Two countries, two paths, one crucial lesson learned

In the 1970s, two countries took two different paths in energy policy.

Denmark pursued wind power, but failed to replace its fossil fuel power plants. It has among the highest carbon emissions per capita in Europe.

France pursued nuclear power, and now has the lowest carbon emissions of any OECD country.

Lesson learned.

Nuclear power mitigates carbon emissions and fights climate change. Renewable energy, by itself, is inadequate. If you want real climate action, you must support both nuclear energy and renewables. It’s the only way to solve the climate problem, fully, and in time to make a real difference.

This video was produced by my sister, Marion Brook. It is terrific — exactly the type of community advocacy that is required. It is a visual complement to her “Take real action on climate change” posters, strategy and F.A.Q. It sums up the energy replacement problem beautifully, in less than 2 minutes, and also includes shots of various BNC supports who marched at Walk Against Warming.

As the accompanying song says:

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road

Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go

So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why

It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.

Let’s take real action on climate change. Support nuclear power.

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93 Comments

  1. If you want real climate action, you must support both nuclear energy and renewables.

    I disagree. Renewables are not only unnecessary, they are a dangerous distraction and an implicit acceptance of the continued burning of fossil fuels. They have no role in fighting GHG emissions.

  2. Ok Barry. If you had the option to rebuild australia’s energy infrastructure with nuclear power and such hydro as we already possess, do you think a go could be made of it? If not, what technosolar renewables would you want in the picture to plug the gaps you percieve would be there without them?

  3. Barry,

    Nuclear power mitigates carbon emissions and fights climate change. Renewable energy, by itself, is inadequate. If you want real climate action, you must support both nuclear energy and renewables.

    Excellent conclusion. I agree.

    I agree with your reply to Finrod that we do need to be unbiased. I also agree we need to come up with solutions that will give most people the feeling that there beliefs are being included in the solution. However, these two things are not the same. So we need to do unbiased analysis and present the facts as they are. Then we do the politics which is to reach the best compromise to satisfy the most people. Education can help to convince more people to move away from their beliefs and move towards policies that are best for all (i.e believe these are the policies that are economically rational).

    I feel we need to help people to recognise that the real solution will most likely be something like what France has adopted – i.e. about 75% nuclear 15% hydro and pumped hydro, 10% gas and coal and negligible ‘other renewables’, although I expect ‘other renewables’ may creep up to being viable at 5% or even 10% in the next 40 years or so.

  4. Finrod,

    I agree with you too.

    But we have to deal with both the engineering and economic facts as well as the politics (of compromise). We need to get government to adopt policies that can be broadly acceptable and will be robust – that is, they will not be changed with every change of government, every GFC, every flood, and every other thing that happens to change the population’s mind about what the government should be doing with taxpayer funds. That is why I believe we need economically rational solutions and we need to explain them to the public.

    I believe Barry and Marion are dead right about the goal (for about 2050). The point now is how do we get started, as soon as possible and with a poilicy that will be robust. I am convinced we need to drop, for now, our infatuation with a carbon price. Instead, we need to expose and explain to the public the many impediments we have built up that prevent us achieving what France did so successfully with polices they set in train over 40 years ago.

    Good on the French. They must be the smartest people in the world – or at least they were in the 1960’s, 1970s and 1980s.

  5. I recognise the path of political and public relations compromise Barry is treading with this line. I just think he’s unfortunately mistaken with it.The ‘renewables’ lobby will still serve their true masters, and they will not have a bar of anything to do with support for nuclear power. Is it possible to capture some support from the pro-renewables public doing this? Sure, possibly even quite a bit of support. But you will garner no support from the decision-makers in the renewables lobby, and they are the ones who talk to power.

  6. Finrod,

    I understand what you are saying and agree. But, for me the biggest problem is that we are all so polarised it feels just like the early 1990’s all over again. And we cannot implement policies that will last in a highly polarised situation like this. So I believe we should have all options on the table, remove all the ‘picking winner’ assistance, and make policy decisions based on facts. That means economically rational. If we did that , I am convinced we would make good policies, and they would last, and would give us the outcome France has achieved.

  7. “Good on the French. They must be the smartest people in the world – or at least they were in the 1960′s, 1970s and 1980s.”

    Except when they were blowing the hell out of Mururoa and ships in Auckland Harbour. :-)

  8. If you quit being afraid of nuclear, the coal industry is doomed. Every time you argue in favor of wind, solar, geothermal and wave power, or against nuclear, King Coal is happy. ONLY nuclear power can put coal out of business. Nuclear power HAS put coal out of business in France. France uses 30 year old American technology. So here is the deal: Keep being afraid of all things nuclear and die either when [not if] civilization collapses or when H2S comes out of the ocean and Homo “Sapiens” goes extinct. OR: Get over your paranoia and kick the coal habit and live. Which do you choose? I put quotation marks around “Sapiens” because it is not clear that most “people” have enough brains to avoid extinction when it is clearly predicted and the safe path has been pointed out. Nuclear is the safe path and we have factory built nuclear power plants now. A nuclear power plant can be installed in weeks. See:
    http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf33.html

  9. I have put the video up on my Facebook page – how about you all start with that. I am now going through all the climate change and energy blogs and pages I can find and embedding it in the comments. Please help by doing the same.

  10. I did the Walk Against Warming in Brisbane last year as part of the Sustainable Population Australia contingent.I did consider carrying some sort of pro nuke placard but decided against it and probably just as well. The president of Conservation Queensland was first cab of the rank with an anti nuke harangue then the actor Jack Thompson got up and continued in the same vein.These efforts got a lot of cheers from the crowd,including the SPA president in QLD.

    Now,these are people who have enough nous to get off their arse and turn up at a climate change event yet they STILL do not have a freaking clue as to what is the best way to tackle this problem.In short,they are off with the pixies.

    If these are the conscious people then what hope is there for the unconscious down at the beach frying their brains,such as they are.

    Finrod,I sympathise with your view however I think that there is room for renewables in niche applications in Australia,particularly Solar PV and Solar Thermal in areas remote from the grid.

    And Peter Lang,I see you are off to a flying start already with 4 comments.Must you be such a motor mouth?

  11. Finrod,I sympathise with your view however I think that there is room for renewables in niche applications in Australia,particularly Solar PV and Solar Thermal in areas remote from the grid.

    That has no effect on the major energy generation sources feeding the grid, and that’s where we have to concentrate. I realise that solar and wind have some niche non-grid applications. The trouble starts when people try to scale them up beyond that.

  12. I did the Walk Against Warming in Brisbane last year as part of the Sustainable Population Australia contingent.I did consider carrying some sort of pro nuke placard but decided against it and probably just as well.

    We need some dedicated pro-nuclear rallies.

  13. First of all, thank you Marion, for creating an excellent conversation starting video. Thank you, Barry, for sharing it on your site and via YouTube. I have posted it on Atomic Insights.

    Now, with regard to the comments listed here, I will back my friend FINROD.

    I admit it. I am completely and utterly biased in favor of the view that only nuclear fission energy can replace hydrocarbon combustion in most of its applications. I have had the life changing experience of living in an ecosystem where fission was the only source of power – motive, electrical and heat. It was a clean, comfortable, self-contained ecosystem, even though we were surrounded by a hostile ocean.

    My view of the capacity for fission to virtually replace fire has a corollary. I am certain that material intensive collection systems for unreliable and diffuse weather dependent sources of power actually increase the overall consumption of fossil fuel, especially when they are held up as the ultimate goal that will allow an energy utopia where nothing is burned and nothing is fissioned. My view is not actually uneducated bias; I have been studying the field intensely for more than 30 years and have quite a bit of practical experience in virtually every available power source outside of geothermal.

    Here in the US, the oil and natural gas industry is very clearly marketing the idea that their fuel is a bridge to that utopia, that it is an excellent partner with wind and solar energy to “fill in the gaps.” The clear, immediate target of this effort is capturing part of the market share currently held by coal, but an unspoken, rather obvious target is preventing or delaying the nuclear renaissance as long as possible.

    Every year of delay yields tens of billions in profits for selling more fuel at higher prices than would otherwise be possible if gas salesmen marketing $4.50 per million BTU methane had to compete against fission fuel sources that provide heat for about 50 cents per million BTU.

    In my view, a power source that would have to increase its capacity factor from an average of about 40% to an average of closer to 65-70% is not “filling in the gaps”, it is seeking growth in its market share.

    The public purveyors of this myth hide in the warm and fuzzy persona of wind and solar system supporters. If you scratch hard enough you will reveal that they are really just well-funded petroleum pushers who are working hard to maintain their base of addicts by spreading a false hope for shale gas abundance and FUD about atomic energy.

    In Australia, I am sure the politics are different, but the multinational oil/gas industry has long dominated our political class and they just recently gained even more power.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  14. Great stuff Marion Brook,

    It’s good to see some simplistic activism and popular promotion of nuclear energy. While I enjoy what is often quite an academic look at what’s going on in the energy world at sites like BNC, this is the type of stuff that is really important.

    Well done.

  15. that’s a terrific post, Rod.

    I’ve been teaching a terrible book, Van Jones’ The Green Collar Economy.

    the energy part of the book is premised on this naive division between “grey” and “green” economies. The fossil fuels, on this view, are the enemy of the renewables. the “pollutuion economy” is the enemy of “green jobs.”

    but as you say, natural gas is “partnering” with renewables with the effect of stopping nuclear in its tracks. and one of Chevron’s main advertising campaigns (I have a link to it on open thread) shows how Chevron really is building solar demo plants and niche solar, knowing that this stuff cannot displace business number one. and there’s even research they are doing on using solar to help extract more oil!!

    Nice video, Marion: will use in my class.

  16. I’m a real novice at this so I’m pleased to see my first effort well received. Thanks everyone.

    John Morgan, on 28 January 2011 at 10:01 PM said: “I have not the words.”

    Wow! From a man as eloquent as you, John, that is quite a complement.

    Tom, yes I agree, we need to get ordinary people listening. Just as importantly, we need to let hesitant NP supporters know that they don’t have to be first-out-on-the-dance-floor; that other people, just like them, are already out there and that they are simply a part of a growing movement.

    I hope this video does a little bit of both.

    I also agree with Peter Lang, the WAW marchers do deserve a pay rise, so I’ve decided to double your earnings on this project from $0 to $0… enjoy!

  17. I think the video is great and I applaud the effort.

    A couple of technical points. I think it shifts from slide to slide too quickly. I had to watch it a second time to really take in what it was saying. Also some of the slides seemed to be hard to read due to the contrast between the text and the picture.

    In terms of concept I think it is great. There is one central idea (Denmark versus France) and no excessive complications with other issues. In particular I like the closing series of images showing people campaigning for nuclear. It humanises the message nicely.

    For some reason the video does not work on my iPhone. Not sure why.

    If you’re looking for another project I think it would be great to show how a nuclear power plant manages nuclear waste vastly better than contemporary coal power plants.

  18. In reading the comments on the youtube site I saw criticisms of comparing total primary energy to electricity. Is there an apple-oranges issue that we should correct (to busy to research myself, just wanted to leave the note for others)

  19. Great video, I will spread it around. Also good to see a mention of renewables. It’s not something I’ve seen often on this site, but I believe you can sell your message to the public so much easier using this approach.

  20. I agree with Finrod and Rod Adams. There should be no compromise in showing that renewables are a waste of money and resources and in reality will cause continued fossil fuel use. I actually believed this all along, but got a bit soft trying to win some brownie points from BNCers by being politically correct.

    So, stick to your guns, Finrod, and thanks to your several succinct comments and Rod’s excellent comment, for putting some bone back in my backbone.

    Rod said:

    Here in the US, the oil and natural gas industry is very clearly marketing the idea that their fuel is a bridge to that utopia, that it is an excellent partner with wind and solar energy to “fill in the gaps.” The clear, immediate target of this effort is capturing part of the market share currently held by coal, but an unspoken, rather obvious target is preventing or delaying the nuclear renaissance as long as possible.

    Every year of delay yields tens of billions in profits for selling more fuel at higher prices than would otherwise be possible if gas salesmen marketing $4.50 per million BTU methane had to compete against fission fuel sources that provide heat for about 50 cents per million BTU.

    I posted this on another thread yesterday but should have posted it here.

    The United States is poised to bet its energy future on natural gas as a clean, plentiful fuel that can supplant coal and oil. But new research by the Environmental Protection Agency—and a growing understanding of the pollution associated with the full “life cycle” of gas production—is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change.

    see the article here: http://www.propublica.org/article/natural-gas-and-coal-pollution-gap-in-doubt

  21. I agrewe with TerjeP,

    If you’re looking for another project I think it would be great to show how a nuclear power plant manages nuclear waste vastly better than contemporary coal power plants.

    A satelite view showing the the area disturbed by coal mining in the Hunter Valley (which provides some of the coal for some of one Australian state’s electricity generation) and compare thsi wiith an aerial view at the same height of Olympic Dam mine which provides uranium sufficient for x % of the world’s nuclear generation. (Of course someone will need to dig up the correct figures and ensure they are presentred in a way that is properly comparable.) It should also be pointed out the Olympic Dam supplies copper, gold and silver and these total about equivalent value to the uranium, so only half the Olympic Dam mines area should be shown as attributal to providing the world’s clean electricity.

  22. A satelite view showing the the area disturbed by coal mining in the Hunter Valley (which provides some of the coal for some of one Australian state’s electricity generation) and compare thsi wiith an aerial view at the same height of Olympic Dam mine which provides uranium sufficient for x % of the world’s nuclear generation. (Of course someone will need to dig up the correct figures and ensure they are presentred in a way that is properly comparable.)

    Here’s something similar from Luke Weston’s blog:

    http://enochthered.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/the-environmental-footprints-of-coal-and-uranium-mining/

  23. That second link should have been <a href =http://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=Muswellbrook+google+maps&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Muswellbrook+New+South+Wales&gl=au&ll=-32.507446,150.993347&spn=0.538531,0.883026&t=h&z=10<Musswellbrook coal mines

  24. Tom Keen,

    Thanks for that. But needs some work to get the message across clearly. I am sure Marion can find a way to get the message across, if she wants to.

    Somehow we need to show a picture which makes the contrast between the areas mined for nuclear and coal generation really clear. We need to show the area of coal mining versus uranium mining per GW-y of energy supplied.

  25. I agree it needs more work. I was actually just curious so I did the comparison.

    I think talking about GW years of energy will go over most people’s head. It needs to be more like “can provide X number of houses, or cities the size of canberra, with energy for Y number of years” (not exactly, but you get my drift).

  26. An now a word from one of the movie stars.
    At the end of Marion’s great little video we have four of us from last years Walk Against Warming in Sydney.
    The pretty lady holding up the sign is my wife, Ann Parker and let me assure you she was there because she really believes in the issue. The next in line with red hair, glasses and white beard is yours truly – Holding the nuclear smiley face poster. Next comes John Morgan and at the far right is Richard McNeill from Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy.
    So Marion thankyou very much for making the video – it gretly treasured because it puts our small effort that day on the record

  27. Finrod,

    Thank’s for that link.

    I BNCers could follow the comparison but it would be eye-glazing to 99% of the population. Most wouldn’t understand or get the point.

    Perhaps the comparison should be done as follows:

    First, determine how many GW-y of electricity Olympic Dam, or some other uranium mine, produces per year (you understand what I am getting at)

    Second, select a portion of the Hunter Valley that produces coal for the same amount of electricity production as the uranum mine. Highlight the area of land disturbed by mining so it stands out.

    I would probably show the uranium mine first and then, second, say “to get the same amount of electricity from coal requires this much mining” and show the area of coal mining.

    Then perhaps some other examples of the devestation from coal mining – eg mountain tops removed in USA, tailings dump failures, polution, etc.

    BTW who recalls the coal dump failure in Wales that burried a village (1960s I think)

  28. Tom,

    I accept that GW-y might not eb the best way to present it. But difintiely not numbero f houses or anything like that. Number of houses is spin that misleads people about what renewables can achieve. Intermittent renewables cannot power any houses. Anything like that is very misleading, IMO.

  29. Perhaps it would best be expressed as the percent of world (or Australian) power each of the mined areas produces.

    E.g. Olympic Dam supplies for about 10% of the world’s uranium demand, and nuclear provides about 14% of the world’s electricity. So Olympic Dam provides fuel about 1.4 % of the world’s electricity demand (or could power whatever equivalent % of Australia, or 3 Australias or whatever.)

    Etc. don’t have time to do it now.

  30. To add two more name to Robert Parker’s credits, the photographer was my father Peter Morgan. He was for some time the President of the National Parks Association of NSW, one of the peak conservation NGOs in NSW, whose brief is to lobby for conservation values in the management and creation of national parks, and he was deeply involved in the rainforest and wilderness campaigns in NSW in the ’80s.

    Robert Parker of course played a key role in bringing James Hansen out last year. Richard McNeill has engaged the political process directly through Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy. So the credentials of this group of people as environmentalists deeply concerned about climate change is impeccable.

    The rather poignant zoom in on the lone protester holding the “Nuclear Energy is Needed” placard is BNC commenter Mark Duffet in Hobart, I believe (where I am right now :)).

  31. I am in the Melbourne WAW photos too although , because I am only 5ft tall, you can only see my eyes peeking through . I am holding the sign “Nuclear Power=Climate Action” which, fortunately you can see! I got the signs (taken from the BNC FAQ page) blown up and laminated at Officeworks. They cost a few dollars but are sturdy, waterproof and available for next time.

  32. Yes, I saw that electric vs primary energy problem also, after upload. Unfortunately, there is no way to change a YouTube video once it is uploaded, without creating a new video/link. (I can understand the reason why this restriction is is place, but it’s annoying when a minor edit is required). The 650 vs 90 g/kWh figures (and everything else on the vid except that flash graph is correct, however).

  33. Barry, yeah it doesn’t really matter. If anything it cuts Denmark a break. If one has assumed – in the brief moment the two graphs appear on screen – that they’re both measures of the same thing then the graph used above makes Denmark’s fossil fuel use look pretty level when the “generation by fuel” graph shows it has actually increased enormously.

    Nevertheless, I just couldn’t leave it at that so here is the amended version for anyone (Like Greg perhaps?) who may wish to use it.

  34. Where can I see those graphs for France and Denmark, which appear briefly in this video? I’d like to see nice big versions with more details about where the information came from. They’re very dramatic.

  35. Tom: Great idea with the maps … for maximum effect, I viewed both at 2km scale … so that you can see the mine areas clearly, and then back out to your 10km scale to see how large an area the coal mines have devastated and yes a big sign giving devastation per giga watt would increase the impact.

  36. Thanks for the ideas and suggestions regarding follow-up videos, they are all very helpful. I do intend to make more videos as time permits.

    I recently came across this video:

    This would be, what, a days worth of coal for a largish power station? Two days?

    Compared to just one cubic metre of uranium per year for the NPP that’s jaw dropping.

  37. Marion:

    Thank you for the link to the video. I counted the cars – there are 127 of them, leading to a train capacity of about 12,700 tons. If the coal is high BTU content anthracite, it will fuel a 1000 MWe coal plant for about a day and a half. If it is lower BTU fuel, it might only last for a day or a bit less.

    I have embedded the video on Atomic Insights; I have been looking for something to provide a visual scale for an argument that I have been making for several years. Thank you again.

    Rod Adams

  38. Barry and Peter, sorry I have to side with Finrod and Rod Adams. France accomplished their energy goal because they did not waste money on renewable nonsense and went straight for the beef. It seems like you two guys are softening by giving in by willing to give overpriced lollipop to the kids that still have a lot of growing up to do. Peter what surprise me is that first you come up with excellent calculations to show how crappy and expensive alternatives are and then jump on their bandwagon.
    I realize that some solar power is here to stay but I still need a lot more convincing that it is any good for locations other than close to equator in sunny climate.
    I just finished the solar power experiment I conducted this winter in Seattle area. I connected 60 watt Kaneka solar panel to 48 volt 240 amper hour battery with very low self draining current. To prevent the sulfation of battery plates I connected battery defulfator with continuous150mA drain current. The system was left alone undisturbed for three months, starting from late October, except monitoring using power from another source. To my surprise, the solar panel which is supposed to be good in low quality light was not able to provide enough energy to run the desulfator alone without any additional load. The battery was drained to 34 volts, way down to it’s destructive state, draining even the precharged energy.
    My conclusion, the solar power in my area in winter months is 100% useless for the expenditure.
    In other words, the solar array on your roof in gray winter month will be useful for one purpose only, to impress the passing environmental fanatics.

  39. Frank Kandrnal,your experiment in Seattle tells me only one thing – that winter there is rather cloudy.

    In Australia,which is the country of origin of BNC,there is a lot of sunshine,even in winter and a long way from the equator.In fact,PV panels will perform better in colder,sunny conditions as the panels are more efficient at lower temperatures.Obviously the panels have to be tilted at the correct angle for the altitude of the sun.A tracking system is best but there is more complexity and expense.

    Tasmania would probably be the exception to this situation but Tassie has hydro.

    I am not saying that solar is the way to go for base load power – quite the contrary.That is a job for nuclear.But a well set up solar array of adequate size in a suitable climate will provide plenty of electricity either for grid feed in or stand alone with battery backup.

    Advocates of nuclear power do the cause a disservice by knocking practical alternative technologies.

  40. Frank Kanandrall,

    I agree with you, Rod and Finrod. You must have missed this comment I posted:

    I agree with Finrod and Rod Adams. There should be no compromise in showing that renewables are a waste of money and resources and in reality will cause continued fossil fuel use. I actually believed this all along, but got a bit soft trying to win some brownie points from BNCers by being politically correct.

    However, I do also understand that Barry and others are trying to attract a broad church to discuss this, and if we piss them off as soon as they start reading the site, then no discussion can take place.

    (To the majority of BNCers I’d also add the reverse also applies; BNCers should not antagonise the Conservatives and economically rational people because if you do they wont even visit BNC, or if they do they wont return.)

  41. @Podargus:

    Would you care to post some data to back up your broad brush stroke description? Even if you point your arrays towards the sun, there is definitely a reduction in the total amount of energy that can be collected when the sun’s elevation angle is low because it is winter and you are a long way from the equator. It is simple geometry based on the fact that the insolation is a factor of the sine of the elevation angle – even if the array is oriented to point straight at the sun.

    Of course, if the array is not oriented, the geometry gets even worse. If you live in a reasonably temperate area with abundant rainfall you will not only have clouds but vegetation that will compete for solar rays. Other things that interfere with solar collectors are such things as adjacent buildings – after all, the need for power tends to concentrate where people concentrate.

    I have no hope of convincing advocates of alternative energy technologies to become atomic advocates. They have too much to lose because nuclear energy is superior in almost every objective measure. My only hope for building a strong, pronuclear coalition is to convince power CUSTOMERS that the established energy industry is suppressing the technology that can lower both costs and environmental impact because that is the only way that they can continue to prosper.

    If you are a “little person” the only way you can compete on a basketball court is to keep the big boys from playing or to tie up their hands and feet – and perhaps even put a blindfold over their eyes.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  42. Podgarus,

    In fact,PV panels will perform better in colder,sunny conditions as the panels are more efficient at lower temperatures.

    Did you read “Solar Power Realities”. Perhaps you should. Take not of the capacity factor recored on the worst day, adn worst 2, 3, 5, 10, consecutive days in winter. Also notive how much storage would be needed to allow the solar PV to provide reliable power supply and the cost of doing so.

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

  43. the site quokka dug up tracking solar pv production in germany is all you need. it was typical in december and january for the entire array to have a capacity factor in the area of .0066, which is to say average power of one tenth of one gigawatt compared to a max of 15.5 GW.

    there were days when the array never at any point in the day got to 1 GW–or 6 percent capacity factor. On Jan. 10, there were between 1-2 GW for three hours and the rest was zero. You can figure that one out.

  44. Rod Adams,I haven’t got around to reading your blog yet,but I will.I am not going to the bother of posting data.If you want data then look it up yourself.

    I am,as usual, expressing an opinion.In this case part of my opinion is based on my owning a 5.4 kw solar PV system with battery backup located inland in SE QLD.

    It would be obvious to any reputable solar installer that an array facing anywhere except North in the Southern Hemisphere would not work very well.The same applies if the array is shaded by trees.In fact,this stuff is so basic that most householders would realize it.In fixed installations the panels are at the pitch of the roof,usually about 15 degrees.This is not optimum througout the year but is an economical compromise.
    A properly setup tracking system,while more complex and costly,will increase output by about 30% averaged over a year as a rule of thumb.

    Given sensible installation then the size of the array and backup must be sufficient to supply the requirements.It may be necessary to have a small ICE generator to charge the batteries when prolonged and very heavy cloud cover reduces the solar input drastically.Not often in this climate.This is obviously for a stand alone application.The load requirement can also be adjusted to some extent.Households on the grid would benefit from this sort of thinking as well.

    Your last 2 paragraphs are a tad off the planet.In fact,the tone reminds me of the sort of stuff I hear from card carrying anti-nuke propangandists.
    One eyed fundamentalist ranting ignores other valid pathways and only serves to alienate rational people of any viewpoint.

    I am mainly referring to stand alone applications and I am not going into grid feed in in detail as it is a complex and contentious area.

    Read my first post again and you will see why your rant is wasted on me.

  45. Podargus back of the envelope calculations suggest that each kwhe of standalone PV via battery could cost between 50c and $1. Surely grid electricity will take some years to get that expensive. Also a purist might insist that we include the cost of bottled gas and backup diesel generators. PV needs to get down from around $6/w to $1/w unsubsidised and 10-year batteries down from $200/kwh to say $50/kwh capital cost for standalone systems to make sense in already grid connected area.

    The problem with PV in Tasmania at latitude 43 degrees south is not just the angle of the sun but frequent cloud cover. Blue sky is not that common which is why millions of people won’t live here despite the good soil and rainfall. I have grid tied (230v) PV in the house and a 12v solar charged battery system for water pumping in the vegie patch. The latter cost me over $20 per watt excluding pumps.

    The surprise article in Gristmill that PV was now favoured in the US ahead of solar thermal with heat storage tends to confirm my view it’s all about subsidies. Take away the subsidies and the remaining users for PV will be outback standalone applications and people wanting to get off grid regardless of cost. That could change if panels, batteries, inverters etc come way down in price or grid electricity goes way up.

  46. The place for renewables in the electricity generation mix is an interesting one. I can certainly see some possible areas in some countries where it could make sense for some of the energy supply. The issue will come down to cost and “fuel” availability. Fuels being solar insolation, water storage and elevation, river flow, geothermal heat, biomass availability and maybe even tidal movement. Note I have excluded winds and waves as unlikely to ever be cost effective when properly costed.

    For some countries energy security is a paramount issue. Dependence on imported fuel provides security exposure. Perhaps all countries could find accessible fissionable isotopes on their territory, perhaps not. If not they may chose more expensive and less reliable solutions – just in case.

    Clearly, for some countries, hydro and geothermal might be the least cost and most reliable solution. For others, daytime peak load solar may become cost effective as conversion efficiencies improve.

    It’s too early to hold a wake for renewable energy, but right now most struggle to compete on cost and some will never be cost effective in comparison with fission energy.

  47. Gregory Meyerson,you have a good ball park figure.
    There are 2 reasons why I put in this system.
    (1) I have the upbringing and the character to value a reasonable level of self-sufficiency.
    (2) I have enough personal experience (and observation) of the corruption and incompetence of the Queensland government to be wary of them being responsible for my electricity supply.I live in a fairly spartan fashion by Australian standards but serious disruption to my electricity supply would have severe consequences for me.

    John Newlands (bless him) thinks that I am a survivalist.Perhaps if I was 20 years younger I would have gone down that path but I doubt it.
    At my age survival tends to lose some of the overwhelming attractions it has in youth once one gets past the indestructible phase.

    Ms Perps,of course the thread has wandered away from the point.It always does.It is like a bush track that goes around all the big trees and gullies but it will get to the point,whatever it is, eventually.

  48. Podargus you made the sacrifice to spend big on a battery system. That’s what I call making a statement about independence from the grid. However I do know some unabashed pronuclear survivalists with tracking PV and a battery bank, soon to be boosted by a small wind turbine. They chop the heads off their pet chickens and their bathroom is of the long drop kind.

    However even survivalists recognise one day this lifestyle will simply get too hard. When old age comes around I’d like to think I won’t still be scavenging for firewood on frosty nights. More like an electric shawl powered by the nuclear dominated grid.

  49. I am already old enough for an electric shawl (and blanket) and enjoying both, while reducing my use of RC air con heating and thus electricity costs. Nuclear power is needed if we are all to have as comfortable an old age as we would wish – not one in which we will suffer from extreme weather and the unbearable privations which are already being visited on Qld seniors.

  50. Spot on Mrs P. Old age shouldn’t be more difficult than it will be anyway because of unaffordable energy or extreme weather events. What gets me is that the young trendies who insist we can get by on wind and solar are the first ones to turn on the AC powered by the coal fired grid, to wit this week’s power demand records. They are condemning themselves to a miserable old age with multiple forms of energy rationing and even worse climate dramas.

  51. Earth Quake in Japan will result in a Resscesson world wide. What the price of OIL go up . Im sure man the Predator he is will find a way to cash in on this Earth Quake . OIL and Car companies run this planet …..If you think not why is there 5000 off shore oil rigs in this world and about 3000 waiting for to start up drilling…

  52. Strange that nuclear scientist always seems to be so confident that their technology is the only way forward. And that they have covered all bases. And that they are so knowledgeable on the subject that every non-initiated that is not part of their cult is factually dismissed as not able to understand enough about this great technology.

    Strange also that there’s no one NPP in the world that hasn’t received some sort of government backing to get build. Yes US nuclear submarines are safe, anyone with the Pentagon taxpayer backed budget at his disposal can make it safe (Let’s conveniently forget the 7 or so sunken USSR nuke powered subs that are rotting in mid-atlantic water because of reactor failure).

    [unsubstantiated personal opinion/appraisal. Please re-post with relevant authoratative lrefereces]
    What will their next excuse be ?

    Coal kills 15 000 people each year (mining accidents only).
    [unsubstantiated personal opinion. Pleas re-submit with authoratative references]
    Me ? I have renewable sourced electricity supplied to my home since 2006 day and night (my utility is Ecopower cvba). My simple not moving home solar PV panels cover 100% of my electricity consumption and 90% of my home heating needs on a yearly basis, and yes, nuclear power is still needed globally as a bridging technology, since we can’t replace 439 built NPP’s overnight, it would take decades to do that. But we will need to do this one day or another, [deleted unsubstantiated personal opinion]
    10 March 2011 – Spain’s central government objective for renewables to cover 40% of total electricity supply by 2020 is almost achieved in 2011. Red Electrica reported this week that Spain generated nearly 3 percent or 6.9 TWh of its electricity from solar energy, wind turbines generated nearly 17 percent or 43 TWh, and hydroelectricity’s share was 19 percent or 50 TWh.
    The new renewables of wind and solar in combination provided nearly 20 percent of supply. Together both new and conventional renewables delivered 38 percent of Spain’s electricity. Natural gas (30.4 percent) and nuclear (20 percent) provided most of the rest.
    Spain’s climate, geography, and population are similar to that of California. Spain’s 46 million inhabitants consume some 260 TWh per year. California’s 37 million people consume about 300 TWh per year. However, wind energy generates less than 6 TWh per year and solar less than 1 TWh per year in California. Together wind and solar provide only 2 percent of California’s electricity.

    http://www.windpowermonthly.com/go/windalert/article/1059397/?DCMP=EMC-CONWindpowerWeekly

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/01/spain-generated-3-of-its-electricity-from-solar-in-2010#readercomments

    MODERATOR
    This comments contains multiple instances of unsubstantiated personal opinion which violate the BNC Commenting Rules. BNC is a science based blog and authoratative references are required to support opinions/appraisals.References are being checked and comments found to have edited reported information to suit the poster’s comment will be deleted and may result in permanent banning as a troll.
    Please check the Commenting Rules before submitting your comment.

  53. it is time Man heeded the warnings from Mother nature . The earth quake and following tsunami washed away anything that was Man made.
    Man is the pedator ; his time is spend on making money; and always forsaking nature for his own gain, You can not harness or control the earths nature. We humans occupy a very small place in the order of things natural . We are blind to natures warnings; the Ozone Hole in the 80’s the Global warming of the 90’s cause by fossil fuels ; the Three Mile Island accident ; the Chernobyl accident; Bhopal, India; the Fukushima accident caused by nature. ;the BP oil well accident ; which is still effecting the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico; there are many more accidents that have been blocked to the meda;
    [unsubstantiated personal opinion deleted. Please supply autoratative reerences and re-submit]This is just the start Man the Predator dimise on this planet. Hopfully i will not be around for the end.

  54. Pingback: Two country comparison | Lenz Blog

  55. Barry/Marion

    Can you please clarify where you got Carbon intensity figures quoted in this excellent video?

    If I go to the World Resource Institute Climate Analysis Indicator Tool at

    http://cait.wri.org/cait.php?page=intro

    I get much lower figures for Denmark – 290 gmCO2e/kwhr vs your 650. France is about the same at 80 versus your 90.

    I am involved in the IWT issue in Eastern Ontario and I love the argument made in Marion’s video – but I want to make sure I understand this discrepancy before I wave it at my local politicians.

    Cheers and thanks

  56. Marion

    Thanks for the clarification – very confusing trying to make sense of this and I certainly now have a better appreciation of the problem.

    Karl – thanks for the CO2Scorecard reference.

    I guess I rather agree with the last comment you have posted above:

    <<>>>

    Thanks again

  57. George: an update on the Robert Kennedy comment about natural gas. Below, he is doing a mea culpa on nat gas:

    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/10/22/349767/rfk-robert-f-kennedy-jr-natural-gas-fracking/

    But, importantly, he still supports it as long as it’s safe. after all, he knows there’s no other option to facilitate the building of wind and solar (gas).

    So he ends his muckraking jeremiad against the gas industry with this:

    For many of us on New York State’s fracking panel, the one bright light has been the presence of Southwest Energy’s Vice President and General Counsel Mark Boling. Boling is bullish on shale gas but his passion for public disclosure and a rigorous and rational regulatory framework, his candor about the perils of certain practices and his honest assessments of the costs and benefits of gas shale extraction have inspired trust and confidence among his fellow panelists. Boling’s candor may have made him a pariah in his industry, but the panel’s confidence in his integrity is the one thing that might allow us to go forward with recommendations regarding a regulatory scheme that could allow certain kinds of fracking to proceed in New York State. None of us wants to be in the position of getting seduced by sweet and lofty promises that quickly turn into a sour gas and impoverished communities.

  58. are you talking, david, about your post on nuclear/pumped hydro and wind? Robert Kennedy Jr. clearly won’t go for that. I found that Kennedy article symptomatic of the entire renewables project. Kennedy sticks to nat gas even as he considers its possibly very severe impacts on climate.

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