Open Thread 6

Open Thread 5 has spooled off the BNC front page, so it’s time for new one.

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

Given the recent discussion on BNC in various threads, a topic worth collecting up here is the merits/demerits of imposing a price on carbon, rather than simply pursuing policy to lower the costs (and regulatory burdens) of low-carbon energy sources. In reference to past discussions on BNC about the form a carbon price might take, read about cap-and-trade vs carbon tax and fee-and-dividend. An argument NOT to impose a carbon price is given here. An argument FOR a carbon price is outline here.

Finally, for those in Adelaide, I here’s a head’s up to a couple of talks I’m giving in the near future:

On Thursday 16 September 2010 at 7.30 pm I will be talking on “Sustainable energy solutions for successful climate change mitigation” at the Campbelltown Function Centre, 172 Montacute Road, Rostrevor (rear of Council Offices). Click on picture for details — it’s a free event.

On 18 October, I will be teaming up with Ziggy Switkowski at the Hilton Hotel, Adelaide, to talk about the near- to medium-term  future of nuclear power in Australia, and also to discuss some of the key technologies that will likely underpin this next-generation revolution in atomic energy, and chart a possible course for their development and deployment over the next 40 years. Details are in a flyer you can download here. This is also a FREE public lecture, so don’t miss it!

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655 Comments

  1. I doubt that energy policy in Australia will differ that much if either Abbott or Gillard form a government. The fact that the Greens will control the Senate next year means that in practice they will get a lot of what they want. Perhaps their $23 carbon tax will be watered down to $10 with giveaways.

    I’d expect a trickle of wind and solar projects to keep bubbling along with great fanfare. Meanwhile mid sized plants fired by coal seam gas will be built and the media will point out that’s where all the new electricity is really coming from. Bureaucrats will announce Australia’s sheep don’t fart as much as first thought therefore emissions are down. In other words the next three years will be marked by the same dithering and delusion as the last three.

  2. This has been briefly mentioned in another thread on this forum. How about micropower Nuclear powered plants for personal use. Rod Adams and galloping camel tell us they have been available to power space probes and the like for years. So technically they are available right here and now, I don’t know about safety or lack thereof as far as the nuclear fuel goes, but imagine if one could buy , off the shelf so to speak, an electricity and hot water producing system that works 24/7 independent of wind or sunshine availability. Those people not paranoid about nuclear power could install it and society would gain experience with it and mitigate co2 pollution. Analogous to the situation in some European countries, where as an electricity consumer you have the option of buying “nuclear electricity”. I doubt very much if the greens would allow the regulatory framework to set this up.
    But we can dream can we not ??

  3. This has been briefly mentioned in another thread on this forum. How about micropower Nuclear powered plants for personal use.

    Outer solar system probes use radiothermal generators which rely on the radioactive decay of plutonium-238, an expensive isotope in rather short supply. The US had to beg some from Russia to power the New Horizons probe to Pluto.

  4. Uncle Pete,

    I would like to build on your thought.

    I’ve been thinking about the problems of getting nuclear started in Australia. One part of the problem is politics, public awareness and fear of all things nuclear. Another part is the technical aspects, such as with our transmissions system, and a third is the financing of nuclear power plants. This post is about the technical aspect as it relates to the best size of the plants for getting us started.

    I’ll continue my approach of ‘book-ending’ the problem by looking at the extremes first.

    Let’s start at one extreme of the size range, the large end. I’ve been thinking about the problem of trying to build the really big reactors in Australia. They are too big for our transmission grid. The new Gen III units being built in Europe are 1600MW. Some boiling water reactors are even larger. Korea has standardised on its 1350MW APR1400. Most other designs are over 1000MW,

    However, Australian generating units are generally less than half the size of these new Gen III power plants. Most of the newer NSW coal units are 660MW, Victoria about 500MW and the other states use smaller units (mostly). Our transmission system is set up for these sizes, so to insert 1000MW or larger units into our grid will mean we need to spend a lot on the transmissions system as well.

    There is another problem with larger units. Australia’s relatively small economy would not be able to gear up to manufacture as large a share of the components as we could if the components were smaller. To elaborate: if we were to standardise on say the AP1000, more of the components would have to be built overseas than if we were to standardise on smaller nuclear power plants. The CANDU6, at about 650MW net, was designed and built in Canada but is now being built in many countries and in all cases with increasing local share.

    Going a step further, if we were to start with very small reactors, just to get started, I envisage the possibility of Australia building a manufacturing plant under licence to, for example, Toshiba or whoever’s technology we decide to go with. The manufacturing plant would expand over time to manufacture more and more of the components as the roll out and replacement of our fossil fuel generating plants progresses.

    Ziggy Switkowski recently said that it may be easier to get started with some small plants to help to change the public perception. He wasn’t specific about types, but I can envisage the possiblilty of getting started with plants in the range of 100 to 300 MWe [Ref 1], instead of trying to go straight to 1000MW or more. These plants are expected to be commercially available in the near future, and one of them is claimed, by the manufacturer, to cost arounf $4,000/kW in 2009 $ [ref 2].

    Uncle Pete, you’ve mentioned the extreme small end of the market. I don’t really think that is a viable option. It suffers from the same problem as distributed power supplies like solar panels on roofs. Here is why.

    In a house or small factory, the load changes from zero to full power. Let’s start at the limit where there is no grid and everying has their own power supply. Every site would need a generator that could provide full power but swing between zero and full power. The cost of such a unit would be very high per unit of energy supplied.

    If we allow a grid as well then there is a balance between the peak power the grid must be able to provide and the peak power the local plant must be able to provide. If we work all the options through, we find that by far the cheapest option is to have poles and wires to deliver the power for from reasonably centralised, moderately large power stations.

    We need to remember that about 75% of our power is demanded all the time. It is cheaper to have power statiosn that provide that power all the time and onthers that can ramp up and down to delieve the extra power needed at peak, than to try to fit every establishment with a power supply that can delieve the full range of power demanded at that site. My gut feeling is that the cost of a fully distributed system would be in the order of 100 times thew cost of centralised power stations with power delivered by poles and wires. Combinations of distributed systems and centralised systems will cost less than fully distributed systems, but more than the centralised systems.

    I hope this makes sense.

    [Ref 1] http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/advanced.html
    [Ref 2] http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/product-purch.html

  5. This has been briefly mentioned in another thread on this forum. How about micropower Nuclear powered plants for personal use.

    Outer solar system probes use radiothermal generators which rely on the radioactive decay of plutonium-238, an expensive isotope in rather short supply. The US had to beg some from Russia to power the New Horizons probe to Pluto.

    Yes, and radiothermal generators are like reactors that cannot be turned off, even if you smash them to tiny pieces. If the intact generator was doing 100 thermal kilowatts, so now are the pieces. This mean they cannot have reactors’ safety during failure.

    The smallest reactors that have shown themselves practical are those on ships. Here the Savannah is discussed, and a mass is given for its gamma-ray and neutron shield: 1795 tons.

    This sort of minimum shield mass remains necessary even if the power is only a few kW. So it becomes relevant to compare the few-kilotonne few-kilowatt reactor’s service lifetime to the time a few-kilotonne heap of fuel — much simpler — would last. This has been previously discussed.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  6. Yes, and radiothermal generators are like reactors that cannot be turned off, even if you smash them to tiny pieces. If the intact generator was doing 100 thermal kilowatts, so now are the pieces. This mean they cannot have reactors’ safety during failure.

    Given the difficulty the US had in securing a ,couple of kilos of P-238 for an historic space mission, I doubt we’re in much immediate danger of having hundreds of 100KW RTGs rolled out for general use.

  7. Australia’s current crop of hi tech manufacturers seem to be mainly looking to defence contracts with only side jobs for private industry. Example
    At the Australian Submarine Co’s engineering arm (ASC-E), fabrication of four giant autoclaves for Murrin Murrin is well under way. These vessels, weighing 600 tonnes, will be the largest titanium-lined autoclaves in the world. Total contract cost is more than $A40m.

    The titanium, which is bonded to the heavy steel plate using explosives, arrives at the Adelaide site where it is rolled and welded into cylindrical “cans” which are welded together to form the finished length of the autoclave.

    In another workshop, huge caps are welded and prepared for fitting to the autoclaves. The titanium skin will withstand a solution of nickel and cobalt ore and sulphuric acid heated under pressure to a temperature of 250° Celsius.

    OK that’s not a single piece forging but it suggests there is some local knowledge of containment vessels. Surely that knowledge can be used and extended. I question the wisdom of some defence contracts such as building more diesel submarines because the last lot were duds. According to tonight’s 60 Minutes the enemy is China so perhaps it would be easier just to surrender.

    The point is that there will be many well paid jobs with increased local sourcing of nuclear supply contracts. It would provide careers for young people whose current prospects may be limited to growing spuds in a community garden.

  8. Uncle Pete,
    My apologies for my (intended to be humorous) reference to Pu238 electrical generators. Finrod is right, this solution only works for space probes that need a material with a very high heat output and a long half life (88 years).

    You were looking for a power source for your farm. That might be a tough nut to crack using nuclear fission. LFTRs should be economical in smaller sizes than LWRs but until someone can develop a design that will operate without human intervention for long periods it is hard to imagine anything smaller than 50 MWe being economical.

  9. Very interesting perspectives from those in the know: Two views on nuclear energy in Asia: http://goo.gl/fb/QcTBC

    Read it all – here is a taster:

    Bryan Camoens: How does the role of government in the Asian nuclear power industry enable nuclear power plant development?

    Edward Kee: There are several ways. First, the assurance of a market is key; having early orders for multiple units from government-owned utilities is something that western commercial vendors do not have.

    Secondly, the national commitment to develop an integrated nuclear supply chain with significant long-term investments in human resources and manufacturing capacity. Like France in the 1970s, a large order of new nuclear units drives supply chain investments and long production lines, which lowers the cost of the nuclear units. Large national nuclear fleets also provide additional benefits in operation and maintenance and fuel cycle.

    Third, financial resources are important. For example, the Russian offer to finance, build, own and operate nuclear power plants in Turkey is only possible due to Rosatom’s government ownership.

    Fourth, the ability to put forward an integrated nuclear power plant offer to outside buyers that incorporates a seamless integrated supply chain. Western vendors must cobble together a series of subcontracts and related agreements from unrelated commercial entities; each of these agreements adds cost (to meet risk premiums and profit margins of subcontractors), risk (as responsibility is shared between multiple commercial entities), and complexity (project management is more difficult due to multiple entities with multiple interests and contractual rights).

    Finally, these governments largely avoided the electricity industry experiments in de-regulation, restructuring and electricity markets. In the US and the UK (and in some other countries), electricity generation has been largely privatized with investment decisions made on the basis of commercial outcomes. While this worked well so long as significant baseload generation capacity from the prior era remained in operation, there are serious questions about whether this approach will result in the investment needed to replace aging baseload generation plants, much less any investments in very-high-capital-cost, very-low-variable-cost nuclear power plants..

  10. Peter Lang,

    If Australia decides to invest in NPPs, I hope you will go for a solution that suits a very large country with a low population density. Australia needs energy sources that can be economic in relatively small sizes while offering high availability (>90%) and good load following capabilities (e.g. hydro, nuclear, oil and coal).

    While solar or wind sources can be small, they do not fit the template owing to their low availability, which mandates back up from remote sources via an expensive high voltage distribution network.

    IMHO, IFRs and LFTRs are more scalable than LWRs so they have potential to be economic in much smaller sizes than the 1 GWe and above plants that are currently popular.

  11. Barry,

    Good points. I wonder how we could wind back where we have got ourselves to with privatisation of the electricity industry. If we tried to introduce government owned and operated generators to compete with private owned and operated generators, how would that work? I know what the initial reaction from the private operators would be!

    I do think this is just about the most important issue to be addressed. I think the financing of nuclear in Australia is the really big hurdle to overcome. I believe the public perception and political obstacles can be overcome if we are serious about cutting our GHG emissions. And I believe such public perception obstacles could be changed sufficiently within one term of government.

  12. Regarding the discussion of RTGs, given how concerned the US is about Pu-238 availability for spacecraft, and developing new Pu-238 production capability, I think there should be a renewed interest in the use of small fission reactors on spacecraft, since their fuel is much more available than Pu-238 is.

    Some small fission reactors (as distinct from RTGs) have been deployed on spacecraft… for example SNAP-10A, as well as some Russian ones.

    There are also modern small reactor designs such as Toshiba 4S… which are quite a bit smaller than typical submarine reactors.

  13. Of the potential available options, were Australia to consider NPPs, a number would seem to be well suited to Australian needs. First would be two or three Indian PHWRs. The first two would have gross output of 220 MWs and 700 MWs. These would offer some flexibility in one for one replacements for coal fired power plants. The third PHWR would be the AHWR-300 LEU, which would be available after 2020. In addition, the CANDU 600 has already been mentioned. Finally. even smaller units will be available in the form of B&W mPower 125s.

    The Indian units would probably turn out to be bargains, compared to world prices for NPPs, while the CANDU and mPower options probably would facilitate a more rapid deployment of nuclear technology, than would be possible if only Indian technology were relied on.

  14. Thanks for educating me guys. Ok, here is another potential saving in construction cost of a nuke plant.
    Instead of building a containment vessel that can withstand a 747 crashing into it, why not have a battery of Patriot missiles installed on site, and let it be known that anyone flying any aircraft within , say 2.5 Km ,will be toast :)

  15. I presume the S-PRISM would suit Australia well. :) But in all seriousness, what’s stopping a large generator like a AP1000 coming online? iirc, the current coal ones are a few thousand MW, but split by smaller generators. What’s the difference?

    Thanks.

  16. Uncle pete, on 5 September 2010 at 8.51 — Toshiba has a 10 MWe mini-NPP for sale. Largeer ones include Hyperion @ 20 MWe and Nuscale @ 45 MWe. Nuscale makes a big point out of the fact that several of their modules can be run at the same site to create a bigger generator.

  17. So , in a nutshell, if the legislation was in place for NPP to be allowed to build, then we would have those power plants. The only thing stopping deployment is the political will. ( I suppose the NIMBY principle). And I imagine the coalmining unions here in Australia are not exactly jumping to get on the fission bandwagon :)

  18. So what do people think about that KiteGen thing? If the carousel turns out to be viable then it looks like it could be a contender. My gut is telling me however that the future energy needs of mankind are not going to be met by a rotating wheel with kites attached.

  19. What do you folks think about this:

    I think it’s worth keeping an eye on. Who knows, in spite of it’s apparent unlikelihood, the scheme might work out. I wouldn’t stake the future on the assumption that it will, though.

  20. Further to my previous comment, even though they are touting availability times of up to 75% for Kitegen, that still won’t necessarily get you away from the need for full backup. Unlike a coal, natgas or nuclear plant, the outages are weather-dependent, therefore inherently unpredictable. Also, it may take some time to overcome the issues surrounding keeping large aerodynamic structures airborne for industrially significant periods of time.

  21. Several authors have drawn attention to the benefits that a publicly owned generator has over private ones. The former Electricity Commission of NSW build a dozen 660MW units in about 20 years in the 1970’s and 80’s. The commissioning rate reached better than 2 per year with Bayswater 1-4 before it was wound down at the end of this expansion program. This was extremely successful, so successful that the available generating capacity exceeded the demand, thus enabling the government of the day to completely close its design offices and divide the remaining organisation into three generating corporations and one HV transmission organisation.

    Manpower was scaled back from about 12,000 to lose to 4,000 total.

    So, not just any state-owned corporation will have the necessary clout to embark on a nuclear program, rolling out one new unit per year reliably. In particular, the international suppliers of units in the 700MW range might not be attracted any more or less to the existing Australian generating corporations than to privately owned generators.

    I contend without evidence to back me at this stage, that it boils down to perception of risk.

    Perhaps the best way for Australia to manage risks is to apportion them where they best can be managed. E.g.

    Radiation leakage
    Radiation – material storage
    Radiation – operational error
    Commercial – construction
    Commercial – market
    Planning and approval
    and so on.

    I suggest that planning and approval risks could be resolved in advance by the state acquiring the land and obtaining pre-approval based on an indicative design.

    Most or even all of the other risks could be managed privately, perhaps with a form of underwriting by the government.

    In conclusion, my initial position is that appropriate government owned integrated power industry players no longer exist in this country and are unlikely to be rebuilt, but that an intelligent government may be able to sort out amny of the perceived risks which attach to a major infrastructure investment such as re-engineering our power industry, through private corporations.

    This may change when I have fully digested the various links which Peter and Barry have provided for us all.

  22. Huw Jones,
    That Deutsche Welle article confirms what has been happening for more than five years. Germany has sunk so much money into wind power that they have nothing to spend on new power plants with better availability.

    The Germans have painted themselves into a corner, so the only solutions they have in the short term is to buy electricity from France and to extend the life of NPPs that should be de-commissioned.

  23. A few thoughts…

    Existing coal fired power stations all have:
    1. Land zoned for power generation.
    2. Workforces locally which can build, operate and maintain power stations.
    3. Wet cooling water systems eg lakes, salt water frontages and/or cooling towers.
    4. If desired, land for dry cooling towers. Think: 5Gl/year for a 1000MW dry cooling station, Vs 20Gl/year for cooling towers, but with an energy penalty of at least 5%.
    5. In most cases, quite a large physical separation from neighbours – reducing slightly NIMBY.
    6. These sites offer a trade off – do away with the coal and fly ash dusts and the sulfurous, nitrous and carbon-laden stack gases and replace them with a cleaner and safer operation.
    7. High voltage, high capacity connection points which are the switchyards of the existing power stations.
    8. No new land to purchase.
    9. No new neighbours to placate.
    10. No new dams for cooling water.
    11. No increase in water requirements from the rivers.
    12. No new highway or rail diversions around greenfield sites.
    13. No new towns and construction camps to build.
    14. No new transmission easements.
    15. No new transmission towers and lines (some conductor upgrades and switchyard mods).

    Many of our existing coal fired power stations fit this description. In fact, we used to have scattered around our cities a crop of former power stations.

    For example, Newcastle – Zaara Street Power Station. Lake Macquarie – Wangi Wangi Power Station.
    Sydney – Bunnerong, Pyrmont, White Bay and Balmain Power Stations.
    Illawarra region – Tallawarra Power Station.
    All of these sites have now been lost, along with the employment and industry which they supported.
    They have mostly been sold off to high rise building entrepreneurs.

    The selling point: Recycle our existing coal fired power station sites as cleaner, safer, reliable, long term energy and employment generators to serve our communities and to provide employment for our children and their children.

    In summary: Before the governments sell off their remaining power generation assets, pre-approve and promote the development of nuclear power stations on existing sites, preferably by 30-year BOOT contracts, which should be enough for the proponents and the financiers to recoup their investment. BOOT means build, Own, Operate and Transfer. After the 30-year point, the asset and workforce are transferred back to the community, which receives the benefit of virtually free energy and reclaims the asset value. This plan also provides for end-of-life site rehabilitation by the State, thus placing the perceived long term risk involved with site rehab in public hands, rather than asking potential financiers to price into their plans something which is 30+ years away and wrapped in much more emotional nonsence now than will be the case in 30 years.

    NSW could start with 2000MW at Liddell (Hunter Valley), a further 3000MW instead of the proposed coal or gas Bayswater 2 (Hunter Valley) and another 3000MW at Wallerawang near Lithgow). Victoria could start with Hazelwood or just about any of their brown coal burners, but with the additional problem that Kennett sold these stations years back. South Australia has a few choice sites, some of which are still in public hands. Quite possibly, further capacity could be located close to pumped storage in the Snowy, to maximise the utility of this resource.

    So, what is our national target? How about a dozen 700MW units and a further dozen 350MW units? That program would draw huge international interest amongst suppliers. The first couple of units would iron out any bugs to suit local constraints, for example, training Australian subcontract suppliers and manufacturers to achieve the standards and skills necessary.

    From there, it would be easy.

    All we need is the political will to use cheap nuclear instead of not-so-cheap but still nasty coal. Once on a roll, 20GW or more would very easily become an achievable target over, say, 25 years.

    Nothing else can come close to achieving that amount of CO2-e reduction in that time and at that cost.

  24. Just for the record, in terms of refuting the case for nuclear power, it seems (from my meeting yesterday at Greens HQ) that the first objection for contemporary Greens is the cost argument.

    Roughly, nuclear power is too expensive [point to cost overruns in Finland] and cost of string waste if openended. Mention subsidies a lot.

    One of the sillier arguments raised, which I must admit I hadn’t heard until yesterday, was that the people storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain would have to try to guess the languages spoken by people 18,000 years from now, because otherwise they wouldn’t understand that the materiel stored there was dangerous.

    Apparently, despite the fact that we can now decipher Sanskrit, and despite a continuous, incremental and fully documented language existing with humanity over the next 18,000 years when it will be dangerous, and despite the probability that they will be massively more technologically advanced than us, people then won’t be able to work out what a hazard warning looks like. Gosh. Who knew that documentation was the chief problem?

    Now as far as I know, no materiel has yet gone to Yucca Mountain anyway, but putting that aside, it apparently didn’t occur to the speaker that sometime in that 18000 years, someone might find a way of rendering the hazmat useful and/or entirely innocuous, which seems a far more plausible hypothesis than speculation over the collapse of the provenance of language forms.

  25. Ewen Laver,

    Just for the record, in terms of refuting the case for nuclear power, it seems (from my meeting yesterday at Greens HQ) that the first objection for contemporary Greens is the cost argument.

    Thank you for that report. I find that really good news. Is see that as enormous progress. Because, if cost and financing is the top item on the agenda, many people will be on the same page (not all of course), so it can be dealt with. I really hope the focus stays on cost and financing being the top issue to be dealt with.

    Thanks again.

  26. Ewen,

    Does that mean that ” the first objection for contemporary Greens is the cost argument” is an opinion of the newish members rather than reflecting the opinion of the higher levels of the organisation? I was hoping it was a reflection of a changing opinion towards the top. I guess that will take longer, yes?

  27. I revert at the start of a new solar cycle to the topic of the effect of a CME, coronal mass ejection, on NPPs. The now-departed blogger DV downplayed all concerns in this area, nothing new there.

    So it is interesting to read the long anonymous piece at http://www.survivalblog.com/ on the impact of a CME or EMP attack on US NPPs today. It is written by somebody called “BZ” who says he is a nuclear engineer of 30 years experience. So he passes the BNC nerd test. He writes that his fellow engineers advised him to keep his mouth shut about CME/EMP.

    Now as regards BZ, there is an admitted current habit of US nationals and their admirers in the US satellite states of UK, Aust. etc. to turn the victims ie N. Korea and Iran, into perpetrators, ie aggressors against the USA. Hence the preoccupation with EMP, electromagnetic pulse attack against CONUS, as the fans of the US military on BNC would say.

    Having said which, BZ’s article is worth reading, because he focusses not on core meltdown upon power loss but on what then happens to the spent fuel storage pool.

    A weakness of the article is that he does not compare and contrast CME with EMP: the former happens every 500 years on the scale of the 1859 Carrington Event as shown by icecore proxies, the latter is a Bush-Bama fantasy.

  28. What would be the settled down capital cost for NPPs of less than 700MW in Australia if we removed all the impediments to nuclear and established an approriate environment to facilitate their roll out at least cost?

    I understand CANDU6’s are being built in China for about $2 billion/GW (or $2/W). Korea is building APR1400 for $2.3 billion/GW ($2.3/W) in Korea and building them as a sort of first of a kind in UAE for about $3.6 billion/GW ($3.8/W). China and India are building plants of their own design at about $1.5 billion/GW ($1.5/W) I understand. For comparison, new supercritical, black coal, air cooled would cost about $2 billion/GW in Australia (according to ACIL-Tasman). (all figures are in 2009 US$)

    What could we achieve here if we really wanted to?

    How?

  29. Ewen, do you think the Green’s focus on costs is really because that is their chief concern around nuclear power? Or are the old attitudes still there, but cost is perceived to be the argument with the most traction? Is the opposition on the basis of cost a tactical shift rather than an attitudinal shift?

    Not trying to be cynical, just interested in the dynamic here. I’d love for cost to be the focus of the discussion, thats an easy win for us.

  30. The CANDUs look really attractive for Australia. They don’t need a large pressure vessel, so we’re not stuck with a supply bottleneck on a critical large component, and there would be more opportunity for local component fabrication.

    And the fuel flexibility would be great for us. They can burn natural uranium, and spent LWR fuel. For a country with a lot of uranium, a mix of some AP1000s and some CANDUs could give a high utilization fuel cycle without separation and enrichment, just fuel refabrication.

    I think an interesting question would be to look at what combination of CANDUs and LWRs would be the most effective for Australia.

  31. Hi Ewen,
    there’s a European movie coming out (Swedish I think) that analyses all sorts of weird questions about storing waste for 100 thousand years. How do they communicate the dangers to those poor people who might be living in a post-apocalypse world of some unimaginable disaster. Will they be illiterate? Will the virus, nuclear exchange, zombie plague, Deep Impact, or alien attack have been so savage that they can’t read English in 200 years, let alone 100 thousand?

    It’s all entirely silly, and is another reason I put up the “Nuclear waste, it’s not the problem, it’s the SOLUTION!” poster.

  32. @Finrod, on Kitegen

    I’m looking everywhere, and there’s lots of claims about its ‘availability factor’ but I cant find anything on its Capacity Factor. Or does it produce near ‘peak’ power 60-70% of the time? Now that would be something…

  33. And on the waste thing, I think we have got to make it clear that even with a once through then burying the spent fuel system, the radio-toxicity will be down to that of U ore in 1000 years. Why is there any moral obligation to make it more safe than just leaving the ore in the ground?

    Also do the antis realise this, and are just trying to stir public opinion? Or is there something i’m missing?

  34. Hi Huw,
    speaking from personal experience as a ‘former anti’, it’s ignorance. Many of us ‘mere greenie activists’ are just uninformed. Again, another reason I developed the “Waste is not the problem, it’s the solution!” poster.

  35. To see one approach to the “problem” of communicating the danger of nuclear waste to future generations in deep time, scroll down to the images here.

    Stewart Brand thinks this is completely ridiculous, and any site decorated with such intriguing “art” would invite exploration.

  36. @Eclipse,

    Yeah, come to think of it, when I was in the anti-crowd, it was just assumed that Nuke waste would be dangerous forever. Your poster is excellent BTW! Did you make it? I’m in need of some advice on a poster I’m trying to make.

    @John M,

    Those pictures are amazing! Please tell me that’s a joke though…

    The issue of future generations digging up nuclear waste is perhaps overblown. There have been many societal ‘collapses’ over the past few thousands years, but we still have records of what our ancestors did. Any future generation capable of digging down that far would have at least some record of what went on today, and know to take caution, and recognise the signs. Hell it might deter future generations for digging for more oil!

    Even if they have no knowledge of Nuclear waste, and they dig some up, so what? They would have to dig up a shitload for it to be of any serious threat. And dragging up heavy spent fuel from a deep mine isn’t easy.

  37. eclipsenow, on 6 September 2010 at 22.10 Said:

    Hi Ewen,
    there’s a European movie coming out (Swedish I think) that analyses all sorts of weird questions about storing waste for 100 thousand years.

    Do you mean this one:

    http://www.intoeternitythemovie.com/

    It’s out already. I’ve seen it. The waste is deadly dangerous forever, and so on…the normal stuff. It’s amusing to watch is knowing that there is no need to bury the waste, but to use it as fuel.

    About kitegen: If that system really works, it should be much cheaper to build than normal wind mills. It can reach far higher altitudes, doesn’t need any towers and should be simply to build even off shore at deep sea. I don’t know what is the teoretical capasity factor for high altitude winds. Not 100 %, but more that 25 %, I think.

    Maybe Barry could tell us something about high altitude winds?

  38. Peter asked:

    Does that mean that the first objection for contemporary Greens is the cost argument is an opinion of the newish members rather than reflecting the opinion of the higher levels of the organisation?

    Note: The words italicised were my construction of the remarks of John Kaye, Greens MLC, rather than his words. The question arose because a new member asked for an explanation of the party’s attitude to medical isotope production at Lucas Heights, and this then led to a more general question about why some countries continued with nuclear power. He spoke of there being two types of countries: those that already had plants and regretted it, and those that had committed, seen costs blow out and wished they hadn’t. He then spoke of the unlimited and open-ended costs asociated with waste storage.

    The position was not challenged or supplemented on the panel, which included retiring MLC Sylvia Hale, her replacement, David Shoebridge, or Senator (elect) Lee Rhiannon.

    John Morgan asked:

    […] are the old attitudes still there, but cost is perceived to be the argument with the most traction? Is the opposition on the basis of cost a tactical shift rather than an attitudinal shift?

    Oh I don’t doubt that at leadership level the need to be unambiguous in opposing nuclear power is clear. For the Greens to abandon this position would be potentially very divisive and even if there were elements who might be inclined to take a more pragmatic approach, it’s not clear how they could do this plausibly. What I read into this is that the leadership is no longer convinced that citing Chernobyl cuts the kind of ice it once did. Significantly, in his qualification, Kaye said even if you could somehow promise there’d be no more Chernobyls (or words to that effect). Many of the new members would have been children when Chernobyl occurred and would have cut their teeth worrying about climate change.

    Interestingly, Kaye, at one point in his life, apparently was an energy trader and leveraged that experience to put the baseload fallacy position to answer the intermittency objection put to him. “We were the ones” he said “who helped push the whole move to on demand energy”.

    Re: thorium, in private discussion, he tried to claim that thorium plants required significantly more energy to start up than did uranium. I suspect this was based on a misunderstanding of the roles of fissile and fertile materiels in the nuclear fuel cycle. One person challenged him, but I thought it better to get a feel for the people in the room than become engaged in debate at that point so I kept circulating.

  39. kitegen is a dynamic system. The kite is controlled. It works at full capacity in almost any winds.
    If there is to much wind it is powered down.
    You would understand if you kitesurf.
    Unlike a parachute it is not only dragging along but working like a profile. Maybe you can compare it with a sailboat.
    In the carousel configuration you would just launch more kites in low winds.
    High altitute winds are almost always “on”.
    Jet streams even more so…but you would have to reach higher to tap into jet streams.

  40. From the Spiegel article –

    ‘As long as old, highly profitable nuclear power plants are still online, they will hinder the development of renewable energy,’ Gabriel said.

    Morons. That sentence makes no sense, and exposes the true objectives of the person who said it.

  41. From James Hansen’s book, Storms of My Grandchildren, page. 181:

    Then, in the final minutes of our meeting, the underlying story emerged with clarity: Coal use was essential, Minister Gabriel said, because Germany was going to phase out nuclear power. Period. I was a political decision, and it was not negotiable.

    That’s it.

  42. I occasionally drop in the logging protestors at Tasmania’s Camp Florentine. You’d think they would be the hard edge of the green movement but some of them are quite reasonable to talk to. What we should fear are the urban deep greens who never spent a cold night living under a tarpaulin. Evidently in Germany these urban types now become environment ministers. They seem to work with a simple rule – if it’s renewable reward it with generous subsidies if not punish it with heavy taxes.

  43. Hi Stefanie,
    How much is the transmission technology for reaching jet streams? Can we even do it in the first place? Those jet-streams are 10 k up, and unless the whirly-birds are generating some SERIOUS power per bird, I can’t imagine it being economic just because of transmission costs.

  44. Stafanie

    High altitute winds are almost always “on”.
    Jet streams even more so…but you would have to reach higher to tap into jet streams.

    During the Second World War England and Germany floated balloons above their cities; they were tethered to the ground with thin steel wires . The purpose was to bring down bombers flying in to bomb the cities.

    My question is who should pay the insurance costs for aircraft that accidentally get caught in one of the kites you are advocating?. Should the insurance cost be attributed to the air transport industry (thus raising our airfares) or to the wind kites (thus raising the cost of electricity)?

  45. Peter, that’s a fairly weak tactic. There are strict flight zone rules. If this technology works, I’ve seen stats that a fairly small area of the flight zone would be off limits and planes will easily avoid these areas. The counter response would be to asks who pays if we have to evacuate Sydney because something happens at a reactor!

    I think the main thing to focus on here is whether or not the technology actually works.

  46. I agree with EclipseNow, my support/lack of support for kitegen is based on the actual performance of the technology.

    BTW, I read somewhere during my brief attempt into researching Kitegen, that one proposed idea is to place the systems at the sites/on top of a Nuclear reactor. The idea is that there is a no-fly zone around the reactor anyway, so there’s no added disruption/risk to planes.

  47. EclipseNow,

    I am not talking about tactics. I am talking abojt the cost? What is the cost. Ams I totally disagree with you that it would be a small risk. I think it is not a risk, it is an issue (in project management terms when a risk has a probability of occurrnce near 100% it i8s an issue). So this is an issue, not a risk.

    Do the calculations ansd work out hom many of thse things would have to be strung from the sky to provide our electricity needs and what spacing would they be. How many aircrafet would they bring down per year? What is the cost? Who pays?

    If you think aircraft never stray off course, I don’t know where you’ve been?

    I notice you back on the evacuating Sydney emotive stuff. I thought we’d put that to bed ages ago. Is it sny wonder I get frustrated?

  48. Sam Powrie, on 6 September 2010 at 8.14 Said

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/29/peak-oil-discussion/#comment-96141

    I don’t care what ‘generation’ the reactor technology belongs too – you are dealing with need for the construction and then the maintenance and the rebuilding every generation or two of thousands of new nuclear reactors. Thousands!!! Not just say 5000 over 20 years (I’ve read it would take 10,000 to replace the coal-fired generation needs of the earth’s current 6.5billion pop’n) but another 5000 30 years later to replace the first lot and so on. Ad infinitum.

    Sam, I agree that nuclear plants will have to be replaced as they reach the end of their economic lives, just as all plants have to be. But nuclear plants last longer, are smaller, require much less material, land area, disturbance to the environment, etc.

    Yes, we will have to replace reactors when they reach their retirement age. But the same occurs for whatever technology we use. Coal gas, hydro, wind and solar plants also have to be retired and replaced. All of these, except hydro, have shorter design lives than nuclear. The new generation nuclear plants have design lives of 60 years and will quite possible be extended to 80 or 100 years. So everything has to be replaced. By the time Gen II reactors have to be replaced we’ll be replacing them with Gen IV or who knows what will be next. Did you see these two articles:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/22/ifr-fad-4/

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/10/ifr-fad-5/

    The key point for me is the cost of the various options. Nuclear is the least cost way to provide our future electricity needs and reduce emissions. The cost wraps in all the variables so it is the all embracing way to compare options. Did you see this article which compares the cost of several options for transitioning to low carbon electricity generation.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

    How many nuclear reactors do you think Australia can build and sustain before our economy goes down the tube?

    The answer is: As many as we need and they will enhance our economy and the well being of all people on the planets if we tackle the problem in the right way. What is critical is how we set up the regulatory structures and the long term security for investors. If we do this well so we implement low cost nuclear, (like in Korea, China, India, Russia) then my answer is we can build as many as we need to have our power generated as it is in France (about 76% nuclear and the rest from a mix of hydro, other renewables and a little gas and coal). http://www.rte-france.com/fr/developpement-durable/maitriser-sa-consommation-electrique/consommation-production-et-contenu-co2-de-l-electricite-francaise

    We could reach this situation in about two decades from when we start building. And yes, if electricity is cheap the load will grow faster as electricity replaces gas for heating and oil for land transport. So we will need to build more reactors and faster than if electricity is expensive. Someone pointed out that if Boeing can build $200 million aircraft at the rate of one per day, why couldn’t we get to the point of building two of these a week (i.e. 2.5GW/year) and more as we ramp up: http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/product-purch.html

    If we were serious about having access to nuclear technology we would have build the blasted things 2 decades ago. We’d have our own home-grown NP industry maturing right now.

    We would have if the anti-nuclear movement hadn’t run a very successful campaign, still running today, to block them and jack up the cost of nuclear in the western democracies. In Australia our federal government and every state government passed legislation banning consideration of nuclear . However, the rest of the world is picking up the baton. All G20 countries, except Australia, have nuclear power or are proceeding to get it.

    It’s too late to attempt to become a nuclear consumer now because realistically our only choice is to become a nuclear slave to the technology of others.

    I don’t agree. Yes we will contract nuclear technology and equipment from a supplier just like all other countries do and just as we do for most of the heavy equipment items we buy from overseas. We don’t build our gas turbines here, or our oil rigs, or our aircraft, or most of our mining or military equipment. We purchase it from overseas. However, if we went with small reactors, I could see us manufacturing our own in Australia under licence, such as to Toshiba for its small plants.

    As I’ve said, what’s important are the numbers, including the money!

    Sam, on your last point I absolutely agree with you. This is the point I always argue too. Nuclear is the least cost option that can provide clean electricity to meet our likely future needs for rapidly increasing demand for electricity as we move more and more away from fossil fuels to electricity (including for heating and land transport). If you are genuinely interested in “show me the money” then I hope you might take the time to go through this:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

  49. Peter, it’s simple. If these pilots are breaking the law by flying into a no-fly zone, who pays? The airline’s I guess. The pilot was breaking the law! Also check the following.

    To help visualizing the existing unexploited potential, just consider that the flight prohibited area over a nuclear power plant can easily get to contain 1 GW of wind power, equal to the power of the plant itself.

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

    Given that the airspace required is pretty much the same as for nuclear power, who pays if a flight crashes into a nuke and kills Homer Simpson, Karl, and Lenny working at the power plant? (Those not lucky enough to be under the containment dome at the time of the accident.) Indeed, to power the world with nukes, just how much air-space are you going to refuse?

  50. @John Newlands, Blees, various CONUS denizens and others at the other end of the world or transatlantic:

    when appraising voters’ and hence politicians’ attitudes to nuclear power in all 3 Germanophone lands note one salient fact that you all overlook: they were and are noticeably closer to Chernobyl than Hobart or LA.

    Read up on the literature describing what happened in those countries in 1986.

    Chernobyl occurred in what is to Germanophones was a foreign ie Eastern European/Slavic/Communist culture beyond the Iron Curtain, this possibly enhancing its perceived threat at the time and since, in folk memory and attitudes to NPP.

    Note that Australians would doubtless react differently over time to a large-scale cross-Tasman accident affecting them as compared to one occurring in PNG or Indonesia. Given an accident, NZ would be more trustworthy in the eyes of the Aust. public as being European in origin than would PNG or Indon.

    Austria (border with Czechoslovakia in 1986 and a Czech NPP at Temelin still on it in 2010) has banned NPPs in its Constitution and replaced the NPP investment ruin at Mühlberg in 1978 with a coal fired station; Switzerland has on ongoing NPP controversy.

    Note that in Germany, pro- and anti-nuclear has to do with political outlook generally; BNC betrays its otherwise fairly high intellectual level with some of the xenophobic and ignorant sweeping comments made recently by Anglosphere residents.

    I admit however that it is not easy in Launceston to imagine dozens of countries with different but interlocked histories and mentalities all contained within an area smaller than Aust. itself. However, BNCers are welcome to try to pull themselves up by their bootlaces, imported from China.

  51. Saw the wanker-mobile from “Friends of the Earth” (I think it’s owned by FoE, but I’m not 100% sure) driving around Melbourne this afternoon, scaring people with their fake trailer-load of “radioactive waste”.

    (The same one as depicted here: http://indymedia.org.au/2010/07/30/melbourne-launch-of-nuclear-freeways-2010-30-july )

    (Of course, they have absolutely no idea about the legislation, permitting, licensing, international regulations, package and container design, shielding, containment and similar controls that go into the regulation of the actual realistic transport of any radioactive material.)

    I wonder where they’re going? I can’t think of any public forums concerning nuclear technology in the near future in Melbourne that they would take their travelling circus to picket at.

  52. I don`t see a reason why the powersat system should not be doable.

    NoFlightZones are all around Europe…there are more prohibited zones than flightpathes.
    The kites can be reeled in under a minute.
    Every KitegenStem will be equiped with radar.
    Residual risk is insurance issue.

    Maybe the windindustry could give kitegen a kickstart.
    But I guess the Italians are not selling the technology yet. They are trying to develope the product alone.

    But there are other people working on high altitute power. Makanipower (Google), the kitelab at TU Delft and some students in Swizerland.

    Retrofitting shipps with Skysails can also save significant amounts of fuel/CO2.

  53. Actually, this guy is starting to sound familiar. I searched for Dittmar on BNC but got no hits, so I’m not sure if the search function covers comments as well?

    This is the fourth part of a four-part guest post by Dr. Michael Dittmar. Dr. Dittmar is a researcher with the Institute of Particle Physics of ETH Zurich, and he also works at CERN in Geneva.

    Anyway, these are his summary claims after a fairly long article.

    In this fourth and final part of our analysis about the Future of Nuclear Energy, we have presented status and prospects for nuclear fuel breeder fission reactors and the true situation as it relates to nuclear fusion.

    Despite the often repeated claims that the technology for fast reactors is well understood, one finds that no evidence exists to back up such claims. In fact, their huge construction costs, their poor safety records, and their inefficient performance give little reason to believe that they will ever become commercially significant.

    Indeed, no evidence has been presented so far that the original goal of nuclear fuel breeding has been achieved. The designs and running plans for the two FBR’s, currently under construction in India and in Russia, do not indicate that successful breeding can even in principle be achieved.

    Nevertheless, assuming that extensive and costly efforts are being undertaken during the next 20-30 years, a remote possibility of mastering nuclear fission breeder reactor technology can still be imagined. However, it is unclear if (1) enough highly enriched uranium remains to start future commercial breeder reactors on a large scale in 30-40 years from now, and (2) if the people in rich societies will accept risky and costly research efforts during times of economic difficulties. In any case, fast breeder reactors, even under the most optimistic assumptions, will come far too late to compensate for the looming energy decline following the peaking of oil and gas.

  54. just asking if anyone has time to write a decent article rebuffing this guy? It seems to be the ‘knock-down’ piece a peaknik friend uses to combat the meme that we might actually DO something about the energy crisis.

    http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5929

    There are a great many responses in the comments thread to that article which would qualify to be considered as such a rebuttal, although reading through the lot would take quite a while.

  55. I suspect a major critique has not been written because of the incredible length of it!

    I’ve noticed that a tactic sometimes employed by essayists attempting to get away with some premise or point which would be rejected to the accompaniment of laughter if it were plainly and concisely presented is to so daunt would-be critics with an absolute epic of such length that one despairs of ever getting to the end, or even the salient point of the damn thing. I take it as a sign of desperation.

  56. @Eclipse, did you notice that someone was talking about this over on the IFR FaD thread? Someone had some interesting points on the article, maybe you could include them in your email to your peaknik friend :P

  57. Hey, for all I know it might have even been me looking for material on Dittmar a while ago… the article is starting to really sound familiar. Like certain bad smells that just keep reappearing.

    Got a link to the IFR FaD thread… I’m having trouble navigating today.

  58. In a different direction – I found Dr. David MacKay’s excellent free online book Sustainable Energy without the hot air via Brave New Climate (thanks!). It’s at

    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/sewthacontents.shtml

    I got so interested that I did more searching and found the video of Dr. MacKay’s April 5, 2010 presentation at Caltech. It’s at:

    https://octopus.caltech.edu/ccser/video/david-mackay/index.html

    He’s updated some of the material in Sustainable Energy, and is definitely without the hot air. In the question and answer session at the end, he mentions his work on an online interactive calculator for the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. The first version is now online. Start with the 2050 Pathways Analysis page at

    http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/lc_uk/2050/2050.aspx

    and check out the DECC 2050 calculator too itself at

    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/

    DECC is asking for comment on the tool in a Call for Evidence by 5 October 2010. (I don’t know how they’d respond to non-UK resident’s comments – I’m sure Dr. MacKay wouldn’t mind.)

    But even better, for those who would like to start designing the future (and getting our own leaders off the pot – I’m in Canada) – the tool is open source and available. Here’s the quote from the calculator tool page:

    ‘Creating a low-carbon economy will require the consent and participation of citizens given the scale and pace of change required. Government can play a leadership role, but transforming our economy will require a coalition of citizens, business, and the energy industry.

    We would like to test and refine this tool, its assumptions and its presentation, before engaging the public more widely.

    * This tool is a front end to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that carries out the actual calculations and contains all the assumptions. Download the spreadsheet.

    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/document/call_for_evidence_spreadsheet

    * There is a document that explains the assumptions and approach used in this work and some of its implications. Download the document (pdf).

    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/document/call_for_evidence

    * We are running a call for evidence to help improve the assumptions and spreadsheet. Respond to the call for evidence on the DECC website.

    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/document/call_for_evidence_response

    You can also download the full source code to this interface to the calculator, under an open source licence. Patches gratefully received through that site.’

    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/document/get_source_code

    Contact info:
    2050 Pathways Analysis Call for Evidence Co-ordinator 2050 Pathways team 0300 060 4000 2050pathways@decc.gsi.gov.uk

    I hope you find this as exciting as I do. And Barry – thank you for BraveNewClimate and also to all your readers and commentators. It’s an eye-opener and I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s here.

  59. PS: I say friend because I really do respect the questions Michael is asking. They are important questions. EG: What energy sources will be affected by the upcoming scarcity of ‘rare earths’? Various renewables are going to have to be reinvented as gallium supplies and other ‘rare earths’ become ‘extremely rare earths’. ;-)

    How will nuclear power be affected? Which nukes are affected by what resource crisis? Because when one looks into it, babies born today are not just hitting ‘peak oil’ but ‘peak everything’. From here on in, all the normal concentrated resources are declining. Fortunately though I understand that with enough energy, we can chew away at even the bedrock of continents to extract the resources we need. But at what price?

    I’m hoping nano-tech and new approaches in ‘green chemistry’ can substitute new building and electronics materials so that we don’t need to scour through every last meter of the surface of the earth, but can leave some ecosystems intact.

  60. EclipseNow,

    you clearly were not at school in the early 1960s. In those days we were taught we had only about 11 years supply of oil left! A few years before that Australia had a ban on exporting iron ore because we didn’t have enough iron in Australia to meet our own needs!!

    The Club of Rome had us running out of everything we needed before 2000.

    Spare me the doomseday scenarios. There will always be a new scare campaign just around the corner.

    We can prioritise and handle what we need to handle if only we could get rational. Unfortunately, our ability to do that has evaded us for the past 40 odd years, and continues.

  61. The Club of Rome had us running out of everything we needed before 2000.

    Oh really? That’s a fair group of people you’re attacking there. Some projections were alarmist, and some were just plain silly. But as this is heading into ‘depletion’ territory, and you’re obviously a peak oil sceptic as well, maybe it should head over into the peak oil thread where you have been noticeably absent? I’ve copied and pasted your comment over there where the oil conversation can really kick off.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/29/peak-oil-discussion/#comment-94646

  62. (Sighs)
    I encourage everyone to look at not only the post Peter linked to, but the context of the preceding 3 posts by Lawrence. If anything, I was reacting not just to Lawrences insult of “the idiot Eclipsenow or his minions” but also the way Lawrence dared to write to Barry Brook, “That’s a pretty shit stool for an academic to stand on.” I thought that was a bit rich to the owner of this blog, and reacted accordingly! However, to Lawrence’s credit, he later apologised to Barry. (But not to Sam or myself, but that’s Lawrence’s choice).
    
The reason I have business with you is that from the beginning you have misunderstood my argument with ABARE. You spent 20 or so posts unkindly attacking a deranged straw-man of your own construction — nothing to do with anything I ever said — and now not only attack the credibility of the entire Club of Rome, some of which has stood the test of time as well as any ABARE projections, but also attack the vast majority of independent oil geologists who bother to actually look at the *world* oil situation. Your post attempted to smear a growing consensus of geologists with the same tar-brush you used to attack the Club of Rome: which turns out to be yet another straw-man caricature of your own construction.

    I don’t have to be a scientist to tell that you don’t read very broadly.

  63. Hi Finrod.

    Finrod wrote (over in the General thread 6)…

    A good many highly qualified engineers and scientists have attacked the perspective of the CoR over the years. Peter is in quite good company in this.

    Again Finrod, it is a huge group. One has to specify who and what one is disagreeing with. Some, like Ehrlich, raised important questions but came down too hard with suspect methodology for their answers. He may have deserved criticism for some of his modelling. But others like the Limits to Growth report has gained respect as their modelling is put to the test of 35 years of real-world history. If you have credible sources debunking the 2008 Graham Turner CSIRO report into LTG’s accuracy, I’d be happy to read it. But for now I’m sticking with the New Scientist review of his work:

    In 1972, the seminal book Limits to Growth by a group called the Club of Rome claimed that exponential growth would eventually lead to economic and environmental collapse.
    The group used computer models that assessed the interaction of rising populations, pollution, industrial production, resource consumption and food production.
    Most economists rubbished the book and its recommendations have been ignored by governments, although a growing band of experts today continues to argue that we need to reshape our economy to become more sustainable.
    Now Graham Turner at theCommonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia has compared the book’s predictions with data from the intervening years.
    ‘Steady state economy’
    Changes in industrial production, food production and pollution are all in line with the book’s predictions of collapse in the 21st century, says Turner. According to the book, the path we have taken will cause decreasing resource availability and an escalating cost of extraction that triggers a slowdown of industry, which eventually results in economic collapse some time after 2020.
    “For the first 30 years of the model, the world has been tracking along an unsustainable trajectory,” he says.
    According to Herman Daly of the University of Maryland, Turner’s results show that we “must get off the growth path of business as usual, and move to a steady state economy,” stopping population growth, resource depletion, and pollution.
    Yet Turner reckons his report [pdf format] shows that a sustainable economy is attainable. “We wouldn’t have to go back to the caves,” he says.?

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16058-prophesy-of-economic-collapse-coming-true.html

  64. @Stefanie:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/09/04/open-thread-6/#comment-96422

    Thank you for adding Zwentendorf, the investment ruin nuclear power station in Austria of 1978, and deleting the current one in operation at Mühleberg (CH).

    As regards Kitegen, I wonder how the intention to deploy surveillance drones in EU airspace will affect this? See

    http://statismwatch.ca/2010/02/15/uk-police-use-spy-drone-for-first-domestic-arrest-without-airspace-clearance/

  65. @Lang and Eclipse

    what you have in common as neocon/neoliberal and my-ass smells-of-roses capitalist respectively is the unconscious notion that “we” are actually entitled to “scour through every last meter of the earth” and/or “to (hopefully) leave some ecosystems intact”.

    One implication of this absurd last sentence is the notion that Homo sapiens is not part of an, or many, ecosystem(s) himself (for any PC liberal admirers of Julia Thatchard on this blog: “themself”)

    Brooks is in the habit when writing of confusing the “we” energy beneficiaries of C02-intensive rich countries in the period since James Watt with Homo sapiens as such when looking to describe how AGW has happened since that Age of Coal; you two run a different but related strategy, don’t you?

    Because your “we”, if I look at who owns and profits from mineral exploration firms, is not “we” at all, but a defined number of known countries and persons/classes within those countries. Or why has a small Ecuador village recently started to sue the Toronto Stock Exchange on a minerals conflict?

    The “we” is increasingly including China, of course.

  66. @Lang and Eclipse

    what you have in common as neocon/neoliberal and my-ass smells-of-roses capitalist respectively is the unconscious notion that “we” are actually entitled to “scour through every last meter of the earth” and/or “to (hopefully) leave some ecosystems intact”, and (Lang) “spare me the doomsday scenarios”.

    One implication of the “ecoystems” sentence is the notion that Homo sapiens is not part of an, or many, ecosystem(s) himself (for any PC liberal admirers of Julia Thatchard on this blog: “themself”)

    Brooks is in the habit when writing of confusing the “we” energy beneficiaries of C02-intensive rich countries in the period since James Watt with Homo sapiens as such when looking to describe how AGW has happened since that Age of Coal; you two run a different but related strategy, don’t you?

    Because your “we”, if I look at who owns and profits from mineral exploration firms, is not “we” at all, but a defined number of known countries and persons/classes within those countries. Or why has a small Ecuador village recently started to sue the Toronto Stock Exchange on a minerals conflict?

    The “we” is increasingly including China, of course.

  67. Peter Lalor,
    Not that it will do much good but I’ll just point out that your ability to comprehend basic English is almost as incapacitated as my ability to post in the correct thread tonight. ;-) Talk about attacking a straw-man! I’ll just highlight the first half of the sentence you decided to cherrypick.

    I’m hoping nano-tech and new approaches in ‘green chemistry’ can substitute new building and electronics materials so that we don’t need to scour through every last meter of the surface of the earth, but can leave some ecosystems intact.

    If anything it’s sarcastic. I was pointing out how horrifically we are treating this planet!

    The following is from the summary page of my activism and why I even blog.

    Yet forests are not the only system in trouble, most other ecosystems are retreating. Through what I call the “6 p’s of ecosystem destruction” we are systematically taking nature and paving it over, ploughing it up, polluting it, preying on predators, spreading pests, and over-populating the entire planet! As I say on my ecocide page:

    I can only conclude that we are not just asking about building materials that help us to live comfortably, but how living systems maintain a world in which we can even build in the first place. Our civilisation relies on the accumulated benefits of a functional environment. We are not so much talking about just saving the Panda’s but the dinner on your plate!

    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/eclipse/

  68. eclipsenow

    ” Various renewables are going to have to be reinvented as gallium supplies and other ‘rare earths’ become ‘extremely rare earths’.”

    Monocrystalin Solar Cells from
    copper, zinc, tin, sulphur, and selenium
    in thin film applications for a start.

    I don’t believe in any ecosystems…there is no doubt that we change the earth. But earth will exist much longer than humankind.
    In reallity nobody gives a c***.
    People are here for some fun on the internet. Some are just attacking others, some believe they are smarter than others but it’s fun for everyone.

  69. Peter.

    How would a kitegen affect Microdrones?

    Maybe the kitegen would provide shelter for those hiding from Microdrones…
    Like in Demolition Man or some cyberpunk books like “the diamond age” or “Snow Chrash”.

  70. I’m just back from Barry’s ‘debate’ with Mark Diesendorf tonight. If Barry’s earlier encounter with Mark suffered from too little moderation, this one suffered from too much. The Chair was obviously confused as to his role and thought he was one of the speakers, even taking audience questions to Mark or Barry and answering them himself.

    He was also hardly impartial – he corrected Mark on his facts a number of times. And he was right, but Diesendorf could quite legitimately claim the Chair crossed the line.

    He also let Mark run on at the mouth. Barry gave brief, to the point answers, but between the moderators speeches and Diesendorf he didn’t get much of a chance. Diesendorf came out with a number of howlers (nuclear plants take 7-10 years to pay back the energy of construction!) but if the moderator didn’t correct him, he didn’t give Barry the opportunity to do so.

    I’d judge the audience to be neutral or even pro nuclear on balance. There didn’t seem to be any strong anti presence. Rob Parker, who organized the group for the walk against warming was there and it was good to see him again, and to have a quick catch up with Barry before the talk too. We need more events like these, but with better moderation.

  71. @Scott plus your attempted sarcasm

    assuming you are referring (?) to the post in which the US NPP engineer voices his tech concerns about CME and EMP effects on spent fuel pools: what does it say about the US nuclear industry if such misguided (in your view) persons are allowed to work in it?

    Alternatively, if he is right, what does it say about NPP security in the USA?

    However, if it is the notion of global social equity which you find distressing as per my other mail on minerals mining above, then you are in excellent BNC geek company.

  72. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/09/04/open-thread-6/#comment-96569

    Stefanie asked in ridiculing mode how Kitegen would affect drones. Wikipedia article on Kitegen says that when tested in 2007 for 3 days in Italy, Mobilegen needed permission from civil and military aviation. So quod erat demonstrandum.

    As 20 kites at 500-800 m altitude are need to produce 1GW and an NPP produces around 1200 MW, how many EU Kitegens are needed?

    Reading Stefanie, (“people are here for some fun on the Internet”) I could imagine that she agrees with the “Sea Shepherd” founder, who said recently that the Earth has to get back to carrying 1bn people only?

  73. Thank you Peter Lalor on yet another highly intelligent and insightful post. ;)

    Curse him and his devilish cunning! Yet again he has peirced the woven shadows of our deceit to reveal our disreputable motives and foul conspiricies to all the world with the awesome illumination of his mighty intellect!

  74. The dinner conversation (I’ve just returned from a restaurant meal with Vas and Mark) was fascinating, to say the least!

    Yes, I can imagine that a dinner concersation between you and Mark would be something to witness.

  75. It was pretty clear he knew what he was talking about, and I thought he gave a great introductory talk. But he should have got out of the way after that.

    And, you had dinner with Mark? I hope they took the metal cutlery away. I would’ve stuck a fork in his eye.

  76. Peter. We do agree that you need noyflyzones for Npps and Kitegens?
    What does it matter if you issue a nfz for NPPs or Kitegens?
    Then again kitegens would scale better than Npps.
    How much space and infrastructure would you need to built a 20, 30 or 60GW cluster?

    Nothing you do will ever turn around the way civilisation works.
    I don`t care if there are 6 or 12 or 20bn people.
    I am here for the fun. I don`t believe that your rants or writings or whatever will change anything but put off people.

  77. “The dinner conversation (I’ve just returned from a restaurant meal with Vas and Mark) was fascinating, to say the least!”

    Now that would have been a sight to see. Thanks for leaving us hanging there, Barry! ;)

  78. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/09/04/open-thread-6/#comment-96579

    @Finrod: strange as it may seem, I do not attribute deceit and foul conspiracy (by the way, spelt with an “a”) to you. Some of what I say is said on other ways by Fran Barlow or Ewen Laver on BNC.

    On the other hand, BNC will likely have many “Coincidence Theorists”, ie the Great and the Good AKA Respected Authority, such as WHO or IAEA , are always acting in your (read: the rulers’) and our (proles) best interest and any set of events eg 9/11 that shows otherwise is mere Coincidence.

    This will be because you collectively were clever front-row lads who were the Maths teacher’s pets but fell asleep in History lessons and have done well for yourselves in the feral Ocker Murdochracy.

    So you are not about to support, on trend, anything that enhances social equity or diminishes your privilege in global terms.

    Which is why Anglo mineral extractive industries or the military posture of the USA at Pine Gap or NW Cape are seemingly viewed by yourselves as natural phenomena, just as Economics is deemed by you to be value-free.

    A case in point is that the MSM, mainstream media, are stating that Iran is a danger to “us” (who?) due to its weapons-grade (20% !!) enrichment at present, but this is just untrue.

    In theory, one might expect outrage on BNC at this attempt by the US alliance incl. the Saudis and Israel to hinder an FF-rich country from going nuclear and thus combatting AGW, but there is resounding BNC silence on the topic.

    By the way, it is very amusing how conned Greens in the Murdochracy are prattling on at present about the “Iranian threat” as a proof of how dangerous nuclear proliferation is!

  79. @Scott:

    http://depletedcranium.com/ap-story-on-older-activists-younger-crowd-anti-nukes/#comments

    As a paid-up BNC RN (not registered nurse, Rational Numerate) nerd with a reputation to lose, you cite the above exchange at Depleted Cranium as if one of the comments there attacks the anonymous nuke engineer and his CME/EMP concerns at Survival Blog on professional grounds.

    On the contrary, Dr Buzzo attempts to refute the engineer’s concerns in a merely general way without giving chapter and verse, and ex-BNCer DV28XL just repeats what he said on BNC months back. Neither man casts aspersions on the nuclear engineer. DV by the way has no training or experience in nuclear matters at all, and said so often on BNC.

    BNC being a place that encourages quantitative consideration of technical matters, I look forward to your detailed explanation of what you see in the Survival Blog entry that leads you to conclude that the writer is not a nuclear engineer and if you conclude that he is, that his fears are unfounded.

  80. quick comment:

    just had lunch with a professor of nuclear engineering at my university.

    he said that in the U.S. nuclear is still too expensive (he cited 3 billion per gigawatt not including interest payments etc.) compared to natural gas, both cheap to build and operate.

    In an environment that is increasingly anti coal, and given extant fears around nuclear plus its capital cost, natural gas plants will be built, he thinks.

    Elsewhere, however, (where nat gas is not as readily available), nukes are and will be built.

    It was an interesting conversation. and an interesting comment on the peter lang strategy of making nukes cheaper than coal. the problem of course is that in the u.s., the alternative is not coal vs. nukes but coal vs. nat gas vs. nukes, and, given little concern over global warming and the ability of the natural gas lobby to sell itself as clean, nat gas will win hands down versus nukes.

  81. This nuclear engineering professor comrade of mine also said that scaling up from experimental reactors to the big ones involves major complications.

    makes sense: with this in mind, what major complications might be expected in scaling the IFR?

    finally, I wasn’t quite able to tell from past posts on the IFR, but are there any 4th generation reactors out there using metal fuel yet? or is its commercialization dependent upon commercialization of the pyroprocess?

  82. It seems I’m one of the only pro Nuclear people who ISN’T jumping on the GenIV bandwagon. I’m not going to bet the future energy needs of the world on an unproven technology, even if there is a large amount of evidence to prove that the technology will be viable.

    Personally I cant see anything wrong with the current GenIII+ framework, even in the medium to Long term. The amounts of waste are marginal and entirely manageable. France currently has around 2300m3 of HLW which will fit easily in the repository they are planning. AP1000s are cheap and safe.

    It also doesn’t matter if only ‘near breeders’ work in the medium term. Some breeding is better than none, and will give a restbite *if* U stocks get low, as will CANDUs and reprocessing.

    What I’m essentially saying is that we should have a back up plan, just in case of the off chance the IFR falls through.

  83. well: I agree with you, HJ.

    the backup plan is AP 1000s and its near relatives, as far as I can tell. (china has its own version)

    My Nuclear engineer colleague tells me 12 are being built in China now. with many more, as we know, planned.

    btw, as per above, he said that about 30 npps or so are in the various licensing stages in U.S. but he thinks many of these will not be built due to expense relative to natural gas plants, given the low price of nat gas in the u.s. and expected successes getting gas from shale.

    Hearing this from him was very depressing, since it’s another example of not taking AGW seriously.

    I’d like to hear others talk about this problem faced by the u.s. if my colleague is correct: given no significant carbon price, especially in a near depression, how will new nukes compete with natural gas?

  84. Some problems with the rush to gas for generation
    1) it will never achieve 80% CO2 cuts
    2) oil replacement (esp. diesel) could double demand
    3) some regions will run out of gas early
    4) power bills will soar.

    It is noteworthy that the UK went from having plenty of gas to now importing large amounts from Siberia at some political and physical risk. In Australia SA, Vic and Tas are supplied by the Cooper, Otway, Bass and Gippsland gas basins, all mature. This could be why the operator of Hazelwood is resisting appeals to switch to gas as the fuel cost will several times greater, even with a heftier carbon tax on brown coal. In the long run these southern basins may have to be supplemented by pipelines to Queensland.

    The current crop of Australian politicians display little of the long term thinking of RFX Connor in the Whitlam era. It seems likely we will take the gas route and end up like the UK with inadequate domestic energy resources,. At least the Brits have NP.

  85. I’m with you Huw. We know that the designs we have now work, and we should be building them in bulk. You are not alone in this, at all; although there are strong voices for advanced and alternative designs, and I would certainly support enabling further NP development in various directions, what’s needed now is just lots more nuclear power, which LWR and CANDU can provide.

    The one problem I have with those who push for thorium, breeders and other good development paths is that they sometimes try a little to hard to conjure up problems with the current generation of NP plants – sometimes glossing over equivalent problems in their own favorites. For example, I have heard it said that molten salt reactors cannot be a proliferation threat; but actually a strong neutron source at near-atmospheric pressure could easily support a sideline in transmutation. Now I don’t personally believe that any power reactor is actually a proliferation threat – but fanciful scenarios can always be sketched.

  86. Peter Lalor,

    Since you have become the court jester of this website, I’ll make it brief. There is no evidence that the so called ‘nuclear-engineer’ is in reality a nuclear-engineer. This is the internet, you can dupe idiots into believing just about anything, especially idiots who browse conspiracy blogs. The concerns you linked were essentially generic concerns about spent fuel pools, which have already been discussed elsewhere time and time again. Your specific example was explained away very well on depleted cranium. Unless you can provide evidence that the ‘nuclear-engineer’ was in actuality a nuclear-engineer, that EMP is in actuality a threat to commercial nuclear plants, and that all the information regarding spent fuel-pools is wrong, then I’m sure your claims will be ignored – just like most of the garbage you post to this website. Don’t bother replying.

    Oh, and RIF. I never claimed either DV8 or buzzo were nuclear engineers – but that’s irrelevant.

  87. Huw Jones, on 9 September 2010 at 6.17 Said:

    It seems I’m one of the only pro Nuclear people who ISN’T jumping on the GenIV bandwagon. I’m not going to bet the future energy needs of the world on an unproven technology, even if there is a large amount of evidence to prove that the technology will be viable.

    I agree. Our focus right now should be on what can give us the least-cost, clean electricity now, and what can be built quickest from now.

  88. Greg Meyerson

    Hearing this from him was very depressing, since it’s another example of not taking AGW seriously.

    I think the anti-nuclear advocates need to take a look at themselves. While they remain opposed to clean, low-cost electricity many people will see them as hypocritical and more interested in using AGW to promote their other agendas. It is difficult for some people to take their protestations seriously while they remain stridently opposed to clean, cheap electricity.

    If we want to bring on board the many people who are concerned about the economy and the fraud that would be associated with an ETS or carbon tax, we need to direct our effort at converting those who are opposed to the win-win solution – low-cost, clean electricity.

  89. greg meyerson, on 9 September 2010 at 2.51 Said:

    just had lunch with a professor of nuclear engineering at my university.
    he said that in the U.S. nuclear is still too expensive (he cited 3 billion per gigawatt not including interest payments etc.) compared to natural gas, both cheap to build and operate.

    In an environment that is increasingly anti coal, and given extant fears around nuclear plus its capital cost, natural gas plants will be built, he thinks.

    Elsewhere, however, (where nat gas is not as readily available), nukes are and will be built.

    It was an interesting conversation. and an interesting comment on the peter lang strategy of making nukes cheaper than coal. the problem of course is that in the u.s., the alternative is not coal vs. nukes but coal vs. nat gas vs. nukes, and, given little concern over global warming and the ability of the natural gas lobby to sell itself as clean, nat gas will win hands down versus nukes.

    This is interesting. I’d agree with much of this but point out the following:

    1. We cannot go very far with nat gas before we suffer the problems UK has –consume it all and have none left for future needs. As John Newlands frequently points out we will need nat gas for many other purposes

    2. Nuclear cuts emissions to near zero whereas gas cuts emissions by only about half that of coal. So natural gas for electricity generation is a stop gap measure, not a long term solution.

    3. Gas is cheaper for electricity generation than nuclear at the moment, but this is mostly because of the high financial risk premium for investors given the current political and regulatory environment in most western democracies. Furthermore, most of the cost of gas generation is in the fuel whereas most of the cost of nuclear in is in the plant. The cost of gas is projected to increase rapidly and continue to do so. However, even if the cost of uranium does increase in the future it would have little effect on electricity prices from nuclear generators. For these reasons gas is not the best solution for the long term. The reasons nuclear is so expensive is what we, the community, has done to handicap it over the past 40+ years. If we could unwind the unnecessary impediments and all the imposts that make nuclear more expensive than it could and should be, then nuclear would be cheaper than gas and coal. It should and could be the least cost electricity generation. I recognise it will be a long time until we unwind all the imposts – perhaps not until advanced, mature Gen IV – but we can remove a lot of them. If Russia can produce floating NPPs that produce electricity at a cost competitive with the Victorian brown coal plants, we should be able to too. If India and China can produce low cost nuclear, we could too, if we wanted to. If the Indian NPPs have demonstrated, over a 40 year period, they are safer than our power stations and many of the chemical industries we have operating in our cities now, then Indian NPPs are plenty safe enough and would give us a substantial increase in industrial health and safety over what we have now. The same goes for Russian, Chinese, Korean NPPs. The point I want to make is we should be focusing on finding out what we need to do to get NPPs in Australia at a cost less than coal. I urge we not avoid this issue. Let’s confront it. BNC could lead the way on this. But I sense opposition or reluctance to get the matter out on the table. It seems to be easier to defend the politically attractive symbol of a carbon tax or ETS (This comment is not addressed at you Greg. It is addressed to those who seem to want to avoid this issue).

    given little concern over global warming and the ability of the natural gas lobby to sell itself as clean, nat gas will win hands down versus nukes.

    I believe many people who want AGW to be taken more seriously are shooting themselves in the foot because they are vitriolic in their opposition to the technology that could do most to give us clean, low cost electricity. These same people are generally indifferent to the economic consequences of the schemes they propose, like ETS and Carbon Tax while banning nuclear. The people who are most concerned about AGW should be most strongly supporting whatever it takes to get cheap, clean electricity generation, not opposed to it.

  90. Thanks for that climatespectator link, Finrod. I agree, it’s nice to finally read something of sense on that website.

    I particularly like this quote: –

    A carbon price in the range $A15-40 per tonne of carbon dioxide per year would lead to nuclear energy being the lowest cost option of all alternatives – a situation anticipated in the next decade.

    A simple but compelling argument for a carbon price.

  91. Tom Keen,

    You say a “simple but compelling argument for a carbon price“. This argument, of course, is very well known and understood. However …

    Did you see the beginning of this video (first 16 minutes)?

    It presents some arguments as to why we should focus on lowering the cost of clean electricity rather than focus on raising the cost of the dirty competitor.

    (the remainder of the video contains some interesting tit-bits too)

  92. eclipsenow,

    There is no point me attempting to converse with you on the matters you hold so dear. We have different areas of interest and different skill sets; all our previous attempts to discuss energy issues have been a disaster, so I hope you will understand that I will pass on you request to converse.

    While I am at it, I take the opportunity to apologise to all BNC contributors for my recent (and past) displays of frustration. From here on I will attempt to avoid such displays (no guarantees of course).

  93. John Morgan,

    Thank you. You and many other of BNC’s top contributors are an example of how I should have behaved always.

    I’ve also got to try and develop the “art of gentle persuasion” skill set.

  94. John,

    I appreciate that Peter’s a respected contributor here. I like the new tone — I really do. But we have some unfinished business here.

    Peter insisted on writing a long piece on the reliability of ABARE. He insisted that I was off with the pixies for daring to disagree with him. Then he wrote:

    You believe ABARE has been incompetent, or misleading or something like that. I don’t. But to me any discussion about World Peak Oil is a separate issue.

    Peter, please prove it’s a separate issue mate! If there is ANOTHER agency more competent to advise the Australian government about the future of oil, then tell me! I’m all ears.

    Then Peter admitted he hadn’t covered peak oil.

    My apologies, EN. I did not rest your concerns. This thread is not about World Peak Oil.

    OK, that sounds fine, and maybe Peter just isn’t interested in defending ABARE against the charge that it has fundamentally let the Australian people down by not studying peak oil. The head of ABARE admitted as much on Four Corners! But here’s the thing that really gets up my nose about the new ‘polite’ Peter. He pretends he has addressed these issues!

    eclipsenow,
    I am not “backing out of the question”. We discussed it to death. The point I made is clear and was not refuted. I believe it has been clearly demonstrated. You are on a different wavelength that is more about a passionately held belief of yours. You would not answer the questions I put to you and I see no point in taking the discussion any further with you.

    Did you defend ABARE’s failure to advise the government on peak oil or not? Because I certainly missed it if you did. ;-)

  95. I was bored and did my own ‘study’ on costs on a 500 watt solar array.

    Assumptions:
    1. 15.25% capacity factor.
    2. No inflation or change in grid electricity.
    3. No financing, installation, or energy storage cost included. This is extremely optimistic.
    4. I used average module prices from solarbuzz.com and assumed that the record cost decreases from Febuary 2009 and September 2010 will continue indefinitely. This is extremely optimistic.
    5. Cost of maintenance assumed to decrease at same rate as module price.
    6. Grid electricity is average of France and United States for domestic only.

    Thoughts?

  96. Thinking…
    Break point is around 2020. Then you are payed up before 2032.
    OTOH…if you can do thinfilm when you are building your roof you should do it.
    Tiles or facades are huge potential powerplants.

  97. A modest tax on fossil carbon won’t cause any more cheating problems than exist with existing taxes such as road tax (fuel tax), taxes on sins such as (potable) alcolhol and tobacco.

    The proceeds could go toward subsidizing alternatives to fossil carbon to provide transportation fuels. Incidently, coal burners would be properly assessed as well making (Indian) NPPs all the more attractive.

  98. David B Benson

    Any tax, once implemented, will be increased every time the government needs more money to pay for its prolific spending and to ‘buy’ elections.

    Australia has just completed an election where the level of ‘pork-barelling’ was unprededented. The government was promising $ billions in funding for programs in marginal areas. The funds being promised were from its proposed mining tax that hasn’t even been passed by the parliament yet. The more tax a government extracts from the economy the more of it will be used to buy off the voters.

    The tax will always be ramped up. It will not remain modest.

    And if it was modest, it wouldn’t have a significant impact on emissions.

    A modest tax on fossil carbon won’t cause any more cheating problems than exist with existing taxes such as road tax (fuel tax), taxes on sins such as (potable) alcolhol and tobacco.

    Of course it will.

    1. CO2 is an unmeasurable substance. You can’t weigh it on a scale. All the emissions quantities are estimates. If we attempt to trade an unmeasurable commodity of course there will be fraud, massive fraud.

    2. There will be fraud at every level. Countries will cheat, industries will cheat, businesses and organisations will cheat, banks and traders will cheat. Everyone will cheat.

    3. The drug trade would be dwarfed by emissions trading fraud.

    4. We’d need carbon cops in every activity to try to control the fraud. We’d need such a huge Carbon Cop Force (CCF) there’d be no one left in the work force to do any real work. Everyone would be a public servant – paid from the taxes collected from the workers – but there would be no workers doing real work. (there might be a twinge of exaggeration here, but you get the picture :) )

    We can’t even control internet fraud now. How could we control fraud with $ billions being traded on an unmeasurable substance?

    And what would all this trading and cheating achieve if we ban, or make too expensive, the technology we should be embracing to provide clean energy?

  99. Peter Lang, on 10 September 2010 at 7.18 — A democracy only survives with intelligent and educated voters.

    Your assertions about a fossil carbon tax are without merit; a fossil carbon tax is easily extracted from the vendors of fossil carbon, similar to alcohol and tobacco.

    Before making sweeping denuciations of tax schemes, learn something about taxation through the ages, hmmm?

  100. David B Benson,

    A democracy only survives with intelligent and educated voters.

    I agree. But the ‘chattering classes’ do not have a monopoly on being the ‘intelligent and educated voters’.

    Most of the ‘intelligent and educated voters’ are out creating the wealth for the country and the world. They are the real ‘intelligent and educated voters’. They are the ones who understand what makes the world go round. They create the wealth for society we all live off. So we do need to take notice of what they believe. We need to listen because they rarely speak out. They are too busy.

    I wonder why half Australia is concerned about a carbon tax or ETS, yet I am the only one pointing out the concerns on the BNC web site. What does that say to you? Do you think the contributors are a fair cross section of the ‘intelligent and educated voters’ or are we a special interest group with a specific agenda?

    Your assertions about a fossil carbon tax are without merit

    I see. Thank you for that unsupported comment.

    I wonder why no one has commented on the first 16 minutes of this video (which presents a case for reducing the cost of clean electricity rahter than raising the cost of dirty electricity – yet!)?

    I think the reasons no one has commented may be that the point is at odds with the beliefs of those contributing here. If so, this demonstrates that symbolic gestures like a carbon tax are more important than substantive policies that would actually make substantive cuts to emnissions. That is what I am inclined to believe.

    Please demonstrate how a carbon tax in Australia would significantly cut CO2 emissions, while bans and other imposts are maintained on nuclear power, without damaging our economy relative to other economies.

  101. If the Greens get their $23 a tonne carbon tax I fear it will be game on. For starters big companies that get credits for tree planting under State run schemes will insist on a carbon tax deduction. Ditto for waste heat recovery projects or alumina waste sucking back some CO2. Then there will be renewable energy certificates and credits for sheep that fart less and for sustainable basket weaving and other worthy deeds.

    My suggestion to Ms Gillard is don’t just talk about bring in the carbon tax from 1/7/11 and see how it goes. Remember the ETS was originally supposed to start in 2009.

  102. As any chemist would tell you, it’s fairly easy to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide created. To calculate essentially all you need is the quantity of fuel that has been burned. Other than that, I have no opinion on the subject.

  103. David B Benson,

    Before making sweeping denuciations of tax schemes, learn something about taxation through the ages, hmmm?

    This argument could be turned around of course to something like:

    Before proposing for massive new tax schemes, demonstrate that such schemes will achieve the desired objective(s), hmmm?

    Which leads me to ask you to clarify what is the objective of the proposed ETS or carbon tax? Is it to:

    1. Raise revenue?

    2. Redistribute wealth?

    3. Create wealth and prosperity?

    4. Help poor countries to improve their standard of living?

    5. Change the world’s climate?

    6. Change Australia’s climate?

    7. Lead the world by example?

    8. Cut GHG emissions?

    9. Win and hold power?

    10. Act as an agent of change to help impose other agendas (hidden) on society?

    I believe the answer to each of questions: 1, 2, 9, 10 is YES

    The answer to each of questions: 3, 4, 5, 6 is NO

    The answer to question 7: that may be the intention of a few, but they are naive in the extreme.

    The answer to question 8 is: That might be the stated intention, but it is not demonstrated it can work. I seriously doubt the intention would be achieved, without seriously damaging our economy, while we maintain bans and other imposts on nuclear power.

  104. John Newlands<

    My suggestion to Ms Gillard is don’t just talk about [it], bring in the carbon tax from 1/7/11 and see how it goes.

    Are you serious. Wouldn’t this be the height of incompetent government? To seriously risk our economy for a symbol with llittle chance of seriously cutting emissions?

    Isn’t that like the poorly considered policies that got the Rudd and Whitlam governments into so much trouble? The ‘Pink Bats insulation fiasc, the Building Education Revolution waste to buy the tradies’ votes, the Mining tax, the Carbon Polution Reduction Scheme, The Nationalised Broadband Network, the masssive Health waste of transferring massive funding to the states to waste in more bureaucracy with no proper controls over the waste.

    The carbon tax or ETS you are advocating would damage our economy to powers of ten compared with these previous fiascos. It would be waste and fraud on stereoids!!

    Let’s be honest. You are supporting the ETS or carbon tax not beccause it is a genuine solution, but because it is proposed by the political party you support. Your support is motivated by politics; it is not a policy you can argue for on a rational basis.

  105. Peter,
    I’m with you when it comes to trying to make nuclear cheaper by putting it on the production line, and maybe even granting some emergency powers to streamline inspection standards and prevent protesters slowing the whole thing down. Making nukes cheaper this way would really appeal to the market. But I think you’re underestimating just how much political work it would take, and how much government *interference* in the marketplace it would require. For governments ramming nuclear through against significant public protest (even if ignorant) would require that they pass special legislation banning ‘normal’ legal challenges and rights of appeal.

    Basically, you’re ignoring the substance of David’s statement because it doesn’t fit your right-wing political bias, when in some ways your proposal for making nuclear cheaper requires even more government ‘tinkering’ in the marketplace.

    And the means by which you try to bypass some of David’s arguments by simply misrepresenting them and ignoring them stinks of the same diversionary tactics you seem to use so frequently in straw-manning anything you don’t like. (Including the valid charge that ABARE ignored peak oil).

    For example, David Benson wrote:

    Your assertions about a fossil carbon tax are without merit; a fossil carbon tax is easily extracted from the vendors of fossil carbon, similar to alcohol and tobacco.
    Before making sweeping denuciations of tax schemes, learn something about taxation through the ages, hmmm?

    A tax can be introduced at the point of use. We can tax per ton of coal, cubic metre of gas or litre of oil depending on which point of the supply chain you want to tax it. Trying to measure the CO2 coming out of various industries! The very complexity of the ETS / CPRS was one of the reasons I was against it, as well as all the other concerns (subsidies to polluters, etc).

    But a straight tax at the beginning of the fossil fuel pollution chain? That’s an easy matter to implement. Forget your childish straw-man of a whole force of ‘carbon cops’: the price would flow through the marketplace from the source. This is so obvious that I can only assume you’re not thick enough to misunderstand it, just not honest enough to admit it.

    This is priceless…

    2. Redistribute wealth?

    Oh no, it’s the reds under the bed! The commo’s are out to get us! Absolutely priceless when you consider what you would ask governments to do in ramming through nuclear without the public’s right to challenge it! Isn’t that the act of “big government”? I might agree with that tactic given the urgency of peak oil, but at least I’m honest enough to admit it, and not carping on and on and on against other political tactics that might be used to address climate change.

    Straw-manning opponents is a fundamentally dishonest tactic, and you’ve been applying it liberally lately. I’m beginning to wonder if you use the same tactics with Ender on renewable energy matters? It goes to the heart of your credibility mate.

  106. Scott,

    Most are aware of how CO2 is calculated when carbon fuels are burned if you know the quantity of carbon, how much is not burned and how much is emitted as other compounds. The difficult part is to accurately measure the quantity of carbon. In the Victorian coal fields it is estimated, very roughly, from the amount of material mined. The coal is not even weighed. It is just estimated. The inaccuracies are large. And Australia is one of the countries best able to measure its fuel use and estimate its emissions. How do we expect to be able to make an ETS or carbon tax work in the developing countries?

  107. Eclipse now,

    You are misunderstanding and misinterpreting what I’ve been saying consistently in posts for a long time. Please do not misrepresent what I’ve been saying.

    I am not arguing to add distortions. I’ve been arguing to remove the distortions we’ve added over the past 40+ years. I recognise it can’t all be done at once, and some costs will have to be carried by the tax payer until we have unwound some of the the costs we have caused by our 40+ years of anti-nuclear protesting. However, what I am proposing is no different to what we are doing now, wrongly, to try to force uneconomic renewables on to consumers. It is no different to what we’ve done, wrongly, to support the car industry, textile industry and others. But this time, we have to do it, not to create distortions, but to unwind the distortions we have imposed through 40+ years of bad policy (caused by us, the voters). Now we realise we want to clean up our act. We’ve made massive mistakes (and we still are). We will have to pay, one way or another, to clean up the mess we’ve made (by 40+ years of bad policy). The least cost way is to remove the impediments we’ve imposed, not to create more. Especially when the ‘more imposts’ many are arguing to impose (ETS, carbon tax) will have little effect on achieving th aims but will seriously damage our economy, if we do not remove the bans and other imposts on nuclear first.

    By the way, just to be clear, I am proposing we remove all the government imposed impediments to nuclear. To achieve this as quickly as possible we will have to use tax payers’ funds, and/or government loan guarantees and other non monetary incentives, to: 1) offset the ‘First-of-a-kind-in-Australia’ costs and 2) the investor premium caused by our strongly anti-nuclear pubilc opinion.

    Basically, you’re ignoring the substance of David’s statement because it doesn’t fit your right-wing political bias,

    Blah, Blah, Blah. There is no point me trying to converse with you EN. I think it best if I let your comments flow through to the keeper.

  108. Australia’s emissions (in 2008) were estimate to be 578 Mt/a (CO2-e)

    http://ageis.climatechange.gov.au/#

    At a price of $20/tonne CO2-e the value traded or the tax revenue would be $12 billion per year. The accuracy of estimating the quantity is probably 10% to 20%. Therefore, around $2 billion per year could be subject to fraud.

    The inaccuracies involved in measuring the emissions from agriculture and Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry are greater still. I’ll use 25% for ease of calculation. Australia’s emissions in 2008 from these sectors were estimated to be:

    Agriculture = 87.4 Mt/a

    Afforestation and restoration = -23.0 Mt/a

    Deforestation = 49.7 Mt/a

    Total cheatable = 160 Mt/a

    Value traded per year = $3.2 billion/a

    Subject to fraud per year = 25% x $3.2 billion/a = $0.8 billion/a

    With that much money being traded on an unmeasurable substance, the fraud will inevitably be huge.

    If it is tax, the government will waste it. If it is traded, much of it will be diverted to fraud and profits that do not add to the national wealth. They would be like the funds that caused the GFC.

  109. The accuracy of estimating the quantity is probably 10% to 20%.

    
Just plucked that out of the air did we?

    Not if we tax at the SOURCE Peter. Tell me, what is the average UK car efficiency and the average USA car efficiency? By how much as UK fuel consumption increased compared to how much American fuel consumption has increased? (Make sure you adjust for comparative percentages in population increase over the last 20 years as well). Which country comes out ahead as far more fuel efficient per capita? Why? Could it be something to do with higher fuel taxes flowing through the economy? Could it be that history shows fuel taxes WORK?

    Taxing fossil fuels at the point of use is far, far easier than you are portraying. History shows it works. And we may just need it to kick-start the nuclear economy. So if we end up with an ETS, I’ll be a bit saddened by some of the silliness that goes with that package. A carbon tax would be a lot simpler.

    But I’m just pointing out that I don’t *really* care how the job gets done, as long as it gets done, but you come across all ideological.

  110. If we’re looking for a nuclear power technology that will be cheaper than coal, then I would argue that we already have it. Even the plants which were built in the US during the eighties, when high interest rates combined with cost blowouts and interminable delays to drive the final price of gen II plants through the roof are now delivering cheaper power than we have here in Australia with our coal-fired plants built virtually on top of the coal seams supplying them. The cost of power from those NPPs was high for a while, but amortisation does sooner or later occur, and those plants are then without peer in the delivery of cheap power for the remainder of their operational life, which is likely at least fifty years, and possibly a whole century. Given the extreme importance of developing cheap CO2-free power sources, it is entirely appropriate that the government take all necessary steps to ease the financial path these plants must tread in their setup.

  111. EclipseNow,

    These are all ifs. And you are still missing the point. Before we implement taxes or ETS that will damage the economy, we’d better be sure that they will do what they are intended to do. So far I see a lot of hand waving and big “Ifs” everywhere by those proposing an ETS of carbon tax.

    You didn’t address the substance of the questions above about what is the real intention of the tax. Instead you tried to throw mud at the actual questions and implied they should not be asked. Now that is ideolgical!

    There are serious questions to be addressed about the real purpose of an ETS or carbon tax, what will it achieve, what is the cost versus the benefit. To try to avoid such questions suggests to me the purpose of wanting an ETS or Carbon Tax is idelogical rather than a genuine attempt to reduce emissions.

    As for the red-herrings, I’ll just let them go.

  112. eclipse: “but you come across all ideological”

    Please pay attention to the BNC commenting rules, specifically: “Civility – Clear-minded criticism is welcomed, but play the ball and not the person. Rudeness will not be tolerated. This includes speculation about motives or what ‘sort of person’ someone is. Civility, gentle humour and staying on topic are superior debating tools.”

    Thanks, Barry

  113. EclipseNow,

    By the way, the 10% to 20% was not plucked out of the air, although it was plucked from my memory bank (which admitedly is not infallible). I’ve seen the figures previously and they are higher than I quoted. I wrote them from memory, but you can go and find out for yourself what is the estimating uncertainty on the CO2 emissions, especially for the agriculture sector, and for the land use, land use change and forestry sector. If I have overestimated, show me (from an authoritative source). Anyway, arguing about the exact uncertainty figures misses the point. The uncertainty in emissions estimates (not measurements) is huge so the room for fraud is huge. That is the point I was making. I quantified the magnitude, roughly, for those who are OK with using figures to get perspective.

  114. In an earlier post I estimate that the value of carbon trading that is “cheatable” is around $2 billion per year for all sectors and about $0.8 billion per year for Agriculture sector and the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry sector. However, I suspect it is much higher than this. These figures are the net figures. They are comprised of many debit and credit transactions which in total would be far more then the net figure. So the total “cheatable” might be ten times the figures I quoted, or more. How much could be cheated? who knows. But all this should be out on the table before we commit to such a massively destructive tax or ETS with no certainty it will achieve the result. In fact, it is not even clear to me that we know what the real purpose of the tax is.

    On the other hand, we know for sure that if we go down the route France embarked on 40 years ago, it will succeed. That is a certainty!!! It’s been demonstrated.

    The how? to achieve that at least cost is what I urge us to focus on, not on arguing for another symbol that has likely massive negative consequences for the Australian economy – and hence for our ability to achieve our goals (all the expectations of society).

  115. In view of Brook’s “don’t play the man” injunction to Eclipse in this thread to alter his language to Peter Lang, it is striking by contrast that J Morgan and T Krieg are both free, and unadmonished on BNC, to express their wish to blind Mark Diesendorf by stabbing him in either eye.

    This will possibly be Brook’s “civility and gentle humour.”

    But as I said at the time, the hatred poured out over Jim Green of FOE as a renewabilist on BNC some months ago also bore no relation to what wiser bloggers have been pointing out on BNC: that King Coal is the public enemy, especially in the world’s leading carbon exporter, Australia.

    As regards playing the man, ie Diesendorf’s apparent attack on Brook months ago as a non-mathematican, it is interesting that the pro-nuclear Rod Adams was permitted, without it raising any comment on BNC, to attack the US wind energy advocate recently on BNC for not having an engineering degree.

    There is an old saying, “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

  116. As regards playing the man, ie Diesendorf’s apparent attack on Brook months ago as a non-mathematican, it is interesting that the pro-nuclear Rod Adams was permitted, without it raising any comment on BNC, to attack the US wind energy advocate recently on BNC for not having an engineering degree.

    I’d see Diesendorf and Goggin hanged for attempted genocide. Make of that what you will.

  117. Peter Lalor,

    There’s a big difference between attacking someone at a public debate, and an off-comment in the comments of some blog. With that said, I agree 100% that we should be consistent and non-hypocritical on this issue.

  118. @ Barry,I agree. I’ll try to calm down. But I guess you were busy travelling when the ABARE thread happened? It took quite a bit of ‘heat’ to finally get Peter to admit that he had not answered my issues with ABARE, and in fact had no intention of ever doing so. Before getting that admission I had to respond to 20 or 30 condescending replies that smugly ignored the point. The thread was so one sided that John Bennetts told me to drop dead without any moderation. No wonder by the end of it I was writing such cranky material! But now that Peter has demonstrated he completely refuses to ever answer Four Corner’s charges against ABARE, I’ll just chalk that one up as settled by the evidence from Dr Fisher’s own mouth. @ Peter,When you get serious about answering my Top 10 questions for peak oil sceptics (latest version here) I might consider leaping into answering questions that were not specifically addressed to me. My general point is that we know fuel taxes work from history. The UK has not increased overall fuel consumption in 20 years: it is too expensive. Efficiency standards throughout Europe are far better than in the USA, because of both taxes and legislation. Considering that you want such a fundamental legislative shift as a move towards nuclear power in Australia, I’m just surprised that you are so hyper-sensitive to any other form of market intervention. On the one hand you support mechanisms to restrict free speech and remove the rights of people to challenge actions through the courts, thus driving up nuclear prices. But on the other you’re all nervous about being seen to ‘interfere’ with the precious market? Whatever. I don’t really care. I just want the job done, and I’ll support whatever government mechanism that might achieve that. We both agree on the ultimate goal — why can’t you be more tolerant of people with different means of getting there? Does Fran ever visit here, or did your fight with her drive her off for good? I nearly left over the ABARE thing!

  119. Eclipsenow,

    I’m afraid you misunderstood the remark I made to you that you have taken as an admission. It was not such thing. As I have explained many times to you, and you continue todistort, the ABARE thread was intended to demonstrate that ABARE’s projections are the best we have on the matters they are responsible for advising the government on. However, you are so emotional about peak oil that it would be a totally pointless esercise trying to discuss it with you.

    You took the view that the ABARE article was addressed solely to you and was about peak oil. It was never about peak oil. I was never intending it to be a discussion about peak oil. My ‘appology’ to you was that the article did not satisfy your interest. It was not an apolgy that is was wrong. It was intended as a nice way to say – bad luck mate; you want something I was not intending to offer you; you are not the only person on BNC and the article was never intended to address your obsession anyway.

    Your passion is not my primary interest.

    So can you just drop it. You’ve misunderstood or misrepresented much of what I’ve said to you on this, so it is pointless going on about it. Get over it.

  120. Eclipsenow,

    I don’t know how to get through to you. My ABARE article was not about peak oil. It was never intended to be about peak oil, no matter what you might have hoed for or misinterpreted my intentions as being. Can you understand that? It was about the accuracy of ABARE’s projections. They are consistently good. No one has done consistently better, as far as I know. That is what the article is about. You want to discuss your obsession. So you wrote an article on it. Go and discuss your obessiion there. You seem to be so blinded by the one sided material you have read, I have no interest in trying to discuss it with you. There is no point in trying to discuss something with someone so obsessed. Discuss it with those who want to discuss it with you. I don’t, because it would be pointless. Can I be any clearer? Get over it.

  121. Peter, I just don’t know how you do it. You’re using the same tactics as always Peter, insult and divert. You just called me obsessed and then use sleight of hand to wheedle your way out of the oil thing. But way back when I first criticised ABARE you said:

    Sorry EclipseNow,

    I have a very high regard for ABARE. I reckon they do as well as can be done on resource and energy projections, given the uncertainties. They provide us with the equivalent of the ABS. We rely on their projections. That is not to say they are completely immune to political interferences, as has been demonstrated during the term of this government – eg the latest projections of energy supply and demand to 2030 is the first time in 20+ years these projections have been bent to support the government’s politicies, as opposed to providing totally impartial projections.

    If you want projections to suit an ideology you go elsewhere. Greenpeace and the like provide plenty of such ‘honest broker’ projections to support their ideological beliefs.

    I don’t know what you mean about the ‘misinformation aboiut peak oil’. What is your source that you feel is more authoritative than ABARE?

    You asked, and so I wrote a whole article explaining why a new body of independent oil geologists called ASPO have more credibility projecting the global oil situation than ABARE! The Australian Senate enquiry into peak oil even seems to give ASPO more kudos than ABARE. The head of ABARE even admitted he had never modelled global peak oil! And yet YOU call them the peak body advising the government on our resources?

    They provide us with the equivalent of the ABS. We rely on their projections.

    Great! We’re stuffed then! Because as I have said a million times, the HEAD OF ABARE HIMSELF ADMITTED THEY HAD NEVER MODELLED GLOBAL PEAK OIL!

    I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard him say it! But hey, we can all trust ABARE to advise the government on oil prices! ;-)

    If you don’t want to discuss peak oil that’s fine with me — I’m bored of the continual repetition of the ‘insult and divert’ tactics you use. But don’t go around pretending you’ve defended ABARE’s ability to advise on the price of oil when you don’t even want to discuss it. Go off and model another Australian resources situation… that’s what your good at. But the last time I looked oil prices were part of a global marketplace, with global supply constraints gradually driving the price of oil up, up and away.

  122. The world is full of hypocrisy, isn’t it Peter Lalor? No one is immune. I agree with you; even in jest, talking about stabbing people in the eye is not amusing. I also don’t agree with Rod Adams attacking Michael Goggin’s credentials. It was not a factor to me, which is why I was happy to post his rejoinder. Questioning the credentials or motivations of a debator is not a practice I ever undertake anymore (though I was certainly guilty of it in my youth). I hope this philosophy will evolve to become standard practice in BNC, and I’m glad you pull up various examples here.

    Eclipsenow, I agree that the ABARE comments behaviour was intolerable, and it forced me to revise the commenting rules as a result. The part I cited to you was a result of that revision. I am loathe to delete comments on BNC, as they remain in the comments RSS feed anyway, but will do so in future if pressed.

  123. Someone help me here… even ABARE say they have a responsibility to advise the government on international matters.

    We are proud that our research contributes to some of the most important items on the Australian and international policy agendas:

    * multilateral trade negotiations and more open agricultural markets
    * greenhouse gas emissions and climate change response policies
    * water policy reform
    * energy
    * minerals exploration and policies
    * issues in regional Australia
    * Australian farm performance
    * Australian farm surveys

    ABARE also produces regular quarterly forecasts for a wide range of export commodities, so that industries can plan their future better, based on sound research. Our commodity analysis cover agriculture, minerals, energy, fisheries and forestry.

    ABARE is one of few agencies that produces medium term and regular quarterly forecasts for Australia’s major export commodities.

    http://www.abare.gov.au/corporate/about_us/about.html

    Yet… they’ll forecast ‘energy’ without addressing ASPO’s consensus on peak oil?

    In Canberra, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics, ABARE, has consistently forecast in recent years that oil prices are about to fall.

    SENATOR MILNE: How do you account for the fact that ABARE keeps on suggesting that the oil price will gently recede from its current value, when that is so far removed from the reality?

    DR BRIAN FISHER, EXEC. DIRECTOR ABARE: Madam Chair, there’s no doubt that I have made the occasional mistake with my oil price forecast and quite a few other forecasts, frankly.

    JONATHAN HOLMES: Backbenchers on both sides of the political fence are becoming sceptical.

    MR HEFFERNAN: Does ABARE agree with Geoscience in terms of when we’re going to reach the crossover point between production and demand? I mean, are we…?

    JONATHAN HOLMES: A Senate Committee chaired by Western Australian Green Senator Rachel Siewart is due to report on global oil supply by September.

    RACHEL SIEWART: Has Australia commissioned any such research? Is anybody aware of that? And looking at the potential impact of peak oil and whether peak oil is a reality?

    DR BRIAN FISHER, EXEC. DIRECTOR ABARE: Madam Chair, I’m…well, nobody’s asked ABARE to do such work.

    JONATHAN HOLMES: ABARE insists that there’s no need for panic – or for government intervention.

    DR BRIAN FISHER, EXEC. DIRECTOR ABARE: Our view, basically, is that all of this material is out there. Every agent in the marketplace has access to that information. And, as a consequence of that, the market will deal with this.

    JONATHAN HOLMES: ABARE’s confidence in the market is shared by its equivalent agencies overseas.

    ANNOUNCER: By December of 1949, Caltex Pacific was again ready to start drilling in Sumatra.

    JONATHAN HOLMES: But even they admit that at least outside the Middle East the era of cheap oil – oil that flowed abundantly from wells all over the world, at a cost to its producers of $3 or $4 a barrel – is almost over.

    GUY CARUSO, US DEPT OF ENERGY: Oh, we would agree with that. You know, the low-cost, high-reserve finds, that era’s probably over.

    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1683060.htm

  124. I believe the Labor-Greens alliance is obliged to bring in some form of carbon pricing because they have a mandate, albeit slim. Otherwise political promises count for nothing. Today I helped replace or repair two resistive element water heaters and I discussed the several factors which will inexorably raise power bills. Imposed carbon pricing may seem like a cruel twist on top of those other factors but it’s hard to see change happening otherwise.

    The de facto trend seems to be more gas fired generation with electricity consumers having few options. An ALP-Greens carbon tax of 2-3c per kwh on coal fired electricity and 6c/L on petrol may raise howls of protest but it should force the public to think of real alternatives. I suspect (if we don’t have another election) that any carbon tax will be delayed, have the rate reduced or get shot through with freebies. If so we revert back to the status quo on emissions, namely doing bugger all. Kind of like Groundhog Day but where nobody does anything.

    FWIW I favour something akin to the old ETS but with 9x% of carbon credits disallowed and no special deals.

  125. Gas main explosion in California. A few points:

    1. It will be off the media within a day or two.

    2. If it had had anything to do with a nuclear power plant it would be brought up by all the ant-nuke groups and kept alive in the media for the next 20 years.

    3. It reminds us again that gas pipes do rupture. So imagine the consequences if a Carbon Capture and Storage pipeline ruptured. The consequences would be far more serious. All people and animal life down slope and down valley from the rupture would be killed. Cars could not run so there would be no escape even if you knew it was there and donned an oxygen bottle. The CO2 would flow down valley and fill the valley like a dense fluid.

    So far the hazards of CCS have had no serious scrutiny. It is far more dangerous than nuclear, and that has to be added on top of the hazards of the conventional fossil fuel power stations which are already 10 to 100 times more dangerous than nuclear plants; see:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/

  126. For a bit of back of envelope calculation for a “fair” carbon price we could start with the estimated external costs of coal fired electricity generation:

    http://www.externe.info/externpr.pdf

    The figures are all over the place but 0.05 EUR per kWh looks to be somewhere in the middle.

    At ~800 grams/kWh carbon emissions, we get a figure of 800 * 0.05 = 40 EUR/tonne. Or at current exchange rate ~AUD 55.00 per tonne.

  127. John Newlands,

    Imposed carbon pricing may seem like a cruel twist on top of those other factors but it’s hard to see change happening otherwise.

    Why do you expect a carbon price would cause significant emissions cuts?

    What evidence is there? Is it just wishful thinking?

    Is there any indication that the Greens or the environmental NGOs would become pro-nuclear, or is it just whishful thinking. Can you provide any solid evidence from anywhere? (not wishful thinking)

    How can a carbon price cut emissions significantly without allowing nuclear?

    Do you think we will stop using electricity or oil? Or do you think renewables will save us? At what cost?

    Did you look at the video I posted which presents a case that we need to focus on reducing the cost of clean electricity, rather than raise the cost of dirty electricity – yet?

    Here are some of the slides if you prefer (slides 29 to ?), but the video (up to 15:45) is much better.

    http://www.slideshare.net/robert.hargraves/liquid-fuel-nuclear-reactors-presentation-draft4

    Video:

    Have you considered the real cost to the economy of imposing a price on carbon, sufficient to have a significant impact, but in the absence of cheap nuclear?

    Why do BNC contributors keep saying “a carbon price is the solution” but are not willing to engage in a discussion as to whether there is sound evidence to support that belief?

  128. John Newlands,

    I believe the Labor-Greens alliance is obliged to bring in some form of carbon pricing because they have a mandate, albeit slim.

    That seems like a pretty dodgy reason to me. In the first place I’d disagree that they have a mandate for any of their policies. But even if we set that disagreement aside, there is also a mandate to do a whole lot of things they wont do. Anyway, surely this is not a sound argument to support a bad policy. BNC contributors are interested, I believe, in promoting a policy that will cut emissions, give us long term security of energy supply, cleaner, safer and other benefits. So, surely it is the role of contributors to consider what is genuinely the best way to implement sound energy policies and then promote that to all we can influence. If we are just here to support the government’s policy, when we know better, then I wonder what is the agenda? I also wonder, if the Coalition had been elected if you would have argued they had a mandate for no carbon tax or ETS. I expect you would not have? I am making this point to try to show that it is a pretty dodgy argument to say we should support a carbon tax or ETS because it is the government’s policy.

  129. Why do BNC contributors keep saying “a carbon price is the solution” but are not willing to engage in a discussion as to whether there is sound evidence to support that belief?

    As I have said, the UK has much higher taxes on oil than the USA. So the USA uses 68.672 bbl/day per 1,000 people, while the UK only uses 29.008 bbl/day per 1,000 people. Higher taxes = less oil uses. QED. With electricity generation, well, it will make nukes more competitive, and maybe even provide some cash for various start up or R&D funds.

    In other news, Dr Brian Fisher admitted:

    DR BRIAN FISHER, EXEC. DIRECTOR ABARE: Our view, basically, is that all of this material is out there. Every agent in the marketplace has access to that information. And, as a consequence of that, the market will deal with this.

    Yes, the material is out there. ASPO have analysed it, and found we’ll peak this year. The French version of ABARE are far less concerned. They’ve given us to 2013! But ABARE have left it up to ‘the marketplace’. Phew, that’s a relief! Glad ABARE are there to help! ;-)

  130. Peter Lang,

    Please demonstrate how a carbon tax in Australia would significantly cut CO2 emissions, while bans and other imposts are maintained on nuclear power, without damaging our economy relative to other economies.

    I am pretty lukewarm about a carbon price in the absence of nuclear power. In the absence of a (capable) clean alternative to current energy sources, there’s no discretion available to the energy consumer to respond to the price signal, so I am pessimistic about how much it could achieve, and frustrated by a public discussion that often seems to treat it as an end itself. I think my efforts are better spent advocating for nuclear power than for a carbon price. I’m also deeply suspicious of carbon trading because of the inevitable shell games and would rather see fossil fuels taxed directly at some point in the supply chain. But I can’t get too excited about it without a nuclear alternative available.

    So, nuclear power comes first, a sine qua non.

    But I’m interested in the situation where nuclear power is an option. If we had the option of commissioning nuclear plants for new generation, then a carbon price should improve the economics of nuclear relative to coal and gas, and favour a faster displacement of fossil fuels.

    Peter, whats your position on a carbon tax when nuclear power is available?

  131. I don’t know if anyone here is still interested, but after my early interest in Kitegen, I decided to do some research. I would appreciate if some of the energy buffs from this website would ‘peer review’ my estimates.

    Looking on the website, its stated that the kites fly at 800m height. From this I tried to work out the ‘Aerial footprint’ or the equivalent area that would have to be dedicated to each ‘stem’ – I’m assuming the area around is totally dedicated to a single one, to prevent the possibility of the lines getting tangled. I was perhaps overly fair to the technology in assuming that the angle between the ground and tether to be 45 degrees. So I calculate that each 3MW Kitegen would require:

    ((tan 45)⋅800)^2⋅pi = 2010,619.3 m^2

    And energy density to be 3/(((tan 45)⋅800)^2⋅pi) = 1.4*10^-6 MW/m^2

    Okay….

  132. I forgot. This is the other great reason we should all relax about ABARE.

    DR BRIAN FISHER, EXEC. DIRECTOR ABARE: If you move beyond oil, you can probably liquefy coal at $US40 a barrel, and there is quite a bit of coal around.

    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1683060.htm

    Well, if he’d read the Hirsch report and actually looked into how long it took to set up those CTL plants then he might not have said such a silly thing. If he’d looked into global peak coal he might not have said such a silly thing. If he’d thought about the CLIMATE implications he might not have said such a silly thing. If he looked into the fact that electric cars allow emissions free transport without any air pollution and all the lung-cancer we get from burning coal and oil, he might not have said such a silly thing.

    But despite these 4 good reasons not to say it, he went ahead and said it. Yay ABARE!

  133. eclipse: the u.s. transport infrastructure is different from the U.K. There’s much less convenient public transport, some urban areas excepted.

    a major carbon tax plus price increases related to peak oil (assuming your view is right) would be passed on to the consumer in a really bad economy, which would be made worse by the price increases. due to the passing on of price increases, and the inelasticity of demand (given lack of transport infrastructure), the oil companies would largely continue with business as usual, especially given their huge sunk costs in fossil fuel related infrastructure.

    I don’t see how many nukes can get built safely and run well without state led development, on coordination grounds alone. On the other hand, our states (U.S.) are not neutral with respect to powerful interests. If I had total power, I would slash the military budget and build nuclear power. But no real U.S. leader will do this unless the military spending became blatantly dysfunctional for u.s. geopolitical interests.

    when deutschebank predicted 165 bucks a barrel for 2016, I don’t know if that included a big carbon price on the order of 15-40 bucks a ton of CO2. I doubt it.

  134. For those who consider that rapid nuclear roll out is a necessary prerequisite for an acceptable future, Barry’s report on his return from the States and subsequent information in links and comments made here provide sobering reading. The lesson I have learnt is that democratic states with liberalised energy markets will not succeed for fairly obvious reasons.

    The high up front costs and uncertainties over build times and future electricity prices make private investment in nuclear power unattractive to free market investors. This is not a criticism of free markets, but an indication that it is the role of governments to make (or guarantee) inter-generational investments.

    Finrod is almost certainly correct to state that , averaged over 60 years, nuclear electricity will be cheaper than any other form of electricity. Investment in nuclear makes sense in the long term. Peter Lang is correct in wishing nuclear to be competitive with coal and appears to be reconciled to the view that this will not be achieved by making it less safe (from an engineering perspective). He points out that he accepts the need for taxpayer funds to kick start the process, just as governments have accepted the fact that, without support, renewables wouldn’t get built. John Morgan would support a carbon tax once nuclear is treated as an “honorary” renewable.

    The global recession has, in some ways, made transition to clean energy more difficult, but I am wondering whether, politically, it might also have provided an opportunity. Keynesian, make- work, solutions are often favoured in recessions as economic stimuli and partial alternatives to non productive unemployment payments. Given the quantitative easing that’s going on, does one really need to increase taxes directly (rather than debauching the currency!)? UK banks, saved by QE, are now pseudo nationalised concerns and are attracting criticism for sitting on loadsamoney rather than lending it to potentially productive companies. Unfortunately, many such aren’t going to prove as productive as the owners think and banks are being told to become more risk averse. What better way for banks to use their surpluses to stimulate the economy than investment in government backed nuclear power? Pension fund managers should also receive encouragement from government backing to identify a secure long term return on investment from nuclear.

    I think most voters realise that things are going to get worse in the short term. Currently, politicians are promising that all will be OK once we resume economic growth, necessary for the survival of the capitalist system. We need them to make the next logical step – the realisation of the necessity of a plentiful supply of affordable energy as a precondition of resumed growth. The recognition of peak oil (energy security threat) will probably act as a more urgent spur to them than AGW in making this next step. However, if it is made, I think at least some democratic leaders will emerge and stand a chance of convincing their electorates that nuclear rollout is both a necessity for survival and, simultaneously, offers a chance of re-establishing economic activity, growth and prosperity.

    Having said all that, an hypothecated carbon tax and a level energy playing field still seem quite attractive. I think hypothecation could be a political selling point. However, I don’t think the money raised should necessarily be returned as dividend, though I can see the merits of that too (and the bureaucratic complexities). I would prefer the money raised to be used in support of nuclear rollout (or, perhaps, clean energy rollout).

  135. “For those who consider that rapid nuclear roll out is a necessary prerequisite for an acceptable future, Barry’s report on his return from the States and subsequent information in links and comments made here provide sobering reading. ” – Douglas Wise

    Douglas, Barry’s problem is that he has not hooked up with Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge, and Hanford, are the places where the term rapid nuclear rollout have true meaning. No trip to Oak Ridge would be complete without a visit to the K-25 site. K-25 was the huge uranium separation facility built during World War II. The thing is taking a lot longer to demolish than it took took to build, and it was in 1945 the largest building under a single roof in the world.

    The X-10 Graphite reactor was the second reactor ever built. it was 100 times more powerful than the original Chicago pile, and was built in 10 months.

    When Y-12 could not git enough copper to wire its Calutons, they simply borrowed 14,700 tons of silver from the United States Treasury, to wire up the things up.

    Yet Oak Ridge, was nothing more than a few mountain villages in 1942. By 1945 it was a huge industrial/scienific complex . That was the first nuclear roll out.

  136. Huw.
    The reason windturbines have to be spaced wide enough from each other are the turbolences.
    A kitegen needs about 1/4 the space (+the airspace obciously). They can reach higher than 800m.
    7000h/a at around 2500m.
    There are 2 lengthly discussions over at theoildrum with Massimo from kitegen replying.

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

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

    There could be rapid rollout. All parts are available and even 3rd world countries could built hundreds of kitegens every year.
    Shipping of components is easy. No huge blades.
    It would also create hundreds of jobs (lines have to be changed every 6 month, they have to be recycled.) and still yield power competetive with cole.

    Wind is cheap already but kitegen can really push the limits.
    I am working in investment. We have financed gas, biomass, cole and wind. We are in contact with kitegen since 3 years and first in the line when they sell their technology. It will take some time to understand the technology for legislation. There are huge profits to be made for those that built the first plants. In countries where you are guaranteed to sell renewable you can directly compete with gas/coil when conventional wind and solar are not working.

  137. Charles Barton:

    Thank you for your reply. However, I think you may have missed the point. I wasn’t suggesting that rapid nuclear roll out was not technically feasible. In fact, I have great faith in the fact that it is, but only when national leaders give it high priority – as suggested by terms such as going on a war footing or adopting a Manhatten style approach. Laissez faire free market capitalism won’t hack it.

  138. Wind is cheap already but kitegen can really push the limits.
    I am working in investment. We have financed gas, biomass, cole and wind.

    Wind is not cheap, kitegen is unproven, and ‘cole’ is spelled ‘coal’.

  139. Wind is cheap already but kitegen can really push the limits.
    I am working in investment. We have financed gas, biomass, cole and wind.

    Wind is not cheap, kitegen is unproven, and ‘cole’ is spelled ‘coal’.

  140. coal is spelled “Kohle” if you speak a nicer language than English ;)
    Wind is a great investment and our tech people are all fired up when they get new data about the kitegen. (they also tell me internet forums are useless.)
    I don`t really care, I am in marketing but like the kites.

    BTW…anything that has not been built yet is unproven, does that mean it is no good idea?
    I don`t understand your opposition to this idea. 6-2cent CO2 free renewable energy from a technology that could spread fast and be built everywhere. Isn`t that what everybody here is looking for?

  141. [quote] 6-2cent CO2 free renewable energy from a technology that could spread fast and be built everywhere. [/quote]

    According to the website and the video, the availability factor is dependent on location. This looks good for the med, but In my own country, maybe not so good. I hope a few do get built here in the UK though, as they look cool, and the music in the video is soothing.

    Also, even the 60% odd availability factor isn’t reliable enough for base-load, or really anything else.

  142. Wind is a great investment and our tech people are all fired up when they get new data about the kitegen. (they also tell me internet forums are useless.)
    I don`t really care, I am in marketing but like the kites.

    Wind is a great investment for the investors so long as the subsidies are maintained. Once those are dropped, no-one will touch it with a barge-pole. In other words, it cannot be sustained on its own merits, and financiers know this full well.

    Your techniocians may well be enthusiastic about projected numbers for kitegen, but they are meaningless until demonstrated in the commercial world.

    If you think internet forums are useless, why are you here spruiking kitegen?

    BTW…anything that has not been built yet is unproven, does that mean it is no good idea?

    No, but it does mean that it should not be relied upon as a sure answer to serious problems, and just about the only context I see kitegen being raised in is as an alternative to proven, reliable nuclear technology.

    I don`t understand your opposition to this idea. 6-2cent CO2 free renewable energy from a technology that could spread fast and be built everywhere. Isn`t that what everybody here is looking for?

    Those figures are not yet demonstrated. Remember that even with a capacity factor of 60%, the outages are still unschedulable, so expensive backup still needs to be built and used. This will blow those rosy figures out of the water.

    Also keep in mind that large aerodynamic structures intended to be airborne for extended periods have a goood deal of environmental stress to deal with. This concept is far from being proven.

  143. Also, even the 60% odd availability factor isn’t reliable enough for base-load, or really anything else.

    Baseload coal plants get by with CFs the same or only slightly better, but their outages are usually predictable, so they don’t require the massive backup that chronic unscheduled outages would demand.

  144. There is no way we would invest in nuclear without guarantees. You know about the cost of nuclear in Europe and yet believe that it will be profitable for investors the comming decades?

    Nuclear can only live with heavy subsidies in Germany. They cap safety investments at 500mio (when it costs 2.3b) and gives guarantees to not raise fuel tax.
    Power does not get cheaper only because power companys make more profit every year.
    And they won`t invest in new nuclear plants because they are too expensive.
    Runtime is also limited.
    When we invest in German wind power the money stays in Germany.
    You also can`t built nukes in Australia. Better not waste time and start building kitegens to get it proven fast.
    The carousel would be an even more powerfull design with higher CFs.
    You can always overbuilt by 30%, built storage and still get away with less carbon for only a little premium over nuclear. +no waste problem, more jobs,…(we are still talking gen3 not unproven gen4…not that gen3 has proven economy in future market situations yet).

  145. Stefanie I have problems with Nuclear can only live with heavy subsidies in Germany. As in
    1) how come they want to heavily tax the nuclear industry in Germany? Might as well just drop the subsidies if that’s the case.
    2) why doesn’t the nuclear industry get both a feed-in tariff and obligatory purchase of its product? It seems to me wind and solar can’t lose in Germany because the economics are distorted.
    3) what’s with the proposals for new coal fired plants if renewables are so good?

  146. @ Greg Meyerson,
    You raise some really good points and I was being a little flippant. Of course the UK has better public transport, as does the whole European Union. As a rule on a per capita basis, the EU uses half the oil of the average American because of their better Urban planning and public transport. I also agree that there are other factors, such as EU legislation on vehicle efficiency, that affect how much oil they use. It’s *not* just the effects of a ‘Carbon tax’.

    AND I agree with you that there is a point where nations just must use oil, or something like it. So a ‘Carbon tax’ on oil would probably only damage the economy further, especially after peak oil. My point was not what to do now going forward but what fuel tax policy has accomplished in the past. I can’t remember where I read it, but I remember hearing that the UK has not increased their oil consumption on a per capita basis in 20 years!
    
But what about the ‘Bumpy plateau’ effect that many predict as a result of feedbacks between a rising and falling price of oil flowing through into causing a boom and bust economy? Alternative energy sources won’t have clear market signals because the marketplace will be all over the place.

    http://oildepletionprotocol.org/theprotocol

    I don’t see how many nukes can get built safely and run well without state led development, on coordination grounds alone. On the other hand, our states (U.S.) are not neutral with respect to powerful interests. If I had total power, I would slash the military budget and build nuclear power. But no real U.S. leader will do this unless the military spending became blatantly dysfunctional for u.s. geopolitical interests.

    Agreed! But here’s another thought.

    (And this is just a personal reflection: nothing here is nailed to my support of nuclear power — this is a totally different topic!)
    Does the USA really need so many legislative bodies? How much does it cost to administer 50 states? Why do you need 50 State legislatures? What about amalgamating them into 20, or 10? What is so good about having multiplication of paper work, tradespeople that have to learn new rules as they move between states, multiple education policies and cirrocumulus, etc? Dr Mark Drummond of “Beyond Federation” has estimated that Australia would save $50 billion a year by rolling our states over into a unified National Parliament that would create Nation-wide legislative unity, while letting the Local governments deliver various services. It saves business having to waste money educating employees about the requirements of various State laws, and saves the taxpayer paying for 9 Parliaments instead of one.
    If we could save $50 billion a year abolishing our few state parliaments, then America would surely save so much more! Just a thought.

  147. One minute I’m told ‘Nuclear can not survive without subsidies! lets oppose it outright!’ and that its expensive etc In the same breath I’m told ‘Renewables can compete, they only need modest subsidy!’ – noting the only reason the subsidy is ‘modest’ is the fact that they only produce a modest amount of energy. Although here in the UK these people don’t have a leg to stand on, as EDF have said they will built NPP without subsidy and offshore wind recieves 7p/kwh.

    Here is an interesting question. Considering the geographical location of Australia, what would be the expected availability factor for a Kitegen there?

  148. There is no way we would invest in nuclear without guarantees. You know about the cost of nuclear in Europe and yet believe that it will be profitable for investors the comming decades?

    The only guarantees needed are the ones guaranteeing that undue political interference from anti-nuclear activists won’t be permitted to derail new nuclear projects. Once that is in hand, it’s all good.

    The cost of nuclear in Europe is such that the major nation with the greatest NPP penetration (France) enjoys the cheapest electric power, whereas the nation with the most wind penetration (Denmark) is burdened with the most expensive.

    Nuclear can only live with heavy subsidies in Germany. They cap safety investments at 500mio (when it costs 2.3b) and gives guarantees to not raise fuel tax.
    Power does not get cheaper only because power companys make more profit every year.

    This absolutely cannot be true. Germany is planning to prop up the federal budget with a tax which would cripple any other power source. If there is potential to make power cheaper by restricting profits, this simply means that nuclear power is potentially even cheaper than at present. Your statement here is self-contradictory.

    When we invest in German wind power the money stays in Germany.

    But you get nothing for it, and the need to cover power from wind with natural gas means that you’re bleeding money to Russia.

    You also can`t built nukes in Australia. Better not waste time and start building kitegens to get it proven fast.

    You seem to think that the laws of humanity are immutable, while the laws of nature are matters of choice.

    You can always overbuilt by 30%, built storage and still get away with less carbon for only a little premium over nuclear. +no waste problem, more jobs,…(we are still talking gen3 not unproven gen4…not that gen3 has proven economy in future market situations yet).

    No effective industrial-scale power storage technology capable of backing up a ‘renewables’-dominated grid yet exists, and if it did, it would advantage nuclear power even more than ‘renewables’.

  149. @ Douglas Wise,

    This is not a criticism of free markets, but an indication that it is the role of governments to make (or guarantee) inter-generational investments….

    What better way for banks to use their surpluses to stimulate the economy than investment in government backed nuclear power?

    Agreed! It reminds me of American building the Hoover Dam during the Great Depression. As we hit the “Greater Depression” or “Great Disruption” or whatever historians end up calling peak oil, we’ll need some very fast, very creative job programs tied to infrastructure build outs of nukes, rail, trolley buses, etc.

  150. I can’t speak for other countries, but it seems that here in UK, NP is competitive with Gas and Coal, and perhaps cheaper –

    http://www.cna.ca/…/Comparative_Costs_of_Generation_Technologies_Sept-06-EN.pdf

    If Kitegen can be shown to work on a reasonable scale, and compete technically/economically, then I will push for it as much as I push for NP. At the moment, all I’ve seen is words and cool looking animation – that isn’t enough for me.

    To be fair, i haven’t seen that much more for Gen IV NP, but that’s why I’m not a card carrying member of that club.

  151. If GenIV doesn’t work we’re stuffed. Peak uranium and peak thorium will kick in, and then we’ll be back to renewables. One day, after the dieoff, some sort of semi-industrial civilisation might again emerge running new work rules based on the weather. “Oh good, daddy can go to work today because it is sunny and the solar cells are working!”

    But our society? No chance of survival with nearly 7 billion people to feed.

  152. … If GenIV doesn’t work we’re stuffed. Peak uranium and peak thorium will kick in, and then we’ll be back to renewables.

    For certain values of “we”, and of “stuffed”, that’s very true.

    If GenIV doesn’t work, what’s going to happen to all the thorium?

    Isn’t it true that the rate of discovery of uranium, expressed in thermal watts — not watts that are actually being released, but watts that would be released if there were so many more reactors in the world that they could keep up — comfortably exceeds the actual, thermal rate of petroleum burning?

    What would happen to that discovery rate if the price of uranium rose to $5 per barrel-oil-equivalent, and the number of people employed in searching for it rose to equal those now, I don’t know, making Frisbees and other flying disk toys?

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  153. I disagree Eclipsenow, I’ve seen more than enough evidence to suggest that there will be adequate U and Th to power a substantial NP programme up until at least 2050, perhaps longer if Dupic can be made to work, and then we can reply on the sea and laser enrichment.

    I have no doubt that GenIV technology can work – two fast reactors have ran fine here in the UK, and a design was developed in the 1970’s for a fast breeder variant of our AGR with existing tech. What’s holding me back is that I’ve heard from many sources that the initial, highly enriched ‘starter’ fuel will cost an apsolute fortune. Perhaps I can be proven wrong?

  154. Estimates of the economic consequences of climate change have mostly depended on economic models. Here is something a bit different where the author of the study examines existing data over a range of years with higher and lower average temperatures over the hottest months. The region is the Caribbean and central America – hot and mostly poor countries. He finds that GDP is reduced by 2.4% per 1C temperature increase, and that reduction is mostly not in agriculture and speculates that the direct effect of the heat on human productivity is part of the cause.

    http://www.fight-entropy.com/2010/08/new-mechanism-to-consider-when.html

  155. Does anyone know the background to that foerced closure of the “Chernobyl-style nuclear plant” in Lithuania?

    It seemed an interesting story — plant with perfect record of safety delivering 70% of Lithuania’s power and supported in a referendum by 90% approval forced to close to permit joining EU.

    One does wonder what is delivering that 70% now.

    The weird thing is that the story ended without answering most of the really interesting questions of public utility.

  156. Finrod
    Please make yourself familiar with German politics.
    The next gov. will chang the rules again.
    The last guarantee was that runtime is limited and the phase out is fixed. Now the phase out is prolonged….but only so long till the rules are changed again.
    It is not certain that this weeks cahnge is even legal under constitution…

    Only because old NPPs are making profit does not mean they are a good investment.

    The subsidie for renewables comming from the consumer is very low. About 2c/kWh are enough for the EE.

    The idea behind taxing nuclear is to force power companys to invest in renewables. Which works only if the government does not make bad deals (like this time). The saved money does not go anywhere but the pockets of the power companys.

    One very efficient way of lowering power bills and energy consumtion is to built open meters. When people can see the meter running they save up to 1/3 of power on their own.

    You also have to average cost of living. Have a look at French rents, French loans, French foodprices compared to Germany and the picture is very different.
    Its not all about the price of power.

  157. John Morgan, on 10 September 2010 at 20.44 Said

    Peter Lang,

    Please demonstrate how a carbon tax in Australia would significantly cut CO2 emissions, while bans and other imposts are maintained on nuclear power, without damaging our economy relative to other economies.

    I am pretty lukewarm about a carbon price in the absence of nuclear power. In the absence of a (capable) clean alternative to current energy sources, there’s no discretion available to the energy consumer to respond to the price signal, so I am pessimistic about how much it could achieve, and frustrated by a public discussion that often seems to treat it as an end itself. I think my efforts are better spent advocating for nuclear power than for a carbon price. I’m also deeply suspicious of carbon trading because of the inevitable shell games and would rather see fossil fuels taxed directly at some point in the supply chain. But I can’t get too excited about it without a nuclear alternative available.

    So, nuclear power comes first, a sine qua non.

    But I’m interested in the situation where nuclear power is an option. If we had the option of commissioning nuclear plants for new generation, then a carbon price should improve the economics of nuclear relative to coal and gas, and favour a faster displacement of fossil fuels.

    Peter, what’s your position on a carbon tax when nuclear power is available?

    Thank you for your clear thinking and carefully balanced assessment (as always) of the role of a carbon price (tax or ETS) to speed up the rate that we would cut our CO2 emissions in the future.

    Below I’ll reply to your question:

    Peter, what’s your position on a carbon tax when nuclear power is available?

    My answer: it depends …

    1. I would strongly support Australia being a party to an economically efficient, international emissions trading scheme (ETS). It would need to be managed by the WTO or similar and all the main emitters would need to be genuine and willing participants. Of course, as we know that is not going to happen any time soon.

    2. I am not sure that I would support imposing a carbon tax or ETS any more. I would have supported an ETS once, when it seemed the world was going to go down that route, but I am not sure it is the right way to proceed anymore.

    3. I do support internalising the externalities of fossil fuel, but only up to a point. And I am far from convinced that emissions trading or tax is the best way to internalise the costs of emissions. I fear following that route means leaving it to bureaucrats and politicians to decide what is the value of the externality that should be included. That concerns me greatly.

    4. There are limits to my support for internalising externalities. There is a balance between how much should be incorporated because the cost to society of internalising the externality may be greater than the cost of allowing the external cost to stay with the community. For example, I recognise that there are many adverse health effects and fatalities from burning coal and gas in our power stations. From memory, the estimate is 24,000 fatalities per year in the general population in the USA from burning coal. But there are also benefits of cheap electricity. The benefits to society of cheap electricity are huge (apologies for the adjective). I rate these benefits much more highly than most other BNC contributors do, I believe.

    5. Furthermore, on my support for internalising externalities, I now am inclined to lean towards regulation of emissions (for electricity generators) rather than ETS or carbon tax, at least until we have removed the impediments on nuclear. I have lost confidence in the ETS, and never supported the carbon tax – from when ABARE started work on ETS and Carbon Tax in 1990 [Ref: ’Tradable Emissions Permit Scheme’, ABARE Report 93.5, by Mike Hinchy, Sally Thorpe and Brian Fisher]). One problem with the ETS and with carbon tax is how to handle the embodied emissions in our imported products. The ETS and Carbon Tax disadvantage our exporters. Professor Warwick McKibbin (http://www.sensiblepolicy.com/wmhp/home1.htm ) has been advocating an ETS which works on consumption rather than production. This would be great, if international. But the complexities of the accounting system make it totally impracticable. Every business in every country would need a system like our GST system, but the unit of the accounting system would be CO2-e, not money. Just think about it. It is impossible.

    6. The one thing we can do to internalise externalities is to regulate emissions (from electricity generation). We regulate emissions of many pollutants from many other industries, so why not CO2-e from electricity generation? We regulate the emissions of many substances from electricity generation so why not add CO2 to the list of emissions we will control?

    7. Once Australia has removed all the impediments to nuclear, then I would support a carbon price to speed the rate of change over from coal and gas to nuclear. BUT, only if the same was being done in the other major emitting economies.

    8. I do not support disadvantaging Australia’s economy in the absence of equivalent actions being taken by the other major emitting economies!

    9. Another point I’d like to make. If the world had a good, economically efficient, international trading scheme, Australia would be one of the last countries in the world to move away from coal for electricity generation. Think about it. We have good coal, near surface and near to our main population centres. It gives us cheap electricity. If the world had a good international ETS, as we should have, we would be better off to buy permits so other countries implement clean electricity first. That would continue until we were one of the last countries to start to transition away from coal – unless of course nuclear is cheaper than coal!!! (which is what it could and should be because of the 20,000 times higher energy density and because it is far safer and clearner)

    10. So, the argument that we are the highest per capita emitter carries no weight with me at all. It is just a guilt trip argument. What is missing is a proper, economically efficient, international ETS. And that is not going to happen any time soon.

    11. Therefore, from my perspective, if we want to cut emissions, our route should be through removing all the impediments to low-cost nuclear in Australia. I’ve been through ‘the how’ I suggest we should proceed on other threads.

    12. Most importantly, I feel we should stop arguing for a carbon tax or ETS and focus instead on convincing the Greens, environmental NGOs and Labor to stop being so hypocritical – change their policy stance on nuclear. Become enthusiastic advocates so we can get low cost nuclear in Australia, not high cost nuclear.

    John, I trust you can extract my Yes-No answer to your question from the few words above :)

    Also, John, note that much of this is written for the benefit of others, not just in answer to your one line question.

  158. John Morgan,

    I’d like to say a bit more in reply to this paragraph of yours:

    But I’m interested in the situation where nuclear power is an option. If we had the option of commissioning nuclear plants for new generation, then a carbon price should improve the economics of nuclear relative to coal and gas, and favour a faster displacement of fossil fuels.

    I agree that is true within a single country. But is it for the world as a whole. GHG emissions is a world wide problem so we need to be thinking about how we can participate in reducing world emissions, rather than just our own. I see a parallel tariffs. We used to believe that we could protect our industries and that would make us better off with tariffs. But we now realise that is not the case. The world is better off by removing tarriffs and promooting free trade. The vast majority of peoples a re better off (There are always a few losers – those who cant or don’t want to compete). I see a parallel with cutting GHG emissions. Australia could raise the cost of electricity sufficently to force us to build massively costly wind and solar plants to provide our electrcity (but with low reliability). That would greatly disadvantage Australia and would make no difference to world emissions. No other country would follow our example in stupidity.

    That is an extreme case to make the point.

    The more realistic case is that we could raise the cost of electricity and allow expensive (excessively safe) nuclear in Australia. But that would not help to bring the cost of nuclear down to the level at which it could substitute for coal in the developing world. Remember, it is the developing worldf that must be diverted from using fossil fuels. What they do will dwarf what the developed countries have done so far. The sooner we give them a technology that can give them reliable electricity at a cost less than fossil fuels, the sooner we will have a chance of reducing emissions.

    Therefore, my argument is that the best thing we can do to help to cut world GHG emissions is to bring low-cost nuclear to Australia and force it to become competitive with coal. I am convinced it is possible, but we must change our mind set from demanding ridiculous levels of safety for nuclear when we do not demand the same levels of safety for our other industries.

    I realise it will take a long time to get to the point of removing all the excessive requirements on nculear, but we (Australia) can help by bringing the issue out into the open. It cannot be achieved in Gen III but could be achieved in mature Gen IV. In the meantime, we should advocate the least cost nuclear power plants available. When selecting power plants we should select the ones that will give us the least cost electricity for the life of the plant. A lot of factors will come into the selection. However, that is what I believe the selection should be based on. And NPP, even the Chernobyl type, are far safer than what we are using to generate our electricity now, which we readily accept, so safety should not be an issue in the selection of a tuype of NPP, IMO.

  159. Peter Lang,

    Sorry, I’ve been busy and only just saw your reply to my post (9 September 2010 at 13.23). I’ll have a look at that video link you provided, and scan through the comments on this thread that follow, when I find a bit of time. Thanks.

  160. “For a libertarians perspectives on Climate Change, including some commentary on nuclear power, check out the ABC Science show as referenced here:-”

    What you really mean is for a libertarian perspective on libertarian ideology. His few comments on climate science revolved around some really dodgy stuff

    1. The effects of acid rain on forests was overstated (by whom?) and being an optimist he can logically extrapolate excessive concern over acid rain to excessive concern over climate change. Oh please!

    2. Estimates of climate sensitivity to CO2 depend only on positive feedbacks in climate models. In fact they are also supported by paleo climate studies. He is willfully misrepresenting the science for his own ideological purposes. He seems to think that playing to all the nonsense spread about climate models is just fine.

    3. The Greenland ice sheet is not going to collapse this decade or this century. Did anybody say it would?

    And on carbon emissions? Just pray to the nat gas god, throw in a few nukes and by 2060 we will have a low carbon economy.

    And just to throw in a bit of snark, I really don’t think a chairman of Northern Rock is in any position to lecture the world on the nature of risk and optimism. Especially when those who suffered the most from the GFC were those least able to afford it and (unlike certain board members) powerless to prevent it.

  161. Quokka – Thanks for checking it out and sharing your perspective.

    http://blog.libertarian.org.au/2010/09/12/ideas-have-sex/

    You ask some fair questions but then presume he has no answers even though you haven’t asked him those questions. That seems a bit rough and seems to take him out of context. He was asked to explain why he believed certain things not to prove those things. However I shouldn’t be too shocked because climate discussion has been a toxic area for some time and large numbers on both sides have given up on the prospect that there opposite number is being genuine or logical in their view point.

  162. Peter Lang:

    You continue to press for the cheapest form of nuclear power for well explained reasons and I entirely support your viewpoint. Where I believe you are mistaken is to draw the conclusion that it is “excessive” safety that is primarily responsible for the current purported lack of competitiveness with coal.

    While I think I understand what you are driving at, namely overzealous regulation, I think this is not quite the same thing. As DV82XL previously pointed out, it is not unusual for regulating bureaucrats to be anti-nuclear and to do all they can to delay projects, often on spurious safety grounds. Furthermore, safety standards based on LNT theory encourage unnecessary widespread public fear , NIMBYism and further delays. As I have mentioned before, I think you do the nuclear cause a disservice by wrapping these issues in a packet labelled “safety”.

    As a matter of fact, averaged over plant lifetimes, nuclear electricity is probably already competitive with coal electricity, but this will depend upon discount rates. The latter will be much lower for government backed projects than for those arising in the private sector. A very major component in the cost of nuclear electricity is finance cost. Thus, full government backing for a nuclear approach should reduce regulatory delays, discount rates and costs. A government approach that subsidises renewables and protects their output, but leaves nuclear to sink or swim on its own will, as Barry has pointed out elsewhere, lead to relative nuclear stagnation in democracies with government-distorted liberalised energy markets.

    There is one other approach to getting nuclear power costs down to well below those of coal power which does not involve emissions controls or carbon levies. This cannot come into immediate effect but , as has often been stated here before, would involve standardised, modular, factory built, mass produced plants that were inherently safer, produced less waste and gave rise to fewer proliferation concerns. I am referring, of course, to Gen 4 reactors. Many of their proponents back them for their breeding ability on (possibly) spurious grounds of peak uranium and consequent rapidly escalating fuel prices. This has led many to conclude that there is no rush to go there, assuming (hopefully wrongly) that they are currently too costly to contemplate. However, if what Charles Barton has to say about LFTRs is close to correct, I think you might agree that we should pursue the technology as relentlessly as we can on grounds of cost alone. IFR supporters also suggest that they are capable of bringing costs down to below those of LWRs.

    In summary, current nuclear technology can just about compete with fossil fuels, given favourable discount rates and minimisation of construction delays. It is also much more reliable than non hydro renewables and cheaper, absenting subsidisation of the latter. If the promise of the new nuclear technology is only half fulfilled, new coal will become uncompetitive immediately without recourse to the imposition of emissions controls or levies.

  163. New York Times has another look at the leaked German military study into peak oil.

    The study states that there is “some probability that peak oil will occur around the year 2010 and that the impact on security is expected to be felt 15 to 30 years later.”

    Many prominent national and intergovernmental energy agencies, including the International Energy Agency, maintain that oil reserves are sufficient to meet demand until at least 2030.

    My article covers USGS errors that crept across into the IEA.

    The German military study, which was analyzed and partly translated into English by Der Spiegel, declares that once peak oil begins in earnest, economies around the globe — including Germany’s — will probably struggle with price shocks as a result of higher transportation costs, and “shortages of vital goods could arise.”

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/09/study-warns-of-perilous-oil-crisis/

    Then there’s the US military paper that has come out and basically announced we’re stuffed!

    The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

    The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

    “By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply

    But don’t worry! ABARE are leaving it up to the market! YAY ABARE!

  164. Douglas Wise,

    While I think I understand what you are driving at, namely overzealous regulation,

    You do not understand what I am saying and that might explain why you continually misrepresent what I’ve said.

    Let me be clear. I do not support us placing requirements on nuclear that demand it be 10 to 100 safer than coal fired generation, or safer than other industries, if by so doing it makes nuclear higher coat than coal.

    Please acknowledge that you have understood this statement as a first step – without trying to imply that your position is mine.

    Secondly, the excessive safety requirements are indeed increasing the cost of nuclear. I suspect we are raising the cost of nuclear by possibly a factor of five over what would be the cost now if we had never demanded higher safety than would have resulted from the normal development of the technology. By normal development I refer you to the example of civil aviation industry and point to how safety has improved over the past five decades through the normal course of technology and systems development. But accidents have not been prevented. They have been reduced to what it considered an acceptable level.

    Imagine, for a moment, what would be the case if we took a clean sheet to the level of nuclear technology and understanding in about 1946. Then set out to develop the nuclear electricity generation from there without the emotional baggage tied with the nuclear weapons use and testing.

    Here is a good start. Consider Hanford B. Have a read of this for a start.

    http://files.asme.org/ASMEORG/Communities/History/Landmarks/5564.pdf

    The first large reactor. Built in 21 months. 250MWt thermal when first built. Expanded to 2200MWt by the time it was closed down 24 years later. The first ever large reactor, built 65 years ago, ran for 24 years and its power was expanded by a factor of nine.

    If we were able to do that 65 years ago, you can’t tell me that if we can’t do far better now and far cheaper than the present monsters we are building.

    The Russians and Indians have nowhere near the resources to throw at developing the technology that the USA and EU have, yet they make low cost NPPs. And there safety is far better than our coal fired plants (total health effects from full life cycle).

    Regarding you continually bringing up what DV82XL said: you are confusing what he said and what I am saying. He said it takes too long to redesign new power plants. So if we want nuclear now, or in the next decade or two, we will have to use the available technologies. I agree with this. However, I do say we do not need to buy the expensive USA and EU designs if they will produce electricity at a higher cost over their life than Indian, Russian or Korean plants. All are far safer than continuing to use coal and gas.

    [As an aside, we bought our only operating reactor from Argentina (and it works some of the time!!). ]

    What I am saying is:

    1. We 9Australia federal and state governments) need to focus on removing all the impediments to low cost nuclear;

    2. this includes allowing them to be built on the coast near our capital cities if that is the least cost alternative;

    3. we should procure from a vendor that will provide the least cost electricity over the life of the plant; and

    4. the developed world should focus on developing the least cost alternatives for the next generation of NPPs.

    I wonder what would be the cost of plants like the Toshiba Hyperion and 4S if they were built on production lines like tanks or aircraft. Could these NPPs (or others) be produced at a cost that would allow them to be rolled out across the developing world instead of coal?

  165. Peter Lang lives in a world where HE is the boss, writing long posts about his perfect marketplace rules for constructing nuclear power.

    In reality that marketplace is already punch drunk from the GFC.

    In reality, a ‘little something’ called the US Joint Forces Command has predicted world oil production will be DOWN 10 mbd by 2015.
    (That’s a ‘mere’ 8th Peter).

    That’s Great Depression language. Goodbye perfect marketplace! I expect unemployment to hit about 10-15% by 2015.

    Only governments will be able to build the nukes we need. Sorry if that sounds a bit commo for you.

  166. Peter Lang:

    It appears that I really have misunderstood your position. Perhaps you could better make your case with respect to safety by explaining what aspects of safety are missing from Chinese, Indian or Korean reactors that are that are present in Western designs and to what extent these omissions contribute to the potential fivefold reductions in costs to which you refer?

    I have absolutely no quarrel with your final summarising statement that starts with “What I am saying is” except to say that your four listed points have nothing to do with safety as I understand it.

  167. Peter, thanks for that detailed and thoughtful response, there’s little there I would take exception to.

    I’m surprised you go for a trading scheme as the carbon pricing mechanism given your earlier remarks on the accounting difficulties. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of carbon trading for those reasons, favouring a simple tax applied at the point of production, which seems to me to be harder to game than trading offsets.

    Your point about Australia being a low global priority for a nuclear rollout is a little depressing but probably true. Nevertheless I hope we don’t wait to be last in line to transition off fossil fuels. It would be nice to offer developing countries a model for low cost nuclear, but I think they’re doing just fine by themselves so far.

  168. It amazes me how activists discussing important matters like climate change (and / or peak oil) can so easily get side-tracked into ‘how I’d rule the world’ conversations. All sorts of ideologies come out to fight. The urgency of the cause is lost as activists look up references to justify their personal hobby horse. So, with peak oil possibly bankrupting us within 5 years, which energy companies are going to be building nukes? Will governments or corporations or ‘public private partnerships’ build them? Will it take the controversial policy of “reducing safety” (which can lead to *so* many unnecessary arguments!) get those nukes built, or will it be an ETS, or “carbon tax”, or a rush-built government program?

    Ultimately, WHO CARES as long as they get built, and built well?

    5 years till the Great Depression people… and maybe not even that. This year or next year may be the final year we produce at peak before the inevitable decline of world oil production kicks in. Are we ready? No way!

    Nuclear power is just too important to alienate so many activists because one blogger has a penchant for a particular means of deployment. I for one am sad that Fran does not seem to hang out at BNC any more. That’s one less person engaged in what BNC is doing, new posters to download and print out, or letter writing campaigns, or public marches to support, or whatever energy activists can add to various campaigns as they come up.

    I for one will not spend all day arguing the “Political economy of nuclear power”, but instead will print out the “Nuclear waste worth $30 trillion” poster to put up at our Library and local shops. The problem is, when newcomers to arrive at BNC will they find heaps of posts about “Reducing safety”? And how will they react to that?

    We have to be SO careful not to alienate our own activists, or potential newcomers, just because of our own penchant for *how* nuclear power should be deployed. I think we need to concentrate more on *why* nuclear power should be deployed.

  169. John Morgan, on 12 September 2010 at 22.26 Said:

    I’m surprised you go for a trading scheme as the carbon pricing mechanism given your earlier remarks on the accounting difficulties. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of carbon trading for those reasons, favouring a simple tax applied at the point of production, which seems to me to be harder to game than trading offsets.

    I am not in favour of either ETS or carbon tax at the moment – not until we have removed all impediments to low-cost nuclear and the world, or at least the G20 (which causes 80% of emissions at the moment), has agreed to a genuinely workable, economically efficient, ETS.

    If the world ever does agree to an economically efficient, international ETS, Australia would be one of the last countries to stop burning coal for electricity generation. Our thermal coal exports would cease before we stopped burnning coal for electricity generation (because the shipping costs would make the coal more expensive for other countries than for Australia). However, the world is not going to agree to an ETS for a long time. And there will be international pressure on Australia to clean up its act. So we do have to act to cut our emissions. But how? I believe I have the answer. But the Greens don’t like it.

    I’m surprised you go for a trading scheme as the carbon pricing mechanism given your earlier remarks on the accounting difficulties.

    You may be using the words “accounting difficulties” to refer to all the problems I mentioned about fraud, cheating etc, or you may be referring to my comments about the “accounting difficulties” with an ETS that is based on consumption of embodied carbon emissions, as opposed to the ETS based on the production of end use energy products – i.e. electricity, petroleum products and gas. I was pointing out that the ideal would be an ETS based on consumption, not production, but the accounting system required would be impossible. Hence our options are an ETS based on production, which has lots of problems, or a carbon tax, which also has lots of problems.

    Because the ETS is theoretically better than a Carbon Tax, and because I am strongly opposed to raising the cost of electricity in the developed countries for the reasons I’ve explained previously, I am opposed to both ETS and carbon tax. Neither can work while we ban nuclear power. And neither can work without seriously damaging Australia’s economy unless we will allow nuclear to be a low cost option.

    I think a price on carbon is like placing a band aid over a seriously infected, ‘gangreenous’, wound. We need to address the ‘gangreen’. We can do that best by getting clean electricity to be cheaper than dirty electricity and by removing all the regulations and other imposts that are favouring fossil fuels and renewable energy.

    Your point about Australia being a low global priority for a nuclear rollout is a little depressing but probably true. Nevertheless I hope we don’t wait to be last in line to transition off fossil fuels.

    I agree, but I also do not want to see us damage our economy for the sake of more symbols. And I don’t believe we will wait long. There are many reasons we will have to proceed, not least of which is the pressures that will be applied to us through diplomacy and trade. But, I strongly believe that the carbon tax or ETS is not the way we should proceed. It is a symbol. Not a solution. It does not address the fundamental problem (i.e. the ‘gangreen’). It is not genuine reform. It is just another tax grab. And the money collected by governments will be wasted – that is a certainty.

    It would be nice to offer developing countries a model for low cost nuclear, but I think they’re doing just fine by themselves so far.

    I was referring to not only to the BRICS countries but also to the great mass of the world population that wants to follow the path of the OECD and the BRICS countries. The developing world is going to roll out electricity, just as we have. They will adopt fossil fuel or nuclear (or renewables) whichever is cheaper (and meets reliability and energy security requirements). Therefore, the OECD countries, and the G20 (including Australia) should be developing low cost nuclear power. Nuclear at a cost that is competitive with coal. That is where our efforts should be focused, not on covering up the ‘gangreen’ with another symbolic gesture.

    It would be nice to offer developing countries a model for low cost nuclear,

    I think you may have misunderstood what I was trying to say. I was not saying we should offer a “model”. I am saying the OECD countries have to develop the low cost nuclear electricity generation technologies, not a ‘model’ for them to follow. We do that by allowing genuine competition that forces the engineers and regulatory authorities to focus on least cost, instead of on excessive safety. This is what the long term of the Gen IV development should be – just like the aim of all other technologies. But if we continually distort the market in the OECD countries and make high cost instead of low cost nuclear technologies, they will be too expensive for the developing world; so the developing world will build coal instead. That is where the bulk of the emissions will come from in the future (the video I’ve linked to several times explains). And even China is building a lot more coal capacity than nuclear capacity. That would not be the case if nuclear was cheaper than coal – as it could and should be. I hope you can see why I am arguing that we must focus on least cost, not on artificially jacking up the cost of coal in the OECD countries to make it easier for nuclear to compete in the these countries only. It is the OECD countries that have the ability to reduce the cost of nuclear.

    John, again, much of this is addressed to the broader audience, not just in reply to your comments.

  170. John, again, much of this is addressed to the broader audience, not just in reply to your comments

    Well, I for one just glanced down your long post to see if you had addressed anything towards me. Basically it just looked like another of your long pontificating ‘perfect marketplace’ essays that assume business as usual into the indefinite future.

    Having spent the last 24 hours imagining world oil production DOWN 10mbd in just 5 years, I could almost hope you were right!

  171. John Morgan,

    I am interpreting your comments as follows:

    1. You’d prefer carbon tax to an ETS/CPRS

    2. You agree that little CO2 emissions reduction can be achieved without nuclear being an available option.

    3. You feel we should proceed to legislate a carbon tax during this term of parliament whether or not the impediments to nuclear are removed first

    4. You feel that if we impose a carbon tax the Greens, environmental NGOs and Labor party will then change their anti-nuclear polices to become pro-nuclear, and sufficiently so to advocate low-cost nuclear (as distinct from the high cost variety available in most of the OECD countries). Furthermore, you believe that these groups would then legislate quickly to remove the impediments to nuclear.

    5. You believe that governments (of all persuasions and over the long term) would use the revenue appropriately rather than waste it.

    If these presumptions about your position are correct, then I wonder what is the basis for your beliefs #4 and #5?

  172. Peter, on your list above:

    1. Check

    2. Check

    3. Leaning ‘yes’, though becoming increasingly ambivalent on this point. Removing impediments to nuclear is far more important.

    4. No. I don’t think the Greens or anti NGOs would shift their position based on economics, though the ALP might. I would hope a carbon price would focus the attention of those responsible for funding the development of new generation capacity towards pressing policy makers to make available nuclear, on a similar cost basis to current asian builds (not on US or European terms).

    5. If I recall correctly, Garnaut’s plan returned ETS revenue to the consumer. I assume a carbon tax could be similar – return the tax raised to taxpayers as a tax cut, which they may at their discretion put towards purchase of fossil fuel energy, or save it by choosing impost free low carbon energy. Whether the tax creates government revenue or not is a detail of implementation, and might properly be a point of differentiation between the political parties.

    You might find inconsistencies with earlier comments – my views are very much in formation on these points.

  173. there’s a good article on the BP blowout.

    Here’s a passage on safety:

    Shifting the Burden of Proof

    The events of the week preceding the blowout point to what Allan J. McDonald, author of Truth, Lies and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, calls switching the burden of proof, a reversal that leads to a kind of bureaucratic illusion. The closest analogy is the space shuttle, a system so complex and dangerous that a coldly factual analysis would show the spacecraft presented a risk almost too high to tolerate. During the Challenger accident investigation, the physicist Richard Feynman asked NASA for its failure rate. The answer: one in 100,000. Feynman was incredulous, pointing out that this meant a shuttle launch every day for 300 years with only a single mishap, when the demonstrated failure rate was between one in 25 and one in 60. “NASA’s figures were totally baseless,” McDonald says, “and were just backed into as a number that was acceptable to Congress.”

    Serious question: how do you know the difference between a conscientious PRA, and one like the line fed to Feynman?

    I’m thinking if people had a better sense of what a good PRA was, it might inspire confidence.

    The rest of the Pop Mechanics article is worth a look:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/coal-oil-gas/how-the-bp-oil-rig-blowout-happened-3

    The cozy relationship between BP and regulators basically made this sort of accident less than surprising. How does the nuclear industry avoid this BP problem should it build many successful new plants?

    I don’t think it can: which is why I always liked Tom’s notion of GREAT, while thinking that it could never fly under capitalism.

  174. How does the nuclear industry avoid this BP problem should it build many successful new plants?

    On-site resident regulators, same as US nuclear plants have had for many years.

    There was no-one on the Deepwater Horizon rig to whom the on-shore management was accountable. As far as I know, all the accountability went the wrong way, those at the sharp end being instantly dismissible by onshore managers.

    How shall the car gain nuclear cachet?

  175. Greg Meyerson

    What we need to realise is that, if we leave the emotions aside and deal only with facts, even when nuclear plants fo have rpoblems the consequences are small compared with other industrial plants. That is what is being forgottent. Nuclear contamination is no wjere near as bad as chemical contamination. The only reason we place so much emphaisis on nuclear contamination is an irrational fear of everything that contains the word nuclear!!

    That si the message the BNC contributors need to get out to the part of the population that has an open mind.

  176. Greg Meyerson,

    Chemical contamination kills

    Radioactive contamination may cause a cancer which shows up 30 years later in those who haven’t already died from something else.

    I’m being harsh. I urge people to work on educating the public that we need to tackle the anti-nuclear rhetoric, not try to get another useless symbol in place (carbon tax or ETS).

  177. Hi Greg,
    the other thing to note about the BP oil spill is that this kind of event is far more likely in a post-peak world. We’ve used most of the ‘good stuff’. We’re moving from an era of easy, cheap, sweet oil to the hard to get at, expensive, difficult and sometimes very sour oil. People are surprised and shocked at the Gulf of Mexico blowout.

    Peak oilers have been predicting this for years.

  178. They also said:

    “So where are all the new open-cycle gas-fired power stations that have been built in recent years to provide “back-up” for all the South Australian wind farms? You couldn’t name a single one that exists primarily to cater for wind energy.”

  179. eclipse:

    that quote is gross, isn’t it?

    low penetration wind wouldn’t necessarily require building of gas plants which you could explicitly correlate with wind build.

    the low penetration wind can hide its back up requirements in the noise of all the fossil fuels already there.

    but the signal is clear in denmark– with all that increase in natural gas electricity.

    Peter: I agree with you. in fact, in the hysteria over depleted uranium one can easily find on the net, chemical and radiological properties of du are regularly conflated. and the chemical toxicity of ingesting du is far more dangerous than its radio toxicity, which is of no consequence.

  180. Greg,

    My point is that even when a NPP has the worst ever accident, Chernobyl, the immediate fatalities were of a magnitude common in major industrial accidents. The latent fatalities are in the noise compared with the latent fatalities of our many chemical industries we accept as Business as Usual. I understand the USA coal fired coal plants are estimated to cause about 24,000 early fatalities every year. We accept that as business as usual, but are scared stiff of nuclear with its incredibility low probability of accident and importantly relatively low actual health consequence – that are attributable to radiation or radioactive contamination – even when accidents do occur.

    We need to educate the people. Get the bans and imposts on nuclear removed. Advocate for low cost nuclear. We should put our effotrts into this, not into advocating more symbolic gestures like carbon taxes. Carbon taxes will damage our economy and make us less able to do what we would potherwise be able to do in the future. Carbon tax is a political diversion tactic to avoid and delay having to tackle the real issue – the anti-nuclear policies.

  181. @en a way to test how SA wind power is accommodated would be to look at the change in Mwh by flexible generation both within the State and imports. Thus if SA’s windpower has 200 Mwh average output we want to see if local gas fired generation and interstate gas/hydro/coalfired ‘backs off’ by a similar amount. No doubt AEMO has the datasets to do this then suitable software would be needed. Note SA’s big gas baseload station at Torrens Island has 8 separate modules and may also have some flexibility.

    I see Premier Rann wants to double SA windpower if he gets financial help with new transmission. My question would then be would the customers really want it without RECs, renewable obligations or feed-in tariffs. The latter supposedly arrives on 1st January.

  182. Re SA windpower their 868 Mw nameplate per Wikipedia would need 23% c.f. to average 200 Mw.

    Reading the sidebar about crystal sponges I fear Minister Combet will soon be announcing another 10 year delay on coal cutbacks to allow the crystals to get up to speed. I’d say we’ll need a lot of them to soak up the power sector’s 200 million tonnes a year of CO2.

  183. Hi John,
    with ABARE relying on coal to get us out of peak oil, what chance have we got of weaning off the stuff at all? We’ll *only* adopt nukes when we hit peak coal and the world has finally noticed that renewables don’t do the job.

  184. en my hunch is that oil decline will take coal with it as part of a general economic slowdown. However there are many free variables and unknown responses. I don’t see Coal To Liquids or grid charged electric cars becoming major in a hurry. Some are saying we can pay for increasing oil imports by exporting more coal. No doubt Combet would regard increased coal exports as a legitimate way of protecting the industry. However the Greens want to phase them out. If they added their $23 carbon tax the spot price for black thermal coal could go from $100/t to $150. Other parts of the world may not have the spare coal export capacity to fill the gap.

    It might be best if black coal got expensive on its own so there was less dispute over cheap baseload. I note China will get more Russian coal by rail. Thus expensive Australian coal may take another decade by which time $10bn NPPs may be unaffordable. We’re lurching towards a poverty trap for both transport and stationary energy.

  185. On the issue of nuclear safety, this document http://nuclearinfo.net/twiki/pub/Nuclearpower/WebHomeCostOfNuclearPower/AP1000Reactor.pdf gives a probability risk assessment for the Westinghouse AP1000:

    Core Melt Frequency: 4.2 E-7 /year

    Large Release Frequency: 3.7 E-8 /yr

    Both of which are two orders of magnitude greater than the NRC requirements.

    Simplistically, that means that 10,000 AP1000s would be expected to suffer a single core melt incident in ~250 years and a single incident releasing a large amount of radiation into the environment in around ten times that period.

    That should be good enough for anybody and probably better by a long shot than any other large scale industrial process.

    IMHO Australia would be nuts to not go for a Gen III+ design. Assuming of course that Gen IV designs are not deployable by that stage, which may well be the case the way things look currently look in Australia.

  186. We’re losing the propaganda war. The wiki on the commercialisation of renewable energy lists all the non-technical barriers to renewable energy market penetration, and paints a paranoid picture of evil fossil fuel companies being the main cause of anti-renewable propaganda.

    Wikipedia is usually a good litmus test of which activists have the time and energy to bother getting into wiki-wars to ‘balance’ the articles.

    Commercialisation of Renewables… read it and weep.

    http://tinyurl.com/2c7mr2m

  187. I am going to leave you all in peace for about 2 weeks (back 1 October).

    When I get back I hope BNC regular contributors will have reaced an concensus as to whether our effort is better placed in advocating:

    1. A price on carbon, or

    2. bringing least cost, clean, safe electricity to Australia as soon as possible.

  188. It always has to be about your politics, doesn’t it Peter? Why fight a Carbon Tax? The Greens seem optimistic about it for some reason. It seems largely peripheral to me, more about personal politics than the struggle for nuclear power.

    Why can’t we just educate people about nuclear power and avoid the politics? Why can’t we work towards someone producing a free downloadable activist DVD like the Martenson course? Why can’t we rave about existing technologies today, and the possible GenIV technologies of tomorrow? And why can’t we get a petition together worded towards revoking the bans on nuclear power in Australia? Why can’t we all work towards a consensus on getting Barry on TV more? Getting his posters up everywhere?

    I’ve seen this before in activist circles. Someone’s side-views come to dominate the main game. Where is Fran Barlow mate? Where has she gone, and why did she go? Can you see what you’re doing here?

  189. Hi all,
    the Joint Forces Command reference is:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply

    Copied in below.

    Cheers

    ****
    The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

    The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

    “By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

    It adds: “While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India.”

    The US military says its views cannot be taken as US government policy but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with “an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide out future force developments.”

    The warning is the latest in a series from around the world that has turned peak oil – the moment when demand exceeds supply – from a distant threat to a more immediate risk.

    The Wicks Review on UK energy policy published last summer effectively dismissed fears but Lord Hunt, the British energy minister, met concerned industrialists two weeks ago in a sign that it is rapidly changing its mind on the seriousness of the issue.

    The Paris-based International Energy Agency remains confident that there is no short-term risk of oil shortages but privately some senior officials have admitted there is considerable disagreement internally about this upbeat stance.

    Future fuel supplies are of acute importance to the US army because it is believed to be the biggest single user of petrol in the world. BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, said recently that there was little chance of crude from the carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands being banned in America because the US military like to have local supplies rather than rely on the politically unstable Middle East.

    But there are signs that the US Department of Energy might also be changing its stance on peak oil. In a recent interview with French newspaper, Le Monde, Glen Sweetnam, main oil adviser to the Obama administration, admitted that “a chance exists that we may experience a decline” of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 if the investment was not forthcoming.

    Lionel Badal, a post-graduate student at Kings College, London, who has been researching peak oil theories, said the review by the American military moves the debate on.

    “It’s surprising to see that the US Army, unlike the US Department of Energy, publicly warns of major oil shortages in the near-term. Now it could be interesting to know on which study the information is based on,” he said.

    “The Energy Information Administration (of the department of energy) has been saying for years that Peak Oil was “decades away”. In light of the report from the US Joint Forces Command, is the EIA still confident of its previous highly optimistic conclusions?”

    The Joint Operating Environment report paints a bleak picture of what can happen on occasions when there is serious economic upheaval. “One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest,” it points out.

  190. EclipseNow,

    You seem to feel it is your duty to reply to my posts with some silly, emotional diatribe. Look back at the highly emotional nonsense you’ve been posting, first on the ABARE thread I wrote, then on your Peak Oil thread, then, when no one could be bothered any more, you kept going on about your Peak Oil obsession and hatred of ABARE on every other thread running. And you are still at it. Can I suggest you confine your obsession to your Peak Oil thread.

    You clearly have no understanding of finances or the unintended consequences of a carbon tax, and totally unaware of what the consequences would be if the Greens policies were implemented, but that does not mean that others don’t. Since you have no understanding of anything to do with figures you’d be better off to just read and learn rather than continually espousing nonsense you don’t understand.

    I expect we’ll see a dozen or so posts of emotional responses following this. Go for it :)

  191. Not a dozen replies, just one.

    1. Activism involves building workable community groups around the core purpose, not dividing them unnecessarily on fringe issues. This blog is about busting the myths around nuclear power and demonstrating what a viable source of power it really is. You would hijack it to a side issue, alienate many other pro-nuclear activists, and basically turn this into a boring right-wing economic community rather than a diverse group of people concerned to implement *the* main solution to global warming.

    2. My posts on peak oil back the purpose of this blog: the urgent build out nuclear reactors.

    I will admit that my peak oil posts citing vastly more credible sources than ABARE often contain a barb, but they probably do not yet equal the number of idiotic, diversionary, sleight of hand posts you threw up to defend ABARE using ‘evidence’ that didn’t even address the question! All you had to do was cite an actual ABARE peak oil study. Stephen Gloor warned me that I was wasting my time, and that you would just use whatever diversionary and dishonest tactics you could. So far you have proved him right. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to answer the question. Run along now and sulk.

  192. Hi John,
    that would be the ‘some reason’ I mentioned above. ;-) OK, that joke in my previous post was a bit too subtle. I just think Peter’s ultimatum above about BNC sorting this out once and for all is a reaction to today’s news.

    Now while I might have sounded like I unreservedly support a Carbon Tax in that I was showing it as possibly reducing fuel use in the UK, I was just doing so to suggest it *can* have desirable effects. However, the road ahead is bumpy. The Oil Depletion Protocol has an international oil sharing and rationing scheme which may prove more useful in keeping oil prices stable, ‘high’ (but not sky-rocketing which would be disastrous), and available as nations wean off the stuff. Leaving oil to the ‘free market’ could prove disastrous with the boom and bust feedbacks of higher then lower then higher oil prices as the rationing begins.

    And coal? Who really knows where that will go in the coming years? Peak coal may just price it out of the market IF we can get approval for a nuclear industry in Australia.

    IF we can keep some sort of activist community growing on BNC, not being continually alienated by Peter!

  193. EN – I think Fran Barlow will appear again once school holidays are with us i.e. from next Saturday.
    At least that is what she implied previously, saying that she didn’t have much time during school term.
    I don’t think PL had anything to do with her vanishing from the blog.

  194. If that’s the case I will apologise to Peter. I was just stating that the last I saw Fran she was arguing with Peter over marketplace ideologies, and it was going on for ever (worse than my ABARE issue with Peter) and I could visualise Fran leaving over it.

    Fran, are you there?

  195. Rod Adams has a new interesting piece on his blog If French Nuclear Success is Socialism – Call Me a Socialist

    Anti-nuke ideologues have recently added a new argument to their admittedly large arsenal (shame it’s mostly stocked with pop guns). Namely that the involvement of the French state in nuclear power is just evil because it’s socialist. There’s plenty that can be said about this, but one could start with the blindingly obvious observation that state involvement is not of it’s nature “socialist”. Capitalism has always operated in the context of significantly large state mechanisms and for as long as it exists, will continue to do so.

    The second point I would make is that this is a fine example of ill effects of kooky “libertarianism” on public discourse. That anybody can get away with peddling this sort of swill without ridicule is a sad state of affairs.

    For my part, I really don’t care if nuclear power is built by Martians, as long as we get on with it.

  196. Here are some hasty calculations relating to the side bar article on combined cycle brown coal gasification for Victoria. I thought I’d look just at fuel cost and carbon tax for various options.

    I assume carbon tax will be Bob Brown’s $23 per tonne of CO2 or 2.3c per kg. I take brown coal to cost $6 per tonne or 0.6c per kg. On relative heating value I take new gas to cost 6c per kg. I assume it needs .8 kg of gasified coal to generate 1 kwhe and .5 kg of gas before any carbon capture fuel penalties
    IGCC without CCS
    fuel .8 kg X .6 = .5c carbon tax .8 X 2.3= 1.8c
    Combined fuel and carbon tax per kwh 2.3c
    IGCC with 80% CCS and 30% fuel penalty
    1.3 X .5 = .7c 1.3 X .2 X 1.8 = .5c
    Combined fuel and carbon tax per kwh 1.2c
    combined cycle gas without CCS
    .5 X 6 = 3c .5 X 2.3 = 1.2c
    Combined fuel and carbon tax per kwh 4.2 c per kwh
    CCG with 80% CCS and 30% fuel penalty
    1.3 X 3 = 4c 1.3 X .2 X 1.2 = .3c
    Combined fuel and carbon tax per kwh 4.3c

    If roughly on track this shows that there are real incentives to get CCS to work with dirty fuels or to at least pretend for a while. I presume capital costs for combined cycle gas will be much lower than brown coal IGCC thus offsetting higher fuel costs. My guess is that the brown coal IGCC plant will go ahead with a scout’s honour promise to be CCS ready.

  197. G.L Cowan said above
    “What peer-reviewed papers have done the arithmetic for water-cooled uranium-fuelled reactors yielding net power when they must power the extraction of their uranium from country rock, 0.00025 weight percent U”

    I may be hallucinating and haven’t followed the link suggested to get the context for this question, but my impression is that 0.00025 weight percent U is equivalent to 2.5 parts per million by weight, which is less than the average crustal abundance of uranium (quoted by Levinson 1974 as 2.7 ppm U) .

    Why would we want to extract uranium from average crust, when there are plenty of ore deposits around with 250 – 2500 ppm uranium?

  198. Have a look at Paris real estate/housing market.
    7000€/m² average price is not socialism.

    They did not built enough public housing.
    A socialist market keeps prices down by public investment.
    Who cares for cheap power when your rent is 5 times higher than German rents?

  199. Leigh Bettenay wrote,

    my impression is that 0.00025 weight percent U is equivalent to 2.5 parts per million by weight, which is less than the average crustal abundance of uranium (quoted by Levinson 1974 as 2.7 ppm U) .

    Why would we want to extract uranium from average crust, when there are plenty of ore deposits around with 250 – 2500 ppm uranium?

    We would only want to if those deposits had all been mined out and new ones hadn’t been found, and such finding has, as above mentioned, been happening much quicker than existing mines and reactors can extract and burn the stuff. But let enough millennia pass, and the country-rock question will be of more than academic interest. Right now, surely it is of enough academic interest that someone has published?

    The 2.5-ppm figure is the midpoint of the range given for upper continental crust in How much Uranium is in the Eart
    h? Predictions for geo-neutrinos at KamLAND
    . If the whole earth had had that much, I guess it could never have solidified.

    How shall the car gain nuclear cachet?

  200. @ G.R.L. Cowan

    I don’t think we are at odds here. However, call me a phillistine if you will but I would much prefer if academic interest was directed where it could be useful.
    I don’t see any scenario, ever, where uranium will be extracted from rocks with normal crustal abundance because:

    1. known world U reserves at much higher grades than crust are sufficient for 100-500 years even if we stay with current reactor technology.
    2. known reserves are a function of past exploration, which was virtually at a stand-still world-wide from about 1989-2003.
    3 with increasing money flowing into exploration, more viable deposits will be found, and are being found.
    4. Even though seawater (about 3 parts per billion on average) has 1000 times less uranium than the upper crust, it is a bigger resource and more eaily and economically extracted because it is not bound up in a silicate matrix.
    5. Costs on seawater extraction quoted on the web seem to range in the interval $100-$300 US per pound (with the higher figure possibly more realistic IMHO)
    6. My own vision is of a seawater desalinator powered by a nuclear reactor to provide fresh water, and the brine then treated for removal of uranium and other useful commodities. Perhaps I won’t see this in my lifetime as an economic scenario but i’m guessing it will occur before we try to extract uranium from average crust.

  201. There’s plenty of uranium that could become economic with a price increase. An example is Prominent Hill northwest of Olympic Dam with under 150 ppm

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

    The tailings left over from copper and gold extraction may be amenable to re-working

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

    Many phosphate deposits also contain minor uranium. Incidentally I understand that Prominent Hill wants to tap into whatever new electricity source supplies Olympic Dam. That won’t be any if Sen. Ludlam has his way.

  202. Leigh

    What if you could extract Uranium from Seawater…
    How realistic ist extracting at a rate of 10.000m³/s per NPP.

    (at about 16min in)

    Nuclear fission will look rather anacronistic in some decades from now.
    Much like people believing in steam powered cars or rockets some 2 centuries back.

    Other truth..
    nuclear does not even contribute 3% of world energy…less than 16% electric.
    There is no growth projectet.
    There is no money put into R&D.

    But in theorie and on BNC everything is fine…
    We call that “Realitätsverweigerung” in German… )refusal to accept reality )

  203. Stefanie,

    Your perspective is Eurocentric. The big Asian economies – China, India, Sth Korea, Japan all are heavily invested in or expanding nuclear. We should hope that they get on with it, because China for example is never going to be powered by windmills and solar panels.

    The clearest indication for me of China’s intentions was the recent announcement of $170 billion to build a “nuclear city” – a giant technology park for location of nuclear industry companies, training and education, fabrication of reactor components etc. You don’t spend that kind of money for no reason. It’s pretty obvious that China is developing the infrastructure to accelerate the widespread deployment of nuclear power.

    Furthermore, there are quite a few countries around the world reconsidering nuclear. Notably in Europe, Italy is seriously considering nuclear. UAE is going ahead, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are seriously interested, Turkey is building new reactors. Vietnam is is committed to it’s first NPP, Hong Kong is planning for a large slice of it’s power from nuclear.

    As for extracting Uranium from sea water, I very much doubt that it will ever be needed. Uranium and Thorium breeders will be the norm long before that. Quite possibly fusion may be practical long before that.

  204. Stefanie,

    According to International Energy Outlook (2010), Nuclear will be producing 4.5 trillion kilowatt hours in 2035, whereas non-hydro renewables will be producing 2.5 trillion kilowatt hours in 2035. 2% annual growth is projected in Nuclear, whereas 12% annual growth is projected for non-hydro renewables. If you’re going to talk about ‘projections’ then you should include the other half of the story – if nuclear is inadequate then non-hydro renewables are even more so. You do indeed have a refusal to accept reality.

    Thanks.

  205. IEA-Outlook 2008

    “Nuclear power loses market share, dropping from 15% in 2006 to
    13% by 2015 and to 10% by 2030. The share of renewables rises considerably: it
    grows from 18% of total electricity generation in 2006 to 20% in 2015 and 23% by
    2030.”

    Why exclude hydro? Its part of the renewable mix.
    Do you also have the outlook from 1985…
    Would be fun to see what they oracled for renewables back then :)

    Breeders? Did you watch the video?
    what? fusion?
    I don`t expect to see that in my lifetime.
    we`ll see…

    Just because some dictatorships and dubiouse countries (Italy, Russia, UAE…) announce plans does not mean anything.
    ..if only everything the Russians have announced would have become reality…

  206. Stefanie,

    I take this as an acknowledgement that non-hydro renewables like solar and wind are totally inadequate? According to your own source, in 2030 about 70% of renewables will be hydro – which is maxed out in many regions of the world. It is declining in Australia which is where most posters on this website of located, and furthermore hydro is hardly environmentally friendly. As I previously stated if nuclear is inadequate then non-hydro renewables like your precious wind are even more so. Besides, according to your own source Nuclear will be cheaper than either solar or wind in 2030. With your logic if nuclear is to be given up on, then wind should also be because it’s even more ‘useless’.

    According to the IPCC AR4, the mitigation potential for nuclear in 2030 is 1.88 GtCO2-eq, whereas wind is 0.93 GtCO2-eq. This makes Nuclear by far the largest single source of energy that can reduce CO2 emissions. I’m done debating this with you – it’s already been discussed – furthermore in your own country 22 gigawatts of coal power will probably be coming online within the next decade, and now you’re sitting here telling us about about how good renewables are. Like I said, that is a refusal to accept reality.

    Night.

  207. And just to be clear – even if wind is contributing less than Nuclear in 2030, it doesn’t mean that it’s useless. Which is why it, along with nuclear should be implemented as fast as possible…

  208. Huw Jones,

    Yes it did help. Amory Lovins doesn’t do a good job talking about nuclear, although from what I’ve seen he does make a great case for cogeneration. Any more information?

    Thanks,

  209. Scott,

    I used to think Cogeneration was amazing, then I read the IPCC report, and other things, and realised it wasnt actually all that great. It can actually be worse than centralised, single output gas/fuel.

    Check out David JC Mackays comments on Cogeneration in his book, Sustainble Energy:

    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c21/page_145.shtml

    I’ve also heared that a small gas generators are less efficient thermally/cost efficiently than a single, large, centralised plan. I can’t remmember where I heard that though.

    I also used to really like Lovins, but then I read some of his almost religious opposition to Nuclear.

    I read a while back that in some places, Cogeneration is actually used at Nuclear Plants.

  210. Scott
    Did you come up with the outlook from 1985?
    Where did I say that we do not need nuklear? I just believe that solar and wind has much more potential than some people want to hear.

    There are other technologies that would to the job if only they would work/developed as the people advocating them want to.
    nuclear, wind (kitegen), SpaceBasedSolar, geothermal, hydro (some say the potential is huge…). Algea-Biomass…

  211. Stefanie:

    I just believe that solar and wind has much more potential than some people want to hear.

    Both wind and solar has a teoretical potential to produce all energy mankind needs several times. It’s just a question of costs. That’s the killer.

    There are other technologies that would to the job if only they would work/developed as the people advocating them want to.

    There is no new inventions in the energy field for the last hundred years, expect nuclear which is just 70 years old. We already know all the energy streams around us and know how to extract them for our needs. There are limits for all of them and it’s not about how much people are advocating them to work/developed. It’s about the laws of physics that says, what can be done and what can not be done, and how much it will cost.

    Me too think, it’s a beautiful idea to want to replace fossil fuels by renewables, but it seems not to be as easy as we would like it to be. Thus technically possible, economically not. Just think about SpaceBasedSolar. Technically possible, yes, but the need for launch vehicles exceeds several hundred times what we have today. Again, not a technical broblem, but economical.

    I really recommend you to read the book of David MacKay, Sustainable Energy – without the hot air.

    http://www.withouthotair.com/

    Read it from the beginning to the end and try to understand what it says. I think it’s one of the best source of information that also a layman can understand.

    And what is different about nuclear to all other forms of energy? Besides it has the technical AND economical potential to replace the most of fossil fuels? It has been strongly opposed for decades so that the developement was halted somewhere in the 80’s. I’m afraid, and many otheres are afraid, that opposing nuclear power has been one of the biggest mistakes in our recent history. Thats one reason I use to say: Two groups that are the most dangerous for our future, are climate sceptics, and environmentalist.

  212. That MIT study says:

    “There has been very little research on the fuel cycle for about 30 years,” says Charles Forsberg, MIT research scientist in nuclear engineering and executive director of the study. “People hadn’t gone back and looked at the underlying assumptions.”

    http://web.mit.edu/mitei/news/spotlights/nuclear-cycle.html

    But what about Argonne? The paragraph above sounds a bit contrary to what I’ve been hearing about the study into the IFR we’ve just been reading about on BNC.

  213. Space-based solar will only be possible if they get self-replicating solar panel factories out in the asteroid belt, firing in masses of space-based solar from ‘out there’. Otherwise, the gravity well is just too great. It just costs too much!

  214. That MIT report gets worse:

    “Ultimately, how to treat the spent fuel depends on the outcome of research, Moniz says. “Today, we would argue that we do not know whether spent fuel is a waste product or a resource,” he says. If the world continues to build once-through LWRs, it can be treated as waste and simply disposed of in a geological repository, but if the industry in the US and worldwide switches to self-sustaining uranium breeder reactors, then spent fuel will become an important resource, providing the raw material to be enriched and produce new fuel.”

    http://web.mit.edu/mitei/news/spotlights/nuclear-cycle.html

    Don’t they know about IFR’s?

  215. The Guardian has an interesting piece about some regions in China turning off the lights in an attempt to meet the national 5 year energy efficiency goals. I’m always cautious about main stream media reporting on, and especially internet gossip about China, but on the face of it, this does seem to be an indication of how difficult widespread energy efficiency gains may be:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/19/china-blackouts-energy-efficiency#start-of-comments

  216. eclipsenow:

    I think you may be being naive in suggesting that the authors of the MIT Report are unaware of the different nuclear fuel cycle possibilities.

    The Report’s major conclusion, as I understand it, is that the world has plenty of accessible and affordable uranium for a long time. In other words, it debunks the peak uranium school of thinking that had, in the past, seemed to make the need for breeder reactors imperative. In the light of this conclusion, they recommend revisiting the subject of which fuel cycle will provide the most affordable electricity.

    Elsewhere (last FAD post), Barry has pointed out that this approach is pragmatic in a technical sense, but, because it doesn’t consider nuclear waste, an important concern of the antis, it is altogether too simplistic.

    In any event, there are many choices available which lie between current LWRs and full breeders, some of which can also address the waste problem and which, in the short to intermediate term, may or may not be able to produce power more cheaply, but possibly have the potential to be deployed more quickly. Notwithstanding, with money and time constraints no object, full closure of the fuel cycle must be the optimum goal.

  217. Taj
    If you shut down funding of renewables in Germany about 700.000 people lose their job.
    Then you would have solved the problem by killing the economy.
    Everybody should be glad that Germany is doing the job of developing renewable energy.

    WTHA was done for GB only. There are other studies that say different.

    China is a dictatorship after all and nobody will ever ask how much they sunk on nuclear technology.

    I don`t believe it is worth to think about it as long the biggest chunk of money is wasted for millitary efforts.

  218. Renewables proponents always talk about the jobs. Oh the jobs! The wonderful jobs! So many jobs!

    How much do all those salaries COST!?

    Surely, in large energy systems, LESS JOBS / kWh is what we are after. We need more efficient, low cost energy, not highly inefficient, high cost energy.

    To take it to extremes, everyone on unemployment could be paid to ride a stationary ‘bike’ with a generator attached 8 hours a day! There’s renewable energy with JOBS FOR EVERYONE who is unemployed. ;-) Oh the jobs…

  219. Eclipsenow,

    What the MIT study says to me is, there’s really no rush to get the IFRs and the LFTRs of the world up and running any time soon. It says we can easily and sustainably get around 4000 once through reactors up and running world wide with no serious issue. I’m thinking maybe 500/1000 in North America, Maybe a few more in Asia, then around 1000 in Europe. The rest will probably be used by the developing world.

    I think this should be our primary objective, yet remain quietly optimistic about the GenIV

  220. I think we should sell both. AP1000’s or whatever the nuclear experts here think is both safest and cheapest and established and ‘deployable’. But GenIV has the promise of not just solving peak uranium for our children and grandchildren, but also *dealing with the waste*. And that’s where it gets exciting.

  221. I agree, I think that some of the revenue from our current proposed set up of reactors should go to fund research into genIV so they are definitely ready when they are needed. Perhaps this will be done naturally with company R&D, with a little nudge from government to overcome the ‘Sort sightedness of the market’.

    There’s probably even more uranium than the MIT study shows, but just in case, lets get GenIV as a backup.

    Also, saying future reactors will ‘deal with the waste’ gives credence to the antis argument that there is some urgent , and real danger from the spent fuel (which in 50 years has killed no one). There is ample evidence that the spent fuel can be stored for the timescales required. See Bernard L. Cohen’s papers on the topic, or papers on Oklo.

    The difficult question for me now is, should we go to expense and effort of uilding a deep geological repository, as an interim and a back up or, just leave in the the casks on site, awaiting breeder consumption. I can imagine which is more publicly acceptable, but it may not be the most pragmatic of the two.

  222. Better not talk about undisturbed market when talking about nuclear in Germany. All the research was funded by the government, waste management is funded by the government, the transport of waste, security for Castor transports…
    Now its very likely that the government will pay billions for reactor safety upgrades since investment for the owners will be caped.
    How much taxpayers money will end in the pockets of the power companys?

    Much of the renewable industry is export industry. It`s not about power but the technology.
    Some companys are in the nuclear industry too.
    Ask Siemens how much jobs are funded by sale of power at their company…non…they don`t sell power.

  223. 700.000 is 0,9 % of the population in Germany. There are studies saying that every job in renewables kills 2,5 jobs elsewhere. While remaining skeptic, I don’t know is this is true. Anyway, the most important thing is to get rid of fossil fuels, not to create jobs. Which one is the top priority in Germany?

    Look, Stefanie, here in Finland 28 % of energy is produced from renewable sources, mostly from forests. Now the government plans to increase that to 38 %. Burning of woodchips should be increased from 5 milloin cubic meters to 13,5 cubic meters. In energy it corresponds 10 TWh to near 25 TWh, which is 8 % of the energy use in Finland. This should be achieved by forest residues. Actually there is no more forest residues available than 32 TWh. They say it will create jobs. It sure will, but where? There are pellet factories under construction in Brazil, and in US, willing to sell pellets to European market. So let’s see.

    Here is on excellent post from George Monbiot:

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/03/01/a-great-green-rip-off/

    And here a must-see -video about IFR:

    http://wwww.c-spanvideo.org/program/295188-3

  224. Stefanie said:

    Much of the renewable industry is export industry. It`s not about power but the technology.

    You said it Stefanie! It’s NOT about the power. It can’t do the job. It cannot provide 24 hour reliable baseload power. Get a quiet, overcast week, and the wind and solar are down. What then?

  225. Climate Spectator has publiched an obnoxious article claiming that decomissioning and waste disposal costs are killers of nuclear viability, specifically in Germany. Let’s go get ‘em!

  226. I replied:
    The cited decomissioning prices are unrealistic. We know how much it costs, because it’s been done many times. Try here for a list:

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

    Average cost is $300 to $500 per kW. Yes, MAGNOX reactors cost more, by they were only built in Britain.

    Do the sums. If a reactor runs for 40 years at 90% capacity factor, then each kW of power capacity will produce 315,000 kWh of electricity. If the decomm cost is $500/kW, then the extra cost to delivered electricity is 0.15 c/kWh. If the cost of decomm was $2,500/kW, the highest cited prices I’ve seen for any reactor (MAGNOX, which were also Pu-breeders), then the electricity cost is 0.8c/kWh.

    So let’s have realistic analysis please, not hyperbole and spin.

    As for waste management costs, this is a furphy. If costs exceed recycling price, then recycling in fast reactors is the natural recourse. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. See:

    The LWR versus IFR fuel cycle

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/02/16/ifr-fad-3a/

  227. Whenever I google the names of the people commenting at Climate Spectator who regularly go into bat for renewables and against nuclear, I usually come up with some Australian executive who works in wind, or solar, or renewables generally, or natural gas.

  228. I could be skating on thin ice here but I sense there is a chummy relationship brewing between purveyors of wind, solar and open cycle gas. They have assumed the moral high ground and they enjoy the fashionable patronage of politicians. Few dare to question whether they can seriously reduce emissions or displace coal. Up to now we all thought that carbon traders were the rent seekers, not generators or hardware suppliers.

    My challenge is this; if we get a nontrivial carbon price let’s do away with RET and RECs and see who survives.

  229. Jobs are jobs…
    There are other goods that never produce power…in fact most of the good that are produced consume power…
    You would not stop Siemens from producing white goods only because there are several other producers and you don`t need Siemens to produce them.
    There is a market for renewables and Germany has built that industry.
    Australians failed to do so…France failed to do so….

    700.000 are 0.9% of the population….more % if you take only the working population…and the best idea would be to look how much % renewable technology contributes to export and GDP.

  230. You believe renewables are a job program for ex DDR…

    This was what I was told by the official presiding over the public meeting here in the Australian Capital Territory requesting community feedback on the proposal to expand the feed-in tariff for solar power. He’d been to Germany on some sort of fact-finding mission.

  231. quokka: nice chart–to be more precise, the germany pv chart gives us the hours between 6:45 am and 8:15 pm.

    in the middle of the day, we reach a bit over 50% of nameplate. The range is from around 0 percent at 6:45 to 50-60 % in middle of day (for about one hour–it’s a peak not a plateau) back down to zero at 8:15. It looks like it averages around 20 percent, BUT THAT DOESN’T INCLUDE 10 HOURS AT NIGHT.

    I’m guessing the capacity factor is 10 % tops. and its vulnerability is hidden since it is parasitic on fossil fuels and nukes for basepower.

  232. ~ Hourly CF numbers, German PVs–yesterday:

    6:45-7:45: 0/13
    8:15: 1/13
    9:00: 2.4/13
    10: 4.4/13
    11: 6.0/13
    11:45: 7.0/13
    12:30: 7.5/13
    13:30: 7.8/13
    15:00: 7.2/13
    15:45: 6.3/13
    16:30: 5.1/13
    17:45: 2.5/13
    18:30: 1.0/13
    19:00: .3/13
    19:30-20:45: 0/13

    Plus 11 additonal hours averaging 0 CF.

    We might be talkiing about a CF of 13-14 %. I’ll bet it was sunny.

  233. It is sometimes claimed that residential PV reduces the need for peaking plant to load follow in hot summers. Maybe so but it won’t be enough. Think of a hot weekend day when 10% of city homes produce 0.5 kw of PV but 80% have 2 kw of air conditioning on. Residential PV is a middle class fashion statement (of which I’m guilty) with non-users conscripted into paying for it.

  234. I caught the ABC 7.30 Report interview with Greg Combet. Unlike his predecessor Penny Wong he is obviously troubled by the difficulties ahead. Not only have the people spoken in both 2007 and 2010 that they want climate mitigation but several corporate heavyweights have now said they can’t tolerate the continued uncertainty. Unfortunately the RET is back on the agenda and around the time Rudd was rolled there was talk of national feed-in tariffs starting next year. They seem to hold to the faint hope that will somehow increase non-hydro renewables fourfold within 10 years.

    I strongly suspect the ETS giveaways will re-appear under any carbon tax. Instead of dodgy carbon credits and compensation we will have dodgy tax deductions and exemptions for favoured sectors. Meanwhile the Greens want CO2 cuts much bigger than 5% by 2020 and a coal export phaseout. Combet has said he will look after his mates in the coal industry. Expect another three years of dithering.

  235. Residential PV contributes nothing to peaking plant. Demand can still continue even during cloud cover on hot days, and peak demand on the hottest days often peaks late afternoon when solar output is nearly zero. Yes, PV contributes to supply sometimes, and often tracks demand for a few hours, but since it can’t load follow reliably, its contribution to peak generation or transmission/distribution is zero.

  236. Hi John,
    the situation is *so* surreal I actually find myself joining the doomers and just figuring, “Oh well, the sooner we burn it the sooner we’ll hit peak coal and HAVE to take this seriously!”

    Processing this level of denial gets too hard. It’s just surreal. It seems that we’ll only make the right decisions once we’ve made all the wrong ones… if we still can at the end there.

    EG: If the Joint Forces Command are correct in their predictions for oil output just 5 years away, what do you see our chances of a nuclear transition as?

  237. Yes! They’ve got the ‘peak exports’ concept even if they don’t mention it by that name (or the Export Land Model).

    “More importantly, China’s decisions on energy preferences will largely determine whether China and the United States can avoid becoming embroiled in a global struggle over imported oil and whether the world will escape catastrophic climate change.”

    Now here’s a controversial statement pitting petroleum against the atom!

    “Oil also played a key role in the rise of the United States as the world’s preeminent military power. This country supplied most of the oil consumed by Allied forces in both World War I and World War II. Among the great powers of the time, the US alone was self-sufficient in oil, which meant it could deploy massive armies to Europe and Asia and overpower the well-equipped (but oil-starved) German and Japanese militaries. Few realize this today, but for the architects of America’s victory in World War II, including president Franklin D Roosevelt, it was the nation’s superior endowment of petroleum, not the atom bomb, that proved decisive.”

  238. Among the great powers of the time, the US alone was self-sufficient in oil, which meant it could deploy massive armies to Europe and Asia and overpower the well-equipped (but oil-starved) German and Japanese militaries. Few realize this today, but for the architects of America’s victory in World War II, including president Franklin D Roosevelt, it was the nation’s superior endowment of petroleum, not the atom bomb, that proved decisive.”

    The allies in WWII possessed overwhelming superiority in equipment by the time of the Normandy landings. I agree that US possession of the nuclear bomb did not significantly alter the outcome of the war against the Axis powers (although it very likely had a great effect on the relations between the victors after the close of hostilities). Oil was doubtless an important factor, but what I find to be most interesting was the amount of time and effort it took to fully defeat Germany. Their resources were inferior to the allies, but they did amazingly well for quite a long time, and came damn close to throwing the D-Day invasion back into the sea in its early stages.

  239. Robert Hirsch ‘comes out’ on peak oil: we’re there now, and the decline will hit within 5 years!

    The world demand is going up again. It’s back to where it was before the beginning of the crisis in 2008.

    Correct. And the oil production fluctuates in a band of 4 or 5 %. It’s not very big. I think that the world oil production cannot go higher than that.

    What is your hypothesis ?

    We will stay in this band, and within 2 to 5 years, world oil production will go into decline.

    So you have in mind the same terrible scenario which has recently been put forward by the Pentagon, the Lloyd’s and Chatham House, and by the German army.

    Roughly, yes.

    The Department of Energy too mentions a fluctuating, or “undulating” plateau of the oil production. Are you talking about the same thing ?

    http://www.countercurrents.org/auzanneau180910.htm

  240. Brook tweets:”Evolving Madness on climate change, evolution, paranormal and so on. It beggars belief:”

    No, Brook, let me tell you what really does beggar belief, and that is a scientist ignoring Science:

    your Coincidence Theorist link is to UK journalist George Monbiot putting the 9/11 Truth Movement into the same basket as the AGW denialist Monckton. Wrong:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_E._Jones

    Given Prof. emeritus (Brigham Young) Jones’ status in US physics in areas relevant to BNC
    it is indeed quite funny that Monbiot and by extension Brook are implicitly lumping a man of his calibre and record in with the likes of AGW denialists Monckton or McIntyre.

    There are currently 1,317 architects and engineers calling for a new investigation of 9/11 as the offical FEMA and NIST reports defy Science:

    http://www.ae911truth.org/

    Now it may be that all 1,317 are mad or deluded. If so, there would naturally be a serious question mark against all structures they have ever designed or built. And also against the universities that certified them. Because at least some might have been mad/deluded for years and have placed thousands of end users of their buildings at risk.

    However, there is in fact no evidence of any professional or govt. body attempting to deregister them or review their structures for hazard or hazmat etc., or how they managed as putative madmen to become certified professionals. Instead, they are subject to Monbiot-style smears and innuendo as supported de facto by Brook on BNC.

    Ergo: as the 1,317 architects and engineers are being deemed de facto in 2010 to be of sound mind and professionally competent, it behoves those desperate to believe in the benevolence of the US State at all times to show good reason why there should not be an independent investigation of the many discrepancies between NIST and FEMA findings and the laws of Physics and other phenomena e.g., the presence of nanothermite explosive.

    http://www.ae911truth.org/

    Actually, we see again on BNC that far from RONALD, Rational Objective Numerate and Logical Deduction, holding sway, it is in fact the neoliberal/ neocon or naive liberal world view that is uppermost, even to the extent of wilful avoidance of Science if ceasing such avoidance would mean having to radically revise one’s view of how one’s US overlord functions.

    This phenomenon among self-styled scientists and others in rich western “democracies” is known as cognitive dissonance and is too well-known to deserve further comment.

  241. Did anyone ever see the SBS documentary on how 9/11 conspiracy theories started and the tactics they used? It was a thing of beauty, and taught lay people such as myself how to recognise a con-artist.

    1. Start with flattery
    “You’re an intelligent person — just have a look at this wall and tell me whether or not a 737 jet could fit through that hole! And why didn’t the wings smash the windows along the Pentagon? Can you see any broken windows?”

    Appropriate reply: People might be intelligent enough, but they are NOT experts in the physics of air-craft crashes. The doco points out that the first point of resistance on a large aircraft smashing into a reinforced concrete structure like the Pentagon is somewhere between the 2 wings, so that they end up folding along the fuselage and compacting down the sides of the plane.
    “See how it is just a hole, and looks like a missile hit it?” Yeah, once the wings have compacted it would leave a hole like that.

    2. Ignore data that is inconvenient to the cause.
    “Some might ask if it was a missile that hit the Pentagon, where did the actual flight go? That’s not our concern. We want to draw attention to the fact that the so called ‘plane’ that hit the Pentagon was anything but. Where were the aircraft engines? Can you see them in this shot?”
    No, not in that photo — because you’re intentionally holding the only photo’s that DO not show the airline engines inside the structure!

    It went on and on, listing the tactics and arguments, and the spread of this strange meme through the population. It was truly wonderful. The sad thing is that so many otherwise quite worthwhile people have been hooked by this paranoid conspiracy theory. There are other far more urgent (and real) things to be concerned about.

  242. SCIAM is waxing lyrical about how wonderful solar power is and how we could run our homes on Solar PV. Some interesting technologies are discussed like micro-inverters built into the panels, which I didn’t know about.

    But of course, there is no mention of cloudy weeks, or that other great unspeakable menace: the night!

    http://tinyurl.com/2c492xy

    Anyone ever read Isaac Asimov’s most famous short-story, “Nightfall”? It’s like fans of solar power live on that world. They just can’t conceive of this thing we call the ‘night’.

    “Of the six suns, only Beta is left in the sky. Do you see it?”

    The question was rather unnecessary. Beta was almost at zenith, its
    ruddy light flooding the landscape to an unusual orange as the brilliant rays of setting Gamma died. Beta was at aphelion. It was small; smaller than Theremon had ever seen it before, and for the moment it was undisputed ruler of Lagash’s sky.

    Lagash’s own sun, Alpha, the one about which it revolved, was at the
    antipodes, as were the two distant companion pairs. The red dwarf Beta — Alpha’s immediate companion — was alone, grimly alone.

    Aton’s upturned face flushed redly in the sunlight. “In just under four
    hours,” he said, “civilization, as we know it, comes to an end. It will do so because, as you see, Beta is the only sun in the sky.” He smiled grimly.

    “Print that! There’ll be no one to read it.”

    I highly recommend downloading and listening to this story, and spreading it around the net on solar fan websites as a bit of an insult.
    Here’s the link. Definitely in my top 10 favourite short stories of all time!

    http://escapepod.org/2007/04/05/ep100-nightfall/

    Further notes about the story:

    “Nightfall” is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, about the coming of darkness to the people of a planet ordinarily illuminated at all times on all sides. It was later adapted into a novel. Nightfall has been anthologized forty-eight times, and has appeared in six collections of Asimov’s stories. In 1968, the Science Fiction Writers of America voted Nightfall the best science fiction short story written prior to the establishment of the Nebula Awards in 1965 and included it in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightfall_%28Asimov_short_story%29

  243. Nate Lewis, Professor of Chemistry at Caltech, says that by 2050 we’ll have to double our energy production and clean up 100% of the fossil fuel energy systems we use today.

    This is the media-rich video port for the article.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=interactive-reinventing-the-leaf&sc=CAT_ENGYSUS_20100923

    They claim to have developed *cheap* catalysts from plentiful materials that can split water with solar energy. They’re talking about mass-produced cheap solar with chemical energy storage that can build up over time and (effectively) last forever. In the video links above Nate sarcastically pays out on solar-thermal storage of energy where, “heaven forbid you have a cloudy day!” He’s also a fan of nuclear energy, but claims that we’d need to build a new nuke every day.

    This is the introduction to the article, which itself is behind a paywall.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=reinventing-the-leaf

  244. Sorry about the juxtaposition of the above 2 posts: but if you read between the lines you can see that one bags solar-fans that don’t consider the NIGHT, and the other presents claims by someone that does appear to be at least taking the threat of this thing called ‘NIGHT’ seriously.

    I want to see costs.

  245. It would be lovely if thin film solar, electrolysers and fuel cells were so cheap we could have year round home energy. In summer excess PV could make and store hydrogen. In winter we could run down the hydrogen tank (whatever hadn’t leaked out) to get fuel cell combined heat and power. We could watch telly and warm our toes on a frosty night with CHP. The trouble is we are throwing 75% of the energy away (per Ulf Bossel) and the one home in Japan with natural gas fuel cell CHP paid something like $0.5m. A solar hydrogen based system only needs a 98% cost reduction then it’s a goer.

  246. Ulf Bossel is great isn’t he? As the great-great grandson of the guy who invented the fuel cell in the 1830’s (or whenever), you think he’d be more like Amory Lovins and less like a peak oiler. But he’s too honest.

  247. @Peter Lalor

    I despair when I hear people professing to be on the left of politics regurgitating troofer garbage. I will assert here, without proof, that it is exceptionally easy to demonstrate that “the benevolence of the US State at all times” is complete mythology. In fact it is so easy that it is like shooting fish in a barrel. To do so requires a little knowledge of a thing called HISTORY and has very little to do with wild eyed conspiracy theories. The reality of conspiracy theories is that they do not cast light on the nature of society, politics, economics and history. They obscure it. And they are spread by people who do this consciously for that very reason.

    Just look at the bunch of kooks that engage in this stuff – conspiracies under every rock, from anti-vaxers to AGW deniers to creationists. All bound together in a bizzare world view with a faceless group of illuminati or international Jewish bankers (take your pick) plotting for the impending new world order with one (strangely socialist) world government. Huh?

    My take on what Barry is trying to do here is to promote knowledge and clear thinking about sustainable energy. In one sense, this is apolitical, in that the options are constrained by physical reality and the costs that derive from them – something that seems to beyond the grasp of so many people with their oars in the water. This type of thinking is desperately needed and has got nothing to do with a “techo-centric” world view.

    Of course there are, and will continue to be, conflicting views on the politics and economics of this, but if I may “turn Marx on his head” with a maxim – “To change the world you have to understand it”. This has probably never been truer than in the surpassingly important matters of climate and energy.

  248. Since this is an open thread,

    Personally I’d much rather talk about gen IV nuclear energy reactors but I find it ironic that scientists won’t have an honest debate on the science of 9/11 of the collapse of the towers in NYC.

    I’m surprised some of you here would label people as conspiracy theorists when the same label has been used throughout modern history to smear well meaning and intelligent people who just seek answers. After all isn’t science a quest for answers and the application of learned knowledge to advance the understanding to what is yet unknown?

    Can you imagine the something similar happening to Albert Einstein?

    Einstein: Gentlemen I think you have to abandon the aether theory. I have produced a theory that has much more explanatory power, is more elegant, and predicts many new phenomena.
    Status Quo scientists: Mr. Einstein we will hear no more of your “conspiracy theories”. Everyone knows that all matter and energy in the universe moves through the aether with the aether being the privileged reference frame throughout the universe.

    By the way, eclipsenow and others who classify all people who don’t accept the official theory of NIST as “paranoid conspiracy theorists” don’t be so gullible, (and I do believe a plane did hit the Pentagon on 9/11 so don’t put everyone in one ignorant group). This might be of interest to you and others, from the Journal of 9/11 Studies at

    [Bunch of repetitive links and quotes etc. DELETED]
    Ed: This blog is for discussing energy and climate change, and this is way too far off topic. Any further off-topic comments will be similarly deleted as it breaks the spirit of the commenting rules on BNC.

  249. Barry, I strongly reccommend that anyone attempting to post 9/11 troofer garbage here be instantly banned. If you don’t do this, your blog will likely be overwhelmed with blather of this kind from every troofer nutbar on the internet.

  250. Barry my point was not to discuss 9/11 but to show that many people here who are labeling people as “conspiracy theorists” are just bad in their behavior as anti-nuclear activists. The links were to show there is legitimate research concerning the topic.

    Anti-nuclear activists do the exact same thing to nuclear proponents and they sound the exact same way in their arguments.

  251. Finrod that’s the same attitude you would encounter at a renewable energy blog as I have if you try to explain facts or reference real data on nuclear energy to them. As you refer to 9/11 folks as “these people” they refer to nuclear energy proponents with the same “undeserved tolerance” in their opinion. Trying to engage in a conversation with them is no use.
    How do you suggest getting through to them (renewable energy believers not 9/11 alternative theory believers)?

  252. Banning people for posting opinions you don’t like is not a good means of making friends and influencing people, which I thought was the point of this site. Deleting off-topic posts is another matter. Even the open thread comments “should relate to the broad theme of the blog (climate change, sustainability, energy, etc.)” (top of the page).

    Attempting to follow my own advice,…. @Huw, and anyone else interested, this letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/letters/Answer-to-our-energy-problems.6546442.jp shows someone’s been listening and is trying to organise some lobbying. (Huw said he was going to try and publicise information to counteract some of the antinuke propaganda)

  253. don’t ban anybody.

    we won’t be talking about 9-11 for long.

    I enjoyed eclipse’s comment about the conspiracy view that what hit the pentagon was a missile.

    interestingly, I just met someone who was in d.c. when the plane hit the pentagon. the plane flew above her head! yet some conspiracy theorists suggest that no one ever saw a plane.

    conspiracy theorists’ main argument is the demolition argument: the buildings could not have come down by fire alone since the temps do not get hot enough to melt steel, etc. etc.

    Here is the NIST reply to this current:

    ” How could the WTC towers have collapsed without a controlled demolition since no steel-frame, high-rise buildings have ever before or since been brought down due to fires? Temperatures due to fire don’t get hot enough for buildings to collapse.”

    “The collapse of the WTC towers was not caused either by a conventional building fire or even solely by the concurrent multi-floor fires that day. Instead, NIST concluded that the WTC towers collapsed because: (1) the impact of the planes severed and damaged support columns, dislodged fireproofing insulation coating the steel floor trusses and steel columns, and widely dispersed jet fuel over multiple floors; and (2) the subsequent unusually large, jet-fuel ignited multi-floor fires weakened the now susceptible structural steel. No building in the United States has ever been subjected to the massive structural damage and concurrent multi-floor fires that the towers experienced on Sept. 11, 2001.”

    The 9-11 skeptics (like david ray griffin) set up a straw man. That the temps were not high enough to melt steel is immaterial, as you can see from the explanation. The rest of the report is worth looking at. Many skeptics cite the fact that the building was designed to withstand a Boeing 707 collision. This report suggests that the particular study undertaken in the sixties was inadequate and that at any rate, this was a bigger plane.

    http://wtc.nist.gov/pubs/factsheets/faqs_8_2006.htm

    I can give other examples of truther arguments being straw men, but I’d rather not.

    that said, truther arguments are not any crazier or dogmatic than climate denialism. and let’s face it, marxists think free market libertarians are both delusional and dogmatic and vice versa. there’s not enough at stake to justify banning anybody here.

  254. Banning people for posting opinions you don’t like is not a good means of making friends and influencing people, which I thought was the point of this site.

    Is there anyone left here capable of reading what I actually wrote, rather than reacting to something they imagined I wrote?

  255. @ Greg Meyerson:

    You have ignored my reasoning for advocating this couirse of action. I am not saying this needs to be done because I disagree with their opinion. I’m saying this needs to be done because if it is not, they will use this site as a platform to spread their nonsense to the detriment of the actual issues the site is intended to address.

  256. That link of yours sounds like a 1GW commercial LFTR was available or near to available.
    How many years and millions or billions of research would be needed?

    The link is to the letter of an enthusiastic amatuer excited at the prospect which LFTR offers (as people indeed should be). No one is saying the concept doesnt need some work to become a practical, commercial reality.

  257. (Ignores troofers)

    And for another off-topic issue, @EclipseNow, I listened to the Audiobook of Asimov’s Nightfall. Amazing! Enjoyed listening to it so much. I know see the metaphor in your screen name.

    I really don’t see why people are taking such a stab at the MIT Report, It seems to me that it comes to pretty much the same conclusion as Barry’s ‘Gen III & Gen IV’ synergy – plow on with the Gen III for the time being but heavily fund Gen Iv fuel cycles as a backup for when we need it.

    @Luke_uk – Thanks for the link!

    I’m still struggling to think of a decent name for a pro NP organisation in the UK. I was thinking ProNuke – Pro Nuclear uk Environmentalists (but this sounds like it has negative connotations of Nuclear Weapons). Any ideas from the BNC residency would be much appreciated.

    Anyone any good at making posters and stuff? I’m planning to make a FAQ similar to the one of this website, and also a eye catching image type poster, but have no skills at using photoshop.

  258. fin: i understood your argument about consequences.

    i don’t agree with it. I think you’re overreacting.

    I’m not saying another word about troofers and if most of us do the same, the consequence you foresee won’t happen.

  259. re: 9/11:

    @Brook: You cite in a tweet the otherwise admirable UK journalist George Monbiot explicitly, repeat: explicitly conflating AGW denialist fools like McIntyre or Monckton with ca. 1,300 certified (mainly US! seal of your approval!) graduate engineers and architects pointing out the scientific shortcomings of the NIST and FEMA 9/11 versions.

    No wonder an educational functionary of the Aust. neoliberal state, intertwined as a branch office at many commercial, industrial and educational levels with the USA, cf. Alex Carey/Uni NSW (deceased), starts to panic and resorts to abuse.

    In addition, Brook will confirm from his website hit analysis that nearly the sum total of persons writing to this blog lives under the US nuclear umbrella in Anglo countries, a neutral term used also by persons who share Brook’s politics.

    That small fraction of the world population has a certain set of interests not necessarily congruent with the wish for clean water, life and electricity expressed by those left alive in Iraq and Afghanistan after they have been humanitarianized by soldiers inter alia from Brook’s country of Australia.

    There is prima facie (and so far, only prima facie) evidence that 9/11 was related to the Great Game of energy politics in Central Asia ie Iran, Afghanistan cf. Carter’s security advisor Z. Brzezinski.

    Aust. is a uranium producer, and has no direct interest in capturing Kazakh yellowcake, even if the USA does.

    @ Eclipse Now: the day any Australian Democrat such as yourself – whether literally in bed with the self-styled ALP like your Cheryl Kernot with Gareth Evans or not – has anything germane to say I will let you know.

    @Meyerson; you teach Humanities but have suddenly become an expert in 9/11 Civil Engineering after spending your time on BNC pleading ignorance of matters nuclear?

  260. @Finrod:

    9/11 being prima facie intimately related to the overriding geopolitics of Central Asian energy reserves, whether, oil, natgas or uranium, and US-Russian-Chinese access to them, there is no topic more pertinent to an Open Thread.

  261. @ Huw Jones, did you listen to the 45 minute short story, or the book? The book also covered the weeks and months after the collapse. But I loved the way the short story just left off as the cities started to burn… and the reaction of the reporter chilled me to the bone… the mindless screaming….

  262. eclipse:

    if you’re looking for excellent and interesting fiction that resonates with our current moment, let me recommend both The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, and Octavia Butler’s parable of the sower and parable of the talents. (two novels).

    The Road became a film, with Viggo Mortensen.

  263. Yes, after talking about the risks of peak oil for a while, many of my mates from church recommended The Road. Any novel about the end of the world that wins a Pulitzer Prize surely deserves reading!

    While brilliant, and one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read, it did not really cover how the disaster unfolded. Why did we nuke ourselves back to the Stone Age? I’m interested in the “Why’s” not just the “How horrible it is now…”

    The “Why” in Nightfall was unique and disturbing, and relates to renewable advocate’s *sometimes* mindless worship of the sun.

  264. How much UF6 does each barrel at an enrichment facility contain? http://tiny.cc/vefq9 I have one source that says 14,000kg each, which works out to 85 million megawatt hours each, or 4.5 billion dollars of electricity each @ $0.05/kwh if utilized in a breeder combined with reprocessing.

    Thanks.

  265. NSW Greens Senator John Kaye is running a “no new coal power” campaign, in response to state plans for new coal generation. You can find a suggested email to the Premier here.

    I did however think it could be improved with some minor edits – see if you can spot them!

    Subject: please say yes to nuclear energy and no to new coal power in NSW

    Dear Premier Keneally

    I am writing to you to ask you to ban new coal power in NSW, and initiate planning and legislation for nuclear power generation.

    As part of your government’s so called “Energy Reform Strategy”, the state-owned energy generators have lodged plans for two new power stations, one in the Hunter Valley and one near Lithgow in the Blue Mountains. According to the project applications currently being considered by the department of planning, new plants built on these sites could be coal-fired.

    New coal power will be an environmental and economic disaster for NSW.

    If your government is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a sustainable level, it must prohibit new coal-fired power stations in NSW. The two plants as planned would increase NSW’s total emissions by 15%. These plants, if built will lock NSW into a fossil-fuel future. NSW will miss the opportunity to transition to reliable, emissions free nuclear power.

    NSW needs new baseload power plants. They must be nuclear. Demand management, energy efficiency measures such as solar hot water, insulation and improved building design standards and decentralised renewable energy options like photovoltaics CANNOT meaningfully reduce baseload energy needs.

    Your government has the power and must show the vision to ban new coal power in NSW. It should back up a prohibition with a plan to phase out coal-fired power plants and invest in large-scale nuclear power generation.

    I urge you prohibit new coal power in NSW, start the process to phase out existing coal-fired plants and grab hold of the opportunity for a clean nuclear energy economy and future for NSW.

    Yours Sincerely
    john morgan

  266. @ Peter Lalor
    According to Barry Brook’s Facebook page he is an apolitical atheist. Everything I have read written by him, here at BNC(and elsewhere) and heard spoken by him, supports this. So how do you purport to know otherwise? To suggest he is a right-wing neo-liberal is, quite simply, laughable and I suggest, just another of your conspiracy theories.
    I suggest Barry is an honest, pragmatic conservation biologist who has come to understand that nuclear power is the only thing that will keep the planet as a liveable environment for all its creatures.

  267. Ms Perps,
    I just skip past Peter Lalor’s incomprehensible paranoia without so much as a second thought. There’s no agro or angst, I just delete the email from my inbox. I have simply decided that there is absolutely no point in trying to understand his issues. So I hit delete. It’s that easy.

  268. @JM could your letter say something about problems with the alternative forms of baseload for NSW

    1) IGCC coal (integrated gasification combined cycle) while this is the technology most amenable to carbon capture and storage there will be an outcry if the CCS is not installed within a few years. The evidence suggests full scale CCS will never happen.
    2) supercritical coal may reduce CO2 by 20% or so which will be erased if air cooling is adopted. Long term we want 80% CO2 reductions.
    3) combined cycle coal seam gas will save perhaps 50% CO2 but will be more expensive than solid coal. The long term price of CSG is likely to escalate.
    4) nuclear will have virtually no CO2 and may be the cheapest in the long run as carbon taxes increase and other countries demand our coal and gas.

    Too many words? I suspect they already have a preferred option and the aim is to head them off at the pass.

  269. All good points John N. The point of the letter above was repurposing John Kaye’s ready made letter by a minimal rewriting to de-emphasize renewables and emphasize nuclear. And it amuses me to think of this letter sneaking in among the others ..

  270. @Ms Perps: I am not about to discuss Prof. Brooks with you on his blog.

    I shoud like to point out however that you yourself have demonstrably sided with neoliberal free marketeer Peter Lang against left-winger Fran Barlow on this blog. Hence it can be said that you wear a particular set of spectacles when viewing this matter.

    If I may add just one further reference: view and hear the reaction of Prof Brook to the US national in the audience using the word “terrorism” in regard of the USA in the Adelaide Union Hall debate video with Diesendorf and Noonan. Compare it to that of Blees.

    Currently, Iran is trying to adopt civilian nuclear energy. This week, the USA sold a huge arms package to nearby Arab countries. So is there good civilian nuclear and bad civilian nuclear? Or just one type only?

    Your use, comparable to the use by Eclipse of “paranoia”, of “pragmatism”, “apolitical” and “pragmatic” has a long history of use among English-speaking conservatives.

    You will recall that until the end of apartheid in 1994, “no politics in sport!” was the rallying cry of “apolitical” Aust. sport lovers who wanted to see the Springboks play in Aust. But these days, Mandela has turned from being a Moscow-paid terrorist into being a secular black saint.

  271. OK, people of BNC, I’m in need of your help!

    Just started my new blog at WordPress, and I’m finding it very complicated, in comparison to blogspot (which I have been using). I don’t seem to be grasping the concept of the ‘pages’ – On EclipseNow’s blog they seem to be separate web pages with discussion, yet here on BNC they are categorisations of blog posts.

    Also could anyone who can navigate over and check out the layout and perhaps comment on the ‘about’ page and my first post. Thanks!

    @EclispseNow, Yes, I listened to your link. It was awesome.

  272. Finrod wrote:

    Surely not. Without Peter Lalor’s unique input into this blog, our knowledge of demonology would be scarcely adequate.

    Ha ha ha! Now now, Peter Lalor is a human being after all. If I actually lived in his circles in the real world I’d endeavour to try and understand what was actually concerning him. However, online, where there’s all kinds of weird bursting over you at every corner, who has the time? So I just delete it. As Peter Lang no doubt does with my posts. (Which I find sad, as there’s still business there we need to clear up. But that’s his call, not mine).

  273. normally, I’m with you, eclipse, on the withholding of the “why.”

    but the peculiar effect of that novel depends upon withholding the why (it’s samuel beckett without the relief of any humor; or apocalyptic kafka).

    other novels will need to deal with that.

    anyway, do the butler.

  274. I think the term “apolitical” is strictly speaking nonsensical.

    what it seems to really mean in political terms is someone who is not committed to any of the mainstream australian parties.

    In the U.S., being an atheist (unfortunately) guarantees you cannot run for political office! how’s that for apolitical.

  275. on atheism in u.s., let me be more precise. You can run for office, but you can’t win (says the prevailing political wisdom); this is presumably so deeply understood that, in effect, you can’t run (even though there are no legal barriers).

  276. Peter Lalor
    Since you like to trawl back over my previous posts you must be deliberately blinkered. You will find that I have locked horns with Peter Lang many times over his tirades against left-wing politics. My attacks on Fran Barlow were because I have my doubts about her authenticity – including her left-wing propensities.
    Anyhow – let me declare here and now I AM AND HAVE ALWAYS AND WILL ALWAYS BE A LEFT-WING SOCIALIST having supported the Labor party in England and Australia all my adult life. I am also a long-standing unionist, a supporter of asylum seekers, and a greenie environmentalist. I used to be anti-nuclear until I too realised that it is the only way to produce enough non-polluting power to sustain society and save the planet from runaway climate change.
    Thus Peter Lalor – you are SO WRONG about me – that your appraisals of other’s motives are , most likely, to be way off too. I suggest you stick to the point of this blog – solving climate change with workable solutions – or take your pseudo psychological assessments elsewhere.

  277. @EclipseNow,

    Thank you very much for your comment and help on my blog. It was very much appreciated and helpful. I noticed you have an excellent looking link to David JC Mackays book on your blog. How can I get that on mine? I’ve also tried adding a link to this website, but perhaps it looks a bit rubbish?

  278. huh? Your link looks and works fine. If anything it is just a bit small. Did you use the Image widgets? You can adjust size there. (Unless that conflicts with the margin size in your particular theme, which I’ve not used before).

  279. Something for our distant descendants that may one day run out of uranium or thorium…

    “A 1-kilometre-long wire and a sail 8400 kilometres wide could generate roughly 1 billion billion gigawatts (10^27 watts) of power, which is 100 billion times the power humanity currently requires. Dyson-Harrop satellites rely on the constant solar wind found high above the ecliptic – the plane defined by the Earth’s orbit around the sun.”

    http://tinyurl.com/2ef2mph

    Or not, if the transmission of such vast amounts of energy over such vast distances is not possible.

    By the time fissile depletion hits that far off future generation, they’ll probably have any number of solutions. (Including kick-ass batteries that even make renewables competitive?)

    There could be any number of deep space factories mining the asteroid belt and shooting solar PV into orbit for more traditional SSP.

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

    Stop the press: the hydrogen gun might even make SSP more economical in the near future. At 5% of the launch costs, beaming the power in from space could make solar PV baseload.

    http://quicklaunchinc.com/

  280. This is a vital historical and economic perspective that I completely agree with!

    Kevin Czinger, Coda’s C.E.O., who drove me around Manhattan in his company’s soon-to-be-in-production electric car last week, laid out what is going on. The backbone of the modern U.S. economy was locally made cars powered by locally produced oil. It started us on a huge growth spurt. In recent decades, though, that industry was supplanted by foreign-made cars run on foreign oil, so “now every time we buy a car we’re exporting $15,000 of capital, paying for it with borrowed money and running it on foreign energy sources,” says Czinger. “We’ve gone from autos being a middle-class-making-machine to a middle-class-destroying-machine.” A U.S. electric car/battery industry would reverse that.

    The Coda, 14,000 of which will be on the road in California over the next year and can travel 100 miles on one overnight charge, is a combination of Chinese-made batteries and complex American-system electronics — all final-assembled in Oakland (price: $37,000). It is a win-win start-up for both countries.

    via Op-Ed Columnist – Their Moon Shot and Ours – NYTimes.com.

  281. en I don’t share your enthusiasm for battery cars. Sure enough numerous trials show that people will use them for shopping trips. The trouble is that the batteries were charged on the largely coal fired grid and trial participants didn’t have to fork out $40k each for the cars. Claims that variable electricity pricing will match wind power to overnight charging load would seem to be speculative at best.

    A large number of vehicle miles won’t suit batteries, for example semi trailers, farm tractors and one hour each way commutes for workers who can’t recharge while at work. When petrol gets to $3/L the economy may be too volatile for many people to consider buying these cars. I suspect people will cling to their internal combustion cars and ration their use. If natural gas vehicles become popular the ‘gas bridge’ to low carbon stationary energy may be threatened by high NG prices .

    Perversely I think a likely response to high fuel prices will be to reduce the excise. When that runs its course then a trickle of EVs and NGVs will appear on the roads. I expect large numbers of people to become permanently ‘mobility challenged’.

  282. I think the car has fundamentally ruined the way we build cities and suburbia has become an alienating monstrosity without a ‘sense of place’ or community. Our suburban homes are basically boxes in which we go home to sleep, without a real, vibrant economic and cultural community centre just 5 minutes walk from home. I would prefer the place of cars in society in the future to be far more disciplined.

    However, even with more walkable cities there are still a variety of functions we need cars and trucks to fulfil.

    My first preference would be to replace cars with mostly electric cars to take the pressure off the liquid fuels for our heavier vehicles. Just because electric cars can’t replace trucks doesn’t mean electric cars won’t help reduce the demand on oil to help stabilise oil prices for trucks. It is a myth that the one transport product has to cover every role. We have vehicles running on petroleum, gas, and diesel: why not electricity, gas, and diesel?

    The Better Place electric car and business model seems to have solved the 2 main problems with electric cars. Those 2 problems were:
1. No one wants to buy an expensive new battery every few years as the car battery runs down. (Although battery life technology increases all the time).
2. No one wants to have to stop and charge for 8 hours on the occasions they need to drive more than 160km.
    Better Place have developed a new international EV car standard and are inviting all car companies to join up or be left behind. Renault-Nissan have already joined up, and will be producing the first cheap mass produced electric car ever.

    http://australia.betterplace.com/

    They sell you the car, but they own the battery. Then for most suburban driving you’ll just charge whenever the car is still, which works out on average about 22 hours a day! You’ll charge at home, at work, at the shops. Better Place charging points at strategic locations when they cover a city. Charging 22 hours a day means most vehicles will have some juice to sell back to the grid during peak afternoon and evening demand. Cars will drive the average 40km home from work and still have about 100km worth of juice! Drivers will sell this to the grid during dinner, and then charge up again during off peak hours. If they have sold most of their juice and suddenly need dash out on a long trip, the car can be programmed so that it always keeps enough charge to make it to the nearest battery swap.

    This is the CEO’s TED talk.

    Better Place is operating a small taxi trial in Tokyo, and will soon be operating similar trials in Canberra, San Francisco, Hawaii, Denmark, and has a massive deployment underway in Israel (which will probably be the first country off oil for domestic car use).

    Shai’s Australian talk basically said that on a per km basis, electricity will charge your car at about $0.80 cents a litre oil equivalent distance. Fuel in Australia costs around $1.20 to $1.30 a litre. Imagine how fast people are going to want these cars when they realise how convenient and cheap they are now, let alone when peak oil hits.

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

  283. en my views could be conditioned by the fact the nearest full sized supermarket is 35km away which is why I make a lot of my own fuel from used frying oil. The chemicals work out about 20c a litre. However I just can’t see battery swap vehicles as in any way ‘cool’ in the Top Gear sense. It’s like someone with a weak bladder being unable to roam too far from the nearest public convenience. The alternative model of fixed charging points enthusiastically supported by London Mayor Boris Johnston has also had limited acceptance.

    What I do think is interesting is the fact that NSW Premier’s husband is involved with Better Place. If Ms Keneally gets re-elected I’m not sure how that relates to a possible decision on the two new baseload power stations for NSW. For example more coal power could be justified on the grounds that electric cars are more efficient. That is a bit more coal derived CO2 but somewhat less petrol derived CO2. That’s if large numbers of people really want to drive battery swap cars which I’ll believe when I see it.

  284. Let me state up front that for many, many reasons I think society is better of heading towards New Urbanism… both for sociological, psychological, resource efficiency and energy efficiency reasons. We could be happier, healthier, live in cleaner cities and maybe even work less hours and yet still have the same, if not better levels of comfort.
    However, it seems the 2 main problems with EV’s have been solved. Those 2 problems were:
    1. No one wants to buy an expensive new battery every few years as the car battery runs down. (Although battery life technology increases all the time).
    2. No one wants to have to stop and charge for 8 hours on the occasions they need to drive more than 160km.
    This is solved with the "Better Place" battery swap system! The irony here is I actually think a "Better Place" is a car-free, or extremely "car-disciplined" town plan like New Urbanism is a much better place to live.

    Better Place have developed a new international EV car standard and are inviting all car companies to join up or be left behind. Renault-Nissan have already joined up, and will be producing the first cheap mass produced electric car ever.
    They sell you the car, but they own the battery.
    Then for most suburban driving you’ll just charge whenever the car is still. (Which works out on average about 22 hours a day!) You’ll charge at home, at work, at the shops. (Better Place installs EV charge points everywhere when they "do" a city).
    The CEO Shai Agassi gave a presentation at his TED talk.
    Shai Agassi’s bold plan for electric cars, Video on TED.com

    Better Place is coming to taxis in Tokyo, a trial in Canberra, San Francisco, massive deployment in Israel (which will probably be the first country off oil for domestic car use), Hawaii, Denmark, and other places.
    Shai’s Australian talk basically said that on a per km basis, electricity will charge your car at about $0.80 cents a litre oil equivalent distance. Fuel in Australia costs around $1.20 to $1.30 a litre. Imagine how fast people are going to want these cars when they realise how convenient and cheap they are now, let alone when peak oil hits.
    However…. there are a whole bunch of other peaks coming, including peaks in various rare earths and metals used in car production, which is why I prefer the lower embodied energy solutions of New Urbanism and walkable cities.
    Even the Australian Senate found for more walkable cities… and yet realised this could be difficult.

  285. The Olympic Dam expansion has been slowed

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/bhp-outlines-15bn-olympic-dam-growth-plan/story-e6frg8zx-1225931181708

    Originally the idea was to create a coastal desalination plant producing nearly 200 ML/d to be pumped 300km to the mine. Additional power supply of 690 MW was to be sought. At full tilt the mine would produce 19,000 tonnes a year of U308 along with copper and gold

    Details are lacking but I assume the next mining phase will continue to rely on groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin. Presumably increased electrical demand will come via the transmission line to Pt Augusta where the local generation is coal fired. There is no mention of new generating capacity but presumably any increased load will be met by fossil fuels.

  286. Barry, I just checked out the link to the Pandora’s Promise documentary on your twitter feed. It looks fantastic – this film can’t be made too soon. It could mark the same kind of turning point in popular ideas of nuclear power as Al Gore’s movie did for climate change.

    I also read the producer’s synopsis of the movie. This is as eloquent a statement our current situation, how we got here and where we need to go as any I’ve read. Would you consider approaching Robert Stone about hosting it as a post here? Its perfect BNC material and might help with the profile of the project.

  287. John Morgan,

    Thank you for posting the two links about the “Pandora’s Promise” full length movie/documentary. The synopsis is great. I’ve circulated it widely to others.

    Barry,

    Thank you for all you are doing. I don’t know what your role is in promoting this film, but whatever it is the more the better. A movie like what is described is really is what is needed, especially if it could be anywhere near as effective as Al Gore’s movie.

  288. Yes, I will promote this on BNC. I shared a car trip with Robert Stone when travelling from Sacremento to Berkeley the other month, which gave us a good chance to chat about the movie. The previous evening, Robert had joined me, Steve Kirsch and others from SCGI (Ron Gester, Susan von Borstel etc.) for dinner at the Blees’ house, where I was staying. He’s a very nice guy, and makes excellent movies. One of his previous ones was a real love letter to the environmental movement, and includes interviews with Hunter Lovins etc., so if anyone is going to make THE definitive picture on nuclear energy for environmentalists, it’s Robert!

  289. Mark Duffett, on 4 October 2010 at 10.04 — Thanks for the link; interesting.

    I linked to that plan for Denmark simply for its lack of inclusion of the nuclear option. In effect, the Danes will have to keep their coal burners for a long time.

    In this region there is zero interest in building any more nuclear power plants (there is but one). What we are likely to see is the current crop of wind generators being put up and after that new capacity is likely to be CCGTs.

    Which also means we aren’t going to soon be rid of the region’s 4–5 coal burners.

  290. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/8040656/Stuxnet-virus-attack-on-Iranian-nuclear-programme-the-first-strike-by-computer.html

    I hope this link works. More on stuxnet.

    Peter Lalor was right to stress the potential import of the sort of sabotage (politica/industrial) speculated on here.

    while we try and work out the technical and practical possibilities of a global nuclear build, there is the real world out there where industrial sabotage is just as or more likely than global sharing of technologies via imagined supra states (GNEP) or invisible hands.

    could stuxnet write commands for removing control rods, etc? if so, passive safety becomes mandatory.

  291. from climate spectator (I shake my head):

    A report from Denmark’s climate commission suggests the nation could develop an energy network that is 100 per cent renewable by 2050, and it will be cheaper than importing either oil or gas. The report says the main elements of the transition will be a massive development of offshore wind, intelligent use of heat pumps, efficient use of biomass – and increasingly higher taxes on fossil fuels. The commission suggests that surplus wind power is used to heat water, enabling the district heating systems present throughout the country to become a storage facility for wind power. Carbon capture and storage and nuclear power are excluded as options in the report.

    Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas was, not unexpectedly, delighted by the findings. “This is a great opportunity to solidify Denmark’s reputation as a laboratory for green, CO2-free power technology solutions that are globally required,” said Vestas CEO Ditlev Engel. The report recommended the government immediately start devoting 0.5 per cent of its GDP to renewable energy investment to help achieve the target. It says energy price rises will be kept to a minimum because of increased energy efficiency measures and reduced reliance on expensive imported fuel.

    Climate and Energy Minister Lykke Friis says the government will assess the report and deliver a white paper by the end of the year. “The biggest question for me… is: ‘Do we want to continue to pay billions of kroner each year to foreign countries to support our dependence on oil and natural gas, or would we rather spend the money here at home to develop our own green-energy technologies’?” she was quoted as saying. “For me, there’s no doubt in my mind that the latter is preferable.”

    I’d like some help on the following: how exactly would the wind/district heating system work? how do these systems retain the heat from the wind power or avoid wasting it?

  292. Greg Meyerson, thank you for pointing BNC to this Climate Spectator article.

    John Newlands, This Climate Spectator article, and the general flow of articles like this on Climate Spectator, the ABC web sites, and many others give some insight into what the media believes and the general public believes. Given this, do you still stand by your statements in this post of yours this morning: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/09/29/2060-nuclear-scenarios-p2/#comment-102611, where you said:

    I think opposition to nuclear is as much due to large capital cost and construction delays as it is to green chic. I also suspect the public realises that wind and solar are limited.

  293. Thats a neat video Scott – who made it? It looks like a DOE promo for the IFR that must have been made just before Clinton brought the axe down on the programme and gagged the scientists. Quite a find.

  294. This is bizarre. From today’s TOD is a proposal for the Chinese to make coal-to-liquids from a coal basin next to Olympic Dam

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-04/china-national-offshore-altona-agree-to-australian-coal-to-liquids-study.html

    However that coal basin was formed over uranium bearing basement rocks. See diagram in

    http://www.ga.gov.au/ausgeonews/ausgeonews200803/uranium.jsp

    That means that apart from double the well-to-wheels CO2 of petroleum liquids that small amounts of U235 can be presumed to be vapourised in the tailpipe emissions.

    It’s another example of fossil fuels getting the green light but any phase of the nuclear fuel cycle, in this case uranium mining, needs years of study. However I expect the CTL proposal to go nowhere due to lack of water.

  295. Lead article in today’s Australian:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/home-solar-costs-25-times-more-than-ets-to-cut-gas/story-fn59niix-1225934603531

    I’ve replied with this letter to the editor:

    “Home solar costs 25 times more than ETS to cut gas” (p1, 6/10). True. Solar and wind power are not the solution to cutting emissions. They have an insignificant effect on emissions, and cost an enormous amount. Continuing to mandate and subsidise them will seriously damage Australia’s economy.

    However, neither is an ETS the solution. An ETS will achieve little while nuclear power is prohibited. It is another symbolic gesture. If we want to cut our emissions significantly we need low-cost nuclear power (as distinct from high-cost nuclear power). High-cost nuclear power is what the USA, UK, EU have. Low cost nuclear power (about the same cost as coal) is what China, India Korea and Russia have and are building. All nuclear is far safer than what we have now so safety should not be an issue.

    We should not impose a price on carbon until we have removed all the impediments to low cost nuclear power and until the large emitting countries have agreed an economically efficient mechanism for pricing carbon.

  296. A level headed opinion about the Stuxnet worm:

    “It’s hard to think of a story in the last few years that has generated more hype, conjecture, posturing, hyperbole and misdirection than Stuxnet, with the possible exception of the Aurora attacks.”

    Rethinking Stuxnet

    I must say, I agree with the author. In particular I find the assertion that it’s so sophisticated that it must be the product of a state actor to be suspect. Of course it could be the product of a state actor, and is certainly not the handiwork of script kiddies, but there are many highly skilled programmers in the world today and some of those will undoubtedly be familiar with Siemens PLCs and the Siemens software. Security services simply do not have a monopoly on expertise and I see no reason why an individual or small group, if sufficiently determined, should not produce this sort of stuff. The only reasonable conclusion is that nobody knows for sure.

    If, as has been surmised, Stuxnet has been spread by infected flash memory sticks, it beggars belief that in highly sensitive installations, people are allowed to wander around plugging in random bits of removable media into computers. It really is a shocking indictment of security procedures. If it were up to me, I’d fill all the USB ports up with epoxy resin and remove any DVD drives and have physical locks on cases etc. Seriously. Betcha military installation do this – and a lot more besides.

    Furthermore from a security POV, Linux, BSD or virtually any *nix is a much better bet than Windows in sensitive environments. eg Security Enhanced Linux. Just the ability to easily build a custom kernel, stripping out everything not needed for the intended use, thus presenting a smaller attack profile, should be sufficient reason in itself.

    To me, these malware infections in critical installation just reek of poor security planning and administration. Shocking really.

  297. I am also not convinced about Stuxnet originating from some government agency or secret survice.

    There have been HUGE layoffs at Siemens Europe lately and I have heared lots of people talking about malware against them. You can read lots of that stuff in German forums too…though I don`t believe someone would boost on a forum about him writing Stuxnet…

    Could also be some Iranian people that are unhappy with their dictatorship.

  298. On another thread Barry said:

    Wake up and smell the whole rose garden …, not just your variety of white blossom.

    I like that line. It should be applied much more broadly than just LFTR versus IFR. It should be the basis for all our positions. It is why I say that least-cost energy, especially electricity, is so important to our well being and our future. A strong economy allows us to do so much more for humanity. We should be taking actions that are best for the Australian economy and these actions should be consistent with what are best for the word economy over the long term. (and yes, I am talking about economically, environmentally and soocially sustainable development for the long term).

    We do not have to choose between clean electricity and cheap electricity. We can have clean and cheap. We just have to give up on our irrational requirementsd that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than what we have now or we’ll prohibit it.

    I have a hierarchy of what I think our Federal government is in place to do. My hierarchy is:

    1. the defence of the nation and its interests

    2. international relations and trade

    3. manage the economy

    Everything else is subordinate to these. How much we can afford to spend on health, education, infrastructure, managing environment and undoing the problems we’ve created is dependent on how well the economy does.

    For these reasons I think arguing for a carbon tax or ETS, while at the same time arguing for irrational polices and beliefs about nuclear power (such as arguing for high cost nuclear power such as in the USA), is contrary to the national interest and the world’s best interests.

    We should be arguing for least-cost, clean electricity. It is definitely achievable. All we (the population, led by BNC contributers :) ) have to do is give a clear goal to engineers and it will be achieved. I argue we can do this by establishing an engineering organisation, like a modern version of the Snowy Mountains Authority, with clear terms of reference such as:

    Terms of Reference: to implement low emissions electricity generation in Australia such that electricity costs less than from fossil fuel generation.

    Ref: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-102439 under the heading “Schedule” and “May 2010″ point 1.

  299. @Peter Lang

    All we (the population, led by BNC contributers :) ) have to do is give a clear goal to engineers and it will be achieved. I argue we can do this by establishing an engineering organisation, like a modern version of the Snowy Mountains Authority, with clear terms of reference ….

    Not very free market is it? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    I think something along those lines is a pretty good idea and could attract a great deal of public support. One reason for believing that is that the purpose of such an organization is transparent (as hopefully would be it’s operations). Without going into the rights and wrongs of emissions trading schemes or carbon taxes, one of the political problems is that they are far from transparent and depend on economic modelling to project reduction in CO2 emissions. To many people, you might as well talk a foreign language and they become with some justification quite skeptical about the outcome.

    One could also draw upon a sense of national pride citing the Snowy Mountains Scheme as historical precedent of a job well done.

    One big plus is that any such body would be fully accountable for draft energy planning, unlike the current situation where plans such ZCA are not really accountable to anybody and are basically able to propose anything that they think is a “good idea”. At a minimum it should inject a healthy dose of reality.

    But I do think that “cheaper than coal” may be quite hard to meet. Perhaps “at the lowest price on a level playing field with world class safety standards” might be a better charter and see what they come up with. Obviously a lot more expensive than coal will never happen but a bit more expensive (where “bit” is yet to be defined) may be both politically and economically acceptable especially if a clear path to the desired outcome is transparent and obvious to the public at large. If the public think they are getting value for money they could go for it in a big way. …. Anti AGW loons excepted.

  300. @eclipsenow

    I liked the conditional “In principle it should work quite well, but there are some practical issues.”

    If they intend to “beam” this energy back to earth by laser (at whatever frequency) I wouldn’t like to get in the way if it’s aim was a bit off.

    Not quite yet, methinks.

  301. 100 billion times the power the earth uses? That’s SOME LASER!

    However, the more ‘conventional’ approach to space based solar PV stations are apparently able to beam microwaves back to receiving stations, and it won’t kill birds that fly through it or even planes, etc.

  302. quokka,

    I agree with most of what you say. And yes, I am promoting a public sector run organisation to lead this, like the SMA was, and the NBN is now, and the Murray Darling Basin Commission is, and the Reserve Bank of Australia is. I am not locked into private sector ownership of our electricity industry, I just cannot see any realistic way that we could have a mix of publiclly owned NPP’s and privately owned other generators, nor any way that we could reverse the 20-years long established trend of privatisation, without causing decades of delay to what we want to achieve quickly – i.e. to start on the road to cheap, clean electricity for Australia.

    You say:

    But I do think that “cheaper than coal” may be quite hard to meet. Perhaps “at the lowest price on a level playing field with world class safety standards” might be a better charter and see what they come up with.

    I suggest we need to get the terms of reference right, clear, concise and achievable from the start. We can’t start with something, “see what they come up with” and then change direction. That would cause further delay and loss of confidence. So, first, we need to decide what we really want. I believe, if we really get to the heart of what a majority of the population wants and will support, without never ending delays, it is:

    1. low cost electricity (as low cost as achievable)

    2. reliable power supply

    3. secure energy supply for the long term

    4. clean electricity (less damage to health and the environment)

    5. reasonable safety (no worse than what we have now, preferably better, but not hugely better than what we have now if it means higher cost electricity).

    I wonder what you mean by ” world class safety standards”? I’d expect the organisation we are proposing would also have trounble interpreting what this means. Do you mean world class safety standards for nuclear power (i.e. some 10 to 100 times safer than what we accept now for our existing electricity generators), or do you mean “world class safety” for coal fired generators, or do you mean “world class safety standards” for the majority of the industries we have dotted througholut our cities? Remember that this is the level of safety the community accepts now for our industries. If we want higher safety it costs us, and the cost can be prohibitive. We should avoid setting requirements that are so stringent and unrealistic that we cannot progress to have cheaper, cleaner and safer electricity generation.

    I would suggest we modify the terms of reference I suggested earlier to include what I understand (perhaps misunderstand) you are suggesting on safety. The modified terms of reference might be better stated as follows:

    Terms of Reference: to implement low emissions electricity generation in Australia such that electricity costs less than from fossil fuel generation, and with and acceptable level of safety (better safety than our current electricity generation system).

    You say:

    But I do think that “cheaper than coal” may be quite hard to meet.

    I agree in the short term. But this is not a short term aim. It is a goal we set for the engineers. Such a goal is what engineers work to all the time, within all the other constraints they are set. This is their expertise.

    The way I see it being achieved is that the organisation would lay out options with time scale and costs. A component of the costs would be what it will cost in public funding to get to the position of cheaper than coal. I expect about a decade of public support on a decreasing scale. We will need to fund the intiial plants to the difference between new coal (about $2500/kW and new, first-of-a-kind in Australia, nuclear (about $4100/kW based on the recently contracted UAE NPPs). So we would have to provide a mix of loan guarantees (no cost to the public purse unless the public stuffs it up), electricitry price guarantees (risk mitigation but should save rather than cost us over the long term and provide more electricity price certainty and stability), and direct subsidies per MWh.

    The subsidies to help new industries get started is not new. We’ve established the precedent with many types of direct subsidies for renewable energy. The subsidies for nuclear, per MWh, would be much less than what we are paying for renewables.

  303. quokka,

    I think something along those lines is a pretty good idea and could attract a great deal of public support. One reason for believing that is that the purpose of such an organization is transparent (as hopefully would be it’s operations).

    I agree that transparency is really important. Especially the transparency of the subsidies. When the subsidies are transparent it will focus the communities mind on what is the cost of over-the-top requirements. There will be pressure to achieve least cost and to remove the subsidies; that means there will be pressure to achieve reasonable requirements for safety rather than extreme requirements. Convesely, if the subsidies are hidden, as they are now, the activists for renewable energy can demand anything, and the community has no idea of what it is costing them. What is worse, the many subsidies, tax breaks and other favourable treatments for fossil fuels and renewable energy are not visible. The true costs of the impediments to nuclear are hidden.

    yesterday, I noticed in the ACIL Tasman report that the taxes that nuclear would pay are far higher than for coal or gas. For this year, in $/kW/year:

    CCGT = $29
    OCGT = $22
    Super Critical Black coal = $54
    Super Critical Brown coal = $60
    Nuclear = $136

    So, under the current tax system, nuclear would have to pay abot 2.5 times as much tax as a new coal fired power station. That is not a very good tax incentive to replace our biggest CO2 emitters with clean generators.

    In at least two EU countries (Germany and Finland) nuclear has to pay an extra tax to subsidise coal generators. This is another example of the sorts of regulations that prevent us having nuclear at a cost less than coal.

    I am convinced that if we removed all the imposts that are loaded against nuclear and that favour fossil fuels and renewables, then nuclear would be cheaper than coal.

    However, I recognise it wlill take time to do so. It wont be complete until we have Gen IV’s that are built to meet safety requirements that are in line with our requirements for the safety of other industries we deem acceptable, rhather than extreme, ridiculous, emotively driven safety requirements for nuclear. We will get to the point of requiring reasonable safety requirements fo Gen IV fastest if we:

    1. get on with building the currently avasilable, least cost technologies now, as fast as possible, and

    2. make the cost of our safety and other requirements visible and funded by the community through general revenue, because it is the community that demands these excessive safety requirements.

  304. Peter

    Heads Up:

    You should know that our interlocutor, “BilB” who has not had the nerve to return here to defend his claims about you is now taking an explicit swing at you in the Quick Links on Wind topic at LP.

    Separate: Quiggin has reopened a nuclear topic over at his site.

  305. Climate Spectator, the surprisingly green-fantasy child of Business Spectator, has a bit on the PM’s taskforce report. Peter Lang has been commenting, and I wrote this:
    “Government chooses impossible basket”
    It is absolutely politically impossible to induce enough energy price pain to reduce energy consumption. The only reason we are talking about it is that renewables can’t do the job. Come on Tony, there are only two baskets left: the too hard basket and the impossible basket. Your opponents are taking the impossible basket. How about showing the gumption to have a peek in the too hard basket. And what do we find there? Nuclear power. A dream of Liberal leaders from Menzies onward. The cost will be for foreign technology, meaning an outward flow of money to balance the mining boom, meaning a lower dollar to help farmers and manufacturers.

  306. Hi Fran,

    Thanks for the heeads up. That is good news! :) The more publicity the better.

    Rather than me respond to Bilb on LP (whatever that is), can I encourage you to respond to his posts and include a link to a relevant thread on BNC. But just one link per comment. That way, those interested in finding out more, can follow up on BNC. Also encourage the lurkers to post comments and questions on the thread here.

    There is no point me trying to respond to Bilb elsewhere, as you know.

    I expect you are already doing all this, but this is just a prompt and encouragement to keep at it (and others too!).

  307. We just have to give up on our irrational requirementsd that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than what we have now or we’ll prohibit it.

    (Sighs) If this line is going to be smeared all over BNC, then I may just have to be reconsidering putting up posters that direct newcomers to nuclear power here! I understand what you are trying to say, but it is just worded so unfortunately that newcomers to nuclear power could be put off Barry’s blog coming across this phrase. It’s a PR nightmare. The emphasis should always be on the fact that:

    1. Nuclear power is our only option for reliable clean baseload power.

    2. Nuclear power is cheaper than anti’s would advertise.

    3. Nuclear power is far safer than anti’s would advertise, safer even than coal.

    That’s it!

    Then, and only then, emphasise that certain regulatory frameworks and streamlined safety inspection standards would make nuclear power so much cheaper.

    I would never, ever, ever type anything on this blog that could be misconstrued as saying we want nuclear power ‘less safe’, because that’s how some anti’s, and even some casual inquirers, will read it.

    It’s about the semantics Peter, but politics is won or lost on exactly these petty matters.

  308. We just have to give up on our irrational requirementsd that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than what we have now or we’ll prohibit it.

    We just have to give up on our irrational requirementsd that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than what we have now or we’ll prohibit it.

    We just have to give up on our irrational requirementsd that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than what we have now or we’ll prohibit it.

  309. Well, if you’re going to be mature about it, I guess we really need to give up on irrational requirementsd, because requirementsd are evil. Requirementsd are bad, Nazi, evil things, I’m sure of it, in the ‘oh so bad’ category.

    Just the word requirementsd sends shivers down my spine.

    requirementsd!

    requirementsd!

  310. C’mon PL & EN, this is not helpful and is a bit too schoolyardish for BNC.

    A more reasonable way to phrase it is: “We just have to give up on our irrational belief that nuclear power is not already incredibly safe, and stop imposing unreasonable restrictions on it whilst letting other energy generation technologies off the hook”. But that’s a bit long, admittedly.

  311. That’s better, thank’s Barry.

    The key issue is cost. And I have no intention of not continuing to explain that. Cost is not the main concern of many of the contributors on BNC, but it is to the majority of Australians (once they actually get to understand the trade-offs that have to be made). It is the trade-off betweeen cost and excessive safety that must be communicated to the public.

    Others here have said on numerous occasions that repetition of the main messages is essential. However, because of the persuasions of the majority of contributors here they do not see cost as the main issue, but it is (except for the ‘chattering classes’, but they are not the majority of the voters).

    The main issue is cost. We need to argue for low-cost nuclear, not high-cost nuclear for the reasons I’ve explained before. Excessive safety requirements, is the reason nuclear is far more expensive than it should be. I accept it will take a long time to get these excessive requirements removed, and much of it wont happen until Gen IV. But it will happen faster if we get on with implementing Gen II or Gen III. It will happen faster, and we’ll reduce emissions faster, if we work on preparing the electorate and the politicians and the media for the facts that:

    1. nuclear is excessively safe and this is causing it to be much more expensive than it could and should be

    2. We do not need to bring nuclear to Australia with USA, EU type nuclear regulatory environment, and we do not need to build them a long way from our cities. Korean, Indian, Chinese NPP’s are still many times safer than coal, so there is no reason not to go with them. By doing so we would still be improving safety and the environment. And we can and should locate them on the coast near our cities if that is the least cost option.

  312. Repetition…repetition…repetition.

    What if there’s a 3rd option forced upon us all Peter? What if by some amazing twist of fate, we actually find ourselves living under a Carbon Tax? (Or worse, an ETS). Do we all start campaigning against the Carbon Tax? Or do us lowly non-technical, non-engineering activists still just put up BNC posters and rave about the low carbon technology that is nuclear? Surely a Carbon Tax would work to our advantage as the other options proved far too expensive, and nuclear proved cheaper?

    Why do you have to be so precious and pedantic about your economic paradigms in what is largely a technical discussion? I might prefer no Carbon Tax at all, and wish that the various power sources could compete in a fair, undistorted marketplace. Sometimes I’m tempted to agree with a Carbon Tax, just because it would be struggling to *offset* the various subsidies King Coal and big oil already enjoy!

    
I take your point: we can build nuclear cheaper. Let’s present the smooth, streamlined legislative framework that can help bring this technology to market. Let’s never be misconstrued as arguing for ‘less safe’ nuclear power.

  313. EclipseNow,

    Feel free to present the case any way you see best. I will continue to argue for what I believe is best. Take what you want from it and spin it as you will.

    Please don’t waste your time addressing your posts to me. We cannot have any sort of useful discussion as was proved by your intention to totally disrupt previous threads to push your own agenda. So just don’t bother addressing your comments to me and I won’t bother with replying ot yours. Best for everyone.

  314. The Victorian Climate Change White Paper Strategy
    On 26 July 2010, the Victorian Government released a 10 point Victorian Climate Change White Paper Strategy – Taking Action for Victoria’s Future. The White Paper Action Plan, to be supported by a Climate Change Bill, includes the following high level objectives:

    • Setting a target to reduce Victorian emissions by at least 20% by 2020 compared to 2000 levels;
    • Achieving around 20% of Victoria’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2020, consistent with the National Renewable Energy Target (RET), mostly from wind;
    • Sourcing approximately 5% of Victoria’s electricity from solar by 2020, in addition to the 20% RET target;
    • Creating jobs by taking advantage of opportunities in a low carbon economy; and
    • Keeping Victoria ‘ahead of the game’ in relation to the eventual introduction of a carbon price.

    A classic example of governments picking winners!

    And a classic example of the problems with ideologically driven governments.

  315. Peter, the thread is here:

    Quick Link:wind farm power output and it refers to the wind topic up here.

    The person (Robert Merkel) who posted it was endorsing the data. He is also sympathetic to nuclear power, which is somewhat at odds with most on LP (Larvatus Prodeo)

    BilB’s remarks were rarther directed at you, so I hesitated to speak on your behalf.

    Yes, JM, Peter Lang is ultra anti solar energy. I have it on my to do list to refute one of his earlier “papers” on solar energy in detail. His entire platform is built on the notion that a solar alternative energy system must provide name plate delivery…permanently, but it is OK for a nuclear reactor to be out of commission for years because that is “scheduled”.

    What you are refering to is one of his typical outlandish claims. Another of his ridiculous conclusions was that to provide all of Australia’s electricity (35 gigawatts) from Concentrating Solar Thermal would cost many trillions of dollars, and his argument was built entirely on extrapolated information from an aging tiny ill designed photovotaic installation near Canberra. You will notice on page 5 of the fiction to which you linked he makes the claim that he excludes information on solar thermal because “it is hard to acquire”. Some researcher he is. If government was actually listening to him, which I doubt, it might go some way to explain what has been happening politically with energy policy.

    One of the BNC regulars, Mark Duffett, is posting there.

  316. This comment on Climate Spectator provides a window as to what will drive voter’s decisions regarding ETS, carbon taxes, and renewable energy – ie cost!!

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/Gillard-govt-energy-efficiency-report-prices-solar-subsidies#comment-2227

    Most people are concerned about paying the bills, feeding the kids, paying for schools and giving their family the best opportunity for the future. They are concerned about income relative to cost of living. They want real wages growth. Raising the cost of electricity doesn’t effect just their electricity bills. It flows through to the cost of everything. It makes our exports more expensive and makes us less competitive. That translates into a lower average actual standard of living of Australians. It is a permanent downgrading, not easily recoverable. People do not understand all the technical jargon, but they have an inate sense of understanding when they are being BSd.

    The point is that the most important thing we need to address if we want to get clean electricity and cut emissions is the cost of electricity. ETS and carbon tax will not achieve that. Nor will renewable energy. Nor will high cost nuclear and ridiculous constraints on where it should be built and how Australia will have world best practice safety standards. All that is what we need to be explaining – not hiding it under the rug. The vast majority of voters aren’t stupid.

  317. Fran,

    Thanks for that. I don’t think it is helpful for me to chase BilB all over the internet. He clearly prefers to make statements to distort and misrepresent what I’ve said. He does that repeatedly and can’t be tied down, so I can’t see any point in me trying to engage him on another thread if he won’t reply to me, John Morgan or Barry on BNC.

  318. Finrod has been told to stop posting on the John Quiggan thread. Anti-nukes seem to be given a free reign to say whatever they like.

    Quiggin is clearly an internet conservationist. The anti-nukes are a delicate, threatened species, and must be left to themselves, well away from the competion of more robust species, if they are to thrive.

  319. @P. Lang: I realise your neocon corporatist (not capitalist: corporations have killed capitalism) views predispose you towards benevolent or malevolent “reigning” technocracies (Plato’s philosopher kings are your style); however, I am afraid to say that in spite of this, the spelling is “free rein”, not “free reign.”

    Reins are what are put on horses.

    So take comfort perhaps from the fact that your political friends with country estate, coach-and-four yearnings are fond of maintaining their class power with the phrase: “don’t startle the horses”, i.e. keep vital information, disclosure of which could threaten power and privilege, restricted to the Great and the Good (such as yourself).

    So there is to be no “free rein” for the horses, is there.

  320. Yep, agree with the spelling correction. I make lots of them mistakes :). My ‘storks’ for ‘stalks’ was a beauty. Most can fathom the message, most of the time. For me, the numbers are more important than the adjectives, unlike some!

  321. I was compelled to reply on the Quiggin thread, as the comments had got to the point of slander. For the record (after accusations that I was an industry-funded shill):

    Although I would rather stay out of this, I feel compelled to respond to various insinuations, which do no commenters on John’s blog any credit whatsoever.

    I am professor of climate change at the University of Adelaide. Here is my staff website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/barry.brook

    I am the publisher of BraveNewClimate (BNC). The ‘funding’ for the blog comes from my own back pocket, and is run on a WordPress-facilitated shoestring (i.e. ~$50 per year as a direct cost). I earn no income from it, including nothing from advertising or promotions. I write the posts for the blog outside of my standard work duties, and almost exclusively out of work hours. When I’m at work, I write scientific papers, supervise students, teach, and do other academic duties.

    I’m not funded for nuclear advocacy, either at work or privately, by anyone. Indeed, the State Government of SA, who provided funding for the Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change position for 4 years, has repeated stated that it is not interested in nuclear energy for South Australia (I’m obviously hoping to change such ideas, in the long run).

    For my efforts on the BNC blog, I was fortunate this year to be awarded the “Community Science Educator of the Year” at the SA Science Excellence awards.

    So please cease the slander and stick to facts, evidence and logic, not ad hominems.

  322. Peter Lang,

    I agree with you that getting the economics right is integral if we want to see NP in Australia. However, I think EN did touch on something important when he said that some of the wording you use isn’t as good as it could be. When I read “nuclear is excessively safe” I can’t help but cringe a bit. I understand what you’re saying here, but for people that don’t follow issues of energy/nuclear regularly or at all, they might read this and think you’re advocating that reactors should be built without a containment wall or something.

    Now I know you’re not into writing spin, but you have to acknowledge that people often perceive words differently to the way one might have intended them. I mean no offence by this, but perhaps just slow down a bit and think about what you’re writing, perhaps re-word some things before you post – especially if it’s the main point you’re trying to advocate!

  323. Green Car Congress has an item on Victoria’s electric car trial

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/10/victoriaevs-20101006.html#more

    Here’s what I said under a pseudonym
    Judge Roy Bean said something like there are none so self righteous as those trying to get their respectability back. Victoria has renewed the contract on Hazelwood, the world’s dirtiest power station, out to 2031. Only 1.4 kg of CO2 per kilowatt hour of electricity.
    This trial has a couple of serious problems.
    1) the cars are free
    Sure I’d use an EV for shopping trips if someone else paid the $40k sticker price. Otherwise I might stick to the clunker.
    2) 100% green energy
    What a shame that pesky coal fired electricity is mixed up in the grid. Surely they could eliminate it for the trial, maybe with dedicated transmission lines. Otherwise we might suspect the green energy fraction is tiny and always will be, smoothed over through necessity by the predominant dirty energy.

  324. you can use the clean part of the energy only so the dirty part stays with the others.
    40k is not very much for a car. My last ride was more around 200k.
    Also all that whining about energy prices…get over it and get a better job.

  325. Hi Tom,

    When I read “nuclear is excessively safe” I can’t help but cringe a bit. I understand what you’re saying here, but for people that don’t follow issues of energy/nuclear regularly or at all, they might read this and think you’re advocating that reactors should be built without a containment wall or something.

    Well put. I like ‘concrete’ example. ;-)

    There’s the facts, then there’s the perceptions created by poor word choices and poor ‘brand diversification’. I’m studying business, marketing and communications. I have also run my own graphic design studio for the last few decades. Peter Lang is an engineer, who doesn’t want to listen to us ‘touchy feely’ arty types. I’m the arty one without the engineering figures to explain it to people. Peter is the geeky engineer without the sensitivity or communication skills to convince people. This situation is so cliché it would be laughable if the cause itself were not so serious.

  326. @ Barry,
    so BNC is hosted at WordPress? They giving you good storage and support? Australia doesn’t seem to have very good storage yet, not compared to American webhosts. But then again, unless actually storing and ‘broadcasting’ your own podcasts etc, I can’t imagine ever really filling up hundreds of gigs of data just blogging. Anyway, good on you for the squeaky clean, no-money-in-it for me image. I personally would have been tempted to turn on the google ads. ;-)

  327. Great… due to ‘peak metals’ they’re now considering mining the ocean floor. As if Hungary’s toxic spill isn’t warning enough!

    http://tinyurl.com/32o9xqh

    I know I’ve expressed concerns about ‘peak metals’ before, and had some quite interesting conversations with DV8 and others about the topic. (I miss DV8’s input). But being the international year of biodiversity, I find this suggestion a bit perverse. Unless we can seriously find a way to migrate ocean floor ecosystems to safe areas while we mine one area, restore it, and then move the ecosystem back… and I find moving ocean ecosystems rather difficult to visualise… then this is just perverse. The oceans are already dying.

  328. The Quiggan thread closed on the topic of who was “funding” Brave New Climate. Its the standard insinuation from the anti-nukes, but that doesn’t make it any less exasperating. Apparently no person of intelligence or integrity could form the view by rational consideration that we should go nuclear, and therefore any expression of this viewpoint must be driven by a commercial interest.

    I would hazard a guess that there is in fact no funded lobbying in Australia on behalf of nuclear electricity generation interests looking to establish nuclear power generation in Australia. I assume there is probably funded lobbying in support of uranium mining interests, in a manner typical of other mining activities. If anyone has any real information (as opposed to conspiracy theories) on any nuclear related lobbying activities, I’d be interested to learn more.

    When I went on the Walk Against Warming with a nuclear power t-shirt, I couple of people aggressively demanded to know who was funding me. I had to laugh. I showed the back of the cards I was handing out, which usefully stated “Business cards are FREE at http://www.vistaprint.com.au!”.

    Depleted Cranium recently did a piece on how the antinuclear movement is far better funded than any nuclear lobbying. There are many antinuclear groups with significant funding, Greenpeace probably at the top of the tree. This piece was inspired by the following response to the author (Dr Buzz0) on why a pronuclear comment of his was rejected at another blog:

    I accept that the content is pretty much true. .. Anyway, although I know that your comment is sensible – I’m not publishing it. Why?
    Well, it’s simply because, like the nuclear lobby – I am not fair.
    Also the nuke lobby has funding for its campaign. We have none.
    I can’t afford to be fair-minded
    Best wishes

    A remarkable admission. The article and comments on the thread are well worth reading, including the following from Suzy Hobbs, director of PopAtomic Studios, which does a lot of pro-bono pro-nuclear artwork:

    As the Director of a small non-profit offering nuclear energy education, I am wondering where all of this nuclear lobby money is? Seriously, we could use some! All of our (very small) budget comes from contract work and individual donors. There are very few programs offered through corporations that offer support to outreach and educational programs. In fact one of the last standing industry based nuclear education outreach programs just got dropped when B&W bought Nuclear Fuel Services.

    In fact, most industry lead outreach is limited to just the communities surrounding plants and direct responses to criticism. There is almost no outreach to the general public. Even groups like NEI that are supposed to do public outreach in reality exist primarily within the industry.

    The closing comment on Quiggan’s thread was from the writer who implicitly accused Barry of being a paid nuclear lobbyist shows almost exactly the same kind of double standard as Dr Buzz0 encountered – lobbying for nuclear is bad, but lobbying for renewables is good because it ‘counters’ the nuclear lobbying. Take it away, ‘Alice’ – read it and weep:

    Given that I do not agree with either yours or Professor Brooks pro nuclear views and given that access to minerals in the ground has been and continues to be one source of the most intense lobbying industries – then the problem of self interested industry lobbying is more likely in nuclear than in renewables. Diversification by well resourced existing mining firms into nuclear mineral extraction would be presumably relatively easy and perhaps highly profitable.

    ..
    I am also not going to complain that Bil B is getting funding from possible renewable energy solutions which I consider much less dangerous to the environment than nuclear use.
    In fact I certainly hope Bil B does have access to funding to persuade others to seek non nuclear renewable and environmentally friendly solutions to energy use.

  329. eclipse: thanks for that little article on ocean mining.

    I would like BNC to take the peak minerals thing seriously. This article is interesting because on the one hand it views “peak minerals” as implicitly preposterous even as it tacitly admits a problem in suggesting that earth on land contains inadequate minerals.

    (One wonders btw if this claim of inadequate land based minerals is PR to justify ocean mining)

    The point is, I sure would like to be able to evaluate the competing claims around these questions more intelligently, without having to lean toward one side or the other on primarily a priori philosophical grounds: if you’re a techno-optimist, you assume that if the price is right, the minerals will come. If you are a techno-pessimist, you question this assumption.

    The question is too important to be decided by our temperamental and philosophical leanings and hunches.

    I remember Peter Lang made a comment on this issue that made sense: which was that there is good reason to think that minerals are not in quite the same category as fossil fuels since they’ve had a lot more time to accumulate. Still: I would rather not rely on this hunch either, however well reasoned the hunch.

  330. John:

    what you post is astonishing, but consistent with my experience too.

    Machiavelli: do you see why an honest person might not be entirely happy with the current state of affairs concerning this “debate”?

  331. Tom Keen,

    Thank you for your comment. No offence taken. I understand what you are saying, and recognise that many other contributors on BNC over the past year or so have been pleading with me to stop, or at least rephrase, the line of argument I am making and your are objecting to.

    However, I do not agree with you or them. My reasons are as follows:

    1. I see most of the contributors on BNC as coming from the Left (left-centre, Left, hard-Left and extreme-Left). They consider what is needed to convert the people from the Left. However, I feel that most of these people cannot be persuaded (a few can). So the audience we need to be trying to get to is the vast majority in and near the centre (centre-left and centre-right). I believe these people are open minded and just want the facts. They do not want the details, they just want a short summary of the facts presented to them in a way they trust and can believe. General Peter Cosgrove made up a great term when he was starting on the campaign to ‘invade’ East Timor. He reckoned all the people watching on TV in their lounge rooms had their “Truth meter” on him. I reckon the Australian public has a very good antennae for BS. They have their “truth meter” going. They just want the truth, and the facts presented in a digestible form. I don’t have the writing skills to translate the facts into the form that the general public can accept and understand. Others have that skill. So I see my role as trying to present the facts. Others to translate it. But please, leave out the BS spin.

    2. Again, I see many of the BNC contributors as being more interested in anything but the finances and economics. This is consistent with the direction the environmental NGO’s have taken for many decades. The environmental NGO’s seem to believe that their belief overrides all consideration of the economics (I am exaggerating to, make my point). Their end justifies their means. They lie as much as necessary to impose what they believe is right on society. But the majority of the public is waking up to this and becoming more sceptical. I believe, in their own way, they understand it is the economics that is the key to acceptance of nuclear and in fact to cutting GHG emissions. If we don’t get nuclear at a cost that is not going to raise electricity prices, we are in for a long delay, stop-start progress, etc.

    3. So I am trying to present the arguments that I see do and will affect the decisions of the vast majority of the voting public, even if not the small extreme fringe of died-in-the-wool anti-nukes.

    4. Regarding safety of NPPs. It is clear to me that:

    a. nuclear is about the safest electricity generation technology that can provide our electricity needs.

    b. It is 10 to 100 times safer than the existing generators, which are accepted as sufficiently safe

    c. The ridiculous levels of safety requirements for nuclear are costing us an enormous amount. I expect it is making nuclear much more expensive than it could and should be. I expect nuclear would be about 25% or 50% of the cost of coal if it had been developed before coal and before the nuclear weapons were first exploded. We can’t get to that point nuclear much cheaper than coal) in a hurray, but we should be striving for that goal. We should not hide the goal either. We should be striving for Gen IV’s to provide electricity at least cost consistent with a level of safety that is as safe as the other industries and technologies we accept, but not excessively safe. The left wingers cannot be converted (most of them) so the audience we need to address are those who understand the economic impacts of high cost electricity.

    d. Until low-cost Gen IV is available, we have the choice of either no nuclear or low-cost nuclear. High-cost nuclear like USA, EU etc is just not going to fly. We need to be making these points to the public, not hiding it. We need to not only advocate for nuclear, we also need to advocate for low-cost nuclear. Since the Canadian CANDU6, Korean, Chinese, Russian and Indian NPP’s are much safer than our coal plants, we should be advocating for them, not for USA and EU plants.

    5. So far the BNC contributors have show a lack of interest in the economic aspects. They are repeating the mantra of the Left. They seem to think Carbon Price is the answer to cut emissions, and if that is imposed it will solve the problems. But do not seem to be able to see it wont and people, the voters, will realise this. In the absence of nuclear power, a carbon price is just another symbolic gesture, like many before. All are damaging to our economy. And we wont get nuclear while we are advocating for high cost nuclear.

    6. So my challenge to you, in response to your request to me is, for you and the other serious BNC contributors to get seriously into asking your selves and discussing here how we can realistically cut GHG emissions in the absence of nuclear? What can a carbon price achieve in the absence of nuclear? What do we have to do to get nuclear to Australia asap? Will putting our efforts into getting a price on carbon really speed up or delay implementation of nuclear in Australia?

    7. This is quick and I haven’t taken the time to try to make it short and succinct. My apologies. I hope readers to try to understand the point I’ve attempted to make rather than just find a few items to copy and past and take issue with. I recognise some will do that.

  332. Hey Peter Lang:

    I think everyone here is interested in the economics.

    and you heard two people on the extreme left actually agree with you about carbon prices.

    david and I favor state builds because there’s not much evidence that nukes will get built without the state. the upfront cost is high. in the u.s., a lot higher than natural gas.

    btw, does anyone know anything about the Peter Lalor point about russian RBMK safety?

  333. I was just listening to The Science Show and caught Robyn Williams interviewing Wade Allison talking about radiation. Wade is a professor at Oxford and has just written “Radiation and Reason”, and an opinion piece in I think it was Nature on radiation safety, and misplaced fears of the phenomena. It closed with a teaser for next week when he will apparently be talking about “the nuclear option”. ABC Radio National podcasts and otherwise disseminates the audio, so go find it if interested.

  334. Greg, I am continually astonished now at the lack of intellectual integrity of the antis. I just did a quick google of YOU and wondered whether that topic might interest you in an academic sense? There’s a few papers in it, thats for sure.

  335. John:

    I force my students to read some of the ones available online.

    (humor: lest peter think I’m shoving my ideology down student’s throats; actually, I shove both mine and his down student’s throats.)

  336. Okay Peter, I see what you’re saying. However I do disagree with a couple of things.

    You might be right that many commenters on BNC are left or centre-left. I don’t think many (any?) are from the extreme left. Regardless of this, I don’t think it’s the extreme antis that anyone here is trying to persuade. Furthermore, I’d say that “those who understand the economic impacts of high cost electricity” amount to numbers similar to the unconvincables on the left – i.e. not that many. And they don’t need convincing anyway.

    It is my opinion that most of society are uninterested, ignorant or simply apathetic to these issues. I don’t think most people are unconvincable. Most people aren’t particularly politically motivated. I believe that they will pick the most economic energy option, mostly without even being aware of it (the invisible hand, and all that). However, these people do all vote, and their opinions do all count. They’re definitely not all stupid, and will base their opinions on a collection of what they hear, read and see – and many people (definitely not just lefties) would be turned off reading something like “nuclear is excessively safe”. But that’s just my opinion of society, I doubt there’s any way to quantify this.

    We’re not going to see lower cost nuclear (or nuclear at all) in Australia unless a lot more people are okay with it, and we have both major political parties on side. If they know that it’s already safe enough, that waste and fuel availability isn’t an issue (i.e. they know the TRUTH), and if it is cheap, most people will not oppose it.

  337. Hi Greg

    I think everyone here is interested in the economics.

    I don’t get that impression.

    and you heard two people on the extreme left actually agree with you about carbon prices.

    True. But I get the impression the vast majority of BNC contributors are not really interested. I suspect they are just following the line of their party’s policy without really considering: “will a carbon price really have a significant effect on emissions while nuclear is banned?” Cn a carbon price speed up the implementation of nuclear or will it just delay it further?

    david and I favor state builds because there’s not much evidence that nukes will get built without the state. the upfront cost is high. in the u.s., a lot higher than natural gas.

    There is not much evidence that the state can build NPPs in the western democracies any more. Financing has changed. I’d suggest you need to lay out a proposal and explain how it can be implemented, financed, tax consequences, etc. Not just hand waving statements. I just can’t see how we can have a mix of state owned and public owned generators competing. That will not work. So the state would have to buy back the existing electricity supply industry. That is not going to happen. It would be reversing the trend of the past 2 decades. It would take decades to reverse that trend and there is simply no support for it (except for a few who are hanging on to the past).

    I agree the state has a role to play to establish a level playing field and remove all the impediments. But I see little evidence that BNC bloggers want to discuss that in depth. Why don’t we focus on that? What are all the impediments to low cost nuclear that need to be removed? How could we do it? How long would it take? I made suggestions on various threads and here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

    Perhaps you’d like to lead a debate to tackle these key issues. :)

  338. Tom Keen

    I’m probably one of the extreme lefties that Peter has in mind. Of course, where I post, people see me as an advocate for nuclear power, when actually, I am an advocate for technology neutrality and rational near zero carbon system design.

    I am an advocate for CO2 pricing, which causes some consternation amongst other leftwingers (I’m cast as a “neoliberal”), regardless of their views on nuclear power.

  339. Tom Keen,

    This may be surprising. I agree with just about all you’ve said in your post at 13:40.

    It is my opinion that most of society are uninterested, ignorant or simply apathetic to these issues. I don’t think most people are unconvincable. Most people aren’t particularly politically motivated. I believe that they will pick the most economic energy option, mostly without even being aware of it (the invisible hand, and all that).

    I agree with all that. Especially, I do believe they will pick the most economic energy option, and as you say without trying to understand the details. But they do have a sixth sense for developing a gut feeling for it (most of the time; they have been hoodwinked about renewables however).

    However, these people do all vote, and their opinions do all count. They’re definitely not all stupid, and will base their opinions on a collection of what they hear, read and see – and many people (definitely not just lefties) would be turned off reading something like “nuclear is excessively safe”. But that’s just my opinion of society, I doubt there’s any way to quantify this.

    Some will be turned off and some will listen, take it in, weigh it and come to a decision in time. Those that are turned off have been influenced by 40+ years of anti nuclear rhetoric and Greenpeace type anti-nuclear propaganda. I strongly believe we need to confront this head on. We should not shy away from pointing out that nuclear is excessively safe and costing far more than it should because of overzealous safety requirements. I believe we need to get this point across. I’d urge readers here to reread this article: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/
    Or at least understand figures 1 and 2.

    Understand and spread the word that nuclear is some 10 to 100 times safer than coal and safer than just about all other technologies. It is excessively safe. As a result of our excessive safety requirements and the other impediments we impose on nuclear, it is too expensive. Because it is too expensive, we can’t afford it, so we continue with technologies that cause 10 to 100 times more early fatalities in the general population than would be the case if we had nuclear instead. Yet those higher levels of fatalities are acceptable to the public. We need to get this message out, instead of shirking it. Why are we shying away from tackling it? Why are we shying away from confronting the wrong information spread by Greenpeace and the like for the past 40 odd years?

    We’re not going to see lower cost nuclear (or nuclear at all) in Australia unless a lot more people are okay with it, and we have both major political parties on side.

    I agree. To get people on side I strongly urge we should be explaining:

    1. If we want to cut GHG emissions at a reasonable cost, we’ll have to go nuclear.
    2. Nuclear is safer than what we have now, so let’s not argue about the safety aspects. They are plenty good enough.
    3. What we need to do is to implement nuclear to Australia at least cost and asap.
    4. Furthermore, if we want reliable electricity supply, long term energy security, and reduce the adverse health and environmental impacts of energy supply, we should go nuclear.

    If they know that it’s already safe enough, that waste and fuel availability isn’t an issue (i.e. they know the TRUTH), and if it is cheap, most people will not oppose it.

    I agree. But I think you are missing a really important point. It is not cheap at the moment if we try to introduce nuclear with a USA or EU type regulatory regime and with all the impediments to low cost nuclear that are currently in place. Here is a list of some of them: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-86256

    The sort of impediments and regulatory distortions to the market that are blocking nuclear in Australia are:
    1. ban on nuclear power
    2. high investor risk premium because of the politics
    3. Renewable Energy Targets
    4. Renewable Energy Certificates
    5. Feed in Tariffs for renewables
    6. Subsidies and tax advantages for renewable energy
    7. Subsidies and tax advantages for fossil fuel electricity generators
    8. subsidies for transmission and grid enhancements to support renewable energy
    9. massive funding for research into renewable energy
    10. massive subsidies for research into carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)
    11. Guarantees that the government will carry the risk for any leakage from CCS
    12. No equivalent guarantee for management of once used nuclear fuel
    13. Massive subsidies and government facilitation for the gas industry, coal seam gas and coal to gas industries (despite the latter putting toxic chemicals into the ground water and the Great Artesian Basin water)
    14. Fast tracking of the approvals process for wind power, solar power, gas industry, coal industry while nuclear industry remains band from even fair comparative studies by Treasury, Productivity Commission, ABARE, Department of Climate change and more. We can just imagine what the approvals process would be like for a nuclear power plant!!

    So we need to convince the public, media and politicians that there is a solution to our desires for cheap clean electricity. But it means we’ve got to let go of some of our deeply held beliefs about the safety of nuclear power and the need for excessive requirements. We have a lot of unwinding to do. We need to explain that nuclear is about the safest of all the generating options, excessively safe, and too expensive because of our excessive requirements.

    I say we not only need to explain that to the public, we also need to explain it to many of the contributors here. Especially those that jeep arguing to not mention the high cost being caused by excessive safety requirements and other imposts.

  340. What can a carbon price achieve in the absence of nuclear?

    Nothing, but can nuclear work within a Carbon price? Yes. Absolutely, and it possibly makes a better case for quick-starting the nuclear industry in Australia.

    It’s irrelevant: Nukes can work in America or Communist China. Go figure.

    I It’s wrong: Far from being a ‘lefty’ conspiracy, this seems to be coming from some of the biggest corporations in the land.

    It’s futile: A few bloggers having a tantrum over the Carbon price is not going to stop it. But if we can create a groundswell discussion over the perils and pitfalls of renewables versus the reliable, baseload power we can get from nukes, then we’ve won.

    It’s off topic: We’re about getting nuclear power: not converting everyone to a right wing talk-fest.

    I am oh-so-bored of Peter Lang trying to force his particular flavour of political economy on us in the name of nuclear power. It’s not because I’m ‘lefty’ and somehow feeling threatened: I’m too middle ground for that. I have a lot more in common with Peter on economic matters than he realises.

    It’s just that I’m bored, bored, bored of this endless tirade of his. Peter Lang calls my interest in peak oil an “obsession”? That wouldn’t be because his love of Right-Wing market based economics has prevented him even considering the *possibility* that market signals are not always the best way to measure resource availability? Talk about blinkers! Go figure.

    Peter will no doubt write a 10 page, bullet point listed defence of the necessity of adopting his flavour of market economics as the ONLY way to install nukes, while I just scratch my head as I watch China build them all.

  341. Greg said: I think everyone here is interested in the economics.

    Peter Lang said: I don’t get that impression.

    Let me clarify: plenty of people here are interested in the question of whether or not nuclear power can be built ‘cheap enough’.

    Hardly anyone is interested in being converted from their socio-political viewpoint, or worldview in how those ‘cheap enough’ nukes get built. Is it the State only, a ‘Public Private Partnership’, or a Corporation? Is it public or private? Should things always be built one way or the other?

    Can I suggest most of us didn’t come here to do “Political Economy 101″ (which I topped in my Social Sciences course, BTW, so it’s not like I’m totally ignorant of the topic ;-).

  342. Scott,

    Thank you. That is a really informative comment. It raises many many comments in my mind. I reckon it could lead a really good discussion on BNC.

    Barry, coul the comment Scott linkied to be posted as a new thread on BNC?

  343. Peter Lang:

    It seems a pity that most threads on BNC seem to end up being clogged by your constant reiterations of the same message. Has it not occurred to you that your views are already understood by most readers here? If you hope to alter the opinions of any who have the temerity to disagree (all lefties in your book), might it not be more constructive to answer specific criticisms or adopt another style of argument rather than writing the same thing over and over again?

    In order to assist you to make a fresh start, allow me to make a few statements with follow up questions.

    1) Your previous post ended with an italicised list of 14 points that represented impediments to low cost nuclear. I think it likely that most readers here would agree with you.
    2) In a previous comment (point d, 9/11 at 11.21), you wrote the following: “Since the Canadian CANDU 6, Korean, Chinese, Russian and Indian NPPs are much safer than our coal plants, we should be advocating for them, not for USA and EU plants”.

    A) Could you please explain what it is about the USA or EU plants that purportedly makes them intrinsically safer than the others you list? In other words, what is missing from the designs of the latter that enables them to be built more cheaply? I might be missing something that is obvious to someone such as yourself with a technical and engineering background.

    B) Do you think the 14 impediments listed under 1) are more or less of a barrier to low cost nuclear than the absent safety features of non USA and EU reactors?

    3) What do you consider to be the legitimate role of the state? Might it not include defence? Do you think energy security and AGW represent threats? If so, is it a legitimate role of governments to respond to these threats? Are said threats more likely to impact adversely on future or present generations? Is it the responsibility of free market investors to concern themselves with the long term future or would they expect governments to undertake the role? When threats are acute, as in wartime, governments direct the private sector to produce what is deemed necessary for defence. Would similar action now to address energy security and AGW strike you as unnecessarily alarmist? Alternatively, do you think that a laissez faire approach to these problems will suffice? If so, have you studied statements from nuclear industry insiders who claim that there will be little nuclear roll out without strong government backing, not least because it is impossible to expect the private sector to make inter generational (long term pre return) investments?

    4) Given your espousal of government delegation of energy policy direction to a quango similar to the Snowy Mountain Authority, I find your apparent hatred of anything not privately run to be confusing, particularly as you are advocating loan guarantees and subsidies to nuclear suppliers. It would almost appear that your motivation constantly to bang on about the left’s inferiority to the right is more important to you than identifying the optimum means of addressing the threats facing us.

    5) While accepting that conventional nuclear power is not quite competitive with power from coal, might it not be better to focus on the fact that it is, nevertheless, a lot cheaper and more reliable than renewables and that coal costs will probably rise to delete its current economic advantage. This is what you originally did on BNC before you started banging on constantly about making nuclear less safe as if this will have much influence on the cost of the power it generates? There are new nuclear technologies that hold out this promise and, perhaps, you would serve all our interests better were you to campaign for their rapid development.

  344. Oh, I get it Peter… someone pointing out that you continually, continually, continually repeat the same message, over and over and over, is a personal criticism? (Nudge nudge wink wink). That’s a troll’s level of denialism.

    @ Douglas Wise,
    Hi Douglas,
    Nice summary. Questions 2A and B are important.

    But 3 to 5 will not take us forward. You expressed them well, and I have sympathy for many of the points you raise. They indicate a flexibility of thought about matters of political economy that I find refreshing. You’re not stuck in political ideologies but are more focussed on outcomes. This is to be commended in an age when most citizens just don’t care enough to be online discussing these complex matters. Or if they DO care enough are stuck passionately defending political ideologies and alienating *potential* allies in a larger cause, because of those pet ideologies.

    I’ve seen other activist groups fight themselves to death in an all out civil war over distractions. It’s also happening here. Questions 3 to 5 are just more ‘midnight oil’ to keep Peter burning.

    Perhaps you’d be more use if you stuck to your knitting.

    And alas, I did not post fast enough. It has already come to pass.
    (Shakes head in amazement).

  345. Pingback: Discussion Thread – can nuclear be kick started at lower cost? « BraveNewClimate

  346. @Douglas Wise

    Could you please explain what it is about the USA or EU plants that purportedly makes them intrinsically safer than the others you list? In other words, what is missing from the designs of the latter that enables them to be built more cheaply? I might be missing something that is obvious to someone such as yourself with a technical and engineering background.

    It is my understanding that Gen III+ designs (AP-1000, EPR) have superior probability risk assessments than older stuff. From memory the probability of core melt for AP-1000 is of the order of 1 in 10^7 years and probability of large radiation release is about a tenth of that. These figures may be an order or two of magnitude better than for older designs.

    I would like to see these figures tabulated for various designs so that discussion of safety could have at least some qualitative basis.

  347. Great idea quokka, but I’d also like to see risk scaled to cost.

    EG: Just interested in what will show up. Will an AP1000 work out maybe 100 times safer than a Gen2, but only cost 20% more? And if governments insist on that exponentially greater level of safety, will they come to the table and supply that 20%, given that renewable power is probably 1000% more?

    If spelt out in such simple, sound-byte terms, governments can more clearly decide what to subsidise, what to leave to the market, and what to do.

    IF we can educate the public on the benefits of nuclear power, heck, we might even fight an election over a variety of approaches to the nuclearisation of Australia!

    The Libs might come out with ‘free market nukes’ and Labor ‘Safe, PPP nukes’. Whatever. Then the public can vote for their preferred economic model! Imagine that — us being in a democracy and all.

    (Ducks, expecting a 20 point manifesto on Low safety nukes for the free market, 101, by Peter Lang).

  348. @quokka
    “I would like to see these figures tabulated for various designs so that discussion of safety could have at least some qualitative basis.”

    err … I meant quantitative. Thats what you get for using a spell checker and not watching what you are doing.

  349. The commenter DavidC on Quiggind’ blog has launched a pretty nasty attack on Barry:

    Sadly I missed the opportunity to comment in the ‘Nuclear, again’ thread because it was so quickly closed down. I was hoping to address Barry Brook who quickly shuts down any criticism on his own blog.

    I’ve found Brave New Climate to be the energy equivalent of WattsUpWithThat. It’s atrocious pro-nuclear propaganda. It goes from desperate fear-mongering – “Nuclear Power or Climate Change: Take Your Pick” – to ridiculous articles that are nothing but collections of strawmen – “Hypocrisies of the antis”.

    He even produced a ‘business card’ for visitors to print out which says ‘Renewable power does not work.’ It’s hard to believe Brook is a scientist.

    And it’s made all the more ludicrous that Australia has massive potential for clean, safe, renewable energy, especially solar.

    Ultimately, it looks very much like Brook and the rest of the nuclear fan club have backed the wrong horse. New nukes are barely being built quickly enough to replace old ones going offline. Google ‘Nuclear: New dawn now seems limited to the east’ for a Financial Times article on the reality of nuclear in the short to medium term.

    Meanwhile, renewables are being deployed at an accelerating rate and falling in cost as a result. That process is only likely to move further in renewables favour in the coming years.

  350. It’s apparently the same “DavidC” who made a sum total of two posts on this blog (here and here) and then never returned. I guess by ‘shuts down criticism’ he means that his two drive-by-shooting posts got replied by a few commenters here — and this was too much for him to ever bother to respond.

  351. Notice how the renewable squad is now trying to leverage the success they have had getting new projects built as proof that they have the better technology. It has to be continually shown that these installations are greenwash for fossil fuel ‘back-up’ that will shoulder most of the load.

    Also the habit of antinuclear websites blocking pronuclear comments must be seen as a win, particularly as pronuclear pages encourage post from the other side. The fact that they cannot engage in honest debate is proof positive that the principals know well that their position is false and indefensible. It also shows that they fear that their own constituency is leaving them. Moving actively against dissident opinion is always a sign of weakness and an organization in decay.

  352. Ross Baldick, a highly knowledgeable and regarded engineer in the electricity industry, has just produced this paper “Wind and Energy Markets: A Case Study of Texas”

    Abstract—Many jurisdictions worldwide are greatly increasing the amount of wind production, with the expectation that increasing renewables will cost-effectively reduce greenhouse emissions. This paper discusses the interaction of increasing wind, transmission constraints, renewable credits, wind and demand correlation, intermittency, carbon prices, and electricity market prices using the particular example of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market. An estimate is made of the cost of using wind to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

  353. An ongoing drama in Tasmania provides insights into how Greens think. Federal Green MP Bob Brown and Green leaning independent Andrew Wilkie want a section of highway diverted at a cost of over $100m.

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

    Both gents also want to throw large amounts of money at renewable energy. They and others assert the roadworks site proves aboriginal occupation 42,000 years ago. However radio carbon dating puts it more like 5,000-6,000 years old. Another technique called optically stimulated luminescence OSL comes up with the older date for clay enclosing stone tools. There is no unambiguous carbon or carbonate material (midden shells, bone, wooden implements, campfire charcoal) that old.

    Notice the similarities with the push for renewables
    – money is no object
    – scientific plausibility is no object
    – the moral high ground makes it correct.

  354. John Newlands,

    If you want confirmation of just how extreme these views can be should look at the debate underway on John Quiggan’s web site. John Morgan is doing his usual excellent job of keeping his cool, and maintaining rational dialogue. The same cannot be said of Alice, Chris Warren, DavidC and BilB.

    Fran and several other BNC regulars are doing a good job too.

    It would be great if some one other than me could explain to John Quiggan why his beliefs about baseload are flawed. John Quiggan is influential so it would be really good if others (not me) could carry on a good dialogue with him over an extended period. Hopefully, given he is an academic, he can walk the path Barry has walked over the past two years

    The debate is here:

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/10/09/sandpit/comment-page-2/#comment-268978

    John Quiggan’s beliefs about baseload fallacy are in this article:

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2009/07/22/the-myth-of-baseload-power-demand/

  355. I don’t understand what is going on on John Quiggan’s web site. He puts Finrod on moderation and allows Alice and a few others equally as bad to run and never pulls them up. Its not as if he isn’t reading because he is making comments from time to time and has responded to some of my posts.

    However. some of my posts are being sent immediatly to moderation and never emerge. I am getting the impression that if they include any link to BNC then they are caught by the moderation. If not this then something is going on. I just posted this comment and it went immediately to moderation:

    Donald Oats,

    “to assume as Peter Lang does, that the cost per unit of wind turbine components is free of scale-of-economy effects is nuts,”

    True. And I haven’t. If you look at the various analyses (other than the simplest) you’ll see the learning curves applied for each technology and the sources. For example they are listed in the appendices to this (read the pdf version): http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

    I presume you realise the cost of wind farms has been increasing – by 25% in the past year!

    Do you realise that wind power is being subsidised by between 100% and 200%?

    When you talk about wind farms earning income to pay for more wind farms, most of the earnings is coming from subsidies. However, what ever way you look at it, nuclear will cut emissions much more and much faster than renewables. Google “Emission Cuts Realities”.

    I’d urge you to look through the simple comparison I posted on the previous page comparing the cost of energy (average power) from nuclear and wind. You may argue about small amounts, but that does not change the fact that wind is much more costly than nuclear. Add to that, that wind avoids little if any CO2 emissions when it has to be backed up by fossil fuel generators, and we need to ask why are we wasting all this money subsidising wind power?

    Some of your comments suggest little understanding of the actual performance of wind farms. This site allows you to view the performance of all the wind farms in the NEM and to select any grouping you want to see.

    http://windfarmperformance.info/

    You will notice that the total output across all the NEM wind farms frequently drops to 0MW and the swings to near full power are frequent. Fossil fuel power stations have to firm the wind power and they use more fuel and emit more CO2 in doing so. I provided links that explain this in a previous post.

  356. I don’t understand what is going on on John Quiggan’s web site. He puts Finrod on moderation and allows Alice and a few others equally as bad to run and never pulls them up. Its not as if he isn’t reading because he is making comments from time to time and has responded to some of my posts.

    Perhaps he feels he can’t be seen to move too far away from traditional leftist positions on certain matters.

  357. @Finrod:

    which tends to support a comment made by Barlow months back on BNC; viz. that we have 2 cultures or camps in the debate, nuke and anti-nuke. And that there is a string of other positions in either camp which adherents adopt.

    This will be why BNC, far from being leftist as in P. Lang’s fevered imagination:

    1. has a noticeable number of persons promoting neoliberal and neocon positions in economics and geopolitics, cf. the widespread BNC happiness with the corporatist propaganda of Hayden Manning some months ago. This includes falsely equating the welfare of Anglosphere nationals eg in Australia with that of the planet as a whole.

    2. adheres to mainstream US-serving disinformation regarding Iran’s nuclear capacity, cf. Brook’s failure to counteract Lowe’s statement on this during their recent ABC interview. Hence there is “good” civilian nuclear in this world, and “bad”, the latter being Iranian.

    3. finds it unremarkable that various US nationals think that small-scale NPPS would be “really useful” for deployment in the forward bases of the US Army (quote from ex-US Navy officer R. Adams)

    4. finds the 9/11 Truthers as threatening as BNC think-alike predecessors found “subversives” and “long-haired homo poofter Communists” in the 70s or 80s. This is because once the notion of the US Deep State murdering its own nationals on US territory on 9/11 so as to provide a pretext for the current intervention in FF-rich West and Central Asia is entertained, the perception of to what lengths the US will go, and thus the chances of nuclearising world energy policy, become unpleasantly apparent.

    No BNC person wants to face up to that, hence the anti-Truther aggression.

  358. Pr Quiggin makes the point that off-peak electricity pricing is a consequence of inflexible baseload generation. What’s so bad about discounts? In contrast negative pricing for wind power (seen in both Europe and the US) is a direct consequence of subsidies. The consumer gets to pay twice, both for the regular priced electricity and taxes to fund the subsidy.

    On another occasion Quiggin said that the ‘energy’ sector contributed 10% (or whatever) of GDP therefore if you took it away we’d be 90% OK. I’ve also been disappointed by analyses given by other influential economists; for example Nicholas Stern seems not to have grasped Peak Oil.

  359. On another occasion Quiggin said that the ‘energy’ sector contributed 10% (or whatever) of GDP therefore if you took it away we’d be 90% OK

    I’d find that an astonishing claim if you could provide a cite. Do you have one John?

  360. Fran I’ve searched the Quiggin website using a variety of keywords and I can’t pinpoint the original post. I recall that several commenters made the point that a sensitivity or shadow price analysis would conclude that energy was overarching, not just the percentage contribution to GDP on an industry by industry basis. An analogy might be that if the water industry contributed x% to GDP (via the sum of value added approach) therefore GDP would still be (100-x)% if there were no water. Perhaps others can remember that discussion on energy.

  361. Peter Lalor wrote:

    2. adheres to mainstream US-serving disinformation regarding Iran’s nuclear capacity, cf. Brook’s failure to counteract Lowe’s statement on this during their recent ABC interview. Hence there is “good” civilian nuclear in this world, and “bad”, the latter being Iranian.

    Ha ha! Oh Peter, that’s truly ‘vintage Lalor’. It is as if you’re saying to promote nuclear power one must also have access to deep ASIO / CIA material. One must *know* what is happening, and speak out! Except, how would Barry do that safely? Surely the Men In Black would rock up and Barry would ‘disappear’. ;-)

    4. finds the 9/11 Truthers as threatening as BNC think-alike predecessors found “subversives” and “long-haired homo poofter Communists” in the 70s or 80s. This is because once the notion of the US Deep State murdering its own nationals on US territory on 9/11 so as to provide a pretext for the current intervention in FF-rich West and Central Asia is entertained, the perception of to what lengths the US will go, and thus the chances of nuclearising world energy policy, become unpleasantly apparent.
    No BNC person wants to face up to that, hence the anti-Truther aggression.

    There really is only one reply…

    About 60 seconds in a little Valse will start to play in the background, and then everything will be all right again.

  362. Short and simple of it is that Peter Lalor loathes everything about the US. Hence his ‘truther’ crap and constant harping on about everyone here being right-wing Bush-loving nazis. The guy is demented.

    By the way, I posted a comment to “DavidC” on Quiggin’s blog and it got deleted, saying:

    “Deleted. I’m not interested in spillovers from fights on other blogs, even in the sandpit. I’ll delete anything more I see that relates to intra-blog disputes at BCN”.

    Yet all I did was copy over the contents of this comment, with some request for DavidC to retract. Sheesh. (Okay, I also called DavidC a liar).

  363. An analogy might be that if the water industry contributed x% to GDP (via the sum of value added approach) therefore GDP would still be (100-x)% if there were no water. Perhaps others can remember that discussion on energy.

    But that would be such a stunningly stupid thing to claim for an economist that I can scarcely imagine him claiming it.

    Energy, transport systems, communication systems — all these make human labour more productive so the net value of energy would be a lot more than 10% even if that was what the energy sector earned in terms of GDP.

  364. eclipsenow,
    That article does make some valid points. A multi-billion dollar dash for thorium development project would waste a lot of money, and I don’t think anyone at energyfromthorium, at least, is advocating for one. On the other hand Japanese startup IThEMS

    http://www.ithems.jp/e_index.html

    thinks they could build a 10 Mw(e) demonstrator for US$300M over five years. A global effort that expanded from the present few million US$/ year running university groups to maybe $100M/year could make serious progress without huge waste, until someone gets to the point of building the FOAK Gw(e) plant. Then it needs several billion $ – but you don’t do that until you have data to be almost 100% sure it will work.

  365. Some people seem to be showing an awareness of the importance of the cost of avoiding emissions. The Sydney Morning Herald carries this story today:

    No project too little for climate change fund

    Millions of dollars of NSW taxpayers’ money is being spent on tiny cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. One charity has received a grant to reduce emissions by just two tonnes over 10 years.

    In another case, a family support group in Newcastle received $1400 to tint their windows to reduce electricity use and lower emissions by just two tonnes over the next 10 years.

    ..

    A Liberal MP for Castle Hill, Michael Richardson, said he supported groups cutting their carbon footprint but not at any cost.

    ”This fund has been a monumental waste of taxpayers’ funds, given the need to cut millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide,” he said.

    ”Taxpayers want the Climate Change Fund to succeed, but that can only happen if the government achieves value for money. There isn’t a bottomless pit of funds to draw on.”

  366. I keep telling people that for renewables to work, we’d need energy storage that was 1000 times more powerful and 1000 times cheaper.

    Well, it looks like these guys think silicon can make lithium ion batteries can give us 10 times better storage. Is this a bit of a step towards the ‘Black Swan’ I used to talk about? Remember, all these incremental steps add up. Say these new super batteries hit just as peak oil is starting to nudge the price of oil up. Say they increase the range of cars past the ‘range anxiety’ point… say they can give the average car a battery conversion that gives my old Mitsubishi wagon an 800 km range rather than the 80km range I’d expect out of it if I did a conversion now.

    Isn’t that a game changer, especially if we see super-light EV’s with ranges over 1000km? All that extra capacity is just sitting there for most city driving of 80km a day (or whatever the average trip to work and home is). All that extra capacity is now available to sell back to the grid if there’s an overcast, quiet few days.

    Now that I’m seriously considering the possibility of a factor of 10 increase in battery technology, and considering millions of cars across Australia taking on far more electricity than those households could use in a few days… I’m wondering if my ‘1000 times more powerful and 1000 times cheaper’ routine was pessimistic by orders of magnitude?

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-silicon-strategy-batteries.html

  367. Unfortunately, even if a 10-fold improvement in anode weight doesn’t give a 10-fold improvement in total weight per amp-hour capacity. At the 300 mAhr/g energy density of today’s graphite anodes, the anode is well under half the weight of the cell, so even if magically weighed nothing, overall capacity would less than double. This is still, potentially, a big deal, of course, as a 50% increase in capacity would be very welcome – but it moves the focus even more onto the major limiter of lithium cell performance, the weight of the cathode.

  368. David B, given that lithium exists in the crust at an average concentration of ~50 ppm, and that there are 230 billion tonnes of lithium dissolved in seawater (which can, in theory, be recovered using various brine extraction methods), I’d put it in the same basket as uranium. Price, and energy cost, of extraction, is the determining factor as to how much we end up mining/extracting. Recycle on a large scale almost certainly makes a lot of sense though.

  369. An interesting geopolitical shift may be the search for ‘cheap lithium’ over that of the more expensive lower grade kinds. As the world moves to electric transport over the coming years, will we see OPEC’s power base shift to Bolivia’s salt flats?

    What about here in Australia? As Better Place CEO Shai Agassi has pointed out, we have everything here to build EV batteries, including the iron ore and lithium to process and export as km’s. (OPEC sells oil km’s, why can’t we sell EV km’s?)

    But, having the 3rd world economy bias that we seem to, I’m sure we’ll just continue to sell the raw ores overseas and let someone else value add it for us. They’ll sell the batteries back here, and we’ll pay a premium to buy back our own processed ores. Really makes me mad.

  370. However, on the bright side, robot cars seem to be on the way.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-self-driving-car-unveiled-germany.html

    These could be game changers. Rather than most cars just sitting in driveways 22 hours a day as expensive privately owned vehicles, maybe we could all join communal car clubs. When we need to go to a certain destination, the robot car picks us up and car-pools with others going in the same direction. Or not: we can pay a fee to have the thing all to ourselves.

    Then, when it drops us off, the car can go find other passengers, or drive to the closest battery swap / quick recharge if it needs refuelling. Dropping us in unloading bays and then going off to find its own parking opens up all sorts of options for future car-park buildings. They would not need to be as high, as us tall humans have already been dropped off at the front doors of our destinations.

    So, after unloading us at our destination, the robot car is free to drive itself to a custom-built car-park where floors are about half as high as they are to day. Each underground car-park now stores double the cars. Either that, or they ‘hang up’ and stack as in iRobot.

    Disclaimer: I feel a bit dirty writing all of the above. I’d prefer to see our cities evolve into public transport places that were designed for moving people, not cars. I remain a New Urbanist at heart. But I sometimes like to dream about possible compromises where the car is still present, but not as dominating a social force. Being able to rent on a cheap per-trip basis would free us up from owning these beasts, and maybe transition us into a more New Urbanist world.

  371. Just a heads up for anyone in Australia – ABC Radio National’ Science Show today interviews Wade Allison:

    Nuclear power problems now minimal

    Wade Allison says Australia and New Zealand are being left behind in their opposition to nuclear power as new plants are being planned by many countries. He says the reprocessing of nuclear waste and new uranium will provide sufficient power for a thousand years and that radioactivity is less a problem for natural systems than the impact of humans and our activities.

    The show starts at 12:05, and Allison runs from 12:18-12:25. Transcript will be available here, and it will be available for download or podcast.

  372. Read an interview with the head of a western Montana electric power co-operative. With almost no industrial base left (most saw mills closed) he is rathr unhappy with the intermittency of wind power, stating that his co-op can’t afford (to build) the extra transmission which would only be used 30% of the time.

    Actually, his remarks were stated in much more technical terrms than that. Anyway, his problem might also apply to much of rural Australia, I suppose.

  373. I posted this on John Quiggin’s web site so I though I’d post it here too:

    This shows France’s actual electricity demand, generation and the CO2 emissions right now (or yuesterday if the generation chart is blank):

    http://www.rte-france.com/fr/developpement-durable/maitriser-sa-consommation-electrique/consommation-production-et-contenu-co2-de-l-electricite-francaise

    Move your mouse left and right over the stacked area chart
    (the second chart area. If it is blank select yesterday) .

    Notice changes in the pie chart below.

    I’ve selected 14 October and I point you to notice the following:

    1. Nuclear’s share of the generation is 76% to 86%.
    2. Nuclear power output is varying to follow the load (by about 1700MW)
    3. Coal is generating 4% to 5% and gas 4% to 5%
    4. Hydro’s share varies between 0% and 15%. It is the most flexible and best able to follow the demand changes
    5. Wind’s share is 1% to 2%

    Now look at the CO2 emissions chart (below the pie chart). The CO2 emissions vary between 3400 and 5000 tonnes per hour. Two of Australia’s power stations alone produce that much CO2 per hour. So all France’s electricity generators are producing about the same CO2 emissions as just two of our power stations (Hazelwood and Loy Yang A).

    What France has works. It has proven this over 30 to 40 years. It is clearly low emissions. We know they have near the lowest cost electricity in Europe. We know they are exporting a large amount of electricity to the surrounding countries, which demonstrates it is low cost and provides good reliablility and power quality. It has proven to be safe and clean. What more could we want? Where is there any evidence whatsoever (other than wishful thinking) that renewables can do the job?

  374. Peter Lang, on 16 October 2010 at 18.56 — Thanks for the post.

    French hydro includes a pumped storage dam (I’m unsure of the location) which is capable of switching between pumping and generation to load follow, changing from one to the other for 10–15 minutes at a time. There is more about it somewhere on the web.

    In certain speciality markets, variious forms of biofuels more than meet the local need. Very well run paper mills, particle board manufactories, etc., generate more power than is required for their operations. For example, San Diego’s municipal waste water facility generates natgas in excess of their needs for powering operations; they sell it to Linde who then resells the natgas in presurrized bottles.

    Many people discover that solar heats their domestic hot water just fine, even in the cloudiest parts of the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

    And I remind you once again that here in the PNW with ample hydro, up to 20% of total installed capacity cn become wind backed by that nydro. The remaining 4/5ths, now that all hydro sites have dams, will increasingly have to be from a reliable source. Unfortunately nobody in the PNW is interested in adding even one more nuclear generating station (doubling the total number) and so, unfortunately, the next bunch of generators are mostly going to be CCGTs.

  375. David B Benson,

    Yes, French hydro includes pumped hydro, and CHP and solar PV and many other tuypes of generators. However, unless we consider what percentage of the energy is produced by each, we can be diverted into spending most of our time discussing technologies that generate little energy, insteead of the other way around. I’d urge contributors to develop a sense of balance and proportion and put most of their effort into discussing the technolgies that have the ability to address the major issues, which are:

    energy cost
    energy security (long term)
    power quality and reliablity
    health, safety and environmental effects

    We need to keep a sense of proportion. What proportion of France’s electricity is generated by the technologies you mentioned?

  376. Just to reinforce why I’m a fan of nuclear power, but not nuclear weapons….

    “io9 has a scary outline of five times the US came close to accidental nuclear disasters. Quoting: ‘In August of 1950, ten B-29 Superfortress bombers took off from what was then called Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base in California, headed for Guam. Each was carrying a Mark IV atom bomb, which was about twice as powerful as the bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II. Shortly after takeoff, one of the B-29s had engine trouble. On board was General Robert Travis. He commanded the plane to turn back to the base when the landing gear refused to retract. Sensing the plane was going down, the pilot tried to avoid some base housing before crashing at the northwest corner of the base. The initial impact killed 12 of the 20 people aboard, including General Travis. The resulting fire eventually detonated the 5,000 pounds of conventional explosives that were part of the Mark IV. That massive explosion killed seven people on the ground. Had the bomb been armed with its fissile capsule, the immediate death toll may have reached six figures.”

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/10/16/177207/Five-Times-the-US-Almost-Nuked-Itself?from=headlines

  377. Peter Lang, on 17 October 2010 at 12.04 — I agree. Just pointing out that slamming \renewables\ isn’t very productive. Just instead point out the (approximately) 20% limitation to ask where the other 80% is going to come from.

    eclipsenow, on 17 October 2010 at 13.12 — The \fissle capsule\ includes a rod inserted down the middle so that no nuclear reaction can occur so long as it is in place. So the six figure death toll was a figment of somebody’s imagination. I seriously question the figure of 5000 lb of chemical explosive as well.

    But yes, I’d rathr the world didn’t have any nuclear weapons (or other kinds as well). Doesn’t seem those things are going to go away anytime soon, despite efforts to reduce the absolute number.

  378. I just posted this on John Quiggin’s web site (it may get deleted):

    John Morgan replied to Chris Warren:

    “But you knew that, didn’t you? You did have to make a conscious choice to misconstrue this calculation to produce a nonsense, but frightening, result, didn’t you? Alice bought it, but then you’re in the category of “people she likes”, so of course she did. Jack with no integrity, and Jill with no capacity for critical thinking.”

    This comment really get to the core of the problem: the lack of integrity of the anti-nuclear acivists. It is acceptable to lie and deceive. Anything is OK to anti nuclear activists if it furthers their cause – their blind hatred of anything to do with nuclear.

    Many of the comments on this thread illustrate the blind, irrational hatred of nculear. Some even try to persuade others not to read presumable to prevent any facts being inadvertently exposed tom the anti-nuclear activists.

    I am not startled by this sort of behaviour. It has been going on for 40 odd years. But it is revealing that it can continue on an academics web site.

  379. David B Benson

    Just instead point out the (approximately) 20% limitation to ask where the other 80% is going to come from.

    Two points.

    Firstly, pumped hydro is not renewable. It is storing energy generated by nuclear and fossil fule energy, not renewable energy (for reasons explained previously including on the Pumped hydro thread).

    Secondly, the ‘20% limit’ (your term) of non-hydro renewables is probably far too high on the basis of economics. On the basis of economics 1% non-hydro renewables is probably not economically viable!

  380. On the basis of economics 1% non-hydro renewables is probably not economically viable!

    As I see it, the question is not so much how much renewable power is economically viable. It’s more how much renewable power can be carried by the economy until its parasitic drain starts to cause severe problems. FF interests have to be careful that their renewables advocacy isn’t too sucessful too quickly lest the economic strain start to undermine their own profitability.

  381. Peter Lang, on 18 October 2010 at 9.16 — Of course pumped hydro is not a renewable.

    The decsions about where electric power is going to come from are not based solely of (your version of) the economics. The physical constraint is on grid stability and there the (approximately) 20% figure shows up for many different regions of the world.

    For (eastern) Australia, that figure may well be far too high given the limited hydro potential. But not, it seems, for even France which has plans (may not materialize) to replace much of the non-NPP by an off-shore wind scheme; we’ll see. And not for around here with lotsa hydro. And not for Denmark, backed by hydro further north.

    The central question is where the (approximately) 80% is going to come from.

  382. TONIGHT A reminder:

    On 18 October, I will be teaming up with Ziggy Switkowski at the Hilton Hotel, Adelaide, to talk about the near- to medium-term future of nuclear power in Australia, and also to discuss some of the key technologies that will likely underpin this next-generation revolution in atomic energy, and chart a possible course for their development and deployment over the next 40 years. Details are in a flyer you can download here: http://goo.gl/5zcw

    This is also a FREE public lecture, so don’t miss it!

  383. That’s almost enough to make a die-hard Sydneysider such as myself wish I lived in Adelaide!

    For those who can’t make it to Barry’s talk tonight, don’t forget there’s a climate thing on Q&A and it might be good to phone and twitter in a few choice words supporting nuclear power.

  384. Mark Duffett,

    Barry, I wish you’d gotten a guernsey on the new federal government climate change roundtables, in place of some of the usual and not-so-usual suspects there.

    I agree. How many people on the round table have sufficient understanding of nuclear? What is the balance?

    I expect Mark Diesendorf will be there, along with many other anti-nukes. I expect Mark Diesendorf will promote himself as the resident ‘nuclear expert’, as he frequently does on ABC.

    I expect the gas industry will have a really strong presence itself as well as getting its policies very well presented by Business Council of Australia, Chamber of Commerce, and others.

    This is the really big worry. There is no balance and a lack of support for nuclear. Therefore, there will be an enormous push for a carbon price because it suits many of these strongly represented industries groups.

    I do not have any faith whatsoever in this round table.

  385. What a joke! This will be just another talkfest with no sensible, rational outcome. When are they going to get it? As Barry would say “reality bats last”.

    At least with the older policy there was a small but positive chance that they’d randomly select someone sensible from out of the phonebook.

  386. “Anyone good at Twittering or phoning Q&A? Barry? They’re doing climate change this Monday, and I think the more qualified among us would probably get a better chance of commenting.

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/

    I just watched it. Awful would be the only way to describe it and not one of Tony Jones’ finer moments. Even after we got over several minutes of Aussie Saint Oi! Oi! Oi! things did not improve much. With this sort of dross dished up, public confusion about climate is just about guaranteed.

  387. Posted at Quiggin’s new thread:

    John Quiggin,

    This is so wrong, on many counts, it is unbelievable.

    Let’s just deal with one. You say:

    “Finally, let’s look at replacing Australia’s total emissions (about 600 Mt of CO2 equivalent) with high-cost renewables. At an additional cost of $150/tonne, that would cost 90 billion a year, or 7.5 per cent of national income. But the actual cost of going all-renewable would be far lower, since at such high prices, there would be huge incentives for improved energy efficiency and for substitution away from energy-intensive goods and services. A more plausible cost, even on pessimistic estimates about renewables would be 5 per cent of national income or about 2 years of economic growth.”

    But renewables cannot do the job at virtually any price!!. Don’t you understand that? The technologies do not exist and are unlikely to ever exist. We’ve been hearing from the renewables advocates the same story “but its just around the corner” for 30 years. Nothing is changing. Not only is the cost of the generators huge, we don’t have cost effective energy storage so intermittent renewables cannot work.

    You say: “To sum up, there is very little point in lengthy hypothetical arguments about which low-carbon technology is best. ”

    There is very little point in lengthy hypothetical arguments about whether, in the far off future, energy storage on the scale required might become viable or that the prices of wind and solar power may come down so they can provide reliabl power at a competitive price.

    Non-hydro renewables cannot provide our electricity supply, or even 10% of it. And they don’t avoid much if any CO2 emissions because of the increased emissions due to the reduced efficiency of the back up fossil fuel generators.

    Don’t you get any of this?

  388. Posted at Quiggin’s new thread:

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/10/18/low-carbon-electricity-future-the-big-picture/comment-page-1/#comment-269502

    Here we have an extreme Left economist arguing that Australia should impose policies that on his highly optimistic calculations would cost only 5% of national income and 2 years of growth.

    It is no wonder that people are scared stiff of what the Left stand for.

    He says: “A more plausible cost, even on pessimistic estimates about renewables would be 5 per cent of national income or about 2 years of economic growth.”

    But they are not pessimistic estimates. They are ridiculouly optimistic estimates.

  389. Peter, Quiggin has responded to your postings with the following:

    I didn’t think I needed to spell it out, but obviously I do. Debate on the merits of specific technologies belongs in the sandpit. Anything further along these lines will be deleted.

    El Gordo and Peter Lang: please comment only in the sandpit. Anything else from you will be deleted.

  390. Having now seen the full list of representative on the new federal government climate change roundtable via the link provided by Ms Perps above, my expectations of it coming up with anything helpful are definitely not high. Very long on activists, very short on people with the credentials to look critically at effective solutions.

  391. The discussions on John Quiggin’s web site, and other web sites has provoked the following thoughts:

    There is a relatively small group of Australian’s who believe Australia will need to implement nuclear power if we want to make major cuts to emissions.

    There is a much larger group of people who believe that a carbon tax or ETS will cause deep cut in our emissions.

    There is also a large group, pretty much the same as the first group, who believe renewable energy can replace fossil fuels and provide the deep emissions cuts.

    The nuclear supporters are totally unfunded. The renewable energy supporters are massively funded by the tax payer and have been for over two decades.

    The business groups who want a carbon tax see financial advantage for their business (such as the gas industry and the renewable energy industry and researchers).

    I am far from convinced that we are moving to develop good energy policy. I agree with Ziggy Switkowski’s post today on Climate Spectator.

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/shamed-japans-energy-vision

  392. Peter: On Switkowski.

    I was surprised at the 28 GW of solar, compared to 13 GW nukes in the Japan plan.

    of course, the 28 GW is nameplate, but why build all that nameplate solar? I don’t really get it.

    has anyone written anything here on solar and wind make more sense when coupled with nuclear?

  393. I am expecting to be told to stop posting on John Quiggins web stite, so I wrote this summary of where we’d go to:

    Since the anti-nukes are now calling for an end to any further debate on nuclear on the John Quiggin web site, let’s summarise what has been established:

    1. Nuclear is by far the least cost, low emissions electricity generation technology.

    2. If we want to make major cuts (say 60% to 90%) to CO2 emissions as quickly as possible, and phase out most fossil fuel electricity generation by say 2040 or 2050, nuclear power will have to be the major player (probably the dominant technology).

    3. If we want clean electricity to displace gas for heating and oil for land transport, as fast as possible, then we’ll need to make electricity as low cost as we can.

    4. If we want the developing countries to adopt low emissions electricity and avoid, to the extent possible, going through the fossil fuel stage, then the developed countries will need to make clean electricity lower cost than coal. (we can do so; we just need to remove the irrational impediments that are preventing nuclear being lower cost than coal)

    5. Nuclear power is about the safest of all the electricity generation technologies; it is some 10 to 100 times safer than coal generation

    6. Nuclear power has by far the lowest environmental footprint: area required, mining area and volumes, shipping volumes, fresh water requirements compared with coal, fresh water for construction compared with solar (for concrete), materials mined, processed, manufactured, fabricated, constructed, decomissioned, disposed of and transported between all stages.

    7. Once used nuclear fuel (or so called ‘nuclear waste’), is a trivial quantity and a trivial technical issue in comparison with the management of waste from fossil fuel power stations. Once used nuclear fuel should be stored for later use in Gen IV reactors when they are adopted some time in the future). We all recognise it is a highly emotive issue, thanks to the effective propoganda of the anti-nukes over the past 40 odd years.

    more, but that will do for now.

  394. @P. Lang.: the elephant in your particular room is that unlike your good friend DV28XL, you do not “follow the money” .

    The problem was described some time ago in The Monthly (Melbourne); I referenced the article on BNC at the time. See also some BNC comments by John Newlands, as I recall.

    AU, which has replaced Saudi Arabia as leading carbon exporter, and its politicians are corrupted with coal money. Look at the plight of farmers on the Darling Downs and how they stand at law when a coal mine approaches their properties. But for you, coal money in a politician’s pocket is just the wink-wink, nudge-nudge perks of office that go with being a superior elite person.

    So that is the real explanation of what you and your neocon ilk describe as “the propaganda of the anti-nukes over the last 40 years”. 40 years takes us back to the abortive Jervis Bay NPP, at which time neither the USA nor GB wanted AU to get a nuclear deterrent, as it seems: BNC contains a link to an informative ABC podcast on that..

    But that doesn’t fit your “capital loyalties” either.

  395. I’m posting the article below to get your (BNC collective) sincere advice. I’m not interested in high handed criticisms of this guy as “ignorant,” etc., even though he may be seriously mistaken.

    The person who posts this article is convinced that uranium (yellowcake I think) is “the yellow rock that kills.”

    To suggest that uranium tailings are not very toxic (radiotoxic) puts you in the category of the “government” and opposed to what “everybody and his grandma knows,” that U is highly carcinogenic.

    This wastewater may indeed have been highly toxic, either due to high concentrations in water (chemical toxicity) or due to agents in the wastewater different from the uranium tailings. any ideas for how to persuade activists who associate nuclear with illnesses and who to boot do not trust (Hunter is an older Native American man), and for generally good reasons, the government?

    From other posts, Hunter, basically, does not trust science, and of course, science has been distorted by “material interests” in all sorts of ways, but there’s not only a lot of good science out there, but those who convincingly show how science is distorted by “special interests” are themselves scientists or doing science.

    at any rate, this anti nuke stance is so visceral that arguments to the effect that opposition to nukes means support for fossil fuels, with the tens of thousands of deaths that entails, with astronomical potential deaths.

    Here is the post from Hunter Bear.

    Our family was living on the Navajo Nation when this all around tragedy — the Church Rock Spill — occurred in the summer of 1979. The extremely negative effects of this continue, as is the case with all of those spawned by uranium development generally. Subsequently, a fine documentary film, “River That Harms,” was made about the Church Rock disaster by people we know — well worth getting if one is concerned about “the yellow rock that kills.” http://www.videoproject.com/riv-365-v.html [H]

    Indian Country Today
    Print this article

    Uranium spill elicits traditional approach
    Originally printed at http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/national/Uranium-spill-elicits-traditional-approach-105052044.html

    By Carol Berry, Today correspondent
    October 19, 2010

    CHURCH ROCK, N.M. – About 10 miles north of this predominantly Navajo community, Highway 566 transects Red Water Pond Road, which is blocked at the entrance to an abandoned United Nuclear Corp. mine site from which nearly 1 million gallons of toxic wastewater spilled into the nearby Puerco River 31 years ago.

    Residents of this high desert mesa country of northwestern New Mexico remember the event they have designated the Church Rock Uranium Tailings Spill, caused when a dam was breached at a UNC/General Electric uranium mill tailings disposal pond and toxic wastewater and 1,100 tons of radioactive tailings poured into the river, which flows through Gallup, N.M. and on to Holbrook and Winslow, Ariz.

    People still remember, in part because of lingering illnesses they attribute to the spill, and they have looked with some hope at a unique process being conducted by Phil Bluehouse, a member of the Diné Haatali, or Navajo Medicine Men Association, who is a former federal agent and now a practitioner of the Navajo Peacemaking Method, which uses tradition and philosophy to address contemporary concerns.

    Over recent months, the Red Water Pond Road Community Association has participated in monthly Bluehouse-facilitated comprehensive planning workshops with representatives from the national Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo EPA, and UNC/GE, said Garrett Brennan Stewart, Diné, an assistant to Bluehouse.

    The method draws on Navajo culture and tradition “going back to our creation narratives, based on the experiences of our people. The narratives detail prehistory from the time of creation to emergence onto the earth itself, and then our history from emergence to the present day,” Bluehouse said, adding that going into too much detail about the method as used in the current workshops would be inappropriate and “too esoteric.”

    Instead of fostering anti-healing divide-and-conquer strategies of the kind in the criminal justice system, Navajo traditional justice “is completely different – it involves the psychological, spiritual and biophysical,” and the process in peacemaking follows the strategies told in the old narratives because they carry the power to heal, he said.

    Bluehouse was dissatisfied with the limitations of the criminal and civil justice systems and in 1990 moved into the peacemaking system. He left law enforcement because he felt the system was too political and was not functioning as it should.

    “He (Bluehouse) is a retainer of knowledge – an elder. He is a naat’aanii, or leader,” Stewart said. “He articulates ancient teachings in post-modern English. It’s not so much nostalgia as it is depth psychology.”

    To commemorate the spill, in July the community association, with the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, Doodá Desert Rock, and a citizens’ group from Grand Junction, Colo. heard an early-morning, traditional invocation and then walked along Red Pond Water Road, where a former miner recalled the day it happened.

    “This spill happened about three months after the Three Mile Island (Pennsylvania nuclear generating station partial meltdown) event,” recalled Larry King, of Church Rock and a former worker at the UNC mine.

    “That got more coverage than this. People got compensated quickly at Three Mile Island – around here, I don’t think anyone got compensated for anything, and that’s what we’re still addressing to our legislature, our elected officials – that we need long-term water and soil sampling done in this area, as well as health studies of people who live along the wash.”

    King and others are talking at the workshop meetings about an agreement on methods to remove present mine waste, restore and remediate the land, and relocate residents along the rural Red Water Pond Road, which follows the periphery of the abandoned mine.

    “The public meetings have not been without a fair share of tension,” Stewart said, particularly when a former UNC employee was challenged on his contention that contaminated mine waste had been dumped at off-UNC property sites and that EPA had not been notified. The charge culminated in a “short but heated exchange,” and the employee in question was to be excluded from a tour of the alleged dump site because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission felt his presence “posed a threat.”

    While Bluehouse’s facilitated meetings may yield results about remediation and restoration, at present “the talks have become kind of muddled – both sides are not really seeing each others’ interests, and both sides don’t seem to want to come to an accord,” said Stewart, who felt the community group’s requests may not have been clearly stated.

    At the same time, the federal stance on the potential health effects of the spill is “wild – everybody and his grandma knows this stuff causes so much harm, but they keep saying it isn’t carcinogenic,” he said.

    HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi’kmaq /St. Francis
    Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
    Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
    and Ohkwari’

  396. hey all:

    g. cravens sent me a study of cancer incidence in areas where much u mining and milling took place between 1954-1990.

    the study, just published, shows no increased incidence of cancer except for those who worked in unventilated u mines, who got expected cancers (lung) from high radon exposure.

  397. @David B Benson, I looked askance at the NCAR projection of increasing drought for northern Australia, as this flies in the face of current runoff and soil moisture trends. However, apparently this is down to “increased evaporation is a major cause for the increased aridity”, apparently overriding the increased precipitation in northern Australia that is already evident, and also projected to increase.

  398. (Smacks hand to forehead…)

    Mark,
    isn’t that about as bad as walking out the front door in winter and yelling, “Sure is cold today. This global warming thing must be crap!”

    Surely you *know* (but are now conveniently ignoring) that these models are talking about overall trends, but that they still allow for the Indian Dipol and Pacific El Nino to have their way with the climate? We are talking about 1 in 100 year rains. Wait till next year, or the year after, and even the monkey in you, the raw primitive ape, will have to admit… something’s up with the climate.

  399. EN, I thought you knew me better than that. In any case, please consider what I wrote more carefully. Climate warming has been under way for decades, and accordingly its effects are present in observations over that time. Those observations show a long term (i.e. fifty years plus) increase in soil moisture and stream runoff in northern Australia, as the NCAR report itself shows (see figs. 5c and 7d).

    What the report is saying that this trend, presumably driven at least in part by climate heating, is set to reverse – also driven by climate heating. Does this not strike you as curious?

  400. Bryan Lovell
    Chanllenged by Carbon: The Oil Industry and Climate Change
    Cambridge Univeristy Press

    This petroleum geologist states that CCS is technically feasable and hints that it would be rather expense until well into the so-called learning curve.

  401. Finrod, and others who see this and are bloggin on John Quiggins site,

    I see you and the others who are trying to answer the questions and recitfy the misunderstandings of the anti-nukes, have been drawn into a discussion that is ‘down in the weeds’. This is exactly what the anti-nukes want. It is their strategy to reduce the discussion to this level. They throw enough mud for long enough that some of it sticks. Worse still it muddys the watrers. Many lurkers will leave a discussion like this thinking “this all sounds a bit dangerous, despite what the nuclear proponents say”. That is the general impression that such a discussion leaves. And that is what the anti-nukes want.

    That is why I stick with the high level like:

    – cleanest
    – safest
    – least-cost, low-emissions generating technology on a properly comparable basis
    – smaller footprint
    – less mining
    – less material processing, manufacturing, construction, decomissioning, waste disposal
    – less transport involved in every step
    – less fresh water
    – more sustainable

    If any of these claims are challenged I can back them up.

  402. I’m a bit disappointed that the discussion thread on the Quiggins site seems to have been suddenly, abruptly closed down with no notice or explanation, and that further discussion of nuclear energy seems to be not welcome.

    I’m also annoyed with the position of certain anti-nuclear posters over there, who are so dogmatic that they will even simply refuse to read any link or post which is hosted on the BNC site.

    We’re talking about people who do not have a basic literacy in the science and technology relating to nuclear energy – specific arguments in defence of nuclear energy aren’t needed, but basic nuclear energy “literacy” is. And they’re so dogmatic that they refuse to go out and attempt to get that basic level of technical literacy.

    If we look at the community of pro-nuclear people in the community, the regular commenters on BNC, I would estimate that only a minority of them have professional qualifications in physics or engineering, and very few if any have qualifications in nuclear engineering, since there is no nuclear engineering department at any Australian university.

    My point is, everyone here has gone out there and put the effort in to teach themselves about nuclear energy.

    Professor Brook, for example, is a climatologist, an ecologist – and yet Brook has gone out there and taken an interest in it, and taught himself the facts about the basic technology and science of nuclear energy. It’s not hard to do, and to be honest, if anti-nuclear activists expect to argue with us, it’s difficult to not tell them that I expect them to do the same.

    It’s frustrating, sometimes.

  403. I think Finrod’s final post on the John Quiggin thread before it was closed down was an appropriate note on which to end the discussion:

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/10/09/sandpit/comment-page-12/#comment-269865

    Clearly, John Quiggin is an anti-nuke. he has posted articles and commnets on the threads that demonstrate that. He has also started three threads and two sandpits specifically for discussion on nuclear and closed them all down when the irrational arguments when the antis position is getting shown up as total nonsense.

    It’s pretty scary what such people really strand for.

  404. I gave up on the Quiggin ‘discussion’ a while ago. The antinuke protaganonists place no value on intellectual integrity, and you can’t avoid the conclusion they are being consciously dishonest, and incredibly immature and childish at the same time. I gave up mainly because I started feeling .. soiled.

  405. John Morgan,

    I agree with your comment.

    Bu you weren’t soiled. You avoided that.

    From what I’ve seen, wherever you post, you maintain your professional and personal integrity. You display high EQ. (and IQ). Your handling of the discussion with JM on BNC was excellent (EQ, IQ and knowledge of fundamentals). Similarly with BilB and Stephen Gloor before (display of high EQ).

  406. I interpret the thread shutdown as an exercise in damage control. Quiggin was starting to see how badly his anti-nuke attack dogs were being mauled after they made a series of particularly stupid gaffs, and this was not at all to his liking. In his introduction to the new ‘sandpit’ thread he specifically said “The nuclear v renewables debate is going along in its sandpit with plenty of sand being thrown and a good time had by all as far as I can see.” This isn’t the sort of thing yoy say if you’re about to close a thread off, surely. But shortly after that, Chris Warren tripped up after backpeddling on his LNT claims trying to pretend that he hadn’t meant things that he’d previously said, and got himself into an awful mess over the radwaste issue. He needed to be bailed out before he shot himself in the foot again.

    I call this a victory.

  407. My view on NBN is that their $43 bn budget should be cut in half and the money spent on a couple of AP1000s. As in lent to an independent operator. I’ve mentioned that my neighbours and I were judged to live in a broadband blackspot so we got ipstar satellite subsidies for which we are grateful. Blow me down I now see fibre optic cables laid under sheep paddocks and tree plantations throughout the black spot area. The NBN evidently has more money than it knows what to do with.

    David Benson a live link to the pro-CCS reasoning would be useful. I’m deeply suspicious of the line that making something big enough will improve the economics. Aussies will remember the solar updraft tower that was going to be built near Mildura.

  408. John Newlands,

    The point I was trying to make by linking the NBN article is that this is an example of what governments do when the lose the plot. That is the problem with allowing governments to run our critical infrastructure and destroying competition (as is the heavy hand of government in the NBN).

    When governments run infrastructure it is nearly impossible to fix the problem. Ministers who are ignorant of the business are in control. They have little expertise for being at the head of a big and essential business. They have enormous egos and don’t know what they don’t know. They are driven by ideology and short term election cycles. If they become unpopulare the minister is changed by the business goes on. The new minister is no better. This can go on for decades. Add to this problem that unions can hold the industry to ransom (as has happened many time in the past and just recently when they prvented the NSW Labor government from privatising the NSW electricity industry).

    The alternative is competition and private sector investment, ownership, operation and appropriate, light, government regulation. If a company is managed badly, the management is changed. If it vcontinues they are bought out or go bankrupt and another supply meets the demand. The private sector is much more responsive to changes in requirements, implementing new technologies and whatever it takes to maintain competitive advantage. That minimises costs over the long term and ensures security of supply over the long term. Public sector ownership cannot do that as well (over the long term). It could do it better once upon a time, but not any more (in the western democracies).

    These posts are all part of my long standing plead with contributors to come together and work together to achieve what is most important – win broad support to bring least-cost clean electricity generation to Australia as soon as possible.

    Our requirements should be defined by the outcome we are seeking.

    We should not be trying to specify how it should be achieved.

    However, of course, we need to make practical proposals (and options) as to how it can be achieved, but these should not detract from a focus on the required outcome.

  409. Mark Diesendorf had his usual anti-nuke rant on The Science Show today. Same old nonsense, nothing new, except perhaps that he’s made more specific references to and criticisms of Gen IV than usual. As usual, it’s mostly lies, with the occasional misleading truth thrown in.

    He’s spoken of the ‘decline’ of nuclear power throughout the decade, stating that at the begining it contributed 17% of global electricity supply, and now it only covers 13%. I guess there’s no reason to doubt this. China and other developing countries have expanded electricity production hugely, mainly with coal. Even with the various power uprates that have gone on, nuclear hasn’t been able to hold its share.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2010/3044569.htm

  410. Hey Peter: I read the article. One article, PL, stands no chance of dislodging a “paradigm.”

    I would never expect to send you one article about the dysfunctionality bred by cut throat competition and expect to persuade you.

    at any rate:

    it is obvious that public ownership is no guarantee of quality; neither is private ownership. Competition under certain circumstances may facilitate product quality or may not. Under many circumstances, it facilitates a race to the bottom in wages and toxic competition and distrust among workers.

    [cooperative enterprises are not immune to toxic relations between workers either. ]

    Humans are highly motivated to produce for the common good. What do you think we’re all doing here at BNC? Should I distrust your work on energy because it isn’t being quality controlled by a profit maximization imperative?

    As far as protectionism versus competition, the irony is that without protectionism, a fledgling industry could never even get the chance to compete unless it was protected.

    from your article (I know virtually nothing about the players), NBN sounds pretty dysfunctional. but your conclusion about public ownership doesn’t follow for people who don’t share your assumptions.

  411. Luke Weston, on 23 October 2010 at 10:50 AM — Not all commenters here are from Oz; I greatly enjoyed my 6 month visit in the previous century.

    John Newlands, on 23 October 2010 at 2:13 PM — Unfortunately I don’t have a link. I thought the book worth mentioning as Bryan Lovell is a professional geologist and was a BP insider for some time before moving on to the University of Cambridge.

  412. Scott,

    Thanks for the link.

    Slide 54 of 57 in the first link shows that the S-PRISM {prototype plant) should be half way through the Prototype Test phase, the fuel’s been loaded and it is approaching full power.

    The Standard Plant should be nearing completion Detail Design certification.

    So how is it doing compared with this schedule (from 2001).

  413. A few comments about the NBN and the Australian’s war on the on the NBN..

    Personally I would rather have seen some of the money spent on kick starting nuclear power in Aus, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon, so it’s not overly pertinent.

    As to the the economics of the NBN and the constant banging on about “cost benefit analysis”, any modelling is going to be highly dependent on the underlying assumptions. When considering investment in infrastructure that will last many decades in the context of rapidly developing technologies that will utilize and depend on that infrastructure the future economics will always have considerable uncertainty. You can probably come up with whatever figures you like by fiddling your assumptions.

    Let it be said that the NBN in technical and engineering terms with fibre to the node is by far and away the best way of implementing broadband internet for fixed services. No ifs and buts. ADSL, wireless, cable and satellite are all much inferior. Anybody that contends otherwise is talking nonsense. In a process that has being going on for decades communications services have been evolving to run over IP (Internet Protocol), at least to the end node. This trend is guaranteed to continue into the foreseeable future. This requires both increasing bandwidth and increasing reliability and has great benefits in terms of both functionality and cost. As always, the timescales are uncertain.

    In engineering terms, there is nothing “dysfunctional” about the NBN.

    The Australian, has for it’s own (political) reasons done it’s utmost to sow doubt and confusion about the NBN. Let us take a recent example – the scare mongering about, and the reality of, the costs of implementing a household LAN (Local Area Network) to fully utilize the increased bandwidth that the NBN will make available for internet access: NBN wiring could cost users up to $400 a room

    The best way of implementing a household LAN is undoubtedly to wire every room with CAT6 cabling. That is the case with, or without, NBN. If you want to know the cost, get a quote from an electrician. But the implication that it will be mandatory to spend that kind of money to derive most or perhaps all of the benefits of NBN is just plain wrong. We will assume that the editors at the Australian are not complete idiots, and are doing this consciously in their campaign of “fear and doubt” against the NBN. Conroy is right to be outraged over this issue.

    Let’s look at some of the alternatives to CAT6/Ethernet:

    1. Wireless 802.11g. Most people using wireless currently are using this standard. Anybody using older stuff should throw it away and upgrade – it’s cheap. 802.11g has a raw bit speed of 54 mbits/sec and effective throughput of ~22 mbits/sec. It may be lower depending on distance and other factors, but that’s the nature of wireless. Most people with any form of broadband in Australia currently are getting nothing like 22 mbps, so NBN would give them an immediate improvement with their existing LAN. 802.11g will carry a single MPEG2 encoded video stream from current HDTV. With improved video encoding such as H.264, you might be able to squeeze two streams out of it. So no, you won’t get the full benefit of NBN with 802.11g wireless but you probably derive considerable benefit and can upgrade your LAN at your convenience. You can also do it piecemeal with a mix of technologies to the different nodes, thus reducing cost.

    2. 802.11n wireless. This is the latest wireless standard. Raw bit speed is 300 mbps and range is better than 802.11g. Effective throughput varies, but is likely to be in the range 50 – 100 mbps per second. This is likely to be quite sufficient for the vast majority of internet access via NBN without compromise including IPTV. It’s quite cheap starting at about $45 per node and maybe $100-$200 for the wireless base station. It’s not optimal, but in many cases will be “good enough”.

    3. Ethernet over power. Household mains 240V wiring is used for data. You plug adapters into unused power points, plug the ethernet cable into your PC. Speeds over 100 mbit/sec are very achievable and in most cases quite sufficient for NBN access without any compromise. Cost starts at around $60 per node. Installation is a snap and there is no installation cost. I use these things and they work very well.

    If the Australian had any commitment to the truth and painting an accurate picture of the costs to consumers of NBN, they would have pointed these things out. They have chosen instead to paint a biased picture with an almost hysterical campaign whose purpose is “fear and doubt”. It is so reminiscent of their war on climate science.

    I wrote an informative comment pointing out these household options in the comments section of the Oz’s pieces and how surprising, it wasn’t published.

  414. quokka,

    I cannot believe the line you are taking on this. This sounds highly irresponsible. $43 billion is nearly half the total Federal government debt. To spend that without a proper cost benefit anaysis is highly irresponsible. We’ve had no end of wasteage from this government in three years. I cannot believe how anyone could stand up for this. No onder people are worried about what elest they will do (like CPRS Carbon tax and many other worries).

    The department of Defenece si required to use Earned Value Performance Measurement on any defence procurement in excess of $100 million. NBN is $43 billion and there isn’t even a proper project plan. Unbelieveable. Totally indefencible.

  415. quokka

    I understand you support government cover ups?

    I understand you feel that a Labor government should be able to tax spend and waste whatever it likes and there should be no scrutiny?

    Quokka, you’ve been scammed. I get the impression you have ideological blinkers on. You seem to stand up for anything put up by Greens or Labor no matter what the cost. You seem to just believe whatever they say.

  416. Peter Lang,

    I believe the timeline in that PDF was a proposed timeline if the decision to go ahead with the S-PRISM went ahead. It did not, so we’re at year 0 right now. iirc, France wants to have a prototype running by 2020, but I haven’t seen much information on how that compares with the S-PRISM.

    Thanks.

  417. @Peter Lang

    Quokka, you’ve been scammed. I get the impression you have ideological blinkers on. You seem to stand up for anything put up by Greens or Labor no matter what the cost. You seem to just believe whatever they say.

    I have not been scammed, and phrasing debate about NBN in those terms is unhelpful.

    I have a considerable experience in data communications and networking dealing with all sort of stuff such as voice work in call centre call routing, queuing and management, internet provisioning, access controls and security and lots of other older technologies. And I mean real nuts and bolts stuff such as writing protocol gateways right down to the bits and bytes level pouring over standards documents.

    What I wrote above about home owner’s options in an NBN rollout is accurate and moreover will likely reflect the way things will happen. Every home will not be, nor need to be wired with CAT6 for NBN subscribers to receive benefit from the new network. In fact in most cases there will be perfectly workable temporary or even permanent cheap options that will for practical purposes do a more than adequate job. Having said that, I think it would be an excellent idea for new homes to, by law, be required to be wired with CAT6. It’s cheap to do during construction.

    The Australian has chosen to obscure these facts and run a scare campaign about how home owners will have to fork out thousands of dollars for cabling to subscribe to NBN. It’s not true and what’s more the editors of the Australian know this.

  418. quokka,

    you say:

    I have a considerable experience in data communications and networking dealing with all sort of stuff

    I respect that. And I respect a lot of the other knowledge you have and that makes your contributions on BNC and on Quiggins web site valuable and interesting.

    But this point is not about data communications. The point is about the management of public finances.

    And, yes, I repeat, we are being misled, scammed.

    What the Oppostion and the parts of the media that are doing their job (proper investigative journalism) are trying to expose is that most of the $43 billion estimated cost of the NBN should be included in the Federal budget. It is not. That is a scam.

    If the $43 billion was included in the Federal budget, the federal budget would be in deficit for many years longer than the Government is admitting. That is, our debt would keep rising for much longer and it wouldn’t be paid off for perhaps another decade beyond what the government is saying.

    That is the point. That is why we are being scammed. What is happening is worse than what the Whitlam government did.

    The relevance of this to policy on ETS and Carbon tax is that it demonstrates the government is incompetent, and cannot be trusted (due to either dishonesty or incompetence or a combination of these).

    This contributes to the general feeling of distrust about the government’s and the Green’s plans for carbon taxes or ETS.

  419. @ Quokka,
    Never expect respect from Peter Lang if you support anything that smacks, even remotely, of left wing politics. If it’s not right, it’s not right. Peter said so. ;-)

    The fact that Scientific American says the internet itself would never have been built without initial government help, well, Peter must just ignore that. Governments roll things out, and the marketplace responds. Sometimes those things are rolled out well, sometimes not. Bit like the private marketplace really. Human beings in big corporations try some things which succeed, some which fail, and some which are lukewarm. Same with governments. But don’t tell Peter that!

  420. I get the impression you have ideological blinkers on.

    Ha ha ha! Oh, Quokka, don’t you sometimes just have to gasp and stand back from the computer screen for a moment, and just shake one’s head at the sheer audacity of it? This from Mr Right is RIGHT! himself. Wow.

  421. I still don`t get that article about the cables…

    Who has/needs TV in every room? What for? Why should children need that much bandwidth to play Xbox?
    Something is fundamentally wrong here.

    Wlan is not too slow for streaming! The case in the article is useless…setting up a server is useless.
    They are afraid of wireless for other reasons too. Where I live people set up wireless meshes and clouds all over the city. wireless g/n, UMTS, HSDPA, LTE…
    The main use of all this is filesharing…;)
    99% of all subscribers only need broadband for entertainment.
    Does your government also pay for TV sets?

    This is nice article about energy in Nature

    http://pubget.com/paper/pgtmp_ed3f02eaa0b151dfaf8c45288972ee37