Take real action on climate change – Part 2 – the FAQ

This post follows on directly from part 1, which you can read here. Here, a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on climate change and nuclear energy are answered. These are quite deliberately not technical – you won’t find explanations of adiabatic lapse rates, actinide isotopes or Brayton cycle efficiency here! Nope… these are ‘big picture’ questions. I hope you find them stimulating, easy to understand, and appropriate to their target audience – the average ‘Joe’ and ‘Josephine’. Once again, this material was authored primarily by Marion Brook, in collaboration with various other BNC commenters. Thanks to you all for your efforts in developing this everyman’s guide.

We hope to add to this list, and refine the answers (these are very much first drafts, and some certainly need a little filling out). Eventually, I hope that this becomes a static top banner page on BNC, and, I hope, a pamphlet for you to distribute among friends and colleagues. So, feedback is very welcome – let’s work together on this.

Q1. How urgent is it to address climate change?

Q2. Why do we need nuclear power? Won’t renewables provide our needs?

Q3. We need to act fast, aren’t renewables the fastest response?

Q4. Aren’t renewables the most affordable option?

Q5. What about storing excess energy for later use?

Q6. Isn’t it more important for us to scale down our energy requirements through energy efficiency and conservation?

Q7. Aren’t renewables our safest option?

Q8. Does nuclear emit more CO2 than renewables

Q9. What about meltdowns? Is nuclear energy safe?

Q10. What about radiation?

Q11. What about the waste?

Q12. Wouldn’t a nuclear power staion be a terrorist target?

Q13. What about nuclear weapons proliferation?

Q14. Nuclear power is unnatural, isn’t it?

Q15. Is there enough uranium?

Q16. Is nuclear energy expensive?

Q17. Is nuclear energy fast enough?

Q18. Why isn’t every country following the French model if it’s the best?

Q19. Isn’t the nuclear lobby in bed with the coal lobby?

Q20. But… isn’t nuclear power evil?

FAQ

Q1. How urgent is it to address climate change?

Increasingly urgent. The longer we delay on the move away from fossil fuel energy sources, the more we will ‘lock in’ the build-up of long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

To have a 50:50 chance of avoiding 2°C or more global warming, carbon emissions must be slashed by around 80% by 2050 and essentially eliminated in the few decades after that. It will take time to make this massive, worldwide transition to new energy sources. We have no time to lose!

Q2.Why do we need nuclear power? Won’t renewables provide our needs?

No. Renewables are very expensive and cannot meet our needs all the time (see below).

Q3. We need to act fast, aren’t renewables the fastest response?

Unfortunately, non-hydro renewables are proving to be slow and ineffective.

For the last 20 odd years, Denmark has been aggressively pursuing wind power, yet it still still only supplies between 5% and 20% of their electricity needs. In twenty years the Danes have been unable to replace a single coal fired power station with renewables.

At 650 g CO2 per kilowatt hour, Denmark’s emissions are more than 7 times greater than nuclear-powered France. And remember, no country has done better with wind then Denmark.

Conversely, in just ten years, France almost completely replaced their old coal-fired power stations with 34 nuclear power plants. Nuclear power currently supplies 77% of electricity to the French grid. At just at just 90g CO2 per kilowatt hour of electricity, France now has the lowest emissions from electricity generation of any non-hydro/geothermal, developed nation in the OECD.

Ten years! Nuclear power is the fastest response we have.

For more details, read Danish fairy tales – what can we learn? (by Tom Blees)

Q4. Aren’t renewables the most affordable option?

No. Effectively replacing just one coal power station involves a massive overbuild at huge costs.

Australia’s largest wind farm is the 192 MWe Waubra plant at $450 million. To match the nameplate capacity of Hazelwood (1675 MWe) we need 8 of these wind farms (or solar equivalent) spread across state. That’s $3.6 billion. But because weather can vary across the state, this variability means wind and solar combined produce at best only about a quarter of their capacity. So we quadruple our first calculation and blanket the state in 24 Waubras at $14.4 billion. But, wind can also drop off over huge areas. To account for this we need to spread another 24 Waubras interstate. $28.8 billion and we’ve lost our energy independence right there. Theory is, when our wind and solar are out, NSW should be operating and vice versa. Assuming the whole of NSW is experiencing ideal conditions and doesn’t need the power themselves (big assumptions), they should sell it to us. Then there’s transmission lines, more $, and transmission loss, more MW… and so it goes on. Or, we could replace it with one nuclear power plant at a quarter or less of the cost. Old power station out, new power station in, MWe for MWe.

Replacing Hazelwood coal-fired power station – Critique of Environment Victoria report

The 100% renewable option is neither fast nor affordable.

[R]enewable sources tend to be alternative rather than additive. Therefore it is not a matter of having each renewable source carrying a fraction of the load all the time. If we build one unit of wind power and one unit of PV power we would not necessarily have two more units of renewable energy capacity; sometimes we would have no more, e.g., on calm nights. This means we might have to build two or even four separate systems (wind, PV, solar thermal and coal [or]nuclear) each capable of meeting much or all of the demand on its own, with the equivalent of one to three sitting idle much or all of the time.

Ted Trainer: Renewable energy cannot sustain an energy intensive society

A video on the high cost of Danish wind:

Does wind power reduce carbon emissions? (by Peter Lang)

Wind and carbon emissions – Peter Lang responds (by Peter Lang)

Solar power realities – supply-demand, storage and costs (by Peter Lang)

Solar realities and transmission costs – addendum (by Peter Lang)

Q5. What about storing excess energy for later use?

In a continent a dry as Australia our hydro capacity is extremely limited and could not by itself fulfill the storage requirements of a 100% renewable grid. Pumped hydro in Australia is also prohibitively expensive, geographically limited and, to pump water, requires the kind of guaranteed steady power supply variable wind/solar cannot supply. Pumped-hydro energy storage – cost estimates for a feasible system (by Peter Lang)

Concerning solar thermal:

Plant capable of delivering 1000 MW in winter would need 100+ million square metres of collection area. At the estimated SEGS cost of $800/m (Trainer 2008) the plant would cost $80 billion.

The climate data seems to show that despite their storage capacity solar thermal systems would suffer a significant intermittency problem and in winter would either need storage capacity for four or more cloudy day sequences once or twice each winter month, or would need back up from some other sources. This means they could not be expected to buffer the intermittency of other components in a fully renewable system.

Ted Trainer: Renewable energy cannot sustain an energy intensive society

Q6. Isn’t it more important for us to scale down our energy requirements through energy efficiency and conservation?

Population increase, a switch to electric vehicles, climate change adaptations (eg desalination) and the continuing electrification of the developing world will all conspire to make conservation little more than a smoke screen – empty action that allows even weak adherents to feel a dangerously misplaced confidence while the planet continues to die. They cannot be relied upon as anything more than peripheral emissions reduction strategies.

A great video on India’s growing demand

Put all energy cards on the table to fix climate change fully

Q7. Aren’t renewables our safest option?

Our foremost reason for pursuing renewable energy is to avoid dangerous climate change. Therefore the 100% renewable option can only be considered our safest option if it adequately addresses climate change. Unlike nuclear power, renewables have so far proven unable to prevent new fossil fuel stations being built, and unable to replace existing coal and gas . We are deeply concerned that placing our sole faith in technologies, yet to prove their efficacy in replacing fossil fuels, is a climate disaster waiting to happen. Effective action is our safest option.

Further reading:

Critique of ‘A path to sustainable energy by 2030′

Germany – crunched by the numbers (by Tom Blees)

Unnatural Gas (by Tom Blees)

Q8. Does nuclear emit more CO2 than renewables?

No.

When generating electricity, nuclear power emits no CO2.

When construction, mining and decommissioning of the various technologies are accounted for, nuclear emits far less CO2 than any other electricity generation technology, or mix of technologies, that can meet our demand for electricity.

If we ignore the emissions from the back-up generators, wind power emits roughly the same as nuclear generators. When we include them, wind power emits about the same as efficient gas generation.

TCASE 4: Energy system build rates and material inputs

Emission cuts realities for electricity generation – costs and CO2 emissions (by Peter Lang)

Q9. What about meltdowns? Is nuclear energy safe?

Yes. Nuclear is about the safest of all the electricity generation technologies.

Compare Chernobyl with Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania. Chernobyl didn’t have a containment dome, Three Mile Island did. Not a single person died or fell ill as a result of the Three Mile Island meltdown. Containment domes work.

Risk assessment studies show that nuclear power is the safest of all the electricity generation technologies. Nuclear is 10 to 100 times safer than coal electricity generation. Coal plant safety varies but nuclear power is at least 10 times safer than the safest coal power plant. This has been demonstrated by 55 years of nuclear electricity generation. Nuclear power is the only universally deployable, zero emissions technology that has proven able to replace a fossil fuel power station. This alone makes it a safer bet than intermittent renewables such as wind and solar.

Current generation III nuclear power stations are even safer than the already incredibly safe current designs. They have passive safety systems, controlled not by human operators but by the laws of physics, unless the laws of physics – which have been running the universe since the beginning of time – ‘decide’ to change, then these designs are fail safe. They cannot melt down. If something goes wrong and there is not a single human operator in the plant they simply shut themselves down. Not a single human operator need be present in the plant for this to occur.

Q10. What about radiation?

Radiation is all around us. People, animals, plants, water, rocks and the sun all emit radiation. The average radiation dose we receive each year is 360 millirems. But depending on where you live in the world, what your life style is like, what your favourite foods are etc you may be exposed to a natural and completely harmless background radiation dose of anything from, about 200 millirems per year, to more than 5000 millirems/yr. For example:

Poland is low at – 240 millirem/yr

Grand Central station, NY – 540 millirem/yr (It’s built from granite.)

Kerala, India – 900 millirem/yr

Pripyat, Chernobyl (1992) – 2500 millirem/yr (non-natural levels)

Certain beaches in Brazil – 3000 millirem/yr.

Tamil Nadu, India at – 5,300 millirem/yr

A nuclear power station’s radiation is indistinguishable from natural background radiation levels. At about 0.005% of our average radiation dose it’s equivalent to the radiation dose we’d receive from eating one banana per year and around 100 times below that emitted by our current coal plants.

The developed nations with the highest reliance on nuclear power have life expectancy, under 5 year old mortality, and infant mortality rates equal to any other developed nation. There is little evidence to suggest nuclear power stations pose increased health risks. Numerous studies have been undertaken to determine the effects of living near nuclear power plants and the overriding evidence demonstrates no rise in cancer rates, or other problems, for communities who live close to nuclear power plants, compared to those who do not.

Ask yourself this: If we accept the science on climate change, why shouldn’t we accept the science on nuclear power? (See also Q12,17 & 18).

How dangerous is radiation?

Radiation – facts, fallacies and phobias

Q11. What about the waste?

Nuclear power produces a tiny amount of waste. To put the volume of waste into perspective, this is all that remains from a now decommissioned nuclear power station which generated power for 31 years.

This is a minuscule amount compared to the waste from fossil fuel power stations, which release the equivalent of 5000 Gulf of Mexico oil spills into the atmosphere every single day.

All technologies create waste – even wind and solar require the disposal or recycling of long lived toxic waste such as cadmium and arsenic. Many of these waste products have no half life, they are toxic forever, yet, instead of concluding we must abandon renewable technologies, we find ways to manage their waste. We can, and do, use the same approach for nuclear waste. Indeed new Generation IV nuclear power plants (eg IFR) have solved the nuclear waste issue. In reality, nuclear waste is much better thought of as ‘once-used-nuclear-fuel’, of which only about 1% to 10% of the energy has been used. The brilliant thing about Generation IV nuclear power plants is that they use this ‘waste’ as fuel, using over 99% of the remaining energy. In fact, Generation IV nuclear power plants are the ONLY way we can get rid of the long-lived nuclear waste we have already generated, by burning it as fuel. If ones concern is nuclear waste, the solution is Gen IV nuclear power.

The final waste product from an IFR Gen IV nuclear power plant (ie: with once-used-fuel recycling) has a half-life of just 30 years. A half life is the amount of time it takes for radioactive isotopes to degrade into non-radioactive isotopes. A half life of 30 years for Gen IV waste means in 30 years it’s radiation levels will drop to 50% of original levels, in 60 years this 50% will have halved again, a drop to 25% of original levels, in 90 years only 12.5% of original levels will remain, and so on until, in about 300 years, this tiny amount of waste will be less radioactive than the granite walls of Grand Central Station in New York City.

Lastly — and this is ironic — we are currently living with 5-50% more nuclear waste being pumped into our atmosphere every year in the fly ash from our coal stations than an IFR would produce capture and store away over the same time frame. By going nuclear we would in fact be reducing our nuclear waste.

Q12.Wouldn’t a nuclear power station be a terrorist target?

No…

…not if they actually wanted to do some damage.

Q13. What about nuclear weapons proliferation?

Nuclear power is not a precursor to nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons were developed before nuclear power, evidently nations do not need nuclear power in order to develop nuclear weapons.

None of the weapons that currently exist will disappear with a dismantling of our nuclear power fleet.

There are many nations (Japan, for example) who have nuclear power, yet do not have nuclear weapons.

Nuclear power can replace coal in all nations who currently have nuclear reactors, nuclear power or nuclear weapons without increasing any imagined proliferation risk, and that would take care of more than 90% of our stationary energy emissions worldwide.

Banning nuclear power because of nuclear weapons proliferation concerns is akin to banning medical research because of biological weapons proliferation concerns. In other words, absurd! The connections are too tenuous and the positives too great.

Q14. Nuclear power is unnatural, isn’t it?

No, it isn’t. Atoms don’t have prejudices, and energy is not selfish. The universe is naturally awash with radiation, and nuclear fission is not black magic. Nuclear reactors have even occurred naturally in Earth’s history. Ever heard of the Oklo reactor? Look back over a billion years, and find out more

Q15. Is there enough uranium?

Yes. There is enough uranium to provide all the world’s energy indefinitely.

Australia holds a quarter of the world’s known reserves, if any nation can rely on nuclear power, we can.

Using advanced reactor technology an individuals entire energy need for a whole year (electricity, synthetic jet fuel, electric vehicles etc.) can be supplied from the uranium and thorium that could be extracted from half a cubic metre of ordinary dirt. Over an individuals entire lifetime the amount of extracted nuclear fuel involved would be no bigger than a golf ball. Indeed, we’ve already mined enough uranium to power the whole world using next-generation nuclear power for 700 years!

Q16. Is nuclear energy expensive?

It’s much cheaper than 100% renewable energy — basically wind and solar and the little hydro we can muster.

Once up and running, nuclear power produces some of the cheapest electricity in the world.

It can be made more expensive (but still cheaper than 100% renewables) wherever there is an unsupportive public. Public demonstrations, legal stalling, superfluous or conflicting regulation changes mid-build, all cause delays and cost overruns. The simple answer is to:

1. Support nuclear power as our surest carbon mitigation strategy.

2. Get the appropriate regulations in place before building begins and stick by them.

Nuclear power can be the least cost electricity where there is a ‘level playing field’ for all types of electricity generation.

Recent nuclear power cost estimates – separating fact from myth

Emission cuts realities for electricity generation – costs and CO2 emissions (by Peter Lang)

The 21st century nuclear renaissance is starting – good news for the climate

Q17. Is nuclear energy fast enough?

It’s the fastest option we have. With a supportive population, and a little inspiration from France, we could replace our coal base load with nuclear power in 15 years. At its peak, France was building 3,500 MWe of nuclear power, or around four to six nuclear power stations, per year. Despite valient attempts in countries like Germany and Denmark, no nation has ever come close to installing this much wind or solar in such a short time frame.

Q18. Isn’t the nuclear lobby in bed with the coal lobby?

No. Because they know nuclear power is the only zero emissions electricity generation system capable of displacing coal, the coal lobby is fighting hard to keep nuclear power out of Australia. This is a real advertisement produced by the coal industry in Australia.

Q19. Why isn’t every country following the French model if it’s the best?

In the developed world? Because they are needlessly afraid of modern nuclear power for any number of obsolete or unsubstantiated reasons. (see Q20) Still, 19 of the world’s top 20 economies either use nuclear power, or are building it for the first time. The only one missing from that list is… Australia.

The developing world is attempting to lift itself out of poverty and inequality — aiming to enjoy the standard of living of those in the West. Their priorities are development first, climate change second. They will build what’s cheapest. At the moment that’s coal, but they are successfully reducing the up front cost of nuclear power and as they do so nuclear builds are expanding. At the moment nuclear power is expensive to build (compared to coal), but cheap to run. Hence their perseverance on reducing capital costs.

Q20. But… isn’t nuclear power evil?

For many greens, opposition to nuclear power is automatic. Nuclear power stands for war, sickness, invisible radiation, toxic waste, an apocalyptic symbol of technology gone awry.

The idea of nuclear energy as a kind of modern day evil is an indulgence we can no longer afford. It is not some mysterious malignancy. It is a mature, safe, unremarkable technology that provides carbon free electricity for many communities. The real consequences of climate change beginning around us are set to become far worse than the imagined perils of nuclear power.

It is time to set aside the mythology and theatre of anti nuclear sentiment. Nuclear power is still a core environmental issue today, but this time around, we support it as strongly as it was once opposed.

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282 Comments

  1. Is there anywhere you could get across the “hold a golfball of uranium in your hand and that is your lifetime energy use” message? Maybe in Q15 Is there enough uranium?
    That really impressed me when I first heard it on BNC.

  2. Some people who are concerned about nuclear weapons proliferation point to reprocessing as a practice that will increase risk because the increasing accumulation of plutonium in civilian stockpiles will increase the risk of Pu getting into the wrong hands.

    Someone who has written about this concern who has climate change near the forefront of his thinking is Dr. Alex Glaser. He appeared at a forum at Dartmouth recently, and has written a paper with Dr. Robert Socolow entitled “Balancing risks: nuclear energy & climate change”. One quote: “Nuclear war is a terrible trade for slowing the pace of climate change”.

    Dr. Ernie Moniz also appeared at that Dartmouth forum, as did anti nuclear pro climate action blogger Joe Romm. Moniz made the point that it is still an open question if new nuclear plants can be built in the US on time and on budget, hence he advocates the main effort for the next decade or two in the US should be refining and building light water reactors while storing the “waste” in dry casks above ground , which keeps options for future generations open, while enabling more rapid nuclear expansion using well established technology.

    Incidentally, Moniz taught Romm when Romm was getting a degree at MIT. Romm gassed on at the forum insisting that baseload power was no longer necessary, nuclear power was so expensive it had become “priceless”, while pushing solar saying it doesn’t matter how expensive solar is, push it into the market and the “learning curve” will take place and cost reductions will come. Moniz told the crowd several times that what Romm was saying was not true, and as a last word quoted someone he felt Romm would respect, i.e. John Deutch. Moniz: “I will just ‘neutrally’ quote my colleague John Deutch, who says, “learning curves are the refuge of scoundrels”. Looking at Romm, Moniz then said “you can argue with John”. Romm: “I would never argue with John”.

  3. Very nice. A useful summary. The inclusion of more detailed versions of the answers is also appropriate. People can either trust you, based on your position, reputation, etc., or they have the option to dig deeper.

  4. “Banning nuclear weapons because of nuclear weapons proliferation concerns is akin to banning medical research because of biological weapons proliferation concerns. In other words, absurd! The connections are too tenuous and the positives too great.”

    You mean “banning nuclear power….”

    g

  5. Its way to optimistic to say we will have a 50/50 chance of of avoiding a 2 degree C rise in global temperatures by 2050.

    As CO2 rises past 400PPM by 2014- and we have no climate bill that sees emissions peak by 2020- it seems that a 3 or more degree C rise is now all but certain by 2075.

    The vested interests in both political parties, and a media that pooh poohs the increasingly extreme weather means that if we are truly lucky- or if the weather events become so extreme- the earliest we should begin to see a real reduction in carbon will be after 2030- way too late to prevent catastrophic changes.

  6. The vision in Q14 messes with my physics intuition about momentum
    and energy conservation … stunning … presumably there is more
    of the wall underground ? Great post.

    Q4 has an excess “are”.

  7. Pingback: Q&A on nuclear being developed for lay readers | Eclipse Now

  8. I agree entirely with what you have stated here as I have since I began following your blog.
    Mine wasn’t a hairshirt green knee jerk reaction and certainly not one calling out for scaling back or for renewables. I’m not selling permaculture kits from the back of a combi van, hypocritically, as some readers may have concluded.
    Peter Lang offered some good reading – cheers for that.
    My concern regarded our history regarded our historical relationship with cheap and abundant energy and the likelihood of where that practice will potentially take us on the next phase (ie. nuclear) as population growth seems to go on. I worry that we’ll continue to replace ecological functions simply because we have the energy to do so.
    It would be nice to think that with such a wealth of energy at out hands we could better manage sprawling tendencies (for instance) as part of better biodiversity conservation etc.

  9. “My concern regarded our history regarded our historical relationship with cheap and abundant energy and the likelihood of where that practice will potentially take us on the next phase (ie. nuclear) as population growth seems to go on. I worry that we’ll continue to replace ecological functions simply because we have the energy to do so.
    It would be nice to think that with such a wealth of energy at out hands we could better manage sprawling tendencies (for instance) as part of better biodiversity conservation etc.”

    I’m hopefull that increasing living standards worldwide will result in population stabilisation. I’d also like to think that massively increased energy supplies will enable us to more comfortably live together in super-cities and use vertical farming techniques to liberate huge land areas from agricultural needs and put it into parkland/managed wilderness instead.

  10. Cheap and abundant energy will make us richer. Environmental concern and environmental protection is greatest in nations that are rich so there is every reason to be optimistic about cheap abundant energy leading to better environmental outcomes. Wealthy nations also tend to have less violence and there is good evidence that wealth leads to and supports democratic institutions. Wealth also generally correlates with better health outcomes.

  11. My apologises also – there’s a lot of online discussion which tends to get overly heated. I guess you’ve grown wary of people who speak of efficiency (as being heavily into renewables) as I’ve grown towards business-as-usual types.
    TerjeP – I agree, my concern, as mentioned in an early post, is that developed countries like Aust, the US, EU etc, sprawl and increased personal car use etc have followed cheap and abundant fuel. I feel, by my use of efficiency, we need higher density, mixed use cities and key suburbs, infrastructure that supports this and increased public transport to increase the value of cities rather than the spread.

  12. Edits: Q3 suppl[y] ies;

    Q9: [controlled]

    Q11: change: CO2 emission mitigation strategy is more accurate than carbon mitigation strategy. You can’t mitigate an element. We do wish to mitigate additions to the atmospheric inventory of CO2 (and other GHGs)

    Q13: All the weapons that currently exist will not disappear with a dismantling of our nuclear power fleet.

    SUB: None of the weapons that currently exist … If we are arguing (correctly IMO) that there is simply no connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons development, then this must follow. One can argue that the dismantling of nuclpear power would raise the question of what to do with the remaining fuel rods.

    We might add that there is simply no basis for thinking that new nuclear power will underpin new nuclear weapons development as this has never been the sequence in the past — just the reverse. Abolishing nuclear weapons is a completely separate part of public policy.

    Q15: Better to cite Mackay’s estimate of 1000 years. People don’t care what will happen in 220 million years and it looks an extravagant claim. Modelling gets more and more rubbery the farther out you push it anyway and it’s simply too easy a cheap shot to make.

  13. Barry, Marion, Ms Perps and everyone else who contributed. I think this is excellent. There are a few thing’s I’d say a little differently and a few I’d leave out altogether to appeal to a larger audience. However, I understand that may not be what this group wants. I’ll go through it more carefully later.

  14. Fran, if you’d read the essay, you’d have understood the context of the statement, which is a comment on the magnitude of the physical resource. This estimate is based on accepted scientific values for the abundance of U and Th in the earth’s crust, and the known efficiency of breeder reactors. So your assertion that the claim can’t be proven is patent nonsense. Also, if you had bothered to refer to the source of the comment, you would see that I made a point of expressing various levels of energy use for future civilisations in terms of historical analogues, such as the time elapsed since Saxon England. The final reference to an extended geological timescale was to emphasise the magnitude of the resource in the familiar terms I’d been building during the essay, and shocking the reader into the realisation of it’s true extent.

  15. Finrod – the magnitude of the first 4km of the earths crust is also huge. However I don’t think it’s a persuasive example because it is easy to imagine all manner of technical difficulties in accessing that 4km. You may as well be selling geothermal on the basis that the middle of the earth is hot enough to drive a turbine until the sun explodes.

  16. Good list, and a good foundation. Again I will caution you not top over-explain things. FAQs need to be simple, as this one is, but over even a short time the temptation to “flesh it out” or “fine tune” the answers seems to come to everyone. Remember that you are trying to reach a general audience.

  17. Unbelievable. Australia is to export brown coal to Vietnam. Apparently when it is turned into sausages there is a third less CO2 on burning. Shut down Hazelwood flog the coal overseas instead.

    It seems Aussie never miss a trick to pimp carbon. In other ABC news coal seam gas from the Qld Surat Basin will be liquefied and exported. Trouble is I think those reserves will eventually have to boost the current gas sources used by SA and Vic. Apparently even Saudi Arabia is to import LNG before long. Let’s hope Australians can one day still afford gas.

  18. Congratulations Marion and Barry, and everyone else who chipped in. This is looking fantastic.

    “Is there anywhere you could get across the “hold a golfball of uranium in your hand and that is your lifetime energy use” message? Maybe in Q15 Is there enough uranium?
    That really impressed me when I first heard it on BNC.”

    I strongly agree with Ms Perps on this.

  19. I agree with Tom Keen and Ms.Perps on this too. I’d like to see a link to both the golf ball article and the more recent article showing how Gen III and Gen IV, acting together, will provide our energy needs for a very long.

  20. In 50 years we will be mining uranium in the asteroids if we are not flitting around in fusion powered spaceships. Who cares about the first 4 km of the earth’s crust.

  21. TerjeP

    “Environmental concern and environmental protection is greatest in nations that are rich”

    While somewhat true that we have a greater understanding of the importance of the environment in rich countries, the impacts on ecosystems in many rich countries are just as bad, or worse, regardless of our knowledge. E.g. Australia has the highest mammal extinction rate in the world, and one of the highest total extinction rates.

    China may be the destination for >50% of the world’s raw timber (much of which is illegal), but a hell of a lot of that ends up in rich countries like Australia. We are of equal responsibility for that impact.

    Anyway, off topic here, but I feel it’s necessary to emphasise that rich countries feature quite heavily (proportionally) amongst the world’s biggest environmental reprobates. http://conservationbytes.com/2010/05/05/environmental-reprobates/

  22. Oops… I was just blogging around and tidying up my site and noticed that nuclear waste is worth 30 trillion, not 70 trillion. Glad we’re so busy I didn’t get the lady to design the poster yet.

    IF we get time this weekend, I’m thinking of…

    Newsflash: Nuclear ‘waste’ now worth $30 trillion dollars!

    Generation IV reactors now eat nuclear ‘waste’. Rather than trying to store it for 100 thousand years, nuclear ‘waste’ is now an incredible resource worth about half the annual world economy. Nuclear waste could solve our energy and climate crisis for the next 500 years!*
    Nuclear waste: it’s not a problem, it’s the solution!

    (Images + design + stuff then)

    * According to climatologist Professor Barry Brook at his blog bravenewclimate.com

  23. Sorry Fran but I can confirm that the people I have used this one on over the last few days have also been impressed. I live in a retirement village of 260 people – a good size captive audience with a mix of educational backgrounds and varying political and environmental views. I have found that images like the dinosaur timeline and the “golfball” of uranium in the palm of your hand, providing your lifetime energy needs, really hit home as they can be easily remembered.
    I am the village librarian and have become increasingly encouraged by the number of people who have borrowed Barry’s book (and Gwyneth Craven’s “Power to save the World”) and been converted to the idea of nuclear power. I hope to have a pamphlet, petition and poster , from this exercise, to hand out to interested residents. I believe they will be inspired to visit BNC for more information.
    Thanks to all the BNCers who are assisting with editing, comments and suggestions etc.

  24. John Newlands,

    That truly is unbelievable. They may as well be saying “We’re reducing the CO2 output from this brown coal, to the point that it’s only a bit worse than black coal.” What a joke.

    Even more draconian is the fact that the company doing this is called Environmental Clean Technologies. I mean.. seriously?

    Environmentalism may as well be dead, as the word ‘environmental’ has no meaning to it anymore.

  25. I do like the golf ball reference and the reference to the market value of nuclear waste and the associated energy content of nuclear waste. All of these seem like good examples based around meaningful and easily comprehended and accepted notions.

  26. That’s most heartening Ms Perps. It really is good if the folks around your way are impressed, but as recvent events in this country show we must be rather sensitive to the way things play in the media when people pursue a cause.

    I prefer to keep claims modest and adequate to our purpose and not sound too credulous.

    FTR, I do like the golf ball reference, though a couple of gold coins might work as well. If you wanted to get really cute you could try with less mass than those magic beans that Jack swapped the fairy tale cow for, we could swap our fairy tale wind turbines and solar panels

    It’s a bit naughty because fuel and the infrastructure to harness its energy are different things, but recall, we are trying to concentrate people’s minds on just such a discussion.

  27. I also think we should deprecate the term nuclear waste, given that with GenIV, it is largely not waste. We should either adopt the term, nuclear hazmat which is more accurate, or perhaps in some contexts,surplus nuclear fuel

  28. Fran
    “I prefer to keep claims modest and adequate to our purpose and not sound too credulous”

    Modest ain’t working Fran! Why is it that you come across as so reasonable yet always appear to want to stall for this reason or the other. It makes me suspicious of your underlying motives.
    “with less mass than ….” – too hard to imagine – a golfball is easily envisaged.

    We have to call it “nuclear waste” because that is how the general public see it (these are the people we are trying to influence) and that is the question they want answered. “Hazmat” is a ridiculous term to use for the target audience and as for “surplus nuclear fuel” that implies it won’t be used and will be stored.

  29. I agree the golf ball is a nice easy familiar conceptual size to work with. I agree we should call it nuclear waste for the reasons Ms Perps offers. But I still find the 4km example harmful in a simple Q&A designed to win people over to thinking less cynically about nuclear power.

  30. Thanks everyone for debating these points. I’ve done some minor changes above to fix typos etc., but will let the content-related discussion run for a bit more before I edit any of the entries. Given the community nature of this effort, you may wish to consider proposing your new/revised text for a particular question (or a new question), provided the specimen text in your comment. So you could say:

    Proposed question:
    Qx. Wouldn’t a reliance on nuclear power cause me to leave a huge legacy of long-lived waste for future generations to deal with?

    Proposed answer:
    No. Imagine someone handed you a lump of silvery metal the size of a golf ball. This metal golf ball can provide all the energy you will ever use in your life. That includes running your lights, computer, air conditioner, TV, electric car, synthetic jet fuel. Everything. Using 1 kilogram of uranium (or thorium, take your pick). That is what modern nuclear power offers. An incredibly concentrated source of energy, producing a tiny amount of waste.

    In 300 years, this tiny amount of waste would be less radioactive than the granite walls of Grand Central Station in New York City.
    IFR FaD 4 – a lifetime of energy in the palm of your hand

    If you’re not adding a new Q&A, then simply use the same format but give your alternative/modified version instead. Suggestions done in this format would be really useful.

  31. Ms Perps said:

    Modest ain’t working Fran! Why is it that you come across as so reasonable yet always appear to want to stall for this reason or the other. It makes me suspicious of your underlying motives.

    The curious thing here is that in every place but here, people think that my “underlying motives” are to lead every discussion to the point where we must press forward with nuclear energy. Over at Quiggins, the anti-nukes think me a wily pro-nuclear zealot and possibly as being in the pay of the nuclear lobby. Here, on the other hand, you assert that I am wanting to “stall” with the implication that I am trolling against nuclear energy. I find that paradox interesting.

    What would be even more interesting is you finding me saying anything anywhere that implies a desire to set back by a single minute the arrival of the first Watt hour of electricity from nuclear in Australia. If you can’t find such a statement, you might like to consider withdrawing your imputation. I’m at least as keen as you are to clear away obstacles to nuclear power development.

    On the question of the term “nuclear waste” … You do understand that the term, though the dominant one — conjures up the very worst images in people’s minds. Waste is always bad — a problem to be solved. If it is radioactive waste — that is even worse. We almost never hear of coal combustion waste (and most don’t know that it too is radioactive) or CO2 emissions as waste.

    Calling nuclear waste anything else than nuclear wast would be an improvement. If people said: “don’t you really mean nuclear waste? that would be an excellent opening to an explanation of why we are calling it nuclear hazmat:

    We all know, that like coal, use of the fuel creates hazardous material. Luckily, per unit of energy, nuclear power generates a lot less hazardous material to look after, making it much more manageable than coal. Not only that, but this material can be used again to generate even more power, so it is not really waste at all. It is surplus nuclear fuel.

  32. Ms Perps said to Fran:

    Why is it that you come across as so reasonable yet always appear to want to stall for this reason or the other. It makes me suspicious of your underlying motives.

    I agree.

  33. Proposed Q. 12.

    “What about the waste?

    The waste issue has been solved. In reality, nuclear waste is much better thought of as ‘once-used-nuclear-fuel’, of which only about 1% to 10% of the energy has been used. The brilliant thing about Generation IV nuclear power plants is that they use this ‘waste’ as fuel, using over 99% of the remaining energy. In fact, Generation IV nuclear power plants are the ONLY way we can get rid of existing long-lived nuclear waste, by burning it as fuel.

    To put the volume of ‘once-used-nuclear-fuel’ into perspective, this is all that remains from a now decommissioned power station which generated power for 31 years.

    [~Picture~]

    This is a minuscule amount compared to the waste from fossil fuel power stations, which release the equivalent of 5000 Gulf of Mexico oil spills into the atmosphere every single day.

    The final waste product from a modern nuclear power plant has a half-life of 30 years and will degrade back down to natural background levels within 300 to 500 years.”

    NB The 5000 oil spills a day figure came from realclimate.org

  34. I wouldn’t call the waste issue solved and then point to Generation IV reactors. Perhaps state that Generation IV reactors are the best way to dispose of waste, and that deep borehole repositories (or whatever) as well as dry-casks can currently store waste safely and effectively.

  35. Eclipse Now suggested the following slogans.

    Nuclear ‘waste’ now worth $30 trillion dollars!

    Nuclear waste: it’s not a problem, it’s the solution!

    I thought that with a little more refinement they could be brillant as they give a completely different view of nuclear waste and may help change the established public view.

  36. Re: “nuclear waste”,

    I prefer the term “used nuclear fuel”. Its quite accurate, but is not loaded by a history of activism, nor does it carry the implication the material is refuse.

    But I would use the term “nuclear waste” in the question.

  37. Tom Bond

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Sorry eclipsenow, I only had a chance for a quick speed read of the comments earlier and I missed yours. I think the fact that we know how to recycle the waste from our current reactors and reduce the storage time to a few hundred years is a “must know” for the general public. It blows the old “…unsolved problem of radioactive waste.” line right out of the water.

    I’m really keen to see your poster.

  38. Peter Lang

    There are a few thing’s I’d say a little differently and a few I’d leave out altogether to appeal to a larger audience.

    While I’m not interested in preaching to the converted, I do hope to make this accessible to as broad an audience as possible. Could you expand a little on your comment above?

    BTW, thankyou for your already large contribution to the main post.

  39. Marion, I promised to formulate a response to the ‘evil’ question. Sorry for just getting around to it now. For your consideration:

    Q. Is nuclear power evil?

    A. For many greens, opposition to nuclear power is automatic. Nuclear power stands for war, sickness, invisible radiation, toxic waste, an apocalyptic symbol of technology gone awry.

    The idea of nuclear energy as a kind of modern day evil is an indulgence we can no longer afford. It is not some mysterious malignancy. It is a mature, safe, unremarkable technology that provides carbon free electricity for many communities. The real consequences of climate change beginning around us are set to become far worse than the imagined perils of nuclear power.

    It is time to set aside the mythology and theatre of anti nuclear sentiment. Nuclear power is still a core environmental issue today, but this time around, we support it as strongly as it was once opposed.

  40. Apropos nuclear waste, I believe that the term should remain in the question but could be redefined in the answer. Eclipse Now’s suggestion seems to me to be a good one.

    Marion, congratulations on an excellent presentation.

  41. Pingback: Is nuclear power evil? | Eclipse Now

  42. Thanks John, you’ve done it again. That will make a good, strong conclusion to the FAQ.

    It would be a pity to loose reference to the Oklo reactor. Perhaps it could could come under the question:

    Isn’t nuclear power unnatural?

    As much as I hate an appeal to nature – as though everything that’s natural is good – it is a common objection that’s most easily countered by the example of a naturally occurring reactor.

  43. Finrod – sorry for not reading your essay sooner. Your essay is very clear and well presented. Am I correct in the following interpretation of your data?

    Using fast breeder reactors 10 billion people can be given electricity at a developed nation standard for one year using the uranium and thorium found in 8.2 billion tonnes of rather ordinary dirt. This dirt typically weighs 2.7 tonnes per cubic metre. Doing the maths infers that under half a cubic metre of dirt can provide one persons electricity needs for an entire year. Have I interpreted and calculate this correctly?

  44. One other correction to be made…

    “10 billion people can be given electricity at a developed nation standard for one year using the uranium and thorium found in 8.2 billion tonnes of rather ordinary dirt.”

    It’s better than that. You can provide not just the current ration of electrical power, but also enough to cover the energy currently derived from non-electric sources, so you can cover the entire first-world energy usage.

  45. Peter, I think you have to understand that this FAQ is really designed for the layman, the apathetic masses, the ones that need to be convinced to make this happen. While I believe your logic is very sound in most of your posts, I think the answers to the FAQ need the appeal factor, even if they do sound ideological.

    I think given your knowledge and expertise can (and do) greatly contribute to these developments, but it needs to be more than just the scientific facts if you want to get across to an audience.

  46. On the question of radiation, waste and toxicity, there was a very powerful comparison I think TerjeP came up with, namely, that coal plants already emit as much uranium into the environment as a nuclear plant would consume in fuel. And its not in a controlled waste form, its just sitting out in the flyash and slag.

    Did I recall that correctly? Can it be sourced?

    I also agree the Oklo reactor should be mentioned, perhaps in its own short question as you write, Marion. I think the thing went critical about nine times.

    Thanks for putting up the ‘evil’ question on your blog, EN.

  47. Finrod – in that case we might say:-

    “Using advanced reactor technology an individuals entire energy need for a whole year (electricity, synthetic jet fuel etc) can be supplied from the uranium and thorium that could be extracted from one half of a cubic metre of ordinary dirt. Over an individuals entire lifetime the amount of extracted nuclear fuel involved would be no bigger than a golf ball”.

  48. I think wowee factoids are on the wrong track. Renewables enthusiasts keep telling us that wind and sunlight will power the world numerous times over. Now nuclear enthusiasts tell us that tiny piles of dirt will do the same. The public simply switches off. I think the core message must be that modern nuclear is a safe and reliable replacement for coal burning which is damaging the climate.

    Back to the unprecedented brown coal exports http://www.theage.com.au/national/greens-slam-gillard-on-brown-coal-export-deal-20100625-z9tf.html
    The Greens candidate is saying ‘shame shame shame’. The Federal Minister is saying ‘get the money get the money get the money’. Again the public is not helped. Alternative voices should be saying that with the help of nuclear power brown coal can not only be phased out in Australia but countries like Vietnam can avoid the brown coal path altogether.

  49. My birthday today. I’m 72. Five years ago I mentioned in my pro-nuclear speech which reached about 2000 people during the following couple of years, that” Our domestic [Australian] uranium reserves are equivalent in primary energy terms to ALL of the world’s economically recoverable fossil fuels. We are in an incredibly strong p[osition to influence significantly future world energy supply and use” That might be another way to say that uranium/thorium will be able to power the entire planet for a hell of a long time. Olympic Dam alone will power the planet for many thousands of years as Barry has indicated earlier.

  50. Happy birthday, Terry!

    John Newlands, I think we need to recognise that different people respond to different kinds of messages, so the correct strategy for reaching a broad audience is to use all techniques, not just focus on one.

  51. I’m putting this here because it is relevant to this topic. although not as much as it is elsewhere. However as you embark on your campaign you may find this comming up in the off-line world as well.

    A new type of anti-nuclear commenter is bringing to show up here on BNC and in other forums, or at least some anti-nuclear commenters have developed a new tactic. This can broadly be called: “I belive in nuclear but..” argument. These trills insinuate themselves in threads by making a few positive comments about nuclear energy, then rapidly segue into their real agenda, which is to push for a percentage of wind and/or solar.

    This tactic is part of a drive to keep wind and solar projects on the table and in front of the public. What they are attempting to do is show that they are the ones being reasonable and the nuclear crowd is not. They are playing to the lurkers and constructing threads that they can point to from elsewhere to show that we are the doctrinaire, unreasonable party in this debate.

    We have a couple here, and one has been partiulatly active in the Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum, and there have been others showing up on Rod’s pages and others.

    I believe we have to be aware of this, and be prepared to deal with them, perhaps a bit differently than we do, (I am more than aware of my own mishandling of them to date) and not give them the opposition that they need to carry out their objective.

  52. DV82XL, I’ve noticed the same thing. When I first started stating my support for Nuclear Power, many years ago, I got blasted from all pro-renewables people. They never talked Energy Mix in those days, it was all renewables, with a total phase-out of Nuclear. I used be the one promoting Energy Mix, Renewables plus Nuclear, and they were just furious that anybody would want to include some Nuclear with Renewables.

    The Tide has turned, and the Renewables Sponsers, chiefly Big Oi/NG, are realizing they need to appear more reasonable, so they now are more commonly promoting Energy Mix, Nuclear plus Renewables. However, they particularly seem to say GenIV Nuclear, and Thorium Nuclear, not GenIII Nuclear. So while many politicians are stating their approval of GenIV Nuclear, the Oil & Gas cronies in the United States Office of Management & Budget have banned funding either Small & Modular Nuclear Reactors or GenIV Fast Reactors.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2432805/posts

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-kirsch/chu-v-orszag-why-chu-is-r_b_432921.html

    The Fossil Fuel Lobbies basic strategy seems to be based on a belief that it will take so long to roll-out GenIV reactors, that it will be a long time before they make a dent in Fossil Fuel consumption. At the same time, in the political backrooms, they sabotage serious GenIV R&D.

  53. DV82XL, I’m of the opinion that if we can just once get a good head of steam with a pro-nuke publicity campaign, all opposition will be blasted away. Perhaps the most critical battle of all is the one happening now within pro-nuke circles to determine the nature of that campaign. Do not be suprised if the antis attempt to influence our decision making process now. For my money, I say we should be adamant and upright in our absolute support for the,complete nuclearisation of the global economy.

    At any rate, Asia will doubtless continue on the pro-nuke path, and eventually the US policy will seem like small potatoes in the greater scheme of things. Perhaps we need to start looking to the rising Powers for inspiration and support, rather than worry about what the oil and natgas lobbies are getting up to in the US.

  54. Guys, I’d like to ask some simple questions from a laymans perspective that I couldnt garner from your combined stories. Let me say firstly that I’m in no way anti nuclear, but am not entirely settled on present gen reactors. If you could bring in Gen 4 reactors tomorrow or fusion, then I’m your biggest fan. I like to address some of the points above as it just doesnt add up for me & no I dont vote or have anything to do with Greens.

    Ok, in both your stories I gather you are talking about base load energy generation? Because many countries are going nuts with installing solar panels on their residential roofs. Is that a bad thing?

    Q1: Agreed.
    Q2.Why do we need nuclear power? Won’t renewables provide our needs? No. Renewables are very expensive and cannot meet our needs all the time .

    Ok, so why are many countries continuing with it then? Sure larger countries have a long way to go with renewables & technology for solar & wind is still in its infancy. But smaller models like the Falkland islands have replaced 40% of their power with wind.

    http://www.falklands.gov.fk/Renewable_Energy.html

    What holds Nuclear back from automatically being the baseload option for any country? Is it pure politics & public perception?

    Q3. We need to act fast, aren’t renewables the fastest response?

    Again, why isnt every country following the French model if its the best? Clearly China dont have any political resistance to building Nuclear reactors, but have chosen not to go entirely nuclear, why is that?

    Q4. Aren’t renewables the most affordable option?

    Why arent countries that dont have huge coal reserves like Australia choosing nuclear as the first option? Isnt natural gas (Im not in favor of nat gas, just playing devils advocate) one of the least Co2 intensive energy sources, its cheap & theres oodles of it?

    On CEPOS: Dont all Conservative think tanks by default oppose AGW & by association renewables?

    If the Danish model is not working, does this mean they are scrapping the project? If not why not?

    Other countries are experiencing negative electricity prices due to wind power:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-22/windmill-boom-curbs-electric-power-prices.html

    Q5. What about storing excess energy for later use?

    I havent read anough of this in my browsings to comment in full, but havent heard of anyone giving up on the concept either, as there are many possibilities aren’t there for energy storage besides pumped hydro?

    Q6. Isn’t it more important for us to scale down our energy requirements through energy efficiency and conservation?

    Agreed.

    Q7. Aren’t renewables our safest option?

    I think in most peoples minds, they think of Q’s 9,10,12 & 14. Not what renewables can or cant achieve. The following sentence sounds more like a threat that I would read on a conspiracy or climate change skeptic site:

    ” Most of what you cherish risks being swept away”.

    Again, why arent other countries of that opinion?

    Q8. Is nuclear energy fast enough?

    Agreed.

    Q10. What about radiation?

    Your answer seems to evade the question in most peoples mind. I dont think people are concerned about how much the power stations themselves emit. I think anyone would agree they are at safe levels. Its the threat of the radiation from explosion & or waste that sticks in peoples minds & is a powerfull deterent.

    Q11. Is nuclear energy expensive?

    At present, I agree. But with the same amount of time & money that nuclear has had for R&D, wouldnt solar & wind be in the same position now? Wont solar cells only get better & energy storage technology get better?

    Q12. What about the waste?

    This is one of the big ones for public perception. No one wants it in their backyard . I’m cool with Gen IV , but still “degrade back down to natural background levels within 300 to 500 years”? The past 200 years have procuded many wars & changed the face of the globe. Our country wasnt even settled until 200 years ago. How do we know what the political landscape will look like in 300-500 years ?

    Q13. What about nuclear weapons proliferation?

    Agree mostly.

    Q14.Wouldn’t a nuclear power station be a terrorist target?

    Recently in the Russian/Chechen war, hackers shut down much of the Checen power & infrastructure. Is it possible that hackers could hack into a nuclear reactor & cause an explosion?

    Q15. Is there enough uranium?

    Agreed.

    Q16. Does nuclear emit more CO2 than renewables?

    Ok, Ive always known that once built, nuclear was on par with renewables Co2 emissions, but I thought the building process consumed far more?

    Q17. Isn’t the nuclear lobby in bed with the coal lobby?

    Always knew they were competitors, the same as solar enthusiasts wouldn’t advocate me to favour wind over solar.

    Q18. But isn’t nuclear power evil?

    You’ve actually been asked that before? Thats quite amusing.

    Thanks for you time & please be nice.

    :)

  55. Finrod, I’m not surprised you made the same observation about this trend as I did. What I wanted to do is alert everyone to this type of insidious behaviour, before they give these guys too much room.

    Pronuclear people, being intelligent, tend to want to engage believing they can convince others by reason. We usually do not suspect that we are being spun by those who’s only intention is to use us as foils for their own agenda.

    I just wanted to get this out in the open for all; battle-scared warriors like us suspect everyone anyway.

  56. Phil M, if after reading the material on this blog you have been unable to find answers to those questions, it can only be because you do not like those answers, and don’t wish to comprehend them. I f you have not checked this blog out to learn the answers, you might want to do that now. There is a huge amount of material and commentary addressing all you have asked about. This thread is more a discussion on how to organise a publicity campaign, rather than a remedial education effort.

  57. On matters at hand, Marion:

    Isn’t nuclear power evil?

    I like the response here. One might observe of course that what is good, from the POV of sustainability is what casts the smallest footprint in the biosphere while meeting human needs. Right now, as Professor Brook and others have demonstrated, that is nuclear power — even of the Gen11 LWR type. Far less land and precious water has to be used. Far less mining has to take place than is even the case with official renewables. Even the best renewable source in Australia right now — hydro — casts a bigger footprint than nuclear.

    I also think that somewhere in the section on proliferation, we can make the point that new nuclear power plants can do the “turning swords into plowshares” thing by converting forever, materiel that could be used in nuclear weapons, into energy to run our homes and our industry.

  58. DV8,
    I asked a similar question back on Open Thread 4 not too long ago. It was a technical question about how much wind and solar would be possible on a mainly nuclear grid across Australia. I admit to still liking the idea of running the world on wind and solar, but admit the intermittent nature and sheer costs are just too great.

    I ask because there already seems to be a powerful wind lobby and association of corporations worldwide working to progress this industry, and popular support for it seems fairly high. (Except in those cases where they’ve put turbines somewhere stupid… where was that Youtube showing the guy’s lounge room ‘blinking’ in the shadow of a whopping great turbine across the paddock? Yuk! That would drive me mental!)

    So anyway, some people go through the stages…

    1. Cliché objections to nuclear power debunked.
    2. Potential of GenIV just years away really grabs the attention
    3. But all their old favourite whacky renewables solutions… were so interesting, and took up their time and imagination before….
    4. So GIVEN quite large deployment of renewables on some grids already, the ‘green appeal’ they have, and the existing corporate power of them, I and they naturally wonder how much is possible?

    I don’t see anything sinister in that… it’s just a natural question.

    Anyway, we’ve got some family stuff to do, and I’ve got some favours to run before I can get the good wife to return a favour and design the poster/s, so I’ll catch ya’s later.

  59. “So GIVEN quite large deployment of renewables on some grids already, the ‘green appeal’ they have, and the existing corporate power of them, I and they naturally wonder how much is possible?”

    Eliminate the subsidies, and the entire thing would collapse overnight.

  60. Finrod, “it can only be because you do not like those answers”. There is no other possible explanation?

    ” I f you have not checked this blog out to learn the answers, you might want to do that now”

    Ok maybe I used the wrong search parameters. I’ll have another shot.

  61. Phil M,

    I would suggest:

    1. read the links provided in the answer to each of the questions where you want to dig deeper;

    2. Read the articles listed on the “Renewable Limits” tab. It is best to read them in the order listed;

    3. Read the articles listed on the “Sustainable Nuclear” tab

  62. Phil M, those are some great questions and good feedback. I’ll try and respond to some of them and hope others will too.

    For now, on the ‘evil’ question, no, I don’t recall being asked directly in those terms. But its not hard to look back through discussions on this site and find commenters whose motivation and mindset indicates an intensity of emotional response that is clearly more than the result of a rational appraisal of the technology. Have a look through the ‘radiation’ post, or search for comments by ‘Webs and Weavers’, for example.

    Its also true that an antinuclear stance is a foundational identity issue for many environmentalists. I wanted to call these ideas out directly, name them and respond to them, because I think that even if you address all the technical questions, thats still not quite enough for those whose objections are more visceral.

    I know it sounds hokey, but I wanted to address this angle somehow.

  63. Ive been debating the pro side of AGW for about 6 years now & have often referred to this site for my evidence.

    I wish it was as easy for me in all of the debates I’ve had over the years to simply say go read up on it…or go elsewhere… or we are having a private discussion here….on a public blog. I simply provide links to counter the arguments. I’ve read the tabs & I used the search engine on this site & couldnt find what I was after, hence posted.

    Thanks for attempting what you did John.

  64. ” Ive been debating the pro side of AGW for about 6 years now & have often referred to this site for my evidence.”

    If you’re familiar with the content of this site, you should be familiar with the material addressing your queries.

  65. Within the context of what you guys are trying to do in Australia, that at least in this instance, for this campaign to advance the cause of nuclear energy, you must take the stand that those that are not 100% for the deployment of nuclear energy, are considered against it.

    Plurality of opinion is a wonderful thing, but it has its place. This project is not one of them. Already you have drawn the attention of some who will do their level best to derail you right here and now. I have seen it before; they are attracted to threads like this, . They depend on the open-minded nature of reasonable people, (like the people that post here) to give them a chance to move in and do as much damage as possible. I have seen this tactic used with great effect in the past, not only with nuclear, but on other topics as well. When they know what they are up to, they can shred an effort like this before it gets off the ground.

    You’re on the radar now – be vigilant, these people know enough not to come in guns blazing – their methods are much more insidious.

  66. Well DV82XL, they won’t be shredding my effort, wwhich although allied, is indepenent of this particular initiative. Nucleus 92 Inc. is an exceptionally closed-minded organisation when it comes to pro-nuke advocacy, and there will certainly be no opportunity fopr the anti-nuke scum to raise any debates within its ranks.

  67. I was thinking more of this effort to form a political party that has been discussed in this and the previous thread. This is the sort of action the ‘professional’ antinuclear activists treat as a real threat.

    Any time there is talk or plans of political organization in an open forum, you can be sure that a flag will come up somewhere, and someone’s attention will be piqued. I can guarantee this thread is being monitored, and this site will be targeted, if it hasn’t been already.

  68. AGW is not something I’m overly alarmed by but give the regular cand potent charge of “deny and delay” that gets used we could embrace such rhetoric and amend Q3 as follows:-

    “In twenty years the Danes have been unable to replace a single coal fired power station with renewables. In practice a climate change policy weded to renewables such as wind amounts to a policy of delay.”

  69. DV82XL – that all sounds rather conspiratorial. I’m inclinded to think political groups fail to mature due more to apathy and a lack of pragamtism than due to some cunning opposition.

  70. Of course it has. I started considering strategies to deal with those issues when the time eventually came over a year ago. It’s time to start seperating out what’s OK to say for general consumption, and the material which needs to be in-confidence for the moment.

    We also need to be seen to be upright and to cross all the right tees and dot all necessary ies. We’ll be made to suffer for minor slipups if they are allowed to happen.

    Of course, one prnblem that EFN will face which N92 and any successor organisations will not is the split between support for both renewables and nuclear. I feel that EFN will find this position untenable. N92 recognises the ‘renewables’ faction as a clear enemy from the begining.

  71. TerjeP – mostly they do but don’t think are aren’t those that will stir the pot. I know it goes on in politics here, supporters of the larger parties submarine the smaller parties forums all the time. In the States it was outright cyberwar in some areas, (because if you’re a Yank, anything worth doing is worth doing to the extreme) and it is a regular component of just about every special interest group conflict.

    They will show up here if you get anything rolling.

  72. “If you’re familiar with the content of this site, you should be familiar with the material addressing your queries”

    I mainly refer to this section:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/spot-the-recycled-denial-series/

    I find much of the material in the “renewable limits” & the “sustainable nuclear” sections fit into this category for me:

    ” explanations of adiabatic lapse rates, actinide isotopes or Brayton cycle efficiency here! ”

    The opening paragragh contained this “These are quite deliberately not technical “. I saw that as my chance to ask the experts, because most of the tech talk, I dont understand.

  73. I believe we have to be aware of this, and be prepared to deal with them, perhaps a bit differently than we do, (I am more than aware of my own mishandling of them to date) and not give them the opposition that they need to carry out their objective.

    The best method may be the Socratic one, as described in my post The Gentle Art of Interrogation. If they stick around to keep answering questions put to them, then great, we can get to the heart of their beliefs and assumptions. Or, they will simply do a runner, as BilB, Gloor and others have done. Either way, logic and reason wins.

  74. I’m not warning about BilB & Gloor types. These are posters out to cause as much trouble as possible – you will see what I mean if you keep going. Reason will not slow these types down, nor will they leave on their on accord.

  75. Phil M, I for one thought your questions were reasonable and carefully worded. Finrod is quite right that they’ve all been answered on various parts of this site, but that does not mean they’re all easy to find, or accessible to a non-technical reader. A problem with your initial list was that it was too comprehensive. I like to compartmentalise problems/critiques, so could I suggest this: please look over your list of questions and choose the one you consider the highest priority first, and I ask that again. Then, I or someone else will give you an answer or direct you to the right resource to learn more. Then, we can work through your list. I hope by doing this, at the same time, we can also improve the FAQ.

    So thanks, and I look forward to your highest priority question first up.

  76. “The opening paragragh contained this “These are quite deliberately not technical “. I saw that as my chance to ask the experts, because most of the tech talk, I dont understand.”

    I’m sure if you’re genuine you wont let this little tussle with me put you off, considering the importance of the issues.

  77. “I’m sure if you’re genuine you wont let this little tussle with me put you off, considering the importance of the issues”

    I am mate, I dont give up that easy. I usually wait to be banned or resoundingly told to go elsewhere. I agree its an important issue & nuclear should play its role.

    Now onto what Barry suggests. Probably one of the first things to come to mind was No.3.

    Q3. We need to act fast, aren’t renewables the fastest response?

    Why isnt every country following the French model if its the best? Clearly China dont have any political resistance to building Nuclear reactors, but have chosen not to go entirely nuclear, why is that?

    I haven’t found a definitive answer. They dont have any issues from the NIMBY’s & can afford it too. I know they are building a lot of nuclear reactors, but why are they bothering with the largest solar & wind farms in the world if nuclear is the clear winner in cost to build & energy generation?

  78. Then, we can work through your list. I hope by doing this, at the same time, we can also improve the FAQ.

    I agree Barry. For example…

    Q10. What about radiation?
    Your answer seems to evade the question in most peoples mind… Its the threat of the radiation from explosion & or waste that sticks in peoples minds & is a powerfull deterent.

    Good point, Phil M. I’ll add waste – which is often stored on site and thus contributes to the total radiation levels from the NPP anyway. I’ll also add: (see also Q9.)

    Sorry, I haven’t got to Q3 yet.

  79. Marion,

    IMHO, the whole FAQ is getting fasr too long. I suggest it should comprise:

    1. The question:
    2. An answer such as “yes” or “No’
    3. A short expansion of the answer
    4, links to more information

    We can’t cover everythign in the short answer. And the more we say the more questions are left unanswered.

    Regarding the radiation and the health hazards from nuclear energy, or any other type of generation, they are from the full life cycle – cradle to grave. It is totally wrong to say the emissions sre just from the power station or just from the nculear waste, or just from the tailings, etc.

    I think we need to get back to the short version of the FAQ.

  80. Phil M,

    Why isn’t every country following the French model if its the best? Clearly China don’t have any political resistance to building Nuclear reactors, but have chosen not to go entirely nuclear, why is that?

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) and just about every responsible organisation is saying we need to persue all options. We certainly need to persue research, development and demonstration of solar wind and other technologies. We don’t know which will become economic in the futrure. Also, China can see that if the West is going to continue building renewables because of public opinion constraints, then China wants to be in the market to provide what the market demands.

    What I’d really like to emphasise is that anyone asking the sort of questions you are asking needs to consider the quantums. It is easy to write that “China is building the largest wind and solar farms in the world” But what does that mean. If they generate insignificant amounts of electricity, as they do, so what if they are the largest?

    To clarify, below I list the sources of China’s electricity. The figures are for 2007 ( the most recent available) and are in TWh.

    Coal: 2,656
    Oil: 34
    Gas: 30
    Nuclear: 62
    Hydro: 485
    biomass: 2
    Wind: 9
    Solar PV: 0.1
    Solar thermal: 0.0

    http://www.iea.org/stats/electricitydata.asp?COUNTRY_CODE=CN

    Notice that the amount of electrcity generated by solar power is effectively zero.

    I believe the answer to your question is largely political and public perception in western countries. There has been a hiatus on development of nuclear power in western coutries since the 1970’s. China and India are only now getting to the point where they can build their own designs.

  81. Phil M,
    Despite Barry’s suggestion, I’m going to answer a few of your concerns to the best of my understanding. All have been gleaned from my extensive reading of what has been happening around the world over the past 10 years.
    1. Gen IV reactors are about 10 years away.
    2. What role can wind play? Very small contribution to the world needs. Here is a quote from Prof. Colin Keay’s booklet, Nuclear Energy Gigawatts pub. 2002. Heading- “Victims of a Global Confidence Trick. ” last week’s [British] Government energy review, proposing a massive expansion in wind power to produce electricity, perpetuates one of the most bizarre confidence tricks of the modern world.” So wrote a commentator in the London Sunday Telegraph of February 17th, 2002. The article went on to reveal that Denmark, a world leader in electricity generation from wind turbines, has called a halt to their program on the grounds that it is too expensive and ” has yielded no reduction in the emission if greenhouse gases.” Furthermore, the article notes that “what is extraordinary is how succesful the propagandists for wind power have been in creating the illusion that it is in any way environmentally friendly.” This ground-breaking Sunday Telegraph article concluded, “And who could be more gullible than Mr Blair, falling for the great wind fantasy just when the Danes have recognised it as one of the silliest delusions of our age?” Colin has added an insert in the booklet on the
    comparative “pollution ” caused by wind and nuclear in the construction phase. For a 1GWe Nuclear power station cf. a 1GWe wind power station, wind requires 5 times as much steel and 14 times as much concrete as the nuclear one.
    In an earlier post I pointed out that the Danes were still producing the technology for unsuspecting suckers like us here in South Australia. It was in their interests to maintain an industry which employs 30,000 people.
    On the other great renewable, solar, some history might be helpful Phil. By 1973, the US had been hard at work trying to develop those renewable technologies. By 1989, geothermal, wind and solar were 0.4% of all US energy. Currently it is 0.5% . The world total is expected to be reach 2.8% by 2020. Why so little? They are the least practical ways to produce large quantities of electricity.All this despite $4billion from the DoE on research and development and $2billion in tax subsidies. Despite these incentives, Mobil Oil closed its 19 year old solar energy programme. And a poll of 280 research scientists and experts in energy production revealed that none felt that solar electricity would make any kind of significant contribution towards meeting US energy needs over the next 20 years. Time has proved them right..
    3. Nuclear reactors can’t/won’t explode. They might suffer meltdown [TMI and Chernobyl] Only Chernobyl caused widespread radiation in Europe. I posted the UNSCEAR report of 2000, paras 18 and 19 on another thread a while back. Check it out. It’s the TRUTH about Chernobyl.
    4. With GenIV reactors, waste will become almost insignificant. Current waste will be used as fuel. Even so, the current amount of waste [high level] weighs in at about 450,000tonnes. It’s produced at about 12,000tonnes per year from 440 power reactors [20 tonnes per reactor]. You could stack it in a shed 10mby10mby 6mhigh. But it would be best underground here in South Australia in the best waste site on the planet. That’s the Officer Basin in our western desert. Current waste, has always been held safely and securely in facilities attached to power stations. It could stay there for ever and space permitting, other such facilities could be added. Best though to get it underground as the IAEA wants. To my knowledge, no waste has ever been diverted to terrorist causes and no-one has been killed by it. Hope that’s all helpful Phil. Try to get hold of all four of Colin Keay’s booklets. Barry may be able to help because he discovered them earlier this year.
    David Benson, Finrod and DV8, thanks for your birthday wishes. And Marion, grweat work in getting us mobilized to start doing something about getting a nuclear Australia going. I’m just about to write to Julia in the hope that she may understand the imperative of getting a replacement for coal up and running urgently. I’ll post the letter when I’ve finished it. Cheers everyone.

  82. Please guys lay off expression like “anti-nuke scum” – what does that make us – nuke scum?
    The whole idea of this thread is to open minds not have slanging matches with people who are hesitant about nuclear power for many reasons- that sort of rhetoric is a very bad idea if you want to get a message across. This blog should not become an exclusive club of those who “know-it-all” and sneer at those who want to learn more. Let’s be inclusive – and I agree with Barry – if we have some antagonists who may be trying to undermine our message just maybe we can win a few over. If not they will, eventually, give up and go away -if we remain calm, collected and confident of the information we are disseminating and if we don’t rise to their bait.
    Fran – point taken.

  83. “What I’d really like to emphasise is that anyone asking the sort of questions you are asking needs to consider the quantums”

    Good point Peter. I did actually try to find this out, but couldnt find exactly what I was after. What is the average output in Gigawatts of a typical nuclear power plant? Isnt the 9 Twh of wind a good achievement considering they only started a few years ago?

    “Notice that the amount of electrcity generated by solar power is effectively zero”.

    Thanks for that, solar is starting to look worse for me all the time for baseload & its nice to have some links to draw on for evidence. I gather this is baseload we are talking about though? Is there any objection to residential solar panels? The cost might be excessive & the Co2 generation to make them obscene, but when people can power their homes for free, isnt that a good thing?

    Appreciate the info Peter.

  84. Phil M,

    Solar power and wind power do not provide baseload power, anywhere. Baseload means that they provide power on demand 24/7. Their maintenance shut-downs are scheduled months or years ahead. They are available more than 90% of the time; i.e. to generate electricity when called on to do so by the grid operator.

    So no, the wind power is not baseload. It contributes when the wind blows. Similarly for solar power.

    You asked:

    What is the average output in Gigawatts of a typical nuclear power plant?

    It is important to understand the difference between energy output and power output. You’ve asked about GW which is power out. There is a large range and the new ones bwing built now are up to 1.6GW. But let’s consider 1GW to make things easy.

    1GW would produce about 8,000 GWh of energy in a year.
    1GW of wind would generate about 2000GWh or energy in a year
    1GW of solar power would generate about 1500GWh of energy in a year.

    So much less than a nuclear plant of the same power.
    Importantly, the wind and solar power is of low value, little better than a nuicance, because it is not available when needed. They cannot respond to demand for power.

    This paper would give you some background:

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

    Solar PV panels are not free. They are not free to the owner, not free to society (who subsidises them by up to 20 times the cost of conventional electricity) and not free to the environment. They require much more materials and release more CO2 than nuclear to produce an equivalent amount of energy.

  85. Phil M I think it helps to distinguish between private cost and public cost. Firstly in the case of negative prices on wind power it would not exist without subsidies. The wind generator pays the utility to take their output in order to keep the subsidy coming. Subsides include feed-in tariffs, RECs or green certificates and production tax credits. We must repeatedly challenge wind power enthusiasts who assure us how cheap it is to renounce subsidies and see how they get on. Don’t expect any takers.

    In the case of residential PV the home owner with spare cash gets the status symbol of shiny silicon panels on the roof. The trouble those without the cash (=battlers) have to pay for much of it from either taxes or higher electricity prices. PV may help summer load following to a degree but it is no help at night or in cloudy weather. It’s really more of a fashion statement for the rich partly financed by the poor.

  86. Phil M,

    In my last post I should have said that wind power may be economic where there is a large amount of baseload hydro capacity in the gird. This is the situation in China, Brazil, Scandinavia, parts of Canada, but is most definitely not the case in mainland Australia. If wind power can be constructed without subsidies, then it can be economic where there is plenty of hydro energy.

  87. Phil M,

    Because many countries are going nuts with installing solar panels on their residential roofs. Is that a bad thing?

    Not in itself. But to the extent it delays real, effective, action, by giving the illusion that something is being done, then yes, it is a bad thing. And to the extent that it diverts cash that could be spent on more effective measures, yes, it is a bad thing. Large scale rooftop solar is very expensive. Considered on a dollar per tonne of carbon basis, it is a much more expensive way to avoid emissions than nuclear power.

    The English journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot has analysed this, and written quite scathingly of subsidising rooftop solar.

  88. Ms. Perps, on 26 June 2010 at 17.14 Said:

    Please guys lay off expression like “anti-nuke scum” – what does that make us – nuke scum?

    In some circles, my dear Ms. Perps, that is exactly how we are seen, and described. Those same circles do not tolerate posts in their forums from our side of the hill ether,

    I note too that this thread has been nicely derailed away from its original intent, as everyone leaps to explain things to one individual. I will be watching to see if it ever gets back on track.

  89. Ms Perps, I understand your distaste for my phraseology. My apologies. I just can’t think of this subject without thinking of all the stunted and aborted lives, the suffering, poverty and hopelessness which the leaders of the anti-nuclear movement have already inflicted across the globe in the name of their beliefs, and the greater suffering they still intend to inflict on future generations. Some of the followers are doubtless motivated by fear and a desire to avoid harm, but the leadership is replete with those who know what they are really doing, and do not care. I cannot regard them with equinamity.

  90. Hi Barry,
    I was really relieved to see the way you handled this Phil M

    Phil M, I for one thought your questions were reasonable and carefully worded. Finrod is quite right that they’ve all been answered on various parts of this site, but that does not mean they’re all easy to find, or accessible to a non-technical reader. A problem with your initial list was that it was too comprehensive. I like to compartmentalise problems/critiques, so could I suggest this: please look over your list of questions and choose the one you consider the highest priority first, and I ask that again. Then, I or someone else will give you an answer or direct you to the right resource to learn more. Then, we can work through your list. I hope by doing this, at the same time, we can also improve the FAQ.
    So thanks, and I look forward to your highest priority question first up.

    After some of the recent hostility on this list it was a breath of fresh air! That is the tone this movement needs if we’re not only going to win arguments, but people to our cause. It’s just so easy to win the argument but lose the person, but this kind of engagement just works. Nice.

  91. @ Terry,
    Do you have a link for this one? Might put it up on the blog.

    For a 1GWe Nuclear power station cf. a 1GWe wind power station, wind requires 5 times as much steel and 14 times as much concrete as the nuclear one.

  92. @ Peter Lang:

    We certainly need to persue research, development and demonstration of solar wind and other technologies. We don’t know which will become economic in the futrure. Also, China can see that if the West is going to continue building renewables because of public opinion constraints, then China wants to be in the market to provide what the market demands.

    I had to rub my eyes and check again to see that it was actually you who had written this! Very polite and engaging, but then of course the facts do the arguing for you. Again, nice.

  93. Please guys lay off expression like “anti-nuke scum” – what does that make us – nuke scum?
    The whole idea of this thread is to open minds not have slanging matches with people who are hesitant about nuclear power for many reasons- that sort of rhetoric is a very bad idea if you want to get a message across. This blog should not become an exclusive club of those who “know-it-all” and sneer at those who want to learn more. Let’s be inclusive – and I agree with Barry – if we have some antagonists who may be trying to undermine our message just maybe we can win a few over. If not they will, eventually, give up and go away -if we remain calm, collected and confident of the information we are disseminating and if we don’t rise to their bait.

    Here here! The “anti-nuke scum” actually goes against credibility to the non-technical, undecided greenie activist. Warning lights go off, as if the person has some deep seated emotional attachment, say a job in a nuclear power plant, rather than a rationally derived position.
    “Anti-nuke scum” will only hinder the cause.

  94. Hi Phil M,
    I’m like you… not very technical, but here’s an argument even I can see shouts fairly loudly.

    I listen to a podcast called Beyond Zero Emissions which interviews renewables experts all over the world. They recently released their plan for a Zero Carbon Australia. It was going to cost (from memory) about $320 billion, or $32 billion a year for the next ten years. Now, before we even get into the technical debate about whether they have factored in a reasonable amount of budget for energy storage and just how feasible their plan really is: consider the next 2 points.

    * Nuclear could do the job with today’s technology for about a 3rd of that, and even cheaper when smaller GenIV plants start coming off the production line! (Now that will bring the costs down significantly!)

    * BZE assume a 50% energy efficiency cut across Australia, but the nuclear price does not!

    So maybe the BZE plan is actually 6 times more expensive? Yet I think I remember something about the BZE plan weaning off oil as well onto electric transport, so they might be generating significantly more power for that. Anyone done a completely fossil-fuel-free Australia plan, including transport?

  95. “The “anti-nuke scum” actually goes against credibility to the non-technical, undecided greenie activist.”

    Possibly. Of course, I don’t think that’s the demographic we should be focusing on in the first place, but that’s just me.

  96. Terry , thats great news about the Gen IV. Its a great development.

    Thanks for the link Peter on supply demand storage & costs, will finish reading it in the morning, have some friends over now.

    “Solar PV panels are not free. They are not free to the owner, not free to society (who subsidises them by up to 20 times the cost of conventional electricity) and not free to the environment. They require much more materials and release more CO2 than nuclear to produce an equivalent amount of energy”

    And

    “In the case of residential PV the home owner with spare cash gets the status symbol of shiny silicon panels on the roof”

    No, but the thought of free energy after a pay off period is an attractive incentive for many with skyrocketing power costs. Whether it was baseload nuclear, coal or gas, people would always have to pay for the lifetime of the property with those methods. However, I agree, that essentially, it is really only targeted at middle to high income earrners who can already afford it any way. The battlers, just continue to pay & pay.

    “Firstly in the case of negative prices on wind power it would not exist without subsidies”

    John, doesn’t Nuclear get subsidies as well? To build, to run & to store waste?

    ” then it can be economic where there is plenty of hydro energy”

    Peter, what do you mean by this?

    “I note too that this thread has been nicely derailed away from its original intent, as everyone leaps to explain things to one individual”

    Apologies DV, I will wrap it up & leave the other questions. I just thought it was an opportune time to ask some things that were bugging me. But obviously picked the wrong post. Will let you guys get back to it.

  97. Guys and gals,
    I’ve been doing an image search for the poster/s tonight.

    I’ve been searching the various photos-stock libraries for the last decade or so, and I can tell you unequivocally from the images I have seen tonight:

    WE HAVE A *LOT* OF CULTURAL BAGGAGE TO FIGHT!

  98. Chinese wind power is being supported by large external subsidies, like the Kyoto-linked clean development mechanism and joint implementation. A real problem they now face is getting their wind turbines connected to the grid — around 30% remain unconnected. Some details here and here.

    The broader issue is, of course, that any country can build wind power up to about 10% of electrical capacity without too many problems, because grids have sufficient fast ramp backups, such as hydro or open cycle gas turbines, to cover any deficients when the wind isn’t blowing. So until that backup is all sucked dry, the capital cost of wind power IS relatively cheap to build. Without the need to consider backup/storage, or electrical quality effects on grid frequencies, it’s not much more expensive to install the turbines than coal, with the advantage that you can build smaller installations of a few 10s to 100s of MW, don’t pay fuel costs, and also enjoy sizable subsidies.

    The key problem, and this is really key, is that once that already installed backup is used up (the one that is there to cover peak loads), wind suddenly becomes a whole lot more expensive. At 15 to 20 % penetration, the grid is really suffering (see Denmark) and beyond that, well, who knows — no nation has ever gotten there, but I suspect its a matter of massively diminishing returns. China is nowhere near even 5 % of its electricity coming from wind at present (the Forbes article I cited had it at 0.4% in 2008), and has massive hydro on call, so these problems are yet to arise.

  99. @ Terry,
    [blockquote]On the question of radiation, waste and toxicity, there was a very powerful comparison I think TerjeP came up with, namely, that coal plants already emit as much uranium into the environment as a nuclear plant would consume in fuel. And its not in a controlled waste form, its just sitting out in the flyash and slag.

    Did I recall that correctly? Can it be sourced?[/quote]

    John, here’s some source material:

    http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

    Do you have a link for this one? Might put it up on the blog.

    Regarding material input requirements (concrete and steel, etc) for wind, etc. compared to nuclear:

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

    http://www.isa.org.usyd.edu.au/publications/documents/ISA_Nuclear_Report.pdf [Page 145]

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/07/current-information-on-wind-power.html

  100. Maybe another FAQ?

    Doesn’t Nuclear get subsidies? To build, to run & to store waste?

    No. Lost fossil fuel revenue is the main impact of nuclear electric power plants on government finances. At 2009 prices, the world’s 439 plants would have had an average uranium mining bill of $12 million each, versus about $200 million each if they had burned natural gas, including at least $25 million in government royalties. (Yes, when a uranium miner makes a dollar, governments lose more than $2 in gas revenue!)

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  101. You are right about the taxes, but I always thought this argument a bit weak. Were uranium to become the most important source of energy we have, the governments of the world would waste no time taxing it to the limit it could support.

    After all it would be us that would be paying for it in t5he end.

  102. “Phil, maybe the Open Thread would be a good place for further discussion on these questions.”

    No worries. I will come back another time, when its clear I can ask questions. Good luck with it .

  103. Speaking of real action: I’ve created a funky new poster with a preview image of the poster. Click on the text to download the actual poster.

    (I’ll see if I can tidy up the image so that clicking on it downloads the poster as well: gotta run right now though. But Barry can of course download it and upload it here and link to it however he likes!)

    I think it’s cool!

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/nuclear-posters/

    Check it out: the tear off tabs of course direct readers back here.

    As I say on the page:

    Remember: for every person who actually tears off a tab for further reading, there’s probably 100 people who glimpse the poster and had the basic idea seeded.

  104. EN, gthe imagery needs to be more upbeat. The blocky capitals with patches missing and the yellow drums with the sinister black radiation symbol project the wrong ambience. We need something a bit greener, more modern and friendly. Right now, if I jusgt glanced at it without reading, I’d take it for an anti-nuke poster.

    Think more along the lines of what Suzanne Hobbs is doing at popatomic. I reckon that’s the way to go. Save the threatening stuff for bagging out renewables.

  105. Looking over yesterdays discussion in this thread I am pretty disappointed by our collective response to Phil M.

    Here you have a fellow who is seriously considering our arguments and so is directly in the target readership for this faq. He is sufficiently engaged to give comprehensive feedback on each question. He has raised some good questions, and we have the opportunity to refine the document by integrating the perspective of exactly the demographic we are trying to reach.

    And yet the immediate response is to cut him down for asking these questions and to be immediately suspicious of his motives. If this is the way we are going to respond to the people who we hope will read this document, we may as well give up on this right now.

    Recall Barry’s recent moderation of left/right ideological discussion here. Part of that moderation was to avoid speculation about peoples motivations. Here we leapt right into speculation about Phil’s motives, with pretty unedifying results. Even if we were being trolled by crypto-renewabilists we lose nothing by taking them at face value.

    My advice: keep your powder dry till someone is openly looking for a fight. This was not our proudest moment.

  106. Yes I agree with Finrod here.

    Something much more matter of fact as the symbol of hazmat. We do have a picture above of hazmat which looks a lot less unappealing.

    In fact, if you went with a much smaller “drum” — sitting in the palm of a gloved hand opening the lid — with the slogan the power to light a thousand cities is in the palm of our hands that might work pretty well.

  107. “Looking over yesterdays discussion in this thread I am pretty disappointed by our collective response to Phil M.”

    I hear you, John. I tell you what. From now on I’ll cease to comment when someone like Phil comes along and let others handle it as they will. It’s fairly clear my approach is not going down well with the regulars. I disagree with you on this matter, but we’ll see how things go without my intervention. Good luck with things.

  108. John Morgan – These last two threads are about moving the fight into the political arena. In that place anyone who doesn’t suspect ulterior motives in others, or thinks that there can be fair discourse, and a free exchange of ideas, is fatally naïve.

    Phil M may have been legitimate, or he may have been a probe, ether way you have to be disciplined enough not to be taken off-message, in the name of being polite. He should have been sent to an open thread right away, but I note that when invited to do this he lost interest. But this thread is still derailed, and now everyone is going to weigh in on how he was treated, and still no progress is going to be made on your orignal agenda.

    You need a policy that moves this type of interruption off a thread quickly in the future.

    I also have deep suspicions about this Phil M. His questions were very loaded and he carefully avoided reacting at all to the accusations that he was not what he seemed.

  109. ” I hope you will respond to these commenters, and as robustly as ever, I’m just saying don’t be the first to draw your sword.”

    Sorry John, but no. It will make little difference to most people whether my response is the first, fifth or fiftieth. My strategy is not favoured, so it will not be employed, at least not by me in this forum. I’m going to cease making any but relatively non-controversial comments for a month. Perhaps necessity will force an evolution of the stance of yourself and others closer to mine over time. We shall see.

  110. does anyone know anything about the status of the coal mining industry in france as france turned to nuclear power? was coal mining a powerful industry? relatively weak? new plant and equipment? old and on its way out? in a shambles after the war? what was its relation to the state? (I assume ramped up nuke production was largely state led).

    was the transition from coal to nuclear combative or smooth? were coal bosses antagonistic to nuclear or did they actually themselves participate in the transition?

    I just ordered a book on the history of np in france, hoping that this will be discussed.

  111. Well, I think ‘EclipseNow’ is setting up a conflict and then a resolution, and for this purpose some theatricality, with thespian yellow barrels, may be appropriate. And they have to have the trefoil, unlike the steel-lined massive concrete real things, because their sheet metal sides are too thin to do the muffling the real thing does!

    Exactly. I was going for the youth grunge effect, and setting up the question visually. It’s visual juxtaposition: “WHAT — that radioactive CRAP is worth 30 trillion dollars? WHAT THE?”

    Trust me: we do this for a living. This is our day job. This was designed for the young university market, where we may just recruit some young person with the energy to print these out and put them up everywhere! That’s the goal isn’t it?

    But if you don’t like this one, wait for the next. It can be less youth grunge and more adult & conservative. Basically, every Q&A here could be re-written as a poster! Pick your top 5 and how you’d write them, and we’ll try and get to them over the next few months.

  112. Eclipsenow, Sorry but I can’t provide a link to the wind/nuclear construction emissions comparison. Please contact Barry and try to get a copy of Nuclear Electricity Gigawatts by Colin Keay.
    On the matter of coal power, annual ” waste” from a 1Gwe nuclear plant is about 20 tonnes of solid waste, full stop. From a similar coal power plant, waste is about 2.5million tonnes of solid waste, 3million tonnes of CO2 [not to mention other toxic gases] and , wait for it, sufficient uranium to power a nuclear reactor for a year. Fortunately, it’s not the uranium in the atmosphere that kills people, it’s the other toxic gases that do that. In the US about 24,000 oper year die of the effects of burning coal and everyone knows that in China alone, about 6000die yearly in coal mine accidents. I guess we’ll never stop mining coal because we can turn it to other important uses like plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers,liquid fuels etc. But we do have to STOP BURNING THE CONFOUNDED STUFF FOR ELECTRICITY. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I repeat what I wrote on an earlier blog. “had the world ignored the scaremongering of the anti-nukes 30 years ago and pushed ahead with an expanded nuclear programme, the planet would by now be at a level of a 35% or so nuclear, CO2 would not be at the apparently dangerous and growing levels and we wouldn’t even be talking about an ETS or CPRS.” The likes of Nader, Toynbee, Caldicott etc owe the world an apology. Between them, they have stopped the world from developing the cleanest, greenest, safest most powerful source of energy known to humankind. Thankfully, most of the world is at last ignoring them and is rapidly increasing the amount of nuclear power generated.

  113. In fact, if you went with a much smaller “drum” — sitting in the palm of a gloved hand opening the lid — with the slogan the power to light a thousand cities is in the palm of our hands that might work pretty well.

    That’s a nice image, and doable with a little photoshop: but does it confront the biases in the viewer? Does it debunk the myths that most Aussies just can’t get past?

    From 2 hours of searching through one of the top image libraries, my impression is that anti-nuke prejudices in our culture are SO strong that every poster we do has to come back at them just as strong, or we may as well go down the limp Wogboys adds and just say:

    “Nuclear power is really good”

    Not worth the paper and ink to print it. I think each poster has to attack prejudices, and hard, or they’re not worth putting up.

  114. I think I will follow my dear colleague Finrod’s lead and take a hiatus from commenting here for a time. A confrontational style may not be appropriate at this juncture.

  115. Barry said of wind power upthread until that backup is sucked dry; I wonder if that is true in all regions. See new and decommissioned nameplate capacity for Europe in 2009

    While new nameplate wind exceeds new nameplate gas that is no longer true if we multiply by capacity factors of say 25% and 60%. Thus new wind actual output may be more than matched by new gas output and not by flexibility in the pre-existing energy mix.

    Another simple pro-nuclear argument could be to project electricity costs in 2020 for nuclear as opposed to a similar output of gas with say 20% wind. It could be based on an extrapolation of costs say from 2000 to 2010. Joe Public probably still expects to be around in 2020 and is already receptive to the idea of a coal phaseout. By then his kids or grandkids may be in the job market or trying to buy a home. Without having the data handy I expect that comparison will dramatically favour nuclear even without an ETS or carbon tax. That is to say the decision already makes sense based on recent cost trends.

  116. Finrod and DV82XL. I really appreciate your contributions and hope you don’t pull back from making them.

    I also agree with what John Morgan said here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/25/take-real-cc-action-p2/#comment-76940.

    So I have a suggestion (building on someone else’s suggestion).

    When an off-topic post appears, let’s just copy the off-topic post to the relevant thread, answer it there, and maintain on-topic discussion on the relevant thread.

    Can this work?

  117. DV82XL, Peter Lang, anyone else interested… It is my opinion that a confrontational style is not only appropriate at this juncture, it is virtually a necessity in dealing with certain matters. It is obvious however, that most regular commenters do not appreciate this. It is my hope that left to themselves they shall come to realise what I’m getting at.

    Now, given that this might well be seen as a controversial point in itself, I shall desist from further explanation.

  118. I also quite like the idea of a Promethean theme …

    Prometheus tied to a rock, his palm open with the golf ball/isotope or barrell of hazmat beside it …

    He bought fire to the world, but the gods were angry …

    … Renewable energy placards in carried by diffuse mob in background

  119. I raised IFR’s with a group of men recently, and they said “What’s wrong with solar?”

    I wonder if we need an acronym slogan to really bust it open and store the points in people’s minds? There is so much information to try and condense into sound-bytes one can come off the worse for wear.

    Even my SERVICE check-list is too long.

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/alternatives/

    I think we need a renewables attack poster: fast.

    (I’ll try and stay in the lady’s good books and earn some more ‘brownie points’ ;-)

    I’m thinking of a 3 or 4 point poster debunking renewables: HELP! Anyone? Rough draft below…

    ******

    Solar has a VICE!
    Variable output (power output varies at about a quarter of the ‘nameplate’ stated maximum output of the plant)
    Intermittent supply(turns off at night)
    Costly to store: it would bankrupt any nation to try and store enough energy to run the grid for a rainy week
    Expensive to overbuild (Renewables advocates usually reply that when the sun is down the wind might be blowing. Hello, that requires building a whole new secondary power output!)

    There IS a zero greenhouse gas alternative: advanced nuclear reactors that eat uranium waste!
    *********

    Anyone got anything more refined yet equally ‘low-tech’ layspeak and ‘blunt’ for your average Australian?

  120. I again have to agree with Finrod. Politics is not a game for the squeamish, and the parliamentary system is by design adversarial. Those that are not willing fight, and be willing to do so in a totally focused and utterly ruthless way, will simply fail.

    Frankly I do not see that sort of attitude manifesting here. Rather than see the group endlessly discuss how dissident opinions should be dealt with, it is just best if we withdraw to the background for the time being.

  121. I accept the argument put by TerjeP and others who are concerned about the answer to Q15. I would shorten the answer to Q15 to say as follows:

    Q15. Is there enough uranium?

    Yes.

    There is enough uranium to provide all the world’s energy indefinitely.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/category/ifr-facts-and-discussion/

    You may (or may not) want to add other links such as:

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf75.html

    http://channellingthestrongforce.blogspot.com/2010/03/is-nuclear-power-sustainable.html

  122. eclipsenow

    I’d like to turn the Greens anti-nuclear slogan back on themselves.

    Renewable energy – too slow, too expensive, and too damn dangerous.

    If all we manage to achieve by pursuing wind/solar is dangerous climate change, then who in that future is going care when we explain “Oh, but nuclear energy involved centralised control.”

  123. Guys, sorry to butt in again, but what the hey, its a public blog & I can see your follow up comments.

    “And yet the immediate response is to cut him down for asking these questions and to be immediately suspicious of his motives.”

    That is how I felt, but to be fair, I didnt understand that it was meant to be a private discussion.

    “Phil M may have been legitimate, or he may have been a probe, ether way you have to be disciplined enough not to be taken off-message, in the name of being polite. He should have been sent to an open thread right away”.

    Agreed, maybe just a “sorry, your question/s are off topic, we are happy to address them in the next open thread if you wish”. Errr, probe for what?

    ” but I note that when invited to do this he lost interest”.

    I didnt go there, because from experience of discussions on blogs over the years, the posts at the top of the list are read first & responded to & the further down the list you get, the less readers or responses. Your “open thread 4″ was 16 posts away from this one. I assumed you meant the next open thread discussion to come.

    “I also have deep suspicions about this Phil M”

    They were unfounded.

    ” His questions were very loaded and he carefully avoided reacting at all to the accusations that he was not what he seemed.”

    I thought they were reasonable & probably what a lot of people think. If you type in nuclear vs renewables into google you get the first page being fairly anti-nuclear. I experience the same google optimization frustration in my discussions on AGW. The first 2-3 pages are nearly all skeptic sites. Doesnt mean its right. Hence why I came here.

    “When an off-topic post appears, let’s just copy the off-topic post to the relevant thread, answer it there, and maintain on-topic discussion on the relevant thread”

    I’ve seen that work on the JREF site. They leave a message to the commenter saying “Off topic: Your comment has been moved to xyz”

    Maybe all your points/debunks could be compiled into a list like what John Cook did on skeptical science. He started out with a dozen of the common arguments & now has 117.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    There is a tab especially dedicated to it.

    Sorry to butt in again, but I thought it was pertinent to point out my intentions were honourable. I have a lot of projects on inthe coming weeks , but will try my best to come back on the next open thread & continue my questions.

  124. @M. Brook: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/25/take-real-cc-action-p2/#comment-77073

    To achieve the centralised control you desire, P Lang has previously proposed on BNC the (cost-saving) banning of anti-NPP demonstrations in AU.

    But other measures in conditions of civil emergency such as AGW are naturally possible and could include some or all of martial law: extension of AU control orders, internment camps without trial, extending current censorship of the Internet or blocking certain websites, suspending habeas corpus as in the USA, suspending freedom of assembly in general, etc..

    What are your views on this? Is a utilitarian view justified eg assuming internment camps cannot turn a profit for their government contractors, may the deaths of a few thousand recalcitrant Greens be needed to save the sensible majority from AGW?

    Compare the current arguments in US jurisprudence about the need to torture terrorist suspects to acquire the information needed to prevent a large-scale attack. Now replace “terrorist suspects” with “renewables supporters”: how does the argument proceed?

  125. Phil,
    some of the correspondents here have already expressed their intention to cut back on the crankiness. Let’s not rehash who said what where when, and analyse one-another’s motives for the umpteenth time. It was mildly annoying when the same dudes were putting me through the griller for not embracing nuclear bombs as well as nuclear power, but now it’s just painful, and frankly boring to go through it all again.

    Subscribe to the blog at the top left email subscription box, and you’ll get an email every time a new subject post goes up.

    But for now just stick to Open Thread 4 till another comes along.

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

  126. @ Lalor:
    Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought Marion was contrasting the ‘village power’ approach of the so called decentralised, local co-op owned hippie dreams of the renewable proponents against the evil terrors of large corporations still producing power on traditional grids.

    I didn’t detect anything of the martial law interpretation you’ve immediately gunned for.

  127. Sorry, “evil terrors” should have been quoted to indicate sarcasm. If we can’t invent some method of storing electrons that is 100 times cheaper than today, and if deep geothermal cannot be commercialised competitively, then nuclear power IS the only way we’re going to have a reliable grid and still beat climate change.

  128. Peter Lalor,

    You’ve raised the issue about controlling civil disruption of contracts let for development of nuclear power. I believe we have these options:

    1. We bring nuclear power to Australia at a cost that is competitive with coal generation, OR

    2. We go without nuclear and keep burning coal – with some token efforts to convert to gas and renewables.

    If we want nuclear at a cost that is competitive with coal, we need to give the investors confidence that their investment will not be taken away from them.

    France built their plants by effectively banning disruption.

    USA had projects held up by rolling civil protests and court actions for 20 years.

    There are two sides to fareness. One is to ensure genuine civil opposition is allowed. The other side is fareness to the investors. If we tell them they can invest, and then change the rules later (as we are currently threatening to do by implementing the Resource Super Profits Tax retrospectively on existing projects in what amounts to nationalisation of assets), then the result is that we will pay a hell of a lot more for our electricity. In fact, so much more that it just wont be viable.

  129. Peter Lalor,

    Further to previous comment, if we want to attract investors to invest in nuclear in Australia, we have to find some way for the state to guarantee to the investors that the state will compensate fairly for civil disruption or any changes of rules that effectively disadvantage the investors. This must apply for the 60 year life of the plant.

    An alternative is state ownership of the electricity system. Part ownership, such as ownership of just the nuclear plants, is not viable IMHO. The advantage of public ownership is that the people can see the consequences of public disruption. the people pay directly through their taxes.

    However, I can;t see the public ownership being a viable option now days. The NSW Government, which does own its generators and distribution companies, can’t even maintain their existing assets, let alone build more. The state has become the rust-bucket state of Australia.

  130. ‘EclipseNow’ wrote,

    I raised IFR’s with a group of men recently, and they said “What’s wrong with solar?”

    It appears, along with wind turbines, in photomontages in oil-and-gas company ads. Similar imagery appears in governmental energy forecasting or energy-departmenting documents. Due to the subsidy governments get from oil and gas consumers, this amounts to the same thing.

    Try and find such pamphletry with a Cerenkov light photo.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  131. Phil M, on 26 June 2010 at 14.58 — China does many things for political reasons, both domestic and international.

    Incidently, the PRCG recently ordered 1/2 of the wind turbine factories in China to go out of business; not enough transmission lines have been installed.

  132. Eclipsenow,

    Just so.

    Peter Lalor,

    Where do your priorities lie? Achieving decentralistion or adequately addressing climate change? If the former, then by implication you are suggesting it should be pursued even at the cost of catastrophic climate change. If the latter then a centralised/decentralised electricity supply is important only in so far as the one or the other is able to effectively reduce our CO2 emissions.

    I have little faith in decentralisation as a climate change mitigation strategy. It’s slow, expensive, unfair, and dangerous.

  133. eclipsenow,

    I’ve had a bit of fun with your idea this morning. How about:

    Our response to climate change is CRUD. Costly Renewables which are Unfair and Dangerous (ie ineffective).

    Or: …is a DUD. Dear, Unfair and Dangerous.

    I’ll expand on this tonight.

  134. John Morgan said

    “the immediate response is to cut him down for asking these questions and to be immediately suspicious of his motives. If this is the way we are going to respond to the people who we hope will read this document, we may as well give up on this right now.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. We absolutely cannot bite the head off everyone who asks pretty standard questions on the nuclear issue. Remember, we’re dealing with apathetic masses who’ve passively listened to over 4 decades of anti-nuclear propaganda. We can’t expect everyone to search for and trawl through the loads and loads of information, some of which is quite technical, that responds to every statement or lie the anti-nuclear movement has ever made. If you bite their heads off for this, you’ve lost potential supporters before you’ve even begun.

    Furthermore, I defy anyone who claims they actually know the motives of someone from a single comment or two on an internet chat site. That resembles precisely the type of paranoid reaction exerted by dogmatic anti-nuclear activists when they’re questioned on their fundamental beliefs. Let’s not sink to that level.

    I think Barry’s Socratic method is far more effective (i.e. engagement more than confrontation), and David B. Benson sums up well when he says “negative campaigns are less effective than positive ones”. And it’s not just an FAQ (for example) that needs to be positive, it needs to be the whole thing, including our response to people’s usually innocent questioning.

  135. The way I put it the other day on the largely anti-nuke Larvatus prodeo, in the course of a topic on MRETs was as follows:

    To what lengths should Australia go to totally eliminate all marginal CO2 emissions AND all other uncontrolled emissions of toxics associated with power generation?

    If we could achieve this within 15 years at a modest cost premium on the present and without other major structural change or variation in consumption patterns and if during the same timeline we could steadily reduce transport emissions to zero by converting ICE vehicles to electric vehicles and powering them from the grid should we do it?

    I didn’t actually mention nuclear in that post, but everyone there got it … and tellingly, nobody tried to say it wasn’t possible or desirable. I got the usual anti-nuclear talking points back from the hardcore, but the other responses were muted.

    People like the end point. Push that hard enough and nuclear becomes the only technology that can get us there.

  136. Fran – actually I was a bit surprised how muted the opposition to nuclear power was, especially given the left leaning nature of the site. The response was basically along the lines of “we accept that nuclear is a valid solution but can we talk about something else”.

  137. Tom,
    I agree!

    I had all sorts of paranoid conspiratorial motives ascribed when I resisted the urge to fall in love with nuclear bombs. I explained that I had thought through “just war” theory probably more than many on this list, as a young Christian person joining the army, and still to this day can’t justify the civilian loss of life in using nukes.

    On the other hand, I completely support nuclear power until something better comes along… something from the realms of science fiction perhaps, but who can say where nano-materials and battery technology will go? But until that wonderful day, we’ll just have to settle for this rather wonderful technology… and hopefully not alienate too many people in the meantime by telling them off for motives they never really had in the first place.

    I think some on the list must drink too much coffee. ;-)

  138. I thought it would be a hard question for them to deal with, because amongst green lefties, pride goes to the green lefty who proposes the most robust target in reductions. Throw in clearing up air pollution and contamination of water and you have a lock.

    It’s in that sense that renewables are important to many green lefties — it is their cover for opposing coal and nuclear at the same time. Thjey really want to oppose coal, but the more pragmatic know that they can only do so with lots of gas. So reralloy their position amounts to favouring much higher emissions and resort to a non-renewable resource simply to avoid accepting nuclear.

    So the answer to what would we do to achieve …[zero emissions] is … not nearly enough because being anti-nuke is more important … yet being less green than a nuclear advocate is something no self-respecting green lefty likes one little bit.

    In the end, it can only be resolved by abandoning being a deep green anti-nuclear power advocate or accepting nuclear power.

  139. Marion Brook, you said:

    “I have little faith in decentralisation as a climate change mitigation strategy. It’s slow, expensive, unfair, and dangerous.”

    While I support proposals to encourage the construction of thousands of Nuclear Power Plants, your statement quoted above scares me.

    Firstly many people including myself are not convinced that “climate change” needs “mitigation” or that building huge numbers of nuclear power plants will have a measurable effect on climate.

    Secondly, your statement implies that if something has to be done, centralised approaches are superior.

    In the USA we already have “centralised” approaches to energy issues. To take a simple example, as a result of intensive lobbying by Acher, Daniels, Midland, the federal government mandated that gasoline contain at least 10% ethanol even though this causes significant problems for most motorists.

    Gasoline containing no ethanol is no longer available here except in a handful of stations that have special permits to serve light aviation and marine users. This “centralised” approach is unfair because it prevents a true market test of gasohol. (See Peter Drucker, “Management”, page 148). Given a choice, I would buy “ethanol free” gasoline and gasohol would soon find what market share it deserves on merit.

    How does this apply to nuclear power? As argued convincingly on this thread, we need to permit and encourage all types of power generation. We also need to make sure that there is a market test. Strangely enough, the UK is in the forefront of developing competition between power companies because consumers can now choose their provider of electric power. The beauty of this approach is that in principle, consumers will tend to migrate to the low cost producers once subsidies are removed!

    Nuclear power will eventually be cheaper than coal power because we will run out of coal before we run out of Uranium and Thorium. In the meantime we should welcome UK style competition between power generating companies. Less economic “solutions” will achieve their proper market share without the need for “Blue Ribbon” panels to dictate capacity plans.

    Economic analysis by academia/government may be useful and interesting; nevertheless, the final decision on most consumer issues should be made by the consumers themselves using their dollars as votes day by day.

  140. It’s really very simple GC …

    When you buy in bulk, you get a better price and greater standardisation — which simplifies maintenance and compliance. If you are going to roll out thousands of nuclear plants cost effectively, centralising the process makes sense.

    Marion was arguing against fragmented ad hoc solutions — such as micro-generation and renewables — since these are costly, and unlikely to do anything useful.

    This is a time to put aside the kind of existential claims you allude to and to focus on what is pragmatic. A naive focus on “market forces” and individual choice is simply not going to work.

  141. Camel,
    that’s a typical American reaction for you! It’s like you our out to characterise yourself. Start of boldly asserting your worst point (climate denialism) and then go on a rant about letting the ‘market decide’. Talk about fact-less ideology speaking!

    How did the market-based approach to running fire departments work out in the good old US of A? ;-)

  142. I’ve put one up at the local shops and will see how the tear-off tabs go. School children and old age pensioners pass by regularly, along with businessmen and women after 5:30 or 6pm.

    Epping library will probably be a better testing bed, as that’s where many of the high school and university youth are.

    Barry, did you find the poster too negative looking?

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/nuclear-posters/

    Did you get the juxtaposition I was trying to set up between the cliché objections to nuclear power that are totally outdated by the facts? If you like it, would you put it up here and create a posters page, as that might get a bit of a feedback-loop running if we can recruit more young people into the cause.

    Anyway, I think there’s promise in Marion’s ideas…

    Our response to climate change is CRUD. Costly Renewables which are Unfair and Dangerous (ie ineffective).

    Or: …is a DUD. Dear, Unfair and Dangerous.

    Nice. With a few short facts and figures about estimated costs and roll out times, this could be great. Imagine an image panel of wind turbines and solar panels with the word DUD “rubber-stamped” across the image. Then 3 paragraphs explaining the acronym with some facts and figures.

    What do you think?

  143. I love the first poster, eclipsenow. Very slick, and leaves people wanting to know more. Also, very professional looking. I love it.

    (two edits: half the annual global economy, and better to call me an environmental scientist as I’m not a climatologist [though I am, more generally, a climate change scientist])

  144. One concern I can imagine people having is something along the lines of ‘How will my car/aeroplane/Central Heating system run on Nuclear once oil is gone?’. Maybe this issue should be addressed?

  145. Fran Barlow,
    You said:
    “When you buy in bulk, you get a better price and greater standardisation — which simplifies maintenance and compliance. If you are going to roll out thousands of nuclear plants cost effectively, centralising the process makes sense.”

    Certainly there are economies of scale but when it comes to innovation it is dangerous to create monopolies at the national level even though there are some precedents for doing this.

    Maybe you can see what I mean by looking at another critically important industry. Would automobile manufacturing be stronger by having a centralized source of automobiles, say Volkswagen for Germany, Toyota for Japan, Ford for the USA and so on?

    I would argue that the present chaotic situation with many competing companies trying to serve the same market guarantees that innovation will occur and that consumers will get good value for their dollars.

    You folks who think that Marxism failed because the wrong people were in charge are deluding yourselves. Even if the wind farms, solar, nuclear, fossil fuel and wave projects are put together by centralized organizations there still should be a market test.

  146. Huw Jones,
    With plentiful, affordable electricity it is no big stretch to imagine a world without automobiles driven by internal combustion engines. We had a preview when the EV1 was on the roads in California. See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F

    The Sony corporation produced a very interesting documentary movie on this saga. Even though GM destroyed its own child (the EV1) it is
    working on another with the Chevrolet “Volt”.

    All electric homes with heat pumps are already commonplace in the USA but heat pumps are less effective in colder latitudes.

    No viable alternative to fossil fuels for aircraft propulsion is available. The development of nuclear powered aircraft was abandoned in the 1960s by the USA and the USSR (Tu-119).

  147. @GC 29 June 2010 at 4.01

    Your attempt to map the system for delivering cars to market to what one would say about infrastructure makes your post a fairly common instantiation of vacuous Rand-style fundamentalism. I’m not sure how many road-going vehicles and how many distinct iterations of there are on the planet, but both these are certainly orders of magnitude larger than the numbers of power plants we are discussing. The comparision is thus just as silly as saying that because it is OK to leave corner shops to run their own game, it is OK to have dams and power grids run by small proprietors.

    One sees everywhere that the more complex a system is, the larger its scale and the more life-critical its operations, the moere need there is for robust structure and centralised control, whether this is via states or very large corporations. There would have been no aircraft industry in the US absent serious federal government involvement — the early innovation and development points went to the Europeans and it was only war that spurred the US to shed its ideological vision.

    Indeed, even in the car market you cite as exemplar, it was only the collusion of the state and large corporations in fuel and manufacturing, and the fact that the US was tooled up post-war that underpinned the mass roll-out of automobiles. Nor could pure individual choice have built roads or other key elements of the infrastructure. The foundation stones for communication infrastructure in communication have everywhere been laid by states, up to and including the internet. That ought to tell you something, but of course, you want to cover your ears to protect your fundamentalism.

    The mass of the public is not going to pick power power plants on the basis of minor technical features. Does the plant come in a range of colours and does it have a blue tooth connection don’t arise. Wjhat is wanted in power plants is constant efficient and safe operation, easy compliance, modularity of components, low cost and the ability to deploy rapidly — and for these things you need a minimum number of designs and the benefits of mass manufacturing. This is especially true in a setting such as Australia, where we are considering perhaps as little as 25*1GW plants rather than the 450 such plants that the US might roll out. We would not want to have to separately manage and audit operation of 25 different designs.

    To the extent that your particular species of fundamentalism has had its way in America, your country has suffered a persistent pattern of own goals, with the Great Depression and most recently with the GFC. You have poisoned your children with e-coli in meat authored some of the most obese populations on the planet, had the most expensive and least effective and most inequitable health system anywhere in the advanced world, made yourselves dependent on foreign oil and imprisoned large sections of your population in commuter tailbacks everyday — surely the most persistent, predictable and ubiquitous imposition on freedom anywhere — caused, it should be ironic, by the pursuit of a vacuous pursuit of libertarian fundamentalism. And of course it is every American’s right to be murdered by someone honouring the 2nd Amendment. In your vision, there’s no room at all for collective action problems.

    You need to descend from the rarified air of Rand and Rothbard and decide whether you want the pragmatic service of human interest or simply to repeat the verities of your brand of secular metaphysics.

  148. Can’t they make jet fuel from municipal waste run through the plasma arc?

    Anyway, in a world of peak oil, they’ll either:
    * do something really stupid like turn to coal-to-liquids programs,
    * come up with an alternative ( algae/biofuel/Municipal waste stream through plasma arc / cellulose ethanol mixed with other ingredients), or,
    * go back to airships which would probably change the economics of travelling overseas: but do we really all need to holiday in Bali?

  149. The mass of the public is not going to pick power power plants on the basis of minor technical features. Does the plant come in a range of colours and does it have a blue tooth connection don’t arise

    I’m sorry, but I wanted my nuclear power plant in Cerise, not pink! Take it back!

    @ Fran,
    that was such an eloquent rant I’m putting it up on my blog! Honestly, as you point out there is a place for the free market AND a place for State intervention, legislation, and standards.

    That’s why I have the Social Liberalism graphic on my blog, which reads:
    “Civil Rights, Social Justice and State funded welfare in a Market Economy”

    Read more here:

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

    Historically American’s were the first to get some things right, and have advanced the notion of democracy in some areas. But their adherence to certain silly notions of the ‘free market’ providing services where it absolutely should not do so is not only fundamentalist but outright absurd. I think it was the documentary “The Corporation” that showed what can go wrong when something as critical as the Fire Department is left to the “Free Market”. Guys would turn up and let a house burn down because the house did not have the right Fire Department badge on the front door! You’ve also provided some good examples. Why oh why can’t these people see the reality?

    When my son was sick with Leukaemia, the last thing I would want to have to do is go on a fund-raising mission to try and pay for his treatment. When poor people are further incapacitated by easily prevented blindness, simply because they cannot spend $15 thousand on the operation, isn’t there a point where Government SHOULD OBVIOUSLY intervene and just fix their eyes so they can work and not cost the government EVEN MORE in disability pensions, or worse, incarceration because they became so desperate?

    There’s a kind of madness at work in the States. Don’t even get me started on their rates of imprisonment!

  150. Pingback: Why I support Social Liberalism | Eclipse Now

  151. Since practical aircraft require a high power to weight ratio fully laden with fuel I think that means fuel that is liquid under ambient conditions. One suggested solution is biodiesel that doesn’t gel below 0C. That may help but won’t be nearly enough. Another suggestion is coal-to-liquids with coal prohibited from use in stationary generation. CTL with CCS is as polluting as petro-fuel since there will be as much uncaptured tailpipe emissions outside the plant as can be captured onsite in the Fischer Tropsch process.

    My suggestion for aviation fuel is gas-to-liquids GTL. There is a modest sized GTL plant in Malaysia and the Kiwis used a variation of the process. The gas industry assures us we have 100 years supply so there should be no problem. However nobody from the govt has yet explained how Australia can replace a million barrels of oil a day for trains planes and automobiles. The follow on question is how transport energy needs affect stationary generation eg will there still be a century of gas, how many people will use electric cars?

  152. Thanks Eclipse, but there was an editing mistake in the last part of the 2nd last para that made it less eloquent:

    <caused, it should be ironic, by the pursuit of a vacuous pursuit of libertarian fundamentalism.

    The broader question goes to the collective action problem, which appears most obviously when what best serves each individual member of a group is at odds with what each member of the group should do to maximise the interests of the group as a whole.

    Insurance is an obvious example. Each of us has an interest in defrauding the insurance company that covers our assets. Selling our assets down the pub and then saying we got burgkled and lost them (plus some other stuff we never had) is brilliant from an individual point of view because our advantage is at the expense of the insurance pool. Everyone chips in to make us better off. Of course, if everyone, or even a significant minority behaves like that, the pool collapses and the very thing we legitimately wanted — protection from foreseeable catastrophic loss at the price of a modest overhead — vanishes. Indeed, if we know that the pool is about to collapse, we have an interest in defraying our losses by getting what we can out of it by fair means or foul, accelerating the decline of the pool. The bank closures in the 1930s were an other example of this. It didn’t really matter if the banks were at risk or not. the mere perception that they might be caused a run, and that procured the collapse, which encouraged others to fear (with good reason in many cases) that theirs might also fail, and so forth.

    So we have an enduring interest in restraining others (and thus having others restrain us) from acting to the prejudice of the collective interest, even where we may have a temporary but significant interest in cheating the group.

    In the US, one sees a very great willingness in policy to ignore this problem in the pursuit of a fundamentalist notion of individual rights. Of course, in practice, all this does is throw the bulk of practical rights to the best organised groups of privileged stakeholders and invite each coherent stakeholder group to seek to outmanoeuvre its rivals in cheating the mass of the populace, who are of course politically atomised and unable to resist being cheated. That’s why the leath system is run by Big Pharma. It’s why Big Oil and Coal runs energy. It’s why the Big Banks run finance. It’s why Big Agriculture runs farm policy. Today, corporations have the benefit of free speech and can offically buy and trade politicians

    Almost everybody loses, (as they must — otherwise why do it?) when the pursuit of individual interest takes no account of how the rubber hits the road and instead becomes holy writ.

  153. From Q12:

    The final waste product from a modern nuclear power plant has a half-life of 30 years and will degrade back down to natural background levels within 300 to 500 years.

    I assume ‘modern’ here means a fast reactor, right? This is not the case for, say, a gen III reactor, eg an AP-1000. If so, I think this needs amending, because I don’t think it is true for what most people would interpret as a ‘modern’ reactor.

  154. You’re right. I’ve updated to read:

    The final waste product from a next-generation nuclear power plant (with fuel recycling) has a half-life of 30 years and will degrade back down to natural background levels within 300 to 500 years.

  155. Fran Barlow,
    You certainly refuted a whole lot of things I did not say while ignoring what I did say.

    When looking for wisdom on economic issues we should pay more attention to Peter Drucker than to Karl Marx. Your ideas appear to be elitist and authoritarian; you will find that a hard sell with me.

    Somehow I seem to have touched a nerve on this site, exposing a strong anti-American sentiment. That is something I regret because I am not qualified to give an “American” world view.

    For the record I am from “Old South Wales” where poetry, community singing and Rugby football matter while the slag heaps are huge, ugly and sometimes dangerous (Aberfan disaster). West Virginia on steroids.

    Marxism actually helped eliminate child labour in our coal mines but that does not persuade me to accept the entire manifesto:
    Article 10, ………………Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form…………………
    Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, 1848

  156. Fran Barlow,
    Your comment that I need “to descend from the rarified air of Rand and Rothbard” is way off target.

    Bernard Shaw said “Those who can…..DO, those who can’t……TEACH.”

    While my income since 1990 has been from academic research and from teaching, it is a recent aberration. For most of my life I worked in high technology industries creating new products and a bunch of patents.

  157. It’s not about attacking you, but the idea/s you may have unintentionally conveyed. The irony here is that the word “Centralisation” that appears to have provoked your market-based critique (and all the blowback) is not at all incompatible with the market… after all, didn’t Henry Ford perfect the assembly line? And isn’t that efficient precisely because it is centralised?

    Fran’s writing stirred into life the Social Liberalism I support, which of course is way off topic.

    Getting back on topic: awareness raising poster typo’s fixed below.

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/nuclear-posters/

    Again, the reason I like posters is they just sit there on the notice board and do all the ‘nagging’ for me.

    No tabs taken at local North Epping Shops yet, but:
    * poster very high up on board, last spot left
    * more kiddies at these shops than university activists
    * I’ll try Epping library later tonight

  158. EclipseNow
    I would like to sincerely thank you for the effort you are putting in to providing us with some professional, innovative and striking posters. Be assure that I will be downloading, printing, pasting and pursuing the results:) I will report back on the action round here in retirementville.

  159. GC said above:

    In the USA we already have “centralised” approaches to energy issues. […] Gasoline containing no ethanol is no longer available here except in a handful of stations that have special permits to serve light aviation and marine users. This “centralised” approach is unfair because it prevents a true market test of gasohol. […] Strangely enough, the UK is in the forefront of developing competition between power companies because consumers can now choose their provider of electric power

    and yet said …

    For the record I am from “Old South Wales”

    FTR, I am not the least bit anti-American. I am opposed to a number of policies that have been pursued by various American governments

  160. @Camel:

    Leaving aside for the present your AGW denialism, be advised that your implied and farcical attack on Barlow as a teacher, citing GB Shaw ,is a cultural artefact of the strictly Anglosphere worship of the self-made man from the Pilgrim Fathers onwards.

    Self-made double entry bookkeeping man is notable for ethnic cleansing and extermination 1492- for the sake of a “land improvement” which is losing the world untold tons of topsoil every year via stock exchange-driven agribusiness. The calories you eat thus contain imputed calories of fossil fuels, as fertiliser is made from natgas.

    The self-regarding prattle on BNC of the techno-geek AKA nerd naturally overlooks not only that most scientists who ever lived are now alive but also that most work in some way for the military. Ansd the rest for Monsanto (joke).

  161. Peter,
    I’ve been there. I was a peaknik doomer a few years back, and was literally frightened that after our family battled my son’s cancer, we’d also have to battle off the roadwarriors (from Mad Max). I’ve read Eating Fossil fuels and written magazine articles about the imminent challenges to agriculture as peak oil hits. (Note: I’m not claiming any scientific expertise in this area, just that I’ve written about it as a concerned citizen and activist).

    But the reality is that just as the so-called “Green revolution” in agriculture has destroyed much topsoil, there are also methods for bringing it back.

    There are many methods for ‘growing’ soil 100 times faster than nature can in large scale industrial bio-farming. Check it out.

    Industrial strength biochar can restore soils, closed loop phosphorus systems can recycle phosphorus, the animal and crop rotation method’s of polyface farm can also massively improve soil quality.

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/replenish-the-soil/

    With enough nuclear power providing the baseload electricity we need, manufacturing enough ammonia to run tractors will be a breeze. Coupled with the plasma arc burner which seems to turn our entire industrial waste stream into a new resource, and we have truly invented a sustainable industrial ecosystem.

    So whether or not the internet sprang forth from the womb of DARPA, I for one am grateful that it enables conversations like these, and new worldwide coalitions of bright professors and ecologists and systems analysts that can take in the whole sweep of destruction, and work to reclaim and repair and restore, rather than just sit back and whine.

  162. When I said ‘One concern people would have is their car/aeroplane etc’ What I meant was, possibly a question and answer should be added to the FAQ along those lines. Sorry I should have clarified that.

    I personally can think of solutions to those problems using Nuclear, but I don’t think the average person who the FAQ is directed at can.

    The car problem can be easily fixed with a electric/hydrogen/boron solution, as can heating. Perhaps if Tom Blees is around he could tell us if an aeroplane can be in anyway run on Boron (I’m still waiting to read Prescription for the Planet, my copy is on order). But this issue needs to be addressed if the general public are going to be switched on about this issue.

    One possible solution I can imagine would be to combine air travel with a kind of geo-engineering – mix the jet fuel with sulphur dioxide etc to negate the effects of the jet’s emissions. I have no idea of the feasibility of this, however.

    Also, I’ve read that there are plans to use sunlight to turn H20 and CO2 into hydrocarbon fuels:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18993-green-machine-cars-could-run-on-sunlight-and-co2.html

    The problem with that is, I can imagine it would consume far too much land. As in that design, all the sunlight is used for is generating heat, why not just stick one on top of an IFR or Gen III+ Nuclear plant. As I saw Tom Blees say in an interview, in the night or during off peak times, the IFR is just producing waste heat. Why not use this heat, combined with a form of atmospheric Carbon Sequestration (which again could use Nuclear) to make Long Chain Hydro Carbons, essentially Carbon free?

  163. eclipsenow

    I’m glad you liked my ideas. Here’s a first pass attempt to flesh them out a bit. I used your BZE example for the first one.

    Dear – Even optimistic estimates assuming a 50% cut in energy use cut across Australia put the zero emissions, renewable bill at $320 billion, or $32 billion a year for the next ten years.

    Todays nuclear power could achieve the same results without the 50% cut for about a 3rd of that price. Any energy efficiency we mange to achieve would reduce that cost still further.

    Unfair
    Pursuing the renewable only ‘solution’ is leading to soring energy costs in early adopter nations around the world, yet emissions continue to rise.

    We have the power to prevent climate action inequality with affordable, zero emissions nuclear power.

    Dangerous – Renewables like wind and solar need reliable back-up. Where neither hydro nor nuclear power is available that means coal or gas. World wide non-hydro renewables have failed to replace a single fossil fuel power station. Wherever hydro and nuclear power are not available renewables are reinforcing the building of new fossil fuel plants.

    Renewables are failing to reduce our carbon emissions and leading us towards a dangerous climate future.

  164. @Eclipse: wouldn´t you know it? it, I took time off from whining and dooming some time ago to read about terra preta and biochar; Mel Gibson cannot act anyway.

    Thank you for that interesting Polyface reference: I wonder why nobody at all has commented on it on its Wikipedia entry?

    So what strikes me about your website and what you say here on BNC is what the Blog Owner and similar say about renewabilists: show that it scales and cite numbers. Where is at least the Mark Jacobson who can do for “Soil” what the former did for RE in Scientific American?

    And when your Soidl ideas have been scaled, how about facing up to, rather than ducking, the question of who runs agribusiness and how you make agroforestry, permaculture etc. palatable to them without breaking their power to maximise profit. This is the same problem as making NPPs palatable to Fossil Fuel companies.

    Notwithstanding the above, your tone seems similar to that of the owners of PV firms in N. Europe… “it has to work, so it already does.”

    As regards the Internet and DARPA, I suggest reading James Bamford on signals intelligence in the widest sense, as an antidote to can-do naivete.

  165. You should know the soil performance numbers are all over the International Biochar Initiative sites and latest peer-reviewed soil Phd test beds.

    You should know that when forced to, the marketplace reacts with surprising swiftness. It’s not up to me to say who will mass-produce the nuclear power far cheaper than any source of energy today, rather that it can be done and someone should do it. It’s not up to me to say who will mass-produce the biochar and bring the soil back to life, rather that the soil science says it can be done and someone should do it.

    And as the main game is making money in the long term, as this planet starts to run out of fresh arable land to turn to, and as us greenies get more and more land declared national parks, or just outright buy it as the Nature Conservancy, WWF, and even Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors all do, then someday some farmers are going to turn to ideas that actually keep their soil alive and productive and earning them money!

    If you think new approaches are not already starting around Australia, you obviously don’t watch Landline enough.

    Basically, I’m used to the doomer comeback that basically asks, “Oh yeah, well WHOSE gonna fix THIS problem as well!” which avoids the startling advances in science being discussed and tries to vainly imply that society will never bother to implement the radical, much needed new technology being discussed. It’s pathetic! I remember ROEOZ leader Mike Stasse going on about Gen1 biofuels leading to a probable mass starvation epidemic because all corporations were big and evil and wanted to starve everyone. Now I think everyone knows about the fuel V food dilemma, and the marketplace is quietly plugging along looking for Gen2, non-food biofuel production that lets us have our biofuel and eat it too!

    Second generation biofuels

    By Keiren McLeonard

    Thursday, 03/06/2010

    The disastrous oil spill gushing out into the Gulf of Mexico highlights the cost of our dependence on oil.

    Since late April, up to nineteen thousand barrels or 3 million litres a day have escaped from the ruptured underwater well, the largest oil spill in US history.

    There’s an increased risk at the tail end of this resource and we are starting to pay a very heavy price.

    So the weights are really going to come on to biofuels, despite the food verses fuel debate.

    While there are significant improvements in first generation biofuels, an Australian company is at the forefront of revolutionary efforts in second generation biofuels.

    These could effectively double the productivity of farm land and produce significantly high quality and high quantity feed for animals.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/telegraph/content/2010/s2917217.htm

    Yeasts that eat the cellulosic woody bits, turn it into sugars we can brew ethanol from, AND then leave a great yeast we can make vegemite from or feed to stock animals. And the evil marketplace thought this up? Who woulda thunk it?

    Now, I’m traditionally a greenie quite suspicious of The Corporations (as the movie shows). But there are these ethanol guys, and the Ray Anderson’s of the world who are trying to turn things around. All I can do is give it a nudge.

    As for whatever other “Military controls everything” conspiracy theories you’re pushing, I thought everyone knew that the military often got to play with the best stuff before it got scaled down for the little guy. “Necessity is the mother of invention” and war is the mother of all necessity, even the potential for war.

    So I’ll see your James Bambford (whoever that is) and raise it with my Peter Nowak.

    Sex, Bombs and Burgers

    | download audio

    What forces are driving the rapid technological developments that shape our world? Well, according to today’s guest, Peter Nowak, it is a very un-holy trinity; the war, porn and fast food industries.

    In this talk which was recorded at Gleebooks in Sydney, he brands the internet as “military made and porn perfected” and explains his thesis by looking at how these industries drive technological change.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bigideas/stories/2010/2892312.htm

    So you call my website “can-do naivete”? Well, if that’s the case, I’m sticking with it rather than indulging in navel-gazing doomerism.

    From my doomers page:

    I have noticed the tendency for some extreme Doomers to even want to keep peak oil to themselves. This is not characteristic of all Doomers, please don’t take offense if you hold little hope for civilization at the end of the oil age. I am speaking about a very specific mindset here. It seems that the Apocalyptic Outsider has too much of their identity caught up in their end of civilization belief system — to the point that if society did Powerdown successfully, these individuals would be saddened and disappointed. In other words, if civilization did not come crashing down after the peak, who would this person be?

    The characteristics that mark the Apocalyptic Outsider are:

    * a tendency to gloat smugly over the coming destruction of civilization.
    * a judgmental attitude to the uninitiated (and even non-Doomer Peakniks are scolded for their inferior position.)
    * a tendency to kick back and enjoy esoteric discussions over the end of civilization — rather than actually doing anything about it
    * very harsh criticism of those who do try to mitigate peak oil
    * can be obstructive, critical, destroy group moral, and is ultimately attention seeking.

    Ooooops

  166. Hmm, quote code got mixed up.

    ABC link on sex bombs and burgers here.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bigideas/stories/2010/2892312.htm

    Quote from my doomers page here.

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/doomers/

    I have noticed the tendency for some extreme Doomers to even want to keep peak oil to themselves. This is not characteristic of all Doomers, please don’t take offense if you hold little hope for civilization at the end of the oil age. I am speaking about a very specific mindset here. It seems that the Apocalyptic Outsider has too much of their identity caught up in their end of civilization belief system — to the point that if society did Powerdown successfully, these individuals would be saddened and disappointed. In other words, if civilization did not come crashing down after the peak, who would this person be?

    The characteristics that mark the Apocalyptic Outsider are:

    * a tendency to gloat smugly over the coming destruction of civilization.
    * a judgmental attitude to the uninitiated (and even non-Doomer Peakniks are scolded for their inferior position.)
    * a tendency to kick back and enjoy esoteric discussions over the end of civilization — rather than actually doing anything about it
    * very harsh criticism of those who do try to mitigate peak oil
    * can be obstructive, critical, destroy group moral, and is ultimately attention seeking.

  167. most [scientists] work in some way for the military

    Not in this country (oz). Likewise most historians work for the military, most linguists for the CIA and most poets in advertising. Don’t be such a bigot.

  168. There’s that answer as well. ;-) But John, don’t you sometimes love to trace the origin of various technologies? Some of the big ones really have been invented by war.

    But ultimately, Sex Bombs and Burgers is a young bloke trying to sell a book and a theory of his. I didn’t hear him rallying a call to arms to stop DARPA doing such amazing research, or even that this was a bad thing.

    I guess Peter Lalor just sees ghosts wherever he looks. He would have had a field day at Salem. “I saw Elizabeth Proctor dancing with DARPA and CEO’s! She has Corporate Intentions on her!”

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

  169. Hi Marion,
    I like the point of DUD so far. I’m just wondering if it’s a bit too wordy at the moment? Let’s have another look at it tomorrow, and see if we can edit it down while keeping the key features.

  170. @Eclipse: It is only a couple of days since on BNC that somebody ( F Barlow?) correctly adverted to the stupendous “natural persons” advantage handed to US corporations by the Jan. Supreme Court decision; forgotten already? The Good Friend Hayden Manning of Flinders Uni. had carefully ignored this landmark ruling at the time in his BNC paen of praise to Capital.

    I wonder if you have actually worked in a big corporation and witnessed what can and does go on there, or even read the various insider reports on them over the years, whether from Finance, Agro-, Pharma or Auto??

    Ever heard about how Firestone in Calif. destroyed the local public transport system so as to flog car tyres to car drivers? or how Aborigines got cleansed off the AU landscape to make way for profitable 19th century wool exports back to the UK? As Marx says, “primitive accumulation”. Your reification of “the marketplace” is thus farcical. There is no “marketplace”, a word which conjures up bucolic village smallholders having a chinwag: there are instead fractions of capital fighting each other through PR, business strategems, lobbying, bribery, corruption, revolving door policy between corporations and government and, if required, murder.

    This is best documented for the USA because unlike AU, it has an FOIA. The deputy head of food in the US EPA has strong occupational links to Monsanto and steered recombinant bovine growth hormone into production bar any testing.

    Your language and assumptions reek of the business management ideology imported into AU systematically in the 80s when Hawke was busy worsening the Gini coefficient in AU and which now appears to you to have the hegemonic status of physical laws, cf. work by Alex Carey.

    Now if you want to understand how AU actually works, consult Uni. Syd. Political Economy website. It will flesh out the “ghosts” that I, and several million or billion others outside the country, allegedly see all the time.

    @Morgan: yet again, the New Right borrows the linguistic clothes of the former anti-racist or anti-Christian secular Left, hence: “bigot.”

  171. Peter Lalor,

    There are also these amazing things called peer-reviewed papers that discuss the SCIENCE of soil productivity and I don’t care which political wing you’re operating from because both sides can use and / or abuse it.

    That was just one long communist rant that utterly failed to address the subjects raised in our earlier discussion. This would fail a student in Year 10 English.

    Mate, I was the one who raised the movie “The Corporation” OK? To make the point that I ‘get’ what they can get up to? But on the other hand, I’m a Centrist, not a hard-lefty blinded to any hopeful technology unless it comes wrapped in a side-serve of Communism. I’m not foaming at the mouth about the wonders of the so called free market either. I’m a Centrist.

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

    You should relax, and be a bit more like me. ;-)

  172. eclipsenow, you said:
    “The irony here is that the word “Centralisation” that appears to have provoked your market-based critique (and all the blowback) is not at all incompatible with the market…”

    As you point out you can have solutions produced by national monopolies (e.g. AREVA) without throwing out the “Market Test”. The organizations that produce electricity can compete with each other for consumer dollars even if they get their power generating facilities from national monopolies. Also there are international market tests; for example France profits from selling electricity to Germany and other countries.

    Many here think renewables are expensive solutions that delay the inevitable nuclear solutions. I agree with that but no amount of learned studies will be as effective as allowing consumers to buy their electricity from several generating companies. Companies that depend heavily on wind & solar will find it tough to compete when the subsidies are removed.

    As long as you folks are not advocating a monopolistic electricity supply industry as we used to have in the UK I will go along with you.

    However, I would prefer open competition in plant design as well as giving consumer’s a choice of electrical power providers.

    When I find people arguing against proven market test mechanisms I start looking for hidden agendas. I have already objected to centralization with its stench of Marxism and “….factories and instruments of production owned by the State….”
    (Article 7, Marx & Engels, 1848).

    On this blog we may have another reason to fear market tests. What if our solution (nuclear power) is not the most cost effective one? Are you worried that coal would get a boost because in many situations it is likely to be the source of the lowest cost electricity?

  173. GC asked:

    On this blog we may have another reason to fear market tests. What if our solution (nuclear power) is not the most cost effective one? Are you worried that coal would get a boost because in many situations it is likely to be the source of the lowest cost electricity?

    No to both questions. Coal can never be the lowest cost near-zero-emissions solution. Indeed, even if we recklessly ignored the cost of GHG forcing in CO2 emissions, and simply examined the other costs to humans, it would be more expensive by far than nuclear power. Throw in the fact that nuclear power can underpin a clean commuter transport system and desalination and the comparison gets even worse for coal.

    The more I heard from you, the less serious you sound.

  174. GC wrote:

    I agree with that but no amount of learned studies will be as effective as allowing consumers to buy their electricity from several generating companies. Companies that depend heavily on wind & solar will find it tough to compete when the subsidies are removed.

    See what you’ve done here? You’ve assumed that the renewables get built, waste our time, waste our money, and for what? Your ideology. Surely we don’t want them to get built in the first place.

    Think of all the discussions here as ‘market feasibility studies’, or pre-commercialisation studies if you will. The problem for us is that we have to be activists about this and bend government policy to the actual energy realities precisely because there is no such thing as a ‘free-market’ for energy to begin with! I wish there were, and then the next Generation of nuclear power might already be out there. The only reason some of the renewable plants are being built is all the government subsidies. Indeed, if you look at my page below, you’ll see that the only reason some COAL fired power plants are being built is once again, government subsidies!

    I repeat: (THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ENERGY FREE MARKET IN AUSTRALIA) (or America for that matter), so frankly I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

  175. @ GC: Also remember that the ‘studies’ here are studies into renewables that have already been built! So ‘the marketplace’ ) has already ‘tested’ these things in the field, and they don’t work! If you had bothered to read the articles on this blog you would know that we already have stacks of data from ‘the marketplace’. We know they don’t reduce dependence on natural gas or coal, they only come in on budget when these other energy sources are there to back them up, we know this, and it’s time to stop government interference in the marketplace (with suspect energy accounting) from bankrupting our country through poor ‘public policy’.

    Maybe a free energy market would eventually sort these things out, but we don’t live in that kind of world, so stop fantasising and wasting our time. Your ‘free market’ idealism is as bad as Peter Lalor’s communist utopia. Grow up and accept the ways and means of the world we live in, and try and work for something that is even remotely possible in tinkering with some public policy changes, rather than trying to institute a fantasy overhaul of the entire political system!

    (I’m starting to hear the internet mantra: “Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t feed the Trolls! DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!” You’re a known global warming Denialist, and that’s usually about attention seeking. I’m thinking your presence in this discussion must be motivated by something similar, it’s equally fantastic and “unearthed”.)

  176. eclipsenow and Fran Barlow,
    You seem to think that a centralised (Marxist) approach to energy policy is the way to go. You can’t provide any cogent arguments so you call me a TROLL who is “not serious”. Enough of the “ad hominem” already.

    Fran said:
    “Coal can never be the lowest cost near-zero-emissions solution. Indeed, even if we recklessly ignored the cost of GHG forcing in CO2 emissions.”

    My power comes primarily from coal fired plants and I pay $0.11/kWAh. How much do you (assuming you live in Australia) pay? My guess is about the same because your power is coming from coal too. Your statement above is quasi-religious nonsense.

    Of course, if I lived near the Niagara falls my electricity would be cheaper………………..

  177. eclipsenow, you said:
    “Maybe a free energy market would eventually sort these things out, but we don’t live in that kind of world, so stop fantasising and wasting our time.”

    Contrary to your rather insular beliefs, many of us do live in that kind of world. Consumers have meaningful choices in the USA and the UK as well as other countries I am less familiar with.

    The US market structure is quite complex so take a look at the structure of the UK electrical market:

    http://rwecom.online-report.eu/factbook/en/marketdata/electricity/supply/structureelectricitymarketuk.html

    The only monopoly remaining in the UK electric power industry is the transmission system.

    http://rwecom.online-report.eu/factbook/en/marketdata/electricity/supply/structureelectricitymarketuk.html

  178. Getting back to ‘taking action’ via posters:

    Poster Report: not encouraging so far.

    No tabs have gone from the poster at the suburban shops of North Epping (been there 2 days) or the poster at Epping library (been there 1 day, not a very visible portion of the notice board though).

    Back when I was running peak oil posters a few tabs would go each day!

    I’ll give it a week and see what happens. Tear-off tabs, and resulting newcomers commenting here, are a measurable activity, but the real impact may actually be the passive viewers who think about it in the back of their minds, are ‘agnostic for now’, but we hit pay dirt as the story continues to grow and they see a few more posters.

    Should there ever come to be a vote on the issue, all those posters surely would have helped get the basic message out.

  179. GC actually confirms he’s a troll by dodging the actual issues and trying to divert our attention into ‘monopolies’.

    Sorry mate, won’t work.

    My main points were:

    1/ We already have a few decades worth of renewables testing, especially wind in Europe and German solar PV plants, and the verdict is in already. We don’t need to wait. We have the *science* to advise us in which direction we should move.

    2/ Government subsidies have distorted the marketplace, whether through feed-in tariffs to renewables or discounts on diesel for big oil or King Coal.

    So by all means, wave your magic wand or click your ruby slippers together 3 times and say “There’s no such thing as a free-market for energy”. I think you’d find most of us cheered you on if you actually achieved anything in this regard. Indeed, other than whining at us about it, have you done anything about government distortion of the energy marketplace? Have you joined a political party to discuss these matters, written to your local MP, or dare I ask: even downloaded and printed out a nuclear waste poster?

    In the meantime, please let the rest of us get back on the job of discussing real world means of trying to help governments remove subsidies to renewables and swing policies around to decriminalise nuclear in Australia in the first place!

    Then I’m totally flexible as to whether a centralised Corporate facility builds it, or a government workshop gets on the job. As long as the job gets done I don’t really give a fig who builds it.

  180. How are we going to equal the nice factor?

    I was listening to a nice German bloke that mentioned peak oil on youtube. He just seems to be a genuine, ‘nice’ guy. A smart energy expert, also a German energy official.

    And he recommends renewables. Now I’m with you guys on the need for baseload, yet as a former anti-nuke greenie I can’t help but wonder how we are going to get by the ‘wisdom’ of getting our energy from the sun.

    Did anyone watch Grand Designs a few weeks back where some guy lived in a hut in the woods, and was totally off grid? The old greenie in me admired his Solar PV and battery setup. There’s just something beautiful about taking energy from our environment…. being energy independent.

    So I’m wondering how we cast nuclear power as something beautiful? It’s the aesthetics of the message… sorry, having trouble communicating tonight. Not sure what’s conflicting me. I’ll sort it out.

  181. I know this thread got derailed by a troll, but I’m trying to ask a serious question about the actual FAQ – shouldn’t a question and answer be added to address people’s concerns about Nuclear powering other things, other than their electrical supply?

    Sorry If I sound rude by repeating myself.

  182. Hi,
    If we move to fast-rail and electric vehicles a lot of the pressure for liquid fuels will obviously be cut. Then there’s nukes powering ammonia and hydrogen systems, and the liquid fuels we could extract from the plasma arc municipal waste burner.

    So… I’m not sure if Barry wants to get into the technicalities of HOW these other needs will be met, but I understand they are in discussion and that ultimately nuclear as a large source of reliable baseload will go a long way to solving our oil addiction.

  183. So I’m wondering how we cast nuclear power as something beautiful? It’s the aesthetics of the message… sorry, having trouble communicating tonight. Not sure what’s conflicting me. I’ll sort it out. – eclipsenow

    One of the strong selling points of the LFTR is its elegance. It solves so many problems so neatly. There liquid fuel circulation and cleaning systems of the LFTR resembles the circulatory systems of animals.;

  184. So I’m wondering how we cast nuclear power as something beautiful?

    One possibility: Cerenkov light. Power reactors tend to be inside layers of opaque material, but blocking of neutrons and gammas can be done by water and other transparent materials. My long interest in boron began with studying the oxide of the heavy isotope as a transparent, extremely heat-resistant reactor fluid.

    So power reactors, necessarily very bright with Cerenkov light, may someday share this light with nearby gawkers.

    Another, probably difficult: find photos of the “fireball reactor”. Although its vessel was opaque, it reputedly ran hot enough to glow like an overfed woodstove. I’d like to see that.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  185. This thread was supposed to be about the “big picture” relating to an energy policy that we all support, namely a rapid growth in nuclear power plants.

    Now you are blowing your chance to persuade your audience by calling me a “Denialist” and a “Troll” while accusing me of derailing the thread.

    While I accept most of the compelling arguments on this blog in favour of NPPs, the big picture is that you can’t “win friends and influence people” by insisting on centralised solutions managed by a cognitive elite who study reports from “think tanks”. Reports by academics will never be a substitute for real market tests.

  186. Now you are blowing your chance to persuade your audience by calling me a “Denialist” and a “Troll” while accusing me of derailing the thread.

    You’re assuming without evidence that doing so will offend someone apart from you enough for them to not listen to substantive arguments. That’s mere handwaving.

    Maybe you are a troll, and maybe you aren’t, but you’ve said nothing relevant to this topic above.

    the big picture is that you can’t “win friends and influence people” by insisting on centralised solutions managed by a cognitive elite who study reports from “think tanks”.

    On the contrary, such solutions are very popular, even with conservatives here. The right-of-centre opposition favours “direct action” (i.e. the government picking winners) based on their own “think tank”. Of course, the chracterisation of what is being put as a “centralised solution” is your simplistic characterisation alone. You are trying to take cheap shots. That’s one of the things that makes you sound like a troll.

    Reports by academics will never be a substitute for real market tests.

    So now you are taking a swing at the work of the host of this site. Good luck with that.

    The reality is that no “real market test” is possible until we actually have them rolled out. On your proposal, that could never happen. You seem to be saying that we should posture as market fetishists and scientific oddballs before people who want action on climate change. That would definitely ensure we got nowhere.

    So again, this sounds like disingenuous trolling. No wonder people are calling you out.

  187. Hi Ewen,
    you make some good points. The irrelevant accusations of Camel certainly are enough to make people pull their hair out! That’s about the 3rd post in a row that ignores the fact that there IS no such thing as a ‘free market’ in energy because of all the rebates and kickbacks by government that totally distort the true picture. (Not that Camel, being a troll, will ever concede this point).

    See http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/remove-subsidies/ for the few subsidies that I’m aware of.

    However, I wanted to ask you a question about this next paragraph.

    The reality is that no “real market test” is possible until we actually have them rolled out. On your proposal, that could never happen. You seem to be saying that we should posture as market fetishists and scientific oddballs before people who want action on climate change. That would definitely ensure we got nowhere.

    Don’t you think that (when we get to the bottom of all the government subsidies and handouts) the experience in Europe means that renewables have been tested in the marketplace, and found wanting by those who can actually understand what happened?

    Camel, ‘the market’ has been conned by government kick backs, and the consumer’s don’t even know or understand what happened. Meanwhile, peak oil and global warming make this too important a subject to leave to the Global Warming Denialista Conspiracy theory pundits.

    The dirty, corrupting hand of government has bent your precious energy market all out of shape. Deal with it.

  188. Don’t you think that (when we get to the bottom of all the government subsidies and handouts) the experience in Europe means that renewables have been tested in the marketplace, and found wanting by those who can actually understand what happened?

    I certainly do. Here we have rolled out some wind, and tested it. It doesn’t work. We rolled out the Snowy Scheme. That did work in the market.

    I was more thinking about nuclear power here, and especially third and 4th gen approaches. Here, it is unlikely we will get nuclear power at all at scale unless it is rolled out by the government.

  189. Exactly Ewen!

    Yoohoo, oh Camel, how do we test nuclear in the marketplace if the government has made it illegal!? Camel’s “free marketplace” for energy is looking more and more ethical.

  190. One of the nice things about NPPs is that you can put everyhting but the reject heat exchanger underground if you want to. What you see is just the cooling towers nearby a park on the artificial hill piled over the actual NPP. Possibly also an artifical pond filled with the warm water from the cooling towers; suitable for warm water fish such as tilipia(?). The additional cost for this is quite small; ask an actual engineer.

  191. @ David:
    Now I have a headache… that’s given me an idea for another poster!

    Spot the nuclear reactor!
    (Shows cooling towers and has arrow pointing to them. Text reads: No, that’s the heat exchange towers, nothing radioactive there!)

    (Shows duck pond) No, that’s the warm water pond that farms algae for biodiesel, nothing radioactive there!

    (Shows park) No, that’s the park where the power plant workers have their lunch break, nothing radioactive there!
    
Where IS the nuclear reactor?

    (Then in small text under images):
    The reactor is actually under the reinforced concrete containment dome, which is capable of withstanding a 9/11 aircraft attack! You cannot see it because it is buried under the grassy hill. Soviet built Chernobyl didn’t even have a containment dome. Western containment domes work, as the ‘3 mile island’ reactor meltdown proves. (No radiation leak, no casualties).

    Modern reactors also have ‘walk away’ safety features. If the reactor overheats, the laws of physics prevent the reaction continuing, and engineers simply walk away for a coffee break until the reactor cools down again.

    The ‘New Nukes’ also eat nuclear waste and nuclear warheads! Waste solved. It provides vast amounts of reliable power that does not turn off at night time like solar, or die off on a quiet day like wind power. Intermittency solved. When Australia inevitably moves to electric cars, it could break our increasing addiction to imported oil (which is already affecting our national accounts.) Peak oil solved.

    With all these incredible benefits, why has the Australian government made nuclear power illegal in this country? Environmental awareness is growing around the nuclear answer. Find out more at bravenewclimate.com

  192. It’s heavy on the text, so if (when we ever get to this!) we find the image just doesn’t work with so much text, we might cut the last 2 paragraphs and just focus on safety. Usually with posters it’s best to focus on one idea at a time.

  193. Eclipse Now, on 2 July 2010 at 9.43 — Yes, one idea at a time. But a poster featuring a park on the hill, pond (not filled with algae scum, please) in the foreground and coolng tower in the background (to one side), labeld “this is an NPP” ought to help quite a bit.

  194. Ref Q15. Further to the point I and Finrod have made – there is no shortage of uranium; the quantity of uranium available will increase as we explore for more – I’ve just noticed this statement in the latest ABARE report (page 7):

    Australia’s identified uranium resources have more than doubled over the past two decades, and increased by 63 per cent from 2006 to 2008.

    http://www.abare.gov.au/publications_html/energy/energy_10/energyAUS2010.pdf (page 7)

  195. We are suffering a “failure to communicate”. You folks advocate building more nuclear power plants and I support that idea. I am not going to give up on you no matter how abusive you become. It should help you to have feedback from people like me who do not share the world view expressed by most of your correspondents.

    This thread is about using big picture arguments to “win the hearts and minds” of folks who currently oppose you. Why make it harder to sell the idea of more NPPs by attaching a load of unnecessary political baggage?

    For example it would be a huge mistake to insist on centralised or monopolistic solutions that will alienate many people who might otherwise support you. You will lose people who prefer individual freedom over authoritarian rule.

    Many are not convinced that AGW is a “Catastrophe”. If you insist on acceptance of CAGW dogma as a litmus test, you will lose the support of many people.

    David B. Benson,
    High temperature NPPs such as MSRs offer high thermodynamic efficiency with a closed system (Brayton cycle). No need for cooling towers. They will also be substantially smaller than LWRs with the same electrical output. They can be cost effective in small sizes (e.g. 75 MWe). These features can make them much less obtrusive than the older technology.

    eclipsenow,
    The renewables are being built in spite of all our objections. I would have thought that you would be the first to realise that a market test is the best way to drive a stake through the heart of bad ideas. Currently, the Photo-Voltaic subsidy in the UK can be as high as 45p/KVAh; what an opportunity for fraud! Crazy subsidies like this cannot long endure.

    Here in the USA, burdensome regulations killed NPP construction over 30 years ago. Obama is talking about government financing for 3 nukes but don’t expect the private sector to invest while the regulatory mine field remains as it is. Until the US government re-writes the Price-Anderson Act, you can be sure they are not serious about nuclear power.

    Leadership in nuclear power is passing to China, Russia, India, Canada and maybe France if it gets over its current funk. Will Australia take an active role?

    Ewen Laver, you said:
    “The reality is that no “real market test” is possible until we actually have them rolled out. On your proposal, that could never happen.”

    One of my earlier comments included a link showing the electrical power market in the UK:
    1. Transmission system. One operating company. Still a monopoly!
    2. Distribution network. Seven companies, fourteen zones.
    3. Retail suppliers. Seven companies.

    Clearly, the UK has a market test as there are multiple suppliers at the retail level. These companies buy their electricity from thirty major power plants and many minor ones that compete with each other, constituting a market test at a higher level.

    If new generating plant is added to the UK system it is immediately subject to a market test against the pre-existing generating facilities. In spite of what you say, there are market tests in the UK. If you still have an operating monopoly in Australia, maybe that is something you need to look at.

    I have nothing against academics because I am one. However, Barry Brook has his feet more firmly planted on the ground than most of us. My favourite academics work at North Carolina State University. This is a “Land Grant” university which means the professors are expected to communicate with farmers. I think Barry might fit right in as he can communicate effectively with non-technical people.

  196. GC,

    I agree with much of what you say and encourage you to keep making the points.

    This is spot on:

    This thread is about using big picture arguments to “win the hearts and minds” of folks who currently oppose you. Why make it harder to sell the idea of more NPPs by attaching a load of unnecessary political baggage?

  197. It should help you to have feedback from people like me who do not share the world view expressed by most of your correspondents.

    Why would it help us get feedback from people who only accept “Denialist science”? Unlike you, a majority of Australians actually care about climate change.

    The renewables are being built in spite of all our objections. I would have thought that you would be the first to realise that a market test is the best way to drive a stake through the heart of bad ideas. Currently, the Photo-Voltaic subsidy in the UK can be as high as 45p/KVAh; what an opportunity for fraud! Crazy subsidies like this cannot long endure.

    Good, so you admit there is no free marketplace in energy. That’s my first point.
    Now, how do you propose to subject new power to a ‘market test’? What would that involve? How do we get there? How do YOU propose we remove government subsidies?
    I suspect your strategies would be similar to what we’re already doing: promoting public awareness about the problems with renewables based on the already demonstrated poor performance of renewables in the marketplace. There’s no need for more ‘market testing': it’s all been done. But it takes clever people to test it: the very thing you expressed horror over a few posts back.
    See, after all that I think we’re basically in agreement about the need to remove subsidies and provide accurate information to the marketplace. However, here in Australia it may take government leadership to kick start new nuclear industries as there is a lot of cultural inertia and market nervousness about the word ‘nuclear’. I fully expect the government NOT to make wind power or geothermal or solar illegal, so they’ll still be there in years to come to judge against nuclear (if we can ever get politicians brave enough to have the debate. We need a “Brave New Climate” of political debate in Australia indeed!) However, can you imagine the political mayhem if governments WERE to withdraw the politically-correct subsidies to renewables? Wind power lobbyists are growing around the world. So again, what do we do about it?
    Basically, I WISH there were a free-market test for energy but governments and corporations have their hands so far up one another’s pockets it’s getting indecent.
    We agree on that. If it were not for your over-reaction to the word “Centralised” we wouldn’t have had this brawl and wasted so much time. I expect clearer thinking in future.

  198. gallopingcamel:

    You argue for a “big tent” approach to winning the hearts and minds of those who might not share one’s world views. I fully agree, though, in passing, I would note that even nomadic arabs generally prefer to keep their camels out of their living accommodation.

    You mention the so-called free energy market system in the UK with separation of power producers and retail power suppliers with the buffer of a nationalised grid system. However, it is a very distorted free market system, as is inevitable when the government has a duty to ensure energy security. Furthermore, while you may not agree on the need for clean energy on AGW grounds, the government does see transition to clean energy as essential and is backed by the vast majority of scientists with expertise in the discipline of climate science. This split between AGW deniers and believers would not matter a whit (except to fossil fuel producers) were one able to transfer from CO2 emitting energy sources to clean sources without resulting large hikes in power prices. I think that we both agree that only nuclear offers this possibility. However, the possibility can only be realised with full government support for the technology. Without it, it will an expensive option relative to coal and, probably, just as expensive as wind, for reasons repeatedly made by, among others, Peter Lang (see, also, David MacKay). In the UK, however, the government is subsidising wind while leaving nuclear to the free market. Without more overt support from government, it seems that nuclear power expansion will be slow and expensive.

    There is an article in my paper today by Bjorn Lomberg (author of Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming”, entitled “The EU’s response to global warming is a costly mistake”. He concludes that “expensive, poorly conceived carbon-emission plans such as the EU’s will cause major economic damage and political strife, while doing little to slow global warming. Europe must change course.” Unfortunately, he offers no alternative other than to suggest spending the wasted money on keeping yet more people alive, hardly a solution. Not once did he mention nuclear as an alternative to renewable energy. Given that he pays lip service to AGW, perhaps he should be invited into the “big tent” and encouraged to learn what possibilities nuclear has to offer. He has the potential to become a valued supporter.

    I have been pondering the wisdom of a free energy market and have begun to wonder whether it is the best way forward, given the pivotal importance of a reliable power supply and the government’s role in ensuring it and given its simultaneous intent of reducing CO2 emissions. The sector must always be in a position to produce surplus product to accommodate demand peaks. This makes matters very uncomfortable for producers – in many commodity markets, a small surplus can result in a major fall in price and eliminated profits (or losses). A private power producer can only buffer against this by selling at high prices when he is in a position to sell at all. Retail buyers are indulging in a commodity trading operation with wild short term price fluctuations. This may be reasonably efficient while the pattern of supply and demand remain predictable, but it threatens to become inefficient when new producers (eg nuclear and wind) enter the market, particularly when wind producers are subsidised, when they have no responsibility for grid management and when retailers are obliged to use their product when it is available.

    The currently developing wind energy exercise on Oz-energy-analysis is looking at wind costs and scaling. However, eventually, the knock on effects on those who produce the same product by different means will eventually have to be factored in if we are to have meaningful information on the effects of wind (at various levels of penetration) on overall retail power cost.

  199. Wow! What a great set of responses. Especially Doug Wise who understands the consequences of letting a camel get his nose in the tent.

    It seems we agree on most of the important stuff such as the tendency of governments to distort markets by subsidising the solutions they like while putting obstacles in the way of nuclear options. My take on this is that governments are seldom good at picking technological winners and losers.

    My apologies to Marion Brook and anyone else I may have offended. Please be assured that my intention is to help you expand you audience.

  200. Eclipse Now,
    The point of this thread is to develop the “big picture”, non-technical arguments in favour of a sharp increase in nuclear power generating capacity.

    My contribution is to recommend that you stick to the main message (MORE NPPs) without linking irrelevant issues that may alienate large segments of your intended audience.

    For example, over-centralised, authoritarian and undemocratic solutions may be seen as Marxist. “Marxist” is not a label that “Brave New Climate” should embrace.

    In contrast, I recommend that this site accept support from people you deride as climate “Deniers” or “Sceptics”. I put myself in this category and have mentioned Roy Spencer as a Sceptic who could be an effective advocate.

    When it comes to removing government subsidies I have no argument with you. Government subsidies/low taxes encourage while penalties/regulations/high taxes discourage.

    EEC subsidies created “Butter Mountains” and “Wine Lakes”. Low corporate taxes in the Republic of Ireland created the “Celtic Tiger”. Byzantine regulations in the USA killed the nuclear power industry. I am sure you can come up with plenty of similar examples within your own jurisdiction.

    You ask:
    “How do YOU propose we remove government subsidies?”

    I ran for state senate and was soundly beaten by a hysterical anti-nuclear (incumbent) candidate who is well to the left of Karl Marx. If I was a little younger I would run again but now it is up to people like you to stop whining and get yourselves or like minded people elected.

  201. Politics is not my cup of tea, but I can help with the posters.

    Now, another trollish straw-man from yourself!

    For example, over-centralised, authoritarian and undemocratic solutions may be seen as Marxist. “Marxist” is not a label that “Brave New Climate” should embrace.

    Again with the red-menace hysteria! Where has anyone on this thread actually said anything to justify such a stupid comment? Is Ford motors ‘red’ for developing the Centralised assembly line?

    You really have a problem with the C word, don’t you?

    I want nuclear power deployed, fast, to deal with the climate and energy crisis. I don’t care how that is achieved.

    The GOAL is clean energy, and I don’t care if China gets there using Feudal power structures, America leaves it to the marketplace, or Australia builds them with public private partnerships.

    I can easily create a variety of posters that appeal to all political persuasions, and so I don’t need to be dictated to by you.

    And you still haven’t answered the main objection to your free market ideological rants.

    My main points were:

    1/ We already have a few decades worth of renewables testing, especially wind in Europe and German solar PV plants, and the verdict is in already. We don’t need to wait. We have the *science* to advise us in which direction we should move.

    Both Open Thread 4 and this thread are getting bogged down too much down in the extreme particulars of how we are going to run a nuclear industry in Australia, not how we are going to get the Australian public to care enough to build one in the first place!

  202. Eclipse Now,
    We seem to agree that science and economics are in favour of a sharp increase in NPP capacity. Yet in many developed countries the impetus is in quite another direction owing to the realities of politics.

    Let me make one more appeal on behalf of freedom and against compulsion.

    I started buying compact fluorescent lamps 20 years ago when they cost $10 each and were only available through Amway. Nobody held a gun to my head; I did it because it made sense.

    Today, politicians are under pressure to ban the incandescent light bulb and at least one country (the Republic of Ireland) has done it. I deplore such authoritarian action.

    Likewise I drive an electric car because it makes sense. I would strongly object if the government took away my choice by banning cars with internal combustion engines.

    Taking this to the next level, fiats that ban the building of more NPPs are deplorable but it would be equally wrong headed to ban windmills or Photo-voltaics. Let the people vote with their dollars!

    You apparently see no problem with the centralisation of such decisions; perhaps you believe that the end justifies the means. If so, here is a link to Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” reduced to a series of cartoons:

    http://mises.org/books/TRTS/

  203. Let me make one more appeal on behalf of freedom and against compulsion.

    To which I answer:

    The GOAL is clean energy, and I don’t care if China gets there using Feudal power structures, America leaves it to the marketplace, or Australia builds them with public private partnerships.

    I just don’t care! Keep pouring forth your ideology all you want, what do you think you’re actually going to achieve? You’re one tiny blogger on an nuclear awareness blog. It’s not as if BNC are going to actually write the legislation! So ‘appeal’ away all you like! Rant to your heart’s content. I’ll not be reading any further.

  204. @ Barry,
    BNC is getting kind of busy, and if the posters work and more activist join in the conversation, won’t you need a fully functional forum?

    Then you can appoint certain trusted people moderators, who can help deal with the trolls on the list, etc.

    (And if we were using Simple Machines Forum or Phpbb3 I could click “ignore” on Camel and not even see his posts in future).

    Forums are great, and if BNC continues to grow in popularity, they could save you a lot of work. You would still publish articles here at the BNC blog, but instead of commenting under the article you’d link to the appropriate thread in the forums. Conversations would then have the full power of forum software to enable better graphics, better moderation, and cleaner threads that are more ‘on topic’.

    (EG: Most bulletin boards have forums for various subjects. EG: A forum could be set up for nuclear safety, fuel cycle, activism in , general chit-chat / after hours, politics, etc.)

    Anyway, just my 2cents.

  205. Pingback: Climate change basics I – observations, causes and consequences « BraveNewClimate

  206. I have a suggestion: in question 20: Isn’t nuclear power evil, comparisons could be drawn to fear of plane crashes and shark attacks where the level of fear far outweighs the true risk.

    This is because the human imagination goes into overdrive when contemplating these kinds of visceral horrific outcomes.

  207. Barry, I’d love Q11 on expense to have various realistic nuclear price options for replacing Australia, in plain language?

    EG: “Summary of this paper” (link to it) shows how 35 AP-1000’s would replace coal for $130 billion (or whatever?) and 40 AP-1000 would also replace gas and oil with potential to run electric cars, fast rail, and trolley buses for xyz billion. (Fast rail & trolley buses not costed)

    EG: “This other paper” presents expected costs for GenIV nuclear once it arrives in 10 to 15 years… etc.

  208. Pingback: Two countries, two paths, one crucial lesson learned « BraveNewClimate

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