the imposts on nuclear. We should not be distracted by smoke and mirrors solutions like CPRS.

    That said, I believe approaching full internalisation as rapidly as possible is the way to ensure our case is taken seriously and isn’t simply picking winners.

    This is a great ideal. But it is idealistic. It has proven difficult over the past 40 odd years. Taking a practical perspective, we’d have to conclude this will be a very long slow process if we want to take route.

    And it definitely is a case of ‘picking winners’ unless we are internalising all externalities from all industries at the same rate. That will not happen. So why do we pick on one industry? To do so would be picking winners. Even within one industry, electricity generation, why would we pick on internalising CO2 emissions rather than the many other dangerous externalities that you frequently point to? If you answer this question, be careful your answer doesn’t attempt to ‘pick winners’ :)

    For the record, I don’t confine this idea to energy processes either.

    I recognise that that is your position. But is it really practical?

  296. I think it is practical, thought I’d want the right to a variety of tools and the right to split internalisation between regulatory imposition and monetisation.

    Some measures might be best to simply require as part of the operating environment of the system, whereas others might best be charged for and remediation/restitution then supported from these funds. Others might require a cap and trade type system with penalties for people who failed to stay within the cap. In some cases we could allow the businesses to pick their mix to suit themselves and their own structure for approaching internalisation.

  297. Wouldn’t you agree? You’re not he, are you?

    Yes, that’s right. I’m the infamous John Costella, notorious for my climategate ‘revelations’. I’ve been making arguments for nuclear power based on the need to reduce CO2 emissions on account of climate change just to throw people off my trail.

    I guess I shouldn’t have put that picture of myself up as my gravatar. Bit of an own goal, that one.

  298. Just so I can’t be accused of seriously pretending to be someone else, I hereby state for the public record that I am not John Costella, and that my previous assertion to be that individual was pure sarcasm.

  299. “Just so I can’t be accused of seriously pretending to be someone else, I hereby state for the public record that I am not John Costella, and that my previous assertion to be that individual was pure sarcasm.”

    Right you are Finrod. May I now state for the record that I am not “Helen” as you insist and your previous assertion (and that of John D Morgan’s) that I am “Helen” was pure sarcasm and vitriol, meant to demean the debate?

    And I do offer an apology Finrod for my assertion that you resembled Costella. It must have been the hairstyle……errrr….. ummm….or something….!

  300. This thread has diverted off course!

    My question is a bit off the main course of the thread, but closer than hair styles.

    Q1. What are the main imposts to converting to clean, safe electricity in Australia at a cost less than coal?

    Q2. What steps would have to be taken to remove those imposts?

    Anyone?

  301. May I now state for the record that I am not “Helen” as you insist and your previous assertion (and that of John D Morgan’s) that I am “Helen” was pure sarcasm and vitriol, meant to demean the debate.

    So you deny you are Helen Caldicott? Why didn’t you do this months ago after DV82XL speculated that’s who you are? There’s nothing inherently unlikely about that assumption. Your polemical style is indistinguishable from hers. In fact, I’m not convinced by your denial. But never mind. What’s up with these radionuclides you’re so concerned about? And just by the way, what is your prefered energy generation technology if it isn’t nuclear?

  302. “Why didn’t you do this months ago after DV82XL speculated that’s who you are?”

    Finrod – DV82XL’s and your unsubstantiated attack was merely a subterfuge to gag opponents of nuclear energy and who I am, is not your business or that of the snarling dogs guarding the gate to the crusty old codgers’ nuclear club.

    Did your mothers ever instruct you to clean up your mess before making another or were you just as delusional as prepubescent litterbugs?

    The nuclear industry has a belching tailpipe and its doors have fallen off and there’s a mess everywhere.

    The disappearance of yet another nuclear physicist in Canada is curious and so is Rio Tinto’s Rossing uranium mine JV with the government of Iran.

    The US has 104 nuclear reactors and is the largest polluter per capita on the planet. Canada has 18 reactors and is coming second last on the CCPI and Canadian miner, Barrick Gold continues to pollute from Africa to the Amazon.

    http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2010/4/19/35432/Hundreds-demand-Barrick-Golds-exit-from-the-country

    The excavation site housing the U beaut Gen III dud, Finland’s Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor, is the size of 55 football fields and the reactor is three-and-a-half years behind schedule and 75 percent over budget. Some 3,000 construction deficiencies have been identified.

    There have been a string of serious problems and the safety regulator has questioned the designs for the reactor’s nerve centre – the Instrumentation and Control system.

    France’s discredited nuclear pin-up girl, Areva, offers the usual implausible excuses while they fiddle with the unknown, manufacturing more stuff ups than Mr Bean.

    Generation 1V reactors are the nuclear club’s Utopia for gobbling up the waste but they’re non-existent – a nuclear wet dream for the old codgers.

    Meanwhile and despite the 443 nuclear reactors, Planet Earth is grumbling but the nuclear shills put their hands over their ears while telling lies to each other and fail to acknowledge that 60% of CO2 emissions are not from electricity generation.

    You can put lipstick on a pig but do you know what they say about a pig?:

    http://www.adpunch.org/images/freschello-pig_25.jpg

  303. Helen – Hyperbole like that may play well to the Chardonnay swilling posers in Vermont, but here it seen for the rubbish that it is. It’s insulting to the extreme that you would try to float nonsense like that in this forum. Even the regular antinukes here have more intelligence and less gall than that.

    You are Helen Caldicott, or you are one of her disciples, there is a commonality in rhetoric here that is transparent, to say the least.

  304. Finrod – DV82XL’s and your unsubstantiated attack was merely a subterfuge to gag opponents of nuclear energy and who I am, is not your business or that of the snarling dogs guarding the gate to the crusty old codgers’ nuclear club.

    So you regard being identifying as Helen Caldicott (correctly or otherwise) as an attack? Interesting.

    Here is the website of another few members of the Crusty Old Codgers’ Nuclear Club. Best you head over and berate them for their partiarchal ways:

    http://www.popatomic.org/www.popatomic.org/home.html

  305. Webs and Weavers, the question still stands. Regardless of what you may think about nuclear power, what alternative method of powering society do you think is better, in terms of its environmental impacts?

  306. Further to John Morgan’s question, Webs & Weavers, I note that you say:

    Meanwhile and despite the 443 nuclear reactors, Planet Earth is grumbling but the nuclear shills put their hands over their ears while telling lies to each other and fail to acknowledge that 60% of CO2 emissions are not from electricity generation.

    So what is your solution to the other 60% of emissions. It cannot be wind/solar electricity, but this would be ruled out on the same grounds with which you rule out nuclear. (By the way, my nuclear solution, and that of most others I suspect, does in fact cover the vast majority of the non-electricity-generation emissions, via production of synthetic fuels using nuclear electricity or process heat, CHP, desalination, etc.)

  307. I will stick to what’s presented, not who presents it, nome-de-plume or otherwise.

    Web Weavers writes:

    “The nuclear industry has a belching tailpipe and its doors have fallen off and there’s a mess everywhere”

    Why don’t you just say they feed babies to the reactor and enslave children in India? This is crap, you know it, and now over the past decade, most of the world is getting to know it. It is not a belching tailpipe and it’s not a mess anywhere, really.

    “The US has 104 nuclear reactors and is the largest polluter per capita on the planet.”

    Astounding lie. You don’t even attempt to justify it. Baby eating again? By way… “per capita” compared to what exactly? If you are going to debate here the seriousness of nuclear energy, pro- or con-, you ought to dispense with the Harvey Wasserman science fiction projections and deal with reality. Your side is slowly losing and *part* of the reason are the ridiculous arguments such as you raise that the average person is beginning to see through.

    D. Walters
    San Francisco

  308. By way… “per capita” compared to what exactly?

    She means that the US has the largest per capita emissions of CO2 and various other chemical pollutants (I’m not actually sure that’s true), and the US also happpens to have 104 civilian NPPs. She thus invites people to connect these two factoids without including any confusing details.

  309. Factually, the US is the 9th highest emitter of CO2, behind several Gulf States and Luxembourg, although the original statement was a more general generic “largest polluter”.

    If the US is the largest polluter, but only the ninth largest CO2 polluter this suggests that it is performing better in CO2 terms than for other metrics. That will be in part due to those 104 reactors.

  310. “(By the way, my nuclear solution, and that of most others I suspect, does in fact cover the vast majority of the non-electricity-generation emissions, via production of synthetic fuels using nuclear electricity or process heat, CHP, desalination, etc.”

    Good stuff Barry Brook though your proposal remains open to challenge however, I am not inspired to waste time on this forum alerting you to the omissions. However, could you be more specific and give me an ETA for the production of synthetic fuel use in nuclear electricity?

    Please advise if you consider Australia’s regulatory limits on tritium in drinking water acceptable:

    BqL Tritium limits in drinking water:

    Canada: 7,000

    EU: 1004

    Finland: 30,000

    Russia: 7,700

    Switzerland 10,000

    US: 740

    WHO: 10,000

    Australia 76,103

    D Walters of San Francisco – The US EPA advise that “Over 1,000 United States locations, including both operational and abandoned sites, are contaminated with radiation. The contamination may be found in the air, water, and soil, as well as equipment and buildings.”

    Rather than acting as a nuclear lobbyist in faraway places, would you not consider it more patriotic to clean up your own backyard first?

  311. Rather than acting as a nuclear lobbyist in faraway places, would you not consider it more patriotic to clean up your own backyard first?

    Rather than making a pest of herself in Vermont, shouldn’t Helen Caldicott concentrate on reversing the damage her stupid anti-nuclear activism has caused in Australia?

  312. “The US EPA advise that “Over 1,000 United States locations, including both operational and abandoned sites, are contaminated with radiation. The contamination may be found in the air, water, and soil, as well as equipment and buildings.””

    That sounds alarming. Not as alarming as this though:

    http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/search?q=taiwan

    The relevent passage reads:

    “There are many places in the world such as Kerala in India or Yellowstone Park in the USA where natural background radiation is far above the level the “official consensus” says is dangerous, without any measurable ill effects over many thousands of years. Studies of Radon in homes have been done repeatedly because they repeatedly find the “official” wrong answer – that high levels of Radon correlate with good health. There is other evidence but the most indisputable, because it is almost a classic experiment, albeit accidental, occurred in Taiwan. A block of 180 flats were built there in 1983 with steel contaminated by radioactive cobalt 60 which has a half life of 5.5 years. When this was discovered, 20 years & 10,000 inhabitants, later, the radiation was largely gone but the records of who had lived there & how much they must have been exposed to were easily calculable. According to the no lower threshold “consensus” there should have been a massive increase in cancers. In fact cancers were down to 3.6% of prevailing Taiwanese rates.

    The alleged “consensus” has only been maintained by a blanket refusal to notice this & other conclusive proofs. I can say from personal experience that newspapers eager to push any sort of scare story from the global ice age to breast enhancements without any evidence, have overwhelmingly refused to report this clear & unambiguous proof. That may make a consensus but certainly not a scientific one.”

  313. Webs and Weavers,

    Why do you concern yourself with all these ‘down in the weed’ stats instead of looking at the overall safety of nuclear compared with the alternatives?

    As I understand it, nuclear is far safer than the alternatives when compared over the full life cycle. In fact, I understand nuclear energy to date – over the last 55 years – has demonstrated it is some 10 to 100 times safer than coal, and improving all the time – just like air travel is improviing all the time.

    Can you see the big picture or are you entrenched in fighting for an idelogical belief?

    I would even advocate backing off what I consider excessive safety requirements if that enabled us to roll out nuclear power more rapidly across the world.

  314. Webs and Weavers, in an earlier post, made reference to the ANSTO survey which aimed to gain determine the level of support for nuclear power. The survey was corrupted by a sudden influx of ‘No’ votes. The sudden influx of votes was clearly organised by an anti-nuclear group.

    This following email was forwarded to me today and gives some insight into the types of people and organisations involved in this sort of activity. Mark Diesendorf is on the public payroll and is a renewable energy researcher at Uni of NSW. He is also active in ACF and has been a long time anti-nuclear activist. He often appears on the ABC as their expert on nuclear energy!!

    From: Mark Diesendorf
    m.diesendorf@unsw.edu.au>
    Date: 7 April 2010 14:01
    Subject: [GRCO] FW: nuclear power poll
    To: climate
    grassroots_climate_oz@yahoogroups.com>

    Hi

    A poll being run by Sky News
    http://www.skynews.com.au/
    is asking if
    people support nuclear power in Australia.

    So far the pro-nukes people are in front… get online and voice your
    opinion!

    Mark

  315. Finrod – I asked Barry Brook for an ETA and I am sure he will supply me with that information without your useless intervention.

    “The relevent (sic) passage reads” – Indeed it does Finrod and what better way to flog your book than to have excerpts published in the tabloids? Wade Allison is not a radiation biologist or an epidemiologist and has not published any relevant peer reviewed literature.

    In addition, his grab sample on Taiwan reveals how shabby (or deliberately false) the contents of his paper are since the Taiwan paper to which he refers, has been disputed several times in peer reviewed literature.

    The study compared the relatively young irradiated population with the much older general population of Taiwan, which is a major flaw.

    A subsequent study by Hwang et al. (2006) found a significant exposure-dependent increase in cancer in the irradiated population, particularly leukemia in men and thyroid cancer in women, though this trend is only detected amongst those who were first exposed before the age of 30.

    http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/09553000601085980

    I’m sure you would appear more credible Finrod if you ceased using tabloid headlines to support a vacuous argument.

    http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:TUjQXkh0xvgJ:www.nap.edu/catalog/1026.html+%22Health+Risks+of+Radon+and+Other+Internally+Deposited+Alpha-Emitters.%22)&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

    “The survey was corrupted by a sudden influx of ‘No’ votes. The sudden influx of votes was clearly organised by an anti-nuclear group”

    No it was not “corrupted” by voters Peter Lang as you so wrongly purport. The results were deliberately manipulated by an ANSTO employee:

    “Crikey asked ANSTO’s media manager Sharon Kelly what had happened. According to Kelly, ANSTO’s web manager Peter Hindmarsh amended the poll without authorisation over the weekend because of the “Against It” vote spike.

    “It has now been altered again, with “It is one of the options” replaced with “No”, rather closer in meaning to the original option, with an explanation of why it was changed.”

    And accolades to Mark Diesendorf for alerting the public to ANSTO’s poll though it would take more than public outrage to keep these propagandists honest.

    Bludging off the environment is not acceptable in the 21st century. The buzzards are circling but the myopic ideologues on this forum remain anally retentive.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16866

  316. Well Helen, even if the Taiwan study you linked to is valid, (and I’m not forking over $50 to find out) and did control for confounding variables like , occupation, diet and social class, which is something often missing in these studies, what concussion can be drawn? The one I see is that it is poor practice to use steel contaminated with Co-60 in the construction of residential buildings.

    This is hardly earth shattering, nor is it particularly novel as almost every jurisdiction on earth forbids using this and other high emitting isotopes for this purpose. This suggests that someone thought it was a bad idea before this study was done.

    At any rate it hardly serves as a counter argument for nuclear power stations, as unlike apartment complexes, by law they must monitor and control any radioactive emissions they produce.

  317. Finrod – I asked Barry Brook for an ETA and I am sure he will supply me with that information without your useless intervention.

    That’s OK Helen, I’m always happy to help. By the way, requesting an ETA for the process is pretty silly. It’s like asking fo a firm date for the first crewed landing on the planet Mercury. It might be possible to estimate how long it will take if we start such a program now, but it’s impossible to judge when a political decision to do such a thing might be made. Since no-one has any firm plans to do duch a thing, the ETA for such a mission is currently ‘never’. Similarly, there is not, to my knowledge, any firm plan to use nuclear power to synthesise liquid fuels for vehicles. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done if a political decision was made to go down that path. The more relevent question to ask would be “How mature is the state of the art?”.

    The study compared the relatively young irradiated population with the much older general population of Taiwan, which is a major flaw.

    A subsequent study by Hwang et al. (2006) found a significant exposure-dependent increase in cancer in the irradiated population, particularly leukemia in men and thyroid cancer in women, though this trend is only detected amongst those who were first exposed before the age of 30.

    It has long been known that older people are less susceptible to radiation-induced cancer than younger people. This is why ANSTO employs older workers to handle radwaste. Given this, the irradiated population in Taiwan should have shown significant increases in cancer stats from early on, yet the rate still dropped to far below average. At any rate, if the study you’ve referenced really shows the increases you mention, why is it behind a paywall? Shouldn’t you and your anti-nuke cronies be off plastering the results all over the web?

  318. “I’m sure you would appear more credible Finrod if you ceased using tabloid headlines to support a vacuous argument.”

    Helen linked to the following study:

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16866

    This study quotes the following authority:

    Environmental Epidemiologist and Founder and Immediate Past President of The International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Dr. Rosalie Bertell,

    Here are some links to information concerning ‘Dr.’ Bertell:

    http://depletedcranium.com/rosalie-bertell-freakin-crazy-old-lady/

    http://depletedcranium.com/rosalie-bertell-crazy-and-dangerous-old-lady/

  319. However, could you be more specific and give me an ETA for the production of synthetic fuel use in nuclear electricity?

    It all depends on how successful environmental vandals like yourself are in spoiling the deployment of clean power.

    It has in any case pretty much been done, eg. by Mobil in New Zealand, just using a non-nuclear source for power and syngas.

  320. The Centre for Research on Globalization, who’s site this article is on, is also a huge con-job. Run on donations, he (for the whole thing is little more than the conceit of one man) manages to afford an office in the heart of Vieux-Montréal, the historic city centre of Montreal, an area where a 650 sqft condo will run you a million bucks plus, and this office is in the dead centre.

    I wonder if the contributors know that they are footing the bill so he can prestigious address and be in easy walking distance of the cafés and other entertainment the area is famous for.

  321. Finrod – It reveals a spiteful man when one resorts to “Dr Buzzo’s” (Steve Packard) ad hominem of Rosalie Bertell who has devoted her entire life towards the improvement of public health and the international community which has been victimized by environmental contamination.

    Bertell PhD worked as a Professor at the State University of New York Buffalo and as Senior Cancer Research Scientist at Rosewall Park Institute Buffalo. She was a consultant for the Citizens’ Advice Committee of the President’s Commission on the accident at Three Mile Island.

    She has published over eighty academic papers and has been called as an expert witness before the US Congress and in licensing hearings for nuclear power plants before the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    In the international arena, Bertell has testified before the Select Committee on Uranium Resources in Australia and the Sizewell Enquiry in Britain.

    She led the Bhopal and Chernobyl Medical Commissions and has undertaken collaborative research with numerous organisations.

    Bertell is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the World Federalist Peace Prize, the United Nations Environment Progamme (UNEP) Global 500 Award, five honorary doctorates etc etc.

    What a cowardly little man you are Finrod to kick an internationally renowned old woman in the guts. Weren’t you breastfed as an infant?

  322. Helen, of all the trolls on all the sites I’ve been on, you are by far the most entertaining by far.

    Whatever contributions, and frankly I can’t see any of real note Bertell can lay claim to, her obsession with “chemtrails” shows that she has become a fully-fledged crank, of the first water.

    A crank is the proper term used for a person who unshakably holds a belief that most of her contemporaries consider to be false. A crank’s belief is so wildly at variance with commonly accepted truth as to be ludicrous. Cranks characteristically dismiss all evidence or arguments which contradict their own unconventional beliefs, making rational debate a futile task. Bertell meets all of these criteria, and so by the way do you.

    I know she’s a good friend of yours, but really, chemtrails? She is just embarrassing herself.

  323. Finrod – It reveals a spiteful man when one resorts to “Dr Buzzo’s” (Steve Packard) ad hominem of Rosalie Bertell who has devoted her entire life towards the improvement of public health and the international community which has been victimized by environmental contamination.

    So what’s with those chemtrails? Are you on board with them?

  324. In recent years Bertell has dedicated some effort to whipping up alarm about medical imaging technology, mammographies in paticular. It would be nice to think that no women took her seriously enough to avoid a mammograaphy which could have saved their lives, but if that’s the case, it wasn’t because Betell didn’t do her best to mislead people.

  325. “So what’s with those chemtrails? Are you on board with them?”

    I have as much knowledge on chemtrails as you would have on ionising radiation Finrod..

    However, I do know a little of the US HAARP project’s endeavours to manipulate the environment by heating the ionosphere so anything’s possible.

    Then you have the insane rocket geniuses who blew a massive hole in the ionosphere – oops!

    Chemtrails? A mere peccadillo when you consider the magnitude of blunders and the accumulative dire impacts these lunatics are wroughting on the biosphere.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/187/4174/343http://www.ann-geophys.net/22/2643/2004/angeo-22-2643-2004.html

    http://www.thelivingmoon.com/45jack_files/03files/HAARP_Angels_Dont_Play_This_HAARP.html

    http://www.stanford.edu/~mag41/Publications/2007GL032424.pdf

  326. Chemtrails? A mere peccadillo when you consider the magnitude of blunders and the accumulative dire impacts these lunatics are wroughting on the biosphere.

    I take that to mean you acknowledge chemtrails as a genuine issue. Your paranoia ove HAARP is also telling. Frankly, I don’t think I could have done a better job of discrediting you than the one you’ve managed to do yourself. Congratulations.

  327. Finrod, I think you meant to quote like this:

    Chemtrails? A mere peccadillo when you consider the magnitude of blunders (sic) and the accumulative (sic) dire impacts these lunatics are wroughting (sic) on the biosphere.

  328. I daresay it’s fascinating to witness the savages giggling insanely, having becoming aroused at the sight of another prey being ripped to shreds and now we watch as the incoherent alpha males jostle for the highest ranking.

    Biological magnification is based on the principle that predators always consume many times their own body weight of their prey so I await the whooping noises from the savages as they feast from the carcass of John Gofman.

    Gofman (deceased) was a full professor in the Department of Medical Physics at Berkeley. Besides being an M.D., he also had a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Berkeley. He was a co-discoverer of U-232, Pa-232, U-233, Pa-233, and of slow and fast neutron fissionability of U-233.

    He was also co-inventor of the uranyl acetate and columbium oxide separation processes for plutonium. He taught in the radioisotope and radiobiology field for over 20 years, and performed research in radiochemistry, macromolecules, lipoproteins, coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, trace element determination, and x-ray spectroscopy and radiation hazards.

    Growing hot under the collar about growing criticism and realising that it had made many serious blunders, the Atomic Energy Commission asked Dr. Gofman to become an Associate Director of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and conduct a thorough long-term investigation into the biological effects of radiation.

    This investigation took more than six years and raised questions about a lack of data on low-level radiation and it also proposed a wide-ranging study of exposure in medicine and the workplace at a symposium for nuclear scientists and engineers.

    Gofman continued to fight the industry view that there is a threshold below which radiation is safe, and founded in 1971 the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, a nonprofit educational and research organization, which he chaired until his death.

    However why should nuked up homo-erectus waste time having to learn all this when ignorance is instantaneous and they can be as ignorant today as they were five decades ago?

  329. Helen, are you suggesting that no further work has been done in this area? Because a casual search of the journals shows that there have been well over a thousand since then.

    During the 1960’s and 1970’s, about 40 articles per year described hormesis. In 1963, the AEC repeatedly confirmed lower mortality in guinea pigs, rats and mice irradiated at low dose. In 1964, the cows exposed to about 150 rads after the Trinity A-Bomb test in 1946 were quietly euthanized because of extreme old age. This trend continues. It was found that there was decreased cancer mortality in government nuclear facility workers in Canada, the UK, and the US. Whether exposed in uranium mines or processing plants, laboratories, or nuclear power plants—and whether the exposure was to uranium, plutonium, thorium or radium, so long as the dose was 50 times background (chronic) or, 50 rad acute, workers were healthier than those in the general population, mainly due to lower cancer incidence. Decreased cancer mortality, decreased leukemia rate, decreased infant mortality rate and increased lifespan in atomic bomb survivors from both Hiroshima and Nagasaki who received 1.2 rad. was found and a 20% lower cancer death rate in Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico, which have background radiation of 0.72 rad/yr compared with Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with 0.22 rad/yr was also reported. There were many other similar examples as a quick look through the literature will reveal.

  330. I daresay it’s fascinating to witness the savages giggling insanely, having becoming aroused at the sight of another prey being ripped to shreds and now we watch as the incoherent alpha males jostle for the highest ranking.

    Biological magnification is based on the principle that predators always consume many times their own body weight of their prey so I await the whooping noises from the savages as they feast from the carcass of John Gofman.

    This seems to be Helen’s manner of conceding defeat.

  331. What literature DV82XL and why have you not provided a link? I have a good idea of the source of this rubbish.

    The New Mexico Health Department in 2007 advised that “cancer remains the second leading cause of death (accidental death is number one) among New Mexico children ages one through 14 years.

    “A newborn baby’s risk of being diagnosed with cancer before age 20 is about one in 285.

    “The number of newly diagnosed cases has exceeded 100 every year since 2001. In all types of cancer in children to age 20, leukaemia trumps every other type.

    “The Colorado Kids’ Cancer Association reported that cancer is the leading cause of disease-related deaths in children under 20. Diagnoses of leukaemia, which is the most common childhood cancer, increased by more than15% over the past 20 years.

    “The British Journal of Cancer reported (2007) that in Europe, childhood lymphoid leukaemia incidence increased significantly betweeen1970–1999.

    “In England and Wales, incidence rose by 20% between the early 1970s and the end of the century. Both incidence and mortality were at least 15% higher in boys than girls throughout the twentieth century.

    “Incidence has increased significantly in Europe and in the United States since the 1970s. Even if fatal infections may have had some impact on ‘masking’ leukaemia during the first half of the 20th century, their involvement cannot explain the increase in incidence of childhood leukaemia during 1971–2000.”

    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not a reputable source from which to glean accurate information DV82XL. They remain an abysmal failure in the areas of public health and the environment and the nuclear experts quoted in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists support that assertion:

    ‘Consistent criticism from all sides proves that the NRC isn’t a good regulator

    ‘The NRC must see itself as a regulator first, not an industry booster

    ‘Pro-industry priorities derail NRC’s public-safety mission.”

    Only fools from faraway places would believe that the Australian public will accept the ignominious and third world regulatory nuclear standards of the US, UK, France and Canada. If you believe that the world cannot live without fission then clean it up, sharpen up and cease being a smart-arse!

  332. The New Mexico Health Department in 2007 advised that “cancer remains the second leading cause of death (accidental death is number one) among New Mexico children ages one through 14 years.

    To which factors did they actually attribute this rise?

    the nuclear experts quoted in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists support that assertion:

    The Bulletin of Atomic acientists is a political organisarion, not a scientific one. There are damn few if any “atomic scientists” involved with it these days.

  333. “The Bulletin of Atomic acientists is a political organisarion, not a scientific one. There are damn few if any “atomic scientists” involved with it these days.”

    Finrod – Not only is your knowledge on the nuclear industry poor, so is your English comprehension since I made clear that I was not quoting from the opinions of any member of the Governing Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

    Quotes in the BAS were attributed to:

    Anthony R. Pietrangelo

    An industrial engineer, Pietrangelo is the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) vice president of regulatory affairs. At NEI, he handles oversight of nuclear plant security, emergency planning, and regulation initiatives.

    He also oversees the industry’s interaction with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff and senior management and presentations to the commission on regulatory reform and other topics etc etc.

    David Lochbaum

    A nuclear safety engineer, Lochbaum joined the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in 1996, where he monitors safety issues at U.S. nuclear power plants, raises concerns with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and responds to breaking events such as current concerns regarding aging power plant and plant fire safety.

    His expertise is in nuclear power plant design, nuclear regulatory oversight, and nuclear waste issues.

    He has written numerous reports, including “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Report on Safety in America’s Nuclear Power Industry,” “Three Mile Island’s Puzzling Legacy,” and the book, Nuclear Waste Disposal Crisis etc etc.

    Victor Gilinsky

    A physicist, Gilinsky is an independent consultant, most recently advising Nevada on matters related to the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

    His expertise spans a broad range of energy issues. From 1975 to 1984, he served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, having been nominated by President Gerald Ford and renominated by President Jimmy Carter etc etc.

    Sharpen up and stop being a smart-arse – you’re a handicap to the cause!

  334. Finrod – Not only is your knowledge on the nuclear industry poor, so is your English comprehension since I made clear that I was not quoting from the opinions of any member of the Governing Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

    How could anyone know whether or not you were quoting credible nuclear experts after putting Rosalie Bertell up as one? For all anyone knew, you may well have been quoting the Governing Board.

    What literature DV82XL and why have you not provided a link? I have a good idea of the source of this rubbish.

    Presumably the next paragraph relates to the previous one.

    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not a reputable source from which to glean accurate information DV82XL. They remain an abysmal failure in the areas of public health and the environment…

    Do you think the NRC has been behind a push to get radiation hormesis accepted for regulatory purposes? If only it were true!

  335. Ms.Perps

    What a wonderful single contribution you have made to this thread on the issue of nuclear energy. Thank you so much for your expert opinion.

    And I must also express my gratitude to the other nuclear punters who have failed to provide one scientific paper on nuclear energy to support their chatter – not one!

    Naturally, these elite punters would have you believe they’re so credible, (despite the pseudonyms) that we plebs must take them at their word.

    Well I don’t believe the baring of teeth from the pack is good enough for Joe Citizen and I’m certainly delighted the pack is not on my side of the fence.

    Therefore while the pack continue chewing off their own limbs and stoking the funeral pyre, I advise I have, without regret, much more rewarding matters to address which should allow the vaudeville to continue with impunity.

    Hasta La Vista!

  336. Helen, you can find a good deal of material here in Dose-Response the quarterly peer-reviewed journal of the International Dose-Response Society. Dose-Response is devoted to the publication of original findings on the occurrence of nonlinear dose-response relationships across a broad range of biological disciplines.

    The International Dose-Response Society is located within the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

    Oh and its a bit rich, you criticizing any other posters contributions here, given the shrill quality of your rhetoric.

    You know you have lost the greater fight, and history (if it remembers at all) will not be kind to you. Galling isn’t it?

  337. Lawrence, just doing some quick and rough calculations, I make US$4.60/gallon, which Engineer-poet views with such dismay, to be about AUD$1.30/litre. Expensive perhaps, but nothing we’re not already occasionally subject to.

  338. I’ve gotta absorb E-P’s analysis better, but I thought somewhere in there he showed you would need to build 10x the nuclear plants to supply this artificial gas as you would electrical power to get the same number of VMT. Not real efficient.

  339. But the advantage is you don’ need to re-engineer a country’s entire vehicle fleet, build a new power grid to handle the enormous new daily loads, write off the existing liquid fuels distribution infrastructure and vehicle manufacturing plant, and convince people to buy a more expensive vehicle with a shorter range than their current ride.

    I’m in no way against the development of electric vehicles, I think its highly desirable. But I’m very much for decarbonization strategies that live inside our current infrastrure and behavioural envelope.

  340. I’ve gotta absorb E-P’s analysis better, but I thought somewhere in there he showed you would need to build 10x the nuclear plants to supply this artificial gas as you would electrical power to get the same number of VMT. Not real efficient.

    Electric cars are good, but while I’m sure we’ll soon find a way around the last remaining issues to a full rollout of them, I have less hope for the swift introduction of the electric semi-trailor, bulldozer, combine harvester, cement truck and airliner.

  341. John Morgan is very fond of petroleum-industry talking points:

    the advantage is you don’ need to re-engineer a country’s entire vehicle fleet

    Advantage? The vehicle fleet is going to be replaced in less than 20 years anyway. Half of vehicle lifetime mileage is driven in about 6 years from new.

    build a new power grid to handle the enormous new daily loads

    Another canard. At least half the US vehicle fleet’s mileage could go electric without needing a single new powerplant, so long as they charged off-peak. In the mean time, we’re adding lots of wind and gas turbines.

    write off the existing liquid fuels distribution infrastructure

    Most of it is fully amortized already. Being able to replace e.g. pipelines with smaller, cheaper ones when doing maintenance is a plus.

    … and vehicle manufacturing plant

    Now this assertion is just strange. There’s nothing special about the plant which manufactures the Volt.

    and convince people to buy a more expensive vehicle with a shorter range than their current ride.

    Assumes a falsehood. The falsehood is necessary for the conclusion, so the conclusion is also false. The Volt’s range is approximately 640 miles.

    The strange part is that some people will whine about abandoning bits of old fuel infrastructure, but not even blink at the idea of spending 10 times as much on new nuclear plants (Green Freedom) to be able to continue using it.  Meanwhile, we have an electric grid which can already carry the bulk of the energy we’d need it to, and the upgrades to handle 100+% are relatively cheap.  This selective blindness (probably driven by political and tribal affiliation) is disappointing, but all too common.

  342. Incidentally, the difference between an LWR and a CANDU on the fuel supply side causes the opposite problem on the spent-fuel side.  A CANDU only gets about 7000 MW-D/ton of fuel (from memory), so the volume of spent fuel is multiples greater than an LWR with burnup of 40,000-50,000 MW-D/ton.  The LWR is burning more of the plutonium it produces, so the total amount of Pu in spent CANDU fuel is going to be greater (less than 0.4% compared to ~0.8%, but over a much larger tonnage).

  343. Engineer-Poet, on 10 May 2010 at 10.44 Said:

    “…so the total amount of Pu in spent CANDU fuel is going to be greater (less than 0.4% compared to ~0.8%, but over a much larger tonnage).”

    I love this attempt to smear CANDU with this claim, because as far as waste goes the LWR needs enriched uranium and the mass of the tailings from that process has to be added to the account.

    And also keep in mind that ‘spent’ fuel from a LWR can be re-burnt in a CANDU with out reprocessing. This is the DUPIC cycle.

  344. What is the problem with so called ‘spent fuel’?

    The quantities are minuscule whichever process is used.

    Here is a photograph of the storage of the used fuel from the full life of a now decommissioned US NPP
    http://www.nukeworker.com/pictures/displayimage-5205-fullsize.html This plant ran for 31 years and produced 44TWh of electricity. And these canisters contain all the used fuel. For comparison consider the amount of waste from a coal fired power station that produced 44TWh of electricity.

    Spent fuel isn’t spent. It is ‘once used’ fuel. Only a small fraction of the energy has been used so far. When it becomes cheaper to reprocess rather then mine new uranium, we’ll re use the ‘once used nuclear fuel’

    I don’t see ‘once used nuclear fuel’ as a technical problem. To me it is a political and public perception problem.

  345. Engineer-Poet said:

    Assumes a falsehood. The falsehood is necessary for the conclusion, so the conclusion is also false. The Volt’s range is approximately 640 miles.

    This is false. The battery range of the Chevy Volt is 64 km. You are out by more than an order of magnitude. Your conclusion is therefore, by your logic, false.

  346. Nobody cares about the battery range of the Volt, just the total range.  A full 600 miles is there whenever the fuel tank is full, whether the battery is charged or not.  This eliminates “range anxiety” and moots the “paying more for a vehicle with shorter range” argument.

    Goalpost-moving FAIL.

  347. Engineer-Poet wrote many things, including:

    John Morgan is very fond of petroleum-industry talking points

    I don’t understand why you would say this in response to a course of action that would obviate at least the entire front end of the petroleum industry. Were you simply being mischievous? Of course you were!

    Look, here’s what I suggested:

    (1) Displace carbon intensive liquid fossil fuels with carbon neutral synthetic liquid fuels
    (2) allowing us to use existing fuel and transport infrastructure but at a reduced carbon intensity, while we
    (3) transition to electric vehicles.

    Which of these three points do you think is a bad idea? From your response, I think that you would agree with each step.

    The vehicle fleet is going to be replaced in less than 20 years anyway

    Yes – and the replacement units will for a long time be petrol/diesel/gas fueled. The fleet will roll over before the production capacity does.

    Another canard. At least half the US vehicle fleet’s mileage could go electric without needing a single new powerplant, so long as they charged off-peak. In the mean time, we’re adding lots of wind and gas turbines.

    You clearly have no idea how fois-canard it will be to integrate an electric vehicle fleet into your grid. Who do you think is using that baseload power right now, and will they stop whatever it is their doing so you won’t have to build new plant when these cars come online?

    Oh, and, yay for gas, I guess.

    write off the existing liquid fuels distribution infrastructure -jm

    Perhaps it would have been more to the point of me to have said “add a new distribution infrastructure alongside the old one”. Because, despite your touching belief in the ability to turn the vehicle fleet electric without adding new generation or upgrading the grid’s power handling ability, tain’t gonna happen.

    There’s nothing special about the plant which manufactures the Volt

    Here I think you are falling into a common trap for people who only interact with engineered products as consumers – you just see the facade at the front of the building, but have no conception about the backend.

    Yes the Volt factory has four walls and a roof and a robotic assembly line, like any other car factory. However, sitting behind that is a deep component supply chain for engines, drivetrains and fuel management systems that will either be written off, or keep producing hydrocarbon powered vehicles. At the same time, entirely new production capacity will have to be installed to be producing batteries, motors, high power handling electronics, rare earth magnets, supercapacitors, etc. This won’t appear overnight and will have to be ramped over time. Entire new integrated vehicle platforms and manufacturing infrastructure will have to be designed and new supply chains forged. This is a decades long process.

    This selective blindness (probably driven by political and tribal affiliation) is disappointing, but all too common.

    The notion that people disagree with you because of tribal affiliation rather than an informed and rational process of decision, is disappointing but all too common. Its tiresome to refute, again, but in my case, I’m a member of the Greens and to the extent that I identify with a tribe it would be with the environmental movement. The Greens however do not have a policy that will result in carbon emissions reductions, so consequently my vote is swinging in the wind, and the party that offers the most effective CO2 reduction policy will get it.

    In other words, my position is held in spite of political and tribal affiliations, contrary to your supposition. Could you say the same about yourself?

    In any event, I actually fail to see where we disagree. Let me read those three points back to you in reverse order, paraphrased:

    3) I think we should transition to electric vehicles as fast as we can (or as fast as we can create emissions free electricity, at any rate)
    2) But we are stuck with hydrocarbon fueled vehicles for a long time to come, so
    1) Production of carbon neutral hydrocarbon fuel is a Good Thing.

    I infer from your comments you would agree with all of this. I don’t understand your animus, but I do know that, if this is an example of your engineering, I definitely don’t want to read your poetry.

  348. I don’t know why people go on the attack when I bring up obvious, factual points.  Your political opposition isn’t dumb, and they’re going to bring every one of these points up to try to block you (plus a lot of unprincipled nonsense).  You have to have your case made before you go to the public, because you only have one chance to make a good first impression.  Objecting to a fact is instant failure.

    Now, I’m hardly anti-CANDU.  I suggested that Olympic Dam should put one in.  But you’ve got to anticipate objections and have answers; treating bearers of facts as heretics is a good way to make them look like Galileo and you look like the priesthood (which doesn’t have a very good reputation right now).

    DV82XL is looking like a robed pedophile, especially when he brings up unprincipled nonsense of his own:

    I love this attempt to smear CANDU with this claim

    He thinks that the difference between 7000 MW-D/t and 40,000 MW-D/t is a “smear”.

    … because as far as waste goes the LWR needs enriched uranium and the mass of the tailings from that process has to be added to the account.

    Depleted uranium isn’t spent fuel and contains no transuranics or fission products.  It’s less radioactive than natural uranium; they use it for things like balance weights on airliners and sailing yacht keels.  Repeat that in public and you destroy your credibility (because you’re an idiot).

    keep in mind that ‘spent’ fuel from a LWR can be re-burnt in a CANDU with out reprocessing.

    Is Australia going to import spent fuel (radwaste) from other countries?  That’s bound to be unpopular, especially when the country has plenty of uranium.  I’d suggest that for Canada, but using something like fluorine volatility to extract uranium from spent US PWR fuel so the fission products aren’t an issue in commerce (PWR SNF is about 1% U-235).  This also avoids the problem of trying to re-use fuel assemblies which may already be at their limits of cladding life (I’m assuming afterheat isn’t an issue after aging).

    Peter Lang is on firmer ground:

    The quantities are minuscule whichever process is used.

    A lot of the public is worried about things like plutonium.  If someone notes that the Pu in CANDU SNF is much closer to bomb-grade than LWR SNF Pu (and it is), you need an answer to that.  You need something like “it would take X many tons of used fuel to even theoretically make a bomb, and nobody could steal that much without dying of radiation poisoning.”

    Spent fuel isn’t spent. It is ‘once used’ fuel. Only a small fraction of the energy has been used so far. When it becomes cheaper to reprocess rather then mine new uranium, we’ll re use the ‘once used nuclear fuel’

    Maybe, but we won’t get a lot out of it absent Gen IV.  The buildup of higher isotopes of Pu, plus Am and Cm, puts a limit on how many times even the actinides can be recycled and still achieve a chain reaction with thermal neutrons.  Fissioning all the actinides requires fast neutrons, and that probably means liquid-metal cooling.  The alternative is to go thorium.

    Here is a photograph of the storage of the used fuel from the full life of a now decommissioned US NPP

    Great.  People still treat it as something which lowers property values and requires schools to be located well away.  They’re not going to let you dispense with the guard shack as long as it’s there.  You need to have a plan for getting rid of it.  What do you tell the public?

    Quoth Barry Brook:

    So the Volt is an oil-powered automobile with some low-range battery backup.

    No, it’s an electric automobile which falls back to liquid fuel for extended range.  The battery is the primary.  If you can eliminate 80-90% of your fuel use with a 64 km battery, does it make sense to buy a 320 km battery just to get the remaining 10-20%?  The Better Place model is probably superior to that, given near-future battery prices and characteristics.

    John Morgan gets his next.

  349. Engineer-Poet – I don’t know what happened to you man, you used to have something of value to say in discussions.

    Depleted uranium is an issue in those nations with stockpiles of it. While it is rather benign stuff, it dose come with political baggage attached and it cannot be dismissed out of hand in the nuclear waste products debate, and I would hardly typify it as the ideas of an idiot.

    And Australia may well have to take back the uranium fuel they sell if some people have their way, and while I think this is a silly idea for any number of reasons, it is something that is not out of the question.

    And Canada has almost as much domestic uranium as Australia which is yet another reason they do not need a technology that requires an enrichment plant that would only add to the expense.

    The statement” the Pu in CANDU SNF is much closer to bomb-grade than LWR SNF Pu (and it is)” is a simple lie, or the product of ignorance. Nether reactor produces Pu isotope mixes that can be used in nuclear weapons, and even they it could, I am sure the leaders of other nations don’t have nightmares over a nuclear armed Australia.

  350. Finrod does a substance-free drive-by.  Way to go, Finrod!

    Quoth John Morgan:

    The notion that people disagree with you because of tribal affiliation rather than an informed and rational process of decision, is disappointing but all too common.

    I mentioned a fact about the CANDU fuel cycle and was immediately accused of posting a “smear”.  That’s neither informed nor rational; it’s ousting anyone who ventures into taboo territory.

    If you are truly informed and rational, you ought to recognize when a proposal has inevitable side-effects which defeat the avowed purpose.

    I don’t understand why you would say this in response to a course of action that would obviate at least the entire front end of the petroleum industry.

    Because it only achieves that in the most naïve analysis.

    1.  Green Freedom is fully compatible with petroleum, so the oil producers are still competitive for the duration.
    2.  A floor price of USD4.60/gallon production cost (roughly USD155/barrel equivalent before refining margins) keeps the “non-petroleum” fuel out of the market until the oil producers have gotten theirs.  This is exactly what happened to all the USA’s synfuels projects in the 1980′s.  (Green Freedom is about 5 times as capital-intensive as coal-to-liquids.  Even coal will go first, and the economy will contract radically at CTL prices.)
    3.  It doesn’t matter if you’re currently paying USD4.60 at the pump.  USD4.60 is GF’s raw production costs; the taxes you’re paying go for domestic priorities instead of energy producers or overseas.  Add whatever taxes you have to the USD4.60/gallon figure to see what you’d have to pay to make GF competitive.
    4.  The construction rate of nuclear plants is a limiting factor.  GF needs about 3.5 times as much nuclear capacity and 10 times as much capital investment as nuclear-electric.

    If you want to see how competitive GF is, calculate the raw fuel price to do it with solar-thermal troughs.  No economy would be able to afford it.

    The vehicle fleet is going to be replaced in less than 20 years anyway.

    Yes – and the replacement units will for a long time be petrol/diesel/gas fueled.

    You’re assuming a fact not in evidence.  Israel and Denmark intend to go all-electric in the next 20 years.  The USA could easily require that all luxury vehicles be plug-ins by 2016, and all light-duty vehicles by 2020.  Even if liquid fuels remain usable in a fleet composed primarily of PHEVs, driving the first 40-50 miles per day on electricity eliminates the vast majority of liquid fuel demand.  That’s a market that OPEC cannot get into.  They’d do anything to keep this from happening, including giving grants to people to propose unworkable alternatives to petroleum.

    Who do you think is using that baseload power right now

    Nobody said “baseload”.  Other plants can be used more heavily for quite some time.  And raising the demand floor makes new baseload plants more competitive than e.g. gas peakers.  This favors generators with the least fuel cost… like nuclear (and wind).

    despite your touching belief in the ability to turn the vehicle fleet electric without adding new generation or upgrading the grid’s power handling ability, tain’t gonna happen.

    The USA has about 1 TW of nameplate generating capacity, but only consumes about 450 GW average.  Uprates are only needed if the peak increases.  Converting the entire US vehicle fleet (light and heavy) to electric would only add about 180 GW of average demand, ignoring efficiencies of conversion.  You’d have 20 years to make any required upgrades to the grid, and they’d be rather modest.

    I was rather generous with the efficiency I assumed for ICE vehicles, and changes such as downsizing and streamlining the vehicle fleet (and moving freight to rail) would cut electric requirements further.  If you can find any errors in my assumptions or calculations, show me so I can update.  I am all about facts.

    Here I think you are falling into a common trap for people who only interact with engineered products as consumers – you just see the facade at the front of the building, but have no conception about the backend.

    You make me laugh.  My work has penetrated to the intimate internals of multiple Detroit auto companies’ products.  I have walked the labs, viewed the test cells, pored over engine mapping data and device performance curves in my job duties.  You’re projecting.

    sitting behind that is a deep component supply chain for engines, drivetrains and fuel management systems that will either be written off, or keep producing hydrocarbon powered vehicles.

    Oh, brother!  You remind me of the engine plant which is allegedly specific to V-blocks, 8′s and 6′s.  Does the foundry care what molds it uses?  Does it really require a completely new plant to make a balance shaft for an I-3 sustainer for a PHEV, or can you adapt a camshaft line for a few million bucks?  You tell me.

    entirely new production capacity will have to be installed to be producing batteries, motors, high power handling electronics, rare earth magnets, supercapacitors, etc. This won’t appear overnight and will have to be ramped over time.

    So we agree it’s a process taking a decade, maybe 2.  2 decades isn’t so far away.  Had the USA stayed the course set from 1977-1981, it would be there already.

    ’m a member of the Greens and to the extent that I identify with a tribe it would be with the environmental movement. The Greens however do not have a policy that will result in carbon emissions reductions

    In other words, you have stuck with the goals rather than the positions which fail to reach those goals.  You’re with James Lovelock, and me.  Kudos.  But you completely failed to recognize that I was bucking a much stronger current in pushing electric conversion instead of continued dependence on the ICE, and as an auto-industry insider (engineering, not management) to boot.

    I know the influence of “chimney management” in the industry.  I once got a detailed account of how the integration of the transmission’s hydraulic circuit and the power-steering system was stymied by the part of the company responsible for the power-steering pump, which would have been eliminated by such a move.  The cost and complexity savings were blocked by the political interests.  Replacing a V6 and auto transaxle with electric motors, a fat battery, some high-power electronics and a turbocharged 2-cylinder sustainer is far more radical, but I’m 100% for it.  When the battery gets cheap enough, eliminate the ICE; that day will come.

    Where we differ on the premises:

    2) But we are stuck with hydrocarbon fueled vehicles for a long time to come

    No, we aren’t.  We can start a shift to plug-in hybrid immediately, and begin chewing away at hydrocarbon demand through higher efficiency and outright elimination of the first X amount of fuel requirement per day or per trip.  LG Chemical is going to build a plant in Michigan to manufacture Li-ion battery packs for hybrids and PHEVs.  That’s the future I’ve been wanting for more than 20 years.

    What you fail to see is how the difference between a 30 MPG vehicle and a 50 MPG vehicle which covers 75% of its mileage on electricity changes the equation.  You don’t need synthetic hydrocarbons; the USA’s production of ethanol alone could replace the remaining gasoline demand (much more affordably than Green Freedom, even enough corn ethanol is a huge boondoggle).  Stop treating your premises as holy writ.

  351. Finrod does a substance-free drive-by. Way to go, Finrod!

    You’re the one going around comparing people to pedophiles. Do you do that often in online debates?

  352. And DV82XL again:

    The statement” the Pu in CANDU SNF is much closer to bomb-grade than LWR SNF Pu (and it is)” is a simple lie, or the product of ignorance. Nether reactor produces Pu isotope mixes that can be used in nuclear weapons

    I didn’t say “bomb-grade” (93% Pu-239 or more), I said “much closer”.  The fraction of Pu-238, Pu-240 and Pu-241 goes way up as fuel irradiation increases.  Remember, we’re dealing with fears rather than practicalities.  Material which would ignite its explosive triggers from the heat produced before the bombers could move it out of their plant, like the fatal attempt of the Weathermen (1960′s radical group in the USA) to boil nitroglycerine out of dynamite, has PR advantages.

    This is PR.  You need answers that are (a) truthful and (b) sound good to the public.  The competition is coal, which has lots of negatives which aren’t mentioned very often or very loudly.  Buckle down and get to work!

  353. This is PR. You need answers that are (a) truthful and (b) sound good to the public. The competition is coal, which has lots of negatives which aren’t mentioned very often or very loudly. Buckle down and get to work!

    So you’re just trying to be helpful? Sure.

  354. Leave the little troll alone Finrod, the guy has lost it for some reason, and has gone off the deep end, and is now babbling nonsense to smokescreen his prior inane remarks.

    Too bad, the guy used to have something of value to contribute, I have seen his work in the past, and it wasn’t like this.

  355. @Finrod and Sage of Montreal:

    not having come across Engineer-Poet before and assuming him to be an automotive engineer as he talks the talk, I would have thought that the pair of you would welcome anybody in that line. Especially as he mentions the often unmentioned negatives of Big Fossil.

    As I see it, he is trying to point out where nukie arguments have PR weaknesses and you don’t like to be told. Please explain.

    BNCers who might be happy abolish the NPT so that all countries can threaten each other in eternal MAD deterrent peace, coincidentally reviving well-paid nuclear engineering big-time, are sub-optimally placed to play down proliferation concerns.

    I wonder what will happen if Shai Agassi calls in on BNC: will he be called a babbling troll too?

  356. Peter Lalor, – Engineer-Poet has been around for awhile, and I have run into him elsewhere. His contributions are usually very good, and what he has posted here is somewhat out of character.

    While he might want to be pointing out PR weaknesses in the pronuclear argument, the general inaccuracies of what he is writing, cannot go unchallenged on points of fact.

    Frankly though, I cannot see where you manage to find a link to the NPT in the exchange I have had with him.

  357. Engineer-Poet, reading your response, and some of your website, I think there’s a lot more we agree on than otherwise:

    - ditching petroleum is imperative
    - moving transport to electric is imperative
    - based on your comments on Israel, Denmark, grid upgrades, and production ramp times, you have a twenty year timeframe in mind to see significant displacement by EVs. So do I.
    - I do see, and appreciate, the efficiency gains in a short range battery
    - You appear to take a rational rather than ideological approach to decarbonization
    - Its all about the numbers

    The reason for your animus seems to come from your idea that alternative liquid fuels will delay development of electric vehicles. I haven’t considered that and will give it some thought. I think wind advocates are ensuring continued gas burning, but I don’t accuse them of acting with that motivation (on my good days). Likewise, I’m neither recycling oil industry talking points nor shaping my ideas to conform to a tribal identity.

    With regard to Green Freedom, you write

    Add whatever taxes you have to the USD4.60/gallon figure to see what you’d have to pay to make GF competitive.

    38c/l excise +10% makes it $6.49 USD/gallon. I filled up last week at USD 4.50 equivalent. This is a stretch. The GF paper suggests their price could drop to USD 3.40 (add oz taxes to bring it up to USD 5.32 equivalent), before considering reductions in the NP price due to expected standardized, pre licensed designs. If oil prices rise much, or a carbon price is in our future, this looks economic.

    But nuclear electric will be cheaper per joule than nuclear hydrocarbon, and I think EVs are already on par emissions wise even with coal power, so maybe there is no advantage for transport. Maybe GF fits into a post carbon chemical feedstock base instead.

  358. Mr. Morgan, I’m glad you decided to look at what I said instead of reacting to any deviation from the party line.  I’d rephrase a few things (ditching petroleum and electrifying transport is inevitable, and fighting it is counterproductive; converting the heaviest users to electric may take much less than 20 years, and the rest isn’t so important).  Otherwise, we are on the same page.  Australia is home to Team Trev, and I have to say WANT!

    My problem with schemes like Green Freedom is that they will create a very expensive infrastructure with a 50-year lifespan to solve a problem that will be gone in 20 years.  This is the ultimate definition of “stranded asset”.  Alternative liquid fuels (e.g. ethanol from biomass) are one thing, a huge nuclear-chemical system to make very expensive synthetic hydrocarbons is quite another.  When it takes about $200 to make a gasoline (petrol) vehicle run on alcohol, spending $2000 per vehicle to convert nuclear heat to naptha-equivalent is nuts.  And every vehicle which remains compatible with petroleum is a continued market for OPEC so long as their production price is lower than the alternative price.

    Maybe GF fits into a post carbon chemical feedstock base instead.

    Possibly, but I suspect that crops tailored to produce bio-plastics or precursors may win that battle.  The one part of GF that looks good to me is the potassium carbonate capture system; using potash to capture CO2 (converts K2CO3 to KHCO3) appears to be fairly easy.  Unfortunately, one of the vaguest descriptions in the GF overview is the potassium bicarbonate electrolysis system (2 KHCO3 + e -> K2CO3 + H2 + CO2 + ½O2).  If it’s not cheap enough to run one day a week on that day’s excess power, it’s probably not going to fly.

  359. As long as I’m thinking about arguments for CANDU that don’t work for a PWR in the region of Olympic Dam, size of the local grid is a big one.  If the area would have to multiply its spinning reserve to be able to put e.g. an AP-1000 on-line, that’s a really good argument for a CANDU instead.

  360. Engineer-Poet,

    I agree. Furthermore, a power station will not consist of one unit. It will probably consist of four or more units. The NSW grid is mostly 660MW units. The largest units in Victoria and Queensland are around 500MW. South Australia’s units a re smaller still (from memory). So a 650MW EC6 will be easier to fit into the SA grid than a 1000MW AP1000. The fact that the power station will likely end up being around 2500MW or more is another reason why I believe the first SA NPP should be near the main demand area not nearly 1000 km away at Ceduna

  361. Peter Lang I can almost hear the NIMBYs spluttering on their herbal tea at the thought of 2500 MW NP near Adelaide.

    Any desal for Olympic Dam would be around 300 km away. This can be checked using the Google Earth ruler tool. I think it is good karma, feng shui or whatever to co-locate NP and desal even if it uses purely electrical reverse osmosis. OD say they need under 200 ML/d but locals suggest beefing it up to replace the pipeline from the river 400km away. A 300 ML/d desal might need 75 MW based on Wonthaggi Vic drawing 100 MW.

    Other non-cost reasons to like Ceduna are the historic fact of the A-bomb tests and the acceptance of radioactive zircon shipments. If I recall Martin Nicholson said a major east-west transmission line was inevitable to create a national grid. That would pass close to Ceduna. That and fewer NIMBYs.

  362. John Newlands,

    I’ve been arguing all along for what we should do. If you want to argue that NIMBY prevents a location, then you may as well argue that Australia does not allow nuclear so what’s the point of discussing the matter.

    I’ve said all along we should be looking for ways to reduce the cost of nuclear, otherwise you may as well stick with coal and gas. So my approach is to argue, now, for what regime we want. Not use arguments like “NIMBYism” will prevent us doing locating there. Surely that is what we’ve go to address. And I’ve argued previously why we need to address this issue from the very start otherwise we’ll take three decades to get the cost of NPP’s down to where they could and should be. Which means the transfer from FF will be slower.

  363. On the NIMBY issue, my sympathies are with Peter Lang. When we (N92) launch our publicity campaign, the advantages of having a nuclear reactor in one’s neighbourhood will be heavily emphasised. By the time we’re finished with them, people will be demanding their local councils outbid each other as NPP locations, and anyone playing the NIMBY card will be shocked at their sudden unpopularity. Well, that’s the plan, anyway…

  364. If you want to decrease the cost of nuclear, you want a unit which is relatively small, is built of factory-built parts essentially bolted together at the site, and requires little support infrastructure like cooling towers.

    CANDU or any water-cooled reactor isn’t going to be able to go very far down that road.  OTOH, something like LFTR can run at very high temperatures, allowing an air-cycle gas turbine as the heat engine (an intermediate “clean” salt loop would be required to keep things like tritium from escaping to the atmosphere).  The gas turbine would not be very efficient, but it’s small, cheap and requires no cooling water.  This makes it ideally suited for dry areas.  If you can get relatively cool water and lots of it (seaside), LFTR with a supercritical CO2 turbine looks pretty good.  The closed CO2 cycle does not need the intermediate salt loop.

  365. Well as far as that goes CANDUs are made essentially of factory-built parts bolted together at the site. AECL has been building them overseas with Canadian made parts for the last thirty years.

    GenIV is the way of the future no question, and some type of liquid core reactor is the best design, but that future is many decades away, and the need for nuclear power is now.

    BTW any thermal power plant has to dump waste heat somewhere – even LFTRs

  366. I’m still wading through the back discussion on this thread (currently up to here and I have to add a comment on carbon taxes and the nuclear industry.

    Nuclear fuel is dirt cheap.  The biggest problem in getting the cost of nuclear power down is reducing the cost of plants, both the overnight cost and the interest and uncertainty risks associated with long construction schedules.  That should be obvious.

    The way to cut costs is to have lots of experience so that economies of scale can be brought to bear.  But how do you get that experience if your current costs are high?  The sales simply aren’t going to be there in the near term.  The existing, fully-amortized coal plants are a very steep barrier to replacement by anything that can’t undercut their costs now, and the mere fact that they’re fully amortized (no bonds to pay off) puts all but the least capital-intensive options off the table.  This is why natural-gas plants are popular despite their costly fuel; they cost little, so the risk of owning a stranded capital asset is low.

    I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say I’d like to see the nuclear industry go on a building spree to replace essentially all coal-fired power.  There should be many hundreds of GW of sales in the offing, which would justify the engineering to make plants which can be produced and installed cheaply.  But how?  Who’s going to buy all those plants, given the barriers we all know about?

    The only options I see are regulations.  Either we regulate (restrict or tax) the emissions from coal-fired power, or we force retirements outright.  If there’s any other way to get past the chicken/egg problem, nobody has been able to describe it to me convincingly.

  367. Engineer-Poet, on 17 May 2010 at 3.56 Said:

    “The only options I see are regulations. Either we regulate (restrict or tax) the emissions from coal-fired power, or we force retirements outright. If there’s any other way to get past the chicken/egg problem, nobody has been able to describe it to me convincingly.”

    Bang on, my friend. It would be best if this was done by legislative fiat. However the possibility of this happening is on a par with that of the Second Coming.

  368. Engineer-Poet,
    @ http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/01/nuclear-century-cbg/#comment-66190

    The only options I see are regulations. Either we regulate (restrict or tax) the emissions from coal-fired power, or we force retirements outright. If there’s any other way to get past the chicken/egg problem, nobody has been able to describe it to me convincingly.

    You make the choices very clear.

    From my perspective, I am very concerned about the idea of raising the cost of electricity (by imposing a cost on carbon) while we leave in place the massive imposts that are making nuclear energy much more expensive than it could and should be.

    I am convinced that the benefits of low cost electricity are overwhelmingly good for humanity. I am also persuaded that if we can have low-cost, clean electricity, it will replace burning of dirty fuels, especially in the developing countries, much faster than if we make electricity expensive. If we make clean electricity expensive in the developed world, then it will inevitably be more expensive in the developing world. And this will be set in place for decades. If we want to make electricity clean and low cost, the developed world must lead on achieving this.

    But that is exactly the reverse of what is happening. Clean electricity is most expensive in US and EU, and least expensive in the developing countries. The reason for this is the irrational requirements that society has placed on nuclear power over the past 40+ years.

    My opposition to an ETS or carbon taxes is because I am firmly persuaded that the imposts on nuclear will remain in place. Not only that, they will be ramped up, over time, to favour renewables and make it ever more difficult for nuclear to compete. The most obvious examples are: Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets, feed in tariffs, subsidies for capital cost of renewables, subsidies on transmission for renewables, state takes the risk of leakage for CCS and many others. While these market distorting policies are firmly entrenched in our public psyche and in political parties’ policies, I am strongly opposed to any more market distorting policies that will raise the cost of electricity. From my perspective we must remove these imposts BEFORE we embark on ETS or Carbon Tax.

    I fear that if we proceed with a carbon price on emissions from electricity, the carbon price will have to be very high and the cost of electricity will double before we really send a sufficient pricing signal for nuclear to be competitive in Australia. I refer you to Tables 5, 52 and 53 here: http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/419-0035.pdf
    According to Table 53, nuclear remains more expensive than coal in Australia even with a carbon price of $55 (from Table 5). The LRMC of electricity in 2028-29 is projected as (in A$/MWh):
    Nuclear = $88
    Coal (Ultra Super Critical) = $84 (without carbon tax = $48)

    Clearly, the problem with the high cost of nuclear in Australia is that the cost is dependent on the input assumptions, and these assume that most of the imposts on nuclear remain in place.

    By the way, does anyone have any comments on the costs for nuclear presented in Table 4 here: http://www.needs-project.org/docs/results/RS1a/RS1a%20D14.2%20Final%20report%20on%20nuclear.pdf ?

    My recommendation:

    As a first step, I want to see us remove the cost imposts on nuclear.

    Until the cost impost on nuclear have been removed, I’d support regulation on emissions from electricity generators.

    I said more on this approach here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/ and here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-63239 and here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-63585 .

  369. Peter Lang, on 17 May 2010 at 10.17 — I’m not following what costs can be reduced for nuclear other than the risk insurance costs by banning lawsuits or additonal regulations once the construction contract is let.

    By all means everybody interested ought to duke it out, somehow, over siting, water consumption, … But once started there should be nor more risk to investors than any other large construction project.

    I have yet to be persuaded than just doing that will lower the price below that of coal with its free externalities.

  370. David B. Benson,

    I have posted many times on this in the past, so I don’t want to go back over those now. (If you feel like going through the previous posts and pulling them together, I’d be most greatful :) )

    However, one important point I am trying to make, is that we need to remove the cost imposts on nuclear BEFORE, we start adding costs by imposing an ETS or carbon price. Otherwise we’ll never deal with the cost imposts on nuclear.

    I don’t know what all the imposts are. I’ve been trying for some time to encourage knowledgeable people to focus on this issue, rather than just discussing the easy answer “Ah, we’ll just paper over the problem by imposing a cost on carbon”. Doing so will not solve the underlying problem. The underlying problem is: why is nuclear more expensive than coal, when it shouldn’t be?

  371. Mr. Lang:  I see your point, I just don’t see how it gets us from where we are to where we want to be.  Cutting the imposed costs on nuclear isn’t going to overcome the FOAK costs or the uncertainty in the recovery of the non-recurring expenses.  If the USA had e.g. a two-pronged program to make a thorium-burning reactor in 100 MWe and 300 MWe sizes (perhaps with a proliferation-proof U238-denatured version for export), and a revival of the IFR with lead-bismuth coolant to dispose of existing stocks of both weapons materials and spent LWR fuel, that would probably guarantee that at least one of them could go commercial.  But what company can afford to foot the R&D on its own?  The ROI is subject to so many political risks I don’t see how it could get investment.

    Renewables are a problem, not because they can’t work but because they can.  The product cycle for wind and solar systems is just a few years.  Entire technology shifts can occur while a nuke plant goes from permit to first criticality.  That’s a technology risk for nuclear as well.

    I am of the opinion that we’re going to have both, like it or not.  The biggest gains are going to come from making them play well together; using nuclear heat in a CAES system allows RE production to be added quickly as required, while the nukes provide the base load and, though CAES, the peaking as well.  I suspect that both liquid-metal and molten-salt reactors can handle that role (water-cooled reactors probably can’t).  If true, this means the future depends on development of Gen IV.

  372. Engineer-Poet, on 17 May 2010 at 11.53 Said:

    “Renewables are a problem, not because they can’t work but because they can. The product cycle for wind and solar systems is just a few years. Entire technology shifts can occur while a nuke plant goes from permit to first criticality. That’s a technology risk for nuclear as well.”

    The idea that there are huge hidden gains to be found in renewable energy technologies is a recurrent theme among their supporters. However the general history of technology doesn’t support that hope very well. In general the very large, order of magnitude type gains are made early on in the development cycle, while only marginal gains come from the latter.

    Wind and solar thermal are relativity mature technologies, even if they haven’t been deployed widely, and while there may be gains to be made in solar electric cells, the physics at this point doesn’t look promising for a huge breakthrough that would even double current output and be inexpensive enough for widespread use.

    Storage too has issues, even if there is more room for improvement than in generation, but still shear volumes and cost are not likely to shrink as rapidly as they would need to to be a threat to nuclear. Even if it did, nuclear power plants could use them as well. wiping out any advantage they might provide renewables.

    And I would put much faith in CASE. The thermal management issues are not that simple to deal with and are a significant impediment to making this type of storage work except under very narrow conditions.

  373. Engineer-Poet,

    I see your point too.

    At the moment, I am convinced that if we spend our time talking about carbon taxes and ETS, as we are doing, there will be no focus on removing the imposts on nuclear (as is the case). We’ll continually be ratcheting up the carbon price and the imposts on nuclear because people don’t like nuclear and they want renewables. While this situation remains, I don’t want a bar of putting a price on carbon used in electricity generation.

    FOAK cost should be carried by the community. They should be carried by direct government funding. The reason is that the community caused the higher cost of nuclear, through supporting, allowing and demanding these high cost imposts on nuclear. We have caused massive distortions in the market. So, is it justifiable that we must pay to remove them. There is also ample precedent for doing so. The whole renewable energy industry runs on ongoing massive government funding. Wind is subsidised by more than 100% and solar PV by about a factor of ten.

    The uncertainty in the recovery of the non-recurring expenses could be addressed as I suggested here (especially point 2): http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-63239

    I agree that governments should fund RD&D. The distribution of funding between technologies should be based on an evaluation of their likely return on investment.

    Renewables are a problem, not because they can’t work but because they can. The product cycle for wind and solar systems is just a few years. Entire technology shifts can occur while a nuke plant goes from permit to first criticality. That’s a technology risk for nuclear as well.

    I agree. But in the west we are not making decisions rationally any more. The developing countries are. We are making decisions on strongly held beliefs and emotions. I am trying to separate the politics from the rational analysis, and focus on the rational part. I accept that politics is going to play an important role in the decisions. But if that is the dominant input to decision making, then … we may as well just continue as we’ve been going for the past 40 years or so.

    I am of the opinion that we’re going to have both, like it or not.

    I agree this is what is going to happen – because of our political system. But it is not what should happen, except of course if renewables can compete without government funding, subsidies or regulations that distort a proper market.

    The biggest gains are going to come from making them play well together; using nuclear heat in a CAES system allows RE production to be added quickly as required, while the nukes provide the base load and, though CAES, the peaking as well. I suspect that both liquid-metal and molten-salt reactors can handle that role (water-cooled reactors probably can’t).

    I didn’t follow your point about CAES. CAES needs a suitable geologic environment to be economic and also relies on burning gas.

  374. Just a quick note, because I have to run:

    CAES needs a suitable geologic environment to be economic…

    Suitable geologies include porous formations, limestones which can be tunnelled, and soluble minerals (such as halite and potash) which can be solution-mined.  This isn’t big a limitation.

    … and also relies on burning gas.

    No, it doesn’t.  It relies on some source of heat, either stored (from compression) or replacement.  Nuclear fission can supply that heat.

    The advantage is that the heat-to-electric efficiency of CAES can be 80%, and that’s before heat storage is considered.  The thermal efficiency of high-temperature nuclear plants is projected to be in the region of 40%, so this means a reactor could supply at least twice as much peak power via a CAES expander than it could through the standard heat engine.

  375. Engineer-Poet,

    I accept what you say about only needing a heat source and nuclear could provide that. However, at the moment, given there are no such nuclear heated CAES in operation, and in fact very few CAES facilities of any type anywhere, I’d see this as more like a possibility than as a likely, widely employed technology.

    When we start dealing in rock, nothing is anywhere near as simple as it seems from the surface. It will take a lot more than your statement to persuade me that CAES is going to be a widely used energy storage technology any time soon, despite what the enthusiastic advocates would like us to believe.

    If you have detailed engineering information on recent. large CAES projects I’d be very interested.

  376. Anyone got time to write to SCIAM, or at least leave a comment, on their fusion article? It sounds like the goons trying to justify their $3.5 billion dollar grant for building the NIF “Death Star” are aware that they’re not going to generate 1 watt of actual commercial energy, and so are wondering what other purposes might keep their ‘toy’ alive and their incomes coming in?

    Like… BURNING UP ALL AMERICA’S NUCLEAR WASTE?! (Or should I say FUEL for IFR’s?)

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=worlds-largest-laser-nif-2009-04-01&sc=IDR_50-years-of-the-laser

  377. The main NIF mission is updating supercomputer simulations of the US’s aging nuclear stockpile, which cannot be tested due to a 1992 moratorium. Everything else is window dressing, and everyone knows it.

  378. … the goons trying to justify their $3.5 billion dollar grant for building the NIF “Death Star” are aware that they’re not going to generate 1 watt of actual commercial energy, and so are wondering what other purposes might keep their ‘toy’ alive and their incomes coming in?

    A facility that can explosively collapse a pea-sized solid object down to the size of a poppy seed is an interesting basic science facility. If the pea-sized object is some composition of D, T, and lithium-6, then as ‘DV82XL’ says, fusion bomb processes can be examined at small scale.

    But there will be plenty of other things to collapse. The people being called goons are in fact scientists who have legitimately found a funding sweet spot.

    If a NIF successor is ever put to work blasting SNF with fusion neutrons, the same fissionables will burn, and the same hundreds of terawatt-years will be yielded, as in IFRs.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  379. The NIF is a good tool for basic science, of that there is no question, but it has been created primarily for weapons research, and that is where the money came from.

    What is wrong, is trying to pretend that it was created to be a type of fusion reactor to generate power.

  380. given there are no such nuclear heated CAES in operation, and in fact very few CAES facilities of any type anywhere, I’d see this as more like a possibility than as a likely, widely employed technology.

    In no small part, this is because there have been no molten-salt reactors in operation in the USA for about 40 years.

    On the other hand, the original concept for the MSR was a nuclear-powered aircraft, with reactor heat providing the heat to run gas turbines (replacing combustion as the heat source).  The Aircraft Reactor Experiment ran at 850°C, glowing yellow-hot (it was called the “fireball reactor”); just replace the compressor with air storage, and there you are.  This concept is more than a half-century old, and only the killing of the MSR in the 1970′s by ex-Navy LWR promoters kept it from being the obvious substitute for fossil-fired peaking plants.

    Isn’t it strange how many different nuclear technologies could have been here to replace fossil-fired power of all kinds, but were smothered in their cribs by politics?

  381. I know I’ve said it before, but I wish we could view alternate time-lines and histories where the Earth didn’t have fossil fuels, and how civilisation might have had to develop along other means, and how quickly we would have rolled out nuclear power when discovering the power of the atom.

    Another thought experiment — strictly in a ‘back to the farm’ Steampunk sort of sense — might be a world without either fossil OR fissile fuels. That would be a renewables only world, and while I’m glad of the nuclear power option, remain fascinated by what we might have had to come up with, and the overall funky shape of society if we’d only ever had renewables. EG: Earthship office buildings? Solar powered factories that only run 6 hours a day, and the workers know they get a day off if it is overcast? A slower, almost Amish existence but with some hi-tech sprinkled through it in a very different shape to today’s world? Who knows what value we’d place on energy efficiency in that kind of world. Be interesting to glimpse… but again, I’m glad of the Gen3 / Gen4 nuclear options we have today and will have in the short term future.

  382. Energy on demand is a cornerstone of a modern industrial society. I recall at the time of the Varanus Island gas explosion in WA a couple of years back. The manager of an industrial laundry said he couldn’t have employees turn up not knowing if there was enough gas for a full day’s work.

    Of course back in the days of tall ships if the winds weren’t favourable to set sail the crew would be in the nearest tavern. That’s a bit different to a long commute to the night shift at an aluminium smelter.

  383. Engineer-Poet,

    Absolutely true. And it’s happening all over again with the “Renewable Revolution”. The populations belief in Renewables as illustrated by BilB (see discussion on other threads), scares the hell out of me. I can easily see us loosing another two to four decades because of their ability to win over the population to their belief by scaring the hell out of them.

  384. Energy on demand is a cornerstone of a modern industrial society. I recall at the time of the Varanus Island gas explosion in WA a couple of years back. The manager of an industrial laundry said he couldn’t have employees turn up not knowing if there was enough gas for a full day’s work.

    I agree, but I’d just distinguish that “Energy on demand is a cornerstone of OUR modern industrial society.” The point of my thought experiment was to wonder about the overall shape of an industrial society that evolved without fossil fuels or nuclear, and so of course had to adopt a renewable regime. So CETO, wind + the ‘gravel heat battery’, etc might be able to form baseload power, but at what cost?

    My guess is that the Industrial Revolution would not have been impossible, but would have taken a lot longer and the shape of our cities and lifestyles would be vastly different.

  385. @P.Lang: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/01/nuclear-century-cbg/#comment-66634

    You say that the hell is scared out of you. So review your own position. The fact is, you and not a few other nukies equate the truth status of your view of the power engineering/physics facts with your own neoliberal-neocon politics. This has been evident in your repeated clashes on this blog on NPP costing with Ewen Laver, who is as nukie as you are.

    You are a person who seems from the occasional comment, for example, to attribute the worsening global financial crisis to government as such, because corporations are in your view benevolent by definition. So can you apply from AU for honorary membership of the US Tea Party?

    I referred recently on BNC to the halo effect. This means that if many disadvantaged and struggling or merely non-neoliberal voters in a given population are talked at by nukies using your style, they will justifiably suspect that they are being got at and “set up”. Got at by the same sort of functionary/businessman that (in AU) cancelled the pre-1980 Australian Settlement under PMs Hawke and Keating et seq. in the last 30 years.

    if you want a number, look at the Gini coefficient of income inequality in the the Anglo countries since Reagan/Thatcher. Or intra-US income distribution. The statistics which Oliver Stone wrote into the “Wall Street” screenplay in 1987 are now even more skewed, as shown by US govt. figures.

    Hence in order for you to achieve your aims, it will be necessary for nukies stuck in the Harvard Business School jargon which has infected the Anglosphere since 1980 to take a backroom,. i.e. advisory seat to persons who are more trustworthy.

    It was very noticeable in the March Melbourne IQ2 debate video, currently stored at ABC Fora, that 2 of the 3 pro-NPP side were identifiably in the managerial class, linguistically speaking. They evinced the language of company reports and mission statements. In AU, Don Watson has written about such people.

    I suspect that the heavy anti-NPP audience vote after that debate may be due in part to what I have outlined above.

  386. Yes, thats right Peter. We’re all evil neocon managers here. Whatever gets you through the day, man. Can we talk about energy now?

    Now excuse while I go and grind the faces of the working poor into the ashes of their broken dreams.

  387. @Morgan: Your Rhetoric 1 results:

    for para. 1: you use hyperbole in sentence 1 and impute mental illness/weakness to me in sentence 2 , i.e. ad hominem tactic

    Grade: Satisfactory.

    for para 2: you mix two metaphors (ashes, broken dreams) For “ashes” read “shards” or “splinters”, as ashes are the end product of combustion and not of breakage.

    Grade: Fail.

    Examiner’s Comment:
    The candidate shows promise but must work hard on subjects outside his chosen number-based specialisms. Bedtime perusal of other than technical DIY manuals and P&L statements is recommended.

  388. I can easily see us losing another two to four decades because of their ability to win over the population to their belief by scaring the hell out of them

    That .. and the dream of a world powered solely by sunbeams and an accompanying stiff breeze.

  389. so Peter Lalor: do you view nuclear power more favorably than you used to, its associations with corporations, technocracy and professional managerial classes aside?

    You are right about “progressives” associating nuclear power with concentrated power: talk about metaphors!! concentrated wealth and power become associated with hi energy density. Radiation (decay) from nukes is associated with corporate decay. very powerful, unfortunately.

    so folks like us should prize apart these associations.

  390. btw, peter Lalor, the u.s. tea party is what we leftists in the u.s. call “right wing populism.”

    they de facto support the rich and powerful but understand themselves to be opposed to the rich and powerful–who, in their view, are government liberal elites and leftist professors.

    their view of business is small business, ala “joe the plumber,” if you followed any of the u.s. political pop culture. They see themselves as anti-corporatist, which is why they like to paint hitler moustaches on Obama: he represents to them the nexus of Wall Street and big government (with a good bit of 1890s, Jim Crow “Negro Domination” thrown in–thus right wing populist Glenn Beck’s comment that Obama hates white people).

  391. Of course back in the days of tall ships if the winds weren’t favourable to set sail the crew would be in the nearest tavern.

    I think it occasionally happened that the winds, and subsequently the crews, died.

    I have outlined how tall, wide heaps of iron oxide — but much less wide than the associated mirror arrays — could deliver solar power on all the coldest midnights of the year. When the sun is high and focusable, reduce magnetite (Fe3O4) to wüstite (FeO); when power is wanted, reoxidize the wüstite.

    One cannot know for sure, but I think if we had grown up on a planet where nothing at all would burn, we still would have got around to experimenting with mirrors made from silver plate, or electrum, and would have got solar fire into our hands that way. (Ow.)

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  392. This is getting a long way from energy, or any topic I really care to spend my time reading.  Hope you don’t mind if I drop out here, as I’ve got a major blog post to revisit and (finally) put up.

  393. You’d think that other civilisations would need to discover a built up store of energy to propel them quickly in terms of population and technical development. Thus industrial humans have had 300 years or so to exploit fossil fuel that had accumulated over 0.5 bn years. I’d liken it to some fleas discovering a fresh dog. After breeding like crazy the fleas realise the dog isn’t as healthy as it once was. There may not be another dog to jump over to.

    The thing about long stored carbon fuels coupled with an oxygen rich atmosphere is that the net energy after late fuel harvesting is very high. It may be hard to replicate that with other chemical systems.

  394. Pingback: The 21st century nuclear renaissance is starting – good news for the climate « BraveNewClimate

  395. Pingback: Scenarios for nuclear electricity to 2060 – Context « BraveNewClimate

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