Open Thread 4

Time for a new Open Thread (the last one has more than 500 comments and is about to spool off the end of the BNC frontpage).

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the broad theme of the blog (climate change, sustainability, energy, etc.). You can also find this thread by clicking on the Open Thread category on the left sidebar.

One point of interest for possible discussion. Dr. Eric P. Loewen is Chief Consulting Engineer, Advanced Plants, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas. He was recently profiled in the excellent Esquire article “Meet the man who could end global warming“. Last week, Eric gave testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate. You can read his 8-page written testimony, Advancing Technology for Nuclear Energy, here. His presentation was followed by a Q&A session with senators, and is well worth checking out (video, with Eric’s presentation starting at 106 minutes [Steven Chu also presents, at 40 min]).

Eric has previously briefed Congress on GEH’s “Generation IV” PRISM reactor technology — a commercial blueprint for the Integral Fast Reactor.

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718 Comments

  1. Scott @ 4 May 2010 at 22.22
    You make an excellent point and ask a very important question:

    I was looking at this study:

    http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-update2009.pdf

    ‘With the risk premium and without a carbon emission charge, nuclear is more expensive than either coal (without sequestration) or natural gas (at 7$/MBTU). If this risk premium can be eliminated, nuclear life cycle cost decreases from 8.4¢ /kWe-h to 6.6 ¢/kWe-h and becomes competitive with coal and natural gas, even in the absence of carbon emission charge.”

    What is the risk premium, and how is it eliminated?

    This is outside my area of expertise, so my comments below are layman’s comments.

    The investor risk premium is that the electricity must be sold for to attract sufficient investment. The investors need a higher return to invest in nuclear than in coal because they perceive a number of higher risks in nuclear. The MIT study you linked to outs the investor risk premium at 26% (from memory)

    The most significant risk is sovereign risk. In effect that means the community will change its mind about nuclear power some time during the operating life of the plant and change the return on investment, and/or the risk that the investors may not recovering their capital. A very good example of this risk has been discussed on the BNC web site. In this discussion some commenters argued that we should simply shut down the dirty coal power stations and we do not need to compensate the investors because they should have seen this coming for a long time. In fact, Senator Bob Brown, Leader of the Australia Greens Party, argues exactly that point. And many within our Labor Party agree with Bob Brown on this. So this adds to the risk for the investors, and they demand a higher return if we want them to invest.

    What is the risk premium, and how is it eliminated?

    The MIT study you linked to estimated the investor risk premium is 26% (from memory) for nuclear power in the USA. I expect it would be significantly higher in Australia because we don’t have any nuclear power yet.

    How can it be eliminated? Here are some thoughts:

    1. Remove all the legislation that is biased against nuclear.

    2. Make it clear that if there is a change of the laws or regulation that will have a detrimental effect on the finances of the plant, at any time during the operating life of the plant, fair compensation will be paid.

    3. Pass laws that will prevent public disruption during construction

    4. Pass laws to shorten the site selection and approvals process to the extent possible

    5. Remove all policy, legal and regulatory impediments to nuclear which bias investors against nuclear.

    6. Replace “Renewable Energy Targets” with “Clean Energy Targets”

    7. Remove all requirements that require nuclear to be much safer than the main technologies that are direct competitors of nuclear (e.g. coal, Coal with CCS).

    8. Public to carry the equivalent investment risks that they carry for other technologies. Examples are: 1) subsidies to pay the premium involved with the initial builds in a country; 2) risk of catastrophic accident. Note that the community carries that risk with all our chemical plants and shipments, and our government has recently told the Carbon Capture and Storage proponents that the government will carry all the risks of leakages. The community needs to carry the equivalent risks for nuclear if we want to remove the investor risk premium?

    9. Establish a mechanism to allow generators to challenge any regulation that is causing one generator type to have an unfair advantage over any other generator type. The purpose is to facilitate development of a level playing field and then to maintain it. This should help to remove the investor risk premium.

    More at: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

  2. What are the imposts on nuclear energy and how could they be removed if we really want to move to low-cost, clean, safe electricity.

    Most if not all states have laws against building nuclear plants on their soil (the ANSTO facility is technically in the ACT, and Gorton aimed to construct the first Australian nuclear power plant at Jervis Bay to get around related issues). Perhaps write into the nuclear power enabling legislation that any state government which overturns its anti-nuclear laws obstructing plant construction gets a cut of the tax revenue from the plant (nuclear plants are heavily taxed in various places around the world and survive fleecing). That may soften opposition at the state level considerably.

  3. Finrod,
    once again we see the redundancy of even having States in a country like Australia that only has 21 million people. In any issue, whether nuclear power or water management or almost anything Australia has multiple, unnecessary, time wasting and expensive multiplication of legislation.

    There are simply some issues that we should tackle at the national level, and if nuclear power can be as cheap, sustainable, and safe as you say, then we need to have this debate at the National level.

  4. once again we see the redundancy of even having States in a country like Australia that only has 21 million people. In any issue, whether nuclear power or water management or almost anything Australia has multiple, unnecessary, time wasting and expensive multiplication of legislation.

    I agree, but do not underestimate the tenacity and resourcefulness of a powerful established institution
    fighting for its existence. Best to assume that the states will be an issue.

  5. An insight into the non-likelihood of business-as-usual is this assessment of China’s looming domestic coal peak
    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/52684
    Australian coal exports cannot make up the shortfall, nor that of India. The author bravely says we must ramp up renewables.

    I suspect the the conjunction of global peak oil, north Asia peak coal and regional water issues (too much, too little) could reframe perceptions of everything. For a while gas will look like the knight in shining armour until it too starts running out earlier than expected.

  6. This is the sort of local community level energy conference and festival nuclear advocates should be involved with:

    Only if you have a hankering to be run out of town on a rail.

  7. Hmmm my birthday is June 7 … maybe I could talk my partner into going …

    Good luck with that, but I looked at the links and got the distinct impression that this was an event of the opposition. Far better, I believe, to build up our own community of supporters.

  8. Far better, I believe, to build up our own community of supporters.

    I don’t think the two approaches are incompatible. Being present at these events is a way to build up our community of supporters. And I don’t like giving the opposition completely clear air to sell their story.

    However, in Bellingen there is the distinct risk of the tar and the feathers.

  9. Had a good conversation with an investor relations guy at a US nuclear services firm I have shares in. He told me something pretty interesting.

    The industry is now trying to standardize the manufacture of nuclear equipment and installation specs down to 4 types. This should help a lot with scaling and standardization thereby costs etc.

    This is really great news.

  10. What is the position of Australian utility companies on the development of nuclear assets?

    I was reading through this article cited a while back by Peter Lang, which describes the ownership of Australian electricity generation assets, and it prompted the following questions:

    Which operator is best placed to commission a nuclear reactor? Two thirds of assets are government owned (2009), and one assumes the government would have to lead a rollout – Peter Lang has spoken of a body in the style of the Snowy Mountains Authority.

    Have any of our current operators expressed an interest in pursuing NP if it were an option?

    Have any done any analysis?

    Do any of our current operators have experience with NP elsewhere?

    Have any new entrant Australian companies expressed interest in entering the market as a nuclear plant owner?

    Have any overseas utilities or reactor manufacturers expressed any interest in the Australian market?

    Is it useful to be lobbying the utilities, along with other political levels?

    I couldn’t count how many times I’ve read in online discussions about the powerful nuclear industry lobby pushing for Australian NP. I doubt it exists, but if it does, I’d like to know about it.

  11. John Morgan,

    I’ll offer a few random comments:

    1. Keith Orchison writes for the Australian. He was a journalist, then head of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, then head of the Electricity Supply Association (when it was called that). For the 1993 election the Coalition’s policy was to allow the market to decide. All federal laws and regulations preventing nuclear in Australia would be removed under a Coalition Government. Keith Orchison said none of the ESAA utilities would be prepared to put their hands up to support nuclear. However, it should be noted that Keith Orchison has never been a supporter of nuclear. He is an oil man.

    2. The Australian electricity industry is very conservative. They know coal. From a technical and estimating point of view it is low risk. So they do not favour change because it increases engineering and project cost risk.

    3. ESAA has looked at nuclear and the costs, and I expect they keep up to date. I am out of date, but here is a reference comparing costs and emissions:
    http://www.esaa.com.au/images/stories//energyandemissionsstudystage2.pdf
    http://www.esaa.com.au/images/stories//07_3_08_pm_taskforce_issues_paper.pdf . Notice the heading “Need for investor confidence”

    4. If NSW does not privatise its generation assets (which it is intent on doing) it could lead the way (except that it is broke!!). NSW is in desperate need of new baseload capacity.

    5. “Is it useful to be lobbying the utilities, along with other political levels?” The utilities will not put their hands up until there is a signal from governments that it is OK to do so. They are totally under the thumb of government policy and wont rock the boat.

    6. The lead has to come from the politicians. And they will not take nuclear seriously until there is a significant level of support in the community. I believe the key is to get ACF to change its policy to being pro-nuclear. ACF could turn this around in a flash. So could Bob Brown. So could the PM and the Labor cabinet (although they may have left it too late for this year, unless they tie it together with a new approach to reducing Australia’s GHG emissions). I say to Greens and Labor – don’t even mention Carbon Tax or CPRS while you ban nuclear energy. To do so is extreme hypocrisy and you cannot be taken seriously about Climate Change while you have a ban on nuclear.

  12. Wouldn’t it be cool if GE-Hitachi posted the contents of their Compendium of S-PRISM Information on the Internet? Then we would get to know what they know without spin. The Compendium of S-PRISM Information is no doubt considered proprietary even though most of the information was paid for by the United States tax payers, and was obtained by GE-Hitatchi by looking over the shoulders of of National Laboratory Researchers. In fact accounts suggests that Eric P. Loewen is heavily lobbying the United States Congress. Lobbying them for what, you might ask. Lobbying for Congress to pay for more iFR research at Argonne National Laboratory. Lobbying for an IFR prototype, no doubt to be built at INL. And guess what, that prototype would be the exact twin of the GE-Hitachi S PRISM.

  13. Finrod wrote me a few hours ago pointing out yet another NEI post that seems to give wind a free ride. He also left a stinging comment on NEI Nuclear Notes about it. However I see that the very next article posted today, again almost blatantly suppots wind farms.

    I have this illustration of why wind will never, ever be a significant technology for electric generation.

    Hydro Québec is the one of the largest generators of electricity in the world. Other than one NPP, three gas peaking plants, and a legacy oil burner that is kept to back up the NPP if it went down, (yet hasn’t been run in years) the overwhelming majority of the generation is from hydro.

    Ten years ago Hydro Québec embarked on a program to build enough wind generation to produce 10% of its total capacity.

    Quebec has superb wind resources mostly along the shores of the Saint Lawrence estuary as the wind is pumped into that region by the Gulf Stream. It also has an existing network of transmission lines serving these areas, and a great deal of hydro to back wind up. In fact the synergy on paper looks ideal. Many of the older hydro stations cannot supply full power late in the season, due to low water inventories , and must be frugal at that time until snow melt replenishes their reservoirs. Coupled with wind however these plants could save water and thus have a longer period of full operation. it looked like a green marriage made in heaven.

    The logic was undeniable – so unfortunately is the reality.

    Because this project was in house, the planners did not have to inflate numbers, nor is Hydro Québec inexperienced with large projects. The company is in many ways, the darling of the Provence as it represents French Canada’s ticket to sit at the table with the big boys, and be taken seriously. Thus they were not prepared for the backlash from communities that were to host these wind farms.

    In one community after another the project has sparked conflict . Three have already been canceled due to local opposition, and several more are facing demands for referendums, or injunctions. Worse the installed wind turbines, in wind parks in the uninhabited parts of the Gaspée region, were producing only a few percentages of what the original wind surveys had predicted, in fact new figures suggest that far from generating a tenth of Hydro Québec’s generation, the full project would likely contribute 2-4%.

    Now in a scathing 158-page report by commissioner Lucie Bigué, of Québec’s environmental review agency which was made public Friday slammed the project hard for shutting local residents out of the planning process, damaging the environment by altering the landscape in violation of the province’s sustainable-development law, and expressed serious doubts over the project’s economic benefits.

    The point here is that this was not a project run by fanatical Greens, or by a group out to harvest subsidies, or as as greenwash for natural gas. This is one of the word’s leading generating utilities, with a long list of successes doing huge projects under its belt. One wonders if they can’t make a go of it, who can?

  14. Oh and be careful what you ask for. Canada went through a protracted struggle over increased centralization of power in federal government in the 80′s and it damned near tore the country in half.

    Proceed with caution

  15. @ Charles Barton – Le bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement de Québec doesn’t translate its reports into English ever. This is simply because it is a report to the government that works in French, and the expense of a official-grade translation is very high, due to the verification process. Sorry.

  16. Oh and be careful what you ask for. Canada went through a protracted struggle over increased centralization of power in federal government in the 80′s and it damned near tore the country in half.

    Proceed with caution

    Yeah, Western Australia does occasionally mutter in its sleep about seccession, and they are probably the one part of the country currently showing a profit. I suppose a proposal to abolish the states could be seen in a poor light by them.

  17. I wonder if the existence of States tends to entrench the burning of local fossil fuels, be it brown coal, black coal, natural or coal seam gas. I would think each State aims to achieve a high measure of local self sufficiency in electrical generation, whereas that notion never arose with transport fuels.

    Take the case of new baseload in NSW. The sea changers won’t permit coastal nuclear and their coal seam gas is presumably not as abundant as Qld. Their best option would appear to be supercritical coal with 20% lower CO2. Alternatively they could build IGCC and pretend it is ‘carbon capture ready’. Either way it is still high emitting from the word go.

    Now if States didn’t exist the area formerly-known-as-NSW could get nuclear power via low loss transmission from thousands of kilometres away. Put all the NPPs on god forsaken stretches of coastline because we’re all one big State now. Assuming the new central government was sufficiently astute we could save both bureaucratic costs and CO2.

  18. Another discussion for the Open Thread:

    New Claims that Biochar could suck up VAST quantities of Co2 and return the earth to safe atmospheric Co2 within our lifetimes.

    Bruges freely acknowledges the potential risks but claims that they’re acceptable considering the urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. And he makes a compelling case that this could be done using biochar. He takes heart from the following two calculations by Craig Sams, a former chairman of the U.K.’s Soil Association: first, that devoting all of the world’s productive land to biochar production would return atmospheric CO2 to pre-industrial levels (280 ppm) within just a year; and, second, that giving a mere 2.5 percent of the world’s productive land over to biochar production would bring CO2 to pre-industrial levels by 2050. The first of these scenarios obviously isn’t a viable option, since it would leave us no land for growing our food. However, Bruges shows that the second scenario is easily doable, in light of a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showing that an additional 4 billion acres could be added to the world’s existing 3.5 billion acres of cropland.

  19. John Newlands,

    We don’t want our “NPPs on god forsaken stretches of coastline” because of the higher cost. It is not just the transmission cost. There is also the higher construction cost and higher the operating cost of building far from a population centre. There is also a loss of value to the community if it is far away because reduced educational value. This applies to both the general community and to nuclear engineering students and researchers. I’d argue that we should build our first batch of NPPs near the population centres. Let’s take on the education program at the start and get past it. Otherwise the NIMBY problems will be stronger for longer – for decades.

    What we need is Rudd to lead. ACF could be a key catalyst if they would change their position. We need a coop in the ACF!!

  20. Charles Barton, @ 6 May 2010 at 22.22

    I support governments paying for research. What you seem to be criticising for S-PRISM is what we’ve been doing for wind and solar for decades. After all, the wind advocates like Mark Diesendorf and Mark Jacobson and solar advocates like David Mills and are funded by the tax payer for all their research and advocacy. So the same should apply for research into nuclear power.

    However, the proportion of research funds granted for each type of technology should be in proportion to the likely return on investment from that technology. After all, this is applied research, not fundamental research.

    What I object to is tax payer subsidies for production. This is the government picking winners. Examples are ‘mandatory renewable energy targets’, subsidies for installations of RE like solar panels, and feed in tariffs.

  21. John Morgan @ May 2010 at 20.27
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-63300

    Which operator is best placed to commission a nuclear reactor? Two thirds of assets are government owned (2009), and one assumes the government would have to lead a rollout – Peter Lang has spoken of a body in the style of the Snowy Mountains Authority.

    The issue of whether government or private sector should own and operate our first fleet of NPPs is an interesting, and important topic for discussion.

    Option 1 – Public Ownership

    One option is government owned and operated as we did with the Snowy Mountains scheme. That was a brilliantly managed project. It was managed by Sir William Hudson, a brilliant engineer, leader, and politically astute (for the times). The Snowy Mountains Authority designed everything, managed the bidding and letting of all contracts for equipment purchases and construction, and supervised all the work. They commissioned and operated all the facilities. The SMA, with Hudson’s brilliant leadership, did an enormous amount of research and publishing of the results in peer reviewed journals. One tiny example is the research they did to try to revegetate damaged areas and minimise the damage to the environment. And all this was begun in the 1950’s, half a century ahead of the public’s awareness of such issues.

    However, I am not sure whether it would be possible to repeat such a feat in the days of ‘open democracy, and everyone has to have their say on every decisions and how it should be managed’. Sir William Hudson was a dictator. He had a 25 year vision. And he implemented that vision. Could we do that today? I don’t think so. Any leader of his calibre, operating in a public sector environment, reporting to politicians, would be pulled down by the Australian public within 3 to 5 years.

    Another problem with public ownership is the funding of the program. If it is funded from general revenue, taxes will have to increase, and that is unlikely to be possible. Another alternative is government infrastructure bonds. In my ignorance about this option, it seems like a reasonable possibility.

    A third problem is the inefficiency of the public sector. The difference between efficiency in the public and private sectors now is far greater than it was during the 1950’s to 1970’s. Looking at our public sector throughout Australia, I have no confidence that they could take on a project even 1% the size of what would be required to roll out NPPs in Australia.

    Fourth problem: which level of government would run this? The SMA was run by the federal government. The justification was national defence. However, NSW and Victoria agreed with it and agreed not to challenge in court. It was recognised that the scheme was illegal and would be thrown out if challenged. I doubt we could repeat this arrangement.

    Despite the above, public ownership is one viable route to build our first NPPs. Each state would probably have to runs its own program, so massive duplication.

    Option 2 – Private ownership

    What about private ownership. I suspect this is the most likely route. This is my vision:

    1. The states agree to transfer the necessary powers to the Commonwealth Government to regulate the NPPs, and to coordinate as much as possible of the program. This could be justified on the basis of the powers in our construction to do with managing the environment – these are constitutional powers the Bob Hawke Labor Government used to stop the hydro plants being built in Tasmania in the 1980’s.

    2. The Commonwealth and states will cooperate to repeal laws and regulations that are anti-nuclear or in anyway disadvantage nuclear compared with other generators.

    3. The Commonwealth and states will pass laws that will have the effect of removing as much as possible of the investor uncertainty involved with investing in nuclear in Australia. The intention is to remove the investor risk premium involved with investing in nuclear compared with other technologies

    4. The Commonwealth and states will cooperate to agree a common set of site selection processes, and to facilitate the application of these.

    5. The Commonwealth will fund educational facilities in each mainland capital city. Research will be largely focused on how best to implement least cost low emissions electricity in Australia, as opposed to trying to reinvent the wheel with ne nuclear power plant designs. A large part of achieving the least cost solution will be social engineering. Another way of putting this is “How do we enlighten the public about civil nuclear energy?” What are the costs and benefits. What does it mean to the average Australian and to the tax payer. How does low-cost, clean electricity translate into what is important to the average person.

    6. Once the go ahead is given to allow nuclear to compete, and the rules are clear, then generator companies (AGL, Origin Energy, etc – see list of generator companies here: http://www.aer.gov.au/content/item.phtml?itemId=732297&nodeId=797fa2c37535f919f67fa34dc4970e13&fn=Chapter%201%20%20Electricity%20generation.pdf ) will compete to win approval to provide the most suitable and least cost electricity plant to meet the requirements. The AEMO “Statement of Opportunities” (SOO) report http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/planning.html states the up coming opportunities for investment in generating capacity.

    7. The companies fund the construction themselves by offering equity and debt to investors. The company then operates the NPP or sells it to others to operate. Investors collect their return on investment and buy and sell the investments like any other investment

    8. The Australian nuclear regulatory authority regulates the operation.

    9. The Commonwealth and states will accept the component of the risk of major accidents that is better carried by the public than by the owner operator. Ziggy Switkowski spoke about this in his recent debate with Bob Brown at the National Press Club.

    10. The commonwealth and states will contribute funding towards the first few projects. This is justifiable and is consistent with what we do for other new technologies. We are massively funding solar and wind power projects. Furthermore, it is fair that the community contributes towards unwinding the additional costs of nuclear that the community has caused by its 40+ years of adding irrational requirements. We have caused the costs to be far higher than they should be. If we want them cheaper now, then we’ll have to assist to unwind what we have caused.

  22. Peter Lang, in many cases the American Government via the National Renewable Energy Laboratory acts as a conduit for “research” that has its origins in the Renewables industries lobbying arm. Needless to say, such research has often been filtered to remove information that conflicts renewable industry lobby goals. If GE-Hitatchi really believes in the S PRISM as a marketable concept, and the IFR is the slam dunk it is claimed, GE-Hitatchi should be prepared to pay for the research. Part of what I object to about GE-Hitatchi behavior, is that they are probably withholding cost information which they must have studied. Are GE-Hitatchi cost estimates an important factor in determining whether more IFR research should be paid for by the US government? You bet ya. If GE-Hitatchi, which is after all a Japanese, not an American business, wants US tax payers to pay for their research, at the very least, we need to know what sort of profit they – the Japanese – expect to make from this gift by the American taxpayers.

  23. Peter Lang – There may be a third option for a country like Australia, which is to have your first NPP built, paid for and operated by an off-shore organization or consortium to to which you will offer a guaranteed price for power and a tax holiday for say twenty years, as long as they engage in transferring technology to local companies.

  24. Out-of-sight out-of-mind power generation is already a winner. Tasmania’s Bell Bay aluminium smelter and the Hobart zinc electrorefinery are now dependent on brown coal power sent through the underwater Basslink HVDC cable. There’s even talk of a new silicon refinery. The locals can say with a straight face that the island is Clean and Green because there are no coal fired power stations to be seen, ignoring the large cement works. I guess the 2 tonnes a year of peat used in making whiskey can be regarded as biofuel.

    Therefore someone using their air conditioner in say Byron Bay NSW may not have their sensibilities offended if much of the electricity was generated by nuclear power on the Nullarbor desert coast. Perhaps they might even pay a bit extra for the cost of new transmission.

    Speaking of peat I don’t much care for biochar as a mitigation strategy. It is hard to measure whether it is new CO2 absorption as opposed to letting the plant matter just lie in the fields or forest without human intervention. OTOH we can be a lot more certain of the amount of CO2 that is no longer emitted when a coal fired power station is retired.

  25. @ John,
    I agree with you re: retiring coal, but having a go at biochar along those lines is a straw-man.

    Western Industrial Agriculture kills soils dead, period. They may as well be cotton wool that we spray stuff onto to force the seeds to grow.

    Biochar reverses that by adding a ‘coral reef of the soil’ in which microorganisms and various fungi can live, nutrients can be retained, some nitrogen is fixed and water more effiicently used. In other words, if the soil is already dead due to Industrial Agriculture, why not use the agriwaste to bring the soil back to life?

    Talk about constructing a straw-man!

    Not only that, the biochar reduces the need for nitrogen fertiliser by about a third (which reduces the energy required for making nitrogen fertiliser) AND it fixes a lot of the nitrous oxides in the soil, preventing a greenhouse gas escaping which is 300 times more powerful than Co2.

    With a handful of biochar you can keep many more nutrients in the soil than with a handful of mulch or compost. It is like mopping up nutrients with a magnet that looks like a sponge—that is, it has high surface area like a sponge but can attract a thin layer of material like a magnet,” Lehmann says.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2007/apr/black-gold-of-the-amazon/article_view?b_start:int=3&-C=

    So mate, I do like biochar as a mitigation strategy. A lot.

  26. A new post on my blog:

    http://channellingthestrongforce.blogspot.com/2010/05/mining-of-nuclear-fuel.html

    Please note that my purpose in putting these posts on my blog and subsequently drawing peoples attention to them is neither to prove how wonderfully clever I am, nor how boneheadedly stupid. I intend for them to be pages on the Nucleus 92 website, and therefore hope to get some constructive criticism before the website is set up. If anyone sees any mistakes or has any criticisms, please give me some feedback.

  27. Luke, thank you for this. Can you or someone tell me why it will take until 2013 to get to full power.

    I guess we couldn’t call this type of plant a “load follower” then :)

  28. Luke,

    A couple of reaction to that article you posted:

    1. All the action on Gen IV is in Asia and Russia. Seems the ‘developed countries’ are lagging the ‘developing countriies’.

    2. The concern of Japan’s population to this plant, and the liklihood that there will be problems with it and other Gen IV plants from time to time as they are developed and mature, indicates that it is going to be very difficult to get Gen IV up and running quickly.

  29. The concern of Japan’s population to this plant, and the liklihood that there will be problems with it and other Gen IV plants from time to time as they are developed and mature, indicates that it is going to be very difficult to get Gen IV up and running quickly.

    Perhaps, but not necessarily. The ‘concern’ may be an artifact of journalism reporting activist rhetoric, rather than a genuine deeply-held fear of the Japanese people.

  30. Some Japanese people are concerned about Monju not because it is a Generation IV reactor, but simply because it had a technical problem and was shut down for some years.

    Take any reactor of any kind, LWR or whatever, and if it experiences a well-publicised technical breakdown – even if it has zero impact on anyone’s health or on the environment – and is shut down for some time, this will fuel anti-nuclear activism.

  31. Peter Lang, thank you for the extensive history lesson and forward view.

    I agree with you that support from the ACF, or another peak environmental group, would be a turning point. I’m very much looking forward to a recounting of Barry and Ian Lowe’s mutual interrogation. And very pleased that Ian has agreed to conduct the debate under those rules. For someone with intellectual integrity its very hard to hide from that method of questioning.

    My fear about the existing environmental groups is that they could lose a big chunk of their budgets from defections if they went nuclear. ACF draws 90% of its income from supporters, so is quite vulnerable. The Total Environment Centre, on the other hand, is a bit more diverse: donations (30%), philanthropic trusts (25%), independent projects financed by government (25%), events (10%) and bequests (10%). Maybe they could handle the transition better. They don’t have much of a history of antinuclear activism in their campaigns.

    Regardless, the antinuclear end of the environmental movement will be a millstone. Having at least one such group expressing support for nuclear power would really be a great help.

    I like your roadmap for the private ownership option – not for ideological reasons, but because I acknowledge the public sector difficulties you raise. This option places the project management, construction and operation with organizations that will have done it before. It also presumably would only require one state plus the Commonwealth to be “in”.

    One more observation on your document I referenced – I noticed SA has 20% capacity share in wind. This is about the penetration at which I would expect grid integration problems to start to manifest. Has there been any evidence of this?

    After my post last evening I went off to hospital with a spider bite. Much cutting and slicing and iv drugs and drips. Following your responses here on a phone was a rather pleasant diversion. Cheers, -j.

  32. John Morgan,

    Sorry to hear about the spider bite. That can be really nasty, or worse. Hope you recover OK and this isn’t going to cause you any other problems. Your highest priority should be to keep contributing here. Work and family way down the list :)

    I understand about the source of funding for ACF (and similar constraints prevent Greenpeace from being honest too). The reason I hope for ACF is that they have an important presence in Australia, don’t have to worry about donors from other countries (to the same extent as the international NGOs), have the most influence of any of the environment NGO’s with the Federal Government (ands the Opposition), they are seen as being more reasonable to sensible constructive compromise for the sake of getting real outcomes than Greenpeace, WWF etc.

    I am just hoping they can find a way to perhaps keep most of their members, and gain more than they lose, by proposing a rational solution to cutting Australia’s GHG emissions. I have sent ACF sensible suggestions previously, and their nuclear rep. called me. But he simply trotted out their beliefs, repeated all the anti-nuclear tripe, quoted Mark Diesendorf and Ian Lowe, and made masses of nonsense statements. So I gave up. I could not get through to him.

    I am hoping that the Barry Ian Lowe debate could actually turn into something that might leave Ian Lowe considering his position. It’s hard to believe that is possible, but you just never know. Mark Diesendorf would never change his mind. He is one of those absolutely closed minded zealots. So he’d have to be sidelined by ACF on nuclear matters, if they were to change policy. Surely it must be possible if the arguments are as clear and rational as we are convinced they are.

    To me, if ACF can’t find a way to reverse its policy on nuclear, then I believe it is more interested in members and rhetoric than in honestly finding a way to reduce emissions (of all types).

    Regarding SA’s wind energy and the problems it is causing them. The problems started in about 2006 (from memory) when a sudden drop in wind across all the wind farms caused a loss of 600MW of power in a very short interval. The loss could not be made up by the existing SA generators nor by the interstate connectors to Victoria and NSW. (I am writing all this from memory but have the charts somewhere.). The problem caused real problems in Victoria as well as SA and something significant happened to the inter-connector. I can’t recall the details. It may have tripped out.

    Another case happened just recently (there have been many other examples in between). I’ll have a look for the AEMO report on the recent event.

    I think if SA wants so much wind power they should be separated off into an island, like Tasmania, and moved down closer to Antarctica. We’d just need a bit of geoengineering of plate tectonics to send them off to where they would prefer to be – ie where there is more wind. :)

  33. I’ll be surprised if an in person debate between Lowe and Brook would lead to any sensible, intellectually respectable outcome with respect to Lowe’s position – if such a thing were possible, we would probably see evidence of it in the printed debate in the book – and we don’t.

    It’s all just the same old rhetoric and fluff instead of facts, evidence and critical thinking. Lowe knows that this kind of nonsense would not last five minutes in academic and scientific discourse – so why do his standards seemingly slip so much when dealing with writing books for the public and speaking to public audiences?

  34. Luke Weston – You touch on something that has bothered me for a long time: why is it that well educated, otherwise reasonable people, reject nuclear energy as a solution to many of the world’s emerging problems?

    Having spent my career in the commercial (as opposed to academic) milieu, I am familiar with this sort of behavior only when it is a symptom of the influence of some other agenda. I don’t approve of this, however I have been around long enough to understand it, and when it has been necessary, I know how to counter it.

    In the case of those with a nominal background in the sciences, not engaged in business, the motivations for rejecting the obvious is not that clear. I can sympathize with those like myself that won’t extend an opinion on a topic because they have not studied it in sufficient depth. What I cannot see is why anyone would examine the available facts and then continue to repeat the same falsehoods that those facts should have destroyed.

    Clearly too, in most of these cases, the individual in question is playing to the ignorant, since there is rarely any effort to back their erroneous assertions by new information or novel interpretations, and thus present an argument to their peers.

    Based on these observations, I am forced to conclude that indeed there is some hidden agenda at work, and I would be very interested to find out just what that is.

  35. John Morgan, on 7 May 2010 at 17.15 — Integrating wind becomes problematic as soon as there is enough that it can no longer be considered as simply negative load. Around here that seems to be at about 1% of total grid capacity.

    And also here in the PNW the limiting factor of wind is hydro backup. That maxs out at 20% wind in the total mix. After that (if ev er reached) something like CCGT backup will be required; not clear that is economic.

  36. Hey guys. First post here. Thanks Mr. Brook, Tom Blees, and everyone else who contributes here. Good stuff.

    Here’s my question. I’m currently enrolled in a business school here in the states that would describe itself as being one of the leaders in ‘sustainable business.’ It’s a wonderful school, but as you might imagine, there is a lot of opposition to nuclear power here. I’m doing my best to present an argument for nuclear power and raise awareness that renewables and efficiency cannot meet the world’s energy needs, but some questions are arising that are beyond my knowledge base. I’ve only read Tom’s book and a number or articles on this site. Maybe someone here can help me out with these questions. It would be greatly appreciated.

    Here are a few questions I’ve been asked.

    If markets are reasonably efficient and nuclear is such a good idea, why won’t anyone in the private sector come near it?

    My initial thought is the political sentiment here in the US. We still have a lot of people that are irrationally against nuclear power and a lot of those people are in positions of power.

    It seems to me that with little capital or insurance available, there is a very strong message being sent by the markets that sheds light on the financial viability and risk factors.

    My response to this is that financial viability and risk factors are related to older reactors, not gen III and IV.

    Why do we have to offer an $8 BILLION loan guarantee for a single project? Holy smokes, what is the opportunity cost of that vs., say, investing in efficiency?

    I don’t think this is an either or proposition. You can do both! And without any government loans or subsidies, we really would have any energy infrastructure at all!

    And, if it’s so safe, why would no insurance company, those who are in the business of actuarial assessment of risk, come near nuclear power? Logically, they would see that the risk is acceptable, and charge an appropriate premium and make a profit, right?

    Instead, we have the Price-Anderson act, which effectively places the physical and financial risk onto tax payers, which socializes risk, and privatizes reward yet again. With the guarantee, we take on the risk of loan default, again socializing business risk…

    Where are the capitalists? Is it only socialists who can build nuclear power?

    I appreciate very much any input you have to these questions.

  37. @Chris – Markets are reasonably efficient, when they are left to operate freely, nuclear energy has never had that opportunity, however once built, nuclear generating stations become very profitable investments.

    Regulatory delays, and thus the need to service debt long before they are making income is why private money needs guarantees. In effect they are just asking the government to assume that part of the risk that the govenment itself is creating.

    The Price-Anderson act, was designed to make nuclear energy look like it was terribly dangerous. Proper actuarial analysis shows that the risk from modern NPP is well below the level that private insurance would cover, IF again the government would re-examine policy

  38. Chris, on 8 May 2010 at 9.19 — I’m but an amateur at all this, so take it for what you think it worth.

    One problem with current designs is simply size. While bigger is probably better for operating efficiency, it means long planning, permitting and construction times at the (fewer and fewer) sites with lots of water for cooling. So the costs are high and with the long payback times, investors demand high premiums.

    So one possiblity to avoid some of those difficulties is to use mini-nuclear reactors. There are about 5–6 such designs in various stages of NRC approval; I’ll just link to one which appears to offer significant safety at a rather low cost:
    http://www.nuscalepower.com/

    Now recent construction, when all is said and done, for a 1.1GWe NPP seems to run around $10 billion; that’s close to $9000 per MWe. (others here will surely point to lower cost projects, but the costs in China simply are not applicable in the USA.) The advantage of min-NPPS is tahat the vendors think thay can install for only $3500–5000 per MWe.

    For comparison, a recently completed new coal burner in Arizona cost $4000 per MWe, so the mini-NPPs ought to be competative. We hope.

    Now I fully expect the pro-NPPers here come out blazing with both pistols. Probably they have better cost figures than I, but here are two useful links:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_cost_of_electricity_generated_by_different_sources
    http://energy-ecology.blogspot.com/2010/04/levelized-costs-of-electricity.html

    Fully absorb the information provided by the second link and you’ll know far more than I currently do.

    I’ll add that Peter Lang has a useful list of points regarding “fair” regulation of diffrent enrgy sources; overhauling the regulatory scheme will go far towards lowering NPP costs. Alternatively or better, in addition,, place a price of emitting carbon dioxide.

  39. David B. Benson – Yes coal is cheaper than nuclear energy, and that’s the end of the argument BECAUSE NOTHING ELSE MATTERS Right?

    Now that that’s settled we can all stop reading and posting here, because the world may be going to Hell in a hand-basket, what with shifting climate patterns, lack of fresh water, disappearance of forests and arable land, but there is nothing we can do about that, because burning coal is cheaper.

    Well that’s settled then.

  40. David B. Benson,

    None of the projects in the USA even approach $9000 per KWe. Virgil C. Summer is at $4500, and I believe the highest is at $6000 per kilowatt.

  41. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-63666

    Note to the Sage of Montreal (by the way, if your last comment equalled “taking the gloves off”, as you wrote, I can see why the Habs are not winning the Stanley Cup…I see you as out on the ice rather than in the sin bin )

    It is amusing that in the course of searching for the (natgas-financed?) Smoking Gun, you imply that Ian Lowe has a merely “nominal” science background. Look at his CV. The same holds for Diesendorf, M Jacobson, Canadian FOE consultant of the 70s and 80s Walt Patterson and any other science person who is anti-nuke. It seems literally inconceivable to nukies that anybody with a PhD in eg atomic physics, or who has worked as a nuclear engineer, could fail to be a nukie, but such people exist. And so one has to smear them as bought or zealot (P.Lang) . In your case, you described them as “morons” recently.

    Diesendorf’s apparent involvement in ecological economics (Herman Daly) gives a clue to what is going on, actually: the halo effect, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect.

    That is, the social attitudes/attributes/goals of nukies on all other conceivable unrelated topics are likely not to overlap much with those of anti-nukes, so we have a case of “one in, all in”, whereby mutual perceptions and hence the mutual credibility of both camps are coloured by the overarching halo effect. On BNC, there are apparently only a couple of exceptions (Laver, Meyerson). Conversely, the apparent approval of corporate apologist Hayden Manning on BNC at precisely the time that the US Supreme Court equated corporations as legal persons to natural ones was indeed impressive in a negative sense.

    One conclusion for the sake of dialogue would be that BNC contributors from rich-country Anglo nations should quit alleging that they have a monopoly of rationality, practicality, unzealotry, unideology, factualism and sanity. Because there is deep ideology ie preference for certain social goals and the language to match, on BNC at all times.

  42. David B Benson,

    You linked to a CSIRO report. I recall dismissing this report when it was released as being a highly political document promoting renewable energy. I’ve just had another scan through it and my view is confirmed. For just one example, look at page 45 (page 59 of 135 in the CSIRO’s on screen display) . http://earthhour.ice4.interactiveinvestor.com.au/CSIRO0702/The%20Heat%20Is%20On%20Report/EN/body.aspx?z=3&p=59&v=1&uid=

    Raed the two sections “Atomic Odysey” and “Clean Green Down Under” and compare them.

  43. Peter Lalor, you last showed up here suggesting coronal mass discharges would blow nuclear powered grids apart, or something. DV82XL explained to you that renewables were much more vulnerable to this sort of effect, so if this sort of thing is really of concern to you, you are now empowered to make a more informed decision.

    It would be polite of you to acknowledge the insight and thank him for his time. Then you can start in to your next round of trolling with a clean slate.

  44. @P. Lalor:
    That is, the social attitudes/attributes/goals of nukies on all other conceivable unrelated topics are likely not to overlap much with those of anti-nukes, so we have a case of “one in, all in”, whereby mutual perceptions and hence the mutual credibility of both camps are coloured by the overarching halo effect.

    You speak confidently of the proclivities of people you have never met. You may be in for a shock one of these days.

  45. @Finrod: I live in hope, having met any number of nukes and antis, and the answer to your view depends on country of residence, but so far the halo effect holds good in this area, sad to say.

    @Morgan: suggest to the Blog Owner that he set up a paywall, such that BNC comments are to be submitted against a nominal Paypal sum refundable in part once you yourself have ratified their desirability, debiting a percentage cut for your trouble.

  46. Chris

    Excellent questions. Here is a short response.

    If markets are reasonably efficient and nuclear is such a good idea, why won’t anyone in the private sector come near it?

    The reason ‘no one’ in the private sector will invest in nuclear is because of the investor risk premium. The governments, reflecting community distaste for nuclear for the past 40 odd years, have made nuclear a high risk for investors compared with coal, gas and renewables. Renewables are highly favoured by governments and community and have massive support (financial, media and political and public). Did you see this on investor risk premium: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-63239

    You might want to put a question to your friends: “Why are the same nuclear power stations being built in China for around a quarter the estimated cost of building them in USA?” The answer is that part of the cost is the higher labour cost for construction in USA. But most of the difference is the longer time for approvals and construction in the USA and especially the risks of further delays, and then the risk of public disruption or further rule changes once the investors have committed. None of that is a risk in China. Nor in Korea. Nor in Russia. It is a risk in Japan so nuclear is high cost in Japan too. And throughout Europe.

    It seems to me that with little capital or insurance available, there is a very strong message being sent by the markets that sheds light on the financial viability and risk factors.

    I think my first answer applies to this question.

    Why do we have to offer an $8 BILLION loan guarantee for a single project? Holy smokes, what is the opportunity cost of that vs., say, investing in efficiency?

    The first answer applies here too. But there is another aspect to consider. We (the public through our politicians) have spent 40 years requiring ever more stringent regulations on nuclear. The existing nuclear power plants, Gen II, that have been operating for the past 40 odd years, have demonstrated a safety record that is 10 to 100 times safer than coal (full life cycle). This has been demonstrated throughout the developed and developing world. This is ridiculously safe. Yet we are still not satisfied. We are still demanding more. That is a high risk and translates into $$$

    Now we have the choice. If we want to move to low cost, clean, safe electricity generation, we are going to have to pay to undo the damage caused by those who blocked nuclear for the past 40 years. We have to pay by helping to get NPPs started again. We have to contribute some funds so investors see the community has a stake in this as well as the investors. If we don’t want to put up some money as a catalyst to get the programs going again, we either have to pay much more for clean electricity or we keep burning coal.

    By the way, you cannot compare an $8 billion loan guarantee with money spent on efficiency. One is a guarantee to help give investors confidence. It is not ecpected to be spent, uncleas the public takes more irrational actions.

    This question also raises another issue: what can be actually achieved with energy efficiency is over stated. But that is another question. I and others have discussed this issue on other threads on the BNC web site.

    And, if it’s so safe, why would no insurance company, those who are in the business of actuarial assessment of risk, come near nuclear power? Logically, they would see that the risk is acceptable, and charge an appropriate premium and make a profit, right?

    DV82XL addressed this question in an earlier post. I’d just add that there are various types of risks and each risk should be carried by the stakeholder who is best able to manage that risk. Some of the risks should be carried by the public. If we want to try to shift those risks onto the NPP investors, then the cost will be prohibitive. It is impossible for the NPP owner to manage how the politicians and public will react to an incident. Just look at the reaction to some of the minor incidents. Nuclear incidents are blown out of all proportion. No insurance company can deal with that in a rational way. So the community has to carry the risk that it is best able to manage.

  47. And, if it’s so safe, why would no insurance company, those who are in the business of actuarial assessment of risk, come near nuclear power? Logically, they would see that the risk is acceptable, and charge an appropriate premium and make a profit, right?

    That is exactly what happens.

    There’s nothing terribly unusual about the relationship between the insurance industry and nuclear energy industry, this is simply another case of anti-nuclear activists talking outright nonsense.

    Have a look through the following:

    http://www.lloyds.com/News_Centre/Features_from_Lloyds/Insuring_a_nuclear_future_29082008.htm

    http://www.lloyds.com/News_Centre/Features_from_Lloyds/Insurance_market_prepares_for_new_era_of_nuclear_energy_05022008.htm

    http://www.nuclear-risk.com/

    The current issue of the Lloyds Market journal also has some more general analysis of insurance in the energy sector.

    http://www.lloyds.com/NR/rdonlyres/9A172BFD-9A23-4454-88C2-1D4625C65514/0/LloydsMarketMagazineIssue22010_v3.pdf

  48. Peter Lalor – only a fool takes a penalty in the offensive zone, and while I’m still not holding my breath so far in the play-offs, the Habs have dispatched the Washington Capitals, who finished the season in first place, and are even in the semi-final with Pittsburgh, the current holders of Lord Stanley’s Cup. (Mind you the “Canadians” are mostly players from Europe these days, but we will leave that for another time.)

    You write: “It seems literally inconceivable to nukies that anybody with a PhD in eg atomic(sic) physics, or who has worked as a nuclear engineer, could fail to be a nukie, but such people exist.”

    The clue is the quality of their arguments. I would suspect that people with the background to have studied the field in enough depth to understand that most of the standard objections to nuclear energy are ether without foundation, or have been properly answered, which is to say they have practical solutions. So I would think that if people that should be well informed objected to nuclear, they could table new reasons, based on new facts or novel interpretations of current facts to defend their position.

    However all I see is them rehearsing the same litany that we have been hearing for years without any real attempt to expand on them, or counter the arguments that we have made against these old saws.

    Obviously they are not out to convince us. Not with material like this. Unless someone can come up with another explanation, I am forced to think that they are posturing for the crowd, with some other underlying agenda.

    Some like David Suzuki have said outright that the availability of unlimited power from nuclear energy would be a disaster, because he wants to see the population of this planet reduced to a tenth of current numbers. Now I disagree with almost everything he stands for, and I dislike the man, because he is an arrogant, abusive prick when he is not on camera. However I will give him points for at least being forthright with the reasons he is against nuclear energy.

    Thus if you have some agenda like that, be honest enough to be upfront about it, and be prepared to debate from that position, but don’t try and smear nuclear with tired shibboleths, to try and advance your cause indirectly.

    And if any have been bought off by Big Carbon, then for shame….

  49. Scott, on 8 May 2010 at 13.58 — Thanks for the correction.

    Peter Lang, on 8 May 2010 at 20.02 — The only CSIRO report I have linked was costing out an algae pilot plant; nothing political or whatever about that.

    By the way, I currently doubt such algae farms can ever be more than a botique part of the solutiion until the price of natgas goes way up.

  50. DV82XL, on 8 May 2010 at 13.56 — As I stqted before, I love coal so leave it in the ground, not immolate it. :-)

    Unless the exteranlities you mention are charged against the cost of coal, it probably will remain that coal is cheaper. The difficulty is changing laws and regulations so that coal pays its full cost. When that occurs, from the local regional NPCC 20 year plan, new coal burners are, around here anyway, more expensive than new Gen III NPPs.

    Not that NPPs are likely to be built around here anytime soon; the regulatory debacle of WPPS (pronounced “Wopps!” remains in the memories of many).

  51. @ DV8 re: David Suzuki.

    Now I disagree with almost everything he stands for, and I dislike the man, because he is an arrogant, abusive prick when he is not on camera.

    Don’t be shy. If you have an opinion, do share it! ;-)

  52. David B Benson,

    Peter Lang, on 8 May 2010 at 20.02 — The only CSIRO report I have linked was costing out an algae pilot plant; nothing political or whatever about that.

    My appologies for not being clear. Here http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-63704 you linked to a wikipedia artice, and one of its references is the CSIRO report:
    http://csiro0702.interactiveinvestor.com.au/

    It was the cited CSIRO report I was referring to rather than the Wikipedia article you had referred to.

  53. DV82XL @ 7 May 2010 at 11.46

    Peter Lang – There may be a third option for a country like Australia, which is to have your first NPP built, paid for and operated by an off-shore organization or consortium to to which you will offer a guaranteed price for power and a tax holiday for say twenty years, as long as they engage in transferring technology to local companies.

    I forgot to reply to this comment.

    I may be missing something, but I see this suggestions as one of many varieties of the “Private Ownership” option. I see your suggestion as being a likely way forward. I expect it would probably be implemented as a consortium with power companies that are already well established in Australia. I could see, for example, AECL (or what ever the privatised version is called) or the UAE consortium or some gropu teaming with one or more Australian power companies to build and operate the first one or more NPPs. Is this what you were suggesting?

  54. The French company AREVA would be more than happy to build and operate an Aussie NPP. They have been hanging around in oz for years doing very little really, just waiting for us to come to our senses.

    A thought regarding Peter Langs vision of the mechanics of the regulatory and legislative aspects of moving to NP in oz, once the poitical decision is eventually made to move that way.

    A significant amount of money could be extracted from potential generators if we auctioned off rights to, say, 5 sites around our coast for constuction of NPP’s.
    These rights would allow the successful leaseholders to construct one or more suitably approved NP units. This would load the front end costs of the eventual NPP by maybe 5%.
    Not bad value to the holder of the lease for fifty years.

    The monies raised, say $200m for each site, should then be used for the following political and practical necessities….

    1) the (re)establishment of our nuclear engineering education faculties.
    2) A bucketload of money to each shire/region concerned.
    3) Membership of the ITER ( on the basis that we will only have one generation of NPPs )

    The sites….Simple really. We will end up, after all the argy bargy, with the following.

    1) Queensland. Curtis island near Gladstone, where a NPP would get lost among the forest of pipes and chimneys of CSM liquefaction plants. Elegant.

    2) NSW.Jervis Bay….. Commonwealth land.

    3) Portland Vic. The problem of transmission distance to market is already solved. Alcoa is in Portland, taking a significant proportion of Vic power already, with a bloody big expensive powerline connected back to Geelong and Melbourne. Alcoa not happy having to pay for wind..
    4) South Aust. This is more problematic because there is an elephant in the room here in SA, and that pacherdermous monster is BHP/Roxby, which will eventually be the biggest, most valuable mine in the world. It needs power and freshwater, even if it doesnt expand its refining capacity. ( which is scandalous, but another story. ) Given strong local objections to Pt Lowly, and the upper Gulf in general, for desal, let alone NP, we may have to select a site on the Bight side of Eyre peninsula, incurring significant isolation costs on the whole show. Another problem with Eyre peninsula? Many suitable sites have unsuitable names, curtesy of Matthew Flinders.
    I mean. we cant build a NPP at Cape Catastrophe, Avoid Bay, Misery Bay, or Avoid Bay now can we? Get laughed out of town! Just kidding.

    5) WA. Dont know really, but C Naturaliste sounds OK, being near the market, but still (a bit ) isolated.

    And by the time we rolled out our first five NPP’s things will have changed. Pebble beds, IFR’s and so on. By the time we roll out our second round of NPPs, circa 2030, we might be able to CLOSE some coal fired generators and FINALLY lower our emissions. Quite plainly, while coal generation remains cheaper than wind etc, no regime of REC’s will ever close one down. Just make energy more expensive.

    One last thing. A small waste management levy, similar to the USA, that slowly raises a substantial sum in 40 years, ( when it would possibly be needed ), would have to be part and parcel of the politics of it too. ( .1c/unit? )

    My enthusiasm for the shift to nuclear has been longstanding, and based on what I believe are rational, economcally sensible reasons, given our national situation. None of these reasons have anything to do with AGW theory either, which I have come to regard as a bit quaintly nutty, like our Suzuki san who thinks human empowerment and prosperity, and dare I say it, on behalf of the billions who dont have any, PROGRESS.
    Still a great site, and appreciate the informed debate.
    PS. Lowe is a lost cause. He’s in with Suzuki sans mob, I’m afraid. Still, ACF is the one to nobble if possible.

  55. hi all: I have a couple of questions about the loewen report.

    one, what are the advantages of the laser enrichment process he talks about? Tom Blees I think knows something about this. anyone?

    also: can someone explain to me the relevant differences between a loan guarantee and a subsidy? Anti nukes almost always conflate them. I know there’s a difference.

    It would help me to have some concrete examples of the relevant differences.

  56. I have another question:

    Loewen talks about having to sequester gen one waste for one million years.

    why? How dangerous would this waste be if it “got loose” after 10,000 years?

    can someone paint a picture?

    to what degree does this requirement of one million years depend upon “no safe dose”?

  57. Peter Lang – Call it the ‘public-private’ option if you will.

    I would think that Australia is in a good position to leverage both her electricity market and her uranium supplies to have a NNP built by on of those countries with exportable technology and little uranium. India, S. Korea spring to mind.

    This would require more government involvement than an all private route, but less than national project.

    @gregory meyerson – the big advantage of laser enrichment is that the end-to-end costs of each SWU is less expensive than gas centrifuge systems.

    Laser enrichment uses less energy per gram separated, the equipment is more compact, and fewer stages are required to attain a give level of enrichment.

    The relevant differences between a loan guarantee and a subsidy is that a
    subsidy means directly or indirectly giving a businesses money. While a loan guarantee means that a debt will be assumed by the guarantor if it cannot be paid. However this is seen as a subsidy in economic circles if this means the
    borrower can get an advantageous interest rate, thus in purely fiscal terms they are the same.

    It is preposterous to talk about nuclear waste remaining a danger for tens of thousands of years.

    A load of used fuel that produces 30,000 watts of heat energy when removed from a reactor core and placed in a power plant cooling pond would have dropped to about 3,000 watts in 10 years, to 300 watts in 100 years, and to a barely detectable 3 watts in 1,000 years. We can see then that the radioactivity of the waste canister has decreased to 1/10,000th its initial value and is not likely to require the services of armed guards 24/7 for 100,000 years, as the more vocal anti-nuclear activists would have one believe.

    And yes the scaremongers are leveraging no save dose in their reasoning.

  58. thanks dv: very helpful.

    so why do even pro nuclear people continue to foster the scaremongering? why not at least point to the dubious assumptions underlying the million of years scare talk?

    we all know how often critics raise the “millions of years” or “million years” argument. we can periodically pump out our “facts, fallacies and phobias” sheet about radiation all we want and it won’t do much good if we ourselves engage, at least implicitly, in the “dangerous for a million years” talk that Loewen engages in, almost without reflection.

    Tom B even does it in his book; my guess is that were he to come out with a second edition, he would eliminate some of the scare talk around non 4th gen nuclear power.

  59. gregory meyerson, on 10 May 2010 at 2.47 Said:

    “so why do even pro nuclear people continue to foster the scaremongering? why not at least point to the dubious assumptions underlying the million of years scare talk?”

    Many do point out the error of this, I don’t know of many that support this idea, beyond a few that leave it assumed, and then say we can bury the waste in geo-repositories forever.

  60. why do even pro nuclear people continue to foster the scaremongering? why not at least point to the dubious assumptions underlying the million of years scare talk?

    I believe it’s an “Overton window” phenomenon. Many people favour nuclear energy but don’t know the whole story. They assume government nuclear experts are would underplay nuclear waste risks while professional opponents would exaggerate them, and the truth must be somewhere in between, somewhere such that this millennium’s nuclear waste will not destroy any future millennia but will be of some serious concern to them. (In reality it will no more concern them than heaps of broken amphorae (sp?) concern us.)

    In this, I think they overlook the fact that government itself is one of the fossil fuel interests. It financially supports some of the “activists”, who are, as in the climate science battle, really inactivists. Their assignment, although some of them may not know this, is to prevent fossil fuel conservation and substitution.

    The truth is not somewhere in between.

    When Blees was writing his book, and IFR people were assuring him, truthfully of course, that IFR waste, a century hence, would be much less hazardous than equivalent LWR waste, I tried to get him to ask them whether even the latter was a real concern, but I don’t know if he did. There’s a limit on how much early learning can be quickly unlearned.

    I think it’s as certain as anything about the 1000th century can be that nuclear waste repositories established this century will then still contain waste that, like a ten-years-retired CANDU bundle, can inflict possibly-lethal injury on you from 1 metre’s distance in 12 hours — because they’ll still be taking new deliveries. The stuff doesn’t take up much space.

    As I sometimes say elsewhere, nuclear industry people do themselves no favours by assuming more than 1 percent of their audience can correctly read a log-log chart.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  61. can someone explain to me the relevant differences between a loan guarantee and a subsidy? Anti nukes almost always conflate them. I know there’s a difference. – gregory meyerson

    Left me explain the difference with two stories. Joe Smith a young man wishes to but a car. He goes to the bank and discovers that the payments on his new car will be $50 a week more than he can afford. He goes to his father and asks the old man to make up the $50 he cannot afford. Joe is asking for a subsidy.

    Joe Smith story two. Joe Smith a young man wishes to but a car. He goes to the bank and discovers that the payments on his new car will be $50 a week more than he can afford. Joe tells the banker that that he cannot afford the loan. The banker tells Joe that his interest charges are high because he is considered a bad credit risk, but if he can get his dad to co-sign the loan, his payment will be cut by $75 a week. Joe goes to his father and asks him to cosign the loan. When his father hesitates, Joe offers to pay him $25 a week for his signature. Joe’s father agreed to cosign the loan, and the banker explained that his signature was a loan guarantee.

    The difference between between a subsidy and a loan guarantee is the difference between being out $50 a week and having $25 extra dollars a week in your pocket.

  62. Just a quick heads up …

    Earlier today, over at John Quiggin’s blog, one of the more hysterical anti-nuclear trolls, IMO defamed Professor Brook.

    I’ve already asked Professor Quiggin to require the troll to recant and apologise unconditionally for the slander, but as yet, nothing has happened.

    Professor Quiggin has decided that this topic will be the last for five years during which discussion of nuclear power will be permitted, failing some new development he finds interesting, so I’d very much like to see this piece of housekeeping attended to.

    Perhaps some of us here could firmly but in a tone that respects Professor Quiggin’s discretion make our views known, as I already have.

  63. @ Fran,
    “Alice” just seemed to be yet another internet troll unable to make any coherent point, and so attacked Barry. She had nothing and will be dismissed as just one opinionated idiot amongst many. I voiced my concern over it, but it’s not world-changing stuff.

  64. Fair enough Barry, but I find it outrageous that someone can lie outright about another person merely to make a point, when they must know that what they are saying is easily shown to be rubdish with one visit to your site.

    The troll (along with a fellow traveller who is probably a sockpuppet) regularly abuses me on the site as some sort of shadowy nuclear industry spinmeister and calls for me to be censored.

    I suppose it underlines the extent to which the question of nuclear power remains, for some, a matter of cultural identity and philosophical values, rather than an issue to be settled on its measurable merits. Once you get there, it’s no holds barred, like those tribal sports team supporters.

    Anyway, while I can cop it, I felt that your contribution to be falsely characterised without at least someone correcting the record and pointing out the character of the claim.

    Perhaps PrQ will step in and see that the right thing is done here. I hope so.

  65. Yes, I’ve seen you fighting the good fight (‘good’ as in evidence-based rather than ideology/opinion) over on JQ’s site. I don’t know how you continue to muster the energy. There’s always someone wrong on the internet, but then again, there are 10+ lurkers for every commenter on most blogs, so you may well be getting through to this silent majority. Anyway, don’t burn yourself out!

  66. I consume more than my fair share of Anglophone media but I have not seen any nukie attack on BP or Big Fossil as a hazmat producer in regard of the current est. 800,000t/day of crude spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. That comment could, in theory, take a wildlife/sealife conservationist approach or a global warming one or both,

    So can anybody point me to a nukie statement on this? I looked at Word Nuclear News but there is nothing . Would nukies see such comment as opportunistic/unfair to engineering colleagues of similar training and general outlook in the power sector? Because in many countries, the sector is made up of private or public companies which have subsidiaries across the whole energy range (fossil, nuclear, wind, water, solar, biomass)?

  67. Finrod, thank you for those references. However, I was thinking of press/TV/radio when I wrote “media.”

    Greenpeace was very much in the media over the Royal Dutch/Shell “Brent Spar” incident in 1995 and Shell got boycotted in W Europe on the back of a drop in its share price, among other things; am I to assume that the media are all owned by natgas or Big Coal and Oil such that they refuse to take up any current press statements by nuclear organisations or persons? Or have there not been any? If not, why not?

  68. am I to assume that the media are all owned by natgas or Big Coal and Oil such that they refuse to take up any current press statements by nuclear organisations or persons?

    I suggest that it’s more a case of most major nuclear concerns being owned by the same people who run the fossil fuel companies or, (such as the case for Exelon) having a vested interest in seeing the domination of fossil fuels continue as part of their short-term business strategy..

  69. Or that nuclear power companies don’t want to be seen to exploit tragedy for their own interest. Or that they don’t see greater need to issue comment on this particular incident than, say, the American Dental Association, ie. I’m sure the dentists are outraged, but its not their story. Or the media don’t see the story as having any connection to the nuclear power industry (that would fit in the context and aims of their news business). Any number of reasons, none of them sinister.

  70. Any number of reasons, none of them sinister.

    I rather suspect that if there were anything remotely resembling the monolithic NUCLEAR INDUSTRY of Peter Lalor’s imagination we would have by now seen a much smoother and well-managed pro-nuke publicity campaign than has actually been the case. As it is, nuclear industry organisations such as NEI sometimes seem to almost apologise for their existence to other energy industries and the public.

  71. Fisho, great comment above.

    Apropos my last comment, you wrote:

    The French company AREVA would be more than happy to build and operate an Aussie NPP. They have been hanging around in oz for years doing very little really, just waiting for us to come to our senses.

    Does AREVA have a presence in Australia? What are they doing here, besides being insulted by our industrial wines and pasteurized cheeses?

  72. Peter Lalor,
    You state “I have not seen any nukie attack on BP or Big Fossil as a hazmat producer.”

    This is what is called an argument from ignorance, and i must say it is very very stupid argument. I can point you to dozens and if i worked at it hundreds of statements in pro-nuclear blogs, that are highly critical of the fossil fuel industry. For example a little over a month ago I wrote, “There are large though largely hidden costs associated with the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity and produce heat. Coal fired power plants produce an enormous amount of pollutants in addition to CO2. Many of the pollutants effect the health of millions of Americans. The cost is not paid by electrical producers and consumers. Instead it is payed by employers, consumers and the federal government in the form of added insurance premiums, and by sick people and their families in the form of added medical costs, lost wages, suffering and heart ache. Conservatives and Libertarians have expressed concerns about the cost of health care, yet not so concerned that they are willing to stop environmental pollution from fossil fuel use, that contributes to health care cost.”
    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/04/existential-choices-mitigation-efforts.html

    I also have noted the work of my father, C.J. Barton, Sr. who uncovered evidence of the transport of radioactive radon gas into homes by natural gas utilities.
    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2009/01/my-fathers-last-report.html
    Of course anti-nuclear environmentalists do not want to hear about that.

    I also pointed out that health problems associated with Benzene exposure are far more pervasive than those associated with radiation exposer.:
    “The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that 50% of the US population has been exposed to benzene through industrial sources such as oil refineries and chemical plants.

    Benzene has been banned from most workplaces because it has been identified as a Class A carcinogen – a cancer causing agent. Even minimal exposure to this chemical can cause cancer and it may not happen until years after you are no longer working in the same occupation.”

    “Benzene exposure is a known causal factor for leukaemia, and other blood disorders. Blood related problems include damage to bone marrow (the tissues that produce blood cells). Aplastic anemia, excessive bleeding, and damage to the immune system (by changes in blood levels of antibodies and loss of white blood cells). Benzene causes both structural and numerical chromosomal aberrations in humans.”

    “The evidence is then that any health related risks related to radiation exposure can be controlled by improved safety practices, and improved radiation exposure prevention technology. On the other hand Benzene exposure appears far more difficult to control. Benzene is used as a octane increasing additive in gasoline, and environmental exposure to gasoline fumes appears to be a significant source of benzene exposure, Thus it would appear that benzene exposure poses a far more significant risk for environmentally related illness worker exposure to radiation does.

    The case for nuclear power then is that workers risks of radiation caused illness is slight compared to the risk that workers and non-workers suffer from exposure to benzene.”
    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/08/benzene-and-radiation-risks-compaired.html

    Peter does that sound like I am being easy on the fossil fuel industries?

    You problem is, of course your profound ignorance about what Nuclear supporters actually have to say. You seem to believe that you can make sweeping allegations about the views of nuclear supporters without bothering to check on what those views are.

  73. Charles – While I agree that, as is his habit, Peter Lalor framed his statement in the most provocative way, his point that the nuclear industry (such as it is) does not beat the drum as loud as it should in times like this has some validity.

    Yes, bloggers, and commenters do, but it would be valuable to hear from some of the larger concerns, and those voices are sadly lacking.

  74. Ian Lowe is fond of mentioning the PhD that he did in the late 1960s in the UK, which was somehow related to the Dounreay fast reactor, as part of his credentials on nuclear power.

    I’d like to get a hold of his thesis and have a look. I wonder if it’s available electronically from the university? Unfortunately I don’t recall which university and I don’t know the title.

  75. dv82xl, This is still a very bad argument. I have talked with public relations specialists and they all say the same thing. The Nuclear Industry under no circumstances should be associated with a negative message about their competitors. I happen to disagree with this view, but I am not going to hold it against the nuclear industry, which has after all has a big public relations problem, that it follows the advice of people to home it has paid good money to craft its public relations message.

  76. @Charles Barton + Sage of Montreal:

    at
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-64278

    I had made it clear in discussion with Finrod (see this thread) that I was referring to the MEDIA. It is true that one can construe this word as “blogs and chat groups”, but the general meaning is that of press/TV/radio.

    The navel-gazing NPP news at WNA reacts neither to Renewables events nor to Fossil Fuel events such as the current Deepwater Horizon blowout.

    By contrast, I have not yet followed Renewabilist reactions to Deepwater Horizon, but past form (Brent Spar! Torrey Canyon! Exxon Valdez!) suggests that there will be or have been many.

    My working hypothesis is hence that there are no organisations of persons sufficiently anti-Fossil and pro-nuke who are geared to put out instant pro-nuke press statements of a soundbite nature, such as would be welcomed by overworked journos, whenever Big Fossil screws up. This is bizarre, given that deep-water drilling may well be increasing such incidents on the way to Peak Oil.

    I assume this silence is because the relevant NPP expertise is either in public service and afraid for its pension if it says anything, or works for an energy concern such as E.ON or RWE or Areva or Vattenfall which have fingers in all energy pies, from biomass through solar and wind to lignite and nuclear.

  77. Peter Lalor, on 11 May 2010 at 1.23 Said:

    “My working hypothesis is hence that there are no organizations of persons sufficiently anti-Fossil and pro-nuke who are geared to put out instant pro-nuke press statements of a soundbite nature, such as would be welcomed by overworked journos, whenever Big Fossil screws up. This is bizarre, given that deep-water drilling may well be increasing such incidents on the way to Peak Oil.”

    I’m forced to agree, and I have written at length here and elsewhere about the need to go on the offensive, and certainly in cases like this.

    Now why it isn’t happening is debatable, and no doubt there is some truth to the notion that the large nuclear energy companies have interests in FF. Probably too there is some reticence to becoming involved in a PR war with FF companies’ deep pockets.

    But nevertheless the silence is deafening

  78. Peter Lalor, this is a stupid argument. In fact renewable industry plans assume long term continued use of fossil fuels. So go after them too. As I have pointed out the public relation people are saying that the nuclear industry should not stage a negative campaign against their competitors. in fact this same advice has been offered to nuclear bloggers. by the way. Reactors are the most effective replacements for fossil fuel fired power plants. The coal industry and the natural gas industry knows that. The Renewable industry works hand in glove with the fossil fuel industry to fight nuclear power.

  79. Charles Barton – You are right that a full-blown negative campaign against FF by the nuclear industry would not be the its best move. However that should not preclude a sound bite or two during an event like this.

    We have witnessed several significant accidents with FFs over the last twelve months, between breaches in coal ash waste ponds, and natural gas explosions, and now this. Certainly these should draw at least a passing comment, instead of silence.

  80. dv82xl, i agree with you that it would be great for the nuclear industry to take swipes at its fossil fuel competitors. But neither you nor I earn a living as public relations experts. Here is a rational for the for the nuclear industry not following our advice:
    1. The Nuclear Industry stands to make more money if it can improve its immage with the public.
    2. The Nuclear Industry has a feduciary duty to its shareholders to maximize profits.
    3. Maximizing profits would require improving the industry’s public image.
    4. in order to improve its public image the industry should hire public relations specialists.
    5. the public relations specialists advise the industry to always portray itself in a positive light, and never talk about competitors. Criticizing competitors is off message, and therefore detracts from the immage the nuclear industry should portray.
    6. The lawyers for the nuclear industry that if they criticize competitors contrary to the advice of the PR specialists, they will have failed to perform their feduciary duty.
    The Nuclear Industry answers their lawyers by saying but dv82xl,and Charles disagree with this and say we should go after the fossil fuel interests.
    The lawyers answer if you follow their advice you can be sued by your shareholders, and you will loose.

  81. Charles Barton – Of course the industry won’t pay attention to us (mores the pity) and no doubt they have their reasons for keeping still. However I am more inclined to think it is more because the large nuclear energy operators also have FF interests in their portfolios, then because of any developed PR strategy.

  82. dv82xl, the nuclear industry is an heir to mistakes that were made 50 years ago. it cannot move forward until it corrects the mistakes. People Like Kirk Sorensen and David Le Blanc know how to move forward, and they will move forward with or without the rest of the nuclear industry.

  83. Peter Lalor, it’s interesting that you mention Brent Spar. Since that event, I always assume that Greenpeace are being deceptive, if not outright lying, whenever they make any statement. And they haven’t done anything to make me change my mind.

    All this musing on pro-nuclear publicity makes me think it’s time to write to a few editors.

  84. Hi DV8 and all,
    I’d love to take a snap poll on the views here regarding peak oil. Who thinks it is imminent (next 5 years), soon (next decade), or later, and why?

    If Nuclear power is THE answer, and it hasn’t been marketed aggressively enough to influence policy makers and inform the general public, AND if peak oil hasn’t been ‘marketed’ enough either… what does this say about our society and preparedness for the years ahead?

  85. The thing with peak oil is that we can and will deal with it. This is one area where market forces will come up with a solution, and the decline will come slowly enough that those forces will have time to act.

    Most oil-based fuels have been way under priced anyway given the burden they have placed on the environment. But real shortages are a long way off, given coal-to-liquid, gas-to-liquid, tarsands, and shale bitumen deposits.

  86. I wonder if, Peter Lang, you could repost that link to the image of that nuclear waste repository in (Toronto?) Canada (IIRC 440MW for forty years).

    I wanted to post it over at Quiggins before he shuts the thread — just to emphasise how modest the mass of hazmat we are talking about is.

    You posted it just the other day and I failed to save the link in favourites …

  87. DV82XL, on 9 May 2010 at 10.10 — Rant away, but more effective to take your important meesage o those who can affect solutions; politicians and generral public, …

    eclipsenow, on 11 May 2010 at 8.56 — Plateau oil is here now; which year will be the actual peak is somewhat uncertain.

    In general it seems that society has a “close the barn door after” attitude. Hard to convince people to build tornado shelters until after their neighbors are blown away.

  88. Charles Barton, This is what the other side is doing to us:

    Cancer-stricken … teen puts a face behind nuclear plant issue

    “OUISVILLE, Ky. — As research scientists and federal regulators gathered in Washington, D.C., recently to discuss a new study of cancer rates near nuclear power plants, Sarah Sauer, Corydon, Ind., asked them for a favor.

    Don’t forget the people behind the numbers, said Sarah, 16, a sophomore at Presentation Academy in Louisville.

    Moments earlier, as she spoke to the National Academy of Sciences panel, the teen brought some in the room to tears, standing on a stool to reach the microphone as her high-pitched and strained voice told as much about her cancer battle as her words.

    Linda Modica, a Sierra Club member from Tennessee who attended the panel meeting, said Sarah was a brave girl.

    “It came off in a very poignant and powerful way,” Modica said..

    It was a moment for which Sarah and her family had waited years — a chance to put a face on a study that will examine whether youngsters and adults who have lived near nuclear power plants suffer from higher rates of cancer.

    This is what we are up against, and leaving bullshit like this unanswered is not going to win us any converts. This is the lowest the opposition has stooped to date. While it is indicative of how much of a threat nuclear energy has become to them, it is also the type of fight we are going to face.

    The industry should demand that similar studies be done around coal plants, and scream loudly that they are being unfairly targeted, and if their PR firms are telling them to keep a low profile, then I would start to wonder just who those firms were working for.

    This is outright dissemination and mendacity of the worst kind. It is a calculated character assassination being carried out at the highest levels. Unless everyone starts understanding that this fight is not going to be won by proffering new designs in reactors, or showing how competitive a NPP can be cost wise, we are just taking a knife to a gun-fight.

  89. The industry should demand that similar studies be done around coal plants, and scream loudly that they are being unfairly targeted,

    Tim Flannery in “Weather Makers” quoted a study in which the NSW Hunter Valley, one of our wine growing districts, has lung-cancer rates 3 times that of ‘the big smoke’ down here in Sydney.

    And people go up to the Hunter Valley to ‘get away from it all’ and enjoy the ‘healthy’ countryside!

    If the medical science and statistics are behind you guys, then I’m all for open, honest, public debate on this: and that’s speaking as a father whose son nearly died from Leukaemia in 2004.

  90. A study released in 1991 by the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, commissioned by Canada’s Atomic Energy Control Board, found no statistically significant increase in leukemia among children born to mothers living near five nuclear sites in Ontario province.

    Researchers examined data for 1,894 children, aged 14 years or younger, who died from leukemia between 1950 and 1987 and who lived within 15 miles of five Canadian nuclear facilities. The facilities were Ontario Power Generation’s Pickering and Bruce Power’s Bruce nuclear power plants, the Elliot Lake uranium mines and mills, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s Chalk River nuclear laboratories, and a former 20-megawatt nuclear station at Rolphton. Near the Chalk River laboratories, childhood leukemia was one-third of the expected rate. Near the Pickering power station, there were 33 childhood leukemia deaths between 1971 and 1987, more than the 25 statistically expected. However, the rate also was elevated during the 20 years before the station entered service. (emp. add)

    A study by two French researchers—reported in the Oct. 25, 1990, issue of Nature—found no increase in childhood leukemia near six nuclear installations in France between 1968 and 1987. The facilities included four nuclear power plants and the nuclear fuel reprocessing plants at La Hague and Marcoule.

    More than a dozen other major health studies have found no link between cancer and people living near NPP and other nuclear related facilities.

  91. One more thing Peter.

    I was looking at a report Yankee Atomic did on their decommissioning issues. According to them,

    After almost twenty years and the collection of more than $17 billion — $1.4 billion coming from New England consumers — DOE has defaulted on its contract and has not yet begun to move used fuel and high-level waste to a federal site. Instead, DOE now says that a final disposal repository will not be ready until at least 2010. Moreover, DOE has made no provisions for centralized interim storage, a cost-effective environmentally safe alternative.

    DOE’s failure to act has created formidable problems, especially for the commercial nuclear power plants that are permanently shut down — four of which are in New England. The companies owning these plants will spend hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars to build and operate special, independent, long-term facilities to store the used fuel that the government has failed to remove.

    If my maths is right, then this means that the plant and the customers have paid between them about 40 cents per KwH for waste storage alone while the government has dishonoured its part of the bargain for 20 years, imposing substantial further costs. I don’t know if this is typical but if it is roughly similar to industry experience, then anyone who says that nuclear power is externalising the costs of waste storage to the state or is in receipt of a net subsidy is simply talking through their hat.

  92. Yet Helen Caldicott goes around asserting evidence from other studies (she has her own radio show called “If you love this planet”. It’s easy to access through iTunes).

    This is the sort of thing I’d love to see more discussion about in the public arena.

  93. I still want to know why studies of this sort are not called for near coal plants, and I’m furious with this grandstanding of a sick girl at the start of a hearing into this issue.

  94. DV82XL, public exposure to radiation coming from fossil fuel related sources, has always been greater than public exposure to radiation from nuclear plants. Epidemiological studies indicate that there are adverse health consequences for populations living in close proximity to coal fired power plants. In addition to toxic substances like arsenic, coal fired power plants emit radon and other uncontrolled radioactive substances. Coal fired power plants also emit particulates that are known to both cause and aggravate lung disease. Natural gas, piped into American homes for space and water heating contains significant amounts of radioactive radon gas. Radon found in natural gas used for electrical generation is simply released into the environment.

    in contrast, power reactors are designed with a system of barriers designed to prevent the release of radioactive materials into the environment. These barriers are very effective. The annual exposure to radiation from nuclear power plants to people living close to them, is far less than the average exposure of those people to radiation coming from medical and dental sources. Millions of people routinely undergo medical procedures, that involve the direct injection of radioactive fission products into their bodies. These procedures are deemed safe and are rarely questions by people who make claims about the health problems caused by accidental exposures to far less radiation from fission products coming from nuclear power plants.

    Millions of people are exposed to above average levels of natural background radiation that are far higher than the average emissions form nuclear power plants. Epidemiological studies of these populations do not demonstrate adverse health consequences from high levels of exposures to background radiation.

    Commercial Aircraft crews and frequent passengers are exposed to high levels of background radiation coming from cosmic rays. Again there is no evidence that these high levels of exposure lead to adverse health consequences.

    Finally Epidemiological studies of populations living close to american nuclear plants fail to find evidence that exposures to radioactive material coming from American power reactors leads to adverse health consequences for people living in their vicinity. Epidemiological studies of populations living in near the reactors of the Savannah River Project, where high levels of radioactive tritium were known to have occurred, did not shown that they had suffered from adverse health consequences.

    The fact that cancer and other illnesses occurs near nuclear power facilities is neither frightening nor in itself reason for concern. There has to be some evidence that health problems are are linked to radiation exposures triggered by proximity to nuclear facilities. Arguments that move from proximity to causal relationship without demonstration of causal link are examples of the questionable cause or Harvey Wasserman fallacy. Mr. Wasserman assumes that the death of people living near the Three Mile island accident died from causes that were directly related to that accident. In fact repeated epidemiological studies of populations living in the Three Mile Island area have failed to demonstrate any adverse health consequences from radiation exposures from that accident.

  95. Charles Barton – you are preaching to the choir (as I’m sure you know) but you have to look what is being done in government forums:

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20105100322

    This is an outright smear campaign carried out at the highest level. Parading that girl in front the board, before it begins deliberations is outright attempt at biasing of the worst sort. This must be answered by the American pronuclear community in the loudest voice possible.

  96. TeeKay – Of course it’s BS, but this girl was invited to address this group who will be looking into the issue. If that isn’t a sign of serious bias, I don’t know what is. This is political grandstanding of the worst kind.

  97. … If my maths is right, then this means that the plant and the customers have paid between them about 40 cents per KwH for waste storage …

    No, the nuclear waste tax is 0.1 cents per kWh. If New England has paid $1.4 billion, that has been for 1.4 trillion kWh. I would guess New England has averaged 10 nuclear GW-years per year for the last 20, 200 GW-y, 200 million kW-y, 1.75 trillion kWh, so that comes out about right.

    Presumably that was the point ‘eclipsenow’ was making. No-one believes nuclear electricity is expensive, least of all the people who most loudly say so.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  98. No only can Eric’s vision solve both the CO2 problem and the nuclear problem, its the only path that can solve these problems. As we proceed forward along this path of new nuclear development, there are many new ideas nuclear scientists have that need to be tested and implemented. The field of nuclear science is just at an infancy stage. Lets get the show on the road.

  99. Gene Preston, on 12 May 2010 at 4.44 Said:

    “As we proceed forward along this path of new nuclear development, there are many new ideas nuclear scientists have that need to be tested and implemented. The field of nuclear science is just at an infancy stage. Lets get the show on the road.”

    Fission can no longer be called “in its infancy.” It is a fairly mature technology that has been around for sixty years. Yes there are other designs that need development, but even they have their roots in prototypes that ran as far back as the Fifties, and might have gone mainstream then had the politics had allowed.

  100. charles:

    nice summary of the “radiation issue.”

    I am collecting useful links to studies on these questions. if you have some links you could provide that I can add to my collection, I would be grateful. I have links for studies done in Kerala and Ramsar showing no increase in cancer incidence despite far higher background radiation, especially in the latter instance. and I have links to various studies cited as evidence for hormesis.

    and speaking of radon, what do you think of bernard cohen’s studies showing a robust inverse relation between incidence of lung cancer and radon levels (higher the level, lower the incidence) in households (from something like 1600 counties)–all levels low enough to be considered “hormetic”??

  101. Fran,

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-64413

    I understand that nuclear power plants are required to collect about 0.1c/kWh which goes into a government managed fund to pay for centralised management of used fuel. The US governments have continually delayed the Yucca Mountain project and the Obama administration recently stopped it altogether. Now they are reconsidering this decisions (sort of). So the nuclear generators have been paying this fee for decades but the US Government has not met its side of the bargain. Now the NPP owners have to pay to extend their onsite management of the used fuel. This is not fair, but it is typical of what governments do. As you know, there is no equivalent requirements of any of the alternatives. See these photos for examples of what the renewable energy generators are allowed to get away with regarding decommissioning: http://webecoist.com/2009/05/04/10-abandoned-renewable-energy-plants/

    Regarding your calculation of 40c/kWh, I suspect the $1.4 billion is the total collected from all the NPPs in the state, not just Yankee Rowe.

  102. Peter Lang writes,

    “Woops, Fran, I see others have already answered your question.”

    If only I were “others”, perhaps some of them with money, and we could merge, Dr. Manhattan-style, and then we’d none of us be broke.

    If anyone knows of a job — a paid job — that my postings here suggest I could do, please email me at the address given at the top of the PDF paper linked, with the words “free download”, at the top of my web page.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  103. I just posted this on the John Quiggin site, to (hopefully) give Fran a bit of a hand:

    I’ve had a quick scan through the comments on this thread. Most of the comments seem to be emotive rather than rational. I see many comments about safety and cost. Let’s have a quick look at these two issues.

    Safety:

    Nuclear is about the safest of all the electricity generation technologies. Nuclear is some 10 to 100 times safer than coal for generating electricity. This has been demonstrated by 55 years of nuclear electricity generation. For those who are numerate and can read and log-log chart, you might like to look at Figure 2 here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/13/wind-and-carbon-emissions-peter-lang-responds/

    Cost:
    Nuclear is by far the least cost way to provide low emission electricity. One way to do a fair comparison is to compare the cost of various technologies, or mixes of technologies, that could provide all the power we demand.

    The capital cost to build new generators that could provide all the power we demanded in the National Electricity Market (NEM) in 2007 would be:

    $132 billion = Nuclear
    $120 billion = Nuclear with 8GW pumped hydro energy storage for peak power
    $350 billion = Wind with pumped hydro storage
    $2,800 billion = Solar PV and pumped hydro storage
    $4,600 billion = Solar PV and NaS battery storage
    $4,400 billion = Solar Thermal with molten salt storage (but this technology is not expected to be capable of providing 24 h storage until after 2020, and anyway we’d need much more than 24h storage to provide reliable baseload power)

    From this it is clear that wind with pumped hydro storage would be about three times the cost of nuclear. However, Australia would not have the pumped hydro energy storage sites available even if we wanted to go this way.

    Solar power would be 20 to 40 times the cost of nuclear You can mix and match, but it makes little difference. Renewables are far more expensive than nuclear.

    You can reach the same conclusion from another direction. Solar PV has to be subsidised to about ten times the cost of power from a conventional power station. All renewables have to be massively subsidised. Wind power is mandated. If the electricity distributors do not buy sufficient wind power they have to pay a fine that is more than the cost of conventional power. Wind power costs about 2 to 3 times the cost of conventional power, and that is before adding on the cost of the back up generators and the extra transmissions and power stabilisation that is required.

    I urge the people who are numerate to check the figures and the underlying assumptions they are based on. There is an enormous amount of spin being presented by advocates on all sides. You can check the background of what I’ve said here: http://bravenewclimate.com/renewable-limits/

  104. Nice list of prices there Peter. I was wondering if anyone had a ‘Radiation for dummies” chart?

    Maybe we need to do a poster.

    “Rad’s you take from…
    * lying on the beach
    * preparing a meal at a granite bench top
    * living next to a nuclear power plant
    * Having an x-ray
    * lying on top of a cask of depleted uranium for 1 hour
    * living in the Hunter Valley NSW (and other coal power station regions)
    * emerging from a bunker 2 weeks after a few nuclear bombs were dropped nearby
    * etc…

    … to illustrate that maybe having nuclear power in your State is not a “BAD” thing!

  105. How is this for irony? Expansion of Olympic Dam, the world’s largest uranium deposit, depends upon approval of a desalination plant at Whyalla SA. At the moment the go-ahead looks doubtful. However a nearby solar project in Whyalla has been given the go-ahead with generous Federal funding
    http://anz.theoildrum.com/node/6455
    They mention 40 MW output and quick completion but it is unclear if energy will be stored.

    The other big funded project is a concentrating solar steam generator to supplement the air cooled supercritical coal plant at Kogan Ck, Qld. The builder is Areva-Ausra.

    I suggest giving the projects all the cash they want so they can finish quickly and we can review the results eg average costs, capacity factor and so on.

  106. I agree.

    Basically I’m in favour of funding anything that in the popular mind might substantially replace fossil fuels, even if one suspects they can’t.

    What we don’t have is time, so if that means spending more now to settle the question early, then I’m for that.

    I’d like the state to say … look … I’m willing to pay $US 4.2 billion per GW (minimum nameplate 250 MW) providing you can supply at least 8000 hours at full rated capacity to the grid in your first full year of service at a cost reflecting coal + $35 per tonne of CO2. You pay loan service until a determination is made.

    Nuclear would obviously be in the mix.

    We will give you a line of credit at the OCA. If at the end of your first full year of operation you have met the standard, you get to keep the full proceeds of your sales, we pay you a 5% commission on your outlays, get the plant and deem your loan discharged and we offer tenders on the plant operation going forward. You get first refusal at beating any rival bid.

    If you fail the 8000 hours we get liquidated damages at the extent of the failure and if you fail by 20% or more we charge you commercial interest and you forfeit your tender preparation allowance.

    This, in addition to due diligence, should weed out unserious proposals and put to bed argument s about what might work. They have a budget, we pick the best proposals and we move forward.

  107. I’ve been following the thread at Quiggins Peter, as you know. be careful of Freelander’s latest post … he is trolling you …

    You are doing a good job of staying with the facts of the matter, which seems to be annoying the anties …

  108. David B. Benson,

    If you want a properly comparable study, conducted by researchers in most of the EU countries, in a properly comparable way, and looking at the overall health effects, risks and costs of the various electrcity generation technologies, you might be interested in the ExternE study and specifically in the ‘NEWEXT’ project which was a component of ExternE.
    http://www.externe.info/
    http://www.ier.uni-stuttgart.de/forschung/projektwebsites/newext/

  109. Peter Lang, on 13 May 2010 at 8.51 — Thanks for the reminder, but I found the pdf rather indigestible. In addition, it proclaimed that the percieved risk of a serious nuclear accident has to be assesed by the local populace. Fine, I suppose, if they are actually informed and rational.

    Well, what about the risk of a fly ash slurry pond giving way? What about the anti-safety effects of that? (Not to mention enviornmental, hence long term health effects?)

  110. David B Benson,

    You’ll need to do a bit more than seek out one line and take it out of context. If you are going to try to dismiss the ExternE study with five minutes of work, then I doubt that anything you vae to contribute has any value whaatsoever. Make an attempot to understand the charts showing that, taking everything into account, throughout the OECD, nuclear is some 10 to 100 times safer than coal for generating electricity. In other linked papers you can see the effects translated into fatalaties per unit of electrcity sent out. If you don’t have time to reead these studies, perhaps the second and third charts here http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/13/wind-and-carbon-emissions-peter-lang-responds/ might provide you with what you want more quickly.

  111. Peter Lang, on 13 May 2010 at 9.36 — Yes, you Figure 3 is a first approximation. Once environmental hazards are properly figured in (I don’t know how to do that), I suspect that 100 times “better” is an understatment.

  112. Three points to consider:

    1) Exposure to Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) accounts for most of the radiation we all receive each year.

    2) The nuclear fuel cycle does not give rise to significant radiation exposure for members of the public because of the level of monitoring that is mandated by regulation.

    3) Radiation protection standards, based on the LNT hypothesis, assume that any dose of radiation, no matter how small, involves a possible risk to human health. This deliberately conservative assumption makes sure that radiation releases are detected and dealt with, at far lower levels than any other pollutant from any power generating system.

  113. David B. Benson,

    The basis of the statement that nuclear is 10 to 100 times safer than coal is from Figure 2, not figure 3.

    If you dig into the figures in the NEWEXT study you will see that that ratio is even more favourable to nuclear in China because coal is far more hazardous in China than in the OECD..

  114. Peter Lang, on 13 May 2010 at 11.15 — Thanks again. Your Figure 3 is much more easily understood by the general public. Takes some time to understand Figure 2.

    Either way, that is not the curent perception of coal versus nuclear risks in the USA. Thos better at persuation than I need to go to work…

  115. I just found the NPCC Newsletter from last autumn. While applicable strictly only to the PNW and the about 140 utilities which purcahse poser from BPA (mostly dams), there are a few matters of general applicability.

    Foremost is the energy efficiency measures which have been taken starting in 1980 CE. In those 30 years, planners estimate that 3.7 GW of new capacity has been eliminated via energy efficiency measures (nough power for Seattle, Portland and Boise combined) and there is at least another 3.1 GW to go. Furthermore, energy efficiency as promoted via BPA and the ultilities it serves is, on average, one-third the cost of new generating plants, including wind power. (It should state only one-half for geo-thermal for which a modest amount is regionally available.)

    Snohomish County PUD is emphasized; here is its current supply mix:
    BPA 81%
    WInd 7%
    Hydro 4% (small dams)
    biomass 4%
    Market 3% (from other utilites over BPA transmission lines)
    Landfill Gas 1%

    Here is the 10 year power growth plan (MW is average):
    Conservation 96 MW
    Geothermal 90 MW
    Wind 60 MW
    Biomass/Landfill 20 MW
    Small Hydro 5 MW
    Tidal 5 MW

  116. Scientific American has a short blog piece positive about Nuclear Power written by John Horgan who apparently has had a “Road to Damascus” conversion from anti-nukes to nuclear advocate. It’s an interesting read, and highlights some of the information we all know and are pushing through various media.

    One thing I didn’t know (and others will probably groan and smack their foreheads at my ignorance… sorry guys) is just how successful the “Megatons to Megawatts” program has been… the claim is that 10% of American energy has come from Russian warheads!

    This so-called Megatons to Megawatts Program has eliminated 15,000 Russian warheads in the past 18 years. Ten percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. in the past decade stems from Russian warheads.

    http://tinyurl.com/3yxerel

    I mean, this statistic has ‘activist poster’ written all over it!

  117. Why don’t we take a look at what someone with real world experience in renewables says about the prospects for “renewable baseload” (and specifically) “solar thermal. Bear in mind this someone who is keen on renewables.

    Reliable base-load sustainable energy sources still long way off

    Professor David Cahen is a solar researcher, and the scientific director of the Alternative Sustainable Energy Research Initiative at the Weizmann Institute in Israel.

    [...]

    ASHLEY HALL: The argument that we often hear here in Australia is that renewable energy is not up to the job of delivering base-load power; that the only thing that we could use is coal or gas. Are renewable energy sources up to the job of base-load power?

    DAVID CAHEN: Today no. Unequivocally no, today. {my emphasis}

    ASHLEY HALL: How long before they will be?

    DAVID CAHEN: How long I don’t know, I left my crystal ball at home so I cannot predict the future.

    [...]

    DAVID CAHEN: But in the long run you don’t want to stick with solar cells and solar thermal plants and wind farms, you want to go to artificial fuels. You want to be able to make a liquid fuel that will store energy and allow you to use that energy when you need it. And that will therefore obviate part of the problem of the variability of wind and sunlight.

    ASHLEY HALL: So why not wind and solar then? There’s an abundance of both in Australia.

    DAVID CAHEN: The problem is their variability. And so since you cannot really tell when there will be sun and when there will be wind with sufficient accuracy for the electricity companies to use it, you are left with the problem that you have to have a back-up.

    In Australia by the way you’re better off than many other places because you are a continent, so you can a little bit level out the variability. But the only way you can really do that in a reliable fashion is when that was suggested by the famous architect Buckminster Fuller back in the ’70s I think; if you would be able to have a grid spanning the world, then you have your solar and wind farms wherever you want along that grid, so if one was not getting sun or wind, the other one would

    Cahen goes on to say the the country that is doing best on renewables is … China … a country that one pro-renewables poster would surely be forced to describe as having a “dictatorial resource allocation system”. That gives the lie to the linkage between market democracy and renewables.

    There’s a link at the PM site to a more extensive interview.

  118. hi all:

    someone on one of my green lists posted a comment about thyroid cancer incidence up 124 % since the late 70s in the U.S. due to ionizing radiation.

    I critiqued this pretty thoroughly; the best rebuttal was to reference the BEIR VII report defending LNT. No further argument.

    any good ideas in response to this sort of defense of LNT?

    Thanks,

    g

  119. gregory meyerson, on 14 May 2010 at 9.12 Said:

    “someone on one of my green lists posted a comment about thyroid cancer incidence up 124 % since the late 70s in the U.S. due to ionizing radiation.”

    The normal incidence of “occult” thyroid cancers is very high in most countries. Although such cancers do not cause any visible clinical disturbance, they are histologically malignant, aggressive, and are usually discovered in the course of a post-mortem pathological examination, or by imaging studies.

    Better imaging, usually involving some sort of ionizing radiation, is uncovering more of these lesions earlier, and thus bettering the survival rate from this sort of cancer.

    Thus it is dissemination of the worst kind to imply that ionizing radiation is the cause, but typical of the sort of logic that we are now seeing in this debate.

  120. gregory meyerson, on 14 May 2010 at 10.20 — Better would be “linear no-threshold hypothesis”.

    Anyway, I find this hypothesis to be not very credible, based on what is known about cellular level repair. A damaged cell (damaged by any means, including but not limited to ionizing radiation) proceeds to under a rather delicate repair process. It is delicate in that whille undergoing repir the cell is in a state where further damage can either kill the cell or possibly causing it to become cancerous.

    The conclusion is that low leels of ionizing radiation are not particularly harmful. For example, measure cancer rates in Denver with its much higher level of background radiation.

    What’s makes this all quite, quite difficult is the effects of longlasting chemical damage, such as nasty chemicals but also heavy metals such as lead. Lead, at least, causes (fairly) permanent damage and then I don’t know what happens to the cellular repair processes. Ugh.

  121. just read charles barton’s piece on “voids” in the coolant of IFRs that could produce runaway reactions.

    any response from IFR defenders? isn’t the thermal expansion of the metal fuel the first passive safety feature? If this works to shut down any chain reaction, how would the voids operate?

    and: while I have asked for summary pieces of LFTRs, can anyone recommend pieces that compare LFTRs and IFRs?

  122. G.R.L. Cowan, H2 energy fan ’til ~1996, on 14 May 2010 at 11.09 Said:

    Dissemination, spreading seeds.

    dissemination

    1. The act of disseminating, or the state of being disseminated; diffusion for propagation and permanence; a scattering or spreading abroad, as of ideas, beliefs, etc.

    Root: disseminate

    disseminate

    to disseminate

    1. (transitive) To sow and scatter principles, ideas, opinions, and errors

  123. charles barton suggests that IFRs, unlike LFTRs, carry a weapons proliferation problem.

    I am surprised to hear Charles say this since he normally debunks the charge, whatever the reactor. I have even used his arguments in talks.

    so it sort of looks like Charles is dismissing the charge when leveled by anti nukes but resuscitating it against a rival gen four reactor.

    what’s going on?

  124. Good question Gregory, I’m not sure what’s going on in Charles’ mind at the moment. You are also correct about the -ve feedbacks inherent in the metal fuel technology. Nothing could better demonstrate this than the two experiments of the safety of the passive feedback system in 1986 at the EBR-II.

  125. Is Sydney’s trigeneration push fair dinkum?
    http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/thedirections/projects/EnviroPerfProj.asp
    While it might work at sites like the airport that are not hemmed in I’m not sure about refitting too many buildings in the CBD. Another issue is future gas prices. I note the go-to person did Woking UK but now a lot (25%?) of UK gas comes from Siberia that looks vulnerable. I understand a member of the NSW Premier’s family is also behind Better Place battery swap cars.

    Trigeneration may work out well for selected sites but after that I see diminishing returns. They even hint at that by mentioning methanol as a gas alternative. Their point about saving waste heat could also be addressed by attaching desals to large out-of-town thermal plants.

  126. For all those that still believe the myths that the general public doesn’t want a nuclear generating station near them, and that private money will not have anything to do with new nuclear plants, I offer this:

    One Nuclear Stock to Rule them All

    By Nick Hodge
    Thursday, May 13th, 2010

    An immense battle has been won…

    After countless board meetings, voting procedures, and legislation changes, one very small American energy company has joined the big dogs.

    You’ve probably never heard of them, but that’s probably because their name hasn’t been plastered all over every major media outlet in the United States.

    If anything, they’ve flown under the radar… but that won’t last for long.

    That’s because they’re one of the most exciting energy companies leading the charge in the current American nuclear renaissance.

    As our nation transitions from dangerous, filthy, environmentally-damaging energy sources such as oil and gas, there are a select few companies who are leagues ahead of the pack.

    And these guys are one of them.

    In fact on May 11, 2010, this tiny company was granted approval to build its nuclear industrial complex on a 5,000-acre plot of land in Idaho.

    This is extremely important because until a few days ago, this particular land had been zoned for agricultural use only.

    But once the facts were revealed on just what a boon a nuclear power plant would have on the economy, this company didn’t have a whole lot of trouble getting that changed…

    According to the National Association of Manufacturers, a single new nuclear power plant can add $500 million annually to the economy.

    Not only that, but the Idaho plant is expected to create roughly 5,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 jobs during operations (with pay levels averaging $60k and $80k, respectively).

    Furthermore, according to Nuclear Street: “The projected revenue for the county and state is staggering. During construction alone the project should increase Idaho’s GDP by $5.3 billion, while $4.8 billion will flow directly through [the county].”

    Money talks. And a new power plant in Idaho would mean a ton of money for a ton of folks.

    Maybe that’s why an overwhelming eighty percent of local citizens voted for this company’s progress.

    Full article here: The Best Nuclear Energy Stock

    As I have written before, there is a great deal of difference between what we are told about the public’s mood on nuclear energy and what is the real truth on the ground.

  127. gregory meyerson, i do not believe that the IFR is a very good proliferation tool. I do think that convincing the public and the anti-proliferation community is going to be really difficult. I was trying to point to that problem. It is going to be a lot easier to convince people about the LFTR simply because we don’t carriage a piece of baggage marked plutonium. But if i were going to build a plutonium based weapon, I would sure prefer a graphite pile to an IFR to produce the plutonium That is sort of like buying a racehorse for stud, and then using it to plow a field.

  128. on energy for thorium, there was posted a rebuttal to an IEER publication “debunking” thorium fuel.

    the fact that thorium fuel ain’t plutonium isn’t going to stop the anti nuclear people, as the IEER piece on TF attests.

  129. greg meyerson, a whole lot more people know or at least think they know what plutonium is than people who know about thorium good or bad. PR people will tell you that you have a whole lot fewer image problems if you don’t have a reputation verses having a bad reputation, even if that reputation is undesirved.

  130. Hi DV8,
    interesting article. It raises another question though. When we come to modular nuclear power plant factories that will contain most of the jobs, which state gets them? There will not be the same excitement over the jobs being associated with the plant if the whole thing is coming pre-fabricated off the back of a truck. But I guess the important thing by this stage would be the speed of deployment, and reliability of cheap power, that will be the overall boons to the broader economy generally.

  131. DV82XL,

    Thank you for that very good news at http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-65401

    I agree money talks. All you have to do is look at the windmills sprouting up all over the place in NSW. Each farmer gets paid something like $10,000 per wind mill and ongoing income. That’s a lot easier money than shearing sheep. So no wonder the desperate farmers want all the windmills they can get.

    Money talks. But it would much better for all of us if the money was spent on projects that make sense – like the Idaho example.

  132. eclipsenow – For the time being modular reactors are some time down the road. Unlike many in the pronuclear camp, I am focused on the very short term, and that means getting NGS built now, with existing, type-approved designs and technologies.

    I am also more interested in showing that many of the reasons given by the media as to why the public doesn’t want nuclear power are constructs and that local feeling can drive as well as stop a project.

    It’s about putting our efforts where it will make the most difference, instead of trying to change things globally. I know this doesn’t apply to Australia right at the moment, but you should be looking at locations now where the public is on-side.

  133. DV82XL,

    I can’t open the link to the Idaho article. Could you please post it again. I’ve found this link: http://commoditiesreporter.com/alternative-energy/the-best-nuclear-energy-stock/

    I notice that it is the APR-1400 from Korea. That should really set the competitive juices flowing in the USA.

    But I expect the USA will protect their own nuclear manufacturers, perhaps with tariffs or some other protection measure. If the USA does decide to compete rahter than protect, then this could be the start of getting nuclear down to the cost it should be. I envisage a lot of anti-nuclear regulations being shredded. If this could get going like a snow ball, ther is no end to what we could do to get the cost of nuclear down to well below the cost of coal.

    I really hope this gets rolling.

    DV82XL, do you have any more information on the schedule and/or costs?

  134. eclipsenow, on 15 May 2010 at 9.27 — Factory built helps lower cost, but there still well be plenty of local construction work for site preparation and assembly. In addition, of course, there are the ongoing operations personnel, who are usually rather well compensated.

  135. DV82XL,

    It’s about putting our efforts where it will make the most difference, instead of trying to change things globally. I know this doesn’t apply to Australia right at the moment, but you should be looking at locations now where the public is on-side.

    You are influencing my thinking. I am coming around … but slowly.

    My initial reaction is you are correct, … but.

    Then the buts start. Here are some that pop into my head.

    1. I think the anti nuclear sentiment in Australia is fairly consistent across the whole continent. There may be small pockets where the sentiment is supportive, but these locations are not where we most need nuclear power first. We most need nuclear power first, in my opinion, in Victoria and NSW. Those are the tow largest states (by population) and have the main manufacturing base. The places where nuclear would be most acceptable would be in the mining areas, but that is not where the manufacturing base is.

    2. We could argue for Ceduna to be our first NPP, but I suspect it will have trouble getting support. I may be wrong.

    3. The first power plants are going to have to be on sites where they can grow to be large multi-unit power plants. It will make nuclear a higher cost option than it needs to be if we are thinking of just one or two units at our first site. Another reason I am not yet persuaded Ceduna is a good location for the first NPP.

  136. Peter Lang – Do you know this about public opinion in Australia, or is it something you have read and been told so often that you have grown to accept it without question?

    Finding supportive locals is a boots on the ground survey, it is difficult to project what is and what isn’t, at such a fine level of resolution, from national metadata.

  137. Payette County, Idaho map
    http://maps.google.com/maps/place?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=Payette+County,+Idaho++map&fb=1&gl=us&ftid=0x54af9ea099bfd537:0x8caca92739b17bc3&ei=YvftS4HaI4GIsgOjnJToDw&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBcQ8gEwAA
    Conservative traditional farming area with considerable irrigation; ever expanding manufacture, especially high tech, in Boise to the southeast.

    Impressive that the locals are in favor. This might be the beginning of a sea change in the States.

  138. DV82XL,

    I’ve seen many surveys of the level of support for, and (hatred of) nuclear amongst Australians. I don’t have links to hand so it would take a lot of work to go and find the ones I would consider reliable. I understnad that the last governments support for nuclear was very unpopular in the electorate and this was shown in poling during the last election campaign and as a reason for not voting for the Coalition in exit poles. Labor certainly ran a successful scare campaign during the election asking people “would you want a nuclear power plant in your suburb?” The fact they ran that campaign shows that their poling demonstrated that nuclear is a real turn off for the electorate. The fact that the last primeminister had to back pedal (somewhat) during the election campaign on their support for nuclear, also shows that being pro nuclear is an electoral liability.

    So we have a way to go in Australia.

  139. Peter Lang, – I will bow to your better knowledge of what things are, and are not in your country. I only wished to bring up the possibility that at least some of the stated opposition to nuclear is a media construct. If that is not the case there, then at least you can cross this off, and look to some other tactics.

  140. Labor certainly ran a successful scare campaign during the election asking people “would you want a nuclear power plant in your suburb?” The fact they ran that campaign shows that their poling demonstrated that nuclear is a real turn off for the electorate.

    This scare campaign was orchestrated and assisted with help from a pro-labour ANU think-tank which intervened in the public debate at a critical time with a list of likely locations for nuclear power plants under a re-elected Howard government. I wonder if there were anti-nuclear campaigns focused on those electorates ths identified?

    Based just on my personal experience of talking to people I realise that there’s plenty of opposition to nuclear power in Australia, but I’ve also learned that there’s a lot of unstated support as well. I believe that a well-targeted publicity campaign could rapidly switch the balance in this country.

  141. If my memory serves me correctly, no great effort was made at the time to go on about why having a local NPP would be so bad. I think they just coasted on people’s default assumptions about nuclear power without opening themselves up to the ridk of being debunked, and unfortunately there was no real organised vocal pro-nuclear movement at the time to take them to task.

  142. DV82XL, I do agree with you that the media generally doesn’t like nuclear. They love pictures of solar and windmills. The ABC nearly always says things like “save the climate with renewable energy, such as wind and solar pwoer” and shows pictures of these in the background. It is heart wrenching publicity and emotion, and its shown frequently. Has been for 20 years. No wonder the population is brainwashed.

    Finrod,

    I believe that a well-targeted publicity campaign could rapidly switch the balance in this country.

    True, but very difficult. We don’t have the resources. We’d need enormous resources.

    I wonder if our best route migh not be to try to change the mind of the people who control the policy of ACF.

    If we could get ACF to change its mind, I think the flood gates would open. Then we could change the opinion of several union leaders and ALP policy. We’d be on a roll.

  143. This is what they are finding in Europe – the general public’s antinuclear sentiments are apparently a lot softer than was original thought, and are very amenable to change.

  144. Finrod,

    If the coalition could ahve gained votes by running a pro-nuclear policy in the targeted electorates they wouild have. But it takes far too long to change the opinions of people who have been receiving incessant anti-nuclear propoganda from the media for decades.

    We can see from the long slow change of the converts who blog on BNC, that it takes a very long time to change those deeply held beliefs.

    So I reitterate, if we could change the mind of the leaderrs in the ACF, I suggest that is a best shot for a quick change of the levle of support for nuclear.

  145. DV82XL,

    I agree that the Europeans are much more open to nuclear power. But that is very different to here. The Europeans have been living with nuclear power for 55 years. We have none.

    I remember in Canada that the Eastern states were much more supporting of nuclear than the Western States. BC hated the idea. The further you get from where it is already running, the greater the fear and resistance.

    I do believe that if we could get a breakthrough with one of the groups that has political influence and is currently strongly anti nuclear, we could get a very quick change in sentiment.

    When Labor was negotiating support for their ETS. it was the ACF that was most flexible, best able to make sensible compromises and therefore had by far the most influence with government. That is why I see the ACF as the most likely to be able to change and the most powerful influence if they did change.

    They’d have to sell it to their members of course. And they would lose many. I am hoping that if they did it will, they could win more members than they would lose. If they did it right they could attract a lot of people who want a real solution to GHG emissions and are agnostic on technology. The people who just want a result that will work.

    I have zero influence with ACF. But I suspect there are others here that may have.

  146. Peter Lang – I tend to stay out of political discussions of other countries, mostly because I don’t know enough detail, so I can’t comment on the Australian situation.

  147. If the coalition could ahve gained votes by running a pro-nuclear policy in the targeted electorates they wouild have. But it takes far too long to change the opinions of people who have been receiving incessant anti-nuclear propoganda from the media for decades.

    I respectfully suggest that the strategic and tactical calculations of an incumbent government under electoral threat with only a few months to go before an election may well indicate a withdrawal from a controversial long-term policy goal and a redirection of resources to issues which could give it more traction in the short term in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.

    We can see from the long slow change of the converts who blog on BNC, that it takes a very long time to change those deeply held beliefs.

    There may be a selection effect at work here. The kind of people likely to comment on BNC probably start out with positions they are passionate about and engaged with from before BNC existed. They may not be good indicators of the depth and harddness of sentiment in the wider community one way or the other.

    So I reitterate, if we could change the mind of the leaderrs in the ACF, I suggest that is a best shot for a quick change of the levle of support for nuclear.

    If so, Barry is probably in a better position than any of us to assess this path and utilise it.

  148. DV82XL,

    I started off answering your point and then drifted over to talking to everyone. Sorry. My final paragraphs weren’t really meant to be addressed to you. It was just me thinking out loud.

  149. Possum Comitatus has good aggregate data on polling on attitudes to nuclear. I think the most recent was from October last year:

    An Updated History of Nuclear Polling

    Over the last 3-4 years, we have seen both support growing, and opposition dropping. Right now, total support (49%) outweighs total opposition (43%).

    1 in 6 strongly support nuclear. Thats been flat over time.
    1 in 3 generally support NP. That number has been growing strongly.
    1 in 5 generally oppose. That number has been dropping slowly.
    1 in 5 strongly oppose. That number has been dropping rapidly.

    I’ll quote Possum’s general summary:

    The key trends here are firstly, the growth in total support for nuclear power is coming from a general support increase rather than an increasing trend in strong support – and that trend is pretty clear.

    Secondly, the reduction in the level of total opposition to nuclear power is coming from the sizable trend reduction in those that”strongly oppose”, while there has been a smaller increase in general opposition. That suggests that over the last three years people’s views against nuclear power are tempering – where strong opposition is slowly changing to general opposition, and where general opposition is slowly changing into general support.

    If you’re after a textbook case of the process a population goes through when changing their opinion on a key policy area – this probably isn’t a bad example so far.

    The only category that hasn’t budged is the “strongly support” group. I see the work Barry is doing could definitely add to that group, as could a group like ACF. These are the people for whom it is an “issue”, and its important to grow that group.

    Possums looked at this question several times. I wonder if he’d be open to a guest post here?

  150. John, I suggest that if these numbers can be used as a basis for action, then optimal results will be gained by targeting the general support demographic for conversion to strong support.

  151. Peter, this is true, but there are quite a number of different polls here, and the questions are in good measure surrogates for each other. Possum responded to this point in the comments, so I will quote him again:

    In an ideal world we’d all love to have identical questions – but we don’t.

    What we do have is a fairly broad set of questions, asking about the introduction of nuclear power. In the same way that differently worded approval ratings and voting intention questions all broadly “move together” – we would expect the same here over time if there was any real movement in the true underlying level of public opinion.

    And that’s what we seem to be witnessing.

    Is it as accurate as it could be? Nope.

    Is it still fairly accurate? Yep.

    I think you would ignore the trend at your peril.

  152. The fact that the last primeminister had to back pedal (somewhat) during the election campaign on their support for nuclear, also shows that being pro nuclear is an electoral liability.

    I remember hating Howard for wanting to force that on us. Wow… look how far a little bit of information can change someone’s political stance on a very important subject!

  153. John Morgan,

    I agree “I think you would ignore the trend at your peril”.

    I agree the trend is happenning. If it was a faster, stronger trend we’d recognise it because both political parties would become pro-nuclear. We’re not there yet, but moving in the right direction.

    I doubt either party will run with a pro-nuclear party to this election. But I expect whichever party is in government will be pro nuclear during the next term of government.

    Then our problem is to try to convince them and the public that we must ain for low cost nuclear power and try to avoid as much of the cost imposts as possible.

  154. I’d point out that the RET still commits us to expensive electricity even without the ETS. See the 4th dot point in
    http://www.energymatters.com.au/carbon-trading/recs/index.php
    In 2020 the RET will require the purchase of 45 million Renewable Energy Certificates each of 1 Mwh. At the current spot price of $45 that would be worth about $2bn. If it was physically possible to achieve a frugal energy mix of say 5 GW renewable 20 GW fossil fuelled we may be able to reduce electrical generation caused CO2 from 200 Mt (per Grenhouse Inventory) to say 180 Mt. Ignoring the additional cost of compulsory renewables that saving of 20 Mt of CO2e will cost $2bn in RECs or $100 per tonne of CO2 avoided. Whatever the actual set of numbers I don’t think Joe Public will like it.

  155. I’m certainly someone who went from being strongly opposed to nuclear power in the late 1970s to generally opposed throughout the 1980s (though interestingly I was in a leftwing political party that was technologically agnostic), adopted a kind of malign neutrality throughout the 1990s and early 2000s and became strongly supportive about 4-5 years ago under the impact of climate discussions.

    Had it not been for AGW, I might not have paid the kind of attention I did to the issues around fossil fuels.

    The anti-nuclear campaign ran by the ALP last time around was pure marginal seat opportunism. As has been remarked often enough, regardless of the actual support for nuclear power, there’s more than enough angst to torpedo any party’s chances if they can be cast as its supporters. If you have a killer argument and all you want is political office, are you really going to stay principled?

    Of course not. Political parties will say anything they think gets them a cheap win. That applies to both the major sides of politics here. It really says very little about what they think of nuclear power and quite a lot about what the non-rusted on think about nuclear power. The core voters will never switch sides, but there are probably about 20% who might, and an issue like nuclear only needs to make about half of that number shift one way.

    And quite apart from that, debates about nuclear tend to suck the oxygen out of the room. The parties don’t get to argue about the issues they think play well for them, so it’s a damned nuisance from the POV of the minders and apparatchiks. The ALP don’t mind so much because the people who are frightened tend to be sympathetic to the ALP but occasionally vote Coalition. The Coalition wants to talk about the economy or national security and nuclear contaminates that debate, so they hate it.

  156. The more I reflect on this issue the more I think there’s a need for some sort of standing commission on nuclear energy issues (something like the IPCC only within Australia) that could accept expert evidence and publish reports (say at 3-monthly intervals) on various aspects of nuclear power feasibility as it would apply within Australia. It would be good if members of the public could submit specific questions and these could be summarised and incorporated into regular FAQs published by the commission.

    An independent scientific body like that could really be a circuit breaker in this debate. Maybe we should try and commit our pollies to doing something like that.

  157. Lalor, just how exactly is it that a blog devoted to the issue of climate change induced by CO2 emissions and promoting the ONLY energy source capable of replacing both coal and natgas for baseload power generation could be said to be overlooking that issue? Next thing you’ll be claiming that Rod Adams never has anything to say about fossil fuels and their grip on decision making. Get a grip.

  158. I thought the article linked by Peter Lalor provided some eye catching factoids
    1) Australia will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest carbon exporter
    2) Big Coal is buying community support through sponsorships
    3) Ferguson says new coal fired plant will be built.

    This is why it is tempting to vote for the anti-nuclear Greens just to spoil the party. Then vote them out to get some fresh thinkers on the political scene.

  159. It is actually a good article Finrod. If you rely on it, the case for nuclear power is strengthened.

    I don’t doubt that. I was attacking Peter Lalor’s slur against the posters and commenters of BNC, not the article he linked to.

  160. Peter Lang, on 6 May 2010

    The only way to remove a risk premium on Nuclear installations is to remove the risk. Some people thing that the way to achieve this is to blot out the poor safety history of the industry with Perception Smoothing, or selective memory and rapid fire restatement.

    Unfortuneately nuclear contamination leaves a measureable physical histroy trail.

  161. Unfortuneately nuclear contamination leaves a measureable physical histroy trail

    Indeed. It leaves a trail so measurable that traces of it can be detected easily at far lower concentrations than other materials, and at far lower levels than could ever be considered dangerous. Radioactive materials have the useful property of calling out and letting you know exactly where they are, and in what quantity. This excellent feature greatly enhances the safety quality of the material, making it a cinch to work out where any out-of-place radioactive material is, and whether or not it is all gone if you're cleaning it up. Of course, disingenuous anti-nuclear activists have exploited this property to pretend to the public that the danger is much greater than it is, taking measurements of pefectly ordinary background radiation levels around nuclear sites and reacting in horror to the clicking of their Geiger counters.

    People are starting to see through your nonsense, and if you've come here thinking you can dig up dead-and-buried anti-nuke arguments about radiation dangers and alarming the regular commenters, you'd better think again.

  162. Unfortuneately nuclear contamination leaves a measureable physical histroy trail.

    There’s nothing unfortunate about that. Radioactive materials have the property of calling out and letting you know exactly where they are. This enables us to know exactly how much of it is about, and whether or not we’ve got it all if some has to be cleaned up, far more easily than with any other material. Radioactive materials can be detected at quantities far below anything resembling a dangerous level. This is an excellent safety feature built naturally into the material.

    It is true that mendacious anti-nuclear activists have occasionally run around with Geiger counters at nuclear sites registering the perfectly ordinary natural background radiation levels pretending that they’re above normal, and that this represents some kind of danger. People are starting to see this nonsense for what it is, and if you think you’re going to cut any ice with your lies on this site, you can think again.

  163. Some people thing that the way to achieve this is to blot out the poor safety history of the industry

    Nuclear power has the best safety record per kW.h generated of any form of power generation bar none, and that’s with the Chernobyl stats included.

  164. RE: Activist strategies…

    I’m wondering if Barry would be into attractively designed flyers advertising this site? My better half is a designer. Would that be a strategy you’d like, or would it just generate a lot more annoying blogging trouble? (Like me at the beginning spewing out all the normal cliché objections).

    Which is the best way to get this info out there? I guess Barry’s radio and TV and book launches are reaching far more people than silly grassroots flyers for uni bulletin boards. (They’d have those little tear off tabs down the bottom of the flyer to get back to this site).

    Just wondering how we reach the youth and university aged group.

  165. The only way to remove a risk premium on Nuclear installations is to remove the risk.

    The risk which risk premiums are addressing in places like the US are, of course, the risks of political interference with the construction, licensing and operation of NPPs, that is to say, a risk entirely created by the malign interference of anti-nuclear activists such as yourself. I fully agree that we should be working as swiftly as possible to consign that risk to the sewerage treatment plant of history.

  166. Finrod,

    That depends entirely upon which stats you accept as being the real ones. The glossy brocure stats seem ok. Scratch the paint and there is an mass of bog underneath.

    With 27 of the US’s nuclear sites leaking radiation into groundwater at present and on 1 company keen to be proactive in fixing the problem, I don’t see how you can talk about “safe”.

  167. Minor tritium leaks are not a public health hazard. The hysteria whipped up over the Vermont Yankee plant recently, for instance, was over an amount of tritium dwarfed by the tritium content of an average theatre exit sign.

    Of course, according to the likes of Caldicott, NPPs have already killed the entire population of humans on the earth millions of times over, and killed us all way deader than we would otherwise be if we’d died of lead poisoning, or drowning or something.

  168. BilB, what Finrod says is correct. See for instance Fig 24.11 of Sustainable energy without the hot air. Nuclear power has the lowest associated mortality rate per kWhr. Every kWhr we can transition from some other source to nuclear generation will save lives and improve health. If your concern is truly for the welfare of power industry workers and the community they serve, then you would certainly want to see increased penetration of nuclear power into the power generation mix.

  169. With 27 of the US’s nuclear sites leaking radiation into groundwater at present

    Can you please provide some information on one of these leaks? ie, for a specific plant, how what is leaking, how much, and what do you believe the public risk to be?

    Thanks.

  170. Finrod,
    The US government internally knows the real story of TMI-2 and how close that came to being a Chernobyl from the containment chamber hydrogen explosion, so what the government knows over what the public believes ensures that the risk is a nightmare. Further more, for nuclear to have any kind of real future, there has to be a move to fast breeder reactors meaning higher temperatures, more dangerous fuels, higher nuetron loads on containment materials, and a new generation of control systems, all leading an entirely new level of failure risk . The risk is not going away and governments know it.

    Then there are those who think of the past when talking of Australia’s stability and security. This is to ignore political reality.

  171. John Morgan

    http://www.chernobylee.com/blog/2010/03/radioactive-tritium-leaking-fr.php

    Again JM it depends upon which mortality figures you prefer to include in the calculation. And PV has a pretty good safety record per kwhr as does CSP.

    “Every kWhr we can transition from some other source to nuclear generation will save lives and improve health”

    I doubt that you have done any calculations to verify that claim.

    “If your concern is truly for the welfare of power industry workers and the community they serve”

    Solar energy is a substantial employer. CSP employs at least 500 people per gigawatt which is the primary cost balanced against the absolutely free energy source. Renewables employ a greater diversity of people with lower skill levels, and contrary to a paper I read linked by this website does not cost jobs.

  172. BilB, that article refers to measurement of tritium in sampling wells at a Vermont power plant of about 2 million picocurie per liter.

    Here’s a picture of an exit light, a glow in the dark safety sign in common usage. This light has 1.2 trillion picocuries of tritium. Break this harmless lightbulb into a million litres of water, and thats the scale of the tritium concentration measured. No one, anywhere, was at any risk from this.

    And yet this plant is being closed, and 620 MW of clean electricity will be replaced by burning fossil fuels. Thats more electricity than produced by all Australia’s wind and solar power plants. This is criminal disregard for our climate, fueled by scare campaigns, riding on ignorance. Well done BilB for being part of the problem.

  173. The US government internally knows the real story of TMI-2 and how close that came to being a Chernobyl from the containment chamber hydrogen explosion, so what the government knows over what the public believes ensures that the risk is a nightmare.

    The hydrogen bubble was in the pressure vessel, not the containment dome, which would have likely maintained integrity in an explosion. At any rate, the lessons of TMI were thoroughly absorbed by the industry in the west.

    Further more, for nuclear to have any kind of real future, there has to be a move to fast breeder reactors meaning higher temperatures, more dangerous fuels, higher nuetron loads on containment materials, and a new generation of control systems, all leading an entirely new level of failure risk . The risk is not going away and governments know it.

    Not necessarily. The liquid fluoride thorium reactor, which is a thermal-spectrum breeder has excellent safety features. But at any rate, there’s no reason why fast breeders cannot be made at least as safe as the light water reactors or the CANDUs with their enviable safety records.

  174. “Every kWhr we can transition from some other source to nuclear generation will save lives and improve health”

    I doubt that you have done any calculations to verify that claim.

    Why would you imagine I haven’t? Here, I’ll do it again:

    Taking the data from the ExternE study, (used in the graph I linked earlier) if we replace 1 GW of coal generation with 1 GW we would save about 2.7 lives per year.

    If we replaced 1 GW of wind (assuming we had it) with 1 GW of nuclear, we would save maybe 0.1 lives a year (there’s not much in it).

    I have no data on solar, but rooftop installation is far from safe work.

  175. Again JM it depends upon which mortality figures you prefer to include in the calculation. And PV has a pretty good safety record per kwhr as does CSP.

    Just including the stats for solar panel installers who get killed falling off roofs would likely blow that assertion completely out of the water. Anyway, neither PV nor CSP have anything like enough exojoules notched up to their credit to produce a good statistical average yet. Of course, we have not yet begun to contemplate the casualties which would accrue to ‘renewable’ systems by virtue of their being unable to run the amenities of modern society.

  176. In February, electrical engineer Peter Seligman of Melbourne Energy Institute

    http://www.energy.unimelb.edu.au

    uploaded an addition to/AU version of David Mackay’s book, having met Mackay last year.

    I searched on Seligman on BNC just now and drew a blank. I don’t recall any discussion on BNC about him either.

    While thanking Diesendorf in Version 1.0 for his help (pause while BNC breathes heavily), Seligman seems to be saying that AU can go renewable with geothermal, wind and solar and use e.g. pumped clifftop seawater storage.

    Uranium i.e. Gen II or III NPPs is not mentioned as such, but thorium is.

    No doubt somebody on BNC has read and refuted all this to their satisfaction; can s/he post a link to it please.

  177. Peter, I did briefly comment on it at the time, as did Barry. I don’t recall which thread, it would take some time to locate the comment, but there wasn’t much detail beyond what you have given. Feel free to provide your own refutation.

  178. Scare campaign?

    “Of course, we have not yet begun to contemplate the casualties which would accrue to ‘renewable’ systems by virtue of their being unable to run the amenities of modern society.”

    ditto.

    This is a statement base in equal diregard for reality.

    The hydrogen expolosion affected the containment dome, in the report that I read, causing extensive damage to the offices therein wehile ejecting a huge amount of contamination into the outer atmosphere through a pressure vent. The event was denied by management but confirmed in reports and eye witness accounts.

    Comparing casualties to coal is a meaningless exercise. The Coal burning must be eliminated that is a given and the options are CSP or Nuclear. CSP installation is shovel ready using skills and equipment readily available. So to not comense installing CSP is costing lives.

    JM you are trivialising the potential danger from radiation leaks. Tritium has a 12.3 year half life and has the potential to iradiate other materials. Ground water tends to flow in fissues and channels with a minimum of mixing. The million litre agument is a diversionary asumption. This is in farmland where there are wells very probably. The momentary radiation level is in no way a measure of the volume of released contamination material.

    If you are using Mackay’s website as a reference for solar energy it is my observation that his work is significantly flawed, from what I viewed so far.

  179. The hydrogen expolosion affected the containment dome, in the report that I read, causing extensive damage to the offices therein wehile ejecting a huge amount of contamination into the outer atmosphere through a pressure vent. The event was denied by management but confirmed in reports and eye witness accounts.

    Except, of course, there was no hydrogen explosion.

    If you are using Mackay’s website as a reference for solar energy it is my observation that his work is significantly flawed, from what I viewed so far.

    ‘Significantly flawed’, translated from BilBspeak, means that he doesn’t like what Mackay is saying because it doesn’t fit in with his prejudices.

    Typical renewables supporter. If the facts don’t fit, just make some shit up. You’re not cutting a very fine figure here so far, Bilb, and you’re not playing to a home audience any more. Best you recognise that.

  180. The hydrogen expolosion affected the containment dome, in the report that I read, causing extensive damage to the offices therein

    There are offices inside the containment vessel? Huh?

    JM you are trivialising the potential danger from radiation leaks. Tritium has a 12.3 year half life and has the potential to iradiate other materials. Ground water tends to flow in fissues and channels with a minimum of mixing. The million litre agument is a diversionary asumption. This is in farmland where there are wells very probably. The momentary radiation level is in no way a measure of the volume of released contamination material.

    It “has the potential to irradiate other materials”? What does that mean? Tritium is a very low energy beta emitter, those low energy betas aren’t particularly penetrating.

    What quantitative off-site tritium concentrations due to potential releases from the nuclear power plant are we seeing at nuclear power plants such as Vermont Yankee? Real numbers please, not just rhetoric.

    What is the maximum possible ionising radiation dose contribution to an off-site person (“fencepost man”) from ingestion of tritium at these concentrations?

    Real facts and data, please, not merely drama and rhetoric.

  181. I’m sorry I missed most of this fight, although the regulars obviously had things under control.

    One of the touchstones to determine that you are dealing with a delusional antinuke (especially an American one) is their capacity to see a vast government conspiracy to support nuclear power in the face of a moratorium on plant construction in the US that has actually seen the number of NPP shrink due to closures.

    They believe the government manipulates the rules in favour of nuclear against the will of the people, yet several plants have been closed due to public campaigns like the one being waged against Vermont Yankee.

    In general these people have an almost breathtaking capacity to make two diametrically opposed assertions simultaneously, and argue both in the same breath

  182. “Gundersen cites affidavits from four reactor operators according to which the plant manager was aware of a dramatic pressure spike, after which the internal pressure dropped to outside pressure. Gundersen also notes that the control room shook and doors were blown off hinges. However official NRC reports refer merely to a “hydrogen burn.” [29] The Kemeny Commission referred to “a burn or an explosion that caused pressure to increase by 28 pounds per square inch in the containment building”.[38] The Washington Post reported that “At about 2 p.m., with pressure almost down to the point where the huge cooling pumps could be brought into play, a small hydrogen explosion jolted the reactor.”

    On the one hand
    “tritium is hazardous when you drink it, eat it, breathe it in or you absorb it through your skin”

    and
    “tritium is one of the least dangerous radionuclides”
    on the other.

    Luke W you miss the point that radiation levels from what winds in a well is no certain measure of the volume flowing from an underground leak.

    But all of that is fairly arbitrary. My argument against nuclear energy in Australia is that it will be a commercial failure because it will fail to achieve a presence significant enough to justify its introduction because of the rapidly changing nature of energy alternatives. And this change is unstopable because it is a global drive involving millions of people.

  183. Finrod, Mackay’s calculations on solar PV yields are based upon panels laying flat on the ground if you read his paper, and his calculations drift around with the wind.

  184. americans receive on average about 360 mrem of radiation from various sources. what are we going to get from these tritium leaks?

    nothing is my guess. anti nukes like to talk pico curies because it generates “huge numbers.”

    I have heard anti nukes generate huge sounding numbers for nuke ghg emissions by using really small units. Grams of CO2 instead of tons, for example.

    while it may be useful to talk of grams of CO2/kwh, using it to speak of bulk carbon emissions seems to have the point of inflating the numbers for people who don’t know how to interpret them.

  185. BilB – You don’t get it do you? Three Mile Island was proof that a full excursion in a Western designed reactor can be contained. It doesn’t matter how the technically ignorant like you try and spin it as a disaster, it wasn’t and far from being covered up, it was the most researched nuclear related incident in US history. Nothing has been covered up, in fact the government over reacted by calling a moratorium on new builds,

    There have been no other group of people more closely monitored than the population around TMI, yet nothing of significance has been found.

    Canadian nuclear operators are permitted to release tritium as T2O at levels far exceeding the amounts that are allowed in the States, yet there is no indication that this has caused any heath problems in the nearby communities. And don’t tell me Canadian regulators are soft – the CNSC is one of the most tight-assed regulators there are. Remember they cut off the world’s supply of medical isotopes, over a back-up secondary emergency pump, and forced the Canadian parliament to hold a special session to overrule them.

    Tritium is a red herring. The fact that it can be detected in such infinitesimal amounts is what is driving this hysteria, if you could detect CN down to those levels with the same ease, you could find it in the effluent of any industry, yet no one makes a fuss about that.

  186. “yet nothing of significance has been found”

    That is not true. There are other studies of abnormal infant mortality rates far down wind. And that would be consistent with a high pressure ejection of radiactivity resulting from a hydrogen explosion in the reactor vessel. From my reading all of the official studies were done in the near vacinity of the plant.

    The stalling of the nuclear programme wasn’t just about TMI, It was more about the prospect of fast breeder reactors cooled with a liquid sodium and water system. Anybody with any sense at all got the jitters about that prospect .

  187. BilB – Post proof or stand down. I have read most if not all of these so-called studies, and in every case the trends were far below the statistical noise floor.

    Keep in mind:

    >5 sigma: discovery
    ~3 sigma: observation
    <1.5 sigma: noise

    All of these 'findings' were well below 1 sigma.

    But post links to them that we can all see, and I'll dismantle each and every one of these right here and show how they indicate nothing at all.

    And your grasp of the history of the US nuclear reactor moratorium is flawed. Between 1979 and 1981 most State legislatures passed nuclear moratorium laws expressly stating that they were moved to act in response to TMI, as any Google search will show

  188. “Anybody with any sense at all got the jitters about that prospect .”

    seems like scare talk. I’m assuming you’re talking about sodium fires.

    how likely and how serious would these sodium fires be?

    stainless steel separates the water/steam from the secondary sodium loop and stainless steel is non reactive with sodium. The sodium in the secondary loop is nonradioactive.

    from Tom Blees:

    the only way water and sodium could mix would be in the “unlikely event of a breach in the water side heat exchanger loop [made of double walled stainless steel, non reactive with sodium].” In the event of a leak, sodium “would flow out at a low rate because of the unpressurized system.”

    Tom notes that the room where “the heat exchanger brings the sodium loop and water loop together could also be filled with argon as a precautionary measure, argon being noted for its fire extinguishing properties.”

    the sodium fire in the japan reactor in the nineties was mostly smoke and this reactor was not of advanced design like the prism.

    Tom concludes: “The chances of a water/sodium contact are extremely remote, considering the lack of corrosion between the sodium and stainless steel and the minimal interaction between stainless steel and water.”

    citations from p. 133 of PFTP.

  189. … for nuclear to have any kind of real future, there has to be a move to fast breeder reactors …

    If this were true, the many millions of people, worldwide, who seem to hate nuclear power developers as they would demons, and who are are amply and comfortably state-funded, would be able to kill the existing nuclear power industry within a year or two.

    With what’s in their chequing accounts, they could kill it by buying up all the uranium mines and closing them, and buying up all uranium that has already been mined, but has not yet been neutron-irradiated, and throwing it in a deep part of the sea.

    Not only could they easily afford this — they could even afford to keep the mines running, and send all the product halfway across the Pacific — they likely would profit! Nuclear fuel makers now buy uranium for about 11 US cents per gram, but as the reactors were forced to shut down, electricity producers would have to fall back on natural gas, for which recent US prices are $3-4 per gram-U-equivalent.

    Governments’ share of that sort of price, all by itself, is significantly more than 11 cents.

    What do you think, ‘BilB’? Is there an opportunity here for an unholy alliance of fast-breeder promoters and venal civil servants?

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  190. … Canadian nuclear operators are permitted to release tritium as T2O …

    Jaroslav Franta was somewhere recently making the point that much of CANDU plants’ releases are released not as tritium oxide or protoxide but as T2 or HT. If sufficiently diluted in air, any sort of hydrogen is not ignitable, and biological processes do not take it up, so when released in this form it disperses as an inert gas would.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  191. G.R.L. Cowan – Jaro is right, nevertheless there are still releases of T2O in to the effluent water, in excess of what is permitted in the U.S., which was the point I was making. This is because US regulations set the values to ridiculously low levels, something that was pushed for by antinuclear forces in the States just so they could have something to beat the industry over the head with.

    Lest anyone think we are cavalier about tritium, efforts are made to capture as much of it as possible at all Canadian NGS. In fact they are so good at it that they are the leading commercial supplier of tritium to industry.

  192. GregM
    Of course the posibilities of accidents are remote. It does not stop them from happening. The sodium reaction with water is hugely exothermic and produces hydrogen

    2 Na + 2 H2O > 2 NaOH + H2

  193. Of course the posibilities of accidents are remote. It does not stop them from happening. The sodium reaction with water is hugely exothermic and produces hydrogen

    Just like the hydrogen which bew up and destroyed the TMI-2 reactor and contaminated half the United States with lethal radioactive waste and killed fifteen billion people five thousand times over back in 1979. Do you know that in 1976 the Viking landers picked up traces of that accident on Mars? Mars was rendered completely uninhabitable by TMI.

  194. Now you are just being ridiculous. Steam and gas release are all it takes to turn a little incident into a massive one. What amazes me about the nuclear lobby is how optimistic you all are about the permanence and indestructibility of materials. And yet every thing about nuclear cores involves delicate balance to prevent overheating, over irradiating, embrittlemnet, buckling, melting,,,. It is a complex process with so many vulnerabilities. All it takes is a couple of guys mixing fuel in a bucket for it to go horribly wrong.

  195. Now you are just being ridiculous.

    Yes. It’s called parody.

    What amazes me about the nuclear lobby is how optimistic you all are about the permanence and indestructibility of materials. And yet every thing about nuclear cores involves delicate balance to prevent overheating, over irradiating, embrittlemnet, buckling, melting,,,. It is a complex process with so many vulnerabilities. All it takes is a couple of guys mixing fuel in a bucket for it to go horribly wrong.

    Doubtless this is why hundreds of millions of people have been killed by nuclear power over the course of its existence, and every nuclear power plant in the world is surrounded for 20km in all directtions by a barren, radioactive wasteland inhabited by mutants and zombies.

  196. BilB – The depth of your ignorance extends to the operation of nuclear reactors too I see.

    What you have stated about nuclear cores “involves [a] delicate balance to prevent overheating, over irradiating, embrittlement, buckling, melting,,,. It is a complex process with so many vulnerabilities.” is categorically wrong for any design that has a negative coefficient of reactivity, which most do these days.

    Nor can a little incident turn into a massive one – all current designs have multiple SCRAM capabilities, and good containment.

    Also no one ever ‘mixes nuclear fuel in a bucket’ nit wit – all current reactors use solid fuel.

  197. That didn’t stop a couple of Japanese scientists from killing themselves that way.

    “Tokai has some infamy due to a nuclear accident that occurred on September 30, 1999, which killed two people. The accident was a criticality accident.

    The Tokaimura nuclear accident happened at the JCO reconversion plant.

    The accident was caused when seven times the allowable limit of 18.8% enriched uranium dioxide was mixed with nitric acid in order to form uranyl nitrate, and was put in a precipitation tank to homogenize. At 10:35 am, when the seventh bucket (making a total of 16.6 kg of 18.8% enriched uranium) was poured into the precipitation tank by three technicians, a blue flash of radiation occurred and the three technicians felt severe pain, nausea and had trouble breathing. The radiation alarms went off and the three technicians and their supervising technicians immediately left the building.

    The criticality was stopped 20 hours later by draining the cooling water jacket around the precipitation tank and filling it with argon, and purging the tank with boric acid. Through a radiochemical analysis of the uranium solution from within the tank (N. Shinohara et al., Radiochimica Acta, 2001, 89, 135-138) the amount of neptunium and plutonium formed during the event was estimated”

    And again, dv8, there is that absolute belief that nothing can ever go wrong. Things rarely go wrong, but they do go wrong enough times to make a massive expansion of the nuclear industry risky.

  198. BilB -First that did not happen in a nuclear power plant or in a nuclear reactor. Second it didn’t run out of control. Thirdly it was dealt with. But how about this:

    In 2007, outside Bangalore, India, an explosion decapitated an industrial worker, hurling his body through a brick wall. In 2005 a routine procedure at a manufacturing plant in Taiwan caused a spontaneous explosion that killed a worker and ignited a blaze that ripped through the factory, shutting down production for three months. Both incidents shared a common cause—silane, a gas made up of silicon and hydrogen that explodes on contact with air. And both incidents occurred in the same industry—solar power.

    Among other environmental black marks, the process of manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) cells from silicon relies on this dangerous pyrophoric gas. As the industry gears up to meet growing demand—6.4 gigawatts of new photovoltaic installations were built worldwide in 2009 according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, the bulk of it silicon solar cells—what are the human health and environmental concerns related to solar power?

    Of course, silane is hardly the only environmental hazard involved in solar cell production. Others include: toxic by-products from polysilicon manufacture dumped indiscriminately in China; air pollution spewed from coal-fired power plants that provide the electricity needed to produce photovoltaics; and recovering cadmium, a known human carcinogen that is a primary ingredient in some thin-film solar cells, from mining slimes.

    Yet, the gas is essential—despite its dangers, silane remains the best way to deliver silicon molecules to a surface, because at high temperatures (above 400 degrees Celsius) it breaks into silicon and hydrogen. “We just burn off the hydrogen, like a gas flare,” says Subhendu Guha, chairman of PV maker Uni-Solar.

    That’s because the gas can be used to make several of the layers in a silicon photovoltaic—from the top of the cell where it is used to deposit a layer of silicon nitride that ensures that all sunlight is absorbed, to the bottom where it can be used to deposit another layer that helps reflect back any missed photons of sunlight, boosting the efficiency of the cell at converting light into electricity. “You’ve found a mirror that reflects light back into the cell and gives light a second pass,” Rohatgi says. “That back layer is very critical to get thinner wafers [of silicon] and better back surface reflectivity and, thus, lower cost and higher efficiency.”

    That critical factor means tractor–trailers traverse U.S. highways transporting tanks of silane as well as cargo ships laden with canisters of the gas cross the Pacific to factories in Asia, particularly China. It also means that a vast industrial structure in rural Washington State churns out solar-grade silicon, with silane as a by-product—plagued by shutdowns due to issues with the pyrophoric gas. A thousands of tons of SiH4 are produced annually worldwide, a number that will swell in the future as more and more microelectronics, flat panels and silicon photovoltaics are produced.

    Excerpted from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=explosive-gas-silane-used-to-make-photovoltaics

  199. Y’know, BilB, I see this kind of nonsense a lot:

    that absolute belief that nothing can ever go wrong

    and I’d appreciate a bit less of it, because it is complete drivel and an insulting strawman too.

    These technicians at Tokaimura (not scientists, you note) screwed up. They produced a critical mixture and died as a result. An industrial accident, nasty, but comparable to industrial accidents in every industry. Not good, but really not that bad either for those who weren’t involved in the process the techs were undertaking.

    And, of course, it wasn’t at a nuclear power plant, but that does not obviate the case – it definitely was within the nuclear power industry – but it wasn’t common either. We don’t have a handful of techs doing this every other year, because the nuclear industry does in fact learn quickly from problems like this.

    Things can go wrong – but they are low-impact events, affecting the people who actualy screw up, not things that are going to leave piles of bodies, current or future, in the streets.

  200. I didn’t say that it did happen in a nuclear reactor. You were just foolish enough to say that it could not happen, and I was going on memory of the news reports of the event when it happened (blurry details).

    This is a pointless titt-for-tatt exercise.

  201. BilB, on 16 May 2010 at 9.56 Said:

    “I didn’t say that it did happen in a nuclear reactor. You were just foolish enough to say that it could not happen,…”

    Read up thread – I specificity nuclear reactors, not the nuclear industry. And as for it being tit-for-tat, that’s the whole point is it? If you claim the nuclear power should not be developed because of the possibility of an accident, I can counter that the same can be said of solar. This is not pointless, it is called debate, and you just lost that round.

  202. The Tokaimura incident involved aqueous-solution processing of highly enriched uranium, ~20% U-235, I believe, fuel for a prototype research reactor.

    It’s not associated with, nor relevant to, the nuclear power industry.

    This is a far higher enrichment level than that associated with LWR fuel, and highly enriched uranium of this type is not associated with any Gen. IV nuclear energy systems, either.

    Large-scale aqueous-solution processing of highly enriched uranium or plutonium (for research or perhaps for weapons) is potentially very dangerous and needs to be done with great care, I agree.

    Nobody proposes that aqueous-solution processing of a highly concentrated fissile nuclide is a process that will be associated with any nuclear power system, now or in the future.

  203. BilB, you knowledge of nuclear safety appears to be more a front, matter of pretense, rather than reality. For example, you claim, “The US government internally knows the real story of TMI-2 and how close that came to being a Chernobyl from the containment chamber hydrogen explosion, so what the government knows over what the public believes ensures that the risk is a nightmare.” You write as if there is some sort of government conspiracy t prevent the public from knowing the truth about TMI. In fact what the US government knows is contained in the report of the Three Mile Island Comission Report. http://www.threemileisland.org/virtual_museum/pdfs/188.pdf
    In addition documents related to Three Mile Island accident research can be accessed at the United States Department of Energy information web site Secondly you claim that a hydrogen explosion at the TMI reactor would have lead to Chernobyl type disaster, yet site no evidence to back up thei claim You appear to be unaware of the very considerable differences in Three Mile Island and Chernobyl reactor designs, and the fact that unlike the Chernobyl reactor, the Three Mile Island reactor had a massive outer containment structure.

    Your Three Mile Island claims appear to amount to no more than unsubstantiated disinformation designed to sow distrust and fear rather than offer valid information.

    You claim “The only way to remove a risk premium on Nuclear installations is to remove the risk. Some people thing that the way to achieve this is to blot out the poor safety history of the industry with Perception Smoothing, or selective memory and rapid fire restatement..” You offer no objective study that supports your “poor safety history” claim. You do not consider the historic evolution of nuclear safety, taking into consideration that nuclear safety standards and practices have improved over time, nor do you establish your “poor safety record” claim by anything like objective standards. You do not offer anything like an objective study of the relative safety of the nuclear industry, and other energy related industries. Once again you resort to disinformation, intended to produce fear and mistrust, rather than fact based information.

    You claim, “There are other studies of abnormal infant mortality rates far down wind. And that would be consistent with a high pressure ejection of radiactivity resulting from a hydrogen explosion in the reactor vessel. From my reading all of the official studies were done in the near vacinity of the plant.”

    Once again you present an argument that hangs on anecdotal rather than scientific evidence. Claims about down wind birth abnormalities do not establish a causal link in the absence to tests that rule out other sources. The absence of evidence from nearby communities makes claims causal patterns in distant problematic,/ In addition the argument is circular because the higher radiation release is deemed to to have been responsible for the birth abnormalities, and the birth abnormalities is believed to prove the high radiation release, The same proposition cannot be both an assumption and the conclusion of a valid argument. The use of circular arguments is a common disinformation technique.

    BilB, there is a pattern here, you are engaged in anti-nuclear disinformation. You are a propagandist, who is unconcerned with truth.

  204. The question is not, are there risks in nuclear industry. It’s not about should nuclear power be build or not, either. The question is about our way of life. How much energy do we need, what should it cost and what kind of risks are acceptable in production of that energy. Then all energy forms need to be compared, not only nuclear.

    This question can be made easier by simply comparing nuclear to coal and lignite, bicause those are alternatives to nuclear. Not wind or solar.

    BTW, who remebmer the Bhopal accident? Should toe whole chemilcal industry be banned because of Bhopal? According to anti-nuclear-logic, it should.

    Supporter for solar? You should read this:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/08/AR2008030802595.html

    I don’t mean that manufacturing solar panels is always dirty. I mean that practically everything can be messed up. Just everything. You don’t need nuclear for that.

  205. To me, this is very exciting news:

    India draws roadmap to 1,000 MW fast breeder reactor design

    January 29th, 2010 – 1:21 pm ICT by IANS -

    By Venkatachari Jagannathan
    Chennai, Jan 29 (IANS) Indian nuclear scientists will take three steps to improve their experience and expertise before they start on the design of a 1,000 MW fast breeder reactor that will not only generate electricity, but produce more fuel than it consumes.

    Building a new 120 MW test reactor powered by metallic fuel, setting up a 500 MW fast breeder reactor having the flexibility to convert to metallic fuel from mixed oxide fuel and changing the existing fast breeder test reactor’s (FBTR) core into a metallic core are the steps laid down by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) towards designing a 1,000 MW fast reactor by 2018.

    A fast breeder reactor is one which breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes. It is key to India’s three-stage nuclear power programme.

    The key to designing the 1,000 MW fast reactor is to get things relating to the metallic fuel – a mix of 20 percent plutonium and 80 percent uranium – right as it not only has a high breeding ratio compared to the mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel but also some technical challenges that needs detailed study.

    The MOX fuel will power India’s first seven fast reactors including the upcoming 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) of which one will have the flexibility to convert to metallic fuel.

    “The proposed 1,000 MW reactor will be powered by metallic fuel. The first step in realising that is to test the metallic fuel pins and sub-assemblies in the FBTR located at Kalpakkam. This will be followed by replacing FBTR’s entire carbide fuel with metallic fuel,” Baldev Raj, director of IGCAR, told IANS.

    The third step is the construction of the 150 MW test reactor powered by metallic fuel and finally the operation of the dual fuel (MOX and metallic) 500 MW fast reactor.

    “The knowledge acquired in designing the oxide fuel fast reactors will be leveraged in building the metallic core reactors. However, the plant parameters will vary between the two reactors which needs detailed study,” Reactor Engineering Group Director S.C. Chetal told IANS.

    While the new 150 MW metallic fuel test reactor at Kalpakkam, around 80 km from here, is planned during the 12th Five-Year Plan period, the conversion of FBTR to metallic core is expected to happen around 2013.

    According to officials two kinds of metallic fuels will be fabricated for testing. While the sodium bonded fuel pins will be designed by IGCAR, the mechanically bonded metallic fuel pins have been developed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai.

    Disagreeing that IGCAR is reinventing the wheel in setting up a new test reactor when FBTR will be converted to metallic core and six big fast reactors will be set up, P. Chellapandi, director of safety group, told IANS: “Worldwide there are not many reactors with metallic core. The normal practice is to have a test reactor, then build a medium-sized one and then go for commercial-sized reactors.”

    “The proposed 150 MW test reactor will be the test bed for metallic fuel. The results will be further validated by using the fuel in the flexible dual fuel fast reactor. The FBTR is a small-sized one and will not give the required data,” he added.

    According to IGCAR officials, the final design for the six fast reactors – two of which will come up in Kalpakkam – will be released in 2012 or 2013 and the construction will commence in 2017.

    “Four fast reactors will be ready by 2020 and the balance two by 2023 – one of which will be the flexible dual fuel reactor,” said Chellapandi.

    The reactor design work on the ambitious 1,000 MW reactor will be over around 2018 and construction is expected to begin in 2020.

  206. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/may/20/offshore-renewables-pirc-report

    Monbiot, to whom BNC links, is sceptically questioned on his blog today 20.05 at 1458h local time about what D. Mackay thinks of the above, which Monbiot fails to criticise. Another blogger, Hopeful Cyclist, answers for Monbiot by saying ” I have had tea with Prof. Mackay, he is strongly in favour of large scale wind power. He is also in favour of large scale nuclear…”

    I did not get such an unambiguous impression from Mackay’s book or the vodcast lecture he gave in the USA. Comments?

  207. Frankly that entire article is wistful thinking. When is it going to become apparent that the models for wind energy are woefully inadequate for the task? Real world performance of existing wind installations routinely fall short of predictions. By now one would expect that the models would have been adjusted to reflect this, yet studies and reports continue to paint a glowing picture of how much power will be produced from this or that project. Time for a reality check, I would think.

    For me this only reinforces my belief that renewables like wind and solar are being promoted not as a solution, but as greenwash for fossil fuel, (mostly natural gas) as ‘backup.’ Why this is not seen for the transparent fraud that it is, beggars belief.

    This is a charade, a farce of the worst kind, and I cannot see how it has yet to be exposed for what it is.

  208. @soi-disant Sage of Montreal:

    you and P. Lang can keep on imputing Evil Natgas Mammon as the treacherous motivation of renewabilists all you like, it don’t goddam change nuthin no how, y’all hear me now?

    On a less Dixy note, listen to Rossin saying impatiently to your confrere Rod Adams recently on the latter’s podcast blog of 31.03, “Rod, you can believe that if it gives you a buzz”, when Adams, like you and Lang, cultivated the purely tactical bean-counting approach to understanding politics. But as Rossin says, CEOs think strategically.

    In Adams’ case on 31 March, he appears to be convinced that Jimmy Carter swore off the plutonium economy because he had been bought by Big Fossil.

    Rossin’s impatient rejoinders to this may help you and P. Lang to move to a higher level of analysis.

  209. maybe we should distinguish between intention and consequence, or better yet, analyze their complex relation over time.

    I doubt that the passion for renewables is reducible to fossil fuel financing, and my guess is that DV would agree with that. but even if there were a time where renewables advocates were getting no backing from natural gas, by this point, it is clear that the consequences of renewables policy (hi subsidy, anti nuclear) is extremely favorable to certain fossil fuel interests. I assume they take notice and either fund the renewabilists effort or privately cheer their good fortune: they certainly don’t FIGHT the renewabilists and sometimes refusing to oppose when things are going your way can be a powerful social force.

  210. @Peter Lalor – soi-disant, at least in the French sense implies ‘self-named’ (autoproclamé), however you are the only one who refers to me by that term.

    greg meyerson – is right, I do not think of renewable conspiracy fronted by natural gas that plotted to get everyone excited about wind and solar so they could see more of their product. However, clearly from the TV and print ads they run here in Canada and the States they are in to wind and solar waste-deep, and it is unlikely in the expectation of selling less gas.

    Jimmy Carter was often referred to as a ex-navy nuclear officer, however the truth is somewhat different than what that implies.

    In November 1952, he began a three month temporary duty assignment at the Naval Reactor branch. He started nuclear power school (a six month course of study that leads to operator training) in March, 1953. In July 1953, his father passed away and he resigned his commission to run the family peanut farm. Thus Carter did not complete nuclear power school.

    However while he was on detached duty at the Naval Reactor branch, the Chalk River accident occurred (in December 1952), and Carter was sent up with other US military personnel to get some practical experience in a clean up of this sort, as this was the first accident of its type. Thus until Three-Mile Island, Chalk River was his only hands on experience with nuclear reactors.

    My respect for Rod notwithstanding, I suspect that these had a negative impact on Jimmy Carter’s opinion of nuclear energy

  211. Peter Lalor,

    You’ve been following the BNC web site for a long time. Can you tell me if you honestly believe that so called renewables can provide society’s energy needs?

    If you do honestly believe this, I am startled. I cannot understand how anyone who has read what you’ve been reading can dismiss the arguments and believe what the renewable advocates are saying.

    Have you looked carefully at the BZE “Zero Emissions by 2020″ Plan for Australia: http://media.beyondzeroemissions.org/preview-exec-sum14.pdf ?

    Have you considered it critically? Have you considered these questions I posted on another thread: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/#comment-67239

    This plan estimates the cost as $370 billion, and $40 billion per year. I believe it is impossible for this system to provide our energy needs at any cost. But even if their cost estimate is correct it is at least 3 times higher cost than with nuclear.

    Not only is their estimate 3 times higher, it would require much more mining, processing, manufacturing, fabrications, construction, transport, land use and fresh water than for nuclear power.

    And we’d still have a much less reliable power supply.

    I have visions of someone lying on an operating table getting a heart transplant. The power goes out. The Doctor says, “sorry mate. I’ll have to come back and finish the job to morrow. I’ve removed your old heart and it is sitting there on the window sill. I have the new one ready to put in, but I’ll have to come back when the power cones back on. Could be tomorrow or perhaps next week some time. So hang in there mate”.

    The of course, what happens when all the computer systems go down through power failures. No water in the cities, no banks, no ATM’s, no shops, no food, no petrol (so can’t leave the city). People start dieing with in hours. Majority dead within about a week or so.

    Thank you, Peter Lalor, for promoting your vision for a renewables powered society. You are a great visionary.

  212. We don’t have any renewable power from my utility, yet the power went out in my neighborhood for about 25 minutes last night. Went out after the wind quit and the rain had mostly stopped.

    “There is many a slip twxt the cup and the lip…”

  213. Peter Lang

    While I, of course, accept your general point about intermittency, I think you should refrain from the scenario you describe above.

    Most major hospitals have emergency power from local gensets. Ditto organisations requiring refrigeration. It’s not merely load shedding that can cause supply interruptions, but local substations failing or other environmental disruption.

    If you were merely doing rhetorical analogy, I suppose that’s OK, but as the situation of a hospital is real, I thought I’d make this point.

  214. Has anyone here read In Mortal Hands by Stephanie Cooke? I had a glance at it in the bookstore, but I strongly suspect that it’s biased sensational anti-nuclear rubbish. Is it any good?

  215. Ewen Laver,

    Yes I am aware that hospitals, water pumps and other critical services have some back up capability. But these are not designed to manage the sort of frequent and extended interruptions we would get with the solar and wind supplies proposed by BZE and others. If we want back up power for every establishment and sufficient to manage the frequency and duration of interruptions we could expect with a renewable energy power supply, the cost will be in the multi trillions of dollars.

    Whichever way we try to wriggle around the problem of intermittent renewable power, getting reliable power supply is going to be ridiculously expensive. Any way you look at it, RE is totally impracticable to provide our power.

    Of course we have supply interruptions with the existing system. These are manageable. But start relying on solar and wind power for generation and the problem is no longer manageable.

    Ewen, I struggle to understand why so many people seem to want to argue about points at the margin and are incapable of undserstanding the overall point. We need to start by getting a satelite view of our project or problem first, then the helicopter view, etc, and then focusing at more and more detailed levels. However, many here seem to want to start by picking nits off the elephant and can’t even see the elephant.

  216. My point Peter was that the problems associated with some compulsion to use intermittents sources without adequate redundancy would not manifest as people dying on hospital tables.

    What would happen would be a radical increase in end user costs for energy and in urban pollution as people and organisations made their own arrangements. Inevitably, CO2 intensity would rise as well. This is what happens in countries without a stable grid. Presumably, this would be seen by those favouring “clean energy” as a poor result.

    This reality is a compelling reason for rejecting intermittent energy sources as a significant part of the electricity grid, regardless of how notionally “clean” they may seem.

    One need not invoke the fanciful end of the slippery slope.

  217. Ewen Laver,

    I agree with your point. But sometimes a bit of humour like my attempted joke can help to clarify the point (for some). And I might point out that you also exaggerate massively, on occasions, in an attempt to get a point across!

  218. @.P.Lang: my missive to Montreal addressed only his and your notion that renewabilists are a front for natgas in the (documented) way that the current US AWG denialism is Big Fossil astroturfing via hired PR agencies.

    You had asked me by way of your sarcastic “visionary” comment if I think that renewables are the answer: but I was not talking about nuclear versus renewables as such. However, it sems true that for you, the Blog Owner and J Morgan, that is the only point on the agenda.

    Any calculations I made on this subject as a non-power engineer for your consideration would not be acceptable to yourself anyway, look what happened to blogger “Bilb” recently: after all, Jacobsen and Diesendorf, Lovins and various national engineering bodies presenting forecasts out to 2050 are all perceived on BNC as heavily misguided.

    (You seemed to miss my clash with Marcus, in which I asked him how he envisaged powering Austria, in which only 25% of 2008 consumption was household, using the micro or pico hydro on his rural property).

    With regard to your satellite-helicopter-elephant: I wrote at the outset that if one has only a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So I perceive a strong political autism or astigmatism on BNC, exceptions being Meyerson/Laver. That is, power engineering numbers are said to speak for themselves and compel instant adoption of Gens II-IV, being rational and real-world and so on. Having said which, I am well aware of the recent Potsdam work in Schellnhuber’s institute on the amount of carbon we can still “afford” to burn.

    The power engineering numbers however are part of the world situation as described by Michael Klare in his energy politics book “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet.” In an Anglo blog written in apparently only/largely by neoliberal to neocon nationals of the USA, CAN, AU and GB (where are the Kiwis?) , that situation defaults to being the silent backdrop, a sort of immutable given. Probably because on trend, the writers approve of it and have benefited from the New York-London axis in their working lives.

    Your own views are adequately portrayed in your lengthy clash with Ewen Laver, Peter Lang.

    An example of silent backdrop: progress in India on civilian nuclear is welcomed on BNC with no reference to Kashmir and Muslim-Hindu relations, the Pakistan bomb and the AQ Khan business; that being what BNC disdainfully calls “politics.” Refer

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-U.S._civilian_nuclear_agreement

    for some of that complexity.

    It is regrettable that no Indian or Pakistani person contributes on BNC, or S. African as far as I can see.

    It is astonishing that at a time when Iran, Turkey, Brazil and every other country is preoccupied with Iranian enrichment with the looming threat of war, because Iran is changing the balance of power in its region, this topic sails happily past BNC. Thus the Blog Owner, whose government/s has/have been helping the US Friend with soldiers in South Asia, cited the UAE decision to buy S. Korean NPPs as if UAE had merely run the power generation costing numbers on CSP versus nuclear before plumping for the former because it is the Rational, Real world, Nonideological thing to do .

    But UAE assured everybody at the time that it would not enrich (source: FT, London). Why would it say that if only $/Mwe underlay its decision? A non-Shiite country just across the water from Shiite Iran?

    Another silent backdrop is the noticeable lack of ire on BNC, an AU blog, towards Big Coal and what its money perpetrates in AU. Is this because one can bolt a certain NPP onto a coal-fired one, so that friendly coalies are needed?

    I see the following as as problematic:
    constant BNC veering between Gens II and III plus aqueous proliferation-friendly PUREX on the one hand and IFR plus proliferation-unfriendly pyroprocessing on the other. I do not know if BNC thus realises what hostage it is giving to fortune, i.e. its opponents, by taking a blithe attitude to MAD. By the way, I would ask DV to source his implicit claims recently that US-Russian ICBMs are no longer targeted on cities.

    Nobody knows in public what Israel`s ca. 200 weapons are targeted on either. Do you know, DV? Who told you?

    It would be ironic in the course of big power politics (the Great Game for energy in Central Asia as described by Z. Brzezinski,) if the Chinese NPPs currently under way were to be sabotaged by apparent “accidents” with a view to keeping China dependent on fossil fuel. That fuel can be piped natgas by land from Central Asia or oil delivered by sea through the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz and across an Indian ocean from Africa, e.g. Sudan. The ocean supply route is not protected by a Chinese bluewater navy, because the country does not yet have one. But the Indians are well into nuclear submarines by now.

    If China starts having NPP “accidents”, some on BNC might then realise in what context civilian nuclear is played.

    As I wrote many times before, Blee’s “GREAT” concept as outlined in his book (which I read in 2009) meets with resounding silence on BNC. Can this be because it would be a perceived restriction on Washington-London-Ottawa-Canberra (OK, Wellington too…)

    BNC writers largely live in a country whose Realpolitik is to seek, obtain and retain protection against its very populous neighbours by acting as client to Northern Hemisphere patrons far away: 1788-1945 on the one hand and 1945 to date on the other. One could say that this feeds the astigmatism I mentioned above.

    Lastly, the problem of HVDC lines acting as lethal antennae for induction at coronal mass ejections, CME, is real enough for it to have been the topic of a US workshop in 2008. I had an exchange with DV on it. The Sage of Montreal claims reassuringly that this just shows how useless renewables with long line length eg hydro coming down from N. Quebec to where the people live and consume it, are. He said that local NPPs are not subject to CME, if I understood him right.

    The question for me is: if or rather when the Carrington Event of 1859 recurs, what configuration world-wide can handle it? That is, how can one proof an all-electric, emissions-free globe?

  219. Just had a question about if a country with a bunch of nuclear power plants went through a peak oil / climate crisis / political crisis and couldn’t buy uranium and ended up kind of bankrupting / Mad Maxing for a while… what is the ‘walk away’ safety factor for leaving a nuclear power plant for a generation or so? Say there was some catastrophe and society couldn’t operate the nukes and the nuclear plant operators new they had to secure the plant and get out of the country… and the local post-collapse villagers new not to hassle the power plant. How quickly could one be ‘made safe’ for maybe decommissioning in a generation or so?

    (Strange question I know, but something a serious peaknik is asking).

    “Can I clarify: you say that if worst comes to worst, leaving a constructed and otherwise functional nuclear plant entirely empty with the doors securely locked would not result in disaster after days, months, years left unattended? And are you saying that the fuel would need to be removed and buried somewhere (securely) first? Correct?”

  220. Peter Lalor, You write to Peter Lang, “Any calculations I made on this subject as a non-power engineer for your consideration would not be acceptable to yourself anyway . . .” Actually if you can show that your data comes from reasonably objective sources, and your calculations do not contain obvious errors, i suspect Peter Lang and others would respect your conclusions. One of the problems i have with renewable supporters is their unwillingness to base their claims on well attested facts, and logically valid reasoning. Others might see it as a cop out that you have chosen to play the martyr card, rather than argue from well attested facts to reasonable conclusions using valid argument forms.

    You complain, “look what happened to blogger “Bilb” recently: after all,” Bilb failed to supply sources and thus we have absolutely no way to evaluate his claims. Further many of his claims were arrived at by using arguments that were formally invalid. Bilb certainly had a chance to answer my observations, but chose to not do so. Nothing bad happened to Bilb. He was simply shown that he was using bad arguments.

    You argue, “Jacobsen and Diesendorf, Lovins and various national engineering bodies presenting forecasts out to 2050 are all perceived on BNC as heavily misguided.”

    First I presented analysis of Jacobson and Lovins arguments prior to the advent of BNC, and indeed both are aware of my work. In the case of Jacobson i took is conclusions and analyzed them in terms of cost and grid reliability. I even looked at wind performance at individual sites which Jaconson used for his study. My conclusions were that Jacobson assumed a great deal of windmill redundancy in obtaining reliability, and even when making extremely generous assumptions about windmill costs, Jacobsons system would be far more expensive than nuclear. What is more, when i looked at wind performance at the sites Jacobson had chosen, I found that it was poorly matched to consumer demands in the local market, and most likely to fail at the exact the times when consumers were demanding the most electricity. It turns out that Jacobson’s reliable wind is significantly less reliable than American reactors. Jacobson knows of my analysis, and has chosen to ignore it, as he has ignored other critiques. I an numerous others have published critiques of Amory Lovins flawed methods, and questionable assumptions. Lovins several years ago promised to answer Robert Bryce’s criticisms, but has never done so. David Bradish, of NEI Notes published a 6 part critique of Lovin’s a couple of years ago. Lovins actually responded in part to Bradish’s arguments on Grist Mill two years ago, but encountered a barrage of criticisms. In his second response Lovins stated that he would post at least two more rebuttal papers, but he has posted nothing further. Thus Lovins has left many rebuttals of his claims unanswered. If i wish to make truth claims about renewables, and wanted a reliable source, i would certainly not use Lovins as that source.

    Finally as to the natural gas, renewables link, i will only point out that the Greenpeace [R]evolution 2050 plan calls for replacing nuclear power with natural gas generation technology, and that renewables advocates such as Joe Romm, and Amory Lovins advocate the expanded use of natural gas. I will also point out that natural gas systems are known to leak methane a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and that electrical production with natural gas produces significant amounts of CO2.

    Peter Lang, Barry Brook and I are all concerned about decreasing CO2 emissions. We have all come to our positions after careful analysis of claims made by renewable advocates, and i suspect that none of us is so irrational that we would reject well reasoned claims about renewables. Unfortunately the positions taken by renewable advocates to date rest on poor data, ignoring the implications of data that contradicts the case being argued, and poorly thought out arguments.

  221. @Charles Barton: thank you for your comprehensive reply.

    I suspect that the framework for the two mental positions taken by most on BNC is BAU in capitalist or social market economies, whereas I suspect renewabilists AKA “collectivists” from an Ayn Rand standpoint would not object to government interventionism as happened in the war economies incl. USA 1939-45.

    That is, solar/wind/hotrock brownouts or blackouts would be acceptable for households and in extreme cases, for industry/transport too. That would be the price renewabilists at the helm would have to be willing to pay to avoid going nuclear.

    I take it that the Blog Owner could be including this scenario when he refers to the “heroic assumptions” of renewables. This dirigiste scenario, as in WW2, caps profits and prices for the sake of the war effort and features industrial policy of a type which is anathema to free marketeers. For example, would not factories have to be allocated power quotas if the grid were not of its current quality.

    I take it however that Lowe was assuming in his most recent debate with Brooks that efficiency gains would reduce power demand anyway: again, interventionism of a wartime type would have to be used to stop Jevons Paradox.

  222. Peter Lalor – I will answer those pats of your last rambling post that seem to be addressed to me.

    An example of silent backdrop: progress in India on civilian nuclear is welcomed on BNC with no reference to Kashmir and Muslim-Hindu relations, the Pakistan bomb and the AQ Khan business; that being what BNC disdainfully calls “politics.”

    Again you are attempting to imply a link between the development of nuclear weapons, and the development of nuclear power. I have shown on this site and elsewhere that these two technologies are not in any way dependent on one another, do not share that much in the way of necessary common facilities, (dual use) and are unrelated engineering tasks. In proof I have shown that all countries developing nuclear weapons followed a separate path, from their power development, that rarely if ever, touched. The allegation is getting stale, and unless proof to the contrary if offered, I will not deal with this again.

    The China, Pakistan, India triangle is an issue that these countries must deal with as more that a intellectual exercise. China’s annexing of Tibet on the flimsiest of pretexts, conflicting upper riparian rights in Kashmir, the rise of Muslim Fundamentalists, create a climate with very little trust. However now that they are all nuclear armed, there is much less of the sort of border-clash provocation that we used to see in the past between these three; no one is out to start a war, and in fact are doing their best to avoid it.

    It is astonishing that at a time when Iran, Turkey, Brazil and every other country is preoccupied with Iranian enrichment with the looming threat of war, because Iran is changing the balance of power in its region,

    There is no ‘looming threat of war,’ what there is looming with Iran is that once armed the threat of war is off the table in that region, Western influence will fade. I refer you to Nuclear Warfare 101 for the theory behind the reasons why.

    I see the following as as problematic:
    constant BNC veering between Gens II and III plus aqueous proliferation-friendly PUREX on the one hand and IFR plus proliferation-unfriendly pyroprocessing on the other. I do not know if BNC thus realises what hostage it is giving to fortune, i.e. its opponents, by taking a blithe attitude to MAD. By the way, I would ask DV to source his implicit claims recently that US-Russian ICBMs are no longer targeted on cities.

    Nobody knows in public what Israel`s ca. 200 weapons are targeted on either. Do you know, DV? Who told you?

    Reprocessing technologies are not dependent on the type or source of the used fuel. PUREX in and of itself doesn’t make weapons-grade Pu, it needs feedstock from breeder reactors that are operated to produce high concentrations of weapons-grade Pu. Power reactor used fuel has such an isotopic mixture that Pu is not suitable for weapons, but it is just fine for MOX.

    Proliferation is not a technical issue, it is a political one and needs to be answered by political means. If AQ Khan showed the world anything, he showed that stopping a country that wants a nuclear weapon badly enough, is impossible, by any other means than military.

    Counterforce (as opposed to countervalue) targeting has been part of both Russian and U.S. nuclear doctrine and policy for decades now, however until lately these policies were not published. Nevertheless analysts outside the military and government had come to the conclusion that the best strategy by far would be to attack the other sides ability to launch an counter, or follow-up attack of their own, and it is safe to assume that this was clear to those on the inside.

    In April of this year both Russia, and the US made their nuclear doctrine and policy public, and reading them it is clear that they no longer see each other as a threat of the same magnitude as in the past. The U.S. one is 304 pages in length, and will run you around $60 a copy. I refer you to a good library in lieu of a link.

    I have never offered any opinion on Israel`s nuclear posture.

    It would be ironic in the course of big power politics (the Great Game for energy in Central Asia as described by Z. Brzezinski,) if the Chinese NPPs currently under way were to be sabotaged by apparent “accidents” with a view to keeping China dependent on fossil fuel.

    snip

    If China starts having NPP “accidents”, some on BNC might then realise in what context civilian nuclear is played.

    One paragraph after you accuse me of unsubstantiated claims….

    I won’t chase any wild hypothesis just because you write it down.

    …how can one proof an all-electric, emissions-free globe [from a solar storm]?

    Shorter transmission networks will not be as vulnerable, and good solar observation (space weather) giving some warning, if heeded, can be used to switch out the more vulnerable items until after the event passes.

  223. I heard a story broadcast on ABC Radio’s PM programme yesterday, on whether renewable energy can deliver baseload power. The transcript and audio (4’27″) is up here.

    The range of views on offer:

    ASHLEY HALL: Are renewable energy sources up to the job of baseload power?

    DAVID CAHEN: Today no. Unequivocally no.

    MATTHEW WRIGHT: Renewable energy sources aren’t just up to the job of baseload power but they’re already providing it around the world, particularly in Spain.

    DAVID HARRIES: You could do it. It would just cost an awful lot of money and take a lot of land. … Not there yet, no certainly.

    KEITH LOVEGROVE: Every piece of power station in Australia is going to need to be replaced in the next 40 years or so. .. There’s absolutely no reason we couldn’t have 100 per cent renewables in that generational change.

    The more I read these “renewables can provide baseload power, now!” assertions, particularly in respect of Spanish solar, eg. Wrightson, BilB, Eponymous, Diesendorf recently in Crikey, etc., the more I think these people are practising the technique of the Big Lie,

    “in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility [because no-one would] believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.

    That was Hitler. George Orwell also described it thus:

    “To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed….”

    Does that sound familiar?

  224. Of course they are practising the Big Lie, that in itself shows that they know the truth. It is impossible for someone to lie unless he knows the truth. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he must be to that extent aware of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false.

  225. John:

    Matthew Wright has appeared here.

    How would you have to define basepower to defend the claim that renewables provide it in spain? what does he say? did you listen?

    I always thought it required hi capacity factor and significant power delivery, without need for lots of storage or overbuild–the last two going together.

  226. Quite right John

    I heard the same report and it’s just so damned annoying.

    I’m planning a firm letter to PM complaining. I’m going to send them here and to withouthotair.com for references.

  227. Greg, Wright offered no argument beyond the bald assertion. This is what put me in mind of the Big Lie, because its so demonstrably counterfactual. You can see what he says in the link to the transcript I posted.

    If Wright really believes this, I assume he defines basepower renewables the same way BilB does, that is, the renewable generation provides the “basepower”, with backup from gas or the grid as required. ie., not baseload at all. The “plus gas plus grid” seems for most of these people to have become something so obviously there, so much wallpaper, that its just drifted out of awareness. That’s what I had in mind with the Orwell quote.

  228. I am sitting here musing about the contributions over the past few days. I am thinking especially about this morning’s comments and about “the big lie”.

    The I wondered, why can the big lie persist for so long. Everything we know about renewable energy, its cost and ability to provide baseload power we have known for the past two decades. Nothing has changed.

    So why does the ‘big lie’ persist?

    One answer occurred to me. Those trying to explain the facts continually get dragged down into the weeds. We forget to explain the overview first. We get dragged down into talking about alpha and beta radiation. Instead, I wonder if it would be better to focus on the overview until it is understood. I think there are just three main issues, which, in my simple mind, are absolutely clear:

    1. Cost
    2. Health and risk
    3. Sustainability

    On each of these, if we are honest, renewables are not even close to nuclear. In most cases the difference is an order of magnitude or more.

  229. what is the ‘walk away’ safety factor for leaving a nuclear power plant for a generation or so? Say there was some catastrophe and society couldn’t operate the nukes and the nuclear plant operators new they had to secure the plant and get out of the country… and the local post-collapse villagers new not to hassle the power plant. How quickly could one be ‘made safe’ for maybe decommissioning in a generation or so?

    I think turning it off would suffice. Here some industry people answer my question about what would happen if the operators instantly became zombies, i.e., did not turn it off. When ‘Lenny’ answers

    … in the absence of operator action to compensate for the fuel burn via boration, rod pulls or recirc flow, full power would not be maintained.

    the “boration” and “rod pull” part of that means that the rods that suppress the reaction, and the boric acid that also suppresses the reaction by being dissolved in the water that circulates past and between the fuel rods, are customarily slowly removed as the energy left in the fuel rods diminishes and their ash content increases — for the ashes themselves also suppress the reaction. I don’t know what he means by “recirc flow”.

    … leaving a constructed and otherwise functional nuclear plant entirely empty with the doors securely locked would not result in disaster after days, months, years left unattended?

    Indeed, it would not.

    And are you saying that the fuel would need to be removed and buried somewhere (securely) first?

    No, it could just sit in the borated water that used to circulate hot, and now is cold and stagnant. There is an independent line of evidence on this: sunken nuclear submarines. Their cores resemble land-based light-water-cooled cores, except they have a higher fraction of 235-U.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  230. I often wonder about this too Peter, but apart from the cultural issues, which I’ve been at pains to discuss before and which I won’t redux here I think it relies on what is intuitively reasonable.

    The vast majority of the population have only a very vague idea about the provenance of the power seemingly emerging from a power point in the wall. In so far as they try to answer the question, “where does it come from” they may answer “coal” or “gas” or “hydro” or “wind” or “solar”. When you compare these sources, coal and gas cost money, whereas moving water, wind or sunlight do not. If you think the main cost is the price of the fuel, and you think of wind and solar as always there and free, then it’s hard to escape the conclusion that renewables ought to be much cheaper than coal or gas. Look at a wind turbine or a solar panel or solar big dish silently and without human supervision passively harvesting this squandered but infinite resource. If we use coal, it must be some rich coal-boss led conspiracy to rip us off and poison the planet, surely.

    Someone quotes some figure about how much solar energy falls on the surface and says it is orders of magnitude greater than energy demand and it just seems so obvious. Confronting someone who put this argument to me once I said:

    how often do you see silver coins on the ground and fail to pick them up?
    She said all the time.

    I said: Can you imagine if you could gather all the dropped silver coins in Australia every year how rich you’d be? What a waste eh?

    The point soon dawned — the cost of collection is prohibitive.

    I’d be surprised if, right now, as I am typing these lines or people here are reading them, if there aren’t 100,000 places where lightning is in contact with the Earth’s surface. What a waste!, you might well say — enough energy to power X-million homes or cars. Really, erecting lightning rods and some sort of collection system would not be a much sillier proposition than erecting wind turbines or solar farms everywhere just in case. Yet everyone can see how absurd the former would be while so many endorse the latter.

    I think this is the point we need to make and repeat.

  231. Fran Barlow, on 22 May 2010 at 11.44 Said:

    I’d be surprised if, right now, as I am typing these lines or people here are reading them, if there aren’t 100,000 places where lightning is in contact with the Earth’s surface. What a waste!, you might well say — enough energy to power X-million homes or cars. Really, erecting lightning rods and some sort of collection system would not be a much sillier proposition than erecting wind turbines or solar farms everywhere just in case. Yet everyone can see how absurd the former would be while so many endorse the latter.

    Fran, that is a superb analogy, I love it. I hope you don’t mind but I am going to file that one away to be taken out as required in debates elsewhere.

  232. Oh I should add that the numbers work out to a single lightning strike containing 215 kWh of energy, equivalent to 774 MJ (megajoules) if the average duration is taken as 30milliseconds.

  233. I’ve spoken with Matthew Wright on the phone, and listened to his show long enough to regard him as someone who honestly believes baseload renewables exist. Please don’t get into character attacks. His show “Beyond Zero Emissions” is also genuinely interesting.

    I am still tempted to agree with him that baseload renewables might be possible, but my main question would be at what cost? Remember the gravel heat-sinks… baseload renewables really is possible, just incredibly expensive with overcapacity building and incredibly large storage systems.

    The Robyn Williams Science Show recently had some discussions about advances in geothermal study. There are also advances in jet drill bits shooting superheated water down the mine, which could possibly advance mining technology and bring down the costs of geothermal. If geothermal becomes cost competitive, that’s baseload power for Australia right there… and without the public backlash that nuclear brings with it (despite the fact that most of their objections are now irrelevant).

  234. Really, erecting lightning rods and some sort of collection system would not be a much sillier proposition than erecting wind turbines or solar farms everywhere just in case. Yet everyone can see how absurd the former would be while so many endorse the latter.
    Hi Fran,
    they’d instantly reply: “We don’t know where the lightning bolts will fall, but we know from average weather statistics what the average sunshine and wind will be. We already have wind cheaper than coal if one does not worry about baseload. Why can’t wind contribute to the grid, even if it is not supplying the baseload grunt?”

  235. Baseload with renewables DOES exist – it’s called hydro and it’s used all over the world. As eclipsenow accurately points out baseload can also be achieved with geothermal, although the degree to which geothermal can be considered renewable is moot in most current instances.

    The modes that cannot provide baseload, are wind and solar without a huge expense.

  236. Yes, DV82XL

    Geothermal plays a significant role in Iceland, NZ, and may yet play a role in places in Africa with access to the Rift Valley. I think NZ has a bit and of course Australia does (potentially). Indonesia has some access to it — but it’s not ubiquitous.

    EN said (playing DA):

    We don’t know where the lightning bolts will fall, but we know from average weather statistics what the average sunshine and wind will be. We already have wind cheaper than coal if one does not worry about baseload. Why can’t wind contribute to the grid, even if it is not supplying the baseload grunt

    Averages are no good — we need to know minima to allocate any part of any load to renewables and we need to know how poorly at worst they could perform so we can allocate that part of the load. If there is no base we can’t allocate them any time.

    Imagine that you had a football team. Back in 1970 I used to watch my team (South Sydney) at Redfern Oval. They had 13 players and two reserves — one back and one forward. So they had redundancy of about 7% in the case two of their players became unable to perform during the game. If however, some of their players could only perform on one out of every five games (an availability of 20%) each player would have to be shadowed by four others.

    Imagine one of these sitting on the bench and telling the coach to only put them on if they felt in the mood and there was an opportunity to run onto the ball and score. It wouldn’t be pretty. Imagine if one did get put on and without warning performed not at his rated capacity — running at 34km/h but at 10% of that — say 3.4Km/h. The fact that he didn’t need to be fed and could sometimes run at 36km/h would be irrelevant. You’d sooner have someone who could guarantee you 27km/h.

    It’s the same with wind and solar. Unless you can predict with confidence in advance how much they will deliver, you must fill demand with suppliers who can deliver. Because you can’t afford to come up short, you must run the capacity in parallel which raises the question — why have this expensive source of power redundant. The contribution of wind and solar is purely notional.

    As to geothermal, that’s all very well, and if it can be cost-effective here, great. But you do have to wonder if it can deliver all of Australia’s fossil load and wonder at the timeline. Nuclear would seem the obvious money in the bank option.

  237. Fran,
    @http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-67810

    Yes to all that. You make it all very clear. You’ve made it clear to me that I really do need to recognise that those in energy and related industries accumulate knowledge about energy over decades. It is no wonder that the vast majority who have never been exposed to the analyses think in the way you point out. So even repeating the simple lines that I proposed in my post won’t work, because no one will believe it.

    So my next question is: how can we prevent people telling the ‘big lie’ about renwables?

  238. So my next question is: how can we prevent people telling the ‘big lie’ about renwables?
    A provocative poster campaign that directs uni students and other green activists to this blog? In those months when my better half is not too swamped with design, I’ll get her to run the occasional poster for you guys.

    Any suggestions for catchy headers, images, and fine text? The bottom would have tear off strips directing traffic back to this blog.

  239. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum

    Re: Morgan’s allegation about renewables as supported by Sage of Montreal etc., please refer to the Reductio ad Hitlerum, which seems to be enjoying its BNC premiere.

    On the assumption that Reductio is justified because renewables provide no baseload ex overbuild plus natgas backup, I advise nukies against using it. This is for three reasons:

    1. it is fit-for-purpose for venting nukie emotions, but nukies are said to be and want to appear as rational and numerate.
    2. it is entering a crowded field of useage (see Wikipedia entry). Hence the signal to noise ratio may not suffice.
    3. it may offend potential and current nuclear supporters on the right wing – not only in the US, CAN, AU and NZ armed forces – who admire the Nazi army, saying “they were just fighting for their country.”

    Alternatives for persuading the public of NPPs include:
    1. Miss Atom beauty contest, as in my New Year’s post about the annual contest run by Rosatom in Russia. Given Anglosphere gender relations this is risky, however.
    2. Creation of a smiling mansize cuddly koala e.g. Garry Graphite Rod, to appear as mascot at all nuclear events. Garry’s habitat is threatened in AU by Big Coal.

  240. well: I’d refrain from the reductio ad hiterum too. but as far as big lies, here’s one. I think it’s my all time favorite. When I first found out that this article made Project Censored at Sonoma State University, I thought, “oh shit, must be true. Why censor a “big lie?”

    I shared this a while back with Tom Blees and Gwyneth Cravens.

    Jeffrey St. Clair, in an article called “Pools of Fire” that made number 4 of Project Censored, claimed to reveal that the spent fuel pools at the Shearon Harris plant in my home state of North Carolina (I kayak on Lake Jordan, where the plant is located) were so dangerous that “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has estimated that there is a 1:100 chance of a pool fire happening under the best of scenarios.” http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/4-nuclear-waste-pools-in-north-carolina/

    This fire, according to the article, could be another Chernobyl!!!!!

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    [the reductio ad chernobylum?]

    What the NRC report actually said was that the probability of a spent fuel pool fire at the Shearon Harris plant is 2 in 10 million reactor years or less (2.78 E-8).

    SO HOW DID THE REPORT ATTRIBUTE TO THE NRC A ONE IN ONE HUNDRED CHANCE? ST. CLAIR APPEARS TO BE REFERRING TO THE NRC STAFF ESTIMATE “OF ABOUT ONE PERCENT THAT A SEVERE REACTOR ACCIDENT WITH CONTAINMENT FAILURE WOULD LEAD TO A SFP ACCIDENT.” BUT THE CHANCE OF A SEVERE REACTOR ACCIDENT WITH CONTAINMENT FAILURE IS REMOTE. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/secys/2008/secy2008-0036/2008-0036scy.pdf

    LET’S LOOK [CITED FROM REPORT BELOW, originally in response to a Massachusetts petition, i believe]:

    Based on a detailed probabilistic risk assessment, the Sharon Harris licensee calculated the probability of a severe reactor accident causing an SFP fire to be 2.78E-8 per year. The NRC staff calculated the probability to be 2.0E-7 per year. The intervenor calculated the probability to be 1.6E-5 per year. The ASLBP concluded that the probability of the postulated sequence of events resulting in an SFP fire was, “conservatively in the range described by the NRC staff: 2.0E-7 per year (two occurrences in 10 million reactor years) or less.”4 Accordingly, the ASLBP found that the occurrence of a severe reactor accident causing an SFP fire was “remote and speculative.” The Commission affirmed the ASLBP’s decision, and the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, upheld the Commission’s decision.5

    In the above proceeding, the intervenor assumed that, given an early containment failure or bypass, a spent fuel zirconium fire would occur (i.e., a conditional probability of 1.0). In order for a reactor accident to lead to a SFP zirconium fire a number of additional conditions must occur. The reactor accident and containment failure must somehow lead to a loss of SFP cooling and must lead to a condition where extreme radiation levels preclude personnel access to take corrective action. There must be then an inability to restart cooling or makeup systems. There must be a loss of significant pool water inventory through evaporation (which can take substantial time). Finally, the event must also lead to a zirconium fire. In contrast to the intervenor’s estimate, the licensee and the NRC staff estimated a conditional probability of about one percent that a severe reactor accident with containment failure would lead to a SFP accident. In PRM-51-10, the Petitioner has reduced its conditional containment failure probability estimate to 50 percent. However, no supporting factual basis was provided. In the absence of a technical basis for this assertion, the NRC staff expects that the conditional probability of a SFP zirconium fire, given a severe reactor accident, would be similar to that established in the Shearon Harris proceeding. As such, the probability of a SFP zirconium fire due to a severe reactor accident and subsequent containment failure would be well below that estimated by the petitioner, and within the category of remote and speculative matters.

    CHERNOBYL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  241. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-67748

    @Sage of Montreal: when I address you I do so direct; so no, I was not circumlocuting.

    Your Point taken concerning Gen II or III and the difference between weaponisable Pu and MOX. But are you saying that UAE was just meeting PR requirements imposed by the Ignorant Fearful Public when it said (source: FT, London) ” it would not enrich” when it bought the S Korean NPPs just now? If so, it is that public that nukies must deal with. Or was that UAE statement directed at Iran across the water instead?

    Note also, for all your statements about military and civilian nuclear being quite separate, historically and technically, that there is a unique selling point, USP of the IFR of Argonne/Kirsch/Blees or General Electric, for that matter. That USP has been: that the IFR pyroprocesses away proliferation/Pu-theft fears.

    But the Russian VVER 1200 and the AP 1000 variant, to cite the most prominent NPPs being built currently, do not pyroprocess.

    So nukies are de facto wanting Gens II or III which can PUREX weaponisable Pu if they get it from somewhere.

    Lastly, given your recent apparent bean-counting insinuation about the finance for Chossudovsky`s radical institute in your city, it is possibly ironic that your view on the desirability of nukes for global MAD seems to be shared by another compatriot, the like-minded Prof. Gabriel Kolko (Toronto): he recently seems to have said that cautious US treatment of N Korea is the proof that nukes deter.

    You yourself write, however, as if Operation Able Archer of 1983 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Able_Archer, or the near-miss of 1962 saved by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasiliy_Arkhipov are now entirely irrelevant in 2010 because the USSR ended in 1991.

    But this would appear to reflect only your personal metaphysics and notions of how humans behave, or should, i.e. that the Fog of War does not exist.

  242. Peter Lalor, I have not encountered in the posts of Barry Brook and Peter Lang statements that suggest the sort of ideological predisposition you find, and if you have a thesis about this, I suggest you document the statements that lead you to your conclusions. I would also tell you that Barry, Peter and I are in broad agreement in our assessment of the problems of renewables and the advantages of nuclear power. I am very much concerned about the the effects of energy choices on public health, and especially the health of the elderly. My position was based on a case study of the effects of an wind dominated post carbon electrical system in North Texas. The problem can be briefly explained. Texas is reported to have excellent wind resources. But it gets extremely hot in North Texas during the summer. I survived the year that Dallas had 59 100 F (38 C) days. Life would be pretty miserable in Dallas without Air Conditioning during the summer. And for many people with health problems it can turn deadly. Western Europe experienced Dallas like heat conditions for a week or so a few years ago, and since they regard air conditioning as an unneeded luxury, some 50,000 people, most of them elderly, died of heat related causes. Clearly then in hot climates like North Texas, air conditioning and low cost electricity are matters of public health.

    There are well documented summer wind reliability issues in Texas, and in the surrounding states. I have documented that these summer problems extend to the American South East, to California, to New England, and to Ontario, Canada. Clearly then there is a very significant wind reliability issue that effects much of North America. I viewed the various remedies that Wind advocates have preposed for their reliability issues. They offer either large CO2 emissions via the use of fossil fueled generation back up, or hugely expensive and inefficient energy back up systems. I performed my own analysis. (i must say that Peter Lang does a better job than I do, but i am pretty confident in my conclusions which have as of today not received any significant challenge.) The upshot is that many chronically ill and elderly people will probably die from heat related causes in a wind dominated grid, and that even a redundant solar-wind dominated grid would have significant public health implications.

    It has been my conclusion then that under a renewables dominated energy system, human life would be more difficult and that the life span might well be shorter. Under a renewable system people in what are today advanced societies would have fewer elective choices about how to spend their time and live their lives, and social conflict might well increase. Paradoxically a renewable energy based society might produce more rather than less environmental degradations as people turn to low energy methods of economic survival. i have reviewed the environmental consequences of preindustrial economic activities, and found them, if anything, worse than the environmental consequence of industrialization. The greater wealth afforded by industrialization allows for the mitigation of at least some of its economic consequences.

    My conclusion then was that renewables were likely to prove an expensive and unsatisfactory bridge to an energy future, I have also concluded that a Generation IV nuclear technology, Molten Salt Reactor technology, probably offers a low cost, safe, easily deployable, and rapidly deployable solution to the problem of post carbon nuclear energy, and that one variant of Molten Salt Reactor technology, the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor could offer human society all the energy it needs for millions of years. Given the real issues involved in our energy options, it is hard to imagine what role ideology would play in the choices. And indeed I find that once I lay out out these considerations, people from many ideological camps, from the left to the right, are in agreement with me.

  243. But the Russian VVER 1200 and the AP 1000 variant, to cite the most prominent NPPs being built currently, do not pyroprocess.

    So nukies are de facto wanting Gens II or III which can PUREX weaponisable Pu if they get it from somewhere.

    To make a plutonium bomb, you need three things:

    1) You irradiate uranium within the neutron flux of a reactor core for a controlled period of time, so that you’re producing plutonium within the fuel that is mostly plutonium-239, with the ratio of Pu-238, Pu-240 and Pu-241 formation to the Pu-239 carefully limited. Normal power reactor operation is not at all useful in this regard.

    2) You take out the highly radioactive fuel and use a PUREX type process which can selectively chemically separate out the plutonium from the fuel. You then turn the plutonium solution into plutonium metal. You can’t separate different plutonium nuclides, though, so you have to control the plutonium nuclear composition during step 1.

    3) You actually design and construct a working nuclear weapon, which is non trivial.

    Even with PUREX type reprocessing, power reactors do not present any significant proliferation risk, since it’s reactor-grade plutonium they’re separating, if they’re separating plutonium at all.

    It’s easy to modify the PUREX chemistry, without modifications to existing PUREX-type plant infrastructure, so that there is no Pu separation, eg. as in the COEX or UREX processes. The Japanese are presently doing this – their plant simply removes the fission products and minor actinides and produces a mixture of extracted uranium and plutonium ready to be conveniently turned into MOX fuel.

    Of course, we don’t need to be doing this kind aqueous extraction type reprocessing at all – there’s nothing wrong with storing used nuclear fuel for a few years, or even decades – later, we can process it, via pyroprocessing methods probably, as Barry promotes, and use it to start IFRs.

  244. Peter Lalor –

    …are you saying that UAE was just meeting PR requirements imposed by the Ignorant Fearful Public when it said (source: FT, London) ” it would not enrich” when it bought the S Korean NPPs just now? If so, it is that public that nukies must deal with. Or was that UAE statement directed at Iran across the water instead?

    I’m sure that the decision not to enrich in this case is purely economic. For the number of reactors they are planning, even the number of reactors they could ever possibly need, it will be cheaper for them to buy fuel. Why someone felt the need to restate this publicly is not that relevant, although the reasons you gave are as good as any other.

    So nukies are de facto wanting Gens II or III which can PUREX weaponisable Pu if they get it from somewhere.

    No, that would be a poor reason.

    Look I wish pronuclear supporters would stop trying to push particular designs of reactors on the bases of one type being more proliferation-proof than another. First of all any argument along those lines is weak, because any reactor type can theoretically be re-tasked to make weapons-grade fissionable material, but in practical terms for all modern designs of power reactor this is not an effective route, mostly because yields a too low. Nor, is pyroprocessing inherently proliferation-proof ether, in the general sense, again depending on feedstock.

    Again politics, not technology is the only area in which the proliferation issue can be dealt with. It is a mistake for the supporters of individual designs to claim that their type is more proliferation-proof than another, and it is a huge mistake to allow themselves to be drawn into this aspect of the debate. They are going to wind up getting burnt badly by this pandering, because they are fools.

    You yourself write, however, as if Operation Able Archer of 1983 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Able_Archer, or the near-miss of 1962 saved by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasiliy_Arkhipov are now entirely irrelevant in 2010 because the USSR ended in 1991.

    The Cold War has ended, and this is reflected in the current set of nuclear doctrines published by the Great Powers of late. But in the end we have to lean to live with nuclear weapons one way or the other. A world that was genuinely free of nuclear weapons would look very different. War between big powers would once again become thinkable. A world without nuclear weapons might also be one of much deeper mutual suspicion.

    Even if states did scrap all their nukes, most would retain the knowledge and the ability to build a nuclear weapon quickly. The world’s most powerful states would also need to put more effort and money into conventional arms. And of course escalation to broad conflict again become more probable. Naturally, this is a hard argument to make stick in the politically correct environment we are labouring under at this moment. That is why pretending to believe in total nuclear disarmament appears to be a necessary piece of hypocrisy amongst the international players.

  245. just downloaded a long assessment of nuclear from union of concerned scientists–Lyman, Lochbaum.

    It goes on and on about purex and proliferation. but the whole issue is bogus for reasons explained by Luke and DV.

    Depleted Cranium goes into detail on Luke’s points. But DV’s point is just as key. If we got rid of all npps tomorrow, this would not ipso facto reduce the proliferation problem, which is primarily political.

    so, PL, the immanent critique (Nukies push IFRs cause they’re proliferation proof/yet push nukes anyway) loses its point.

  246. Peter asked:

    So my next question is: how can we prevent people telling the ‘big lie’ about renewables?

    I think we need something big. Let’s try and step outside the box here.

    We know that we are right on the facts. If the facts come to light in a way that the renewables folk simply cannot ignore then we win. You and I and most here know that as long as we have a stalemate, not only don’t we get nuclear, but those favouring renewables get to see more coal. Nothing happens because nuclear is blocked and deep down, those with cash know that renewables don’t work, so they dribble little bits of money as greenwash and there it stays.

    We should ask ourselves — how much public money are we willing to bet to see the renewable’s people’s hand? What will we ask them to bet they can do?

    I say there’s an obviously brilliant target: Hazelwood — the world’s dirtiest coal plant. Let’s plonk 6.2 billion onto the table and see if someone can significantly improve on gas in CO2-intensity while supplying 8000 hours in a year at full rated capacity. We offer them a shot at using renewables to stand in for the world’s worst coal plant. Can they do it on that budget?

    We do due diligence, we build in a harsh liquidated damages clause if they fail miserably and then we give them a cheap line of credit. If they succeed we give them the money and the state gets the plant. There’s talk of brown coal geothermal there, which does sound interesting.

    If they fail they get paid on a work value basis compared with the cost of Hazelwood per capacity credit. and the state keeps the plant(s).

    Then we can say — look, it was tried and it has proven impossible despite generous funding. We must either accept very weak targets or roll out nuclear. They can stop making up stories about lack of support and most of them will come over. There will always be some who hold out, but the bulk of people will see good sense, IMO.

    What do you say Peter?

  247. Renewables, wind in particular are astonishingly bulletproof when it comes to failing to meet projections. Project after project this plants have not come close to what they have promised, yet are hailed are great successes. Even those that enjoyed massive public support, like in Denmark are still held out as exemplars, even as the governments are seeing the folly and backing away from further expansion.

    Even environmentalists are becoming disenchanted with wind power when they discover that it involves covering huge tracts of land all over the country in order to produce any meaningful power. But any rate the principal motive behind investing in turbines and wind farms is not related to environmental benefits, but to the very high profits due to generous government tax breaks and subsidies to invest in wind.

    Yet these projects continue to be built over the objections of locals, power companies that must deal with the impacts of this fickle source on grid stability, and common sense. There is more behind this than the work of a few doctrinaire Greens.

  248. greg m,

    How would you have to define basepower to defend the claim that renewables provide it in spain? what does he say?

    I just happened upon this newspiece from Matthew Wright in which he more or less says what he means by basepower:

    In Spain and the US, Solar power plants will be built this year that run more hours of a year at equivalent full output than NSW coal fired power plants. That’s baseload Solar. That’s baseload renewables.

    More hours a year at equivalent full output than a coal reactor. I don’t know what “equivalent full output” means and its the sort of phrase I’ve come to be wary of.

    And running the same number of hours a year as a coal plant does not by itself constitute baseload. In TCASE10 Barry cites a capacity factor of 85-90% for coal. The difference is that the downtime of the coal reactor is almost completely schedulable. If the coal plant was randomly out one sixth of the time (CF 85%), that would not do as baseload generation.

  249. Fran,

    I like your idea of making an example of Hazelwood to demonstrate the truth about the alternatives. I think this idea really has some legs.

    However, I would tackle it a different way than you suggested. I have two main problems with your approach:

    1. It will take decades to get an answer that convinces the public, for the reasons DV82XL has pointed out above.

    2. The liquidated damages will never be paid. The plant will be sold to different owners several times between when the public funds are paid to it and it finally goes into liquidation for the last time. I’ve watched Defence Materiel Organisation trying to claim liquidated damages from contractors who do not perform. Every time, the shit is spread widely and the DMO backs off every time. It is virtually impossible to collect it.

    Here is my suggested alternative (building on what you have proposed).

    The Victorian Government and AEMO through the SOO http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/esoo2009.html advertise for competing bids to replace Hazelwood.

    The special conditions would include:

    1. The replacement plant(s) must emit less than 0.1 t CO2/MWh (or some other suitable figure).

    2. The government will fund (subsidise) all the Community Service Obligations (CSO). That will include providing subsidies to offset all the costs that are imposed by market distortions caused by government regulations – for example, regulations that are unfair to a particular type or technology. Examples would be: RET, feed in tariffs, subsidies for purchase price, biased planning regulations and processes, etc

    3. The bidders can nominate the imposts on their technology, suggest the value of those imposts, and the CSO subsidies and changes to regulations needed to offset those imposts.

    4. The whole bidding and bid evaluation process will be totally transparent.

    I’d suggest that making the bid evaluation critreria transparent would be a fantastic way to educate the public. Just imagine the war that would erupt as all the inequities in the system were made explicit.

    Taking that thought a bit further, I wonder if the bid document might be something that could be developed on a thread on the BNC web site.

  250. Another reglation that must be included is:

    4. The replacement for Hazelwood shall provide dispatchable power (ie available on demand) with the same availability as Hazelwood, or better.

  251. Thanks Peter for your responses. I like the idea of setting down some tram tracks here. Perhaps there should be a separate thread?

    Broadly, I would endorse your suggested approach with the caveat that I’m not entirely sure what you mean in practice @2 and 3. I don’t like the idea of subsidies. I’d sooner abolish the MRET and FiT systems.

    Instead what I think would be good is a change in the tax treatment of energy — specifically, that expenditure on it would not be tax deductible only to the extent it over performed a mid range black coal plant (in the case of stationary energy supply) or petrodiesel in terms of btu/CO2 in the case of transport. In your example of an energy mix producing 0.1t of CO2 per MWhe this would be 90% deductible. A mix that produced 0.65t/MWhe would be 35% deductible. Diesel rebate subsidies generally would be abolished. Again, those who purchased biodiesel the lifecycle CO2 costs of which outperformed petro-diesel could deduct this against business tax obligations.

    Householders who purchased could earn certificates that reflected these credits and sell them to businesses. All the money clawed back by this would be returned in tax cuts or direct assistance to householders focused on the bottom three deciles of the population.

    No new laws would be needed to do this and no significant bureaucracy would be needed to police it. We would have a level playing field. Nuclear would be advantaged because of its low CO2 profile and because of the trivial cost of nuclear fuel per unit of output. Best of all, the renewables people would imagine that the field had moved in their favour, since they labour under the belief that fuel cost is a decisive advantage of renewables over fossil thermal. We could invite them to test that theory rather than hand-wave. Let Diesendorf go nuts with the concept.

    I like the specificity of the Hazelwood plan. Instead of talking about theoretical baseload, which few lay people grasp much less explain, we can ask a more direct question — can renewables be used to retire a single coal plant that is universally agreed to be the worst example of fossil fuel technology. If the answer is they can’t, then we can use Hazelwood like the anti-nuclears use Chernobyl. We can prove to the entire world that even in the most favourable of circumstances, renewables came up disastrously short.

  252. Fran, Peter,

    Here is a 2005 plan for replacing Hazlewood I came across some time ago. It sets out a number of supposedly “sustainable” alternatives which together should fill the Hazlewood gap.

    According to the author Alan Pears, Adjunct Professor RMIT and Director of Sustainable Solutions Pty Ltd, it turns out it can only be done economically by:

    *Reducing our energy consumption.
    *Relying on gas.
    *Importing electricity from interstate (presumably fossil fuel generated)!
    *Improving the efficiency of existing brown coal power plants.

    I don’t know how reducing our energy consumption is supposed to be a sustainable against a growing population but it is the main thrust of his paper.

    Just thought you might be interested.

  253. Fran,

    We are closing in on an approach (at least you and I are).

    I agree with removing all the market distortions such as RET and FiT.

    As to whether we use the tax system or some other method to undo the market distortions we have imposed through decades of trying to pick winners is an issue we can get to later. To me, playing with the tax system is more of the same old picking winners. I want to remove all the distortions, not add to them. Paying Community Service Obligations (CSO) is making the distortions (and the cost of removing them) explicit , not hiding them. Distorting the tax system is hiding the distortions and adding more.

    My proposed subsidies for CSO is intended to show explicitly the cost of undoing 40 years of biased market interventions that were attempts to pick winners, usually what turned out to be losers, like Renewable energy.

  254. on one of my enviro lists, I’ve just been told very confidently that uranium mining displaces more land than coal.

    besides mentioning gen four, and in situ leaching, I’d like to respond. anyone got any info?

    g

  255. Peter,

    I see the logic behind making the CSO subsidies explicit, but I don’t agree that this would have anything like the impact you imagine. The CSOs are heterogenous and split up in such a way that most people would not be able to keep them at the front of their minds.

    I don’t agree that what I proposed amounts to “playing with/distorting the tax system” much less “picking winners”. The amendment is technologically agnostic — focusing purely on emissions abatement without specifying how that can be achieved. Responses include energy usage abatement, purchase of low-emission technologies, business process re-engineering or even purchase of certificates from those outside the system.

    Of course, what I’d also like to see as part of the package would be a dummy bid from those wishing to make proposals from a nuclear perspective. It would be made clear that government policy was not to allow nuclear power, but that as a control, we wanted to see how an energy developer with the freedom to pick the best nuclear technology available would go about the same project. After all, as this project was designed to answer the question about the alternatives to Hazelwood many people will hope that the alternatives that we could in theory take be fully explored.

  256. greg, Finrod recently did a post on this on his blog:

    Mining nuclear fuel

    When you consider the energy density of uranium is about a million times more than that of coal, it would be surprising if coal had the lesser land use. It would mean that the uranium ore body would need to be about a million times more dilute than the coal seam to make up the difference.

    Finrod used a low end ore concentration of 300ppm to come up with figures of 667 t U ore mined vs 5500 t of coal mined for equivalent energy. ie coal mining is an order of magnitude worse, on these figures.

    The calculation was for light water reactors, so going to gen IV gives you about two more orders of magnitude, coal would then be about 1000 times worse than uranium mining.

    Its complicated by not knowing just what is required to access the ore body / coal seam in each case. Maybe you need to remove a lot more overburden for one? I don’t know.

    Its also complicated by the fact that uranium mines produce a lot more than just uranium. The Olympic Dam mine splits about 98% copper / 2% uranium. Its a copper mine with uranium byproduct. Do you account just 2% of the Olympic Dam footprint to uranium mining?

  257. Marion Brook,

    I agree with your comments. I started to read the article by Alan Pears and got to this statement:

    Cost effective electricity efficiency potential in Victoria would reduce commercial and residential electricity consumption by around two-thirds, and industrial consumption by at least 40%, saving more than twice as much electricity as is now supplied by the Hazelwood power station. The cost of these measures varies from negative (i.e. cheaper up-front) to around the same as investment in power supply. Demand side measures would also reduce peak demand problems and avoid large investments in transmission and distribution networks, further enhancing their economic benefit

    I note the author’s experience in building efficiency programs. I’ve been involved in tha too. He has a totally different opinion than me on the viability of these programs. What he is saying about the enormous potential has adovocated for decades. It was being advocated strongly in the days of Bob Hawke’s “Ecologically Sustainable Development” programs. However, those in industry were saying at that time that the proponents claims were based on theoretical analyses but did not understand the economics. This proved to be correct. The economic potential for energy efficiency improvements by retrofitting existing buildings and industries is much smaller than is being advocated. The recent ‘pink bats’ home insulation program is a classic example. Insulating houses was thought by some to be one of the most economically viable options – about the lowest of the ‘low hanging fruit’. Yet, it turned out to cost $200/tonne CO2 avoided. That’s about 10 times the cost per tonne CO2 avoided we’d achieve by replacing Hazelwood with a nuclear plant. So, I cannot get much interested in the proposals that rely heavily on improving efficiency and demand side management. We’ve been at it for two decades, and another push from government intervention will make little difference. We’ve already tried it very hard already.

  258. I don’t mean to be rude, but while I fully support the right of us armchair dictators to make grandiose plans for the world, and I’ve certainly had my go at that in the past, how are we going to change the Australian public’s views on nuclear power?

    At the moment Barry’s really making headway with the various radio interviews he’s been on promoting his book, which I applaud. That’s the real heavy-hitting activism.

    But there are other approaches as well that can start slowly, but eventually bring increasing returns.

    EG: Activist posters to be put up at universities.

    Just brainstorming here, nothing set in stone so don’t criticise… contribute!

    While we’re focussing on Hazelwood, I’m thinking of a poster heading that says something like: “Close Hazelwood coal, and bankrupt the state on renewables!” Have big nasty gnarly shots of coal fired stations, etc… and in the paragraphs under the heading explain that there IS an alternative, which could also burn nuclear waste as a bonus…

    Then off course, tear-off-tabs to this blog.

    Posters can reach out to university students and we can have a ‘poster of the month’ competition if other graphically gifted activists join, etc. It’s about grassroots-up campaiging supplementing Barrys media-down approach, and promoting this information in attention grabbing headlines that get at least 1 message out clearly, almost submininally, to the energetic activists in the uni crowd.

    Every poster refers back here to the central campaign blog, where more posters can be downloaded for free.

    Another poster might shout: “The ONLY way to deal with nuclear waste is to build modern nuclear reactors!” (to get the ‘what the?’ reaction…)

    Then of course we can just go for cost.
    “A clean energy Australia for $150 billion, or $700 billion? The choice is yours.”

    (Then a few choice energy stats spelling out the benefits of a S-Prism IFR reactor… whatever.)

    Anyway, as I’ve really appreciated the time and energy you have all put into answering my questions, I don’t mind asking the wife for a design favour now and then.

    As Barry’s the blog owner, his word is final on which posters we go with.

  259. Fran,

    We won’t get serious bids for nuclear unless we are serious.

    I wouldn’t bid if it depended on tax cuts. I know they will be take away by a future government.

    So I proposed a way to get rid of the unfair impediments. The longer it takes to remove them the mosr is will cost the tax payer because we are funding the CSO until the imposts are removed. It exposes the imposts and m,akes the costs of them explicit.

    However, we’ve moved onto discussing methods before we’ve got an agreement on the high level approach. I believe it will be enormously diffcult to get agreement even to the top level aim, because the RE advocates will see where this is heading. They will do all they can to muddy the waters. They will propose solution like Alan Pears has suggested – replace Hazelwood with energy efficiency, demand side management, importing electrcity from interstate, etc.

    So the first thing we’d need to get agreement on is: the requirements to be included in the “Request for Proposal” and the evaluation methodology and criteria for the submitted proposals.

  260. I think the powers-that-be want to keep Hazelwood going as long as possible. One idea which doubles as a stalling tactic is to feed algae on flue gas. Another I think is to improve the net heating value of the brown coal by drying it a bit.

    I think the tender specification for the Hazelwood replacement must include a CO2 target like under 3.5 Mtpa down from the present 17, though with similar electrical output.

    While Hazelwood is a large target there are easier targets like SA’s Playford B coal fired station, surely long past its use-by date and needing urgent replacement regardless. The nuclear connection is more obvious since yellowcake is loaded on the railway not far away.

  261. John,

    I think you may have missed some of the posts above. The purpose of the approach is to find what is the actual cost to replace Hazelwood with a viable system that produces very low emissions. I suggested 0.1 t/MWh. But open to suggestions. There is no point in simply reducing by 3.5 Mt/a from 17 Mt/a. Black coal can easily do that and much more. Gas can more than halve it. We are looking for much better than that, and the cost to do so. At the same time, the replacement generators must be able to replace Hazelwood’s availability. So they need to be able to provide power on demand with >90% availability.

    We’ve been frigging around with R&D and demonstrations drying brown coal for more than 20 years. It is purely a diversionary tactic. Don’t get side tracked. We make no progress if we continually digress for no real gain.

    Similarly, suggesting Playford instead of Hazelwood. Hazelwood is over 40 years old. It is a big target. And world infamous. Let’s focus on it.

    The real purpose of doing this, from my perspective, is to make the requirements clear to everyone. Get people involved in debating the requirements, the trade-offs and the costs. Then they may begin to understand. They should begin to understand that renewables have no hope at all of meeting society’s needs for electricity at any reasonable expense. They will realise how much we would have to raise the cost of electricity to pay for the renewables dream. They would also realise what is the cost of the imposts we have placed on nuclear. This is a main point of the exercise.

  262. I guess I need to explain, that although I am interested in doing something like this on BNC, for the exrercise, there is no chance of any government doing anything like this until there is a bipartisan agremement in the State and Federal governments and Oppositions to allow it to proceed. No nuclear power vendor is going to spend tens of million of dollars on submitting a bid when there is no prospect of them winning because politics prevents it.

    I just needed to say this so we understand the reality.

  263. Peter Lang this proposal has emissions savings of 13.6 Mt from Hazelwood

    So I meant total CO2 of 3.5 Mt from the Hazelwood replacement, not just a reduction by that amount. Wikipedia cites an emissions figure of 17 Mt of CO2 a year from Hazelwood .

    Note the proposal has 1.2 + 1.5 = 2.7 installed GW replacing 1.6 GW. Even if the proposal is physically sound I wouldn’t put it high up among the tenders since
    - 500 new wind turbines might face opposition
    - Victoria’s medium sized gas fields are now half a century old.

  264. Peter

    I’d favour a process something like this:

    1. Set out parameters for the successful bidder — as we have said, availability/hours delivered at full rated capacity, CO2 intensity, likely levelised cost, ramp rates etc. in EOI

    2. Due diligence to sift unserious or implausible or under-qualified bidders/bids from mix

    3. Detailed independent analysis of bids (still commercial-in-confidence at this stage) so as to draw up a short list of options meeting minimum criteria. Short listed bidders guaranteed reimbursement of costs defrayed associated with assembly of fully commercial proposals based on a 0.5% cap of bid proposals figure. (Thus, someone offering to build for $6bn gets up to $30million to spend in independently documented costs. If we have five proposals, the bill could run to $150 million.

    4. Proposals are developed, published and evaluated at a public inquiry.

    5. Suitable contractual documents are written specifying damages for non-performance, MAEs, recovery methods and so forth

    6. A choice is made and the offer is accepted

    7. Building is completed and the plant(s) are brought online for one year.

    8. Evaluation is done and the remaining matters are reconciled.

    I can easily see a nuclear power vendor or two participating if they were properly compensated for preparing the bid documents and there were some prospect of the question being revisited in the near future.

    Like you Peter, I want to move the debate away from under-informed handwaving at what might be possible at some vague time in the future after the magic technology pixies clear up all the really thorny issues and have the RE people make an explicit testable claim about how they would deal with a serious real life policy problem in the hear and now or admit that they are defacto advocates of extending the life of plants like Hazelwood.

    The kinds of problem that you raise in relation to Pears’ study are more apparent than real, because no RE advocate could endorse it and remain credible within their own bailiwick. They’d be endorsing a plan that would not replace Hazelwood at all. But to clear up the fudge factor, I do agree we must be focused on a specific deliverable easy to see outcome — we can retire Hazelwood without disruption to the lives of Victorians.

    I think in practice you would get bipartisan support for this because both sides pay lip-service to renewables. The owners of Hazelwood have said they would retire the plant under certain conditions.

    I think that if we here at BNC could come to a consensus, we could all agree to go out and campaign to get our parliamentarians to sign up to doing this and report back here on progress.

    EN suggested a slogan:

    Close Hazelwood coal, and bankrupt the state on renewables

    No — too hostile and it would be read as being anti-green. The people you want to win over either don’t believe you or interpret “bankrupt the state” as “make rich people who are ruining the environment suffer”. They like that. The people who would accept the claim would be advocates of business-as-usual rather than people who think there’s a need to clean up emissions.

    I like Ewen’s “Renewables: coal and gas in drag” — which strikes at the heart of the issue and which the RE people would hate. We could have a fictional character: Colin Gass who would be flatulent windbag dressed up like some hippie wafting about scented candles to cover the output of the coal plants behind him.

    If our proposal above got up we could have another slogan: Hate Hazelwood? Build the Alternative!

  265. Hi Fran,
    always good to hear other’s perspectives on the poster titles… I agree with everything you said… feeling a bit “blunt” today.

    However, I have to say I don’t understand the last dozen or so posts about Hazelwood… as if our reaching agreement here is going to make it happen in the real world?

  266. We don’t have to bet that what we say here will make a difference in the real world to favour having the discussion. Life never comes with a set of guarantees, even if you are a mover and shaker.

    We only have to believe that it might make a difference, because all of us get onto the same page and speak to people who might be inclined to take us seriously.

    Each of us needs to work the parts of the crowd who will listen to us most and who are being unhelpful, whether they realise it or not.

  267. eclipsenow,

    I realise you don’t understand what is going on in these posts. It is an exercise to see if we can define the requirements that bidders would bid on. The purpose was to expose … Aagh, its all explained above. Go back and re read it.

    Howver, I see it is pointless trying to discuss this because there is not even the most basic understanding of the contracting solicitation and selection process.

    Fran, no one will bid until they know exactly what they are bidding on. You can’t define what the contract will look like after the tenderers submit their tender.

  268. OK… no one jumped at the idea of the posters… I think it’s too ‘university activist’ for this crowd. I’m kind of relieved, because that’s all I had to offer (other than occasionally nagging green groups to come and check out this blog).

    But how are “Why V Why” and “Prescription for the Planet” both selling? Are we generating a groundswell already?

  269. Peter said:

    no one will bid until they know exactly what they are bidding on.

    Well as I said @1

    1. Set out parameters for the successful bidder — as we have said, availability/hours delivered at full rated capacity, CO2 intensity, likely levelised cost, ramp rates etc. in EOI

    As for the contract specs, see 4 above … Remember Peter, this is as much an exercise in making explicit to the public that which currently isn’t as it is in refuting renewables. We want the RE people to go to the mattresses to fight for the right to replace Hazelwood.

    If nobody puts their hand up, there we have our answer. Their renewables concept is simply vapourware. It would be a devastating setback for them.

  270. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/06/open-thread-4/#comment-68168

    @Barlow:

    Re. your notion of the usefulness to nukies in AU of a fictional flatulent windbag figure promoting wind/solar/wave/tide/geothermal called Colin Gass adumbrated by you as “some hippie wafting scented candles to cover the output of the coal plants.”

    I recently linked to an article in the May edition of The Monthly (Melb.) on coal. It mentions the deep infiltration of Coal into the AU body politic since PM Fraser, incl. land speculation by politicians buying up rural properties in advance of coal company compensation . The Blog Owner then displayed it in the right sidebar.

    You and the Blog Owner (e.g. in his article in The Advertiser months back) choose to attack Renewabilists in populist fashion. It is moot as to what you both think of Renewabilists in general: they are not Growth Cornucopians but you presumably are. (that is a severe difference with wide ramifications, e.g. in respect of AU or CAN mining for minerals to the detriment of the Latin American or Papuan indigenous. In your presumed view, their hunter-gatherer/small farmer existence is unacceptably low kWh/year and thus initial destruction of their habitat and culture is justified by their successive integration into the global economy and increasing power useage, as it overcomes their “rural idiocy” and lengthens lifespan, etc). This is the implicit view of P. Lang on BNC; T. Blees, S. Brand etc.)

    Your Colin Gass would presumably try to raise AU voter fears that their ongoing affluence i.e. kWh/per annum would vanish due to non-despatchible costly RE. Fear, hatred and class-based contempt of hippies as low-consumption losers would be utilised to induce AU voters to vote for politicians, even those on the take from Big Coal. Those politicians would then implement NPPs. But is this realistic?

    Given the halo effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect I referenced elsewhere on BNC, you may expect that when the “hippies” are thus under attack from what they perceive as yet another manifestation of neoliberalism, they will not remain dormant. After all, a couple of hundred demonstrated recently against Hazelwood; Bob Brown of the Greens will have witnessed many more in Tasmania in years gone by.

    Those on BNC who thus tend to benefit (social status, net worth) from the current situation in AU would thus welcome P. Lang’s recent suggestion on BNC to ban political protest in AU against future NPP construction; the halo effect among “hippies” triggered by such stratagems as your Colin Gass will lead to that protest being heavy.

    The police and maybe army will then be allocated the role of suppression of anti-NPP protest within AU, with unpredictable consequences for the nuclear cause in an electoral system based since ca 1980-1990 on personalised emotionalism.

    Nukies should thus try to assess what PR measures are likely to be expedient and which are in fact counterproductive.

  271. Fran,

    I am afraid I am not following what you are suggesting any more. We come from different perspectives. Yes we have to try to get the RE advocates to go through the exercise. But the exercise has to be open and honest and realistic otherwise we lose the rational people. If we don’t go through the exercise in a way that is supportable by business, then we get nowhere. It will rightly be seen as nonsense.

    I say again, no one will bid unless there is a real prospect of winning. So you can’t get nuclear vendors to bid unless the government has convinced them that they have, or will remove all the impediments, or pay the full cost of their bid if they are rejected.

    We cannot go through the process you suggest because it will take multiple election cycles to get a result.

    What we could do, in a short time frame if we want to, would be to define the requirements (at a high level). In my opinion, that would raise a valuable discussion that could be done on a thread on the BNC web site. I am not volunteering for this. We need someone who knows more about this than I do.

    I’ll rephrase my suggestion as follows

    1. The replacement for Hazelwood shall provide dispatchable power with the same availability as Hazelwood, or better.

    2. The replacement plant(s) must emit less than 0.1 t CO2/MWh.

    3. The government will pay for the cost of unfair imposts on a paticular type of generator or technology. The unfair imposts will be reviewed regularly throughout the life of the facility. The cost will be paid for by government as Community Service Obligations (CSO) (because these cost are being caused by past and present government policies and regulations). These might include offsetting the costs imposed by market distortions caused by government policies and regulations, such as: RET, feed in tariffs, subsidies for purchase price, biased planning regulations and processes, etc.

    4. The bidders can nominate the imposts on their technology, suggest the value of those imposts, and the CSO subsidies and changes to regulations needed to offset those imposts.

    5. This process will make the imposts explicit and allow the community to remove tham so they can reduce the payments.

    6. The process will allow the public to be involved in defining the requirements, the tender evaluation criteria, and the selection process. The public will be able to see the tradeoffs between requirements and costs.

  272. No, but if we supply a handful of really good little A4 / US letter flyers, any uni nuclear-climate activist in the world that finds their way here can download and print out some.

    If we jump into various science forums I know of with 10′s of thousands of members, some of whom are studying science, the feedback loops could be exponential.

  273. Peter said:

    I say again, no one will bid unless there is a real prospect of winning. So you can’t get nuclear vendors to bid unless the government has convinced them that they have, or will remove all the impediments, or pay the full cost of their bid if they are rejected.

    And I’m Ok with paying the full cost of the dummy bid. It’s kind of like the control to our process — a benchmark that sets the bar. You and I both know that aside perhaps from geothermal, no proposal will meet the criteria and the nuclear proposal will.

    There we have the beginnings of our debate right there. In one move that has cost us nothing but the cost of funding the bid processs, we have cleared away 30 years of obfuscation and excuses for delay.

    The CST people will have had their go and failed abysmally and the principla advocates of intermittents will face the hitherto credulous public empty handed with only the nuclear proposal as meeting the conditions.

    I like the lay of the political landscape after that happens.

  274. Fran,

    We cannot pay the cost of the dummy bids. Our systems and politics would never allow it to happen. Federally, the Financial Management and Accountability Act will no allow it. There are similar acts in the states. The Auditor Generals and media would be all over it, and rightly so too.

    If we want to run a tender process it would have to be done properly. To entice nuclear vendors to bid, they and their investors, (banks and other institutions), would have to be convinced that the financial risk was acceptable. That means we have to either repeal all the laws and regulations before the RFP is released, or we need to pay compensation for all the unfair imposts (one way or another) or we accept that the cost of electricity will be higher than it needs to be (much higher given Australia’s high sovereign risk on this).

    There is an alternative. It is simply to go through establishing the RFP requirements, evaluation methodology and criteria, and doing it publicly, as I proposed. Just doing that will be highly educational. Of course, people would need to believe the process will lead to an actual RFP and then to implementing an acceptable replacement for Hazelwood.

    One way or another Hazelwood is going to be replaced and the process will begin during the term of the next federal parliament. So I reckon what we are discussing can be made believable.

  275. There’s a participant on another list I’m on who argues the following: Nuclear power is racist because it depends upon uranium mining and uranium mining exploits indigenous people.

    Peter L basically argues this way. The technology is not reducible to the conditions under which it is produced (which can change dramatically with social struggles).

    Otherwise, we would not promote eating food or we would view eating food as racist since food is inseparable from the global cheap food/cheap energy (oil) cheap labor (which always recruits a racial and gendered division of labor) regime, etc.

    We need food; we need energy. How do we get it sustainably? I’ve never heard Peter Lalor answer this question straight up. I don’t understand why you don’t answer it. Leftists should be able to answer it straight up. I’ve been a Marxist for over thirty years and I can at least take a stab at it.

  276. That doesn’t sound right Peter. Surely in Victoria compensation was paid to failed bids on the train service and there was something similar in NSW for the metro project, IIRC. The rationale given was that if you wanted competitive bids, you had to agree to compensate for expenses defrayed.

    I don’t at all mind doing the specification in public. That does sound better from our point of view, as long as it was as you say, intended as a preparatory measure to the actual retirement of Hazelwood.

  277. OK, Fran, you may be correct on the first point. It is a pretty complicated area and way outside my area of expertise. I should not have opened my mouth on that point.

    I like your second paragraph. Now what we need is to see what Barry thinks and see if he or someone else can find a person who could write a lead article and then lead us through the process.

    If this was done well, you just never know what it might lead to. Perhaps we could get all those interested having their say on BNC !!!

    In the meantime, we could do with some reaction from all those lurkers out there as to how they view the idea.

    Listening intently ….. :)

  278. @Meyerson: I read you just after listening to a back podcast of Rod Adams with David Walters.

    By the way, I thank you for that Depleted Cranium reference, which I see has the “nihil obstat imprimatur” of the ex-Jesuit pupil in Montreal; high praise indeed. More to the point, I am reading it.

    Nuclear energy is indeed not “racist”; this argument is specious, I agree, and for your stated reasons. The term “racism” has lost all meaning since ca. 1990 anyway, at which time only gender and race and “culture” were declared to be relevant, with analysis of class power going out the window as part of the neoliberal turn after 1979.

    So notwithstanding the problem of intepreting your word “basically”, no, I do not “argue the same way.”

    However, BNC fell in nicely with the Blog Owner’s proclaimed Good Friend at a neighbouring AU university, Hayden Manning, when the latter played the corporate apologist on BNC just at the time when your US Supreme Court handed down its historic decision on corporations in January.

    So a certain sceptical caution concerning what drives BNC is thus in order. You choose to ignore its politics because you need data from BNC eg. P. Lang or DV, to fight the nukie fight on other blogs so as to move the US Left back to the pro-nuke line it had in Einstein’s time, Einstein having been a socialist.

    But I want to know what those politics are before I sign off on them, and I am getting a good idea of them (I think)

    Re: my reference to Latin America/Papua: I was merely addressing at 1837h Barlow`s PR idea of using a hippie figure in AU to presumably arouse fear/hatred/contempt in AU voters with the aim of tarring RE as being intermittent/undespatchable.

    This is problematic for the same reasons that were skirted, in my view, by Adams/Walters.

    In closing: unplugging Fossil and plugging in Gens II-IV undeniably cuts AGW. No question. I find it regrettable that the AU Renewabilist Diesendorf is smearing doubters of RE as “deniers”, as if his preferred RE solution had the same status in science as AGW.

    I am also aware that capital fractions are at war here: small and medium-size wind/solar versus big fossil/nuclear. So there is a lot of special pleading.

    For the rest, watch this space.

  279. “There’s a participant on another list I’m on who argues the following: Nuclear power is racist because it depends upon uranium mining and uranium mining exploits indigenous people.”

    It’s amazing how the indigenous rights issue gets bought up by activists as grounds to attack nuclear energy and uranium mining, isn’t it?

    You hear about it all the time in relation to uranium mining, from anti-uranium-mining activists – and in relation to the issue of devising the most appropriate, safe and secure means of handling and storing Australia’s radioactive waste from medicine and research.

    But when it comes to mining coal, gas, oil, nickel, copper, bauxite, gold or anything else that we’re mining, you almost never hear about indigenous issues at a comparable level. It only gets bought up, disproportionately, as a means to attack and oppose uranium mining.

  280. @Weston:

    from your antipodean news-consuming perspective, your assessment may be right. Because AU corporations do not affect the indigenous worldwide like Canadian ones do. And it may be that AU corporate activities outside AU not affecting AU Aborigines are not of interest to the media you consume. So the denominator for which you are perceiving the “uranium” numerator is artificially small, as it were.

    But there is a global preponderance of CAN mining corporations.

    Hence:

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16361

    shows what happens to the indigenous on the receiving end of Canadian non-uranium-mining corporations. See podcasts at:

    http://www.rabble.ca/category/tags-issues/canadian-mining

    The Toronto Stock Exchange is being sued by a small town in resource-rich Ecuador as of May 16 on a non-uranium matter (see podcast link).

    You can see that although Denison Mines (CAN) is attacked as of 24.02 10 for uranium mining on Indian land on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, there are many other non-uranium stories covered.

    For a review of “The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy”, see:

    http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17634

  281. No no no. Once again Fran Barlow starts introducing highly complicated stuff, which we waste time on. Fran must be high-IQ because no-one else would put up such complicated stuff. The public will ignore it.
    Stop making assumptions about this complicated tax scheme or that system of subsidies. If the case cannot be made, like in the advertising competitions, in 25 words or less, you’re not going to make it.
    Personally, I think the high likelihood is that nothing will happen until it is obvious to all that fossil fuels can’t work any more. Even the 25 word explanations won’t work before then, but they’ll work better then than intricate high-IQ schemes.
    When the time comes, nuclear is 1 million times as energy dense as anything else, and if that doesn’t do it for us, we’re fucked.

  282. One more thing for an open thread – will there ever be a search function on BNC so people can search the comments? I know there is a lot of stuff people have put up they can’t reference because they can’t find it after they post it.

  283. Lawrence tried:

    Stop making assumptions about this complicated tax scheme or that system of subsidies. If the case cannot be made, like in the advertising competitions, in 25 words or less, you’re not going to make it.

    Pollution should not be deductible. Support clean energy!

  284. @ Luke re: indigenous activists.

    Yes, anyone listen to the 50 minute Brook V Lowe ABC debate? A quite shrill anti-nuke lady accused Barry of wanting to ‘dump uranium waste on indigenous communities that didn’t want it’. I thought Barry’s reply was excellent, highlighting overseas communities competing to get the right to store waste because they understood the economic benefits.

  285. Lawrence said:

    Personally, I think the high likelihood is that nothing will happen until it is obvious to all that fossil fuels can’t work any more.

    to which I responded:

    And IMO Lawrence, we can’t wait for the moment you specify. That’s much too late to avoid disaster.

    only for Lawrence to reply:

    That wasn’t what I said. I never said we should wait. Think before you speak.

    Your inference was clear. If we rely on you, we run dead and go with the flow — except we can’t. You should take your own advice.

  286. Another way Peter Lang, of preparing the ground for what we have in mind might run as follows. We have (or sghould be able to get) the precise weather and electricity demand and Hazelwood load data for the period march 2008-March 2010.

    We invite the RE crowd to specify the suite of technologies they would (with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight), have liked to use to plug the gap left by Hazelwood going offline, March 30 2008.

    The rules are:

    1. Co2 intensity @0.1t per MWhe
    2. Parallel output hour by hour to that supplied by Hazelwood
    3. Plant and connections to be built for no more than $AUS6.2 billion

    We reject demand management and energy efficiency as these are at best, highly uncertain and this is how it might work is too poor a standard. We insist that we can only discuss thing that are knowen to work and accordingly we reject them using any technology that is not already performing as they would specify and could reproduce this performam.

    We tell the RE people: put up or shut up — and we send this straight to Diesendorf and his fan club.

  287. oops …

    We reject demand management and energy efficiency as these are at best, highly uncertain and this is how it might work is too poor a standard. We insist that we can only discuss things that are known to work and accordingly we reject them using any technology that is not already performing as they would specify and could reproduce this performance in the conditions applying in the locations they specify for the facilities.

    Better …

  288. This is all very interesting Fran. I do like the idea of making dirty energy non-tax deductible. It is as you say, very simple and technology neutral and if the money were handed back as benefits to everyone, starting with those most likely to be negatively affected, it’s not regressive either.

    The Opposition can’t campaign on keeping these deductions or call it “a great big new tax” when it would be a great big new tax cut that allows people choice on how they spend it.

    I also like the idea of keeping the debate over energy about something specific that people can get their heads around — like Hazelwood. I wonder if the more wonkish around here could propose the ideal combination of reactors to replace Hazelwood. Then we could compare the Greens’ solutions to ours.

  289. Re: my reference to Latin America/Papua: I was merely addressing at 1837h Barlow`s PR idea of using a hippie figure in AU to presumably arouse fear/hatred/contempt in AU voters with the aim of tarring RE as being intermittent/undespatchable.

    Actually that is a telling choice of words Mr Lalor. Tar is bituminous and if I take Fran correctly, she was actually tarring them as providing (inadvertent) cover for coal and gas: Hence Colin Gass

    As to the politics of this place there are a range of views. As far as I can tell, it’s more left-of-centre than right of centre and several posters make no secret of being on the far left. The fact that there is a spread of perspectives on broader issues and a consensus around achieving measurable environmental outcomes is the clue that this blog is a good source of data for anyone serious on this matter.

    As to me, I’m for what works best for most people. That applies generally.

  290. DV8

    My suggestion would be four CANDU E6 or two CANDU 9 to replace coal at Hazelwood Power Station

    Could these be made to fit into Fran’s proposed $AUS6.2 billion budget?

    Would these deliver what Hazelwood delivered in terms of output?

  291. They would certainly deliver comparable output, that’s why I selected those combinations.

    The basic costs are comparable with any like-sized thermal generating station, regulatory expenses notwithstanding.

  292. And here is an interesting link to people demanding that hazelwood be switched off by 2012

    Sadly, apart from picjketing the plant, they don’t say how this could be done.

    This appeared in a link from their site:

    The day concluded with protestors forming a human sign in the shape of a wind turbine to symbolise their hope and determination to see dinosaurs like Hazelwood shut down and replaced with renewable energy that will provide both clean jobs and power. The vibe was definitely up and empowered by the days end with people well aware that many more such actions will be needed to achieve sane Climate Change policies in Australia.

    So hope and symbols and moral witness is all it takes. It’s a pity the hot air generated can’t be usefully harnessed because it might have made a difference.

    If you scroll down the IQ level drops further with the usual litany of brainless comments :

    if u guys dont like dirty coal, then maybe we need to start from home how about i take your pasma tv, ur fride frezzer, washing machine and every appliance in ur house and burn it. almost ill tke ur bmw and burn it if u hate coal so much y do u hve all this stuff

    [...]

    wht wouls be better nuclear power YEAH that sound great and when it blows up if it every does bye bye melbourne hello children with 3 arms and no heart

    Though this one sought to inject a measure of reality into the discussion. Unlike the others the poster actually quoted CF and cost.

  293. Fran – The ACR series is all but dead in the water. No Canadian utilities wants them and the export market doesn’t want them.

    They loose the big advantage of CANDUs in that they require enriched fuel. This means you have to have a plant, or buy it from a country who does have the facilities. And because for both Canada and Australia, uranium is always available there is no advantage in using higher fuel/power densities anyway.

    Also these reactors are light/heavy water hybrids, and AECL has had poor luck in the past with this type. The last time they tried the unit only ran for about 200 days in three years, before they gave up on it.

    But the bottom line for Oz is that if you should stay with a natural uranium cycle because otherwise you are into the expense of an enrichment plant, or depending on some other country for that service.

  294. It suggests here that Australia was obliged to sell the SILEX enrichment process initially to the US
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silex_Process
    because of an obligation under the NPT. Maybe lack of capital and lack of foresight were the real reasons.

    It seems Australia rids itself of both uranium and know-how at dirt cheap prices while maintaining the belief that everything will work out at home. We have gone from a potential leader to a follower.

  295. If I have to put up with the idiocy of both Fran Blowhard and eclipsenow then I wish to announce my resignation from this site.
    Actually I don’t contribute anything much other than low-IQ observations, so no-one will miss me.
    So, fuck it.
    Good bye.

  296. A slightly ruder version of the same phrase occurred to me DV82XL but I thought better of it and let it slide.

    One does wonder sometimes what motivates some people.

    I could understand if I’d gratuitously attacked something dear to him …

  297. I just heard Bob Brown (Senator, leader of the Australian Greens Party) doing an hour talkback on the Greens on ABC Radio National’s Australia Talks. Someone called in asking about nuclear power. I don’t think RN records or transcribes this, so I managed to hit “record” and have transcribed

    Bob’s response was emphatic:

    .. not from your party necessarily, but some environmentalists are now are starting to accept, to embrace nuclear power. Is there any suggestion at all that the Greens might follow down this tracK?

    No Paul.

    The opposition put up the proposal with John Howard for 25 nuclear power stations around Australia, we still say to them, “Where are you going to place those”?

    Australians are opposed to having nuclear power in this country, but we are exporting uranium to the rest of the world and we don’t accept that, it is a very unneccesary threat to humankind. Look, with Barack Obama trying to get rid of nuclear weapons, and we support that, but in an age of handbag size nuclear weaponry its a huge threat to humankind.

    We can deal with our energy problems using safe renewable energy, baseload solar power stations, renewable energy throughout.

    The Greens have a comprehensive programme here, its much more job intensive, it will ultimately end up giving us better dividends in terms of export income and .. er .. let me go again to one other time honoured option here which is to end, and currently the logging industry is on its knees, but to end the destruction of native forests and woodlands in this country would immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 20%.

    Put that up against the CPRS which was aiming at maximum 5% for a 24 billion dollar outlay and you can see that the policy settings are wrong, the Greens have much better, more ambitious but much cheaper and safer alternatives in an age of climate change for energy production.

    So there you have it. There will be no shift in the Green’s position in the forseeable future. If the Greens hold the balance of power, there is no prospect of any movement on this issue while Labour opposes nuclear power. The Libs would do it, but would need a political consensus, so the key is convincing the ALP.

    So as I see it, for effective climate action:

    * a vote for the Greens risks giving them an effective Senate veto over NP
    * a vote for the ALP is voting for business as usual – no effective climate policy and no shift on NP
    * a vote for the Libs has the potential to give the political initiative to the party that would choose to pursue NP

    The best option for NP would be a Coalition government with Coalition + independents in control of the Senate, and the Greens not having the balance of power.

    If the Greens have the balance of power, the ALP will simply oppose NP for political advantage, the same way they’ve played climate as a political token.

    I would be very worried about the fate of specific conservation actions under the libs. But at this point in history localized conservation initiatives are likely to be sunk by climate change.

    So I can’t see any option here than to vote liberal and lobby the ALP.

    I talked with Ewen Laver about this out at ANSTO, and back then he had a different view. Ewen, I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

  298. Sorry John

    I think you and I are defintiely on the same page on environmental issues but there are simply no conceivable circumstances in which I could ever preference the Liberals — even were they to explicitly advocate a timetable for nuclear power.

    Were this to occur this would simply reinforce the entrenched left-right dichotomy on the matter — and make it clear that something most left of centre people see as anathema was merely part and parcel of a more general program of brutalising the populace — and that we who favour nuclear power are by definition, at best, so obsessed with nuclear power as to be recklessly indifferent to human welfare or equity. Could we really sign on to “turning back the boats”? Letting the richest men on the planet continue to earn money hand over fist? Elevating the ACA, the AAC and their cronies to kingmakers? Massive rural porkbarrelling? Smashing the poor with workfare and workchoices? Brutalising the middle east and subcontinent?

    Not for me. Not in this lifetime. Not in any lifetime.

    In such circumstances, the Liberals, if they won, would simply cling more closely to the coal and gas lobby (as they are doing now) and nuclear would be sidelined, so the one reason one voted for them would be vitiated and we would again be hated for a generation. Can one really imagine the condition of this country with Abbott and Bishop in charge? Australia would be a laughing stock and we would be utterly discredited. In due course we would become an embarrassment to the Liberals and pariahs amongst those who cared for the environment or any other matter of substance. Look at that Liberal front group on nuclear. That would be our future.

    I stand by what I said. We must refute the anti-nuclear position held by the greens as utterly without merit and as inevitably more polluting and dangerous in practice than nuclear power.

    It seems to me that if The Greens held the balance of power in the senate their debates would have to be those of a party making policy rather than handwaving. We might actually get them to reconsider their position — perhaps favouring an inquiry into climate change options including nuclear power.

    I like Fran’s thinking here. We must leave The Greens no place to hide, rather than abandon them to having a love-in with the ALP left.

    You’re a smart guy John, and as far as I could tell that day, a man with his ethics in the right place. You couldn’t vote Liberal and look yourself in the mirror, surely.

  299. @Laver, Morgan: But AU has a foreign policy as well as domestic energy useage.

    I would say that a successful vote for Liberals may well also involve reversing the Rudd reversal of Howard’s “South Pacific Sheriff” policy to sell AU uranium to a non-NPT signatory, ie India.

    As the USA is bringing India into play against China’s Pakistan, http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200906101311.htm, renewed sales would surely up the ante.

    The BNC view seems to be that proliferation is political and not technical and cannot be stopped if a country wants the weapons and that MAD is actually a good deterrent anyway, cf. N. Korea facing down the USA. .

    Fine (or not), except that when the Pakistani speaker at the Feb. 2010 Lowy Institute panel on nuclear arms in Asia http://www.lowyinstitute.org/Program_IntSecurity.asp
    alleged that India has fissile material for 250 weapons and “unsafeguarded reactors”, the speakers from China, AU, USA and China failed to contradict.

    So the mere perception, however erroneous, of what you can do to make weapons Pu in a civilian NPP is what seems to count, and not technical accuracy. This perception seems driven by what is at stake ie national survival for a given country, compounded by the secretiveness cultivated in this area and consequent fear.

    A Liberal govt. in Canberra would be happy to put the sheriff’s badge back on, I think.

  300. Well said Ewen. As keen as we are on nuclear power, we can’t afford in our votes to be too narrow. There lies opportunism and an opportunity to make us own policies that most of us wouldn’t.

    That said, even on the nuclear issue it is clear that John’s position makes little sense. The logic of The Greens position favours support for nuclear power. As has been shown here often enough, it is by orders of magnitude a small footprint technology compared not only with coal, gas and oil, but with renewables as well. That applies all the way along the value chain. There’s much less mining, transport, construction, incidental emission, decommission mass, water usage and so forth. The resources to supply the needs of 9 billion people renewably cannot be composed in practice. It’s our challenge to bring The Greens to see this.

    The Liberals OTOH have no logical reason to support nuclear power. For them, it’s simply madness. If the world were to switch to nuclear, the value of Australian coal and gas would crash. We’d probably save on petroleum imports and temporarily profit from an increase in the price of uranium and thorium but nowhere near enough to compensate . Worse still, eventually, as fast spectrum reactors were rolled out, demand for uranium and thorium would tail off so we wouldn’t even get that.

    How keen would the coal, gas and petroleum sector here be on that? Not even a little bit keen. In fact, they wouldn’t even like the idea being talked about.

    And of course the most Liberals couldn’t give a proverbial about harm to the biosphere nor (apart from their wealth) do most who vote Liberal care about anything much outside a five-to-ten year window. 2100? Forget it. They will be long gone before anyone asks any questions, they figure. So the closer they get to thinking through the issues the Liberals get the less appealing nuclear power looks, especially when they can be wedged on it. So the Liberals will never propose it in power. It’s a throwaway.

    IMO, we must convert the Greens and the ALP left to sympathy for nuclear power, because if we do, we can sell them on wedging the Liberals. Nuclear power can be sold like optical fibre — as nation-building new technology (by contrast with old and dirty outdated technologies like coal and gas). Since nuclear power is at the heart of a whole range of new technologies, we could begin branding it as something like New Energy & Advanced Technologies — i.e NEAT which is a nice acronym. Stressing the new and advanced aspect of nuclear power undercuts the appeal to past and now irrelevant problems and pitches at the young, for whom the distant and vanishing past tends to have less salience. It sits well with the concept of ‘nuclear renaissance’.

    Pitching at the remnants of the Howard-era rabble though would be to pull entirely the wrong lever and would virtually guarantee nothing more in nuclear here for a further 20 years.

  301. smart post, Ewen.

    the left/right dichotomy is just as strong in the u.s., with just as devastating consequences: nuclear equals corporate equals centralization equals brutalization of indigenous people; wind and solar equal small is beautiful, distributed power in close to the earth intentional communities; and green jobs.

    I don’t want to dissolve the dichotomy, mind you, cause in many ways it’s based in clashing interests. but parts of the dichotomy make no sense on any reasonable metric.

  302. We have to think about the realistic possibility of a national ALP-Greens coalition after the next election. We already have that at the State level in Tasmania and in the UK the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. In Tasmania the Greens have already caved in over their anti-logging policy as it continues unabated. Before long in the UK there must be a clash over nuclear issues.

    I would like to get rid of all the dead heads and dreamers in federal parliament and replace them with pragmatists. They include friends of coal, AGW deniers, the renewables-will-save-us crowd and those who want to sell off the farm. I wonder if an ALP-Greens coalition could actually help that process. If the the Greens get some lower house seats as well as more Senate seats they get their best ever shot at power. However I think they will blow it with their supporters by caving in to the ALP coalition partner. No carbon pricing, more coal terminals, token support for renewables and so on.

    After three years of compromise and dithering the public may have had enough. In 2013 or whenever the next national elections are due we might get a bunch of fresh faces. Purely as a spoiling tactic I’m inclined to vote Green this election and not-Green the following election.

  303. And in any event Fran, as you pointed out over at Quiggin’s in the “last post” the other problem with John Morgan’s rationale is that even if all energy sector GHG emissions in Australia disappeared tomorrow, the difference in world GHG would be trivial. You can’t justify voting Liberal because they might, at some time in the far-off indefinite future, lay the groundwork for one day cost-effectively reducing Australian GHG emissions by some small amount while continuing to push as hard as they can to maximise coal and gas exports and usage and oppose a price on carbon.

    So even on the narrow ground John Morgan suggests — the AGW threat — the proposal fails. A Liberal government would at best be no better than the ALP, and would almost certainly in practice, be worse, domestically and internationally. Certainly we would se an encouragement of the climate denialist fringe — who would present this as a game-changing defeat for mitigation in this country.

  304. Thank you Ewen, and Peter, Fran, Greg, John, I appreciate your responses.

    Ewen, I agree with most of what you’ve written. I was at ground zero last election night (Maxine McKew’s campaign party when she rolled John Howard), and am just as appalled as you by those issues you recall.

    Ewen: “We must refute the anti-nuclear position held by the greens as utterly without merit and as inevitably more polluting and dangerous in practice than nuclear power. ”

    I absolutely agree with this. But I see a Greens turnaround as being a very long way off. Read Bob Brown’s statement, and the tone of voice was most emphatic. From the leader, through the Senators, through the candidates, through the membership through to the supporters, the antinuclear position is entrenched. A Damascene coversion is possible, I guess, but seems very unlikely. While we have the confident, strident but counterfactual assertions about renewable power (and see my posts from Sunday morning on this), the mindset seems impenetrable.

    Fran: “The logic of The Greens position favours support for nuclear power. ”

    No question. But is there any sign that that logic is being recognized, or integrated into the Party’s thinking? I don’t see it.

    Fran: “IMO, we must convert the Greens and the ALP left [my emphasis] to sympathy for nuclear power ..”

    This seems to have some merit. The ALP left is a smaller target than the total ALP + Greens, and the case for np is strong on social, labour and economic grounds as well as environmental.

    Fran: “And of course the most Liberals couldn’t give a proverbial about harm to the biosphere nor (apart from their wealth) do most who vote Liberal care ..”

    I don’t really care about their motivations if they are inclined to do the right thing in spite of themselves.

    Ewen: “In such circumstances, the Liberals, if they won, would simply cling more closely to the coal and gas lobby (as they are doing now) and nuclear would be sidelined”

    Fran: “The Liberals OTOH have no logical reason to support nuclear power. For them, it’s simply madness. If the world were to switch to nuclear, the value of Australian coal and gas would crash. ”

    These seem to me to be strong arguments.

    Maybe there is no solution in terms of voting intentions at this point – just because I can imagine there might be an effective way to spend a vote doesn’t mean there is.

    Thanks for your comments.

  305. Thanks for your response John. I agree with you that there is no scope to actualise a rational policy on nuclear power through action at the ballot box, at this stage. We need to shift the debate and there simply are no good alternatives to the hard work of forcing people to confront reality.

    However difficult and entrenched the anti-nuclear shibboleth is amongst the Greens/ALP left short of their conversion or their passive acquiesence, the debate will not shift. As Ewen suggested, trying opportunistic tactical shortcuts is a recipe for shame, embarrassment and serious buyers’ remorse.

    Yes Bob Brown is personally very anti-nuke, but he’s one guy. I happen to like him a lot (despite thinking he’s 180 degrees wrong on this) but he’s no longer a young man. He will be moved on within the next 5 years. And if the Greens become a party of government, they may indeed have to consider their position.

    On another blog one of Christine Milne’s people gave a kind of conditional approval to thorium reactors and this encourages me to think that if we can just get them to face up to reality, they could come across quickly. I know I did, and as with Ewen, thorium was my half-way house. Take out proliferation, and the case against becomes a lot weaker. Once you calm down, you can see that some of the other fears were also grossly exaggerated.

    But you’re dealing with a whole mass of angst in this discussion — hatred of big business, hatred of multi-nationals, existential fear of insidious, secular life-altering illnesses, genetic mutation, guilt over Hiroshima, racism (the idea that darkskinned and non-western people with nukes are dangerous — which, because no lefty can admit that, translates into “we shouldn’t have them either”), the earth as a living organism and the view that extractive industry is like butchery or rape, association of nuclear with the politics of the right, the virtue of localism … if I try hard I can probably come up with others.

    That’s an awesomely large Gordian knot. Mind you, you could almost sell most lefty-greens on nuclear power by showing that it would ruin Big Coal, Big Gas and Big Oil. Convince them that nuclear power would really annoy the Liberal Party’s backers and you’d be nearly there.

    The only way to get past it is to demand that energy systems be measured and evaluated objectively for their ability to solve specific problems. Since the left pays lipservice to evidence-based policy and asserts its support for environmental goods, this is where the debate should focus. What specific things are we willing to do to protect the environment and on what scale can we anticipate success? Those are the key questions.

    That’s why I like Hazelwood as a target. The left-greens have nominated it as their bête noire. They must conjure a way of removing it or be embarrassed.

    Let us demand they offer a solution with specified conditions.

  306. John Morgan

    All we can do is to keep on with educating: the media, school teachers, politicians and those we can get through to. Barry is doing a great job.

    To all, I suggest we should keep doing what we can. But we need to stay rational if we want to persuade the large majority of voters.

    Ewen, Peter Lalor, Fran, Greg, John Newlands – You Lefties have given a lot of ‘advice’ to me about the sort of politics you believe in. But just look back over what you’ve written above. It is loaded with hatred. You seem to want the sort of socialist government run by Hugo Chávez and Robert Mugabe. “More fairness” you argue. That’s what they argue too. Down with capitalism. Oh yea great, and we all go broke and our infrastructure disintegrates while you roll out silly, meaningless slogans.

    It seems to me your extremist-Lefties are more interested in trying to propagate your deeply held socialist beliefs than in addressing “the greatest moral challenge of our time”.

    This sort of extremists rant discredits all your messages. The vast majority will be turned what you espouse.

    The last thing we need, IMHO, to is to turn even further Left than we are now.

  307. Goodness me Peter … and I thought Peter Lalor had the market here cornered on screeds.

    “Hugo Chávez and Robert Mugabe [...] Down with capitalism” … where did that come from?

    I’ve looked above and none of us have said that — not even Peter Lalor. You’ve just reached down into your own wellsprings of existential angst and puked it all up — and just when I was dumping on silly lefty angst too. Very disappointing.

    Normally Peter, you seem a level headed chap, but I think you should steer clear of politics and stick to engineering and cost-benefit analysis. That’s where your best work is, and it has been invaluable.

    Sidebar: You do know that David Walters is also from the far left, don’t you?

  308. Fran Barlow:

    Peter Lang has accused you of being motivated by hatred and you have responded by denying that you have displayed any evidence of it. Perhaps you would care to reconsider this and to withdraw the following remark you made on 25 May at 6.20:

    “And of course (the) most Liberals couldn’t give a proverbial about harm to the biosphere nor (apart from their wealth) do most who vote Liberal care anything much outside a five-to- ten year window. 2100? Forget it.”

    Liberals, too, have children and grandchildren.

    I visit this site to learn about climate change and solutions to it. I am prepared to communicate and make common cause with people of any political persuasion if they share this interest. I do not come to be lectured on the politics of envy.

    That said, when you stick to the subject, I have often been in agreement with your views and reasoning.

  309. It’s generally a mistake Peter, to map your own anxieties and appetites onto every one else. Affirmnation bias tends to predispose you to select friends from those who share your disposition or will at least tolerate it in polite silence. It’s easy to think you represent something more than you do.

    That you think the people you’ve specified here sound like “extremists” says more about you than those you name. That you are frightened is not something I can do anything about, but let me say that after 20+ years of teaching and any number of customer contact jobs and work in business services, I failed to scare anyone enough for them to raise an objection.

    Occasionally, there was some friendly banter, and that was it.

    Ironically, these days the thing that scares most people about my advocacy is … nuclear energy. If I wanted to be less scary I’d switch sides on that one and advocate solar power.

    Don’t get me wrong. You’re on the hardcore conservative pro-business right? That’s a matter for you. We are here to talk energy policy and how to get some sense into government decision-making. I don’t have to agree with you on other matters.

    To be blunt though, were I you I’d try and sound a little less hysterical when I perceived someone to be somewhat more liberal than I was. Try being polite rather than hectoring. You will press the buttons of nearly every half-committed lefty with a carry-on like that above — and not in a helpful way. Save the flag waving for the lodge meeting right after the secret handshakes are done.

    OK … enough said.

  310. Doug quoted me as follows:

    And of course most Liberals couldn’t give a proverbial about harm to the biosphere nor (apart from their wealth) do most who vote Liberal care anything much outside a five-to- ten year window. 2100? Forget it

    AIUI, you’re from the UK. I am merely reporting on the last 40 years of politics in this country. This is a fair summary of the general Liberal position. The current Liuberal leader has made clear that he thinks climate change is nonsense. The last PM though so too until it became impolitic. They sneer at 2050 targets.

    Liberals, too, have children and grandchildren.

    Is this relevant? Unless one acts with the interests of the grandkids in mind … and more the grandchildren of people you will never meet …

    I am prepared to communicate and make common cause with people of any political persuasion if they share this interest.

    That’s my position too

    I do not come to be lectured on the politics of envy.

    Who is envious? Not I. That’s simply a self-serving conservative trope hurled at left-of-centre people in order to depoliticise social claims by the disadvantaged.

    I called for no particular redistribution above.

    You too speak a good deal of sense on energy matters. Let us leave it at that.

  311. Peter Lang, You state, “It seems to me your extremist-Lefties are more interested in trying to propagate your deeply held socialist beliefs than in addressing “the greatest moral challenge of our time”.

    I emphatically deny that opposition to nuclear power has anything to do with a left-right split. Many supporters of nuclear power are committed left wingers. I would point out David “don’t start the revolution without mr” Walters, a committed member of the Marxist left, and a strong advocate of nuclear power. There are many others, and in fact most American pro-nuclear bloggers are somewhere to the left of center in their political views.

  312. Fran said

    It’s generally a mistake Peter, to map your own anxieties and appetites onto every one else.

    I agree. So why do you do it, repeatedly? Not just you but the others who engage in this continual Left-wing ideological nonsense?

  313. Charles Barton,

    I agree with you that pro nuclear has nothing to do with a left-right split. But some of the nonsense sprouted by some of the bloggers here is extreme. It has nothing to do with energy. It is simply an excuse to roll out their extreme ideological beliefs. That was what I was objecting to. And now we have Fran trying to defend it.

  314. Peter Lang assumed facts not in evidence when he claimed:

    So why do you [map your own anxieties and appetites onto everyone else], repeatedly? Not just you but the others who engage in this continual Left-wing ideological nonsense?[phrase reinserted for contextual sense]

    I’ve read up and down this thread but apart from a rant by Mr Lalor*, which I called out at the time, I see nothing vaguely fitting your description “Left-wing ideological nonsense”.

    *FTR, I’m not sure that Mr Lalor’s rant qualifies as left-wing either — in so far as it has a paradigm its more a kind of impressionistic liberal populism.

  315. Charles said:

    I emphatically deny that opposition to nuclear power has anything to do with a left-right split. Many supporters of nuclear power are committed left wingers.

    It is true though that in most western countries, rather more opponents of nuclear power identify with the goals of the left than the right, and conversely, more of those who are relaxed about nuclear power being in the mix tend to identify with the right rather than the left.

    From the point of view of winning this crucial policy debate though this can be misleading. By and large, the right is OK with nuclear power because their concern over environmental issues tends to be at most, quite peripheral. They conclude that environmental problems are either trivial, fixable or won’t affect them (since they will live some place remote from the problem in space of time). In so far as concerns over nuclear power are mainly centered around environmental issues, these pleas fall on deaf ears*. For them, notions of interconnectedness is limited to economics. They consider what harms or helps them personally as individuals. And of course, they have no particular concerns over extractive industry. So again, the main objections to nuclear power aren’t going to bother them.

    Of course, shrugging your shoulders at the mention of nuclear power isn’t quite the same as favouring it as a solution. Most of the right (especially the more conservative right) quite understandably, prefer business as usual. They are doing very nicely out of current arrangements and accordingly changing the game is unlikely to move matters in their favour. Prejudicing the value of coal and gas sales/exports, for example, isn’t going to be high on their list of things to do. This is why they are happy with renewables but against carbon taxes.

    The left on the other hand, has a longtem interest in nuclear power. No scheme for creating an economically and ecologically sustainable quasi-egalitarian classless society of relative material abundance can rest on renewables. That’s just obvious. We are going to have to lift billions out of poverty, increase productivity and skills and do massive urban development so that we can continue technological progress towards even more fruitful energy sources. Romantic neo-mediaevalist schemes for reinventing civilisation as as networks of smallholders driven by baseless fears of radiation and antipathy to big business and extractive industry may appeal to radical populists but they are politically and economically unviable. They wink at maintaining mass misery.

    Hence my conclusion above. Despite the significant animus towards nuclear power on the left, only the left has a consistent and logical interest in rolling out the associated technologies. The right will be, at best, a rather flighty “I don’t have a dog in this fight” ally. At least in this country, their interest in the issue has been mainly in its usefulness as a weapon for wedging the left. The left, rather stupidly, has allowed them to do this by playing along. We here (especially those of us who are on the left) ought to be amongst those untangling this mess.

    *footnote: I’m talking purely about perceptions here, because as we know, nuclear power casts a smaller environmental footprint than other industrial scale energy sources

  316. I caution everyone about using the terms Left, and Right; Liberal and Conservative in a forum like this with international participation. The terms are overly flexible at the best of times, even within the same political domain. When you try and broaden them to encompass other polities, they fail miserably, and participants in an exchange wind-up talking past each other.

    Naturally, since this is primarily an Australian blog, those of us not familiar with the politics of that nation, should yield.

  317. Fran: much of what you say describes my own evolving sentiments pretty precisely. especially the stuff about the long term interests of what you’re calling “the left,” and the inadequacies of the romantic small holder anti capitalism of some of the green left (sorry DV–I’m going to have to work a bit at finding substitutes).

    Peter Lang: even though I think the term “extremism” is nearly empty of empirical content, and even though, to be serious for a moment, I think you went a little nuts (“extreme”) up above, I have learned much of real importance from you and I am grateful for what you have taught me.

    Hope such sentiments don’t scare you.

  318. It’s generally a mistake Peter, to map your own anxieties and appetites onto every one else. Affirmnation bias tends to predispose you to select friends from those who share your disposition or will at least tolerate it in polite silence. It’s easy to think you represent something more than you do.

    There’s actually an anthoplogical term for what you describe above Fran. It’s called baseline homophily [Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks
    ]

    Similarity breeds connection. This principle—the homophily principle—structures network ties of every type, including marriage, friendship, work, advice, support, information transfer, exchange, comembership, and other types of relationship. The result is that people’s personal networks are homogeneous with regard to many sociodemographic, behavioral, and intrapersonal characteristics. Homophily limits people’s social worlds in a way that has powerful implications for the information they receive, the attitudes they form, and the interactions they experience. Homophily in race and ethnicity creates the strongest divides in our personal environments, with age, religion, education, occupation, and gender following in roughly that order. Geographic propinquity, families, organizations, and isomorphic positions in social systems all create contexts in which homophilous relations form. Ties between nonsimilar individuals also dissolve at a higher rate, which sets the stage for the formation of niches (localized positions) within social space. We argue for more research on: (a) the basic ecological processes that link organizations, associations, cultural communities, social movements, and many other social forms; (b) the impact of multiplex ties on the patterns of homophily; and (c) the dynamics of network change over time through which networks and other social entities co-evolve.

    Some argue that the advent of the internet accentuates homophily because it creates the impression that our soruces of data are diverse despite the fact tha we continue to seek out those who are in accord with our values and interests, thus masking our perception of culture

  319. Ewen, Thanks for this:

    “There’s actually an anthoplogical term for what you describe above Fran. It’s called baseline homophily [Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks

    That certainly describes you, Peter Lalor and the other Loony Left blogging here, doesn’t it? :)

  320. Ewen, my understanding of what you Peter Lalor and the remainder of the Loony Left believes in;

    1. “More fairness” (for the pigs)

    2. More pay for the non producers

    3. But less mining, Gorgon gas fields and Tasmanian pulp mills

    4. More tax (to drive our entrepreneurs and industries off shore)

    5. Group hugs

    6. Lots of chanting and lots of Spin

    7. Renewable energy and distributed generation is good because it is good

    8. Business is evil – run by ‘robber barons’

    9. Investors are evil. They suck the blood out of the economy

    10. Raise taxes so we can all be better off and more equal.

    Ducks and waits for the barrage of flak 

  321. Oh, I forgot to mention:

    11. more regulations, more laws and more lawyers so we can impose our loony ideas on society (like Charter of Leftie Rights)

    Ducks and waits for the barrage of flak :)

  322. Ewen, my understanding of what you Peter Lalor and the remainder of the Loony Left believes in (sic)

    This is surely the most ironic and embarrassing introduction to your claims imaginable, given that you surely know that most of what you claim is unsupported or contradicted … #7 is directly contradicted in this thread. I have no idea what you mean by #1. Leftists regard the workers as “the producer class” so #2 is out.

    None of us has taken a specific position on how much mining there should be, though Barry and you have quite rightly pointed out that the embedded cost of renewables includes the cost of extracting all the mined steel and glass and concrete to build the system, (and has anyone mentioned the pulp mill?) so there goes #3.

    I plead guilty with an excuse to to 50% of 4 — in the absence of an ETS I support placing a tax on emissions, but I think that should be worldwide, so the last part makes no sense, unless they are going offshore to another planet.

    #5 and #6 and # 9 are simply you venting

    #8 is absurd since obviously, we all favour businesses operating nuclear power plants.

    #10 I favour greater equality. If that entails greater levies on the poopulation to suppoert the servicses needed to achieve that, so be it. Causality runs in the opposite direction — increased taxes, when they arise, are a consequence of the need to address areas on persistent inequity that cannot be addressed in any other way within the time window needed.

    #11 — regulations are integral to any civilised society. Indeed, regulations are part of the definition of a civilised society. Unless you favour chaos (and it’s hard to see how property could benefit from that) you favour regulation too. The questions are always of course — how much is enough? and what kinds are apt?

    Waving around shibboleths as you do and “waiting for the flak” doesn’t get us an answer to that question.

  323. According to a Xinhua report, Indonesia is committed to have a nuclear power plant soon as new source of energy, officials said this week. Towards that end, Indonesia has allocated 7 billion rupiah (about 769,633 U.S. dollars) for nuclear power plant socialization to curb fear among people.

    See that’s the way to do it. They’re going to take care of the fear before they start building, and they realize how important that is by budgeting for it in advance.

  324. OK, I withdraw any suggestion that peak coal will tip the economic scales towards sensible energy policies any time soon.

    From Monbiot

    “While I’m prepared to believe that oil supplies might decline in the next few years, his coal prediction is hogwash. Energy companies in the UK, as the latest ENDS report shows, are now beginning to deploy a technology that will greatly increase available reserves. Government figures suggest that underground coal gasification – injecting oxygen into coal seams and extracting the hydrogen and methane they release – can boost the UK’s land-based coal reserves 70-fold; and it opens up even more under the seabed. There are vast untapped reserves of other fossil fuels – bitumen, oil shale, methane clathrates – that energy companies will turn to if the price is right.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/may/10/deepwater-horizon-greens-collapse-civilisation

  325. @Meyerson: thanks for upgrading me to Russel Crowe from just giving everybody the LIP, liberal impressionistic populist, according to F. Barlow.

    @Sage of Montreal: I was reading that 700 fearful people have already “left” (temporary? permanent?) the earthquake-prone location at Akkuyu on the south coast of Turkey into which Russia has just sold 4 x 1200MWe VVERs. They clearly did not read IAEA saying this model is the safest in the world. Or possibly they fear for their property values.

    The problem as I see it is that in the popular mind, any other non-NPP structure e.g. coal plant, railway station is known to be destroyable.

    I note that the Ontarian David Martin, at http://www.cnp.ca/issues/nuc-threat-mediterranean.pdf has written 106 pp. on Akuyu. Would you care to pass an expletive-laden opinion on the unscientific nature of the Earthquake section of that report, especially as another Canadian, Dr Karl Buckthought (pause while you turn to another voodoo doll) seems to have written nastily about selling CANDUs to Turkey (1999?).

    Would you care, after appropriate placement of a pins in the relevant voodoo doll, to address

  326. DV: you know most about this.

    are you worried about lots of nuclear power plants, not of the most advanced designs, being built quickly in poorly regulated environments?

    how do we most rationally understand such worries?

    One of the ideas I most agreed with in Tom’s book (but which I found most utopian in the bad sense given the society we live in) is his “energy democracy,” with nuclear power taken out of private hands (put me in a straightjacket forthwith) and put in the hands of an internationally accountable team of very knowledgeable people. In addition to this “priesthood,” it would be good to have mechanisms for educating the population though that would be inseparable from mass science literacy, another public product whose advocacy deserves a straightjacket.

    Without all this, in a declining world economy, more chaotic due to continually decimated public spheres, increased indebtedness (price rises due to peak oil), possible resource wars, it seems to me that energy production is not in the safest hands (not just nuclear; anything else as well).

  327. Peter Lalor – The so-called Nuclear Awareness Project (of Ontario) is a largely defunct citizens group kept alive by one individual, milking it as a personal vehicle. It is one of several such ‘organizations,’ who have had their day in Canada. The particular report you linked to, is typical of the sort of alarmist garbage that comes out of them from time to time. You will note that other parts of that paper repeat the same old myths about CANDU reactors and nuclear weapons, radioisotope releases, and waste (spent fuel) issues that have been thoroughly debunked on several occations.

    The nuclear reactor in an earthquake zone is also a regular cry from the antinuclear brigades. It assumes a level of stupidity on the part of the builders and owners of such a plant that is almost laughable. No one will spend the sort of money that is needed to make a nuclear power station, if they were not reasonably assured that the risk from such an event is very small. and plants can be designed (as they are in Japan) to ride out a seismic event, and maintain containment. Furthermore, even if a totally catastrophic event did break containment, the damage to the surrounding area would be magnitudes less than the total failure of a hydro dam of the same generating capacity.

    The whole issue is nothing more than a red herring, and at any rate AECL lost that bid, which has now gone to the Russians,

  328. greg meyerson – Your question presumes that many of the overblown fears that we have been fed on the subject of nuclear energy are true. It also assumes a kind of a ‘White Man’s Burden’ sort of thinking that, to me at least, is a bit anachronistic.

    Does there need to be strong local regulation and international accountability? Yes. Events in the Gulf of Mexico are illustration enough that this is needed for all types of large scale energy activities, but a priesthood is taking it too far, and again suggestions of this sort only serves to reinforce the idea that nuclear energy is something dark and mysterious.

    In the end though, the availability of inexpensive energy is more likely to head off any economic collapse, rather than be a casualty of it.

  329. DV (and Geoff Russel/David Walters– see below):

    my question does not presume either of these things. either overblown fears, which I think are largely overblown, or “white man’s burden.” that last point is completely absurd (that’s as nice as I can put it).

    what my question does presume is a distrust of neoliberalism and imperialism: my worry about inadequate regulatory burden in a neoliberal environment relates to all countries, especially ones most impacted by the destruction of state structures that would be necessary for doing the job. These countries have tended to be poorer countries.

    The “priesthood” comment was a nod to Weinberg more than anything. I agree that it’s objectionable.

    Your point about inexpensive energy is true, but we haven’t even started really along that road, and we are in a global economic crisis, and certainly a crisis of the state in many countries (including the u.s. where regulatory bodies have been defunded for years), greatly weakened in their regulatory capacity due to the aforementioned neoliberallism.

    so I’ll redirect my question to someone who might understand it better, like geoff russel or david walters.

  330. To Ewen:

    let me apologize if my comment above suggested impatience with your response to Peter Lang.

    I now think (after arrogant, ignorant, george-babbit-evil-twin outburst no. 2) that responding to Peter Lang on issues beyond analysis of energy budgets is not worth the energy.

    He will not listen to or respect those he considers “loony.”

  331. greg meyerson – I am sorry if I misunderstood your previous post, and put to much emphasis on the international priesthood aspect. As you might guess from what I wrote, I am particularly irritated by that idea, as it is likely impossible to implement, and perpetuates various myths about nuclear energy that have done us no service.

    But to address your underlying question, which you have clarified above: yes this is a concern, but not as big a concern as one would think.

    The reactors that are currently for sale, to a very large extent are failsafe designs, and are going to be built by groups with some experience. This being the case, any failures due to operator incompetence, or lack of regulatory oversight, are likely to be of the Three-Mile Island type, where the event is contained. In general even a loss of containment in a high criticality accident with these designs will not impact a large area, and remediation would not be that difficult. Again Chernobyl-type events will never occur again, as no one will build a graphite-core reactor with a positive coeiffcent again.

    I hate to use them as an example in this way, but Russian designed reactors in the days of the USSR were not anywhere as closely monitored for safety as they were in the West, yet outside Chernobyl and the that icebreaker incident, they did not fair much worse that others.

    But we are going to have to face the fact that accidents will occur, as more reactors go on line. the only thing we can do is see to it they are properly contained.

  332. I see Tim Flannery has become disillusioned with CCS and now thinks nuclear may have a role
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/flannery-ive-changed-my-mind-on-carbon-capture-20100526-we8u.html

    I’m disappointed Monbiot thinks underground coal gasification (UCG) will unlock more carbon. I don’t see results to date as encouraging for the technology. Basically you want hydrogen and carbon monoxide in a 3:1 molar ratio coming out of the exit pipe. Instead you get a smaller ratio mixed with CO2, N2, NOx and SOx. They either lower the heating value or need expensive scrubbing. Underground extraction seems best when an already desirable product wants to escape to the surface on its own. Problems with underground plumbing may also be behind the fall from grace of dry rock geothermal.

    That’s also why I doubt oil from Canadian tar sands will cure oil depletion. They may never break 4 million barrels a day (with declining net energy) when we apparently need at least 85 million barrels a day. That I think is the biggest blow the world economy will face in the next five years. The current period of fuel frugality won’t be enough as flows decline further.

  333. That didn’t occur to me, Greg Meyerson

    As to Peter Lang, he really is a good resource for this site. He adds a lot of really good technical commentary which would be hard for us non-engineers to unpick. So his tendency to share his unfounded political anxieties notwithstanding, I still retain a lot of respect for him.

    I’ve found that more than a few people I know have weird phobias. I have one acquaintance — a bright guy with a professional career who is paranoid about driving over water and insists on checking locked doors three times before feeling that they are secure. For some, anything that even semlls of something not in the conservative paradigm gets their nerves jangling.

    Nobody can really say how problems like this arise, and one should, as much as one can, try to show a compassion and forebearance when one comes across people so afflicted. Looking back at my post above, I fear that I was probably a little less caring and sharing than I should have been.

  334. @ John,
    thanks for your comments on Underground Coal Gasification. I think I was getting it mixed up with coalbed methane, which is a fairly established industry – but is another beast altogether.

    The wiki has a fascinating piece on the USSR.

    Almost 20 years later, Stalin supported Soviet engineers in a research and development program targeting development of commercial-scale UCG plants. Thousands of people and significant resources took part in the development of the technology. The estimated cost of replicating these efforts in the West was as much as US$10 billion (at 1976 value)[3]. The first trials in 1937 failed and many top scientists were put on trial with a number being executed. By 1939 the Soviets had successfully begun operating a UCG plant in the Ukraine which was later shut down by German occupation. After the war, the Soviets restarted the UCG program which eventually culminated in the operation of fourteen industrial-scale UCG plants by the end of the 1960s. However, activity subsequently declined due to the discovery of extensive natural gas resources. As a result only one site is still in operation today at Angren in the country of Uzbekistan.[4].

    Also, China has 16 trials right now, and…

    The successful demonstration in 1999-2003 near the town of Chinchilla, some 350 kilometres (220 mi) west of Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia has resulted in a surge of interest in the technology. The demonstration involved the gasification of 35,000 tonnes of coal, and resulted in successful environmental performance as per independent audit reports.

  335. greg meyerson, on 28 May 2010 at 1.40 Said:

    He will not listen to or respect those he considers “loony.

    You’ve got that right.

    Why would I given the absolute rubbish the loony Left keeps rolling out? The Loonies have been writing for months of their ideological beliefs and displaying their hatred of capitalism, capitalists, neoliberals (whatever that means – but don’t bother telling me, I don’t care what it means). You want more lefty regulations, of the type of regulations you believe in. You want more state control. Well just look at what is happening across Europe to see what your loony socialist ideas bring. Massive government debt, massive government payrolls, massive government funded superannuation, massive investment in ideological beliefs (like renewable energy despite the high cost, negligible CO2 savings and real job losses it causes), massive taxes, carbon trading schemes, and a host of other ideologically driven regulations. Regarding the GFC that began in USA, don’t forget that one of the main causes was regulations that forced banks to have to lend for houses to NINJAs (no income, no job, no assets and no chance of ever paying off the loans), and to allow them to walk away and not pay their debts if they didn’t want to.

    The problem with the Loony Left is they have near zero real understanding of what makes investment, business, and entrepreneurs work. But they (the Loony Left) think they do understand because they’ve read a theory or two by other lefties about the evils of capitalism and how the state can do better. What rubbish. There is a role for both. We need appropriate, light regulation and appropriately low taxes. Otherwise, we head down the slippery slope that has got Europe into the mess it’s in. You can also look at how your beliefs have worked in Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela for example.

    You and your extreme lefty mates have been documenting on this web site your ideological beliefs, hatred of conservatives and neo-liberals for months. Perhaps you might want to re-read your statement and look in the mirror:

    He will not listen to or respect those he considers “loony.

    Ducks again and waits for a new stream of venom. :)

  336. Greg and the other Loonies, I’d suggest you read back over the posts you’ve been making, and notice the tone of them. Then consider your comment: “he will not listen or respect those he considers …”. Here is a recent post by Fran (ive bolded a few of the classic statement to illustrate the point):

    By and large, the right is OK with nuclear power because their concern over environmental issues tends to be at most, quite peripheral. They conclude that environmental problems are either trivial, fixable or won’t affect them (since they will live some place remote from the problem in space of time). In so far as concerns over nuclear power are mainly centered around environmental issues, these pleas fall on deaf ears*. For them, notions of interconnectedness is limited to economics. They consider what harms or helps them personally as individuals. And of course, they have no particular concerns over extractive industry. So again, the main objections to nuclear power aren’t going to bother them.

    Of course, shrugging your shoulders at the mention of nuclear power isn’t quite the same as favouring it as a solution. Most of the right (especially the more conservative right) quite understandably, prefer business as usual. They are doing very nicely out of current arrangements and accordingly changing the game is unlikely to move matters in their favour. Prejudicing the value of coal and gas sales/exports, for example, isn’t going to be high on their list of things to do. This is why they are happy with renewables but against carbon taxes.

    The left on the other hand, has a longtem interest in nuclear power. No scheme for creating an economically and ecologically sustainable quasi-egalitarian classless society of relative material abundance can rest on renewables. That’s just obvious. We are going to have to lift billions out of poverty, increase productivity and skills and do massive urban development so that we can continue technological progress towards even more fruitful energy sources. Romantic neo-mediaevalist schemes for reinventing civilisation as as networks of smallholders driven by baseless fears of radiation and antipathy to big business and extractive industry may appeal to radical populists but they are politically and economically unviable. They wink at maintaining mass misery.

    Hence my conclusion above. Despite the significant animus towards nuclear power on the left, only the left has a consistent and logical interest in rolling out the associated technologies. The right will be, at best, a rather flighty “I don’t have a dog in this fight” ally. At least in this country, their interest in the issue has been mainly in its usefulness as a weapon for wedging the left. The left, rather stupidly, has allowed them to do this by playing along. We here (especially those of us who are on the left) ought to be amongst those untangling this mess.

    I expect you probably agree with those statements.

  337. Here’s another beauty from Fran, filled with hatred for conservatives.

    The Liberals OTOH have no logical reason to support nuclear power. For them, it’s simply madness. If the world were to switch to nuclear, the value of Australian coal and gas would crash. We’d probably save on petroleum imports and temporarily profit from an increase in the price of uranium and thorium but nowhere near enough to compensate . Worse still, eventually, as fast spectrum reactors were rolled out, demand for uranium and thorium would tail off so we wouldn’t even get that.

    How keen would the coal, gas and petroleum sector here be on that? Not even a little bit keen. In fact, they wouldn’t even like the idea being talked about.

    And of course the most Liberals couldn’t give a proverbial about harm to the biosphere nor (apart from their wealth) do most who vote Liberal care about anything much outside a five-to-ten year window. 2100? Forget it. They will be long gone before anyone asks any questions, they figure. So the closer they get to thinking through the issues the Liberals get the less appealing nuclear power looks, especially when they can be wedged on it. So the Liberals will never propose it in power. It’s a throwaway.

    IMO, we must convert the Greens and the ALP left to sympathy for nuclear power, because if we do, we can sell them on wedging the Liberals. Nuclear power can be sold like optical fibre — as nation-building new technology (by contrast with old and dirty outdated technologies like coal and gas). Since nuclear power is at the heart of a whole range of new technologies, we could begin branding it as something like New Energy & Advanced Technologies — i.e NEAT which is a nice acronym. Stressing the new and advanced aspect of nuclear power undercuts the appeal to past and now irrelevant problems and pitches at the young, for whom the distant and vanishing past tends to have less salience. It sits well with the concept of ‘nuclear renaissance’.

    Pitching at the remnants of the Howard-era rabble though would be to pull entirely the wrong lever and would virtually guarantee nothing more in nuclear here for a further 20 years.

    Note Fran trying to restate history and blame the Liberals for preventing nuclear power being an option in Australia. Labor has blocked nuclear continually, but don’t let facts get in the way of ideological beliefs and spin.

  338. What about those of us in the ‘mad middle’?

    Seriously, since when did we all have to adopt a right wing agenda to be fans of clean power?

    I mean, why not go the whole way and demand that at all nuclear activists join the gun-toting, tobacco chewing, Hummer driving, Climate Denialiasta’s of the welfare destroying, Medicaid shrinking, forest bulldozing, business favouring, homophobic, red-neck Republicans?

    In other words, can we drop the political stereotyping and get back to discussing the science of nuclear power? I mean, who really cars *why* the nuclear power gets built, as long as it gets built?

    Pfffft. I’ll give you 100% stars for hysteria Peter Lang and friends who are all indulging this political tirade, but only 30% for relevance.

    Back to the science please… I have a lot to learn off you guys.

  339. The most amusing thing about your last posts Peter is that you quote me at length but don’t even bother make a pro-forma effort to refute any of what I claim on fact or reasoning.

    In effect, you imply that I’m right but offensive.

    Claiming that what you quoted amounts to me claiming that the Liberals have blocked nuclear power is self-evident nonsense. I said they had no reason to prefer it and know fuill well that it is available as a wedge, which is different entirely.

    Again it is clear that your ideological blinkers make it impossible to understand what you are reading.

    It does seem that Ewen above has your number. If so, you have my compassion.

  340. A mate of mine dabbles in economics. He’s had Nobel prize-winning economists praise some of his more interesting theories. He replies to Peter Lang’s 12:31 post above.

    Everything below is from my mate.
    *********

    There’s a few things here to point out. The first is that in criticising
    Europe he has conveniently forgotten that the source of the crisis was the US and its under-regulated capital system. US unemployment has risen twice as fast as European unemployment and both the US and EU now have around the same unemployment rate. There is a problem with European government debt but that is also the same with the US.

    He’s also fallen for the mistaken belief (often peddled by right wingnuts) that NINJA loans were forced onto banks by governments trying to help low income earners – that is completely false. In short it was the capitalist system sparsely regulated that caused the current crisis, not errant left-wing policies.

    Again he has linked “the left” with loonies. Zimbabwe isn’t a leftist
    government by any means, and Cuba has done quite well for itself over the years despite US interference.

    The situation is this: For the past 20 years pro-market ideology has
    ruled around the world, even in Europe. This economic environment has led to the rich becoming richer and, especially in the case of America, the poor becoming poorer (median household wages in the US have been dropping since 2001). The GFC was caused by an under-regulated market.

    The solution is not to move towards communism nor is it to assume that “capitalism has never been tried” and deregulated the market even more. There needs to be a balance between the forces of individualism and the forces of community, between those who should be rewarded for their talent and hard work and those who are on the market “scrap heap” and are unable to look after themselves.

    The GFC has occurred in a political and economic environment that was dominated by conservatives and pro-market people – all over the world. Just as Russia has to ditch ideological communism so do we need to ditch hardline conservative ideology. Moving to the centre cannot help mean moving to the left in the current environment.

    As for links: Ordoliberalism and Social Market Economy at Wikipedia
    should be a good place to start.

  341. I think this “slagging off” of other commenters – left, middle or right should cease forthwith. This is not the forum for that kind of dialogue. I believe most on this blog are supporting nuclear power as a solution to climate change, peak oil etc. If we are reduced to a bunch of squabbling ratbags it diminishes any authority on the subject. Get back to the point!
    All of you!

  342. I have read that other economists think that:
    1. The initial mistake was made in the Carter administration, which LEGISLATED that banks etc had to provide housing loans to low-income high risk borrowers.
    2. This was compounded by cheap money in the 90s and 00s, resulting in the dreadful sub-prime mortgages.
    3. And by the crazy laws in the US States, in some of which people are not responsible for the debt – they can just walk off the property, leaving it to the bank, end of commitment.
    4. When the US loans went belly up, so did many banks around the world, as they had been betting on sub-prime.
    5. The debt levels of many countries, notably the US and most of Europe were very high. These debt levels were caused by irresposible governments borrowing money to meet their normal day to day commitments al la LA LA LAtte Land. (Debts should rally only be incurred to meet catastrophes such as wars, there is no other excuse not to balance the budget.)
    6. We got out of that one, just, but we cannot get out of the next one, as the debt levels of the large economies bar China are too high.
    7. The next crash will be soon and will be caused by Greek default and probably that will cause a Greek style situation in Portugal, Spain and Italy.
    8. La La land = either collapse of monetary system or hyperinflation. It’s worth remembering that Productive Activity needs to be supported by Financially Responsible Government, not a pack of indeologically correct wastrels.

  343. http://www.zcommunications.org/how-wall-street-killed-the-economy-by-arun-gupta

    this article takes you from the final bursting of the stock market bubble in 2000 and the major drop in consumer spending after 9-11 to the creation of the housing bubble via greenspan’s cheap money policy to the creation of toxic assets thru the proliferation of financial instruments: MBS, CDO,SIV.

    It’s debt driven consumption that drove the deregulated global economy until the bubbles popped.

    Okay, Ms. Perps, NBE, nothing but energy.

  344. greg meyerson: I worry about all sorts of things in countries
    with poor governance. Including kids whose health is being destroyed
    because junk food companies won’t do the right things voluntarily and
    Governments won’t legislate to make them. I guess that makes me
    Looney Left. But I’m actually less worried by nukes in poorly regulated
    countries because people OWN the outcomes. BP and all other oil
    industry execs will be permanently affected by the GOM mess, just as
    TMI had an impact on nuclear companies. Nobody wants a disaster.
    But the food companies who make children unhealthy don’t blame
    themselves, and the disaster has a low visibility, so the problem
    continues.

  345. One of the things I really liked about the Rockwell piece on nuclear power was his distinction between PR “impossible” (an accident of __ magnitude is impossible etc) and impossible by virtue of the physics. In this latter case, he’s talking about certain passive safety features in new generations of reactors.

    It’s going to be a hard sell to make the case for the second version of “impossible,” though due to the ease with which the two “impossibles” will be conflated. Here’s the oil industry PR impossible. It is a compilation of statements made by politicians, media, industry about deep oil drilling: Put together by FAIR of the loonies.

    Drilling Disasters Can’t Happen Here
    In run-up to BP spill, media touted offshore safety

    5/25/10

    As the United States examines the origins of the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, one factor that should not be overlooked is media coverage that served to cover up dangers rather than expose them. When President Barack Obama declared a new push for offshore drilling (3/31/10), asserting that “oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills” (4/2/10), corporate news outlets echoed such pollyanna sentiments:

    You know, there are a lot of serious people looking at, “Are there ways that we can do drilling and we can do nuclear that are–that are nowhere near as risky as what they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago?” Offshore drilling today is a lot more safer, in many ways, environmentally, today than it was 20 years ago.
    –David Gergen, CNN’s Situation Room (3/31/10)

    Some Americans have an opinion of offshore drilling that was first formed decades ago with those pictures of oil on the beaches in Santa Barbara, California. Others see it differently. They say time and technology have changed things. They say in order to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and keep gas prices low, we’ve got to bring more of it out of the ground and from under the sea.
    –Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News (3/31/10)

    The technology of oil drilling has made huge advances…. The time has come for my fellow environmentalists to reassess their stand on offshore oil. It is not clear that the risks of offshore oil drilling still outweigh the benefits. The risk of oil spills in the United States is quite low.
    –Eric Smith, Washington Post op-ed (4/2/10)

    Some of the most ironic objections come from those who say offshore exploration will destroy beaches and coastlines, citing the devastating 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska as an example. The last serious spill from a drilling accident in U.S. waters was in 1969, off Santa Barbara, California.
    –USA Today editorial (4/2/10)

    Since the big spill off the coast of California about three decades ago, the big oil companies have really put a lot of time, money and resources into making sure that their drilling is a lot more safe and environmentally sound.
    –Monica Crowley, Fox Business Happy Hour (3/31/10)

    Drilling could be conducted in an environmentally sensitive manner. We already drill in an environmentally sensitive manner.
    –Sean Hannity, Fox News’ Hannity (4/1/10)

    And even in terms of the environment, we’re going to consume oil one way or the other. It’s safer for the planet if it’s done under our strict controls and high technology in America as opposed to Nigeria…. We’ve got a ton of drilling happening every day today in the Gulf of Mexico in a hurricane area and it’s successful.
    –Charles Krauthammer, WJLA’s Inside Washington (4/4/10)

    We had a hurricane on the Gulf Coast and there was no oil spill. If Katrina didn’t cause an oil spill with all those oil wells in the Gulf….
    –Dick Morris, Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor (3/31/10)

    The two main reasons oil and other fossil fuels became environmentally incorrect in the 1970s–air pollution and risk of oil spills–are largely obsolete. Improvements in drilling technology have greatly reduced the risk of the kind of offshore spill that occurred off Santa Barbara in 1969…. To fear oil spills from offshore rigs today is analogous to fearing air travel now because of prop plane crashes.
    –Steven F. Hayward, Weekly Standard (4/26/10)

    And these messages didn’t entirely disappear after the Gulf of Mexico disaster unfolded. In its May 10 issue, Time magazine had a small box headlined, “Offshore-Drilling Disasters: Rare But Deadly,” which listed a mere four incidents–the most recent in 1988. But it doesn’t take too much research to turn up a slew of other incidents that raise concerns: the Unocal-owned Seacrest drillship that capsized in 1989, killing 91 people; Phillips Petroleum’s Alexander Kielland rig that collapsed in 1980, killing 123, and more. The list managed to overlook at least three well disasters in the Gulf of Mexico that resulted in oil spills–two incidents off the Louisiana coast in 1999, and the Usumacinta spill in Mexican waters in 2007.

    A previous Time.com story (4/24/10) had noted that the Minerals Management Service, which oversees offshore drilling, reported 39 fires or explosions in the first five months of 2009 alone; though the magazine said the “good news” is that “most of these” did not result in death. The website Oil Rig Disasters tallies 184 incidents, dozens of which involved fatalities–and 73 of which occurred after 1988.

    Clearly there are different ways to measure such things, but it’s hard not to feel that Time’s point was to suggest that drilling disasters are really too rare to worry about.

    Since the BP/Deepwater disaster, many news outlets have run investigative pieces detailing the long history of negligent oversight of the offshore drilling industry. But when the New York Times tells readers (5/25/10) about the “enduring laxity of federal regulation of offshore operations,” one can’t help but wonder why this apparently well-known problem got so little attention before the environmental catastrophe.

    NOTE BY THE WAY THE NUMBER OF CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATORS TELLING THESE STORIES. FREE MARKET NUCLEAR, IMLO, DOES NOT STAND A CHANCE GIVEN THE REALITIES, RHETORICAL AND OTHERWISE.

    For those who want an excellent example of a free market pragmatist approach to the energy problem, read Robert Bryce’s new book, Power Hungry.

    we all better hope, should we follow his path (and it’s very persuasive about the inertia built into our “system,” that Hansen does not know what he’s talking about. His position is very similar to that of other smart libertarian energy analysts, like the authors of The Bottomless Well, Mills and Huber.

    Their “agnosticism” about AGW serves their libertarian pragmatism. In fact, the latter position reveals itself as immoral without the former. Read the books.

  346. the paragraph just above is missing a closed parenthesis.

    we all better hope, should we follow his path (and it’s very persuasive about the inertia built into our “system”), that Hansen does not know what he’s talking about. Bryce’s position is very similar to that of other smart libertarian energy analysts, like the authors of The Bottomless Well, Mills and Huber.

    In addition: above, there should be a comma after “though” in par. 2.

    On Bryce: his pragmatism means basically writing off solving AGW, if it exists, and adopting both mitigation and adaptation strategies.

  347. Well the bottom line is that if the only environmental damage from oil, was from the odd spill, it wouldn’t be all that relevant. Anyway the problem is not with risk when it comes to attitudes about oil, coal and nuclear, but the perception of risk.

    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 in everything from where to go on a holiday to where to invest our money. Savings and investing decisions are almost entirely about how we absorb and process risk-related information and how we balance this out with rewards and gains.

    Human 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. 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.

  348. I agree with you, DV (I think). My point about nukes is a point about perception. The reality is what Rockwell points out. a nuclear accident the magnitude of the oil spill is I think extremely remote, in the sense perhaps of the NRC’s category of “speculative and remote.” (see my post on the spent fuel pool bullshit).

    but it will be hard, given the corporate propaganda we see above, to make the relevant distinctions between one industry (ff) and another (nuke).

    g

  349. oh: are you suggesting that this accident isn’t really that bad?

    to tell you the truth, I don’t know enough to assess it. it certainly “seems” really bad.

    but, chernobyl is a thriving wild life preserve now; stewart brand (who says smart and stupid things in startling juxtaposition) suggested that the alaskan ecology healed itself after exxon spill.

    could be b.s.; could be apologia.

    any ecologists on the list?

  350. No, I am saying that if the ONLY environmental impact from petroleum fuel was the spills, it wouldn’t be so bad. However we know that there are other impacts to burning oil that cumulatively make this a very bad way of getting energy. This is not to excuse what happened in the Gulf, but to show that despite the fact that we have been choking on the fumes of this fuel for decades, this event will do more damage to its image.

    And they won’t learn: In the Canadian Arctic it is mandatory that a relief well is drilled along with a primary well to ensure that if everything else fails, the oil can be contained. BP is right now lobbying the Canadian government to have this safety precaution removed.

  351. on the not learning point, think of the difficulty (rhetorical) trying to argue that the nuclear industry is different from BP, etc.

    Many here think it is, and I’m persuaded by the argument; but i have a hard time persuading others of this. I think it might be worth a blog post: why nuclear will not make the same mistakes as BP, or something like that.

  352. Just found this commenter’s post off of marketwatch in response to Shell oil’s plan to develop the Marcellus Shale (it is my understanding that the area around chernobyl is a thriving wild life preserve–that the wildlife is returning because of the absence of human development). anyway, routine, utterly taken for granted type FUD:

    One thing to keep in mind: as you point out, nuclear power plants have to be “FAIL SAFE”. Why? Because one massive failure and the resulting environmental catastrophe will make the current gulf oil disaster look like a sunny day at the beach (with no oil on it). The 50 square miles around the Chernobyl plant in Russia are still uninhabitable by human life and will be FOR 10,000 YEARS. That’s 10,000 as in 100 times 100, one hundred CENTURIES. Imagine that happening just outside of Atlanta. Can you imagine relocating 6 million people?

  353. Fail-safe, fail-secure and no-fail are part of nuclear design philosophy, and in fact have been implemented for decades. Has this all been necessary? The question is moot, however it is part of the culture now and we might as well leverage it to our benefit. I am not referring here to over-regulation, but the general norm that Chernobyl – type plants will never be built again, and that safety is paramount in the operation of NPPs.

    Aviation grew its public acceptance by taking this approach, and it worked. When I started in that industry in 1971, at the tender age of nineteen, several of my co-workers made it clear that no one would ever get fired for a mistake they owned up to, but they would everything they could to put anyone who tried to hide something of a safety nature in prison, over and above what the company might do, and that’s the way things were throughout the industry.

    With air travel there are always other options, and a loss of confidence meant people wouldn’t fly. Now of course. flying is like driving in the public mind, and they accept the risks better, like I wrote above.

    Part of the problem with BP’s attitude, is that they know we still need their product, and we will keep buying it, no matter how bad things get in the Gulf.

  354. You make a good deal of sense in your discussion of risk DV82XL. I’ve made the same points about secular risk myself often enough.

    That said, I do think we need to make the point that the technical difficulty and margin for error in deep sea drilling and operation of nuclear power plants is grossly different and in favour of nuclear power. We are in a far better position to manage risk in nuclear power plant operation than we are more than a mile beneath the surface of the ocean. When you consider that against the alternatives to oil, the risk/reward looks a lot less attractive

    And of course, your other point about oil is well taken — that spills from deepwater drilling aren’t the only issue.

    It’s becoming clear that BP skimped on safety just before this occurred, (but of course, it was in practice a lot easier for them to do so than would be the case in a nuclear plant) and externalise this prospective risk to the public. If nothing happens they get away with it. In a way, this is a kind of fraudulent arbitrage not dissimialr from someone taking your super funds and putting it on a horse that’s a sure thing. If he wins, he returns your money with interest and you are none the wiser. But you unkowingly bore the brunt of the risk.

    Personally, I’d like to get us to a situation where oil recovery is a peripheral activity to contemporary society and where oil in volume is not moved across water nor harvested from areas close to natural bodies of water. To get there, we are obviously going to have to radically cut consumption of oil in transport and heating — another reason to support nuclear power.

  355. Fran Barlow, on 29 May 2010 at 7.23 Said:

    “That said, I do think we need to make the point that the technical difficulty and margin for error in deep sea drilling and operation of nuclear power plants is grossly different and in favour of nuclear power. We are in a far better position to manage risk in nuclear power plant operation than we are more than a mile beneath the surface of the ocean. When you consider that against the alternatives to oil, the risk/reward looks a lot less attractive”

    Yes indeed, but the critical thing is that safety, and a culture of safety have been part of nuclear from the beginning, whereas oil drilling has a somewhat different history and philosophy.

  356. I just wanted it on the record here that if Barry ever formed a political party, I’d vote for him! Are the best chances in the Senate, where a broader cross section of your electorate can vote?

    Game challenge: best acronym for a pro-nuclear party.

    I’m blank tonight, and could only come up with…
    ANSWER: (Australians for Nuclear Solutions With Equitable Regulation)

  357. This is somewhat off-topic.
    I haven’t read any articles on the Exxon aftermath, but I understand that the ecological damage was essentially repaired by bacteria within a few years. I believe that there are bacteria which eat oil (endemic in the Gulf, where oil seeps are a natural phenomenon). Presumeably such beasties are also active in tar sands regions.
    In the ’60s BP was a world leader in research into these sorts of bacteria.
    There will always be oil spills. If I were an oil company exec, I would be trying to build a reserve of oil-spill-clean-up bacteria to minimise the length of time that the damage is on the front page.

    On Chernobyl, it is very interesting that the number of deaths is very much less (one hundredth) than the prediction by science – which just goes to show how wrong peer-reviewed science can be. It is now thought that the low-level (ie up to 10 times background radiation) effects are not what had been believed – that increased levels within this range are actually positive for human and aminal health. This has also been supported by studies of voles near Sellafield, and by studies of the health of mountain people (who live in high-background radiation areas – all that radon gas from the granite).

  358. Another possible approach to refuting the idea of renewables — specifically solar thermal — that Fran has focused on might be to try to dream up a useful application in which the intermittency, availability, water supply and overbuild and storage issues plaguing CST weren’t so decisive. Say to the solar people — OK, you want to build some CST. We get that. We say it won’t work for electricity production in practice because it isn’t cost-effective. We can only find that out after building one, but we don’t want a white elephant.

    So … what about building a plant not to directly replace electricity from fossil, but to replace some other industrial scale function. Build it where the circumstances best suit harvest of incoming solar energy.

    Since the conversion heat->steam->electricity->transmission over distance->heat is very costly in energy and resources let us aim for applications where the locally collected heat can be used directly to make some highly merchantable industrial scale commodity that can be stored and transported fairly cheaply. That ought to put the odds on your side right?

    Some applications that come to mind include:

    a) desal — essentially, distill highly salinated or other water that is less than drinking standard. Use some of the heat to drive pumps to send the water to some reservoir. Since drinking water can be stored and is a valuable commodity, this ought to work. People talk about the lower lakes in SA going saline, and these are in a highly insolated area — so why not set up CST to decontaminate the lower lakes — here you wouldn’t need to even pump the water very far. The plant takes up brackish water as input, and (after allowing it to cool) supplies it back to the lakes.

    b) syngas. The plant is set up near some place where there is a lot of moist putrescible waste and dirty water. The plant heats the waste, electrolytically cracks the water and injects the H2 to make syngas, which can be converted to hydrocarbon fuels. No need to try longterm storage of H2 or to store heat either.

    c) fertiliser. It’s clear that we are going to need a lot of fertiliser in coming years and the bosch process is energy intensive. Again, why not try supplying the heat for the process using CST. A large CST-powered fertiliser plant doesn’t sound implausible. Once again the product can be stored in its final form and will be merchantable.

    I take it as self-evident that if none of these (or something else meeting the above criteria) can in practice compete in commercial terms with conventional energy sources, even imputing a credible price on CO2 emissions, that CST is refuted.

    Let them build such a plant and let us see how “available” it would have been for electricity production and use that to show that it could not have worked in that way. If we also get some half-way useful industrial plant out of it, the experiment isn’t a total loss and the cost up front is smaller than a full scale replace Hazelwood installation would have been. This might have a lower threshhold to win approval from mainstream politicians.

    Comments?

  359. EclipseNow

    While I don’t think any of the regulars here doubt the intellectual or political acumen of our estemmed host here, I can’t see that having Barry go from being a valuable contributor to the case for nuclear power to organising what would in short order become a single-issue political party would be wise at this stage. These things only work when there is a significant debate between the parties on the issue and where significant numbers in both feel somewhat disposed to the single-issue party’s agenda. We are nowhere close to that position yet.

    We really do need to focus here. We need to create a bona fide debate about the before we can create a bona fide political party aimed at actualising the debate’s conclusions as we see them.

    Where are the people in the ALP shouting out loud for such an agenda? To what extent could such people attract the sympathy of those not rusted onto the other side and/or likely to be sympathetic to the Greens?

    When there are promising answers to those questions, we can talk seriously about new political parties.

  360. Ewen Laver, on 30 May at 10.39:

    Ewen, I entirely endorse your suggestion as a sensible means of “testing” the functionality of renewables. However, on more than one occasion here, I have asked for suggestions for possible uses of stranded wind. So far, few ,if any, positive ideas were forthcoming. Maybe, solar might be a better bet. I shall look forward to seeing whether you get any informed responses.

  361. Stranded wind near a major highway could run a “Better Place” car-battery swap station. At times of peak output it would charge the station, including a bank of extra “Better Place” batteries. When the wind dies down, hopefully the few hundred batteries on site have fully charged. The bank of extra batteries kick in to run the outlet until the wind picks up again.

    Better Place already has deals with energy companies to supply it with wind power, and I have a sticker on my car “My next car will run on the wind”. I wish it said “My next car will run on a NUKE!” but the sticker is more about generating conversation about Better Place than it is wind.

    For more:
    http://australia.betterplace.com/

    I think the world’s a big enough place to have nukes supplying important baseload features of the grid, and renewables to ‘top up’ the grid if countries have to go that way.

  362. Given, Doug, that what wind turbines harvest is kinetic energy rather than heat, direct usage is pretty hard. We don’t have a lot of milling or water pumping to do.

    It occurred to me that if you had water that was seriously contaminated with urea (such as at a sewage plant), cracking it ought to produce more H2 (since ammonia (NH3) ) has more hydrogen than water) — so maybe if you could use the electrical energy from turbines to do cracking on filtered liquid sewage that might almost work …

  363. Re:
    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2010/2910830.htm

    I read the above by Adam Lucas, who apparently felt no need to address the subject of nuclear waste, although it is a high-priority objection by anti-nukes.

    I also looked at what WNA and ANSTO write about Synroc, invented in AU in 1978. I am puzzled why Synroc is not the automatic retort from nukies every time an anti-nuke starts talking about how useless nuclear waste vitrification and MOX are.

    http://www.synrocansto.com/, however, is written only in the technical language favoured by nerds. The site is aimed at prospective buyers and has no option for e.g. WWF or Greenpeace members who are looking to be persuaded that nuclear waste can be locked away properly. Is this because nukies, not being personally bothered much by the problem of NPP waste, underestimate the fears of the opposition and fail to bring Synroc into play?

    As I see it, Synroc is being overlooked by nukies in public debate as an answer to the allegation that waste cannot safely be stored for posterity, and I am not sure why.

    After all, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schacht_Asse_II
    is an example of a European geological salt mine repository the decades-long failure of which (radioactive brine) to store low and medium-level waste helps to mobilise thousands on the streets in Germany, most recently a few weeks back.

    Is the low profile in public awareness of Synroc due, as WNA implies, to billions having been sunk into vitrification instead? And that figure wants amortising?

    Or is Synroc not a magic bullet for all and every waste?

  364. Synroc is a great solution to dealing with that material from reprocessing that has no further use.

    The big issue is that Synroc has not proved to be as flexible as it was originally assumed. Each waste type needs a unique mineral assemblage. While this will not be too bad at the back-end of a reprocessing stream, it is not a universal, one size fits all solution. Given that any treatment like this will be judged and accepted largely on the bases of its capacity to deal with the waste from nuclear weapons fabrication, however this factor is a concern.

    The other “problem” with this method of disposing of radioactive waste is the synroc still has to be stored, often underground. Even though the waste is held in a solid lattice and prevented from spreading, it is still radioactive. As far as the antinuclear brigades are concerned, that makes it little better than any other type of waste scheme.

    Remember, according to them this has to last billions of years, before it is safe.

  365. … Even though the waste is held in a solid lattice and prevented from spreading, it is still radioactive. As far as the antinuclear brigades are concerned, that makes it little better than any other type of waste scheme.

    Remember, according to them this has to last billions of years, before it is safe …

    Remember, this strictness on their part goes completely away when it is a matter of their own comparative safety, in being near either fission fragments or diesel fuel and exhaust. They get on nuclear icebreakers and hope no-one notices.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  366. Hi DV8,
    when is it safe? I hear 300 years, then I hear that even IFR’s would need hundreds of thousands of years for some waste. I’m not yet clear if this waste is stripped out of the 300 year stuff or buried mixed in with the 300 year stuff. (I was spanked last time I asked this question, but am not being troublesome… I just haven’t found the answer yet).

  367. I think I answered some of that, ‘eclipsenow’, but don’t recall what I said. Do you?

    To your final question, basically yes. At 300 years it’s not safe in theory, safe in practice. But that would be true even it were just pent fuel rods to which nothing had been done.

    Did I talk about saltshakers on the Titanic, and how, in theory, their failure to contain their salt might salt the ocean?

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  368. There was a thread where someone discussed liquefying waste and pouring it into the oceans at the same rate as the original uranium fuel was being extracted (in this hypothetical, distant future when we’ve run out of conventionally mined uranium). They were making the point that much of the radiation already present in our lives is already present and not as lethal as the media presents it. But that’s not the same as answering the question.

  369. @ eclipsenow – spent nuclear fuel/nuclear waste is as safe as anyone wants it to be, from the time it’s made, as long as it is handled correctly, and is as dangerous as you want it to be if you don’t.

    The real question to ask is how long is mercury and other heavy metals produced as a waste dangerous, how long are the cyanides, the sulphates, and other industrial discharges going to be a problem?

    The whole ‘nuclear waste is dangerous forever’ meme, is a canard, and always has been. There are many more things that are by-products of industrial processes that are a more immediately hazard.

  370. The whole ‘nuclear waste is dangerous forever’ meme, is a canard, and always has been. There are many more things that are by-products of industrial processes that are a more immediate hazard.

    It is indeed a canard — one that spread its wings post TMI, the China Syndrome and Chernobyl and it’s really a big fat nothing in reality(sorry couldn’t resist the pun on canard).

    The RE people though assert that renewables are non-polluting which is why we have to insist that this is

    a) irrelevant since they can’t replace the usages addressed in nuclear and conventional energy systems

    AND

    b) they say nothing about the risks we do find acceptable building non-energy producing industrial plants

    There is a subtle (but often not an expressly articulated view) that any nuclear facility is analagous to a blemish or some sort of on what would otherwise be a pristine landscape. If you ask what proportion of the landscape is so “blemished” they start thinking of their own backyard rather than the landmass as a whole.

    So if an area of 1 square km is take up to house waste temporarily, and the total landmass is, say, 7.6 million square km (roughly Australia’s landmass) … instead of seeing this as 0.000013% of the land area, they see it as a huge tumour-like thing on the country.

    Imagine looking in the mirror for a pimple or a cold sore I sometimes say. You’re bothered because the blemish may be 4sqmm — or about 0.01% of your face’s total area. If your blemish occupied the same relative portion of your face as a nuclear waste facility it would be invisible without a microscope.

  371. Nice point Fran …

    The flipside is the inconsistency of the RE people who, on the one hand, claim to be bothered about waste facilities but then describe the land on which massive wind or solar facilities sit as being of low value and therefore to be rated as worth forgetting about.

    Yet when you consider the actual land used, it is many times greater than that occupied by all nuclear rated facilities of equal practical output.

  372. There is a photo on BNC from a couple of months back citing 300, 000 years for storage, I think in relation to the IFR. This would appear to be an own goal.

    As synroc is not the magic bullet, it could be useful to calculate and use in argumentation the amount of hazmat produced by coal-fired, assuming coal-fired were to cover all future demand rise in given countries up to eg. 2030.
    The fact that drywall sold in the USA can contain coal ash or that the stuff is spread underneath new golf courses there needs publicity.

    @Sage of Montreal: you are being disingenuous again, and are leaving your flanks unguarded as you previously distinguished on BNC between high/medium and low level waste, as I recall. Note that there is minimal public awareness of coal ash hazmat; if challenged, most will probaly think it is like backyard incinerator wood ash: good for the plants, for example.

    Unless BNC wants to disenfranchise the ca. 50% of the electorate that is women (ex F Barlow, Ms Perps, G Craven), NPP rollouts face a frequent female/maternal response to waste storage. i.e. fear about teratogeny.

    T Blees recently wrote on BNC that one definitely does not need any NPP accident anywhere at present, if I recall rightly. I assume that he has the above, and similar, in mind.

    @Laver: in my experience RE people, and contrary to the hypocrisy imputed to them on BNC, are indeed bothered about NPP waste. The fact that many currently do not think or calculate like David Mackay in regard of RE land usage does not contradict the foregoing. After all, “RE people” include a number of NIMBYs.

  373. “when is it safe? I hear 300 years, then I hear that even IFR’s would need hundreds of thousands of years for some waste. I’m not yet clear if this waste is stripped out of the 300 year stuff or buried mixed in with the 300 year stuff.”

    To get no-nonsense answers to this question, we go to the table of the nuclides (http://atom.kaeri.re.kr/ is a good place to start), and identify what the radionuclides in question are, and what their half-lives are.

    Sr-90 (29 years) and Cs-137 (30 years) constitute the majority of the radioactivity in reactor fission products that has any significant half-life. If we allow 10 half-lives for that radioactivity to completely decay, then that’s 300 years.

    Some anti-nuclear people often quote a figure of 240,000 years for the “waste dangerousness timescale”; this is based on 10 x the 24,000 year half-life of Pu-239.

    However, Pu-239 does not have a particularly high specific activity, it’s not particularly radioactive and it’s not particularly dangerous. In addition, it’s not “waste”, it’s valuable fuel, so nobody should be seriously entertaining “wasting” it – except in low-level contaminated TRU waste where it’s not economical to recover the dilute traces of Pu.

    Even if we accepted that this 240,000 year timescale for assured isolation from mobility in the environment in the case of used fuel containing some Pu-239 was necessary due to Pu-239 having some kind of fantastically great radiotoxicity (which it doesn’t); we can simply strip out the Pu and recycle it, and then we’re back down to the 300-year time frame set by the radioactivity of the fission products.

    Some anti-nuclear activists talk about waste isolation timescales of 500,000 years, or 10^6 years, or even longer – and they’re basically just making stuff up, with no science basis at all.

  374. Thanks Luke!

    Even if we accepted that this 240,000 year timescale for assured isolation from mobility in the environment in the case of used fuel containing some Pu-239 was necessary due to Pu-239 having some kind of fantastically great radiotoxicity (which it doesn’t); we can simply strip out the Pu and recycle it, and then we’re back down to the 300-year time frame set by the radioactivity of the fission products.

    So if we take today’s nuclear waste or ‘once used fuel’, reprocess it and turn it into fuel rods, and then let fission occur and neutrons bombard the various atoms, then we end up with Strontium and Caesium and Plutonium all mixed up.

    DV8 previously mentioned that there were other goodies in there as well, stuff that was useful for other industries.

    What is the ‘twice through fuel’ called? I gather separating out the goodies and plutonium from this is standard procedure in the reprocessing of the IFR’s fuel rods, to get ‘thrice through’ fuel etc….

    So basically it’s all about how thorough the ‘reprocessing’ of the spent fuel rods is? Is this part of the normal business plan of the IFR, or only technically possible but not economically profitable? Surely with this stuff being a million times more energy dense than coal it would be economically viable to extract every last dust speck out of the waste, and then declare it ready to bury for 300 years?

  375. Peter Lalor, on 31 May 2010 at 16.24 Said:

    @Sage of Montreal: you are being disingenuous again, and are leaving your flanks unguarded as you previously distinguished on BNC between high/medium and low level waste, as I recall. Note that there is minimal public awareness of coal ash hazmat; if challenged, most will probaly think it is like backyard incinerator wood ash: good for the plants, for example.

    Unless BNC wants to disenfranchise the ca. 50% of the electorate that is women (ex F Barlow, Ms Perps, G Craven), NPP rollouts face a frequent female/maternal response to waste storage. i.e. fear about teratogeny.

    Well yes you are right in that I was answering a question, not stating a position – there is no doubt, given the fact that people have been made oversensitive to the issue of nuclear waste that we will have to address the issue. However, the real point is that if you compare various industrial waste streams, the worst of nuclear, falls about mid-range. And the volumes are relatively small.

    Furthermore, no matter how long you want to postulate that the stuff remains dangerous, the fact remains that it does get less so over time. This is not true of say heavy metal wastes which will never stop being toxic.

    The issue of course is radiation, which has become the evil spirit of the modern age, and people’s inability to weight the risks. I was once involved in a debate with one local group that was up in arms because of a report that strontium-90 had been found in parts-per-trillion amounts in milk from cows near the Gentilly nuclear power station (a report later proven false.) Yet these same people cheerfully admitted, when I asked, to catching and eating huge amounts of tommycod, caught ice fishing, despite a published government warning to limit intake of this fish to twice a month due to Mg contamination. To a person they dismissed the government warning as an over-reaction. Go figure.

  376. Below is a snippet from an NRC document on radioactive waste, 2007.

    what I would like would be a chart that measures surface dose rate for a standard spent fuel assembly after 10 years ((10,000 rem/hour); 40 years; 100 years etc so we can see how we get from very hot to an overall level after 175 years of “one billionth of the level when it was removed from the reactors.” (The quote is from Stewart Brand’s new book, p. 79, discussing Canada’s “adaptive phased management plan” concerning the waste from the CANDU reactors.)

    Excuse the Kindergarten question: Do CANDU fuel assemblies and Light water reactor fuel assemblies emit radiation at comparable rates?

    Below is the snippet:

    Radioactive isotopes will eventually decay, or disintegrate, to harmless materials. However, while they are decaying, they emit radiation. Some isotopes decay in hours or even minutes, but others decay very slowly. Strontium-90 and cesium-137 have half-lives of about 30 years (that means that half the radioactivity of a given quantity of strontium-90, for example, will decay in 30 years). Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years.

    High-level wastes are hazardous to humans and other life forms because of their high radiation levels that are capable of producing fatal doses during short periods of direct exposure. For example, ten years after removal from a reactor, the surface dose rate for a typical spent fuel assembly exceeds 10,000 rem/hour, whereas a fatal whole-body dose for humans is about 500 rem (if received all at one time). Furthermore, if constituents of these high-level wastes were to get into ground water or rivers, they could enter into food chains. Although the dose produced through this indirect exposure is much smaller than a direct exposure dose, there is a greater potential for a larger population to be exposed.

  377. greg meyerson, on 2 June 2010 at 0.03 Said:

    Excuse the Kindergarten question: Do CANDU fuel assemblies and Light water reactor fuel assemblies emit radiation at comparable rates?

    Compared to light-water reactor (LWR) spent fuel, CANDU spent fuel has a much lower decay heat output. As CANDU spent fuel has been burnt more thoroughly, it tends to become less radioactive, faster. Also there is very a low fissile content in CANDU spent fuel compared to that of LWR spent fuel. In fact, the U-235 concentration in the uranium in the spent CANDU fuel (approx. 0.23%) is comparable to the tails assay at the enrichment plants (0.2%-0.3%).

    CANDU reactors burn fuel so efficiently, that the spent fuel from a LWR can be placed directly into a CANDU for further use without reprocessing. This is known as the DUPIC cycle and is practiced by the Chinese and Koreans at the moment in developmental programs.

    Also CANDU reactors use about 30–40% less mined uranium than light-water reactors per unit of electrical energy produced.

  378. Thanks man: this is what I “thought,” so the Brand number applies to CANDU reactors not to LWRs. yes?

    also, since many on the list are about to go to sleep, let me ask you to comment on the following assertion made by an anti nuclear activist in a nearly informationless article called “Barak Obama’s Nuclear Rhetoric.”

    The only scientific sounding claim concerns the enrichment process. The author states the following: “the difference between energy grade uranium and weapons grade uranium is only one more enrichment cycle.”

    How false is this, both in what it states and in what it implies? I have read Depleted Cranium’s article on the practical impossibility of turning spent fuel into nuclear bomb, and I think the issue is a non issue, but of course it keeps coming up and I want to be able to respond in appropriate detail to statements like this.

    the writer makes it sound like the same enrichment plant could just run the uranium thru one more time, and voila, bomb material.

  379. greg meyerson, on 2 June 2010 at 0.55 Said:

    he author states the following: “the difference between energy grade uranium and weapons grade uranium is only one more enrichment cycle.”

    How false is this, both in what it states and in what it implies.

    A uranium enrichment plant can produce HEU, however it takes many, many more SWU’s (passes through the cascade) than it does to make LEU for reactor fuel. As well there is a diminishing return effect at work here, so you have to keep feeding the process stream more natural uranium as the concentrations get higher.

    So yes the same plant can make weapons grade material, but it takes much more than just another pass.

  380. … the Brand number applies to CANDU reactors not to LWRs. yes?

    It applies to both.

    Here, Table 7, one can learn that a CANDU fuel bundle, ten years after its retirement, can give a lethal radiation dose from 1 metre’s distance in 12 hours, as long as nothing denser than air is in the way. A PWR assembly, much larger and having produced about five times more energy per unit mass, can do the same in 33 minutes.

    You can get information for US power reactor fuel assemblies varying distances and times, up to 50 years, from “Dose Rate Estimates from Irradiated Light-Water-Reactor Fuel Assemblies in Air”, UCRL-ID-115199, which was web-accessible for me at http://tinyurl.com/25lu88m . Multiply the rems/h numbers by 0.01 to get Sv/h, the units of the Korean paper.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  381. “A PWR assembly, much larger and having produced about five times more energy per unit mass, “

    Keep in mind that you should count the enrichment tailings against the total mass of the uranium per unit of energy when you are calculating the material you have to deal with with LWR used fuel.

  382. thanks G.R.L:

    the charts in the second article are useful. especially for people who fear radiation over thousands of years.

    and knowing the distances (1 m; 5 m; 10 m) and “geometry” these radiation doses are based upon is also useful to counter radiation paranoia.

    DV: on enrichment, how significant in your view is the issue of how many passes are required to get HEU from your stock of natural uranium?

    and, just to quantify things a bit more precisely, how many more passes are we talking about, ballpark?

    If this enrichment is done in the same facility, is it detectable? easily detectable? even if it’s possible to enrich at both levels in the same facility, are weapons and energy enrichment commonly done in the same facility?

    thanks again.

    g

  383. … you should count the enrichment tailings against the total mass of the uranium per unit of energy when you are calculating the material you have to deal with with LWR used fuel.

    True. With unenriched uranium fuel, the U-238 that would have ended up in a field of drums is still in the fuel rod, absorbing some of the rays, so a small piece of a PWR or BWR spent fuel assembly that had produced the same heat as a CANDU bundle would have a lethal-exposure time at 1 m a little less than 12 hours.

    Also, the gassery about “one more enrichment cycle” could be made true, for CANDU and similar systems, by changing “cycle” to “plant”. Neither enrichment nor reprocessing are part of existing CANDU-based nuclear power systems.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  384. The performance of a gas centrifuge is measured by its yield of separative work units (SWU). Each of the centrifuges used in a typical enrichment facility, may be assumed to produce about 3 SWU per year. The commercial nuclear-fuel market values an SWU at about $100. Technically, the number of SWU that would normally be used to produce a kilogram of U-235 as HEU (at a nominal 95%) is 232 SWU. The number of SWU that must be invested to make 1 kg of U-235 as LEU (at about 5%) is about 151 SWU. In both cases one is assumed to start from natural uranium (0.711 percent U-235) and leave tails of depleted uranium with 0.25 percent U-235.

    Natural uranium has a concentration of U235 of 0.7%. Assuming an enrichment of 95% the input requirement is 226 kg natural U per kg HEU. To produce an output of 1 kilogram of LEU at the 5% U-235 concentration typically used in a modern light-water power reactor, by contrast, requires an input of only 11.5 kilograms of natural uranium.

    Thus the actual number of passes, is a function of how many centrifuges are in the cascade, and this varies from plant to plant . That’s why the factor is quoted in SWU as it makes it easier to compare.

    All levels of enrichment ( and there are several depending on the application) are made in the same plant. It is reasonably easy for an independent party to audit this process, if they are given access and it is done all the time by IAEA in plants covered by the NPT.

  385. Also, the gassery about “one more enrichment cycle” could be made true, for CANDU and similar systems, by changing “cycle” to “plant”.

    Sorry Graham, I’m not following…

  386. Greg,
    @ 2 June 2010 at 0.03

    what I would like would be a chart that measures surface dose rate for a standard spent fuel assembly after 10 years ((10,000 rem/hour); 40 years; 100 years etc so we can see how we get from very hot to an overall level after 175 years of “one billionth of the level when it was removed from the reactors.”

    Figure 5.5, page 64 in the UMPNE report may be what you want. It shows “relative radiotoxicity” versus “time in years”. It has three curves for 1. Spent fuel, 2. actinides and fission products, 3. fission products only. the time scale is to 1 million years. It shows the time to decay to the same level of relative reactivity as the natural uranium orebody as follows:
    spent fuel = 200,000 years,
    MA + FP = 10,000 years
    FP = 200 years

    Note: These figures are my interpretation from a log scale chart so could be well out.

    Source: UMPNE report
    http://pandora.nla.gov.au/tep/66043

    This report is excellent. I’d strongly recommend book marking this link. Also note the EPRI study of the cost of implementing nuclear in Australia. This is an excellent report and good source for learning what is involved in doing such a costing analysis.

  387. Greg,

    I now realise you are way ahead of what I posted here. However, I still recommend the UMPNE report for others who are seeking answers to questions at a more general level. I urge those to book mark this link as I had to write to the new government to ask for access to it (The Labor government removed all access to such documents when they won government – if they didn’t fit with their anti-nuclear policy).

  388. thanks peter. the decay rates are useful, especially when combined with the surface dose rates.

    200 years for the fission products is an important number, since the FPs would seem to be most responsible for the dangerous surface dose rates for our hypothetical poor schmuck standing right in front of a just extracted fuel assembly (PWR, BWR or the wimpy CANDU–Schwartzenegger could take a sustained hit from a CANDU fuel assembly no problem).

    I couldn’t access the UMPNE report; something wrong with server, but maybe later.

  389. The IEEE Spectrum magazine for June has just come out and its a special report on the nexus between power and water. It covers a lot of issues that are discussed here.

    The Coming Clash Between Water and Energy

    Australia’s Drought-Busting Water Grid
    In the driest continent, saving water means spending watts

    Biofuel’s Water Problem
    Irrigating biofuel crops on a grand scale would be disastrous

    Eight Technologies for Drinkable Seawater
    Desalination takes too much energy, but emerging technologies will help

    In the American Southwest, the Energy Problem Is Water
    Energy producers on the Colorado River are struggling

    Malta’s Smart Grid Solution
    The world’s first multiutility grid should save water and money

    Map: China Rewires Its Rivers
    A massive water diversion project aims to slake the north’s thirst

    Pumping Punjab Dry
    Cheap energy endangers India’s ability to feed itself

    Singapore’s Water Cycle Wizardry
    Singapore’s toilet-to-tap technology has saved the country from shortages—and a large electricity bill

    The Water Cost of Carbon Capture
    Coal power’s carbon savior could double its water woes

    CO2 vs. H2O in Power Production
    Plotting trade-offs from wind to coal

  390. … dose rates for our hypothetical poor schmuck standing right in front of a just extracted fuel assembly (PWR, BWR or the wimpy CANDU–Schwartzenegger could take a sustained hit from a CANDU fuel assembly no problem) …

    Anyone could, if it were ten years retired.

    But don’t confuse that with “just extracted”. If that latter phrase means ten minutes retired, ten minutes after it has finished raising its 5000 tonnes of steam, the dose rate is at least 2000 times higher. It is these very high dose rates that make it advantageous to handle the rods with tools that reach ~8 m down into water, and make the water glow blue. When gas promoters talk about the long-term hazards of spent fuel, these very short-term hazards are the basis for that.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  391. Greg,

    I often have people tell me they cannot access the UMPNE report. I think you have to get permissions or something. It is not a server problem, they don’t want to make easy access to it. So you need to contact the people in control. When I did i soon after the last federal election to get acces to it, I had to contact Department of Proime Minhister and Cabinet !!

  392. I think it’s largely meaningless to talk about the high radioactivity of a freshly-pulled used fuel assembly.

    We handle and store them safely when they’re removed from the reactor; nobody has ever been harmed by radioactivity from that used nuclear fuel.

    Also, I can confirm that access to the UMPNER report files from the Pandora archive as linked above is working fine for me at present.

  393. well: technically, the “just extracted” is one year after extraction.

    It’s not meaningless for people to see how quickly the radioactivity level declines, at least relative to fantasies of one million years, one hundred thousand, etc. and it’s not meaningless for people to have some sense that radiation loses its impact greatly when you move a few feet away. People treat radiation like it’s a science fiction monster. It can get you from anywhere.

    so it’s not meaningless at the level of people’s fears; it is meaningless pragmatically, though pointing this fact out also serves to reduce fear.

  394. As far as that goes, I dare anyone to get within a few meters of a continuous casting of square ingot steel right as it comes from the hearth unprotected. My God! don’t people realize the radiation from one of those will kill you withing minutes of being exposed.

  395. Personally, I never liked Tipper. That campaign against rude words in popular music and the persistent appeals to “family values” was just so uch pandering to southern conservative ignorance. Ultimately, despite my general sympathy for Gore, I couldn’t quite take him seriously while he was hitched to a handbag. News of their split improves his standing in my eyes.

  396. Barry

    I heard you this moning speaking on the issue of the impacts of sea level rise on Pacific Island communities.

    While what you said was beyond reproach the story as a whole left the very strong impression that sea level rises were not a serious problem for Pacific Island states. That chap from NZ went very close to self-contradiction when he started by claiming that they would not have to leave, and then went on to doubt how long the islands would be fit for huiman habitation.

    I love his claim that the reasons that some islands, precisely because they were so low-lying, were growing larger was that debris from the reefs was being carried by storm surges off the reef and heaping on the islands. That doesn’t sound like a suitable venue for humn habitation. The fact that a place is only intermittently covered in seawater and later allows you more elevation (while undermining the shoreline) doesn’t strike me as making it fit for human habitation. I not in passing that a low-lying island in the Indian Ocean that was the subject of a 25-year jurisdictional dispute between (IIRC) Sri Lanka(?) and India recently fell beneath the waves, settling the issue once and for all. As it was only above water for part of the time, it was never a place where people could live or work.

    The movement of atoll-based islands (up or down) is not directly related to sea-levels or climate change but clearly, if sea-levels are rising (possibly by 8-15mm per year), then if an atoll-based island subsides, the effects will be speedier than if sea-levels weren’t rising.

    I note also that the survey only dealt with about 27 islands (of which 80% were said to be stable or enlarging) — and there are how many inhabitated islands in the Pacific?

  397. I was wondering where Finrod had got to so I checked his Nucleus 92 facebook page:

    “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our who is currently recovering in Newcastle hospital from a serious car accident which took the life of his Mother and Great Aunt. Craig has been taken out of intensive care after 9 days in a coma and is going to go to recover according to the hospital Sister I spoke to.”

    Swift recovery Finrod. We miss you.

  398. We should send him an e-card, filled with signatures.

    anyone know how to do this, and know Fin enough to know where to send it?

    This news is horrible and disorienting. How different the rest of life can be from what we do here, as relevant to real life as this is.

    g

  399. I just called the hospital from Barry’s link and confirmed he is still there. John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Ward G3. I’ll organise a (real) card for him and add names and messages of anyone who posts here, if you like.

  400. I’m reading the free download of Chapter 7 of Prescription for the planet on Plasma Burners.

    Anyone got any cost details?

    BTW – I’m liking Blees style of big picture, almost ‘industrial permaculture’ thinking.

    I’m wondering though, if we got too addicted to Plasma burners, whether we might miss the opportunity in recycling the carbon in agriwaste back into the soil through Biochar?

    However, the rest of the chapter and ideas on processing syngas and the molten sludge waste streams into building materials… just brilliant.

    I understand he hung out with nuclear scientists to write the nuclear stuff, but who did he brainstorm the Plasma stuff with? It’s truly mind-blowing. There’s a depth of thinking about the world’s problems that I really appreciate here.

  401. Lastly, I mention cost because the Economist had a special on their podcast recently about waste and the guy seems sceptical about the sheer *cost* of plasma burners. I’d love everything Tom Blees said to be true… but cost?

  402. eclipse: he consulted with Lou Circeo, the inventor (I think this is accurate and not grandiose). I have several powerpoint presentations Lou gave to a local municipality about the possibility of building one there.

    email me and I’ll give you the powerpoints and his email. Tom, I think, is out of the country and probably not checking email/web.

    g

  403. There is enough reason to try to stop burning coal in the things we know for sure about global warming. Nobody explains it more clearly than Prof David MacKay, for example in his talk to CalTech http://today.caltech.edu/theater/item?story_id=44542. It has been a big mistake to keep feeding the public with “global warming implies X”. Because every time it turns out that, for some reason, “not X” then the public are going to think: “Ah, well, not X implies not global warming”. This is not a logical error, so we are forced to try to convince everyone that “global warming implies X” was a mistake. The (not) shrinking Pacific islands are the latest case. We’ve also had the British Met predicting warm weather and getting the reverse. There’s every reason why global warming might create more snow even though presumably the models don’t show this since it always takes people by surprise.

  404. Although I’m not a regular contributor, as a reader of BNC Finrod’s contributions have been an integral (and often entertaining) part of my nuclear education.
    I’m so sorry for your loss Finrod. I send my hopes for your full recovery.

  405. Yes John … please include me on the card list for Craig. I am dreadfully sorry to hear that this has happened.

    It occurred to me that as we go about our normal licves and we hear reports of road trauma and death, most of us (certainly I do) think that “it goes without saying” that every injury or death on the roads is horrible news — a tragedy. The flipside of this is that too often, it also goes without thinking.

    Unless we are personally connected with the persons in question it becomes part of our background knowledge about the world, and one can easily forget that nearly everyone who falls victim has a circle of people around them who are grieving and deserve our compassion — that pain and loss are dreadful whether we know of them or not.

    I really do hope Finrod makes a full recovery and can find what he need to deal with his loss, but it’s also true that this terrible event reminds me of the larger tragedies of human organisation, within which this event has had meaning.

  406. @ John, me too please.

    @ Barry, I’d love to discuss that amazing chapter of Blees on the plasma burners further, however am just wincing a bit at doing it here when we are discussing such tragic personal circumstances? Is it just me, or do we need a new Open Thread to continue the discussion as usual? Finrod’s accident just sounds so awful…

  407. Hey Peter … a complete change of subject … since you are an engineer …

    Last night, half by accident, I watched Top Gear and the crew were looking tongue-in-cheek at the Lancia

    The way they descibed this seriously design-challenged series of vehicles was amusing. On the one hand, on their description, Lancia sounded like a company run by engineers — at least in the sense that the engineers were given a free hand to build whatever they wanted.

    The result was some very over-priced cars that did brilliantly in some of the key aspects of performance — they racked up an impressive set of wins in world rally events, one of them had a Ferrari engine in a short wheel-based car that apparently went like the wind over rally courses. The Top Gear people were saying that the cars took no account of marketability or even whether the design would actually work — they came up with an idea and went out to see if it would work.

    I imagine if that were true, as an automotive or mechanical engineer in the 1980s — Lancia would have been a thrilling place to work. Yet at the same time isn’t it true that if you’re an engineer, that you have to try to design with the needs of the users of the system in mind? Why have a car which is has a steering wheel that forces the driver into an uncomfortable position? Or rusts easily? Or has bits that just fall off?

    Just wondering and you’re the only engineer I am currently in contact with

  408. Fran, All true. There are unlimited numbers of similar examples that apply to all disciplines, not just engineers. However, my real interest is trying to understand why the irrational and emotive based beliefs of the vast mass of the public are able to drive energy policy and create the irrational policies we have in the western world? This is not new; it’s been going on for decades. Why are we even thinking of renewables as a solution when that solution is so clearly irrational?

  409. “Why are we even thinking of renewables as a solution when that solution is so clearly irrational?”

    Because those that believe have been lied to repeatedly, first about the dangers of nuclear, and second about the utility of renewables. Unfortunately, very few people have the tools to analyse what they are told effectively, nor do many have the time, their lives filled with other thing, more important to them.

  410. Peter asked:

    However, my real interest is trying to understand why the irrational and emotive based beliefs of the vast mass of the public are able to drive energy policy and create the irrational policies we have in the western world?

    Knowing our political differences, I am going to keep this as narrow as I can. I’m going to invoke the unholy alliance clause.

    All human systems tend towards stasis. Existing elite stakeholder interests don’t want the rules changed because they don’t see enough upside. Repeated usage affirms for most people that this is the best of all possible worlds.

    In our world, those interests in energy start with the combustion of fossil fuels which even today are very cheap. Their main competitor in stationary energy of course is nuclear power. Needless to say, if there were wholesale resort to nuclear power it could only be to the detriment of the asset values of coal and gas, and perhaps even utlimately petroleum. That’s a huge pool of stakeholders.

    Conversely, the most ardent opponents of fossil fuels see fossil fuels as simply another iteration of “big energy” in particular and big business in general, neither of which they are very keen on. Small and local is beautiful and authentic. Even the Tea Party rightists believe that. So they counterpose RE, which seems to fit the bill of local and authentic better than nuclear or coal. So for them, it’s a cultural thing.

    Once you grasp that, it’s pretty simple. The cola and gas people know that if there is no nuclear power, their grip on the system is safe, so they are perfectly happy for the state to commit itself to renewables because as you and others have shown, this is no kind of threat to their assets. Indeed, companies like BP actually fund environmental organisations. And provided the RE people feel more threatened by nuclear than by coal and gas, the basis for a cold alliance exists. The RE people say “replace coal with renewables”. But this can’t happen in practice no matter which regime is in place. So nothing happens and the coal and gas people win by default.

    The RE people are less unhappy than they would be if nukes came in because nukes are scary and mutate babies and make us feel guilty over new potential Hiroshimas and would be really dangerous if “terrorists” got their hands on them. On this the right and left can kind of agree.

    So even though the RE people and the coal and gas people hate each other, they are forced into an unholy alliance in which the RE people do cognitive dissonance and pretend the failure to replace coal and gas with renewables is an evil metaphysical plot by big business (keeping their side of the street engaged) while the coal and gas people laugh themselves silly at the brilliant job being done by their nominal opponents at maintaining the favourable staus quo.

    The fact that the RE people want a price on carbon is fine — because as long as there is no alternative, it will be trivial and irrelevant to their business interests, though again it does fuel the RE people’s sense of self-righteousness and keeps them in the game.

    That’s how the irrational makes sense.

  411. I imagine if that were true, as an automotive or mechanical engineer in the 1980s — Lancia would have been a thrilling place to work. Yet at the same time isn’t it true that if you’re an engineer, that you have to try to design with the needs of the users of the system in mind?

    If you own the company and choose to direct your engineering that way then it will be fun – for a while. Then when the chickens come home to roost, and people stop buying your cars, and engineers and designers start being laid off, not so fun any more. I speak from the bittersweet experience of having owned an alfa romeo of that vintage.

    Short sighted engineering decisions have a way of coming back to bite you. And I think thats a lesson that applies to the RE sector, and pretty much everything else.

  412. Well apparently Lancia went out of business in 1994 …

    Mind you, as someone who is not, as you will know, all that fond of capitalists, a capitalist who does things simply because it seems like a good idea at the time and a hell of a lot of fun, and then goes out of business after trying that caper once too often somehow seems less offensive. Sure they planned to make a profit but they didn’t so by definition whatever value their work contributed to was 100% returned to society.

    Now, I’m not advocating that as a model of social arrangements. That would be stupid. Plainly, it’s wasteful to produce stuff that isn’t sufficiently useful for enough people to want to pay the price of the labour involved in producing it to keep on producing it.

    It does however appeal to my whimsical and artistic side. Perhaps that is the strongest argument for wind turbines — not that they are of any use, but that every city of 1 million or more should have one, just because it’s a fun piece of contemporary art and engineering.

    Given some of the art I’ve seen, that sounds pretty reasonable.

  413. Because those that believe have been lied to repeatedly, first about the dangers of nuclear, and second about the utility of renewables. Unfortunately, very few people have the tools to analyse what they are told effectively, nor do many have the time, their lives filled with other thing, more important to them.

    Too true. Or you might have a burning interest in renewables energy because for a long time you were taught that peak uranium meant nuclear was no long term solution, peak oil mean society faced collapse, and so you desperately hoped the renewables boffins could somehow pull off the magic trick. I knew in my guts that we were moving from power plants that were reliably at full power all the time to power that was unreliable, at variable power and only part time.

    Hence my former obsession with following Diesendorf etc, because coming out of the doomer peak oil movement, I was convinced that it was the only option we had, and sadly didn’t have the technical background to debunk the doomers and / or the renewables optimists. (And without wanting to get into an argument, the way technology is racing along who knows what kinds of cheap electrical storage might arrive down the track, but the point is we need sensible energy policies based on the technologies that are actually available now, not what *might* or *might not* arrive in 20 years time).

  414. Fran, the following observation of yours is so true, and something Dr Herman Scheer of Germany has promoted.
    Conversely, the most ardent opponents of fossil fuels see fossil fuels as simply another iteration of “big energy” in particular and big business in general, neither of which they are very keen on. Small and local is beautiful and authentic. Even the Tea Party rightists believe that. So they counterpose RE, which seems to fit the bill of local and authentic better than nuclear or coal. So for them, it’s a cultural thing.

    An SBS special I saw starred Herman Scheer and a small German village that ran on local farm biomass, microhydro, etc. “We are all energy barons!” Good for them… they have the biomass. 4 million Sydneysiders don’t have that access, so what do we rely on?

    So in some rare circumstances renewable energy might work. But it is scaling it up as the ‘general rule’ where it seems to fall down.

  415. What the?

    “Chemists with the U.S. military have developed a set of ultra-strength cleaners to be used in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. The formulas are reportedly tough enough to get rid of nerve gas, mustard gas, radioactive isotopes, and anthrax. But they are also non-toxic, based on ingredients found in foods, cosmetics, and other consumer products.”

    Anyone got any idea how this product of ‘green chemistry’ might work? If true, sounds pretty impressive. Does it somehow lock away isotopes for later sucking-up with a military strength street-sweeper?

    http://idle.slashdot.org/story/10/06/03/0256204/Military-Develops-Green-Cleaners-For-Terrorist-Attack-Sites

  416. Peroxides, on which these cleaners are based are very powerful reagents that can break down just about any large molecule. Ultimately what this does is destroy the interface between the contaminant and the parent material, making it easier to wash or vacuum away. However they do not sequester what they break down.

    The other thing is that unlike other chemicals that will do the same thing, peroxides break down to harmless components in a very short time frame, thus they don’t become contaminants themselves.

  417. A question to our structural engineers reading this:

    Over at another site, I was discussing the feasibility of an elevated cycle way to allow bikes to commute to and from the city (over main connecting roads and railway lines)

    BilB, whose campaign against nuclear power involves trying to refute everything else I say made the following claim:

    Even light weights accumulate to heavy loads. This is the fallacy with Fran’s “light weight cycle way”. For that structure which she imagineered to be 30 metres wide, pedestrian design loadings are 200 Kg per square metre. So when that is accumulated it becomes 200 times 30 times the span (say 50 metres) times the dynamic loading allowance (times 3) times the safety factor (usually 2). Which means that each span of Fran’s “light weight” cycleway would have been required to carry 1,800 tonnes, not a light weight structure at all.

    For the record, I would like to know if the idea is remotely feasible in engineering and cost terms, but are Bilb's inferences pertinent and accurate?

    Would they make the cost implications of such a project much larger than a state might conceivable allocate?

  418. I see from the linked articles in the sidebar Aussies can give themselves a pat on the back;
    -we are the developed world’s highest per capita emitter
    - we are the world’s biggest coal exporter
    - our emissions look to increase.

    I’d add that both our domestic and our pimped coal export emissions look to increase. Still AGW deniers don’t see it. Tasmania for example just had the warmest autumn in 142 years of record keeping. Onyer Aussies for recognising a problem and taking the necessary steps.

  419. … I was discussing the feasibility of an elevated cycle way to allow bikes to commute …

    … 30 metres wide, pedestrian design loadings are 200 Kg per square metre …

    I’m not any kind of engineer, but to me it seems an elevated bike-way need not be anything like 30 metres wide. If the multi-lane traffic artery along whose side it is built is that wide, 6 m should be plenty for the cyclists. They don’t need so much braking distance, and regardless of people’s expressed wishes and intentions, there just aren’t that many of them, even on the nicest days.

    200 kg/m^2 is familiar to me as the “live load” capacity requirement for high-rise buildings (actually 40 pounds per square foot, which works out to 195.3 kg/m^2, the weight of a 20-cm-deep layer of water). Live loads are ones that are not permanent parts of the building. So a high-rise apartment whose floor is eight metres by five is not required to hold more than 7,812 kg of the tenant’s stuff. A six-metre-wide elevated bikeway would need to be able to support 1200 kg per metre. Not of bikes and riders, of course, but of massed throngs of people on foot, when for whatever reason they decide to throng up there in mass.

    There would have to be limited egress, so that people couldn’t throw heavy objects, or themselves, over the sides. Some of the cyclists would have to be cops.

    That would be one of the costs. Another would be the lost motor fuel tax revenue from people whom the bikeways enable to get into and out of town without burning highly taxed motor fuel. If these bike-ways ever come into being anywhere, it will be some place like Venezuela, assuming it is true, as I’ve heard, that gasoline for commuters there is a cost to government rather than, as in just about every other place, a powerfully cherished special revenue generator for it.

    I’ve seen elevated pedestrian bridges over main roads, and what Fran wants amounts to turning these 90° and stringing them together.

    A proof by existence that elevated transport ways are possible, and will be built if the transport they do is sufficiently valuable: electric power lines. They support steel-cored aluminum wires, I don’t know how many kg/m. Not as troublesome as people.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  420. One doesn’t have to use elevated roadways to accommodate bikes. Montreal has ~550km of dedicated bike paths, some which are build parallel to existing roads, many however follow independent routes, an there are some tunnels, and some dedicated ramps on the network as well.

    http://www.voyagezfute.ca/download/image/Montreal_Piste_cyclable_2008.jpg

    Also there is integration into the public transit system, and a network of rental bikes call Bixi, that operates a pick it up here, leave it there system all over the central area of the city.

    http://montreal.bixi.com/stations-full-screen

    The cycle paths are policed by a squad of young earnest cops mounted on bikes, and they even set speed traps and hand out tickets, particularly on the paths off Mount Royal where a rider can build up a lot of speed going down hill, and they can also nail you for not having the proper reflectors on your machine.

    http://theseniortimes.com/article/uploaded_images/Patrols-738217.jpg

    There is even a limited amount of these routes kept open through the winter, known as le Reseau Blanc

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_v0srwAUvkpo/R6uvBymbvHI/AAAAAAAAApQ/Mrs-pKcZvIU/s1600-h/reseau-blanc.gif

  421. I have a card for Finrod. I’ll post it tomorrow morning, which means it should reach him tuesday.

    The front reads “If I were a scientist working in a big lab, I’d shout “Eureka!” every so often just to boost morale.”, with a suitable sciency graphic. I hope its not too flippant but all the other get well cards were so wet, and this at least has a thematic reference to this community.

    I have printed and cut out all the individual comments and pasted them (with glue) randomly within. I have written: “Dear Finrod, The Internet misses you and hopes for your speedy and complete recovery. We were all shocked & saddened by the terrble news & we grieve for your loss. We await your return to full health and wit, we hope this boosts your morale. Your friends at Brave New Climate”.

  422. Anyone know whether or not Plasma arc garbage recycling can separate out phosphorus economically? My concern is peak phosphorus and sewerage recycling for the NPK, not just the water.

    Also, does the slag generate all products at once (gravel, rock wool, recycled metal bits) or does the slag have to be configured to capture just one product at a time?

    I love the Bless chapter on plasma recycling of our garbage, but think the world is big enough for both plasma municipal waste recycling AND glass & paper recycling and biomass bins destined for biochar burners. (Which might not be as efficient at generating as much syngas, but still generate *some* syngas and *lots* of biochar for the soil by being a little bit inefficient at both).

  423. eclipsenow I think the currently favoured method for phosphorus recovery is via struvite in low temperature aqueous solutions. Thermochemical methods like plasma seem like a long shot at this stage. I think when the we hit the phosphorus panic button serious farmers will move towards semi-organic methods that stretch store bought phosphate a lot further.

    Wood ash I believe is mainly lime, powdered charcoal and refractory components like silica. There is magnesia and a smidgin of potassium oxide but inadequate phosphorus. Calcined garbage is worse than wood ash since it contains metals and plastics residues. The trouble will be how to get enough manure and compost out to the middle of the WA wheat belt the same time diesel becomes unaffordable.

  424. I just saw the following on the Nucleus92 facebook page – I don’t know the author, but thought I’d reprint it here:

    Just spoke to Craig. He is sounding good but still has a problem with his lung (pulminary embolism) and his liver is playing up a bit. He is being treated for both conditions and the prognosis is good. He may be transferred to Canberra Hospital in the near future which is another good sign. He wants to thank everyone for their well wishes and is going to try and be up and around as soon as he can.

    Good news.

  425. Thanks for all the supportive messages, folks. It will be a while before I can get back up to speed on things, but my support for our great cause is undiminished. Special thanks to John Morgan for organizing the card, which I received yesterday.

  426. I have also been away for a couple of weeks on a personal matter so I had no idea Finrod was even unwell.

    Glad to hear that you are on the mend, Finrod and my condolences also for your loss.

  427. When the PM visited Mackay Qld yesterday he was shown some of the 71 ships waiting to load coal. Now it seems taxpayers are to build extra loading facilities. I wonder if a little voice in his head said ‘Kyoto Protocol’. This is the same PM who made grand speeches at the Bali and Copenhagen climate conferences about cutting global emissions. It seems some countries at those conferences must have fibbed about carbon cuts as they would now be importing less coal. Australia panders to their carbon habit by giving them all they want, the same time making no serious effort at carbon cuts at home.

    This is extraordinary hypocrisy. What makes it worse is that the government massively subsidises coal railways and ports and evidently will continue to do so. If you read the local press the coal companies sound more like Mafia thugs
    - build us new ports or else
    - kill the mining tax or else.
    At least we know who is running the country.

  428. Hi all,
    I shudder to ask this, but… do you really think democracy is cut out for dealing with peak oil and global warming? There seem to be just so many meaningless talkfests while the world burns.

    Surely there’s got to be a better way where scientifically informed policy can be developed in coalition with ‘the people’, somehow, so that arrogant tyrants aren’t born but sensible solutions are found?

  429. Dear Barry,

    I struggle to remember how to do formatting, searching etc, on this web site. Would you be able to add an “Formatting Guidance” item so users can refwer to it to see how to format, search etc.

    Two examples come to mind.

    1. How do I bury a URL under a word such as “here”?

    2. How do I search for a post? I understand we can use the Google search function somehow, but how do we do that?

  430. Preview button is not possible unless I switched to a new custom version of WordPress, which I don’t plan do do any time soon for a whole slew of reasons. As such, I’m stuck with working within the limits of the current WordPress templates.

  431. Just reading about Chernobyl…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster#Chernobyl_after_the_disaster

    ” There is a 17-mile (sic) Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl where officially nobody is allowed to live, but people do. These “resettlers” are elderly people who lived in the region prior to the disaster. Today there are approximately 10,000 people between the ages of 60 and 90 living within the Zone around Chernobyl. Younger families are allowed to visit, but only for brief periods of time.

    Eventually the land could be utilized for some sort of industrial purpose that would involve concrete sites. But estimates range from 60 – 200 years before this would be allowed. Farming or any other type of agricultural industry would be dangerous and completely inappropriate for at least 200 years. It will be at least two centuries before there is any chance the situation can change within the 1.5-mile Exclusion Zone. As for the #4 reactor where the meltdown occurred, we estimate it will be 20,000 years before the real estate will be fully safe.[93]“

    I know there’s no rush to reform this land, and we could allow it to just sit as a park forever if we wished. But hypothetically imagine economic and people pressures around this site did require urgent large scale mega-engineering to reform and reclaim it. Imagine some enormously profitable WORLD government of the future creates a constitutional guarantee and social contract with the people to move in and just fix it if future reactors ever melted down for whatever reason (hit by terrorists / earthquakes / UFO’s / whatever).

    Would they use robotic bulldozers to scoop up the top 4 inches of topsoil of the surrounding 15 miles to bury the central reactor (in an artificial mound that would probably dwarf the pyramids), and then use in situ plasma burners to vitrify the whole plant into safely contained synroc? Would burying it first help contain potential air-born particles spreading? Or would they demolish the remaining plant and just feed it, bit by bit with other biomass & rubble & demolished homes & trees into a plasma burner to vitrify it, and then bury the lot?

  432. The laughable part is that the region in question was already an industrial cesspit before the accident. The soil was already highly contaminated with heavy metals and other detritus of clasic Soviet indifference to environmental concerns.

    The area really doesn’t need remediation in any real sense of the term for the radioisotope contamination, as the older stuff swamps it out in terms of total burden.

  433. Interesting, I didn’t know that DV8.

    So any hints on remediation for either / or heavy metals or radioactivity? Is plasma burning it all just too expensive and not going to happen?

    I ask this as a concerned citizen and parent who spent 7 months by the bed of my boy in chemotherapy treatment. I’d like to think there were ways of actually removing heavy metals and radioactivity from the environment. We’re learning more and more about the worldwide nature of ecosystem food chains, and the potential for this stuff to spread (especially the heavy metals, toxins etc accumulating up through the food chain) so is my suggestion of plasma burning it up just too expensive?

  434. Remediation of any contaminated area is something that has to designed for each instance. There is no magic wand especially not plasma incineration, although it is one of many technologies that would be considered. The big push anyway, should be to intercept and sequester this stuff at the source, and to a great extent this is being done.

    The thing is that thing like heavy metals do get naturally removed from the environment by accumulating up through the food chain, and by fining its way to the sea, hard on individuals perhaps but nature is indifferent. Thus this type of pollution doesn’t really spread such that those outside the immediate effected area will be exposed.

  435. Good point on heavy metals eventually being dispersed.

    But back to Chernobyl…

    Check out this absolutely amazing shot of the reactor core.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pictureofchernobyllavaflow.jpg

    Surely, if I understand what I’m looking at, that’s a big chunk of potential fuel for an IFR? (If one can separate out the steel / other junk). Doesn’t that make economic sense to at least go in and clean up the core… or has that already been done? Or is it just too hard and too expensive to even think of trying to send robots in there to cut it all up and drag it out in chunks that might possibly be reprocessed? Or is it just no good for reprocessing anyway?

    Just trying to understand the basics.

  436. Let’s hope they don’t use the same crew that did the Maralinga site rehabilitation. At one point they wanted to vitrify the soil at some hotspots using machines that transmitted high amp currents. After zapping a few areas there was a loud bang and the machines stopped working. It was claimed that a buried stick of dynamite had been detonated by mistake. After that they bulldozed radioactive soil into pits.

    I think in the public’s mind Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Bikini Atoll, Maralinga and so forth are all key parts of the nuclear industry which will keep coming back.

  437. Read this and then shake your heads, folks:
    http://www.zcb2030.org/index.php/power-up

    Why no nuclear?

    It is accepted that nuclear electricity is a low-carbon and well understood energy source. In the zerocarbonbritain2030 strategy, existing plants will continue to generate until the end of their designed operational lives. It has nevertheless been decided to exclude new nuclear capacity from the scenario.
    Nuclear power poses a significant risk to human and environmental health. The problems of long-lived high-level waste remain unresolved and there is a risk, albeit low, of extremely serious accidents. Water-consumption is also high per unit of output.
    It is also important to consider the international dimension. If the UK and other “developed” nations make new nuclear power a core component of their electricity supply, other countries with rapidly developing economies will want to follow suit. There are doubts about the continued availability of uranium given a world-wide nuclear renaissance. But more significantly, this raises concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation and an increased risk of and vulnerability to very serious forms of terrorism.

  438. I’ve said it before: The greens have a religion. Their religion tells them that only renewable energy is “good” and all other energy is “bad.” Their definitions of good and bad are in their minds.

    It’s not the case anymore that the truth was hard to come by about these ‘problems’ with nuclear, as it was even up to five years ago. Since then it takes a stubborn refusal to examine available facts, to continue to hold the opinions stated in the quote above.

    Each and every one of these points has been refuted with ‘compass and straightedge’ logic, and backed up by reference to irrefutable data. Why this obstreperous insistence on repeating these long dismissed myths is beyond comprehension.

  439. … that’s a big chunk of potential fuel for an IFR? (If one can separate out the steel / other junk). Doesn’t that make economic sense to at least go in and clean up the core… or has that already been done?

    No, it has all just been covered with a big concrete cover, the “sarcophagus” I think they call it. Sometimes they try to get international funding by saying the sarcophagus is about to fail, but the total radioactivity under it, and dispersed over nearby lands, has diminished 2000-fold since the day of the accident, and at that time a very hot carbon fire was broadcasting everything. What didn’t get dispersed then is very hard to disperse. So their pleas are deceptive.

    I suppose someday the lava could be specially reprocessed, but as you say, it’s not like any other spent fuel anywhere, and there’s a great deal of that awaiting reprocessing.

    (Rule of thumb: where energy in new nuclear fuel costs about the same as energy in one-dollar-a-barrel oil, energy in nuclear fuel won by reprocessing is about as costly as ten-dollar-a-barrel oil. Reprocessing is absolutely cheap but relatively costly. Developing the IFR could make it cheaper.)

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  440. SCIAM is at it again.

    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE
    Local Power: Tapping Distributed Energy in 21st-Century Cities
    Local energy sources coupled with widespread, inexpensive gadgetry will soon enable cities to become smarter, more sustainable and more self-reliant
    http://tinyurl.com/2cqcaac

    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE
    A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables (Preview)
    Wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels. Here’s how
    http://tinyurl.com/2cjvped

    Anyone recommend some shortish ‘cut and paste’ soundbytes?

  441. Kaj Luukko, David B. Benson, The leak happened, it was so small that the reactor wasn’t stopped and it was quickly dealt with. No radioactive material escaped the reactor chamber. The public was never in danger.

    However the law demands that a report be filed with the regulator, and this is what the press picked up and ran with.

  442. Society needs to debate risk. The risks of not adopting IFR’s fast and furious far outweighs the risk of a full-scale meltdown (due to some improbable “Black Swan” terrorist event). Sure there are risks, but as Barry pointed out in his longer “Australia Talks” debate with Ian Lowe, more people die falling off wind turbines than have ever been killed by nuclear power.

    And if the worst comes to the worst, and a reactor actually blows out, the world gets a new nature reserve.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster#Controversy_over_.22Wildlife_Haven.22_claim

    I’ve been blogging about biodiversity extinctions, and it seems that as we systematically pave over and plough up nature, spread pests, pollute, prey on predators and overpopulate this planet, natural ecosystems are going down. It’s estimated we’ll lose half the biodiversity on the planet by 2050.

    A few extra *enforced* nature reserves might not go astray! ;-)

  443. “The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide”
    Eclipse Now-
    I would have thought this was a good enough “sound-bite” straight from the Sci Ame article.

  444. Anyone got any serious global cost estimates handy for replacing today’s fossil fuel generation with Gen4′s? Cost and number of plants? A short “compare and contrast” might be handy.

  445. I have a question for the community regarding solar-thermal plants with molten-salt thermal energy storage.

    What will actually happen if a tank containing hot, molten KNO3/NaNO3 ruptures and spills into the surrounding environment? I haven’t seen this empirically tested, but I suspect that those oxidizing nitrate salts, in molten form at very high temperatures, would probably cause hypergolic ignition when they come into contact with organic materials such as wood, grass or other combustible materials.

    How big a risk is this?

  446. @Kaj Luukko:

    From the very poor technical information given in the WSJ article, it sounds like this is just a pinhole break in the zircaloy cladding of a fuel rod… which is not a big deal at all. It means that a small amount of volatile or soluble fission products could escape the surface of the fuel and enter the primary cooling circuit.

    This is certainly not unheard of in LWRs, and it is of no real consequence.

  447. Luke, absolutely that is what would happen. The materials are not in themselves toxic, no more than table salt really, so the local effects would be very limited. I can say from direct personal experience that dropping wood into molten KNO3 produces a very spectacular, violent, colourful hypergolic ignition, all purple glow and orange flares, and some toxic, corrosive brown nitric smoke. You do not want to be near it at scale. Anything organic is vaporized.

    However, its very localized and transient, so unless anyone or anything were in the direct spill path, I don’t really see it as much of an issue. Damage, with a local, non toxic cleanup.

  448. Heads up – Beyond Zero Emissions releases their Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan today. The Herald reports

    * an annual cost of $37b per year (but don’t say for how long – out to 2020?)
    * including $92b for grid upgrades
    * to their credit they avoid non commercial technology, so no geothermal or wave
    * 100% renewable power
    * 2020 demand projected to be 325 TWhr/yr (37 GW av)
    * 60% from solar thermal at 12 sites
    * 40% from wind – 8000 x 6 MW turbines at 23 sites (48 GW nameplate)
    * backup from hydro and biomass
    * energy efficiency savings of 50% (!)
    * no mention in the article of storage.

    By my calculation that assumes 31% capacity factor for the wind, and 1.85 GW solar thermal plants.

  449. Hmmm, that BZE plan really sounds like so much dreaming on that one point! Don’t get me wrong: I still listen to their podcast, but given a 50% reduction is just assumed… and their whole plan pivots on that… ouch.

    Back to Plasma garbage recycling, how much of our petrochemical feedstock would it supply? It seems to me that in a world of constrained liquid fuel supplies, especially for applications like mining and agriculture that are harder to adapt to the abundant clean electricity from Gen4 nuclear power, we should maximise the syngas pumping out of plasma burners for those industries that most need liquid fuels and petro-chemical feedstocks, NOT burn it for electricity (when we have nukes for that. Although if a steam turbine can be run on the high temperature syngas as it escapes the burner then fine, that’s not actually consuming the product).

    I’m also wondering how much we could save on mining metals by using the slag? If we actually can replace car panels with spun rock wool then that’s an amazing new resource. What else can we make out of rock-wool… housing? Bricks? Surf-boards? Hi-tech materials like wings on airlines? Can rock-wool do anything that fibreglass could do, or only some things?