Alternative to Carbon Pricing

Guest Post by Peter Lang. Peter is a retired geologist and engineer with 40 years experience on a wide range of energy projects throughout the world, including managing energy R&D and providing policy advice for government and opposition. His experience includes: coal, oil, gas, hydro, geothermal, nuclear power plants, nuclear waste disposal, and a wide range of energy end use management projects.

Below are suggestions for an alternative policy to the CPRS (the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme — an emission cap-and-trade system proposed by the Australian Labor government). This is not a complete energy policy, but simply some fragments for possible inclusion in a complete policy.

Aim:

1.To reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions consistent with international efforts;

2.To increase, not decrease, Australia’s international competitiveness; this will result in:

a.more jobs and better remuneration for workers

b.more wealth and better standard of living for all; and

c.more revenue to support all the things we want; such as: better Health, Education, infrastructure and fixing our most pressing environmental problems such as the Murray Darling Basin.

Increasing the cost of energy has serious negative consequences for humanity, especially the poorest peoples on the planet. A policy such as the CPRS that sets out to increase electricity costs for little or no overall reduction in world GHG emissions is negligent.

The proposed alternative would help the world by supplying products and services with less embodied emissions than now. For example, the policy proposed here would maintain Australia’s aluminium industry and its jobs and provide the aluminium with less embodied emissions than other countries can. This is just one example to illustrate the benefits of this policy, but an important one.

We do not rule out an ETS or some alternative instrument in the future, but we will not impose an ETS on Australia before the USA and we will not impose an ETS that does not protect Australia’s industry and jobs to a similar extent as the USA’s legislation. (It is not clear that the USA will implement an ETS. There are signs the USA may not take this approach to cutting its GHG emissions).

What is the policy and how will it be implemented in practice?

Electricity generation will have to do the “heavy lifting” in cutting our GHG emissions. Electricity generation causes 34% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, but is capable of displacing around 50% of our emissions by 2050. It is easier to make large cuts in emissions from electricity generation than anywhere else. Furthermore, if clean electricity is low cost (as proposed here), electricity will more rapidly displace gas for heating and oil for land transport over the coming decades. Electricity will replace, to some extent, oil for land transport both directly as in electric vehicles and indirectly through synthetic fuels produced using electricity. But it is essential that clean electricity be low cost for this transition to take place as quickly as possible and to avoid the need for massive, high-cost policy interventions by future governments.

Specific policies for reducing emissions from Electricity, Heat and Land Transport are outlined below.

Electricity

To cut our GHG emissions from electricity generation we will change the “Renewable Energy Targets” to “Clean Energy Targets”.

Instead of ‘20% of energy generated by renewable energy by 2020’, the target will be: ‘20% clean energy by 2020’.

‘Clean Energy’ means a mix of electricity generators that emits less than 200 kg CO2-e/MWh (kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per megawatt hour) by 2020 decreasing to 10 kg CO2-e/MWh by 2050 (that is about 1% of Australia’s current emissions from electricity generation).

A ‘mix of electricity generators’ means a combination of generators that can supply power on demand.  Examples of generation systems that can deliver power on demand are:

1.fossil fuel

2.nuclear

3.hydro

4.biomass

5.wind with fossil fuel back-up, energy storage and enhanced grid

6.Wind and solar with fossil fuel back-up, energy storage and enhanced grid

Some examples of generator mixes that would meet the 2020 criteria of 200 kg CO2-e/MWh are:

1.50% hydro and 50% high efficiency Combined Cycle Gas Turbine

2.50% biomass and 50% high efficiency Combined Cycle Gas Turbine

3.50% geothermal and 50% high efficiency Combined Cycle Gas Turbine

4.50% nuclear and 50% high efficiency Combined Cycle Gas Turbine

Wind and solar cannot meet the criteria because of the emissions from fossil fuel back-up generators (Lang, 2010). Australia has little more hydro capacity available. Biomass can make a contribution but at relatively high cost. Geothermal is not yet a proven technology in the Hot Fractured Rock configuration being proposed for and tested in Australia. Only nuclear can make a large contribution to meeting our energy needs and reducing emissions substantially and sustainably.

The electricity generator companies would compete to build the new generation capacity required knowing with certainly what will be the emissions requirements for the electricity generation system for the life of their investments.  They can factor this into their financial projections for the economic life of the plant. This would not be the case with the CPRS. The CPRS rules would be changed with every change of government, with spendthrift governments always needing to collect more revenue to pay for their economic mismanagement.

Land Transport and Heat

After electricity generation, the next two major sources of GHG emissions are from burning fossil fuel for heat and for land transport.

If we establish policies that keep the cost of electricity low, then low-cost, low-emissions electricity will progressively displace fossil fuels for heat and for land transport.  Land transport will be powered by electricity either directly (e.g. electric vehicles) and/or by synthetic fuels produced by electricity.

In short:

1.With these regulations we could reduce GHG emissions from electricity generation by 80% by 2050

2.Low-emissions electricity would be provided at least cost

3.Australia could continue to be competitive in world markets

4.We would avoid a large portion of our national wealth being diverted to financial fraud and to government churn and waste

5.The rate of reducing GHG emissions from heat and land transport will depend largely on how low is the cost of low-emission electricity.

How can we get low-cost, clean electricity?

One currently available technology that can provide this is nuclear energy. Other technologies, such as geothermal and solar energy may be able to in the future but are not economic now and are a high risk to base rational policy decisions on.

Nuclear energy provides low-cost electricity in many other countries. Russia is building new nuclear plants to provide electricity for aluminium smelting for the world market. This is a clear indication that nuclear generated electricity can be amongst the lowest cost electricity in the word. If it were not, they could not produce aluminium at a price they can sell it competitively on the world market. Another example is the United Arab Emirates which has just let contracts for 5,400 MW of nuclear power stations that they claim will provide electricity at ¼ the cost of electricity generated by gas. And this is in the centre of the world’s oil regions.

To achieve low cost nuclear energy in Australia our focus must be on providing low-cost, appropriately safe and environmentally benign electricity. Nuclear generation is already some 10 to 100 times safer than coal fired electricity generation, and far more environmentally benign, so achieving this requirement is not an issue.

The Australian Government cannot be taken seriously on climate change without adopting nuclear as part of its policy. But they are unlikely to implement good policy. If they implement policies that make it a high cost option, this will defeat the purpose.

Implementation Details

This policy:

1.will cut Australia’s GHG emissions from electricity generation by 8% of current levels by 2020 and by 80% by 2050;

2.is by far the least cost option to cut emissions; and

3.will give the least cost electricity of options to cut emissions.

How will this be achieved?

1.Coal power stations will be decommissioned at the rate of 1.4 GW per year.

a.They will be decommissioned as they reach their retirement age,

b.together with a small component of government buy back in a “Cash for Clunkers” scheme

2.They will be replaced with (mostly):

a.Natural gas generation until 2020, then with

b.Nuclear and efficient Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT) until 2025, then

c.Nuclear (mostly) to 2050.

3.Coal with Carbon Capture and Storage and geothermal may play a role if they become commercially viable.

4.Wind and solar power will have only a minor role unless major technological advances are achieved

5.Some Pumped-hydro will be built using existing dams – for example by connecting existing dams in the Snowy Mountains.

Implementation

1.A project like a modern version of the Snowy Mountains Scheme initially (to about 2025) to get it through about the first 15 years;

2.A Sir William Hudson type person in charge;

3.“Early Wins” – Establish research facilities in at least one major university in every state; and

4.Research – A significant component of the research will focus on how to implement nuclear energy at least cost in Australia. [For example, how will we avoid the political, NIMBY, regulatory and bureaucratic problems that have raised the cost of nuclear in USA and EU.]

Level playing field for electricity generators

What would be a genuine level playing field for electricity generators”?

1.Remove all mandatory requirements (e.g. the Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets)

2.Remove all subsidies for electricity generation

3.Remove all tax incentives and other hidden incentives that favour one generator technology over another

4.Ensure that regulations apply equally for all types of generators. Set up a system to allow electricity generator companies to challenge anything that is impeding a level playing field

5.Emissions and pollution regulations must be the same for all industries and should be based on safety and health effects on an equal basis.

Policy implications of “Emission Cuts Realities – Electricity Generation”

Some policy implications of the paper: “Emission Cuts Realities – Electricity Generation” (Lang, 2010)

1.Mandating renewable energy is bad policy

2.If we are serious about cutting GHG emissions, we’d better get serious about implementing nuclear energy as soon as possible

3.If we want to implement nuclear power we’ll need to focus on how to do so at least cost, not with the sorts of high cost regimes imposed in USA and EU

4.We should not raise the cost of electricity. We must do all we can to bring clean electricity to our industries and residents at a cost no higher than the least cost option

5.Therefore, ETS/CPRS is exactly the wrong policy

Schedule

Following is a proposed schedule for Australia’s federal Government, noting that our next Federal budget is in May 2010.

May 2010 – Federal Budget contains funding for the following to be implemented during 2010-2011:

1.Establishment of a modern version of the Snowy Mountains Authority. Terms of Reference: to implement low emissions electricity generation in Australia such that electricity costs less than from fossil fuel generation.

2.Funding for nuclear engineering faculties in at least one university in every mainland State

3.Funding of research will be largely for the social engineering aspects of implementing nuclear energy in Australia at least cost.

2010 – Government announces policies:

1.to allow nuclear energy to be one of the options for electricity generation;

2.to remove all the impediments that favour or discriminate one generator system or technology over another;

3.that 20% of emissions will be from low emissions generator mix by 2020 and 80% by 2050. A ‘low emission generator mix’ is a mix of generators that can provide power on demand and meet the emissions limits that will be phased in and become more stringent over time. For example, the limit might be 200 kg CO2-e/MWh in 2020 and 10 kg CO2-e/MWh in 2050. The rate would decrease progressively over time – but not necessarily linearly. The rate does not apply to a single generator. It applies to a company’s mix of generators. The 2020 limit could be achieved by a mix of 50% high efficiency CCGT combined with 50% of one of the following: nuclear, hydro, biomass, geothermal, solar thermal with its own energy storage. Wind cannot meet the 200 kg CO2-e/MWh for the reasons explained here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

4.to buy back some old coal generators at a fair price in a “cash for clunkers” scheme

5.to conduct first public awareness forums throughout Australia.

2012 – Government announces policies to:

1.allow nuclear power plants to be established in Australia and under what conditions;

2.allow States to bid to host the first nuclear power station and the conditions for selection of the state – this will include a time frame for site selection to be complete by 2013 (I know its fast, but if its urgent we need to get on with it!). In the absence of states bidding and agreeing to meet the schedule the first NPP will be build on Commonwealth owned and controlled land.

3.Establish arrangements with IAEA to act as our Nuclear Regulatory Authority until we are ready to take over.

2013 –Source selection starts for our first four or five NPPs

2014 – Contract awarded for first four or five NPPs

2015 – Construction begins

2019 – First NPP commissioned.

2020 – Second NPP commissioned, and so on,

Regarding the rates assumed here for implementing nuclear power, remember that Hanford B was built in 21 months from first breaking of ground until the plant went critical (ASME (1976). That was in 1944. Admittedly this was not an electricity generating plant, but it was the first ever large nuclear plant. If we could do that 65 years ago with the first ever, why can’t we build nuclear power plants quickly now??

References

Lang, 2010. Emission Cuts Realities – Electricity Generation

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

(please click on the link to the pdf version because it contains the footnotes, references and appendices; these are not included in the abridged version on the web)

ASME (1976). Hanford B-Reactor

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

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536 Comments

  1. I’ll give immediate responses now and then consider the proposals more carefully. First I believe that a tradeable CO2 cap is the least worst approach but it needs to turn a deaf ear to pleading from vested interests. This appears to be politically unworkable in Europe, Australia and the US so another tack is needed. However prescribing that effectively 5 GW of generation by 2020 should be technology X = renewable is not that different in principle to mandating that a sequence of 1.4 GW installations should be technology X = nuclear. That requirement will effectively impose a quantifiable price on CO2 since rebuilding coal plant would be the cheaper option at current capital costs. Same result different route.

    I have a hunch that if Australia burns 40 Mt a year of oil (mostly imported) then by 2020 we could burn a comparable amount of gas for transport, up from virtually zero at present. If this pans out then the ‘gas bridge’ could be very expensive. In my opinion we could pre sign up for a NPP/desal in 2010, not years from now. That facility would be to supply power and water for the Olympic Dam expansion. Don’t expect any green logic in the July ODE announcement.

    More later.

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  2. It is useful to have Peter Lang’s preferred alternative to CPRS put together in one post.

    Although I am in general agreement with his aims and his conclusions relating to how the aims should be achieved, I think there may be some logical incinsistencies in his approach:

    1) The document starts out by recommending the introduction of mandatory 20% of clean energy mixes by 2020 without constraining what goes into those mixes (? because nuclear will not have time to make much impact by then). By the end of the document, the author appears to have “picked the winner” in the form of nuclear (which, FWIW I happen to think is correct). However, it implies, to me, an internal struggle in the author’s mind between his free market, liberal philosophy that allows, in theory, all clean energy solutions on the one hand and his technical experience that forces him to conclude that only his preferred solution (nuclear) will prove to be practical and affordable on the other. To exemplify this, most references to research expenditure specifically allude to one form of nuclear research or another, including research as to how best to indoctrinate others into sharing his views.

    2) Peter wants to eliminate all mandatory energy targets but then proposes precisely to create a mandatory 20% clean energy target by 2020). Really, all he is saying one should get away from the term “renewable” and replace it with “clean”. In other words, nuclear should become an “honorary” renewable and become mandated (possibly along with CCS coal/gas if one buys into the first part of the document or possibly not if one is guided by the second).

    3) Peter provides no real indication to suggest why his mandate (cap) will not result in more expensive electricity – the case he makes against CPRS. ( I agree that it avoids certain bureaucratic and trading costs.) The thing that Peter is banking on to keep costs low is the facilitation of nuclear power with a minimum of unnecessary constraints placed upon it.

    4) Peter suggests that he would only favour an ETS-type scheme if America adopted one. He asserts that unilateral Australian adoption would damage its economic interests. Why wouldn’t his mandatory cap do the same? Also, where have his objections to bureaucracy and gaming the system gone? Why aren’t the actions of the Chinese and Indians as important as those of the Americans?

    5) Peter hasn’t really explained how efficient energy use can be encouraged without increasing its cost. He tends to discount the possibility of enough economic benefit to offset the extra cost burdens of bureaucrats. However, this is focused on economics and doesn’t address emissions. European vehicles have lower emissions than American. Why? Because fuel costs more in Europe. France has the cheapest electricity in Europe. Probably in consequence, the French use more energy than other Europeans.

    A simpler and intellectually purer policy for Peter to promote might be that suggested by John Newlands (above), namely mandate the introduction of an annual aliquot of nuclear as fast as practically possible. I do believe, however, that the concept of a “clean energy mix that can be dispatched on demand” has merit due to the introduction of the last three words. This, too, might give rise to more conflict than it would solve because it appears that many greens don’t believe future society should expect to receive power on demand.

    Peter, please accept these comments as a constructive form of criticism, engendered by my penchant for playing devil’s advocate. I remain convinced, however, that your greatest contribution to the debate will come to be recognised as that provided by your technical expertise on power generation technologies rather than from your policy recommendations.

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  3. Further to what Douglas says, why wouldn’t an internal (domestic) fee and 100% dividend approach to a carbon price, with the fee refunded/waived on exports and imposed on imports (from/to countries without an equivalent price) be effective in: (a) encouraging energy efficiency [prospect of direct personal/individual savings] and (b) discourage the construction of any new coal-fired power stations and provide a strong incentive for the government to put nuclear power on the table?

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  4. it would be nice if international competitiveness led to the rapid spread of clean power around the globe. obviously, UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS, augmented international competitiveness leads to rapid spread of a technology. Under other conditions, you get other results. Very often favorable and unfavorable conditions for rapid spread of a technology (and we’re talking infrastructure not new iphones) are happening at the same time.

    international competitiveness can lead to resource wars and shooting wars and patent wars, including theft of technologies, sabotage, hoarding of tech–especially accumulation shaping ones that might give one country/firm a massive edge over another; it can lead to a race to the bottom in wages, not their increase. it can lead to stalemate (uh… duh), as in the inability of competing countries to cooperate on a framework within which they compete, or the refusal of profit making enterprises to destroy their capital and replace it with new and expensive capital–without massive subsidy or without guarantee that others will do the same.

    Huge coordinated infrastructure expenditures are not well facilitated by cut throat competition (international competitiveness) in a context of spiralling indebtedness.

    John raises the barrier of “vested interests.” Vested interests are not “the other” of international competitiveness; they are simultaneously an expression of it and a barrier to it.

    At any rate, I’ve (English Professor, not engineer) learned more from Peter Lang than just about anyone else in matters energy related.

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  5. CPRS is a complex route to get to the only endpoint that makes sense: replacing coal with nuclear. So let’s just do it. This means taking on the coal industry and coal unions and anti-nuclear lobby directly rather than indirectly and in stages. Abbott might have the gumption, but I don’t think he could drag the rest of the coalition along. We’re in for decades of obfuscation.

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  6. The only way to give NPPs any hope of being built on time, and on budget, is to first establish a regulatory regime that is more like current aviation authorities in that it sees itself as a working partner of the industry, not an antagonist. Unfortunately in North America and Europe (except France) the industry and the regulators do not have a good working relationship, and that is at the root of most of the problems nuclear power has in those places.

    That doesn’t mean the regulator is in industry’s back pocket, but it does mean that it is not allowed to become a tool of antinuclear forces.

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  7. I doubt that any systematic carbon reduction schedule will be adhered to. Rather I think it will be a series of knee jerk reactions with gas as the likely winner due to short implementation times. To illustrate we are just 5 months away from the supposed 1st July start to CO2 pricing and the political tribes want $10 under the Labor CPRS, $20 under the Greens proposal and $0 under the Libs/Nationals.

    A huge distraction is that I think Peak Oil not climate change will be the centre of attention in the next decade. As this will slow the global economy some will argue forcefully that we don’t need extra carbon cuts. I think it also means that nuclear with high capital costs and slow build times will be shelved, at least until there is a perception of getting left behind.

    Therefore any decision to go nuke will be deferred until things are near crisis point. A multitude of events could trigger that… bursting of the China bubble, 50C summers, coral reef bleaching, $5/L petrol, $10 loaves of bread, 20% urban unemployment, 30c/kwh off-peak electricity and so on. Meanwhile working on a single NPP such as a mine supply project would have a good demonstration effect. I just don’t envisage any systematic nuclear program until a panic sets in.

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  8. Putting aside the question of the utility of cap and trade schemes (which Peter and I have debated elsewhere) and the idea of compensating coal plant owners for writing off their “clunkers”, there’s a lot to like in Peter’s account above.

    Still, one can’t but conclude that if he believes that nuclear power is the best option, why he doesn’t simply propose legislating the retirement of offending plants and their reconfiguration as nuclear plants.

    If you don’t trust the market to sort this out, unless we like lawyers, why allow generators the option of tying up proposals in expensive legal wrnagling over what is or is not a level playing field. We have made up our minds to adopt nuclear technology as superior, and although we plan an orderly transition, with compensation for early conversion if needed, why pretend we are treating all generators the same?

    If you are going to adopt a commandist approach to infrastructure programs, one might as well have the upside benefits – speed, eminent domain, control over specifications and timelines etc …

    Now personally, I’d prefer a more market-based approach, because I suspect it would be less costly and garner more stable public support, but if this is the way we are going let’s not be half-hearted.

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  9. Several of the comments suggest the reader has not fully appreciated the dependence of this article on the paper “Emission Cuts Realities – Electricity Generation”.

    Thids article, which is simply some fragments of possible energy policy, assume acceptance of the results and conclusions in the paper “Emission Cuts Realities”. In particular the conculusion that “Option 3 – Nuclear and Combined Cycle Gas Turbines” is the least cost option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation over the long term.

    As I have mentioned in other posts, and in the lead article in this thread, there is evidence that nuclear can supply electricity at a price competitive with coal – much less than the figures used in the “Emission Cuts Realities” paper. The costs in the “Emission Cuts Realities” paper are high because they are the estimated costs for nuclear in Australia with regulatory distortions mostly as they are now. These are the sort of high cost we could expect from nuclear if we implement the CPRS without first removing the distortions that are biased against nuclear power.

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  10. Others have looked at the idea of converting or reconfiguring coal burners to nuclear and found the process more trouble than it is worth. To start off with coal-fired boilers produce steam at much higher pressures and at elevated temperatures compared to current nuclear reactor driven steam generators. So most of the generating equipment would have to be modified so much that it would not be cost effective. As well the buildings cannot be easily converted to provide containment, nor could fuel handling equipment and storage be retrofitted on to old work without incuring a huge expence.

    The only economic path is to brownfield the site and start from scratch, keeping only the switchyard and access to transmission from the old plant.

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  11. I’ve reacted somewhat to the assertions that this article is picking winners and that the CPRS is a “market solution”.

    Let me see if I understand what some of you seem to be arguing.

    Regulations such as these are acceptable:

    1. Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets (forcing electricity distributors to buy electricity from renewable generators or pay an exorbitant fine);

    2. Government will accept the risk for Carbon Capture and Storage;

    3. Massive subsidies for renewable energy (e.g. geothermal, solar power); and

    4. Total ban on nuclear energy

    However, removing these regulations, and many other distortion that favour existing picked winners, would not be acceptable.

    And, I understand, you are arguing that an ETS on top of all these existing distortion would be a “market based solution”

    I dont agree.

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  12. One advantage of Nuclear that I’ve read, is that it is easily located near the sea (since the cost of transporting fuel is insignificant), so that it uses sea water not fresh water (and can do desalination on the side). This is particularly advantageous in Aus with most of the population near the coast and fresh water scarce.

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  13. John Newlands, on January 31st, 2010 at 22.13 you said:

    However prescribing that effectively 5 GW of generation by 2020 should be technology X = renewable is not that different in principle to mandating that a sequence of 1.4 GW installations should be technology X = nuclear.

    That is not what I said. I said a mix of technologies will be low emission. We already have ‘Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets’. I propose we change that regulation to ‘clean energy targets’. The article is not proposing picking technology winners. It is proposing regulating the emissions at a rate that changes with time – both the rate of the emissions and the proportion of the generation that must meet the Clean Energy Targets changes with time. This is not much change from what we have now, exept that the picking of winners (ie renewables) is removed. I am not mandating nuclear, just clean electrcity generation.

    The decommissioning of 1.4 GW of coal per year applies to coal that has reached or is near its retirement age. We have many power stations like that in Australia. AEMO lists the dates when the coal power stations were commissioned. From memory (I don’t have the linke to hand) many are past 40 years old. So we can go for many years closing down power stations more than 40 years old. I don’t propose to attempt to go into all the details of exactly how the policy should be written and what the exact mechanisms are to close these power stations down, and appropriately compensate the investors, where necessary.

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  14. Douglas Wise, on February 1st, 2010 at 0.24 you said:

    I remain convinced, however, that your greatest contribution to the debate will come to be recognised as that provided by your technical expertise on power generation technologies rather than from your policy recommendations.

    You may well be right on that.

    The problem I want to emphasise, however, is that this is the year to get Labor to change its anti-nuclear stance. I encourage all you Labor supporters who are also supporters of nuclear as a key way to address our future needs, to stop battling me and get on with trying to change Labor’s anti-nuclear stance. That is what we need to work on.

    This is the time to really put in the effort on this. In fact, this week is the very best opportunity to make some inroads. Let them know. This week the CPRS is being debated in Parliament. Next we have the Federal Budget being delivered about 11 or 18 May. If we do not get Labor to support nuclear by then, and to include some line items in the budget, we lose a year at least. However, it is much worse than that. If we don’t get it in this May’s budget it could be years until Labor changes its anti-nuclear stance. The reason is that the election will be held sometime this year, and if it is not Labor policy by the time the election is held, nothing much will happen for the next three years at least.

    This is the time guys. There will not be another opportunity like this for a long time.

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  15. Douglas Wise, I have to comment on this sentence of yours:

    To exemplify this, most references to research expenditure specifically allude to one form of nuclear research or another, including research as to how best to indoctrinate others into sharing his views.

    That’s one way of putting it. Another might be to say we have rebalance and catch up after 40 years of funding renewables and nothing on nuclear. If the conclusion in the “Emission Cuts Realities” paper are correct, and if we want nuclear at least cost rather than at high cost, we will have to do something to find a solution. Please suggest a better solution (and a time line to get emissions from electricity down to at least the profile in Option 3.

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  16. Barry Brook,

    I am opposed to anything impost on the price of electricity whil we have all the regulatory distortions in place. I’ve explained why in other posts. I may pull it all together later, but not now. I feel we need to focus on removing the distortions first, or they will never be properly removed. I’d argue that if Labor is serious about reducing GHG emissions they must embrace nuclear wholeheartedly. If they are not prepared to do embrace nculear, then they are just playing politics. They are not serious.

    This is the time to tackle this issue, not avoid it.

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  17. John Newlands, on February 1st, 2010 at 8.13

    I agree with all this. I think you are likely to be correct. I think the opportunity is here right now to get Labor to change its anti-nuclear stance – 1) while Labor wants to get its CPRS passed, 2) as we lead up to the Budget in May, and 3) as we lead up to the election later this year. There will not be another opportunity like this. This the best opportunity we will get to avoid some of what you point out in your post, John.

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  18. Ewen Laver,

    You said:

    Now personally, I’d prefer a more market-based approach, because I suspect it would be less costly and garner more stable public support, but if this is the way we are going let’s not be half-hearted.

    Surely that comment must be intended as a joke, yes?

    How can you have a market based approach with the best option banned, the worst option subsidised and mandated, and a host of other tax and regulatory distortions in place? The concept of a market based approach is nuts.

    Can you explain for me the schedule to having our first NPP commissioned if we adopt the CPRS.

    Please detail the steps and the timing in a schedule like I provided near the end of the article.

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  19. Peter said:

    How can you have a market based approach with the best option banned, the worst option subsidised and mandated, and a host of other tax and regulatory distortions in place? The concept of a market based approach is nuts.

    So I take it you are explicitly rejecting a market-based approaches then I waonder why you’d be bothered about “stranded investment” and “risk premiums” then. If the state is to do it all, then that scarcely matters, does it?

    The problem with your approach Peter is that it offers no plausible context for meeting the elements of your timeline. It’s a wishlist of things you’d like to see happen, which, absent a discussion over the relative merits of the various options other than on moral values, tribal commitment and superficial aesthetic preferences.

    We absolutely must make the debate around energy options about the relative costs, benefits and risks of each rather than whether one is for or against “a nuclear Australia” or for “clean green renewables”. Without a cost on each of the options, we will never escape that dance.

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  20. oops … that was untidy …

    So I take it you are explicitly rejecting a market-based approaches. I wonder why you’d be bothered about “stranded investment” and “risk premiums” then. If the state is to do it all, then that scarcely matters, does it?

    The problem with your approach Peter is that it offers no plausible context for meeting the elements of your timeline. It’s a wishlist of things you’d like to see happen, which, absent a discussion over the relative merits of the various options other than on moral values, tribal commitment and superficial aesthetic preferences will go nowhere.

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  21. Ewen Laver,

    You have totally missed the point.

    The point is you cant have a market based approach if you are banning nuclear, mandating and subsiding renewables, have many other distortions through tax system, industry assistance, grants to CSIRO, universities and other research organisations to research renewables and CCS. Then you want to impose a CPRS with all this in place and you think you have a market based system.

    You need to clean up the distortions first. Most importantly, you cant have a market based system when the governent is anti-nuclear (ie anti what we all agree is the best option).

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  22. Ewen Laver,

    I think you are suggesting Labor might change their anti-nuclear stance if we support the CPRS. Can you give any solid reason to believe that?

    I’d argue there is no value in legislating a CPRS until the distorting and blocking policies and regulations are removed. In fact I’d argue the CPRS would be value destroying.

    Most importantly, Labor needs to change its anti-nuclear policy if we are to make any progress. That needs to be done first to show genuine committment and genuine leadership.

    Like

  23. Peter said:

    The point is you cant have a market based approach if you are banning nuclear, mandating and subsiding renewables, have many other distortions through tax system, industry assistance, grants to CSIRO, universities and other research organisations to research renewables and CCS.

    I believe Garnaut pointed out that MRETs would be redundant if one had a proper ETS. I agree with this. I’d oppose subsidising renewables or any energy source too. I would allow energy providers to borrow to build energy sources at something like the official cash rate. It would be up to each to meet the prevailing caps on emissions of various kinds. Well conceived R&D that met the brief of lower emissions on a reasonable time frame or other related goods would continue to be supported.

    You keep saying you can’t have a market-based solutions withoug nuclear being in the mix. I agree. The question is, how do you get the state to reverse its current policy? It is very clear that at the moment neither major party bloc sees this as a good idea for reasons that have nothing to do with the objective merits of nuclear power.

    We need a circuit breaker in this debate and IMO that is a serious cost on emissions and an end to MRETs. Once that happens, matters will clarify and the longheld delusions attaching to renewables will dissipate. The debate will largely be coal/gas or nuclear power. That’s a platform for getting the left involved.

    Once we show that the old debates about uranium mining and hazmat and proliferation are redundant and we simply consider the relative merits of each technology, and point to the parochial resource nationalism issues of the Connor years the left will come around.

    Like

  24. Looks like this forum is convinced nuclear is cheap. Examples of UAE is given (where cheap south Asian slave labor is available) and recent qouted costs in OECD is ignored.

    Florida estimates are $17B for 2,210MW (including $3 billion for transmission lines). They want to charge extra money years before customers get a kwh – and it has been recently rejected.

    How does that kind of cost affect the analysis ?

    Like

  25. Ewen,

    The MRET is locked in for at least 20 years. The Wind Industry is arguing for it to be extended. Once something like this gets started, it cant be easily undone. Garnaut has largely been ignored by the government.

    I think you are making a mistake trying to argue that the Coalition would not support nuclear. They always have and would continue to do so. But it is electoral suicide for the Coalition to bring it up without Labor doing so first. It has to be Labor that implements this first. It is Labor that is the anti-nuclear party. And they are the government and the one who has to lead.

    I don’t understand why you cannot admit this.

    Have you condidered my question about how you believe the CPRS will introduce nuclear on a faster schedule than the way I suggested?

    The question I asked was:

    Can you explain for me the schedule to having our first NPP commissioned if we adopt the CPRS.

    Please detail the steps and the timing in a schedule like I provided near the end of the article

    Like

  26. Labour costs are not as big a factor as many make out, evnow. Given the generous estimate of up to 20 million man hours for construction of an AP-1000 reactor, that’s $1 billion at a rate of $50 per hour. Most of the extra costs involved in the high end $17B Florida estimate (the only one antis ever seem to cite) involves risk management. But I agree that if cheaper prices cannot be quoted in the US, it’s off the table. Fortunately, there are many cheaper quotes, and the US is hardly the leader in this area any more.

    Like

  27. Ewen,

    We’ve been over this before, and it is posted on another thread, but to keep it togethe wth the discussion here and for the benefit of other readers, I’ll repost.

    The CPRS is exactly the wrong policy, for Australia, and for the world.

    The CPRS will make no difference whatsoever to global temperatures.

    It will raise the cost of electricity which is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.

    To help people out of poverty, throughout the world, they need electricity.

    (see this chart of UN statistics charting life expectancy versus per capita electricity consumption. http://graphs.gapminder.org/world/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=6;ti=2005$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=pyj6tScZqmEcKxvG4lnIreQ;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj2tPLxKvvnNPA;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL%5Fn5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=5.71;dataMax=28213$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=12;dataMax=83$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=
    Click on ‘Play’ to see how the chart changes over time. Then change the left axis to see the comparison of electricity consumption with any of the other UN statistics such as health, education, fertility rate, poverty, etc).

    To get electricity to the poorest people as fast as possible we need to help the world to lower, not raise, the cost of electricity.

    CPRS and ETS are designed to raise the cost of electricity.

    Instead, we should be doing all we can to lower the cost of clean alternatives to fossil fuel generated electricity.

    The only economically viable clean electricity generation technology is nuclear energy.

    We should do all we can to lower the cost of nuclear energy in the developed nations – including Australia. Then it can be applied in the developing nations.

    Nuclear is some 10 to 100 times safer than coal generated electricity and far more environmentally benign. https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/13/wind-and-carbon-emissions-peter-lang-responds/
    So, why aren’t our political leaders explaining this to the population? Don’t they know the facts?

    There are other reasons apart from lifting people out of poverty and giving them a better life. Low-cost, clean electricity will reduce emissions more quickly than high cost electricity, because electricity will more rapidly displace gas for heating and oil for land transport. The choice is a slow transition to clean electricity or a much more rapid transition to clean electricity with the added benefit of a faster transition to a clean energy for heating and land transport (clean electricity). Oil-fueled land transport will be displaced over decades by a combination of electric vehicles and vehicles running on synthetic fuels produced using clean electricity.

    Summary:

    Some policy implications of the paper: “Emission Cuts Realities – Electricity Generation” (Lang, 2010)

    1. Mandating renewable energy is bad policy

    2. If we are serious about cutting GHG emissions, we’d better get serious about implementing nuclear energy as soon as possible

    3. If we want to implement nuclear power we’ll need to focus on how to do so at least cost, not with the sorts of high cost regimes imposed in USA and EU

    4. We should not raise the cost of electricity. We must do all we can to bring clean electricity to our industries and residents at a cost no higher than the least cost option

    5. Therefore, ETS/CPRS is exactly the wrong policy.

    Like

  28. Peter said:

    The CPRS is exactly (as currently configured) the wrong policy, for Australia, and for the world.

    The CPRS (as currently configured) will make no difference whatsoever to global temperatures.

    Properly configured)It willwould raise the cost of dirtyelectricity which is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. my emendments to Peter’s text — Ewen

    I couldn’t leave Barnaby Joyce’s mantra untouched, sorry.

    As noted in our previous discussion, your reasoning on energy and wealth is flawed. Raising the price of dirty electricity and dirty energy in general is fine as long as you provide clean alternatives and raise it by no more than the actual cost to the commons. This is especially true of the developing world, whewre we have it within our capacity to offer them a chance to avoid our mistakes and help everyone, including of course themselves.

    Like

  29. Well I’m ready to vote for Peter Lang, Barry Brook, et al, but I don’t think that’s the answer. How about creating a thread for folk to discuss “What pro nuclear people should do this election”: join a party? start a party? hassle candidates? hold meetings? stand as independent? I’m going to do something, but I don’t know what. This is the most crucial election in my 40+ years of voting.

    Like

  30. Ewen Laver,

    Excuse me, I wrote that. Can you please show me the link where you saw it.

    And it is your logic that is flawed. We’ve been over this several times already.

    I agree if we can properly include the externalities we should. But it must be done properly and equally for all. That is not happening and we have never been able to. Nuclear has most of its externalities included already. Other generators don’t.

    Raising the cost of electricity is bad for humanity. All explained above. Pretty simple to understand. Your idealism does not work in the real world.

    Actually, I’ve realised I could write forever, But you are simply going to keep repeating Labor party mantra, so there is little point.

    An ETS, in Australia when the rest of the world is not proceeding on this action, will damage our economy, transfer emissions overseas (e.g. aluminium), and make zero difference to world emissions. It is simply not the right time for an ETS.

    We need to work on implementing low-cost clean electricity. Your Australian only CPRS will not do that.

    Your Labor Party’s anti-nuclear policy is the stumbling block to low cost, low emissions electricity in the shortest practicable time. Why can’t you simply admit that and get on with helping to change that policy position rather than trying to avoid dealing with the real problem or cover it up.

    Why are you avoiding this question:

    Can you explain for me the schedule to having our first NPP commissioned if we adopt the CPRS.

    Please detail the steps and the timing in a schedule like I provided near the end of the article

    Like

  31. Peter Lang

    It seems to me that Ewen Laver is correct in his logic. Your policy is a wish list with which I (and, I think, Ewen) concur.

    However, what you really seem to be arguing is that Australia should have no emissions control legislation until such time that its anti-nuclear stance is altered. Your reasons appear sound – you fear that the alternatives left for emissions control will be ineffective and expensive and locked in for long periods.

    Concentrate on changing the anti-nuclear position – which, after all, is your main aim. At present, you seem to be allowing yourself to become distracted.

    FWIW, I think the following arguments should be deployed to meet the ends that I think you desire:

    1) Evidence from your Emissions Cuts Realities paper (note, I am according this primacy). It needs to be given more clout by being published in a reputable journal and, I believe, this is in hand. (I hope the associated delay won’t result in the missing of the political deadlines that you refer to above. If this is a problem, try to get maximum press coverage. Has David Mackay read it and commented? It would help to get overt support from him.

    2) Most surrounding nations and many others are deploying nuclear power or are in the process thereof. Therefore, fears over the consequences weapons proliferation are largely irrelevant (horse has bolted). Newer civil NPPs may be somewhat more proliferation resistant and, in any event, fissile material from civil NPPs is not the optimum weapons proliferation route.

    3) Australia has large reserves of nuclear fuel, the export of which, generates income. Much more wealth could be garnered with a pro nuclear stance which encompassed having domestic nuclear power and adding value to exports by domestic enrichment. In any event, the current stance can be deemed deeply hypocritical.

    4) The problem of waste is vastly exaggerated and will be addressed in large part by the deployment of 4th generation technology. In order to expedite the roll out of this technology, the more 3rd generation plants built in the interim, the greater the number of start charges that will be available for the next generation. The concern over lack of sustainability also vanishes with the onset of 4th generation power.

    5) Safety. a) Already very safe by comparison with other power technologies, especially coal. b) getting safer.

    6) Consider global economic crisis and upcoming problems of peak oil and energy security as well as AGW. Consider that the current economic model and all democracies that depend on it can only function if there is economic growth, necessary for the repayment of debt. Argue that economic growth is entirely reliant on a plentiful supply of affordable energy. In effect, as Peter likes to quote from Steve Kirsch, if we can’t find an energy source that is as cheap or, preferably, cheaper than that of coal, we’re screwed. Without it, the global economic system would probably collapse well before we get to unsustainable levels of global warming, not that they wouldn’t still be reached anyway.

    7) The only technology currently available that has the potential to meet the criteria demanded by Steve Kirsch is nuclear. We already know for sure that alternatives will be more costly or won’t scale. We don’t yet know that even nuclear can fulfil the cost brief but we know that it has the potential and it represents our only hope of a soft landing. Fulfillment with respect to costs is not a technological matter but, rather, one of politics. Therefore, not only must it be deployed but deployed in a manner that avoids unnecessary and costly obstructions being put in its way. It represents the ONLY realistic option left to any that wish to avoid power down. Discussions of ERoEIs could be helpful, particularly the fact that 4th Generation ERoEI will be far greater than the ERoEI of oil ever was at its best. This, alone, becomes a very potent argument for those who appreciate the link between the cost of energy and generation (or maintenance) of wealth.

    I hope you don’t find my comments naive and insulting. Keep up the good work!

    Like

  32. Quite right Douglas …

    For all his undoubted intellect and knowledge of the engineering questions, by his own logic, Peter’s timeline can’t work.

    Peter posits abandonment of nuclear power as a necessary condition for an ETS, declares it won’t happen and on this basis … proposes a timeline for nuclear power by 2015.

    The simple reality is that if we could have a proper cost on emissions, or even a transition to one, and remove the MRETs as Garnaut suggests, then those wanting cuts in emissions but would have to accept that (absent nuclear power) the only way to make any cuts at all at a politcally acceptable cost would be to use gas. Every extra tonne abated using renewables will certainly cost a lot more than any cost we could realistically put on emissions. So then they get to either shut up about unambitious targets or reconcile with nuclear power.

    We give them a cultural loophole by pointing out that they can keep their old position because IFRs don’t demand new uranium mining or create new hazmat and they do reduce proliferation risks. So does thorium. They can make this a new crusade.

    I’ve actually workshopped this position with ALP/Green self-identifying lefties and they find it hard to debate and usually resort to fudging the numbers on renewables or pretneding the cost of nukes is higher to hide their discomfort. Once we get the numbers out and in plain sight, and present them with the choice above there will be nowhere to hide.

    Once the ALP cannot be wedged to its left, it will have excellent reasons for going ahead and outflanking the Liberals.

    That’s the simple politics of the matter.

    Now don’t get me wrong. Despite the sharp exchanges here, I think Peter has done us all admirable service with his work on costing and modelling. Now we have to get the politics right.

    Like

  33. Douglas Wise

    Thank you for this. I agree with all except the first sentence.

    Ewen is arguing FOR the CPRS. I am saying absolutely NO to a CPRS now, and maybe forever. It depends what the rest of the world does as to whether or not an ETS will be the appropriate policy in the future. But definitely for Australia to run ahead of the rest of the world (except the EU) would be disastrous for our economy and for no benefit.

    The CPRS is Labor’s avoidance mechanism so it can avoid dealing with the real issue. The problem needs to be faced. We’ve had the problem for 35+ years. I am really frustrated that people like Ewen want to to avoid dealing with the real issue. I can only think this is for party loyalty reasons.

    The CPRS cannot be undone once implemented. It involves property rights. From the very first day of trading we cannot undo it and wind back all the trades. We should not implement the CPRS, and certainly not before the USA does.

    Douglas, I accept your point about getting distracted, up to a point. But the idea that we should implement the CPRS before we remove the impediments to nuclear will mean those impediments will always be there (most of them). We will always have expensive electricity. The electricity cost will be higher by the cost of carbon. That will set the floor level that nuclear has to come down to. Whereas we should, right now, be setting out to implement nuclear to get it down to the cost of new coal (not existing coal). I acknowledge there will be a FOAK peiod and the difference will have to be carried by the community until we are through the FOAK period. That cost will apply no matter what mechanism we use (CPRS or regulatory).

    For the reasons stated in the previous post it is up to all the developed countries to develop least cost electricity for the good of all people.

    Despite Ewen’s preaching about his concern for the commons, I think he is morally wrong to be arguing to raise the cost of electricity, given the consequences for humanity. I think it is especially morally wrong when I get the impression that his reason for not wanting to try to change his party’s anti-nuclear policies is partisan.

    Like

  34. Ewen,

    Your argument is illogical IMO. Based on your logic, no other country could have built nuclear power with out a CPRS.

    When are you going to answer the question I’ve asked you four times now? Why are you avoiding it?

    This is the question:

    Can you explain for me the schedule to having our first NPP commissioned if we adopt the CPRS.

    Please detail the steps and the timing in a schedule like I provided near the end of the article.

    Like

  35. Ewen,

    I just re-read this sentence:

    Peter posits abandonment of nuclear power as a necessary condition for an ETS, declares it won’t happen and on this basis … proposes a timeline for nuclear power by 2015.

    What is the basis for saying “…declares it wont happen”. Is this what is called a strawman argument?

    What I’ve been saying all along is: change the policy. This year. Beforethe election. And include funds in the budget. I think you ar stooping pretty low to use that type of tactic. If you are arguing Labor can’t change the policy for internal reasons, I don’t accept that. I say it can and should but doesn’t want to. That is bad government, not in Australia’sbest interests. Led by a spineless leader.

    Like

  36. The PM has said he doesn’t want an election over the ETS and may do a deal with the Greens. In turn the Greens want a higher CO2 price but won’t have a bar of nuclear power. The government itself has some flakey thinking with high immigration and increasing coal exports. Federal Minister Garrett apparently thinks 20,000 people died or will die as a result of Chernobyl. I presume he will try to talk Singapore out of their plans for a NPP.

    It all says the next few years will be marked by trivial carbon pricing and renewables delusionism. Hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal will be exported or burned at home without the slightest contrition. Like I said earlier, I think we will have to stare down into the abyss before changing anything.

    Like

  37. Peter asks:

    What is the basis for saying “…declares it wont happen”.

    From the original post …

    The Australian Government cannot be taken seriously on climate change without adopting nuclear as part of its policy. But they are unlikely to implement good policy.

    Peter repeats this rough formulation elsewhere, and to be fair, there is no current evidence that the ALP is rethinking its position, which really is my point. How do we get them to change their position?

    Peter continues:

    If you are arguing Labor can’t change the policy for internal reasons, I don’t accept that. I say it can and should but doesn’t want to.

    If you unpick this, that is a distinction without a difference. It’s up to us to make the ALP want to change its policy.

    We have had a more or less consistent economic and political context during the entuire period when the ALP formed and sustained its policy — centrally fossil fuels the use of which was radically cheap because dumping their waste was free and seen (wrongly) as innocuous, at least for policy purposes.

    Today, the ground has shifted. Dumping is no longer seen as innocuous and nuclear can claim to be lower cost if the costs of dumping are internalised one way or another. The coal and crude oil people can totally avoid paying an ETS if they stop emitting. Or they can pay for emissions in a serious schem. Either way, it gets internalised and nuclear gets to compete on fair grounds.

    That’s the context in which we can argue for a change in policy.

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  38. And since Peter implies it with his references to “my party’s policy”, I will state for the record that I am not a member of the ALP, never have been and they don’t get my first preference.

    More often than not, the Greens get my first preference, even though I oppose their current policy on nuclear power and have written to them to tell them so.

    Interestingly, their basic platform doesn’t explicitly exclude nuclear power.

    Like

  39. Peter Lang, on February 2nd, 2010 at 9.11 — If one actually know what all the externalities were with regard to mining and burning coal, then those could, in principle, be internalized. Similarly for any other power production method.

    Like

  40. John Newlands, on February 2nd, 2010 at 7.23 you said:

    The PM has said he doesn’t want an election over the ETS and may do a deal with the Greens. In turn the Greens want a higher CO2 price but won’t have a bar of nuclear power. The government itself has some flakey thinking with high immigration and increasing coal exports. Federal Minister Garrett apparently thinks 20,000 people died or will die as a result of Chernobyl. I presume he will try to talk Singapore out of their plans for a NPP.

    It all says the next few years will be marked by trivial carbon pricing and renewables delusionism. Hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal will be exported or burned at home without the slightest contrition. Like I said earlier, I think we will have to stare down into the abyss before changing anything.

    I agree with this statement.

    My gut feeing is that the probability you are right is around 90% to 95%.

    There is a small chance that Australia could implement policies to cut emissions significantly. But the CPRS won’t achieve that.

    Our best chancce is to put all the pressure we can on Labor to change its policy. Help them to see they can delive the cheapest nuclear via a (significant) public sector ownership/management mechanism. Many on this forum have argued for this in past comments on vareious threads. So help Labor to undersand they can segregate themselves from the Coalition with a genuine solution to many of Australia’s looming problems (energy security, fresh water, clean electricity, clean alternative fuels for land transport as we evolve through these stages over the next few decades).

    I repeat: Our best chance is to put all the pressure we can on Labor to change its anti-nuclear policy.

    To Ewen and the like minded (supporters of the CPRS) – we need your help to show Labor a better way, not your blocking. CPRS is bad policy for Australia now, and possible forever. It will depend on what the rest of the world does.

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  41. David B Benson.

    True in theory. It has proved impossible in practice. We’ve been arguing about this for at least 30 years. Only nuclear has internalised most of these costs. And that is done by regulation – for example, the cost of electricity generated by nuclear includes the full cost of decommissioning and waste management. No other electricity generation technology is required to do that.

    Like

  42. Ewen said:

    I’ve actually workshopped this position with ALP/Green self-identifying lefties and they find it hard to debate and usually resort to fudging the numbers on renewables or pretneding the cost of nukes is higher to hide their discomfort. Once we get the numbers out and in plain sight, and present them with the choice above there will be nowhere to hide.

    Once the ALP cannot be wedged to its left, it will have excellent reasons for going ahead and outflanking the Liberals.

    Ewen, this is idealistic and totally unrealistic. There is no evidence whatsoever that CPRS would expedite Labor changing its anti-nuclear stance. It will delay them changing their anti-nuclear policy for years, not expedite it.

    No. Labor needs to tackle the issue of its anti-nuclear policy now. We should all be helping to assist them to find a way to do so. We should not be trying to avoid this. Ewen, you should not be making nonsensical arguments as to why Labor should delay making this policy adjustment to their platform.

    I urge yuou to answer my question. Just going through the process will assit you to understand the delay your aproach will cause. (of course if you burry your schedule in optimistic and unjustified “IF”, then it wont help you to understand.

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  43. Re the ‘gas bridge’ I think it’s worth repeating the problems of south eastern states becoming too dependent
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/rise-and-fall-of-the-gas-provinces-20091216-kxk0.html
    To that I would add that within a generation we may need a similar mass of gas for transport as we now need for crude oil, ~ 40 million tonnes annually.

    If the Greens did a flip on nuclear I would vote for them because the others are just talk.

    Like

  44. Where, Peter, have I suggested that the ALP should delay making this (getting rid of the ban on nuclear power) policy adjustment to their platform?

    I would love them to do so. As with the Greens, I’ve written to them explicitly seeking exactly this change and setting out the grounds more or less as many of us have here.

    But whether they do or not I see no basis for allowing other generators to externalise costs to the commons entailed by their industrial practice. You pay lipservice to this principle, but seem to be objecting to the CPRS or any other measures that might force such internalisation based on comparative advantage (actually your phrase was the more problematic “international competitiveness”). How can this be?

    I also don’t see how a good CPRS could delay them making this change. At worst, it would be irrelevant.

    I do oppose this CPRS however because that subsidises coal.

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  45. Ewen,

    If we really get to the nub of the problem, we should be asking:

    Is the Labor party fit to govern?

    If it is prepared to avoid tackling the big issuers for fear of causing internal party division, is the Labor Party fit to be in government?

    If Labor cannot implement policies that are in the best interest of Australia for fear causing division within its Party, is it fit to Govern?

    You admit that Labor should end its anti-nuclear policy.

    You admit that the reason Labor will not tackle this internal issue is because it would “split the Party” (your words).

    If that is the reason for Labor not being able to take the tough decisions, is it fit to govern?

    You argue we should support the CPRS to give Labor time to sort itself out. How long? How many more decades? Based on the experience of the past two decades I’d say the probability is we’d still be in this position two decades hence.

    And lastly, Ewen, you suggest I, and others who oppose the CPRS (for now), should step out of the way and leave the politics for you and the Greens to sort out!

    Oh yea!!

    Like

  46. In a democracy there is no point in a party being too far ahead of public opinion: it’ll just be out of office. Parties can get ahead of the public when the public is shifting. And parties will be dragged along by the public. At the moment the public is moving to support nuclear, so parties can get ahead if they’re game. At the very least we need to keep working on the public. Everyone knows that it is nuclear versus the renewables. Everyone knows that nuclear does work. The key messages are: (a) risks are not that great; (b) renewables won’t do the job.

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  47. Robert Smart,

    I totally agree with what you say.

    However, the PM and senior cabinet ministers, could be eading and helping rather than hindering – or worse still, generating fear of nuclear for political advantage (eg Peter Garret with his reputed statement of 20,000 killed by Cherobyl. Such a statement is totally irresponsible by any minister. He should be corrected publically by the PM and Penny Wong).

    Like

  48. With a CPRS it will be many years, probably a decade or more, before we realise that we are not making any in-roads on emissions.

    Have a lok at this spin being propogated by governments (his is Sustainabiliy Victoria, bu the Department of Climate Change and NSW government propogate the sam sort of nonsense):

    http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/CA256F310024B628/0/C0A08FD3D53C9F8BCA2576350015AB5E/$File/Greenhouse+abatement+figures.pdf

    I hope everyone here realises by now that wind power avoids little if any GHG emissions when the emisisons from the wind shaddowing back up generators are included. See here: http://www.masterresource.org/2009/11/wind-integration-incremental-emissions-from-back-up-generation-cycling-part-i-a-framework-and-calculator/

    What is us of a CPRS when governments continue to distribute this sort of nonsense

    Like

  49. Ewen,

    You said of the the Greens:

    “Interestingly, their basic platform doesn’t explicitly exclude nuclear power.”

    How did you come to that conclusion, exactly?

    http://greens.org.au/node/787

    Policy C2: Nuclear

    Principles
    The Australian Greens believe that:

    1. there is a strong link between the mining and export of uranium and nuclear weapons proliferation.

    2. the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, or of catastrophic accidents at, or terrorist attacks on, nuclear power stations, are so great that the risks are unacceptably high.

    3. future generations must not be burdened with high level radioactive waste.

    4. nuclear power is not a safe, clean, timely, economic or practical solution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

    5. Australia’s reliance on the US nuclear weapons ‘umbrella’ lends our bases, ports and infrastructure to the US nuclear war fighting apparatus.

    Goals
    The Australian Greens want:

    6. a nuclear-free Australia.

    7. a nuclear-free world.

    8. safe, long-term containment of Australia’s existing nuclear waste.

    9. the elimination of nuclear weapons through a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

    10. the elimination of depleted uranium weapons.

    11. safe, ecologically sustainable energy options.

    Measures
    The Australian Greens will:

    12. end the exploration for, and the mining and export of, uranium.

    13. maintain the prohibition on the processing and enrichment of uranium in Australia.

    14. prohibit the import and export of nuclear waste and fuel rods.

    15. prohibit the reprocessing of Australian nuclear fuel rods.

    16. promote the development of non-reactor technologies for the production of radioisotopes for medical and scientific purposes.

    17. close the OPAL nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights.

    18. ensure that nuclear waste is stored with minimal risk and is monitored above ground, in dry storage at or near the site of generation.

    19. require uranium mining companies to meet enforceable standards to safely contain and to monitor their radioactive tailings wastes for at least 10,000 years.

    20. require uranium mining companies to rehabilitate mining sites.

    21. immediately close Australia’s ports and territorial waters to nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed vessels.

    22. prohibit the treatment of food with ionising radiation (food irradiation), and the importation of such food.

    23. support compensation for the victims of British nuclear weapons testing in Australia.

    24. support the creation of nuclear weapon free zones, municipalities and ports.

    25. strengthen the radiation security and preparedness of Australia’s airports and ports.

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  50. That’s their current policy, which as I said, Peter, I oppose, but if you look at their charter

    the word “nuclear” appears on one line only, under Peace, at b):

    To develop an independent, nonaligned foreign policy and a non-nuclear, defensive, self-reliant defence policy

    Nothing else in the charter explicitly rejects nuclear power. In theory, one could join The Greens, endorsing the charter, and work to modify their policy on nuclear power.

    That might not be time well spent, but one could make the arguments I’ve made above. IFR is more sustainable than any other energy source available if one includes embedded energy costs. Thorium probably is too.

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  51. Peter,

    You are sounding more and more implicitly partisan. I regard this as counterproductive, especially since, in practice the coalition will not get anywhere near Federal government until at least 2013 and probably not until 2016. You may well suppose that if they did achieve power at either of those elections they wouldn’t be proposing nuclear power either

    Is the Labor party fit to govern?

    The question is which of the parties is least fit to govern. The coalition lacks popular support, which makes it currently less fit, by definition.

    If it is prepared to avoid tackling the big issues for fear of causing internal party division, is the Labor Party fit to be in government?

    This has always been the case with both parties, who reason, understandably, that being out of power renders being right entirely moot. One cannot govern from opposition. If you rejected parties that ignored big issues in order to remain politically viable, you’d have to reject all the major parties, including the Greens, but most people don’t do that. Most people see which party worries or offends them least and vote accordingly. It’s very clear that the coalition, had it won in 2007 would have made a dreadful mess of the GFC here, but I don’t want to get off topic. They had a chance to take the steps you wanted from 2001, but of course, they didn’t. And why was that?

    Because

    a) it would have been politically divisive and electorally poisonous
    b) they were opposing anything that would prejudice the value of Australian coal
    c) they rejected anthropogenic climate change as a serious issue

    Clearly, in your view, they weren’t fit to govern either. They has nearly 12 years to do something and all we got was a Switkowski Report.

    You argue we should support the CPRS to give Labor time to sort itself out.

    I do no such thing. As you know, I oppose this CPRS outright, and propose instead a robust ETS to create a context in which the left can come to support nuclear power.

    And lastly, Ewen, you suggest I, and others who oppose the CPRS (for now), should step out of the way and leave the politics for you and the Greens to sort out!

    Hardly. I oppose the CPRS we now have on the table as frivolous and inadequate and hope something qualitatively more faithful to full internalisation can arise. I’d urge you and others to keep pressure up on those opposing a transition to nuclear power to keep up the pressure regardless, while being careful to avoid sounding like coalition lobbyists. That’s certainly what I am doing.

    .

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  52. Barry,


    Most of the extra costs involved in the high end $17B Florida estimate (the only one antis ever seem to cite) involves risk management

    I’m neither anti – nor for. I’m on the fence and want to figure out where the truth is … because I do think nukes would have to be in the solution mix (assuming the world is serious – which I don’t think is really true).

    I don’t think Florida is the only expensive one. In Georgia they want exactly the same amount ($14B+$3B).

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

    All these are for 2 AP1000s quoted in 2008 – I’ve calculated using wikipedia numbers.

    Turkey : $5780 to $8071 per kW.
    Florida : $6335 to $7692 per kW.
    S. Carolina : $4,432 per kW. (Virgil)
    Carolinas : $4,977 per kW. (Duke, no financing charge)
    Bellefonte : $4,480 to $7,692 per kW.
    Georgia : $6335 to $7692 per kW.

    Canada : $10,800 (see http://bit.ly/afZoPe)

    2007 estimates have considerable uncertainty in overnight cost, and vary widely from $2,950/kWe (overnight cost) to a Moody’s Investors Service conservative estimate of between $5,000 and $6,000/kWe (final or “all-in” cost).[12]

    However, commodity prices shot up in 2008, and so all types of plants will be more expensive than previously calculated[13] In June 2008 Moody’s estimated that the cost of installing new nuclear capacity in the U.S. might possibly exceed $7,000/kWe in final cost

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  53. I am a newcomer to this thread, and have not bothered to read all the preceeding posts, so if I am treading over old ground then I apologise in advance.

    The power generation problem is a difficult one. I think it is a given that all concerned want a number of things:
    1. Maximum power for minimum cost.
    2. Reliable power – available at all times, as much or as little as we want.
    3. Minimal pollution (ie particulates, SO2, CO, NO etc).
    4. Reducing CO2 output.

    Firstly let me say that I think the fossil fuel providers in Australia have done a marvellous job of reducing pollution (item 3 above). They also have achieved item 1 and 2, reliable power for minimum cost. Unfortunately there seems to be little further progress that can be made by them on reducing CO2 output.

    Secondly, as Peter Lang has pointed out, Windfarming is a bit of a mug’s game – you end up having to also pay for more fossil fuelled generators as well, and thereby increasing cost while not substantially reducing CO2 emissions. Solar, while less dreadful than wind, is no pretty flower either.

    So at present Nuclear seems to be the way to go, IF reducing CO2 is as important as we are being told.

    But I can’t see the CPRS either:
    1. Reducing CO2 emissions globally (the loophole in the CPRS as I understand it is that heavy industry will shut down here and simply move offshore) or
    2. Providing any incentive to move to sensible electricity generation alternatives (the best of a bad bunch being Nuclear)

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  54. Fred Said:

    I can’t see the CPRS either:
    1. Reducing CO2 emissions globally (the loophole in the CPRS as I understand it is that heavy industry will shut down here and simply move offshore

    This claim cannot be made without an analysis of the feasibility of such a move, and likewise an analysis of the functional specs associated with any possible relocation.

    Since the bulk of the coal plants being built in China, for example, are cleaner than the ones we have operating here, the net effect of a move to China might still be positive. China has growing nuclear capacity and is also going to make extensive use of hydro, wind, solar and geothermal.

    Australia’s aluminium industry is heavily subsidised as it stands and uses some of the dirtiest coal in the world, so if they decided to pack their bags they could scarcely do worse and would almost certainly do better.

    Of course, they are unlikely to do so since the cost of emissions trading is

    a) mitigated under EITE …

    and

    b) only one in a number of factors affecting the viability of the trade — sunk cost, cost of relocation, availability of other resources locally, currency stability, access to shipping and cost, the local cost of doing business and so forth. They’d also have to be confident that new tax or carbon cost imposts weren’t made or that, following Hansen’s advice, other states didn’t impose tariffs on the docks, and of course they can’t be.

    In all these things ceteris paribus applies and so the mere imposition of carbon costs isn’t decisive per se.

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  55. Interestingly, for those wanting to take a swing at the ALP on nuclear power, try searching the coalition’s document released today on climate change mitigation.

    The word “nuclear” appears nowhere in the document at all. The document does spend quite a bit of time talking about planting trees in public places, rolling out energy efficiency measures, and installing more solar. There’s even a nod at exploring algal synthesis. But don’t mention the nukes …

    Peter castigates the ALP for not dealing with the issue but the coalition is no keener to raise it than the ALP. One might well wonder where he thinks the push will come from if not from any of the major parties.

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  56. I wish to thank Peter Lang for his ongoing contribution to an analytical view of the real alternatives available for generation of energy in Australia. His analytical and technical skills have created a clear and accurate path through the two major available renewables, namely wind and then solar and then to an analysis of the optimum path to achieving goals set by our politicians for emissions reduction.

    I was glad to see that he has now given us a précis of what he thinks should be our national energy policy to achieve the goals so set. I think changing the classification from renewables to clean energy is a major clarification of how we go forward. For example, wind is renewable but for reasons stated in Peter’s first paper it does not create any significant net savings in greenhouse gas emissions. Paradoxically replacing coal by combined cycle gas generation saves and saves permanently a significant amount of greenhouse gas but doesn’t tick the renewables box. The specific identification of actually reducing rather than suffering substantial increases in power costs is also a welcome recognition that one doesn’t see from any of our political leaders.

    Peter has done us a major service in providing a clear analysis of what our governments wish to hide. He has articulated in a way no-one else has, a clear and workable policy. We all know this policy has many hurdles to jump and I would like to suggest that rather than attempting to fine tune Peter’s strategy at this stage, we should all try and get it through these hurdles and then make our contributions to fine tuning.

    Well done and thank you Peter

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  57. Ewen,

    The introduction of nuclear has to come from the government. After all, it is the government. Don’t blame the Liberals for Labor’s anti-nuclear policy and internal problems. Liberals have said nuclear is to be an option. But every time they raise it, Labor runs out the scare campaign as they did at the last election, and in every previous election. Labor has to introduce it. Where is their leadership??

    Surely you must understand this if you have as much understanding of politics as you say you do.

    Given the Green Party’s policy as posted above by TeeKay, and your allegiance to them, I doubt it is possible to have a rational debate on this with you.

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  58. Barry,

    Why would I use a 5 year old study quoting some 7 year old figures ?

    I’ve one more $17B proposal for you. Thats the 3rd one I’ve found doing a casual search …

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/Nuclear_cost_estimate_rises.html

    [quote]The estimated cost of two new nuclear reactors proposed by CPS Energy has gone up as much as $4 billion, prompting the City Council to postpone Thursday’s vote on the project’s financing until January.

    CPS interim General Manager Steve Bartley said the utility’s main contractor on the project, Toshiba Inc., informed officials that the cost of the reactors would be “substantially greater” than CPS’ estimate of $13 billion, which includes financing.[/quote]

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/6843645.html

    [quote]Construction cost estimates for two additional reactors in Bay City now exceed $18 billion, three times NRG’s original projections.
    ….
    CPS had hidden the higher cost, in essence lying to the San Antonio City Council and the public for half a year. [/quote]

    I think the reality of gen 3 plants is that they are financially too expensive and risky.

    I hope, LFTR, if and when they materialize will be better.

    ps : How do you quote ? Hope my codes work …

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  59. Ewen on offshoring to China there are several issues. Even if their coal fired electricity turns out cleaner than Australia’s in time we might be supplying the coal. Australia exports a quarter billion tonnes of coal and China uses 10 times that amount ie 2.5 Gtpa. In a few years their domestic coal supply will decline meaning they either import more coal probably from Australia or find alternative energy sources. Rudd will give them all the coal they want. Secondly Australia loses direct and indirect jobs and company profits. Some heavy industry like aluminium refining should be partly kept at home in case of future supply problems. It retains know-how and provides a physical template. I’m channelling Rex Connor here.

    I’m also worried about the secretive Rann government in SA with this idea to export 70% of Olympic Dam concentrates to China. Some uranium is contained in the copper. I surmise that part of the reason is to save the SA govt the excruciating embarrassment of finding new electricity and water supplies such as nuclear. In other words a sellout of Australian incomes and resource security just to follow a political line.

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  60. evnow, if reactors in the US end up costing $10 billion per GW, then they will not be competitive. That will be a problem the US utilities and NRC will have to deal with — and the government. If they are built for $3.8 billion /GW for a FOAK reactor in the UAE, with the expectation of halving that in subsequent builds, then we know which nation will end up being more economically competitive.

    The extra costs involve financial uncertainties, which is why Obama’s tripling of the loan guarantees is essential to get the nuclear industry in the US back off the canvas. Once they’ve built a couple of Gen III+ reactors there, things will look a whole lot different. It’s not about Gen III technology, it’s about risk management and the regulatory and supporting governance frameworks. If they don’t fix this, then nuclear power is as dead, cost wise, as renewables. It’s all about the money and the risk.

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  61. Matt, there are some brief comments from me posted here, which will probably get picked up in some news stories:
    http://www.aussmc.org/Coalitionclimatechangepolicy.php

    Frankly, there’s not much in the coalition’s new emissions reduction policy with any real meat. They propose a type of baseline and credit scheme for rewarding emissions reductions (which at least tries to reward voluntary measures). They place a huge amount of faith in soil sequestration of carbon, which no doubt has potential, but is also hugely uncertain at this stage (especially on the question of whether it can be implemented on a large scale).

    The 100,000 rebates for household solar panels of $1,000 each is a useless gesture — subsidising an uneconomic way to generate electricity at a level that won’t be enough incentive for almost anyone to buy one (with the full cost of a 1 kilowatt system being more than ten times that amount). Instead, it will almost all go on solar hot water systems, which already have a subsidy.

    If the coalition was really serious about reductions in carbon emissions, they’d be opening the floor to an informed public discussion on introducing nuclear power to Australia

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  62. Peter, I think that Ewen is being perfectly rational about this.

    The precursor to nuclear energy in Australia will be a commitment to tacking climate change, and there is only one party that is prepared to do what the science suggests and that is the greens.

    Their devoutly anti-nuclear stance is no more an impediment to nuclear power than is the ALP or Libs weak emissions targets and influence of coal.

    The Libs don’t believe in climate change, so realistically we have a lot of coal in Australia, we have a lot of powerful coal industry lobbyists, coal is dirt cheap, so why would you go nuclear? Forget a strong nuclear push from the Libs.

    The ALP is making token gestures towards emissions, and is clearly pushing the coal bandwagon through clean coal. Maybe it is more than token gestures to be fair but it is still based on coal. But the ALP do want Green preferences – in fact the libs do too… if they go pro nuclear then you lose the Greens preferences, and the Libs… well I think they would rather swoop on the greens preferences rather than give bi-partisan support to nuclear.

    The Greens, however, are not wedded in any way to the coal industry, and self included have many supporters who are getting on the nuclear bandwagon as far as I can tell. I’ve been lampooned before on my opinion, but my opinion is that I think the Greens will be the first party in Australia to have a pro-nuclear energy policy based on Gen IV technology – despite the clear opposition at present. It may take time but it will be a sudden switch and will leave both majors with no option but to go nuclear. The Greens simply cannot claim to be the “science” part on emissions, and then adopt pseudo-science for nuclear, and I back science to win and the Greens to come to the party.

    I can dream can’t I?

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  63. Peter said:

    The introduction of nuclear has to come from the government. After all, it is the government.

    It wasn’t the government until November 2007 and the previous government did exactly nothing in nearly 12 years. This is the standard coalition line, and not the first time you’ve borrowed from them. Surely you can be more creative than that in defending their policy?

    As Barry on the coalition notes above:

    If the coalition was really serious about reductions in carbon emissions, they’d be opening the floor to an informed public discussion on introducing nuclear power to Australia

    Don’t argue the toss with me if you think me irrational. Argue it with him.

    Liberals have said nuclear is to be an option

    Not in this latest statement, the one that is their “comprehensive response”, they haven’t.

    Given the Green Party’s policy as posted above by TeeKay, and your allegiance to them, I doubt it is possible to have a rational debate on this with you

    It’s an odd kind of allegiance on this issue you say I have. The policy you cite is one I’d like to see changed and of course, I refer to their charter in saying so.

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  64. Peter: Your plan sounds eminently sensible but your section about “Level
    Playing Field” seems redundant. Who funds the research and the courses
    at Universities to train the people? Isn’t that a “distortion” of the
    hallowed market? It seems to me that you are indeed picking winners,
    and subsidising them with appropriate training infrastructure which
    is exactly what experts should do.

    My only caveat is that while we should
    pick winners, we should do so with a little humility. Research shouldn’t stop
    on solar or geothermal or other possible game changers. And you
    never suggested it should!

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  65. Geoff Russell,

    I agree. Funding for research for energy should be distributed on the basis of likely return on investment. Of course there will be a spectrum from low likelihood and high return to lower return and higher probability of success. The funds should be distributed on this basis rather than on idelogical belief as much of it is now.

    The reason we need to ear mark funds ofr nuclear is because we have to catch up for 40 years of no funding. We have an enormous catch up to do. All the unis are tied up in renewables, coal, etc.

    The social engineering research is aimed at providing least-cost, low-emission electricity, no matter what the technologies are. I made the logic jump, based on the results and conclusions in the “Emission Cuts Realities”paper, that the answer would be a mix including a substantial component of nuclear.

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  66. Oh I see Peter … when the ALP is in opposition, the potential for it to run a scare campaign is an excuse for the government not to show leadership and when it is in government, the ALP should disregard the political fall out and do the right thing.

    Very consistent, but perhaps not in a flattering way …

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  67. Barry Brook, thanks for the links to the costs of nuclear power – excellent.

    Ewan, and John Newlands, thank you for responding to my comments on the effect of the ETS. I think it is apparent that I disagree with Ewan and agree with John!

    I think that Ewan and Peter have slipped into a politicised counter-rant. This is unfortunate as partisan accusations etc get the discussion nowhere. This discussion is about energy options and alternatives to the CPRS. I know the Labor, Coalition, Greens and the two Independants all have different, and well publicised views on these two topics. OK, that’s their political stance. But what I think this thread is about, or should be, is coming to a (strongly) agreed logical position, rather than a partisan one.

    I think Peter has advanced this debate very strongly with his excellent paper which identifies what the costs and benefits (in CO2 reduction terms) of the available power generation options are. I think his argument holds merit: that if we transition to a greater use of low-C power, and if we move the transport sector into more use of that energy source, then that might be a viable solution to reducing C.

    There are several difficulties in the debate.
    1. There is some dissent as to the dislocation and economic distress (all agree there will be some) which will result if the CPRS comes to pass. In this regard, it would have been helpful if the Treasury had performed a true Cost-Benefit analysis. Many economic commentators have been less than thrilled with the published analysis to date – I hope they are working on this. The newspapers have reported many of our heavy industries, and some of our transport industries as being potentially very adversely affected by the CPRS. The Treasury has claimed that the effects will be small. Who are we to believe here? The sponsors of the Bill or the CEOs?
    2. Are electric vehicles, or hybrids a viable economic proposition? I haven’t researched this from the viewpoint of C saved or critical materials availability – does anyone have any views on this?
    3. From Peter’s work Nuclear seems to be the clear winner. Unfortunately this is electorally unpalatable, though recent surveys show a shift. The two sticking points are Safety (people remember Chernobyl) and Waste Disposal. On the first issue, I think that there is general agreement in the texchnical community that Nuclear is very safe. Does anyone have any links?
    On waste disposal, the CSIRO was pursuing SYNROCK many years ago. Is it still doing so, and where did they get to?

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  68. “Are electric vehicles, or hybrids a viable economic proposition?”

    Hybrids, it would seem are, both in energy efficiencies, and carbon mitigation.

    The case for pure electric vehicles is not as sound, and depends on location. Both the availability and source of electric power determines whether BEVs are economic in a particular local.

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  69. While most of the discussion has been on the ‘stationary sector’ which is electrical generation, process heat etc, there is an obvious interaction with the ‘nonstationary sector’. That includes transport and farm production. If the oilwatch pundits are right global crude oil production could be 30% lower by 2020 than it is today. The consequences are staggering since it means the lifeblood of economic activity relative to BAU will be severely constrained. Wayne Swan’s recent speech on the need for greater population blithely assumed plenty of oil in the future.

    The crossover between the stationary and nonstationary sectors has major implications Examples; electricity to charge electric vehicles and the possibility of mass energy storage in car batteries, coal-to-liquids as a petroleum replacement but with double CO2, competition for natural gas as both an electrical generation fuel and in vehicles, hydrogen as a key input to synfuels. The possible substitutions and elasticities create too many free variables to make predictions. The one conclusion is that it would be prudent not to put the sectors in competition ie electricity and transport should not have to fight each other for limited resources. At the same time CO2 needs to be reduced. Since there is a proven technology which removes almost all carbon from the stationary sector that should get priority. That will free up constrained carbon for the nonstationary sector whose ability to decarbonise is less clear.

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  70. Fred said:

    I think that Ewan and Peter have slipped into a politicised counter-rant.

    Excuse me Fred, but that doesn’t describe what I’ve said. Peter is dancing around criticising the coalition whereas I think both sides must share equal responsibility for the lack of movement. It is Peter who has adopted an incipiently partisan approach.

    I’d like to focus on how we move from waving flags to examining energy options on their merits. Peter seems to be keen on protecting ancient entitlements to pollute. Why he’d want that is hard to follow, save that he regards the interests of investors, once iterated, as sacrosanct for all time.

    Who are we to believe here? The sponsors of the Bill or the CEOs?

    Plainly neither, on trust, nor anyone else, without good modelling and data.

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  71. Fred,

    Thank you for your comments, and for bringing us back to where we should focus our efforts. You said:

    “But what I think this thread is about, or should be, is coming to a (strongly) agreed logical position, rather than a partisan one.”

    I agree. I’ve contributed my ‘two bits’ for now, and hope others here may be able to build on it, improve it or suggest an alternative aproach. I’ll move to the back row for a while.

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  72. I thought the Libs had won the feebleness competition until I looked at the ALP’s targets
    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/indicative-national-emissions-trajectory.aspx
    If Abbott’s grass farming subsidy gets up next we’ll have a ‘front lawns for climate’ movement.

    To his credit Greens leader Bob Brown once told a gathering of coal miners they would have to find other jobs if he was PM. That takes some balls. If only the Greens could get real about the scope and cost of renewables.

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  73. Assume a source of excess electrical power (wind blows at an inopportune time or during the night from a big nuclear power plant). This then sells for a low, low price. (Over lunch, Carl Hauser mentioned there are nuclear plant operators in the USA who will pay you to wheel their power away overnight.) What to do with it?

    Peter Lang suggested pumped hydro, but this doesn’t work in regions with no significant elevation changes. I’ll propose electrolysis into hydrogen adn oxygen, both to be stored to be later used locally. Upon increased demand, recombine in a fuel cell
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_battery
    or for that matter in a gas turbine configured for oxy-fuel applications. One could even start with natgas fired gas turbines and do the reconfiguration on-site later.

    Assuming a new CCGT with 60% thermal efficiency configured to burn hydrogen in oxygen (flue gas is just water vapor), a rough estimate shows that this ought to compete quite well, despite the three large storage tanks required), with natgas fired units even at the current low prices of natgas. The requirement for such competition is the ultra-low cost of nighttime or other unwanted electirc power.

    Since such units certainly are not popular (if any currently exist at all), what have I left out? Maybe just undo conservatism?

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  74. David B Benson

    It is difficult to discuss in any meaningfule way the thousands of possible energy generation and storage technologies that are ofte suggested without adressing the system costs. It really is a pointless exercise. When we suggest a possible solution to a problem, it is important to have some idea of the costs.

    Many costings have been done on various aspects of hydrogen economy. They idicate that it is not close to being viable at the moment. If hydrogen does becom viable, I expect it will be with nuclear power as an important component of the supply chain.

    Regarding pumped-hydro energy storage, it works well with cheap, baseload fossil fuel electricity (ie coal but not gas) and with nuclear. But not wirh intrmittent renewables and not with gas (to expensive and not neessary because gas canprovide the flexinl power supply neeed to follow demand)

    You are correct that baseoad plants sell eletricity cheap a night. The low coast baseload plants (coal and nuclear) are most economic when run at their full capacity, so when demand is low, the price of electricity is low. This is common commercial pracitice. Electricity generators apply this to encourage users, who can, to move from using electricity at peak time to using it at off-peak time (eg for heating water, pumping water, irrigation, etc). Such practice is commn throughout industry. For example, airlines sell cheap faires in off peak seasoms and high prices in peak seasons to encourage people to travel when the airline has spare capacity. If the airfares were the same all the time, then there would be no peak shaving. The airlines would need enough aircraft and crews to carry the maximum demand at peak time and there would be less travellers and less revenue at off-peak time. We’d all have to pay more for the more aircraft, more crews, more airport facilities to meat peak demand but with no more actual passengers caried. We’d all pay more. Same with the electricity generators.

    With wind power in the grid, and regulatons that all wind power generated must be bought, the problem of negative prices for electricity when demand is low is exacerbated. If the wind blows in the early hours of the morning, that energy must be bought, so the coal and nuclear plants have to sell their power at lowere and perhaps negative prices (ie pay to take it as you say).

    Guess what this means? It means we all have to pay more for electricity. The finance charges and operating costs for the nuclear power station still have to be paid for. But there is the extra cost of the wind farm to be paid for as well. There is more capital investment but no more electrcity, so mor revnue s needed per unit of electricity. Ib short we all pay more for noting.

    I’ve covere more than you asked about, but my main point is that without considering costs, all these options that scientists keep suggesting, are not much better than the suggestion to pipe hydrogen from the sun.

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  75. DB I think constant electrical output could be split between the grid, pumped hydro, high pressure electrolysis and reverse osmosis or multi-effect desalination. Possibly the desalinated water could recover some energy from elevation in a hybrid approach. Re which some people nearby are considering a 14 kw mini hydro though that may not sit with unprecedented 40C summer temperatures here.

    Rather than store hydrogen at high pressure it may be better to use it near real time after temporary low pressure storage. Store the oxygen as well. A ceramic fuel cell for peaking power might be more efficient than a turbine. High value added applications include hi tech metals smelting and synfuels. This is sure to be in demand by mid century (if we make it that far) since it looks like we will have flogged most of our gas by then.

    Somewhere Barry gave a link to a BNF reactor in Khazakhstan that did electricity, thermal desal and district heating, so load splitting has precedents.

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  76. Barry Brook posted this link yesterday:

    Details about AP1000 approvals here from Dan Yurman – great summary:

    Westinghouse gets a scare from NRC
    http://www.theenergycollective.com/TheEnergyCollective/49960

    China, of course, is already building 10 of them as I type

    This is fascinating. It is a reminder of what went wrong in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    This link provides an example of how the bureacuracy, in this case the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, can change the rules with impunity and force the nuclear industry to pay the costs of its changes of mind. The AP1000 has been being designed and going through approvals and certifications for some 30 years, all with the full support and encouragement of the government and the NRC. At a late stage someone changes some fundamental requirements. The cost and the delay is enormous. No other industry has to absorb this level of cost increase caused by bureaucracy. No other electricity generator has to deal with this level of cost and schedule risk. And this is despite the fact that even the previous generation of nuclear power plants were some 10 to 100 times safer than coal. The AP1000 is expected to be a great improvement. We simply cannot have infinite safety. Safety will improves with each new generation, but if we won’t allow them to be built, we cannot go through the generations.

    It is this sort of cost and schedule increase that is making nuclear so costly, especially in the USA and EU, but actually everywhere.

    It would be interesting to compare the safety of the chemical plants we have dotted throughout or cities. How does the safety of the chemical planrts compare with that of a nuclear plant? What is the effect of an earthquake or of a plane flying into a large chlorine tank or a cyanide tank. Having seen the effect of Bopal’s 6000 immediate fatalaties compared with Chernobyl 31 immediate fatalaties, I suspect we are so out of balance that we cannot make progress until we tackle this issue.

    This is the sort of problem we need to find a way around.

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  77. $670m to be spent upgrading the Newcastle coal loader
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKSGE6120DC20100203?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
    Exported Australian coal produces around 600 Mt of CO2 similar to domestic emissions from coal, oil and gas combined. Therefore a 5% cut in coal exports would make a more reliable reduction to global CO2 since it wouldn’t be heavily negated by offsets.

    Increasing coal exports to some countries shows they must have forgotten their Copenhagen promises the second they walked out the door. It also shows the Australian government is not fair dinkum about global CO2 reductions. If the $20 CO2 levy gets up at home that’s equivalent to about $50 per tonne of coal. It could be slapped on coal exports as well with the $50 going to some kind of UN green fund. That means the FOB price per tonne of thermal coal ex Newcastle would rise from $90 to $140.

    I suggest the Australian government is both deluded and unserious about adequate CO2 reductions.

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  78. John Newlands,

    Your post raises many good points. What are the realistic options for progressing with world wide CO2 emissions cuts?

    Your suggestion about putting a price on exported coal leads me to think at the limits as a first step. We could:

    1. argue for the UN to ban coal exports world wide. That would favour the countries that have their own coal and penalise those that dont

    2. We could change the proposed Cap and Trade systems (or ETS) to a consumption based ETS instread of a production based ETS. Tis would be the best way from a theoretical perspective. It would tax the embodied emissions in every product and service. But it is impossible from a practical perspective. It would require a second accounting system that was just as sophisticated as our financial accounting system. But it would be operating on a comodity that cannot be accurately measured.

    3. The world could agree to an international ETS which is run by the WTO as part of the Global Agreement on Tarriffs and Trade (GATT). Great in theory but no one is prepared to do that yet. And why single out CO2-e? What will be next. Why not the millions of other polutants and destruction. What about cows? Where does this end once started?

    4. Or we could regulate to introduce clean, low cost electricity to replace fossil fuel generated electricity. If low cost, it will progressively displace oil for land transport over time, especially as the cost of fossil fuels increases as expected due to increasing demand and declining supply.

    5. If we implement #4 in the developed countries and we bring the cost of clean electricity to less than fossil fuel electricity, then the developed wotrld would help the whole world. Because the developing countries can implement a cheaper elelctricity option that would assist them to emerge from poverty faster. This will have great benefits for humanity, such as: increasing life expectancy, supplying fresh water, reduced disease, better health, improved education opportunities which leads inevitably to better governments (over time), better work opportunities which leads to more fulfilling lives and thus to reducing fertility and thus to reducing population growth rates in the poor countries. The population growth rate will decline to that of the developed countries as the poor countries reach our standard of living. The faster we can reduce the cost of electricity, the faster this will happen. I know there are stacks of theories on all this stuff, but just look at the GapMinder charts and play with them for yourselves. And look at the Hans Roslings demonstrations. The statistics are clear to me.

    My conclusion is that the best way for Australia to make the most rapid progress, both for ourself and for the world, is as I outlined in the article at the top of this thread. This is the way to cut our emissions at least cost, and avoid locking in a permanent higer cost of energy in Australia forever. If we implement an ETS or CPRS we will lock in the higher price of energuy forever (and wrongly so). We can never undo it. It is a mistake we shall make forever. I suggest we should not go that route. I urge all to seriously consider that nuclear could be far cheaper than fossil fuel energy. The restrictions we are putting on it are totally out of balance with the restrictions on all other industries.

    Please consider my comments in my comment on February 4th, 2010 at 16.02 and also have a look at the link to Hanford B in the references in the article at the top of this thread. Just consider, if we could build a 250 MWt reactor in 1944 in 21 months, that then ran for 24 years and was upgraded progressively to 2200MW (uprated by a factor of 9), why on earth can’t we build them fast and at low cost now – including with safety and environmental restrictions that are consistent with other industries and technologies.

    The reason is that we’ve gone berserk over nuclear safety and restricitions.

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  79. Peter an imposed quota of nuclear would create an equivalent CO2 price so long as coal remains cheaper. Suppose ‘cleaner’ but un-carbon-taxed coal cost $40/Mwh but nuclear cost $80/Mwh. We could then divide the cost difference by the amount of CO2 avoided to get a virtual carbon penalty for nuclear. If the ‘cleaner’ coal option worked out at .75 tCO2 per Mwh while nuclear was near zero then that $40 penalty saves .75 tonnes of CO2. Thus nuclear costs $53 per tonne of CO2 avoided absent carbon taxes. The denier crowd will go nuts about unnecessary expense. It also puts the government in the difficult position of picking winners in advance though that doesn’t seem to have stopped them with CCS and selected feed-in tariffs.

    Of course if nuclear could be done cheaper than the cleanest coal the objections would be purely emotional, not financial. I support imposed carbon pricing but not if the referee should really be in TV wrestling. I fear we will slide over an energy cliff due to lack of foresight but if the public, media and politicians have their eyes shut I don’t know what to do. On an ad hoc basis we can point out the mendacity of new coal loaders, gas fired baseload, wind offset desalination, shortsighted LNG exports and the hypocrisy of uranium mining while opposing nuclear power. Maybe the penny will drop one day.

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  80. John,

    I think you may have misunnderstood what I am sayinf (or perhaps I am misunderstanding what you are saying).

    You said:

    Peter an imposed quota of nuclear would create an equivalent CO2 price so long as coal remains cheaper.

    I am not suggesting a quota of nuclear. I am suggesting a regulated proportion of clean energy generation. The proportion will increase from time (eg from 20% in 2020 to say 80% in 2050) and the definition of “clean energy” will become more stringent with time (eg 200 kg CO2-e/MWh in 2020 and 10 kg CO2-e/MWh in 2050). This can be achieved by the least cost technologies that meet the requirements. I am not mandating nuclear energy. Specifying the emissions limits is consistent with many other regulations on pollutants – such as concentrations of pollutants in drinking water, air, soil. So the precedent is established and, in fact, this is the most common way to regulate pollutants. This is what I am advocating for electricity generation. As I said in the article, we can cut total emissions by nearly 50% by 2050 through clean electricity generation if electricity is low-cost, but not if electricity cost is high. The reason is that if electricity cost is low, electrcity will displace gas for heating (as in Canada) and displace oil for land transport. But this is only possible if electricity is low cost.

    You say:

    Suppose ‘cleaner’ but un-carbon-taxed coal cost $40/MWh but nuclear cost $80/MWh

    I do not agree that nuclear need to be high cost not should it be. This is my fundamental problem with the whole argument about nuclear and reducing GHG emissions. If we want to reduce GHG emissions we need to stop accepting that nuclear must be $80/MWh. That figure can and must change if we want GHG emissions reductrions, pollution reduction, energy security, greater safety, etc etc etc.

    We know nuclear can be far cheaper, and I believe it can be significantly cheaper than coal, even in Australia. But not if we want to keep the constraints on nuclear that have built up over a period of some 50 years. These constraints are unequal and unreasonable. If we really want to get serious about cutting GHG emissions and receiving all the other benefits of nuclear, we need to get rid of these unequal restrictions.

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  81. John,

    Further to my comment above: you said:

    Of course if nuclear could be done cheaper than the cleanest coal the objections would be purely emotional, not financial.

    I believe it can and I point to this:

    1. The Russians are building nuclear power plants to smelt aluminium to sell on the world market. That means they can provide electrcity at the same cost as the Victorian brown coal fired power stations are supply electricity. The price of that electrcity is based on long term contracts and all sorts of incentives provided by the Victorian government to keep the aluminium smelters competitive on the worl market. The Russian nuclear plants have to be able to compete with this and with the Alcan hydro plants in Canada (which have very cheap electricity). The Rusian nuclear power plants must conform to IAEA requirements.

    2. But I want to cut costs way below this. I want to see us (I mean the world, if the world is really serious about cutting GHG emissions) go through the regulations on nuclear power and eradicate all the requirements that are unnecessarily raising the cost of electricity by what is a factor of 2 to 4. I’d urge people to consider a) that Hanford B was built in 21 months in 1944; if we could do that 65 yrars ago why cant we do that now? and b) why are we demanding such high levels of safety for nuclear when we do not require anything like that for chemical plants. The unnecessarily high cost of nuclear is preventing us getting the benefits of it.

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  82. My knee jerk reaction was to think that a portfolio standard for CO2 wouldn’t cover leakage between generation and transport but perhaps it can. A kilogram of transport fuel be it petrol, diesel, LPG or CNG should have at least 10 kwh (36 MJ) equivalent. Auto makers are aiming for 120 grams CO2 per km so 20 km/kg is 2.4 kg per 10 kwh or 240 kg CO2 per Mwh.

    Another advantage of a portfolio CO2 standard is that it would tone down public display of wind and solar while gas fired generation is hidden away. That is we see the shiny silicon panels on our street and wind farms along the highway but don’t see the CO2 spewing combined cycle plant in the industrial estate.

    It’s hard to know if coal will get expensive on its own, particularly if Chinese coal production nosedives after 2015 or so. Case A stagflation which is high prices low activity or Case B recession which is low prices low activity.

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  83. John,

    You’ve made a lot of points here.

    I haven’t checked your figures for emissions from petrol and diesel cars versus electric vehicles. I amy do so and come back in later post.

    I have read, but can’t remember where, that CO2 emissions from electric vehicles, even where the electricity is generated from coal, are lower than from the most efficient diesel and petrol vehicles. (This may not be the full life cycle emissions)

    Elsewhere I read that petrol and diesel vehicles need 100kW to 200kW engines because of the need for accelaration. However, an electric vehicle or diesel-electric vehicle could manage on about 20kW because of the electric motor’s high torque at low revs.

    I really don’t buy all the many arguments for an ETS that seem to me to be peripheral to the main massive problems with it. I don’t buy you aregument that the ETS will remove the renewable advocates’ lobbyingf for renewable energy. This is belief driven. It is not rational. It will not stop. If it was rational and if the ETS would prevent it, then why were our governements effectively forced to commit to the MRET in the first place. It was because of the public pressure to do so caused by lobbying of renewable energy advocates and NGO’s. I believe if we implement an ETS with all these nonsense marketr distortions in place, we’ll neve srt them out. So we raise the price of energy forever. And unnecessarily so. In my opinion, we really do need to address the cause of the problem, not stick more4 band aids on top.

    Regarding the cost of coal, I do intend to get back to you on that. I was too hasty in my replies to your original comments on this thread. I have been thinking about it ever since.

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  84. The ETS might end up saving 30 Mt a year of CO2 by 2020 but the new coal export deal with China will add 75 Mt
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8501777.stm

    I guess Queenslanders want coal mining more than they want the Great Barrier Reef. However it lends credence to claims that China’s domestic coal production will peak within the next decade. If Rudd gives this deal his blessing or spends over $600m upgrading the Newcastle coal loader then I think it shows what we suspect; he was never really serious about the ETS. For example if the oil price climbs he might approve coal-to-liquids and exempt it from the scheme. Kinda irritates when you recall all the high fives over the Kyoto signing.

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  85. John Newlands,

    I agree with you. I don’t think Rudd was ever really serious about cutting emissions (he clearly demonstrates that by being anti-nuclear). I think he just saw a great opportunity to maximise his political opportunities. Mind you, all the political parties want to maximise their time in government, it’s what they really achieve for the benefit of society that is important.

    John, I am addressing the following to everyone, not just you.

    Who really thinks the Australian government should block that $60 billion coal export deal? I don’t. If we did block the deal, we would not stop the coal being dug up somewhere else. We’d lose our revenue and not make the slightest difference to total world emissions. We’d give up a $60 billion export deal, our largest ever export deal. We’d give up revenue that pays for wages and salaries, company and personal income tax, that then pays for Health services (hospitals, nurses and doctors), Education (schools and teachers), infrastructure (roads and public transport), and funding to address our most important environmental problems. That is what we’d give up for no gain whatsoever. We’d be giving up all the things that people really want their governments to provide. I think the vast majority of people do not see the connection between wanting all these government services and wanting to stop most of our mining and export deals. Furthermore, they want to raise the price of energy just because they believe it is the right thing to do, not because it will make a zot of difference to the environment.

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  86. Peter I have to disagree about the Clive Palmer deal. I don’t think it is wise to go to a $10-all-U-can-eat restaurant the day before you start a diet. I propose that Australia slaps an export levy on coal. Make it $50 a tonne to be consistent with Garnaut/Green proposed $20 per tCO2. That will raise the price of thermal coal by 50% or so and coking coal by 20% I believe. The customers can get the money back from a special fund but they have to pay it up front. No nonsense about offsets and free permits.

    This 30 Mt a year is also minor compared to China’s alleged coal habit of 2.5 Gtpa. China will have to decarbonise earlier rather than later. I doubt they can get as much cheap hard coal from other countries. Australia will have to start thinking long term about jobs and export income without coal.

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  87. John Newlands,

    On February 6th, 2010 at 9.57 you said:

    I support imposed carbon pricing

    This has highlighted a distinction between my approach and many others here.

    I see the need to achieve the optimum balance between low cost of energy, safety and environmental effects.

    However, other commenters here seem to take an extreme approach. They want to have near infinite safety for nuclear just because they want it. Or they are prepared to raise the price of energy and damn the consequences, even if raising the price will have negligible or nil environmental benefits.

    We can have clean, low cost, environmentally benign electricity generation. But not if we want to insist that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer that coal generation and perhaps 1000 times safer than many of the chemical industries we have dotted throughout our cities.

    By demanding that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than coal, we cant afford nuclear, so we stick with coal. This has been going on for 40 years.

    I am not getting any traction on this point and I don’t understand why. It is really clear to me, but no one seems to want to take this up. This is where I believe the effort needs to be. That is, in trying to change the political agendas to get low cost nuclear energy in Australia – refer article at top of this thread.

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  88. “Who really thinks the Australian government should block that $60 billion coal export deal?”

    While I will not extend an opinion on this matter, I will point out that similar questions have come up in relation to Canada’s Tar Sands, in this county’s pronuclear community.

    I have always held that fighting activities like this are the responsibilities of the Greens, while ours is the promotion of nuclear energy.

    Ultimately the goal is to shut down these activities, however as in all things, one has to pick battlegrounds with care, and avoid fights that cannot be won.

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  89. John,

    We were writing and posting at the same time, so I posted my last poste before I saw you last post.

    In you latest post you say:

    I propose that Australia slaps an export levy on coal. Make it $50 a tonne to be consistent with Garnaut/Green proposed $20 per tCO2.

    I don’t think we can do that and I don’t think it tis the right thing to do anyway. I don’t think we can arbitrarily slap a levy on. We can, perhaps start imposing resource rent taxes on and I understand the Henry Revoiew is looking at that. But that should be done on a properly equivalent basis for all resources we extract.

    I think we have to be careful in doing what you propose. We need to properly understand the effects and distortion it would cause. Certainly it will raise the price of Saustralian coal relative to that from other countries – such as Indonesia. So our exports of coal would decline relative to others over time. That penalises us relative to other countries but makes no differencr to the total amount of coal burnt in the world.

    What yuou are really suggesting, if we get to the nub of it, is you are suggesting Australia should imposse a levy on its emports withlout any reciprocal agreement from our competitors. That not wise in my opinion. We cannot impose our beliefs on the rest of the world.

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  90. DV82XL,

    Good point.

    I’ve been thinking more about the politics and how we could make a break though. It is clear to me that in Australia the Coalition has tended towards being pro nuclear but have down played that position while Labor is anti-nuclear because it is an electoral liability to promote nuclear. It is too hard to promote rational policies against emotive, antoi-nuclear scare campaigns.

    So what can we do? It seems to me that those aligned with the Greens and anti-nuclear NGO’s need to find a way to make a breaktrhough. If we could get one card to fall in the anti-nuclear house of cards, I expect the whole house of cards would come crashing down. If we could get any one of either the Labor Party, Green Party, ACF, WWF, FoE, or Greenpeace to change their policy to become pro-nuclear (low cost, environmentally benign nuclear), we’d be on our way.

    The fastest way of course would be to get Labor to change its policy before the election, and preferably before the May budget !! (see article at top of this thread).

    I don’t believe that is a totally rediculous expectation. Things can happen quickly in politics. There is an upcoming election. Labor needs a believable solution to reduce GHG emissions. CPRS withourt a technological solution cannot achieve it. If Labor offered a technological solution, their CPRS might have more chance of getting support. But with nuclear banned, who is going to trust them with the CPRS. I certainly do not.

    Right now, while Labor is trying to get the CPRS through parliament is the time they should make the switch.

    Right now is the time to put pressure on Labor. Write to all the Labor politicians and suggest the solutions. For those who think that the Greens could change their position, why don’t you write to them too.

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  91. Peter above said:

    It seems to me that those aligned with the Greens and anti-nuclear NGO’s need to find a way to make a breaktrhough. […] If we could get any one of either the Labor Party, Green Party, ACF, WWF, FoE, or Greenpeace to change their policy to become pro-nuclear (low cost, environmentally benign nuclear), we’d be on our way.
    […] Right now is the time to put pressure on Labor. Write to all the Labor politicians and suggest the solutions. For those who think that the Greens could change their position, why don’t you write to them too.

    Which is pretty much what I’ve been saying all along. But you are not going to have any credibility with those groups if you don’t back the idea of putting a substantial price on emissions. That is how you parry claims of being simply catspaws for the polluters.

    I also like John Newlands’ suggestion of a levy on coal exports of about $50 per tonne. I don’t believe it would sour the deal and it would subvert parochial claims that Chinese coal combustion was subverting emissions. The cash raised could be used here to fund appropriate programs to reduce CO2-intensity or emissions.

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  92. Who believes Australia’s researchers, research institutions,and businesses would fail if given this challenge, assuming they are appropriately funded to do so in the May Budget (as per the article at top of this thread):

    By 30 June 2012 define:,

    1. how Australia can implement low GHG emissions electricity generation that can supply electrcity at a cost less then new coal generation;

    2. the impediments to implementing it;

    3. what must be done to implement it; and

    4. an achievable schedule for implementation (and major milestones).

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  93. Ewen,

    Your idea is ‘dream-world’ stuff, me thinks. If we don’t move now to remove the barriers to nuclear power, it will be a long slow process following the route you are suggesting. And the rest of the world may not go the ETS route. We’d be sitting like a shag on a rock. We cannot undo the CPRS/ETS once implemented. It is not the right time for Australia to be implementing an ETS. As I’ve said before, the first thing we need to do is to tackle the imposts on nuclear. Let’s expose the problem rather than avoiding it and burrying it, as you seem to want to do. I’d urge you to get onto trying to change the Green Party’s position on nuclear.

    Our very best opportunity is between now and April. That is our opportunity to get Labor to include something in the Budget to get the process started. If it is not included in the 2010 budget, it certainly will not be in the 2011 and probably not the 2012 budget. These are the budgets where the government has to be tough to try to get the finances under control – before they give it all away at the next budget (the election year budget).

    2010 Budget is the one we need to aim for.

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  94. Ewen,

    I do not believe, for one moment, you, the Greens or Labor would become pro-nuclear as a result of implementing the CPRS. The anti-nuclear mantra would continue while they continue to push for renewables and do everything in their power to make nuclear as costly as possible.

    Who do you think would fall for this sort of scam?

    No, what I believe and I suspect many others do too, is these anti-nuclear political parties and NGOs cannot be serious about cutting emissions while they preach anti-nuclear rubbish.

    Furthermore, I simply see these groups as wanting to preach extremist policies while offering no realistic solution.

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  95. Peter said:

    I do not believe, for one moment, you, the Greens or Labor would become pro-nuclear as a result of implementing the CPRS

    I’m already pro-nuclear. I don’t support the CPRS. Accordingly, I’m not clear what this means.

    My point, which you haven’t addressed, is above. Unless your policy makes the polluters pay for the harm they are doing, you can’t sell it to the people you need to sell it to. You will approach in bad faith.

    If you say: this is what it should cost to poison the populace and trash ecosystem services you can argue for nuclear power as a solution with their worries about hazmat costed out.

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  96. Ewen,

    My appologies. Yes I realise you are pro-nuclear. I changed the sentence around after I’d written it and didn’t fix it properly. Appologies.

    I’ve addressed your arguments about you wanting to raise the price of electricity. I’ve addressed it in many posts. You appear to have not understood, so I see little point in trying to explain that again.

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  97. A think a coal export levy is doable, consistent and precedented. The idea is that the coal importer can reclaim the payment but with a few months time lag. They can spend the recovered money on more coal if they want but the FOB price of coal will be significantly higher. After all Australians may be paying this price soon if some form of domestic carbon charging gets up. In a sense we will be subsidising China if they pay less for coal (or gas via LNG) than we do. The Chinese themselves have placed export levies on aluminium metal and I believe they intend to totally embargo rare earth metals. I see that standing up to China is also part of Greens policy, alas not energy realism.

    The fact is that cost dramatically affects behaviours, not so much good intentions. Unruly tenants restrain themselves because of rental bonds, Europeans drive smaller cars because of fuel taxes, direct debit is becoming the preferred cheaper form of billing. Even with CO2 benchmarking some kind of carrot and stick system will be needed like forced closures of power stations. The business community understands costs on an everyday basis, not guidelines with vague penalties.

    If we export more black coal because it’s not our problem those folks who wanted brown coal exported from Hastings, Vic will ask to get in on the action. I don’t believe India’s steel industry wants to get all its coking coal from South Africa. If the Chinese switch to Indonesia for thermal coal then that’s less foreign aid the Indos can expect from us. I think Australia’s coal customers will have to consider their options carefully. As for giving up revenue by leaving coal in the ground we’ve already done that with asbestos.

    If the black coal export levy was $50 a tonne I think it should be about $25 for LNG.

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  98. Then every country start imposing levies and tarrifs and whatever trade penalty suits them. Soon we’d be back to the bad old days of trade protection everywhere.

    If we don’t focus on trying to coax Labor, by whatever ways you guys can think of, into changing its anti-nuclear stance – this year, in fact preferably by April 2010, for the reasons I laid out above – its going to be a long slow process. There is an opportunity, right now, but we can’t get ourselves pointed in one direction.

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  99. Peter Lang

    Do you not think that it might be more politically possible to have nuclear and CCS coal classed as renewables rather than scrapping the CPRS altogether? Alternatively, scrap “renewable” and replace with “clean”.

    It seems that some with anti nuclear stances have them because they are of the view that nuclear will be too expensive or too late to solve the problem. However, they might see equity in a level playing field approach for clean energy. If their beliefs over cost and time are genuine, they would have nothing to worry about because they would ,initially, continue to believe that nuclear wouldn’t really get off the ground.

    I believe the strategy you are adopting is a shit or bust approach and that the latter is the more likely. I totally believe in your aims or desired outcomes but I think your lack of flexibility in considering that it can only be achieved your way is counterproductive and undiplomatic. Have you discussed the matter with any politicians or civil servants? If they were to hear your objectives carefully explained, they might be able to give you useful advice on the most likely strategy to achieve them.

    For interest, I thought I’d let people know what’s been coming into my mailbox this week – a lot of promotional literature from green energy installers talking about UK- proposed new feed in tariffs relevant to households and small businesses.

    Solar PV : 41.3p/kWh
    Wind: 26.7p/kWh
    Ground source heat pumps: 7p/kWh (25 years)
    Air source heat pumps: 7.5p/kWh (18 years)

    I don’t know the guaranteed time for wind and solar but would imagine it’s about the same. The payment will be for all electricity produced, whether used oneself or sold to the grid (mandatory for grid to accept it). One installer wished me to purchase a small turbine (rated 11kW) for £50000 ex foundations. Payback would be in the region of 10 years. I think subsidies for heat pumps, like those for insulation, have something to recommend them but the wind and solar bribes don’t make any sense to me.

    I am more than a little horrified by the long term implications for the taxpayer and can quite understand why Peter fears the same for Australia if nuclear can’t become an honorary renewable.

    Peter, on Open Thread 2, I asked a question of you relating to comparative LCEs of wind and nuclear. You might not have seen this but I would greatly like your expert opinion on the subject. The UK White Paper to which you referred suggested that the LCEs of wind and nuclear would be similar, even having factored in wind’s intermittency and the need for gas back up. This seems to be very different from what you have been saying. however, i may have got myself muddled .

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  100. Douglas Wise,

    Raising the cost of electricity (other than through properly incorporating the cost of externalities) is bad policy, IMO, for the reasons I’ve explained in other posts.

    Leaving the rediculous impediments against nuclear in place while raising the cost of electricity through a CPRS will raise the price of electricity forever, and leave these impediments in place. We will never again have the opportunity we have now to set out on the road to get nuclear at a cost competitive with coal once the CPRS is in place. We have the opportunity right now while Labor is desperate to get some realistic policy in place to prove its credentials on producing action to curb GHG emissions. Labor is desperate for a result. Nulcear is the one technology that can provide that. We need to make it palatable for them.

    Once a CPRS is in place governments will be under ongoing and increasing pressure to subsidise and mandate renewables indefinitely. It is niave to think otherwise

    I strongly believe the regulatory approach is the way to proceed – as I’ve laid out in the article at the top of this thread. Once we impose the CPRS we’ll never fix this problem. It will be locked in forever.

    Could I encourage readers to give some more consideration to the solution proposed in the article

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  101. Douglas Wise,

    Regarding the subsidies for renewable energy you mention, yes I am horrified and totally opposed to continuing this practice.

    Have you seen this:
    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/germany/Germany_Study_-_FINAL.pdf

    There are also excellent studies exposing the true cost of these EU subsidy schemes in Spain, Denmark, UK. The true costs of these subsidies and mandating renewable energy are starting to be exposed.

    We need to address this problem, not burry it.

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  102. Peter Lang

    You are merely re-stating your position. Plenty of corresponents have given it consideration but not the full endorsement you crave.

    Your plan is a good one but for the fact that it doesn’t encourage efficient energy use. However, why should it prove more acceptable to legislators than, say, tax and dividend. You rule out consideration of the latter because it isn’t on the Australian agenda. However, neither is your plan. Only CPRS is on the agenda. My post above was merely to suggest the possibility that you might have more political success by considering an alternative to your plan that would meet most of the same objectives, namely to have nuclear classed as renewable and allow investors a realistic choice.

    You really can’t continue to avoid facing up to the implications of some parts of the world pursuing an emissions control strategy while others continue with BAU. I know you don’t, in principle, like trade tariffs but I really don’t think you can dismiss them out of hand. You will, no doubt, respond by saying that they won’t be needed if electricity from nuclear becomes cheaper than that from coal. You must accept, though, that this might take two to three decades, and won’t happen overnight. Emission controlling states will have to give themselves some degree of protection in the meantime.

    I am still hoping for a response to the question I raised in the final paragraph of my previous post. The reason I consider it important is that David Mackay doesn’t seem to regard wind as being so relatively ineffective in reducing CO2 emissions as you do. Whether he is aware of your recent work on the subject, I don’t know. He is, however, an influential and well respected UK adviser on energy and it might be helpful if you could prove your case to him.

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  103. I have to keep repeating the position because half of what I’ve already posted is getting lost/missed.

    CPRS is not the onle option on the agenda. Carbon Tax, Hybrid ETS consumption based, regulatory approach and direct action are all options. The Australian public is turning off the CPRS, for the reasons I’ve stated many times.

    The USA is turning away from their ETS. The only country that has an ETS that is not tied to the EU ETS is New Zealand. And it’s ETS is really a Carbon Tax rather than and ETS. NZ has been left like a shag on a rock since Copenhagen. So yes, I am having to restate my position because half of it keeps getting left behind.

    The only way that will come anywhere close to the schedule I proposed is the regulatory approach.

    If we miss the quick start I am hoping for, then it will take as long as is necessary for Labor to get serious. As long as Labor has no realistic technological solution, the public will not believe they are serious about cutrting GHG emissions. The public are pretty smart; they know when they are being spun a line.

    I’ve commented on the energy efficieny issue in a previous post.

    I agree with changing “Renewable” to “Clean” as I proposed in the article at the top of this thread.

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  104. Douglas Wise,

    I posted this response on the Open Thread 2 as you asked me to do.

    Yes, the UK White Paper does claim that they have included the emissions from back up in their figure of 11-37 kg CO2-e/MWh (I am writing all this from memory, so correct me if I am wromg).

    However, that statement is plainly not correct. The figures for wind power from all the studies are the life cycle emissions for wind alone, not including the emissions from back up. The emisisons in the UK white paper are consistent with the ExternE figures and most other studies all of which do not include the emissions from back up.

    Here is a summary of the most authoritative studies, including links to the sources.
    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/carbon-emissions-from-electricity-generation-the-numbers/

    A great deal of work is going on to determine the emissions penalty for fossil fuel shadowing and back up for wind power. This provides a calculator and references to the recent work:
    http://www.masterresource.org/2009/11/wind-integration-incremental-emissions-from-back-up-generation-cycling-part-i-a-framework-and-calculator/

    There is a new version of thie calculator about to be posted. It shows that for realistic input variables, wind power saves no GHG emissions, and perhaps causes more than with no wind power.

    David Mackay does not consider costs. It is critical to do so.

    Let’s assume the capital cost of the first nuclear plant in Australia is A$4000/kw (I believe it could be $3000/kW for Korean AP1000 by 2015, or less for Russian or Chinse power stations by then).

    To get the equivalent reilable power from wind the capital cost would be (based on current prices):

    $2600/kW for Wind power
    $1000/kW for gas back up
    $1000/kW for transmission
    $4600/kW total

    Compared with $3000 to $4000 for nuclear.

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  105. David Wise,

    I believe it is now time for the CPRS advocates to explain how implementing a CPRS will deliver low emissions electricity generation faster and at lower cost than the approach suggested in the article at the top. (Please don’t expend time telling me how the CPRS and ETS are intended to work nor the cases with the SOx and NOx trading in the USA. I am familiar with all that).

    If you are relying on trust in Labor and greens to become pro-nuclear and to remove all the existing impediments you’ll need a pretty good case to convince me that is believable.

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  106. Peter Lang

    Thanks for the links – very illuminating. Seems the UK White Paper, as you state, must be wrong on this subject. Pity, given the huge wind feed in tariffs being proposed. Actually, disaster rather than pity might be more accurate. I’ll attempt to contact David Mackay with your emissions reduction post and these links.

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  107. The view that direct action and not the CPRS will be needed is echoed by the chief exec of TRU Energy
    http://www.abc.net.au/insidebusiness/content/2010/s2812406.htm
    The idea seems to be that a clean energy fund of $2.5 bn from taxpayers will buy gas fired generation at under $2 a watt. I’m not sure if this is mainly for replacement boilers or complete new systems. Elsewhere I’ve seen suggestions that it would raise Victorian electricity prices 20%.

    Long term however Vic SA and Tas will have to import gas from Australia’s north and west meaning that gas prices must escalate considerably. I also think that gas for transport could double demand. The TRU Energy bloke claims gas will save 75% of CO2 from brown coal. In my opinion a switch to gas is short sighted but it would be quick to build and lower cost than nuclear. Therefore it’s definitely on the cards. Melbournites should look forward to 30c a kwh electricity before long. Either that or put it off for another 30 years.

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  108. Just as a thought experiment, here’s a plausible non-ETS-based approach to emissions reductions …

    1. Proclaim a set of aims for emissions reductions across the board

    eg. 20% decline in stationary and transport energy by 2020; 80% by 2050

    2. Set year by year reduction targets based on (1) above

    3. Ban on nuclear power lifted.

    4. All private and business motor vehicles are emissions measured.

    4. Impose fines based on shortfalls on those who failed. Anyone who misses by more than 10% gets their fine doubled. Anyone who misses by less than 10% has an increase of 10% in their fine on their last fine.

    Anyone who misses three years out of five or worse gets their assets seized and handed over after tender to someone else. Anyone who fails the big target loses their assets and does jail time.

    Fines are based on $100 per tonne of CO2e

    Simple. No emissions trading or churning.

    No “great big new tax”. No emissions trading to bother about. Direct action in its best sense.

    Everyone is happy right?

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  109. The B.C. carbon-tax has been around for almost two years now. I’m sure you are not going to be surprised that it is been reported as both an unqualified success as well as an unmitigated disaster, depending on the source.

    I have been trying to get some hard numbers to look at for the past several months and it’s damned near impossible to find good data one can trust as being accurate and unbiased.

    Nevertheless it doesn’t seem to have had much of an overall impact on the Provence’s carbon footprint, with some reporting a slight decrease and others finding a slight increase. Some sectors, like trucking feel particularly hard done by, and complain bitterly.

    On the other hand a second concern derives from the government’s commitment to “revenue neutrality,” more specifically, all money collected through the new tax is returned to the people through a package of tax cuts and credits. In effect, neither business nor the average consumer will feel much financial bite from the tax and is free to spend his/her tax savings and credits on alternative forms of consumption. This amounts to “impact neutrality,” as well and some are questioning the validity of the process if energy consumers aren’t feeling the hurt.

    So take your pick of sides and cheer for your side, which ever one you on can make a good argument for being right.

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  110. John Newlands,

    You’ve highlighted the cost of electricity if we want to reduce GHG emissions.

    This is the result of 40 years of successful anti-nuclear advocacy.

    The costs of the various options to reduce emissions from electricity generation are presented here:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

    By the way, I would expect the capital cost of high efficiency gas for baseload should be about $1.4/W not $2/W.

    All options to reduce emission from electricity generation between now and 2020 will rely heavily on converting coal generators to gas generators. What happens beyond 2020 will depend on what policies we implement now. If we don’t start removing the impediments to nuclear now, we’ll either have to keep implementing gas or renewables, all of which have high electricity prices for a long time ahead (eg through to 2050).

    We need to act now if we want to avoid the high prices forever.

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  111. Douglas Wise,

    I think this post you made on 1 February is a good summary and worth reposting:

    FWIW, I think the following arguments should be deployed to meet the ends that I think you desire:

    1) Evidence from your Emissions Cuts Realities paper (note, I am according this primacy). It needs to be given more clout by being published in a reputable journal and, I believe, this is in hand. (I hope the associated delay won’t result in the missing of the political deadlines that you refer to above. If this is a problem, try to get maximum press coverage. Has David Mackay read it and commented? It would help to get overt support from him.

    2) Most surrounding nations and many others are deploying nuclear power or are in the process thereof. Therefore, fears over the consequences weapons proliferation are largely irrelevant (horse has bolted). Newer civil NPPs may be somewhat more proliferation resistant and, in any event, fissile material from civil NPPs is not the optimum weapons proliferation route.

    3) Australia has large reserves of nuclear fuel, the export of which, generates income. Much more wealth could be garnered with a pro nuclear stance which encompassed having domestic nuclear power and adding value to exports by domestic enrichment. In any event, the current stance can be deemed deeply hypocritical.

    4) The problem of waste is vastly exaggerated and will be addressed in large part by the deployment of 4th generation technology. In order to expedite the roll out of this technology, the more 3rd generation plants built in the interim, the greater the number of start charges that will be available for the next generation. The concern over lack of sustainability also vanishes with the onset of 4th generation power.

    5) Safety. a) Already very safe by comparison with other power technologies, especially coal. b) getting safer.

    6) Consider global economic crisis and upcoming problems of peak oil and energy security as well as AGW. Consider that the current economic model and all democracies that depend on it can only function if there is economic growth, necessary for the repayment of debt. Argue that economic growth is entirely reliant on a plentiful supply of affordable energy. In effect, as Peter likes to quote from Steve Kirsch, if we can’t find an energy source that is as cheap or, preferably, cheaper than that of coal, we’re screwed. Without it, the global economic system would probably collapse well before we get to unsustainable levels of global warming, not that they wouldn’t still be reached anyway.

    7) The only technology currently available that has the potential to meet the criteria demanded by Steve Kirsch is nuclear. We already know for sure that alternatives will be more costly or won’t scale. We don’t yet know that even nuclear can fulfil the cost brief but we know that it has the potential and it represents our only hope of a soft landing. Fulfillment with respect to costs is not a technological matter but, rather, one of politics. Therefore, not only must it be deployed but deployed in a manner that avoids unnecessary and costly obstructions being put in its way. It represents the ONLY realistic option left to any that wish to avoid power down. Discussions of ERoEIs could be helpful, particularly the fact that 4th Generation ERoEI will be far greater than the ERoEI of oil ever was at its best. This, alone, becomes a very potent argument for those who appreciate the link between the cost of energy and generation (or maintenance) of wealth.

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  112. As a sidenote today I visited a micro-generation project near home. A farmer is about to connect a 14 kwe micro-hydro to a pond uphill. The Flickr image is of the unit in a shed waiting to be set in position in the creek bed, then connected to three phase transmission. With a feed-in tariff of 18.5c per kwh the expected payback is 3 years. He is unsure if he can also obtain Renewable Energy Credits to sell. Imagine if the FIT was 60c as it is in some States.

    Unlike Amory Lovins and company this chap is under no delusions about distributed generation. It is and always will be minor, purely exploiting certain quirky advantages of location.

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  113. John Newlands,

    I love these micro hydro schemes – where they are financially viable of course. But they should not be subsidised. They should stand on their own merits.

    I had a minor role in one in Canada. It is near North Bay, Ontario. It is 100kW. A guy owned a group of cabins miles from anywhere and only accessible by road for a few months per year. People would pay to stay in the cabins “to get away from it all”, go fishing, walking and whatever else Canadians do. The diesel for the generators had to be trucked in while the roads were passable in summer. Sufficient diesel to keep all the cabins heated throughout the winter (they could not be allowed to freeze). The heating costs were very high.

    A few hundred metres up stream from the cabins was a 30 m high water fall. At the top of the waterfall was a small lake (about 100 m by 100 m from memory) ands about 500 m upstream from that lake was another large lake about 2 km by 500 m. So there was very good natural storage and natural regulation that provided a relatively constant steady flow in the creek and over the waterfall. We stuck a plastic pipe in the lake above the waterfall and ran it down to a small, COTS, hydro turbine and generator. The system had to run all the time to prevent the water freezing in the pipe. Any excess electricity generated was wasted by resistance heaters that heated water in a tank that was continually filled from the stream and released to the stream.

    This was a commercially viable scheme. But the problems getting the banks to provide the finance and to get environmental approval took 5 years. The environmentalists had no end of complaints and problems with it. One of the most crazy was that they opposed building a 2 foot high brick wall at the outlet of the upper lake. The wall would have been a few bricks high at the deepest point in the notch at the outlet and about 10 m long. It would have improved the regulation of the upper lake and increased the controllable storage. The environmentalists complaint was it would effect where the birds ad fish laid their eggs (or some other nonsense). The beavers build dams higher than that whenever they feel like it. It requires enormous dedication and perseverance to continue a project like this through to completion against such dogmatic resistance.

    I still keep in touch with the engineer who built that scheme and whjo organised all the finance and progressed it through all the bureaucratric hurdles. By the way, just for interest, he became head of the Elliot Lake uranium mine in Ontario.

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  114. Tritium disperses rapidly in the environment since it diffuses exactly like normal hydrogen gas- this means the direct dose to individual people, plants, and animals in the area will be very low. Consequently, indirect exposure through livestock and produce will be even lower. Ground level exposure is generally exceptionally low compared to that from other potential byproduct releases due to the rapid and high (vertical) diffusion of both tritium gas and T2O. Exposure rates from tritium contamination, even from catastrophic accidents, is low enough to represent little threat to those in the immediate area or indirectly through affected food products and water supplies.

    Even high levels of exposure, though unlikely from a NPP, are generally not a significant threat. The mode of decay is a low energy beta-particle (electron) which is effectively attenuated by a sheet of paper or a thin layer of dead skin. This type of radiation is not particularly harmful, even when ingested. While very large doses over long periods of time can increase free radicals inside the body through ionization effects, the effect is so marginal that tritium is considered safe for use in exit signs. Even decay inside the body, from contaminated water, is unlikely to pose much of a statistical risk. In fact, a broken exit sign in a small movie theater would expose you to a greater dose than they these leaks from nuclear plants. That does is still low enough that, while caution is advised by manufacturers for the sake of prudence, that it does not amount to much more than your normal background dose. Tritium exposure is also considered to be a low enough risk that it is used in found in some gun sights and in some watches. Ingesting the tritium contents of one of these devices, while still far far greater than exposure from these plants, poses little to no real health risk.

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  115. David B benson,

    I agree. Nothing’s perfect. But on balance how bad are these polutants? We really do need to put the consequences of these leaks in perspective with what is happening and what we accept from other industrial processes. Do you have any idea of the really toxic polution in the Homebush Bay area of Sydney where the Olympic Village was built? Lets get some balance.

    You raise Gen II. I’ve been coming to think that perhaps I shjould be advocating Gen II beacuse Gen III is too expensive. I doubt going from Gen II’s 10 to 100 times safer than coal to Gen III’s say 20 to 200 times safer than coal is worth the cost. So why don’t we settle for a fleet of CANDU 600’s supplying electricity for less cost than coal generation and 10 to 100 times safer? Any thoughts on this, anyone?

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  116. Peter, it’s ether an ARC600 or a CANDU 6

    The ARC for Advanced CANDU Reator is an untested design that we won’t even buid in Canada. CANDU 6 and the Enhanced CANDU 6 or EC-6, are the workhorses of the fleet right now and the designs that are most popular with the export market.

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  117. DV82XL,

    Thank you for that reminder. I am way out of date.

    I just want two updated versions these near Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbance and one near Adelaide and Perth (all for about $2/W or less): http://www.world-nuclear.org/ecsgallery/imageDisplay.aspx?id=10584&Page=19

    I’d be very happy to see them modified to provide low cost desalination as well.

    If we really wanted to, we could bring one unit on stream per year from 2020 in each state – we’d retire all our coal fired generation by bid 2030’s at that rate.

    We’d have clean, safe electrcity at less than the cost of coal (if we get rid of all the regulatory blocks to clean electricity)

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  118. Peter L the micro hydro bloke has similar problems with creating a weir, both to increase the head of 28 metres and as a summer buffer. Currently a small notch in an upstream pool is covered by a grate to keep the platypus out. A 25cm diameter pipe is covered by an access road next to the creek. When the environmental people come (in their 100 kw cars to look at a 14 kw hydro) it all has to look as natural as possible. That may affect eligibility for RECs. It reinforces the selective myopia of the green lobby; they see tiny tiny increments to low carbon energy and somehow convince themselves coal is no longer needed.

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  119. DV82XL, and others,

    I propose a change to the article at the top of this thread. Change:

    3.Establish arrangements with IAEA to act as our Nuclear Regulatory Authority until we are ready to take over.

    To read “3.Establish arrangements with the Canadian Atomic Energy Control Board to act as our nuclear regulatory authority until we are ready to take over.

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  120. John Newlands. We are learning very very slowly. The problems your friend is having are very similar to the ones my friend was having in Canada in the 1980’s. I understand it is even more diffiult now. The environment departments have learn a lot of new tricks how to frustrate the very people who they should be trying to help. The trouble is none of them have any idea whatso ever about finance, cost of finance, time cost of money, opportunity cost of spending ages on somethjing like this for no return. My friend and his wife are both civil engineers. They persued and completed the Canadian micro hydro out interest and love for what they believed in. The owner gave up long before they got the approvals and simply became a passenger. My friends did it all in their spare time for no financial return.

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  121. “3.Establish arrangements with the Canadian Atomic Energy Control Board to act as our nuclear regulatory authority until we are ready to take over.”

    Not if you ever want to see nuclear energy in Oz. This is not the old AECB that was running the show when we were building NPPs in Canada. It was replaced by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). This bunch seems to think their mandate is to inhibit the growth of nuclear energy as much as possible.

    If anything Australia should see the CNSC as an object lesson on what NOT to do.

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  122. DV82XL,

    It sounds like the’ve morphoed to being worse that even the AECB. I remember the guys at Pinawa who were working on the Slowpoke reactor complaining about the AECB. I remember the Chalk River people also. Thye both were saying much as you are saying now.

    So what are the options for regulation of nuclear power stations in Australia? I do not like the idea of Australia setrting up its own Nuclear Regulatory Commission. What are the options?

    Anything out of Europe, USA, UK seems to be rediculously bureaucratic and slow. Scandinavia used to be practical once, but I think that has been swallowed by the EU processes.

    What has UAE done?

    What is Korea, Taiwan, China, Russia, Romania, Brazil, Aegentina, etc doing? They all comply with IAEA regulations (I believe), so how are they doing it?

    What is the least cost way for Australia to regulate nuclear electricity generation?

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  123. Look to the aviation technical authorities as good examples of how to regulate an industry, and structure your nuclear regulator such that it is independent enough to not have it’s oversight committees packed with antinukes, to placate the Greens.

    This is what happened to us, and they have brought the industry to its knees. While the current board is impaneled, a new NPP will not be built in Canada.

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  124. DV82XL,

    I reckon you suggestion of applying a model derived from the ‘aviation technical authorities’ is a great idea for the world to adopt. But that is impractical for Australia to go and lead the way on that. We are a very small economy compared with Canada. If we have to set up an NRC from scratch it will never happen. We need to adopt something simple that other small economies are using, or subcontract out the regulation at a cost that is appropriate for our economy.

    Suggestions?

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  125. I don’t know Peter the Gross Domestic Product, Australia – $1.02 Trillion US dollars at current prices – 2008, and Gross Domestic Product, Canada – $1.4 Trillion US dollars at current prices – 2008.

    Not that big a gap.

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  126. Thanks for that. I thought the difference was greater than that, but I accept your research.

    The other difference of course is that the CNSC is regulating the design of the Canadian reactors whereas in Australia we would need to regulate only the construction and operation.

    I still don’t believe it is practical to start from scratch to develop our own nuclear regulatory body.

    Do you (or anyone else reading this exchange) know how the other countries with small economies are regulating their nuclear power industry. Many small countries are doing so, and doing so very effectively judging by the fantastic safety record.

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  127. Those Gen 2 reactors have reached their desing life but yet are in the process of license renewal and even power level upgrades to 120% or so. The tritium leaks are more an indicator of potential risks than an actual hazard. Over the last 15 or so years the incidents reported to NRC have gone way up but the accidents reported have gone way down. I interpret this is that the operating engineers have learned how to run their decaying equipment.

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  128. For those who thought the idea had merit for an export levy on carbon embodying fuels here are approximate prices per tonne

    – coking coal $52
    – thermal coal $48
    – refined petrol $35
    – LNG $27
    – yellowcake $1

    These levies need to be added to FOB export prices and paid into a green fund of the importing country. The amounts are based on a $20 a tonne domestic CO2 price and approximate carbon intensities cited in the literature.

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  129. David B Benson

    You said:

    I interpret this is that the operating engineers have learned how to run their decaying equipment.

    Probably true, just like the coal, gas and chemical plants.

    Did you notice how a $600 MW new clean, Kleen Gas power station nearing completion in the US blew up and destroyed itself yesterday killing at least 5 people and injuring at least 12. There is a small article burried on page 9 in today’s Australian. Imagine where the report would be if there was an accident at a nuclear power station. All the papers would run a special edition and have commentary and opinion pieces for the next 20 years.

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  130. DV82XL and Peter Lang

    My layman’s understanding of CANDU reactors is that their main advantage lies in their ability to make use of non enriched uranium, partly offset by deuterium costs and the need for larger containment buildings. If this is correct, has the net advantage disappeared in consequence of the development of much more efficient methods of uranium enrichment?

    A second question relates to spent fuel from CANDUs. Is it suitable for conversion to a “start charge” for Gen IVs?

    Finally, I understand that the Advanced CANDU, a Gen 111+ design is scheduled to be ready for the Canadian market by 2016 and to have the potential to produce significantly cheaper electricity than that produced by current CANDUs (Wikipedia). I accept that there may be FOAK problems. However, I was interested in DV82XL’s comment that the Advanced CANDU was “an untested design that we won’t even build in Canada”. Why? The statement “won’t even build” is hugely stronger than “has not yet been built”. Is it because the AREVA and AP series got there first and, by the time the the Advanced CANDU is ready, the FOAK problems of the others will have been sorted?

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  131. Douglas Wise,

    I’ll leave this for DV82XL to answer becuase he knows far more than I do about them now. I’ll just note that one of the advantages of CANDU over LWR’s is that they allow for online refueling when operating at full power, so theoretically they can have higher capacity factors than LWRs.

    To back this up, last time I looked the Korean CANDU’s at Wolsung 1 had the highest life time capacity factor of any reactors in the world.

    One other advantage from my perspective, is that Canada has managed to sell quite a few of them into countries with small economies, so I think they might be a fit for Australia.

    I am not sure about fuel costs now that the cost of enrichment has been reduced by replacement of the diffusion by the centrifuge enrichment method. And yes, there is more used fuel to manage, but since the quantities of used fuel are so small, I see this as a trivial issue. Wolsung stores its used fuel in concrete canisters on the surface. There is a photo of them on page 63, Figure 5.4, in Ziggy Switkowski’s report to the Prime Minister “Uranium Mining, Processing and Nulcear Energy”. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/tep/66043

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  132. First let me state for the record that I do not, nor ever have worked for any company even obliquely connected with CANDU reactors. However I am Canadian, and I am proud of our home-grown technology. So with that in mind…

    First to answer Doug; yes the big advantages to CANDU are natural uranium fuel, on-line refueling, and lack of a large high-pressure vessel. I have not heard that there is a particular need for larger containment buildings per se, but overbuilding structures exposed to our weather is a bit of a vice with us, so I will leave that question open.

    Other advantages are that, being very stingy with neutrons, CANDUs can burn just about anything, and can use the other advantage of on-line refueling to better manage the fuel while it is being used by shifting the bundles about. Think logs on a fire – you can burn logs much more effectively on a fire if you can move them about.

    The cost of heavy water is a major initial expense, the bottom line is you ether enrich the fuel, or you enrich the moderator. Doing it this way is first partially offset by the aforementioned lack of a large pressure vessel, second, it is a one-time expense, (minor losses can be made up with a small on-site plant.) Also the process is easier than enriching uranium, and has only H2O as a waste product.. Much easier to dispose of than DU tailings. ;)

    As for the saga of the ACR, one has to understand that in many ways this design is a major departure from the basic CANDU. It needs to use enriched uranium, albeit at a lower percentage than a LWR, but nevertheless enriched fuel is required.. It is also a mixed light water/heavy water type, and AECL has tried this before unsuccessfully. The Gentilly-1 nuclear reactor near Bécancour, in Quebec was such a design and was a technical and economic fiasco. It only operated in an erratic fashion for 180 days before it was permanently shut down. Other experiments along these lines have also been disappointing.

    AECL also shelved the CANDU 9 which was to be the next evolution on the standard path, which would have been the better choice for the markets they serve. In fact much of what is new in the Enhanced CANDU 6, are features developed for the CANDU 9. Also the projected cost for the ARC they wanted to build in Ontario were astronomical, and while there was a lot of politics in that estimate, I personally suspect it was closer to the truth than was comfortable.

    Peter is right, the CANDU is a great product for countries that want to get started with nuclear energy, that is where its market lies. The ARC is an attempt to be one of the big guys, and the fact is there is not much room at the top in the +1200MWe class, what with some very big players involved. AECL in my opinion, were fools to drop the smaller CANDUs , as those are now the designs and sizes the Indians are going to sell to smaller countries.

    I do believe CANDU would be good fit for Australia, I hope they are given due consideration when the time comes.

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  133. DC82XL

    Thanks for that information. One thing you omitted to deal with was my question relating to the suitability of CANDU waste as potential start charge for Gen IV. Further, I infer from your reply that you don’t think newer enrichment methods offsets CADUs advantage of non enriched fuel despite the deuterium costs but you were not explicit on this point.

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  134. Sorry,. CANDU normal waste is not a good starter material for Gen IV reactors. Basically CANDUs burn the devil out of uranium fuel leaving it economically unsuited for reprocessing. The Indians plan to breed thorium in their CANDU knock-offs, for such a Gen IV cycle however.

    The end-to-end costs of enrichment, are still much more expensive than heavy water over the fifty-year lifespan of a CANDU. As I said, it is by in large, a one-time cost. Even then it requires less energy to separate deuterium from a mix of hydrogen because the relative weight difference is much greater than between the two uranium isotopes. One also cannot discount the relative costs of the hardware between the two processes, and the cost of dealing with the tailings, which of course for heavy water, is trivial.

    As I also said, it is by in large also a one time cost, and heavy water can be recovered at the end of the reactors life for reuse, thus it keeps it value over the long term. There will be some small losses, during operation of the reactor, but these can be made up by an in situ plant, no bigger than a good sized water softener, of the sort you might find in a large industrial steam installation.

    However CANDUs will burn enriched fuel just as happily as enriched, so the option is not lost completely. But given the size of Australia’s uranium reserves, it is unlikely that this would be cost effective for them.

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  135. DV82 made. an excellent point about the enrichment technology. To separate H with mass 1 from Deuterium [mass 2] is much easier than separating U235 from U 238.
    Likewise, separating bomb plutonium [Pu 239] from the other higher mass plutoniums produced by nuclear power generation, is even more difficult and expensive. However, the Pu waste from nuclear power plants has been recycled in power plants since the 1970s as MOX fuel.
    I have no problem with regulation of the industry but I think the public and media perception of the dangers breeds a regulatory culture which is over the top in terms of “radiation protection”. If radiation dose was as dangerous as supposed I should have karked it after my radiation angiogram before my bypass 18 years ago.

    Radiation Protection is an industry which does much to regulate, but not enough to inform the public about the radiation doses received by the public from natural background radiation and from medical procedures.

    Nuclear power has been around for more than half a century and killed how many? Traffic accidents account for 1.25 million per year. How many children die every year from preventable enteric infections while we worry about the possible effect of nuclear waste on generations yet to come. Radioactive waste decays as time goes by.

    As an ALP sympathiser it horrifies me that it has set its sights on an ETS which will bring profits to traders in hot air and cause us to pay for another legion of public servants to police about 600 pages of its legislation.

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  136. DV82XL

    Thank you for your response. My education on the subject is creeping forward.

    I have now learned that CANDU’s advantage of being able to use unenriched fuel still remains great enough to trump some of the LWR’s other advantages, even having accounted for improvements in the uranium enrichment process.

    I have also learnt that CANDU waste isn’t much good as start charge material. I liked your explanation – burning the devil out of the uranium- which was couched in terms that just about match my level of technical knowledge. Unfortunately, you then lost me with the next sentence. Does the Indian approach render the disadvantage of lack of start charges irrelevant or are their cost penalties associated with whatever it is they are planning to do with thorium?

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  137. India has made utilization of thorium fuel a major goal in its nuclear power programme. They plan a three-stage concept:

    In the first stage sees construction of pressurized heavy water reactors (CANDUs) fueled by natural uranium, and light water reactors, to produce Pu.

    Next fast breeder reactors (FBRs) using plutonium recovered from the reprocessed spent fuel of the LWRs to breed U-233 from thorium. The blanket around the core will have uranium as well as thorium, so that further plutonium (particularly Pu-239) is produced as well as the U-233.

    In the final stage advanced heavy water reactors burn the U-233 and this plutonium with thorium, getting about 75% of their power from the thorium. The used fuel will then be reprocessed to recover fissile materials for recycling.

    However the they could avoid the fleet of LWRs if they were to acquire Pu from countries wishing to dispose of their LWR spent fuel, or if there was Pu available from other sources, that was scheduled for disposal.

    India is developing a Th fuel cycle, because they have little indigenous uranium, but over a quarter of the world’s known thorium reserves. But given the size of the uranium reserves in Australia, and Canada it is unlikely that there would be much incentive to develop a Th cycle in ether place for the foreseeable future.

    IMHO both our countries need to increase the penetration of nuclear energy in our domestic markets, and uranium is the most practical fuel at this stage, to do so. While I am a big fan of thorium technology, I have to recognize that it will be a long time coming here.

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  138. Thank you, again. You mention a three stage process that is planned in India. Your description makes it sound that the first stage has two components, say, a) and b). 1a) is a bog standard CANDU. 1b) is an LWR. 1a) makes waste that is good for nothing while 1b) makes waste that can feed an FBR (stage 2). Stage 3 handles stage 2 waste. Unless the waste from stage 3 is fed back to stage 1a), I can’t see any point in having stage 1a) in the first place. Am I being exceptionally stupid?

    I fully accept that your opinion that uranium poor, thorium rich India has more motivation than most to develop an arrangement to exploit its asset and that most nations will not, at this stage, deploy this route.

    Like

  139. Sorry, I see that it was a bit unclear.

    Both the PHWRs and the AHWRs, will be used to close the cycle. There isn’t all that much difference between the two, the latter being the design extension of the former.

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  140. The claim that “Increasing the cost of energy has serious negative consequences for humanity, especially the poorest peoples on the planet. ” is wrong in the Australian context, and belief in this claim often leads to bad policy (such as the Frontier Economics proposal). While it is true that much of humanity would benefit form access to electricity, keeping the cost of energy in Australia artificially low will increase the cost of emission reductions, by stopping cheap emission reductions from activities that reduce energy usage. Australia’s electricity is among the cheapest (and most dirty) in the world.

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  141. Pingback: The problem with ‘Generating the Future: UK energy systems fit for 2050′ « BraveNewClimate

  142. The Australian Departyment of Climate Change has just asked for submissions on its “Discussion Paper – Enhancing the Renewable Energy Target.
    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/en/government/submissions/renewable-energy-target/consultation-enhanced-ret.aspx

    I’ve just posted this short submission:

    An RET is an attempt to ‘pick winners’. The government should not attempt to pick winners.

    The RET should be replaced with “Clean Energy Targets”

    There should be no subsidies for renewable energy.

    Renewable energy (except hydro) is a waste of money and a waste of the country’s wealth.

    If we want low cost, clean electricity, we should be doing all possible to allow nuclear power to compete with coal for electricity generation.

    This would require removal of all the impediments to nuclear power.

    Nuclear is already some 10 to 100 times safer and more environmentally benign than coal for electricity generation (all risks and hazards included), so why are we requiring even more stringent requirements. If there was a genuine level playing field, nuclear would be cost competitive with coal (at the same level of risk and health hazard) and far more environmentally benign.

    Please read:

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

    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

    Like

  143. Reasons why we should allowclean electricity to be cheaper than dirty electricity:

    1. higher rate of economic growth
    2. stronger economy
    3. more and better jobs
    4. faster real income growth
    5. higher income for workers relative to growth in prices of products and services
    6. more tax revenue
    7. more funds for services such as Health, Education, infrastructure and Environment
    8. faster displacement of fossil fuels for electricity generation
    9. faster displacement of fossil fuels by electricity for heating and transport
    10. faster reduction in CO2 emissions

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  144. What do we have to do to get clean electricity?

    1. educate the population to reduce the irrational fears about nuclear energy

    2. Establish a regulatory environment that has a low impact on the cost of electricity

    3. Remove the investor risk premium

    4. Avoid/Remove/Offset the ‘First of a Kind’ costs

    How?

    1. Establish a “Clean Energy” faculty in at least one university in each state

    2. Establish “Clean Power Australia” – a government funded agency, that is independent of political interference, like the Reserve Bank of Australia. The terms of reference for ‘Clean Power Australia’ will be something like:

    a. Define how Australia should proceed to get clean energy at a cost that is cheaper than dirty energy, (fund research as necessary to achieve this objective)
    b. Develop detailed implementation plans
    c. Provide policy advice to government
    d. Establish and oversee the Australian regulatory authority for clean power.

    3. The government shall remove investor risk premium by:

    a. Removing all anti-competitive regulations such as RET, RECs, FiT, subsidies, tax and other incentives
    b. Removing all legislative bans on nuclear and all other disincentives
    c. Legislating that any future changes of laws or government regulations, implemented by any level of government, that disadvantage the generator will be compensated.
    d. The government will have a large stake in the success of the ventures. This is necessary to convince the investors that the government will act to prevent public disruption. Delays will cost the government. Best practice risk management is for the party that is best able to control the risk to carry that risk. So, all cost of delays caused by public disruption, union strikes, etc will be compensated by the government.

    4. The government shall carry the ‘First of a Kind’ costs. The justification for doing so is:

    a. We have been doing so for renewable energy forever
    b. Society caused the delay in implementing nuclear, so society, not just the users, should carry this cost
    c. Society wants the clean energy, not just the users, so society should carry this cost
    d. Society wanted the cheap coal fired power in the past and has now changed its mind. It wasn’t the users who changed their mind. So society should carry the cost of the change.

    Like

  145. Electricity – Social Service or Market Comodity?
    The importance of clarity for decision-making
    on nuclear build

    http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/16899_0610pp_grimston.pdf

    …there seems to be a fundamental lack of clarity as to whether electricity is to be delivered by a competitive market, or whether government will intervene on a regular basis to ensure, or seek to ensure, the delivery of a series of social and industrial goals.This paper will argue that a ‘middle way’ on this issue would be worse than a purer stance, be it either that electricity is a commodity to be delivered in a stable marketplace or a social and industrial service to be delivered through central governmental direction.

    But in those countries in which there is a strong suspicion that government may be
    unable to resist interfering, nuclear investment still looks risky, perhaps unmanageably
    so. To lose an investment of the size required to build a nuclear plant because of
    unpredictable regulatory action by future governments not yet elected might prove a
    risk too far. Various approaches have been pursued to address this – for example, in
    the USA significant incentives for new commercial reactors were included in the Energy
    Policy Act of 2005, including production tax credits, loan guarantees and insurance
    against regulatory delays.

    Forward not back?

    None of this analysis necessarily offers much comfort to those who long for a return to
    the days of the Central Electricity Generating Board. The command-and-control model
    in practice often failed to deliver on its alleged advantages. Most notably, isolated from
    competitive pressures, the underlying costs of power production were high. It is difficult
    to escape the conclusion that investment decisions were often taken on the basis of a
    visceral attraction to the technology in question (or hatred of the alternatives) –
    nationalised industries were often run by people who had made their way up through
    the technical side of the business97. Managers’ practice of ‘picking winners’ (or, just as
    often, losers) rather than testing decisions against market criteria delivered great power
    into the hands of those with most influence with government rather than necessarily
    those with the best commercial case. It was often policy to pursue a diversity of supply
    sources and an excess capacity margin (reaching 45% in Canada, 50% in Spain and
    70% in parts of Australia) in order to guarantee secure supplies against unexpected
    occurrences. The general laxity which often besets companies operating in a
    monopoly situation (in which the pressure to reduce or contain costs is weakened by
    the absence of consumer choice) was also in evidence – for example, success in
    collecting payment for electricity and preventing theft varied significantly from country to
    country.

    In the UK the system did not even deliver diversity of fuel supply. The monopolistic
    Central Electricity Generating Board came under enormous pressure from successive
    governments to use domestically-mined coal for the bulk of electricity production – as
    late as 1990 British-mined coal was still responsible for 65% of electricity supplies.
    Such a policy delivered disproportionate political power to the National Union of
    Mineworkers which on several occasions was able to take on the government of the
    day by causing or threatening widespread power outages.

    POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

    · The new coalition government should decide, and make clear, the extent to which it regards secure power supplies as a matter for the marketplace
    (while setting an appropriate and stable role for regulators in shaping market rules to encourage environmental protection, maintenance of appropriate capacity margins, e.g. by considering the option of capacity markets or capacity payments), accepting that very high power prices may not be reflective of abuse of market power but may be necessary to send the signals for new investment; and the extent to which it intends to allow social and political considerations to take precedence.

    · The government should ensure that the locus of decision-making is clear, not suggesting simultaneously for example that it has decided that there should be a new programme of nuclear stations or offshore windfarms and that that decision is not one for governments at all.

    · The governments must ensure that planning and regulatory procedures cannot be used by opponents of a particular technology, or of electricity generating technology in general, to delay projects and push up their costs to the extent that they become effectively impossible in a competitive environment, irrespective of the objective merits of such projects.

    · The governments must recognise that, should it wish to pursue an interventionist stance in order to promote political priorities and hence intervene more or less capriciously in markets (e.g. setting price caps at constantly changing levels), it may well damage the confidence of investors to commit to funding new generating capacity at the appropriate time. Appropriate schemes of compensation for power generators which lose income because of regulatory action, such as those offered in the 2005 Energy Act in the US, may be a workable adjunct to interventionism, but may not be as efficient as allowing market forces to do their job.

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  146. Peter Lang:

    Thank you for posting the Chatham House link above. It seemed to be a very sensibly argued document The author’s conclusion was that an energy market was likely to perform better with either a free market system or a command and control approach, but that a hybrid of the two was likely to be catastrophic.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this conclusion and, in particular, which of the author’s preferred two options you would favour.

    FWIW, I think that a pure market approach isn’t likely to work in the case of nuclear without strong government backing (streamlining planning, R&D and training, investor guarantees, levelling the playing field etc). However, energy companies, both in the UK and, I think, in Australia are currently privatised. I wonder, therefore, whether the author’s conclusion is entirely correct or practicable. Could some sort of public/private partnership be an optimal solution, one that sought value for both taxpayers and private investors? I am thinking of taxpayer value being gained by profits from energy production rather than through price caps. Thus, the government and taxpayer would have vested interests in the success and profitability of energy production and, in consequence, would be more inclined than at present to pursue the most efficient means of obtaining it.

    If most of our energy is to come from electricity and governments lose tax income from oil, where should they look to make good the shortfall – electricity, income, VAT? This is, admittedly, a separate issue, but one that might have a bearing on investors’ thinking. However, it is not an issue that I have thought out and would welcome your thoughts.

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  147. Hi Neal,

    I’d strongly agree with his conclusion: i.e. that the hybrid is the worst of the options (but correctly stated not as you have written them here).

    I get the impression from your words here and in many previous posts that you advocate the hybrid model – ie the worst of all options.

    Like

  148. Peter Lang:

    I was not arguing with Grimston’s conclusion relating to the current hybrid model. I was suggesting a quite different approach. However, I guess you’d say that it wouldn’t work that way.

    You didn’t favour one or other of the alternatives. However, Grimston was pessimistic about nuclear prospects without much more government support , almost amounting to intervention. Perhaps, therefore, you favour the command and control approach. This would require renationalisation of existing privatised energy companies which I would have thought you would not have favoured.

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  150. 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!!

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  151. Pingback: Open Thread 6 « BraveNewClimate

  152. Before we implement a massive new tax scheme, such as a carbon tax or ETS, we should be sure that such a scheme will achieve the desired objective(s).

    Which leads me to ask, 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 suspect the answer to these questions is:

    • YES to questions 1, 2, 9, 10

    • NO to questions: 3, 4, 5, 6

    • The answer to question 7 is: 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 continue to prevent the least costly way to reduce emissions, nuclear power.

    Please do not impose a carbon tax or ETS/CPRS on Australia before:

    1. the world has agreed a mechanism to price carbon emissions and

    2. Australia has removed all impediments to cheap, clean electricity generation (i.e. nuclear)

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  153. What we should be doing right now is persuading:
    1. at least one environmental NGO to change its policy and become strong advocates of implementing least-cost nuclear power in Australia as soon as possible; likewise for
    2. Labor Party policy makers
    3. Greens Party
    4. Media
    5. public

    This is where our emphasis should be.

    BNC is inhabited mainly by supporters of Labor and Greens. I’d urge us all to focus on getting these political parties to change their policy; this should be our priority.

    I’d also strongly urge us to stop advocating ETS and carbon tax. No one has provided a persuasive argument that these can significantly cut our emissions in the absence of nuclear power being allowed, in fact strongly encouraged, in Australia. So a carbon price will damage our economy for no significant gain. We are being distracted and wasting our effort arguing for a symbolic gesture. Carbon tax and ETS are being advocated largely by the gas industry, renewables backers, banks and traders and the government which wants more revenue to dole out as suits its political agendas (for ever more!). These are the groups to gain from an ETS or carbon tax.

    An ETS or carbon tax mostly favours the gas industry. Gas generation and renewables will be favoured for a long time. Much longer than if we make our strongest case, NOW, that we need to adopt low-cost nuclear asap.

    The carbon tax or ETS should be put on the backburner until we’ve got all the impediments to nuclear removed.

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  154. This link was forwarded to me from John Bennetts.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/11/business/energy-environment/11power.html?_r=2&th&emc=th

    My comments are:

    1. Yes, most realise that nuclear is more expensive than coal and gas in the USA, EU, UK and Canada and would be in Australia given the current opposition to it. My argument is the cost is high because we have imposed ridiculous constraints on nuclear for the past 40 years. If we want clean energy we, society, have to pay the cost of undoing our past errors. So we have to do whatever needs to be done to discover what it is that we’ve imposed that is making nuclear too expensive. We need to remove those imposts. We cannot remove all the imposts we’ve built into Gen II and Gen III reactors, so we will not be able to get the cost down as low as it could and should be until Gen IV are available. In the meantime, we must pay more than necessary for Gen II and Gen III. We will have to subsidise or in some other way allow nuclear to compete with coal. For reasons I’ve presented elsewhere, raising the price of fossil fuel generated electricity will not solve the overall problem of reducing world emissions. Carbon price is not the answer until we have fully addressed the issue of removing the impediments that make nuclear uncompetitive. Let’s get a working group together to identify them. How about a thread dedicated to just finding and recording the imposts that prevent nuclear form competing?

    2. Recessions are good in one way. They force economies, industries and businesses to improve efficiency. A lot of ‘dead-wood’ processes, systems, and equipment get thrown out and replaced with better ones. This recession may help to make politicians realise they need to take major action to remove all the impediments to nuclear. I am confident this will come. It is just a matter of how soon. It is so blatantly obvious that nuclear is being delayed in USA, UK, Canada and Australia by nutty beliefs, and so blatantly obvious that nuclear plants take twice as long to build and cost twice as much in the west than in Asia, that the ‘penny has to drop’ some time soon.

    3.

    Since nuclear power produces no carbon emissions, it would gain a competitive edge against coal and natural gas if a bill were passed.

    I am opposed to Australia putting a price on carbon until a) the major emitters (eg the G20) have agreed a workable mechanism for pricing carbon and b) we have removed all the impediments to nuclear. My reasons are explained in a number of posts scattered throughout BNC but many are on this thread: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/ . In short:
    • Putting a price on carbon will disadvantage Australia’s economy relative to others and lower our standard of living relative to other countries. It is not easily recoverable. It is a permanent disadvantage.
    • Damaging our economy reduces Australia’s wealth (infrastructure, skills, etc) and makes us less able to take the most appropriate action in the future
    • It will make little difference to emissions while nuclear is prohibited, and even if the prohibition is removed, there are many other imposts that also must be removed. These will be less likely to be removed, and take longer to remove if we implement a carbon tax or ETS first. The reason being that people will see the implementation of the carbon price as the solution and will be reluctant to tackle the fundamental underlying problems – the imposts that make nuclear more expensive than it should be.
    • Carbon price is being advocated by the gas and renewables industries, banks, researchers and others who see the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. It will empower and assist all these industries but will not assist nuclear. It will strengthen the resistance to nuclear. (I’ve been through all this before, so I know!)
    • Raising the price of electricity in the developed countries will not help the world cut emissions. It will slow the rate of cutting emissions. It will cause the developing countries to use fossil fuels for longer. The first 16 minutes of this video explains. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgKfS74hVvQ&feature=channel If you don’t want to watch the video, some, but not all the charts are here but the video is recommended. http://www.slideshare.net/robert.hargraves/liquid-fuel-nuclear-reactors-presentation-draft4

    • Carbon pricing and ETS was strongly advocated by the EU. However, the real underlying reason was to gain an economic advantage over the USA. The real effect has been to transfer industry from EU to China and India (along with the emissions). The EU now imports the embodied emissions in the goods manufactured in China and India.
    • Raising the cost of electricity in the west, will exacerbate this trend to export manufacturing (and emissions) to the underdeveloped countries. If we want to solve this we need to make nuclear cheaper than fossil fuels so the underdeveloped countries build nuclear before fossil fuel plants. We must do that by working on reducing the cost of nuclear so it is cheaper than coal, not by raising the cost of coal.
    • Carbon price is a symbolic gesture so Greenies get a win and politicians can say they have achieved something. It is another near useless, perhaps worse than useless, symbolic gesture. It will do harm like all the others. We nee good policy, not a carbon price.

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  155. How could Australia implement nuclear at a cost competitive with coal?

    I’ve been thinking some more about how we could implement low cost nuclear in Australia. I think I’ve just had an elegant idea.

    Low cost, clean electricity is in society’s interest. We are subsidising and mandating renewable energy in the belief that it is the best solution to achieve our goals. So there is precedent for the government to intervene to facilitate the outcome society wants.

    We could make nuclear an ‘honorary renewable’ as others have suggested before. But doing so would still increase the cost of electricity enormously. What we want is to get clean electricity at least cost and to make any public subsidies for any form of clean energy explicit and visible. By doing so, the community will be inclined to evaluate the cost of the public support and eradicate the costs it does not feel are justified. There will be widespread community interest and pressure to reduce the impediments to low cost clean electricity.

    We could implement lots of complicated regulations, mandatory obligations, subsidies etc, as we have done for renewables and fossil fuels.

    Or we could implement something along these lines:

    1. The government will fully compensate for the cost of any delays (including the interest costs) that are not the contractor’s or owner’s fault (until the plant is commissioned).

    2. The government will fully and fairly compensate for any changes to laws or regulations that disadvantage the owner over the life of the plant.

    3. The government carries the insurance for damages to the public caused by major nuclear accidents (just as we do for major chemical accidents and have undertaken to do for any CCS leakages)

    4. The government will pay the difference between the cost of a new coal plant and new nuclear plant.

    The last point is important. What it means is that the cost of the impediments to nuclear will be carried by society. So it is in society’s interest to require that the impediments are explicit and costed so it can decide which impediments it wants to keep and understand the cost of doing so. That will create pressure for the public to really understand what the risks are, weigh them against other risks such as from fossil fuel and renewables generation, and remove those it doesn’t feel are justified.

    I expect this would result in the impediments being removed relatively quickly. That is what we want. Least cost, clean electricity as quickly as possible.

    Furthermore, I advocate we should establish an Administrative Appeals Tribunal where any generator could appeal against regulations that discriminate against one type of generator. That is how we can most rapidly expose the imposts that are biased against a type of generator. Then society, through the government of the day, can decide what action, if any, it wants to take to remove the impediment, leave it in place and pay compensation, or tell the appellant to wear the cost.

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  156. Below is a response I posted to Greg Meyerson’s comment at: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/10/21/book-review-flooded-earth/#comment-105557

    I expect the underlying reason for Conservative’s scepticism is they do not believe the extreme alarmist’s claims, do no trust the agenda of those pushing the claims, and they do realise the cost to the economy of implementing the policies these groups are advocating. I expect that is the real reason for the opposition. If those advocating for stopping climate change could back off tying the reduction of emissions to their other agendas, and could allow an economically rational approach, I expect progress could be made. Otherwise it is just becoming a more deeply entrenched Left versus Right battle.

    I am strongly opposed to a carbon price except as part of an international agreement and until the impediments to least cost clean electricity are removed.

    I do not believe a carbon price in Australia will change the climate in the slightest.

    I do not believe a carbon price in Australia will reduce world GHG emissions (in fact I believe it may increase them over the long term by delaying the rate at which developing countries adopt clean electricity generation).

    I believe a carbon price will delay taking the actions we need to take to remove the impediments to low-cost, clean electricity. Furthermore, I believe it will entrench many of the impediments so they will never be removed; the cost of electricity in Australia will be notched up forever. This will permanently damage our economy.

    I do not trust what governments will do with the revenue they raise from the tax or with the revenue from selling emissions permits and the charges for administering and policing an ETS.

    I urge the contributors to consider these points as perhaps an indication of how another large part of the community feels (i.e., a part of the community that is absent from BNC and generally is less involved in on-line discussions). I’d urge that we need to address the concerns of this part of the community not just keep on bashing away with the same arguments about ‘deniers’ etc. Strident advocacy of the policies the Left want to tie to reducing emissions is not going to facilitate reaching a broadly supported, lasting, robust solution.

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  157. A speech by the Prime Minister of Australia
    23 October 2010
    Energy Australia

    For a number of reasons the Government has decided to take decisive action to set Australia on a path to ensure economically, socially and environmentally sustainable energy supply.

    If Australia does not take these actions we will be disadvantaged in many ways.

    We need to avoid being penalised by other countries for not implementing policies to cut our CO2 emissions.

    We need to secure long term energy security.

    We need to be involved with the technological developments that are taking place in other countries, especially the other G20 countries. Otherwise we will be left behind in important technological developments.

    I recognise many Australians are concerned about higher energy prices and the effect on the economy that a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme might have. I do not share these views but I accept there is deep concern in the community about these proposals.

    I recognised that many Australians are sceptical about man-made global warming and the consequences of it and therefore do not support proposals for a carbon tax or Emissions Trading Scheme.

    So I intend to take action to achieve the goals I set out below at least cost for Australians.

    Because of the urgency and because we recognise the deep scepticism in the Australian public we intend to remove all impediments to achieving the goals at the least cost.

    The goals we need to achieve are:

    1. energy security for Australia at all times for the foreseeable future.

    2. lowest possible energy costs (to maintain or improve our international competitiveness).

    3. reduce the adverse health effects, pollution and environmental damage of energy supply, distribution and use.

    4. reduce Australia CO2 emissions from energy use.

    To achieve these goals, today I announce the Australian Government will take the following steps;

    1. We will establish an agency, called “Energy Australia” to advise the government on how to achieve the goals outlined above, and then to manage the implementation. “Energy Australia” will be like a modern version of the Snowy Mountains Authority, which built the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

    2. We will provide the necessary funding for the agency in the soon to be released Budget update.

    3. We will establish faculties in at least one university in every state for the purpose of researching how Australia can achieve these goals and developing the knowledge and skill needed to achieve the goals.

    No technology will be precluded from consideration and we will take all necessary steps to remove impediments that may be preventing the goals being achieved.

    speech writer: Peter Lang :)

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  158. This is a reasonable article on carbon price until he gets to picking winners (solar thermal).
    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/can-carbon-tax-cut-it?

    My comment:

    Good explanation of the carbon tax and the consequences. Good article down to where you began to support irrational policy of picking winners – renewable energy.

    Why do you jump to picking winners? Instead of picking renewable energy, why don’t you be impartial and say “low emissions technologies”?

    You say: “The [solar] plant will have just under 400MW of capacity and will supply power to meet demand the equivalent of 140,000 homes.”

    This is statement misleading. The solar plants cannot provide power at night (after their limited amount of storage is consumed) nor can they provide much energy in winter time. So they cannot power any homes. It is a nonsense statement.

    I do agree that direct action by way of regulating emissions is the way we should proceed, not by pricing carbon at least until all the impediments to low cost nuclear power have been removed and the G20 countries have agreed a way to measure and price carbon emissions internationally.

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  159. What should we do about climate change?

    I don’t know what we should do about climate change.

    I do know what we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    70% of greenhouse gas emissions come from our use of fossil fuels.

    Of this, 30% is from electricity generation.

    If electricity is cheap enough it will substitute for gas for heating and oil for transport.

    Clean electricity, if cheap, could reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions by 50%. That is just by implementing low-cost, low-emission electricity.

    The cheaper electricity is, the faster it will displace fossil fuels for heat and transport

    The cheaper electricity is the faster it will be adopted in the developing world. That will save millions of lives per year, improve their standard of living and many other advantages.

    If the under-developed and developing countries can implement cheap clean electricity instead of cheap, dirty electricity, world greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced much faster than if they have to go through the fossil fuel stage.

    Therefore, the most important thing we, in the developed countries, need to do is to focus on is implementing low cost, clean electricity.

    We will not do that while we allow unfounded beliefs to dictate policy.

    Raising the cost of electricity through pricing carbon and mandating and subsidising renewable energy is exactly the wrong policy if we want the world to take the fastest path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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  160. Why energy cheaper than from coal is important

    See Slides 29 to 38

    Energy cheaper than coal is important (Slide 31)

    Population is stable in the developed world (about 1.2 billion) (Slide 34)

    Population is increasing in the developing world (currently world population is about 6.9 billion and projected to be over 9 billion by 2050). The projected increase is in the developing world.

    Prosperity stabilises population (Slide 35 – children per woman versus GDP per capita)

    Stable replacement rate is 2.3 children per woman. (Slide 36)

    Countries with $7,500 GDP per capita have fertility rate below the stable replacement rate. (Slide 37)

    Prosperity depends on energy (slide 38).

    This video, from 4 to 16 mins, explains why we need to focus on providing clean electricity cheaper than from coal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgKfS74hVvQ&feature=channel

    It makes these points:

    Conservation will not stop energy growth

    Energy and coal use is growing rapidly in the developing nations.

    The US uses 12,000 kWh per person in 2010; total US consumption = 3.8 PWh

    Assume US could halve its energy use to 6000 kWh per person by 2050, to 1.9 PWh total.

    The rest of the world grows energy use to get to the same per capita consumption (6000 kWh per person).

    Total world consumption grows from 15.4 PWh now to 37.7 PWh in 2050.

    So, even if the US halved its per capita electricity consumption, world consumption would grow from 15.4 to 37.7 PWh.

    Can’t do it with taxes.

    The answer is to produce electricity cheaper than from coal.

    We can produce electricity cheaper than we do today so that alone will improve economic productivity, reduce poverty, improve standard of living, and reduce population growth.

    Like

  161. To get cheaper-than-coal, low-emission electricity generation in Australia we need to do just three things:

    1. Remove the impediments

    2. Clearly state that the most important requirement is for least cost electricity – this means a lean regulatory regime is required.

    3. Change the investor risk premium from nuclear to coal, and to a lesser extent gas. To do this we must send a clear, unambiguous message to investors that nuclear is wanted, and your investment is safe against changes of mind of future governments. You will be fully compensated for any such changes.

    No Carbon Tax on electricity generation is necessary. Nor is it advisable if the real aim is to assist the world to cut emissions.

    Like

  162. What can we do to break the log jam?

    I think most long-time BNCers would acknowledge BNC is dominated by people whose political leanings are towards the Left side of politics.

    They chat amongst themselves and reinforce their beliefs about what should be done and how it should be done. They tend to resist policy suggestions from the Conservative side of politics. In fact, they criticise and ridicule the Conservatives for not seeing things the same way as the Left sees things.

    The Left tends to use derogatory terms like “Denier” and “Crock of the Week”. Do they really think this is going to convert anyone who has doubts about what the Left are preaching (preaching like an extremist religious group)?

    For many, when they hear this sort of talk, it is not taken the way it is intended by the speaker. It is interpreted as: “the speaker is an extremist of the Left with deeply held convictions. What they are preaching is part of an agenda whose primary purpose is to impose the Left’s package of reforms on society”. That is how it is interpreted.

    This interpretation is reinforced, for me, by the fact that most of the Left who support nuclear are more interested in arguing for yheir ideology than in trying to convert their Left brethren to change their anti-nuclear stance. The Left who believe in nuclear should be focusing their efforts on changing the policy of Greens, Greenpeace, etc, instead of trying to convert the Conservatives to accept Left ideology and and policies.

    If the Left was more interested in cutting emissions than in trying to convert Conservatives to accept Left ideology, they would focus on trying to find common ground with the Conservatives. I’d suggest this:

    1. Stop using derogatory terms like “Denier” and “Crock of the week”, etc. Reach out to the doubters instead.

    2. Separate off all your other Left ideological baggage and leave it out of your arguments altogether.

    3. Ask the Conservatives what they want instead of trying to tell them what, in your opinion, they should want.

    4. Be prepared to adopt economically rational policies to achieve what you want. That way you can give the Conservatives what they want (reduced electricity prices, reduced government, reduce tax and no other Left baggage) and also get what you say you most want (reducing CO2 emissions).

    5. Work on what can be done to remove the impediments to low-cost low-emissions electricity generation. Seriously tackle this one!!!!!

    6. Focus on converting your Left brethren instead of on attacking and ridiculing the Conservatives

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  163. Peter, that’s fine, but try a bit of self introspection. I’ll requote what Tom Keen wrote over on Open Thread 7, because you obviously didn’t read it and you should:

    Really, Peter?

    I don’t really identify much as “Leftist”, but you can easily reverse your points to say the same about the Right.

    E.g.

    1. Stop using derogatory terms like “Alarmist” and “Climate Change Fraud”, etc.

    2. Separate off all your other Right ideological baggage and leave it out of your arguments altogether.

    3. Ask the Left what they want instead of trying to tell them what, in your opinion, they should want (e.g. only the cheapest electricity).

    4. Be prepared to adopt socially just policies to achieve what you want.

    5. Work on what can be done to remove the influence of the fossil fuels industry, which impede on low-cost low-emissions electricity generation.

    6. Focus on converting your Conservative brethren instead of on attacking and ridiculing the Left.

    I’m not saying I necessarily disagree with all that you wrote, or agree with all of what I just wrote. But I don’t really think this gets us anywhere. In all honesty I don’t see the point in spending much time engaging with the ideological Right or Left. It’s the majority of those who are centrist/care less about politics who are worth talking to about these important issues.

    Like

  164. Barry,

    I did read it and I also read your comment following it which endorsed it.

    I didn’; answer his uor yours because I thought they didn’t warrant a response. I will now.

    Firstly, your comment displays that you are supporting and defenfding exactly the problem I’ve been trying to point out to you (and the others of similar ideological persuasion).

    For me, you and most of the others on BNC, John Quiggins and Sceptical Science web sites have strongly reinforced why I don’t trust much of what is being sais by these groups. It seem so me that pushing their idealogy is far more important to them they are creating fear of “dangerous Catastrophic Climate Change” ss a way to achieve their policy aims.

    Regarding Tom’s tactic of reversing each point, I thought was just plain stupid and showed he had not understood the point I was making (or chosen to use a smart “trick” to refute it). You have repeated and endorsed his comment.

    Like

  165. Can we trust the Left’s claims about “Dangerous Catastrophic Global Warming”?

    I urge those who believe the Alarmists’ scare tactics about “Dangerous, Catastrophic man-made Global Warming” to consider:

    – Who led the anti-nuclear movement for the past 50 years? (their effectiveness in stopping nuclear in the western democracies means that CO2 emissions from electricity generation are 10% to 20% higher now than they would have been had its development not been stopped)

    – Who argued for bio-diesel (causing extensive deforestation in the tropics)?

    – Who gave rapturous applause to the film that opened the Copenhagen conference (an example of Alarmism at its worst)? (Answer: just about all the attendees, including Australia’s 120 odd politicians, minders and bureaucrats in attendance).

    – Who gave a standing ovation to the “Down with Capitalism” speech by Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela, at the Copenhagen Conference (answer: 75% of the attendees including most of the Australian minders and bureaucrats)?

    – Who included the clauses to introduce World Government and UN taxing powers in the draft agreement to be signed at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference?

    – Who has continually tried to blame man-made Climate Change for every bad event that occurs?

    – Who used climate change as a means to get as many as possible of their ideologically based policies tied with Climate Change action?

    – Who used climate change as an argument for higher taxes and more redistribution of wealth?

    – Who continually equates solar power and wind power with stopping climate change as if one is directly related to the other? (This has been going on for twenty years. Just look at the ABC and most of the media. They invariably equate renewables and climate change in the same sentence).

    Then ask yourselves: “Who’d trust these ideologically driven people?

    Who’d trust anything they argue for?”

    I expect most will jump out of their trees now to defend themselves and say they are not Left and Labor is not Left and so on. (a few may think! for a while!)
    Instead of defending your beliefs, you’d do better to hear the message.

    The massive exaggeration you continually perpetrate, the tying of Left ideology to the way you want to reduce emissions, your lack of understanding of or interest in the effects the crazy schemes you advocate would have on the economy, are all a powerful ‘turn-offs’ to the Conservatives.

    I urge you to get your head around this.

    You cannot fix a problem if you don’t recognise it.

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  166. Peter, you just don’t get it – he was, quite rightly, showing your statement to be blatantly hypocritical. Has it never occurred to you that YOU might also be ideologically driven? If you don’t understand this or are not willing to acknowledge this, then I’ve no time for you. Besides, you’re the one who is constantly hammering on about politics and political leanings, when I’ve NEVER expressed a view on this EVER on this blog. The way you ascribe political views to anyone who disagrees with you is childish and totally unhelpful. No wonder so many people get frustrated with you. I’ve reached the end of my tether too.

    No more mention of politics. Any comment you make henceforth that mentions politics or ‘left’ and ‘right’ will be deleted. Any comment that violates BNC commenting rules, regarding questioning people’s motivations, will be deleted..

    If you don’t like it, you are of course quite free to exercise your right to leave the blog and discuss these matters elsewhere with an audience that doesn’t care about such things. That’s your choice. But I do care, and the commenting rules on BNC are MINE. The rest is up to you.

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  167. I doubt that Dr. Dai is particularly motivated by political ideology: “This is very alarming because if the drying is anything resembling Figure 11, a very large population will be severely affected in the coming decades over the whole United States, southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Chile, Australia, and most of Africa.”
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcc.81/full

    More motivated along the lines of “no water, no food.”

    Like

  168. I think most long-time BNCers would acknowledge BNC is dominated by people whose political leanings are towards the Left side of politics.

    Peter, I don’t agree with your premise. The contributors here span a pretty diverse background, and I don’t think conservatives or liberals or whatever particularly dominate discussions.

    BNC is a pretty remarkable site. Its the only climate change site I know of where AGW deniers take part and make a positive contribution. For a site concerned with environmental issues it draws a remarkable and positive contribution from people who I would not normally expect to find engaged in such discussions.

    For my own part, one of the pleasures of being part of the discussion here has been engaging with people and perspectives that I might not otherwise have given due consideration. Possibly that includes yourself, and certainly you have substantially changed my thinking about energy, and therefore energy policy, and inevitably politics.

    The idea that the Greens/lefties dominate commentary strikes me as confirmation bias – the prejudice that we notice things that fit our preconceptions while not noticing those that don’t, which observational scientists are well aware of and guard against assiduously (or should). I suspect that might explain why you “see” a different bias in the commentary than I. For each contributor you named, I could pick their polar opposite on the political spectrum also posting here.

    You have asked why we’re not interested in discussing how to get low cost nuclear into Australia. I’m interested. However, I usually refrain from commenting if I don’t have anything to add to a discussion, to keep the noise down, and on this topic I have little insight into policy. Its possible this is true for others.

    For the record I think your list of actions to bypass the impediments to a nuclear power rollout here is excellent. I think your ideas on this topic are worth setting down as their own post with their own discussion, instead of posting them in every new discussion thread. And as long as we avoid partisan infighting, stick to Barry’s moderation guidelines and ignore questions of personal motivation it will be a pretty good discussion.

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  169. I’ve just looked back at this thread for the first time since posting my comment at 8:00AM on 19 November.

    John Morgan, I agree with much of what you say, but not all. For example, your statement “instead of posting them in every new discussion thread.” is obviously only meant to refer to comments with which you disagree. Virtually everyone else has been doing exactly that. For example, it is fine to post Alarmists comments in every thread, and to mention ‘Deniers’ in every thread. It is fine to advocate a price on carbon in every thread. Right?

    Barry said:

    Peter, you just don’t get it – he was, quite rightly, showing your statement to be blatantly hypocritical. Has it never occurred to you that YOU might also be ideologically driven?

    That statement needs a reply from me.

    1. I did get that Tom’s statement was an attempt to show that my statements were hypocritical. I demonstrated that I did ‘get it’ by doing the same sort of “trick” to Barry’s statement. I changed the words Barry had written to “the world’s gonna fry, we’re all gonna die”. That is, I showed Barry, firstly, how silly Tom’s reversing the meaning is and, secondly, that I did get Toms “Trick”.

    2. Tom’s reversing of the meaning of my dot points demonstrates that he, and also Barry, did not hear or did not understand the message I was trying to convey. The message is that many conservatives are doubtful about “Dangerous, Catastrophic man-made global warming” (DCAGW). They do not trust what the DCAGW proponents are pushing. The DCAGW proponents are of the same sorts of political leanings as those who have been anti-nuclear, pro-biofuels, anti-development, and you know it all (humans are evil, etc). The point is that most conservatives would support cutting CO2 emissions as long as it is done in an economically rational way. But they are dead against the other policies the DCAGW proponents are pushing (and trying to tie to cutting CO2 emissions). So it is the proponents of DCAGW that need to leave out the rest of their policy baggage if they want to get easy support from the conservatives, not for the conservatives to accept all their policy baggage. But Tom tried to reverse my points and say the Conservatives should change. This to me was plain silly and clearly he either wasn’t listening, or whatever. And Barry supported his comment! Just to remind you of Tom’s comment, I’ll post the first four points here:

    1. Stop using derogatory terms like “Alarmist” and “Climate Change Fraud”, etc.

    2. Separate off all your other Right ideological baggage and leave it out of your arguments altogether.

    3. Ask the Left what they want instead of trying to tell them what, in your opinion, they should want (e.g. only the cheapest electricity).

    4. Be prepared to adopt socially just policies to achieve what you want.

    3. Barry says I am being “blatantly hypocritical”. hmmm! I think that statement is one that could be reversed. How ‘blatantly hypocritical’ is it to allow others to carry on their venomous personal attacks, even encourage them, yet jump on me?

    Barry said:

    Has it never occurred to you that YOU might also be ideologically driven?

    Yes, of course. But the point is that I am nearly a lone voice on BNC bringing a conservative perspective. Despite what John Morgan said, I’d be confident that very few other Australian contributors on BNC would be of centre-right persuasion. Yet the centre-right comprises roughly half the electorate. I suspect 95% or so of the regular BNC contributors are of Green and Labor voters. If you only discuss amongst people of this persuasion, then you miss out on the relatively easy win-win that is available. You resist it. You drive it away and try to bulldoze through your beliefs just as you do by continually referring to the doubters of DCAGW as “Deniers”.

    By the way, cutting CO2 emissions is not about “The Science”. It is all about politics and economics. Those who do not recognise that are naive.

    I wonder if I have got through this time.

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  170. Response to Grattan Institute Study
    “Markets to Reduce Pollution: Cheaper than Coal”

    http://www.grattan.edu.au/publications/064_cheaper_pollution_markets.pdf

    This study is based on a false premise. It assumes the number of Renewable Energy Certificates and NSW Greenhouse Gas certificates is equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by renewable energy generators. This assumption is wrong.

    It is often stated that 1 kWh of energy generated by renewable energy displaces 1 kWh of energy generated by fossil fuel generators. This is correct. But the 1 kWh of renewable energy does not displace the emissions from 1 kWh of fossil fuel generators. The reason is that the fossil fuel generators have to ‘firm’ for wind power. That is, the fossil fuel generators have to back-up and fill-in the gaps when the wind generators are changing their power output.

    The fossil fuel generators have to stop and start, power up and power down, and more must be kept running just in case the wind drops more than expected. They have to be kept running when not generating. All this means more emissions than if they were not having to ‘firm’ the wind power.

    Furthermore, if we want wind capacity in the grid then the requirements for flexible generating capacity to ‘firm’ the wind power mean we must invest in a larger proportion of the less efficient ‘Open Cycle Gas Turbines’ (OCGT) and less of the more efficient ‘Combined Cycle Gas Turbines’ (CCGT). Therefore, if we want to include wind capacity we must build a less efficient (higher greenhouse emissions intensity) generating fleet than if we do not have wind in the grid.

    Some overseas studies indicate wind power avoids little if any greenhouse gas emissions.

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  171. A Carbon Price in Australia means Gas, not Nuclear

    Reading between the lines, this paper “The role of natural gas in meeting future energy requirements” http://www.originenergy.com.au/files/APPEA_Present180510.pdf makes it pretty clear Origin Energy believes a carbon price favours gas, not nuclear, in Australia.

    I’d say if we impose a carbon price before we’ve removed the impediments to low-cost nuclear power in Australia, we will not be able to address the issue for a long time. Once we have imposed a carbon price the community will feel “the CO2 emissions problem has been solved – the box has been ticked – so don’t bring up nuclear. We’re sick of the DAGW issue.”

    I’ve presented the case here https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/ showing nuclear will cut emissions fastest and the most beyond 2020 and is the least cost way to reduce emissions.

    I’d urge we need to address the issue of removing the impediments to low-cost nuclear before we bury it under a symbolic gesture – a carbon price – that will simply delay the real action we need to take.

    Arguing that we need both a carbon price and to remove the impediments to nuclear is simply a delaying tactic. We see many renewable energy advocates make the statement when in reality they are simply stalling for time. The same argument has been put for at least 20 years – resulting in no progress whatsoever.

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  172. Look at ‘200 countries in 200 years’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo . It would be hard to sustain the argument that following aren’t good for human wellbeing:

    – Globalisation
    – free trade
    – capitalism
    – cheap energy
    – increasing energy density of fuels (wood. coal, oil, nuclear)
    – and other factors of course

    Use this to make the charts of your choice: http://www.gapminder.org/

    From looking at the appropriate charts it be hard to sustain the argument that people will willing give up the economic growth that is giving them:

    – longer life expectancy
    – better health
    – better education
    – more choice
    – more fulfilling lives
    – more disposable income
    – more wealth

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  173. John Newlands.

    Yeah, we’ve all heard that argument since the ‘Limits of Growth’ and before (in about 1963 I learnt that we had just 15 years of oil left). But just look at the stats in the charts I linked and ask yourself what proportion of the population is begging their employer to reduce their salary, or terminate their employment, or allow them to move to Eritrea or Ethiopia for a better life? Get real. Academics are forever pouring out these sorts of ‘thought bubbles’. Most people are too wise to fall for it. But there are always some who sucks it up and and then want to impose policy based on their beliefs.

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  174. Barry said @ 18 November 2010 at 10:16 PM said:

    Peter, you just don’t get it.

    I do get what you are saying. I do get that you are one of those who believes, without reservation, in the AGW theory and that the consequences are likely to be dire.

    I do get that you are one of those inside the ‘group-think’ tent. I do get it that the group-think has been propagated by the Left and the environmental NGOs and these are the same groups that have caused so much damage with the other beliefs and policies they have forced on societies. I do get it that the group-think has been supported by some $100 billion of public funding directed at propagating the belief in dangerous, catastrophic AGW. I do get it that many scientists’ careers are dependent on participating in this group-think and their careers would be damaged by questioning it. I do get it that there has been an enormous campaign by the Left to propagate this group think and scientist who do not want to be vilified prefer to work in other areas of science that have not been corrupted.

    What I think you and the Left don’t get is:

    There is time to do the proper due diligence analysis (it cannot be done by those who have already succumbed to the group-think).

    There is time to take the appropriate actions (whatever they may be).

    AGW is just one of many pressing problems that need to be addressed and it should be given the appropriate priority. Others are: clean water, food supply and distribution, health, education, infrastructure, congestion in cities, environmental degradation (all sorts) to name a few.

    Economic growth provides the means to solve all these problems. If we reduce economic growth by taking the wrong actions we’ll do far more damage than by delaying precipitous actions on AGW (such as pricing carbon) until we have done the proper due diligence investigation.

    The usual answers from the Alarmists to the statements above are:

    “The science is in.” (no it isn’t)

    “The vast majority of ‘Climate’ scientists say so.” (group-think, funding, career)

    “We should apply the precautionary principle” (yes, we must apply that to all the issues, not just to AGW).

    “Stern and Garnaut have done the economic analysis.” (they were political appointments by Left wing governments and produced the outcomes they were paid to produce. They would not have been appointed to the task if they were not inside the DAGW group-think tent. They both distorted their work (e.g. discount rates) to get the answers their clients wanted.)

    “UN IPCC is unbiased and conservative.” (Nonsense. It is biased and Alarmist. Sceptics were not welcome. There was clear selection bias. Read the IPCC AR4 carefully, without blinkers, and you will realise it is alarmist throughout. It is intended to scare – just like the Al Gore propaganda movie and the film shown at the opening of the Copenhagen Conference.)

    “DAGW is not political, it has nothing to do with Left versus right.” (Rubbish. Just look at the web sites that are dominated by Left contributors – e.g. BNC*, John Quiggan, ClimateSceptic, RealClimate, ABC for some examples)

    * The Leftie spray is alive and well and having a whale of a time in the comments on this thread (and others): https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/12/13/media-reactions-energy-paper-p2/ (participating are: Barry, Fran Barlow Tom Keen, Ms Perps, quokka, podargus, Robert Parker, SteveK9, others)

    One thing that concerns me, and persuades me the Left is more interested in using DAGW as a means to achieve its other agendas than in cutting emissions, is why they spend most of their effort attacking and rubbishing the Conservatives instead of trying to persuade their ilk (Greens, Labor and the ‘environmental’ NGOs) to switch policy and support economically rational ways to cut emissions.

    We could cut emissions, improve economic growth and improve human well-being across the planet if the Left would support policies to roll out low-cost nuclear. The Left (with a few exceptions) is blocking and delaying progress and has been for 40 years.

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  175. Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?

    Here is another of my really rough, ‘back of an envelope’ calculations.

    I have argued here https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-105862 why the peoples of the world need low-cost electricity, and why low-cost, clean electricity will reduce the world’s emissions faster than higher cost, clean electricity.

    Below I argue why I believe nuclear can be the least cost way to generate electricity in Australia in the future without resorting to a Carbon Tax or Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

    How?

    Adding a carbon tax or ETS will add more government imposed regulatory burdens on industry, without removing any of the mess of state and Federal government imposed conflicting regulations, tax breaks, subsidies and other incentives and disincentives that exist now. Rather than adding to this mess that is inflating prices we should remove all that are unnecessary or distorting the market. That means cleaning up and removing all the incentives and disincentives that favour one technology over another.

    We will also have to pass legislation that sends a clear message to investors that the rules for new power stations have changed, and the change is permanent. We must convince investors that their investment will be secure and future governments will not renege. By sending this clear message the investor risk premium will move from nuclear to coal, over time.

    To do this we will have to invest in (subsidise) the first nuclear power plants.

    There are several parts to my argument:

    1 Assume, as a starting price, the latest contracted price for new nuclear in a country building its first nuclear power plants, UAE .

    2 Assume the initial price will decrease as a country develops the expertise and as world prices for nuclear come down over time.

    3 Assume the government can move the investor risk premium from nuclear to fossil fuels by the legislation it enacts and the messages this sends.

    4 Assume the community is prepared to contribute (subsidise) the first plants, for:

    a. the long term benefits of lower cost cleaner electricity,
    b. energy security,
    c. because the higher cost now is recognised as a result of bad policy decisions in the past (anti-nuclear) and we have to bear a cost to correct those errors, and
    d. the precedent has been well established by the subsidies for renewable energy and by nationalising the Australian communications network.

    5 The community is prepared to invest in the plants as a means to demonstrate to the investors that the community has a substantial financial investment in these plants. This is necessary to send the message to the investors that their investment is relatively secure against the government changing its mind and reneging on deals. (This is important because of the messages often sent by people who believe it is OK for the community to renege on deals with investors as has happened frequently, and is often advocated by some groups such as Greenpeace and the Greens).

    6 The government will remove all the impediments to a level playing field for electricity generators. (I recognise the conflict with the previous points – needs to be nuanced)

    Assumptions:

    1. New coal power plants would cost $2,100/kW in 2015 under the assumptions used in the analysis (ACIL-Tasman, Table 35, p58)

    2. New nuclear plants would cost $5,050/kW in 2015 in Australia under the assumptions used in the analysis (ACIL-Tasman, Table 35, p58)

    3. The capital cost of nuclear will decrease by 15% in the five years following the commissioning of the first unit and cost reductions will continue at a declining rate (ACIL Tasman, Table 35, p58, Nuclear 2024-25 to 2028-29)

    4. A better current estimate for capital cost for the first nuclear power station in a new country (instead of the ACIL-Tasman estimate) is the recently contracted price for the UAE nuclear power station. For this assumption to be valid we would also have to assume that Australia will adopt a regulatory environment that is no more onerous than UAE’s and we will address the investment risk so that the investment environment for nuclear in Australia will be as attractive as it is for nuclear in the UAE.

    5. The UAE plant is 4 units of 1350MW for a total capacity of 5400 MW. The capital cost of the UAE plant, including initial fuel load and technology transfer is US$20.4 billion , or $3,800/kW

    6. Investor risk premium in the USA for nuclear compared with coal is 26% (MIT, 2009).

    7. We could expect the investor risk premium to be higher in Australia given that we have no nuclear industry and given the strong anti-nuclear sentiment in Australia.

    8. I assume we will remove the impediments to nuclear and remove the incentives for fossil fuel and renewables so we can develop a ‘level playing field’ for all technologies. There are many regulations, hidden subsidies and other buried incentives that advantage fossil fuels and renewable energy in Australia. Here is a list of some examples: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-86256 And here is a list of some of the government subsidies for different generation types for the USA, Texas: http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/energy/subsidies/index.php . This does not include the major component of the subsidies for renewables such as feed-in-tariffs, Renewable Energy Certificates, and the higher price renewables receive because the power generated by renewables is ‘must take’.

    9. I assume the community will accept that we need to provide a climate for investors such that we minimise the investor risk premium for nuclear.

    Effect of the policy on Capital Cost on Nuclear and Coal

    Based on the above assumptions I calculate the capital costs of nuclear and coal power stations in 10 years from award of the first contract for NPP in Australia as follows (in 2009 $):

    Nuclear:

    Starting price for nuclear = $3,800/kW

    Reduce by 15% over 5 years (say 25% over 10 years) = $2,850/kW

    Remove the investor risk premium of say 25% = $2,300/kW

    Coal:

    Starting price for new coal = $2,100/kW

    Reduce cost by 1.5% over 10 years = $$2,070/kW (ACIL-Tasman for 2025)

    Add investor risk premium to coal (of say 25%) = $2,600/kW

    How much subsidy would be needed to get nuclear started?

    Starting price for nuclear = $3,800/kW

    Starting price for new coal = $2,100/kW

    Difference = $1,700/kW

    However, nuclear has lower fuel and operating costs than coal, so allow (rough guess) $300/kW.

    Therefore, the subsidy needed for the first plants would be $1700-$300 = $1,400/kW.

    This would reduce to zero by say the 8th reactor, so the average would be $1,400/kW for the first 4 reactors and $700/kW for the next 4 reactors.

    Subsidy for 5400MW @ $1,400/kW = $7.56 billion

    Subsidy for 5400MW @ $700/kW = $3.78 billion

    Subsidy for the first 10,800 MW = $11.34 billion

    References:

    ACIL Tasman (2009) “Fuel resource, new entry and generation costs in the NEM.”
    http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/419-0035.pdf

    MIT (2009) “The future of nuclear power”, 2009 update.
    http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

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  176. Peter Lang:

    I am feeling almost sorry for you that your “repeat and elaborate” strategy of posting has lapsed into soliloquy. I keep trying to find something new that you have to offer without much success.

    However, because I’m buried in snow, my water main frozen and we’ve just been thrashed at the WACA, I find myself with the time and inclination to play with you.

    On 19th Dec at 3.03pm you asserted that it would be hard to sustain the argument that globalisation, free trade, capitalism and cheap energy aren’t good for human well being. It is this assertion that I would like to discuss. I rise to a challenge.

    First, I am happy to concede that , at first sight, your assertion appears to be totally unexceptional to someone with my political persuasions, though I doubt that it would be so well received by those on the Left or from the Third World. However, I would suggest that lessons from the past should not be blindly and ideologically used to decide a policy for the future when future circumstances are likely to be sharply divergent fron those in the past.

    First, I would agree that cheap and, as importantly, plentiful energy is a precondition for economic growth. However, for those who are persuaded by the science underpinning AGW, regardless of their political leanings, the implications are terrifying unless there is a global switch to clean energy. Once we also factor in continuing population growth and peaking oil and aim to raise the living standards of the poor while effecting a massive transition of our infrastructure to be primarily electricity-based, we are in for a period of energy constraint – it won’t be plentiful and will thus be relatively more costly.

    Now, let’s consider globalism and free trade. This, initially, worked to the developed world’s advantage while simultaneously raising living standards in developing nations. The global economic cake was able to grow faster with free trade than without it. If energy supply becomes constrained in the future (which, without a very rapid and massive nuclear roll out, seems inevitable), the global cake will grow more slowly or not at all. Thus, we approach an economic zero sum game. There will therefore be competition between nations for slice sizes. The developed world’s initial advantage was due to its ownership of the bulk of financial and intellectual (technological skills) capital. However, entrepreneurs and global capitalists have relocated these advantages to the developing world to take advantage of cheaper labour. This had made them individually very much richer, but to the detriment of their erstwhile home employees. The latter can initially be retrained for more skilled, value added employment. Eventually, however, especially if energy becomes constraining, diminishing capital in the in the developed world and the accumulation of financial and intellectual capital in developing countries is likely to lead to long term impoverishment (relatively and absolutely) in currently developed nations.

    Does this matter in the great scheme of things? I would suggest that , unless the climate issue gets sorted, perhaps not. Suppose, however, that we can mitigate the worst impacts. Under such circumstances, I would suggest that there will be a long term re-alignment of global living standards with the citizens of those developed states that lack food and energy security suffering most – certainly more of a problem for the UK than for Australia.

    The Chinese Government appears to practise capitalism more efficiently than liberal democratic states. I would suggest that successful capitalist states do not serve their citizens well by allowing a few of them to re-locate accumulated national assets to competitor nations. I have no objection to the accumulation of wealth by citizens in my own country so long as it stays there and is used there. I also see the economic advantages of trading between states in a balanced and mutually advantageous manner. However, I would suggest that the current system, so lauded by you and many classical economists, is flawed because it fails to acknowledge any limits to natural resources or harm that their over-exploitation can cause.

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  177. Peter Lang the public relations flaw I see in a nuclear capex subsidy is that it appears to pick the winner in advance. It also has an implicit CO2 cost. If a megawatt of nuclear was subsidised a million dollars that money could earn say $60,000 interest a year instead. If it saves say 8,000 tonnes of CO2 then each tonne has an implicit cost of $7-$8.

    However I think the public would feel more reassured if the optimum low carbon generation mix emerged on its own merits. Therefore a technology-neutral approach is more politically prudent. That means of course that renewables should not get per-Mwh subsidies and mandates. It seems to me they already have an inbuilt advantage with low capex and fast built times.

    If both renewables and nuclear were to get the same deal make it loan guarantees if they meet a threshold of low CO2 per Mwh, preferably adjusted to 85% capacity. No help whatsoever based on capex or output.

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  178. John Newlands

    If a cost on emissions of CO2e, say $23 per tonne rising to about $50 per tonne by 2015 and $150 per tonne by 2020 it would be easy enough for a small slice of this to be in soft and guaranteed loans at stable interest to those commercialised technolgies meeting the criteria of low carbon technologies.

    Australia currently emits IIRC about 570Mt CO2. A charge of this order and so allowing a smooth 23.232% pa increase from the $23 starting price in 2011 would generate nearly $400bn by 2020, assuming neither a drop nor an increase in emissions. Most of this could be returned to the public as cash or tax relief or as services of a non-discretionary nature (e.g. housing, health, public transport).

    Yet if even 20% of this (say $80bn) were reserved for direct support of compliant clow carboin technologies at end year 1 of the program we could have roughly $2.6bn available rising to more than $17bn by end Y10.

    If these funds were used to do no more than cap interest at something like the prevailing overnight cash rate or 6% (whichever was the lesser) you’d be able (or to support a government bond issue at that rate) the funds available for development would be huge.

    Of course, if CO2e emissions drop sharply (i.e. by more than about 5%) and the funds available decline then we are meeting our targets so kudos to us.

    As to compliance I’d suggest that a benchmark be that whatever technology suite is proposed, it be able to guarantee 85% availability at rated capacity and have a CO2 intensity at most half that of bog standard pulverised black coal plants. (c 450kg CO2 per MWhe) . I’d be including the costs of harvest and transport of materiel, embedded energy, decomissioning over the expected lifecycle etc.

    Technologies that had not been adequately proven at commercial scale would have to be built and demonstrated at scale before receiving long term support of this kind and the risk would be on the developer who would only get this probationary support after suitable due diligence.

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  179. Fran I suspect the carbon price which the PM assures us will prevail in 2011 will be at most $10. If that only applies to stationary generation (after offsets which magically become carbon tax deductions) at best that will raise 200 Mt X $10/t = $2 bn. In Australia the first AP1000 will cost at least $8bn I believe.

    Given that we’re spending $43 bn on unnecessarily fast internet that carbon revenue is minor. Therefore I agree it should go exclusively on CO2 abatement not a general dividend. Sort of compulsory post-retirement savings for the carbon industry. Even an eligibility criterion like half the intensity of pulverised coal should get things moving. I think that just excludes open cycle gas unless it is coupled to renewables. So in general I agree it’s just that I doubt $23 starting price will get up.

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  180. Even if it did exclude OCGT, that would only be from the soft loans. It would still be very competitive with coal.

    A $10 price is a joke. Coal would pay that and move on. We’d get almost nothing out of that. It would be slightly better if it was unoversal — i.e. on agriculture, concrete, transport, but still piffling.

    A plausible way to implement a price of about $30 would be removal of tax deductibility of dirty energy plus removal of diesel fuel and other subsidies: not a new tax but a removed deduction.

    My dividends/rebates would only go to those on or below AFTWE * 1.2, at which point they’d fade to zero.

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  181. A $10 starting price might be ineffective on the face of it, but if coupled with a gold-plated guaranteed price rise over time (don’t even need to specify what the rise may be or over what time frame), it could well be sufficient to kick start re-investment in infrastructure and reinvigorate medium- to long-term planning. It will also sharpen dialogue on nuclear power as an alternative to coal. Who wants to build coal in an environment of rising fuel costs AND taxes?

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  182. Barry

    I’m going to disagree as a matter of practice rather than in theory. In theory you’re right, but in practice we need a game-changing shock to focus minds on the fact that coal is no longer viable and fighting a rearguard action to stop further rises won’t work.

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  183. Just to give a scale, Australia GST revenue was $42 billion in FY2008-09, and emissions 541,000 kTe CO2-equiv in 2008, so $80 / Te CO2-equivalent, universally applied, would balance GST. Would $20/Te accompanied by taking GST down to 7.5% be any more politically acceptable?

    For the UK, with less CO2/head an a higher VAT rate, the ‘no-VAT’ rate is about £130 / Te, or a starting £20 / Te in place of the VAT hike we are going to get in January, which is about the price required to make importing EPRs cheaper than importing coal.

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  184. John Newlands, @ 20 December 2010 at 6:43 AM said:

    Peter Lang the public relations flaw I see in a nuclear capex subsidy is that it appears to pick the winner in advance. It also has an implicit CO2 cost.

    Yes, I agree with this point, as I acknowledged in my post. I said “this needs to be nuanced”. (did you miss that?).

    The point I want to emphasise is we are already picking winners, massively (e.g. fossil fuels, CCS, renewables, pink bats insulation, and much more).

    Who realises that the Federal government, alone, has already committed $10 billion to ‘clean energy’ and energy efficiency?
    “This measure brings the Government’s total investment in renewable and clean energy and energy efficiency to over $10 billion.”
    http://www.budget.gov.au/2010-11/content/overview/html/overview_26.htm

    If the Federal government moved its $10 billion commitment from the winners it has picked to nuclear we could have a nuclear program that would need no more government subsidy. That is, from then on nuclear would built without needing any further subsidy.

    I recognise my rough estimate may have understated the amount of subsidy required (to get to the point where nuclear is cheaper than coal in Australia). But I have also understated the amount that has been committed by governments. The state governments have probably committed an equivalent amount as the federal government. So the total is probably more like $20 billion. Plus there will be much more government subsidies over the next decade if we continue picking the types of winners we’ve been picking for the past 20 years – i.e. renewables and government dictated energy efficiency measures. What a joke that is.

    However I think the public would feel more reassured if the optimum low carbon generation mix emerged on its own merits. Therefore a technology-neutral approach is more politically prudent.

    I agree. We could do this by changing “Renewable Energy” to “Clean Energy”. I am all for that. But we do need to recognise there are differences. Nuclear is different because it has 60 to 80 year life so to get investors for that much longer pay back time we have to convince the investors they will not be ripped off in future by a government acting on political pressures in changing times – such as after one or more serious industrial accidents. If we change our mind, the investors must be compensated and they must believe they will be before we invest. (This is why I keep pointing out that the messages the present government is sending to investors by reneging on deals such as the Mining tax is so damaging for the prospects for nuclear)

    I am not arguing to remove the risk for shoddy workmanship or poor project management. I am arguing that if we want nuclear we have to subsidise, whatever way you want to nuance it, to get us through FAOK to NOAK and to ‘cheaper than coal’. We have to subsidise to get us to where we would have been if the anti-nukes had not delayed and prevented 40 years of nuclear development.

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  185. Many argue we should impose a carbon price first and then, once energy prices go up (further), people will be more receptive to nuclear.

    I find this argument very unconvincing. Here are some of my reactions to this argument.

    1. Past experiences suggest that once something is seen, by the public, to have been resolved they switch off and don’t want any more to do with it. Examples are:
    a. The Petroleum Resource Rent Tax in the early 1990s. Once it was implemented, some changes were needed but no one wanted to open it up again.
    b. Australian Republic – Once the referendum was held it is off the agenda for a decade at least.
    c. Several other examples that have slipped my mind for now.

    2. If we put a price on carbon the public will feel Climate Change has been resolved and there will be a real reluctance for a long time to start talking about nuclear.

    3. New gas generators will be the easy answer for a decade at least. No one will want to consider nuclear when they have been led to believe a carbon price, energy efficiency, gas generators and renewables can do the job.

    4. The time to tackle the opposition to low-cost nuclear is right now! The main opponents are the Greens, the ‘environmental NGO’s, Labor Party and its supporters, the gas industry, coal industry, renewable industry, and all those thousands of renewable energy researchers who are on the public payroll and whose careers depend on government funding.

    5. Once a tax is imposed it is very seldom removed. Many ‘temporary’ taxes have been imposed, but getting rid of them is nearly impossible.

    6. A carbon tax is a case of picking winners. It is the flavour of the decade as to what we should tax now, and which environmental problem is considered the most important at the moment. Next decade it will be something else.

    7. The Green-Labor advocacy for a carbon tax seems like another symbolic gesture.

    8. Carbon price is part of a more important Green-Labor agenda such as wealth redistribution (we have a whole tax system for that)

    9. The people who advocate for a carbon tax seem to not recognise the economic consequences

    10. The argument being put for a carbon price is being put by various groups including those who want

    a. gas
    b. renewables
    c. another symbolic gesture to show they’ve achieved something
    d. any alternative rather than look seriously at what needs to be done to allow nuclear to be cheaper than coal in Australia

    This last point (anything other then remove the mass of legislated, regulatory and policy impediments to low-cost nuclear) is the ‘elephant in the room’ on this thread. The unmentionable issue. The one issue no one on BNC wants to get into in depth.

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  186. Barry,

    I think DrBuzz0’s comment you linked to above would make an excellent lead article for a thread. I feel the sort of discussion that is progressing on that thread on Depleted Cranium would be valuable to hold on BNC.

    Going further, a suggestion for next year: a thread or series of threads written by appropriately qualified people and aimed at answering the question what Australia would need to do to identify and remove all the impediments to low-cost nuclear power.; and to identify what would need to be done to get low emission electricity at a cost less than coal.

    Furthermore, I’d suggest asking some of conservative persuasion to contribute some of these threads.

    I believe the Productivity Commission would be probably the best organisation in Australia to identify the impediments to low cost, clean electricity generation. It is probably not possible to get an existing Productivity Commission’s person to write, but you could get Alan Moran of the Institute of Public Affairs (ex Productivity Commissioner). He is one person I would recommend to write an early lead article on this critical matter.

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  187. Barry asked:

    Why, Fran? Why is the view that we should instead focus on cutting costs of alternatives to fossil fuels, as Peter and others argue, wrong?

    Once again, in theory it is OK, but in practice we would see a massive campaign of attrition as every new proposal was put through the wringer. The interlocutories alone could tie us in nots for ten years.

    The hard reality is that this side of a significant explicit price on emissions, no energy source can compete with coal — certainly not in this country. We will have the NBN debate mapped to nuclear power and doubled down. The advocates of renewables will say that if we are going to make cost irrelevant we should invest in renewables and the adocates of coal will argue what they always have — that we shouldn’t handicap ourselves with renewables. Hardly anyone will be left who thinks the extra cost of nuclear will be worth it.

    Once we achieve something part way to a level playing field — where using the biosphere as a an industrial sewer is no longer free or cheap, we can compare like with like. We will compare renewables and gas with nuclear and once we do the lifecycle analysis nuclear will seem the most rational choice to most.

    Of course, once we go that way the arguments for pushing down the construction cost and simplifying accreditation will be compelling. We can still work to push down the cost of nuclear.

    The difference is that with a pool of funds from a carbon price, we have the ready cash to support the best suite of technologies.

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  188. And of course, it is not only in stationary energy that we have emissions.

    There’s ag and forestry, transport, construction etc. Why should the polluters continue to get their subsidy as a right to destroy the commons?

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  189. And finally, even if the result of a price on carbon emissions could, with some justice, be described as “a tax on energy” I don’t see why this is a particularly bad thing. One could see it as perhaps more rational than other value-added taxes and certainly no less defencible than the tax on liquid fuels that we already have. You will likewise recall that we are moving toward a tax on mining resources including of course coal. We already have it on gas.

    One could perhaps argue that if the “tax” exceeded the externality, then this much should be removed from other less rational value-added taxes. Personally, though I think a portfolio approach to levies on the populace makes some sense, ceteris paribus.

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  190. Yes I’d say $10 carbon tax or $0 are on the cards for late 2011. I suspect Treasury Secretary Ken Henry is quitting because his baby the mining tax got watered down to the point of near irrelevance. With both carbon tax and resource rent tax it should be clear who is running the country, namely Big Coal.

    More immediately the new renewable energy rules (SRET and LRET) start January 1st. Perhaps this is a topic for another day but I believe the rules are not only muddled but probably perverse in that they may encourage fossil fuel use in subtle ways.

    Again I don’t think things will happen until we get El Nino and $150 a barrel oil in the same year but that year is not far away.

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  191. Fran wrote: “Once we achieve something part way to a level playing field — where using the biosphere as a an industrial sewer is no longer free or cheap, we can compare like with like. We will compare renewables and gas with nuclear and once we do the lifecycle analysis nuclear will seem the most rational choice to most.

    Of course, once we go that way the arguments for pushing down the construction cost and simplifying accreditation will be compelling. We can still work to push down the cost of nuclear.

    The difference is that with a pool of funds from a carbon price, we have the ready cash to support the best suite of technologies.”

    I think that there are at least two, possibly 4 or 5, conflated debates going on on this thread:
    1. Does putting CO2 from power stations into the atmosphere matter?
    2. If it does, what is the least-cost way of reducing those emissions,
    a. in the short term, and,
    b. in the long term?
    3. if 1 is settled in the affirmative, should we suffer economic disadvantage compared to the rest of the world by undertaking the changes at 2 above unilaterally? (Is the CO2 problem urgent and dangerous?)
    4. If we decide to do 2 and 3, should we also introduce a Carbon Tax?

    Note that the chain of decisions above rests on the answer to the first question. (This is essentially the point made by Peter Lang in his recent posts. He has obviously submitted the question to his usual thorough examination and come to the conclusion that the claimed effects of CO2 do not stand close scrutiny.)

    Although the great majority on this blog will not countenance examination of this decision point (it is for you an almost unspoken assumption) I believe that a number of developments over the last year warrant a more careful analysis of the situation. These developments are:

    1. The coincidence of very cold winters in the Northern Hemisphere with an almost complete lack of sunspots, such a solar event not having been seen in modern times. The last time this happened was during the Little ice Age. Coupled with the record high number of sunspots over the previouis 50 years, and the 19th century observation that weather is linked to sunspots, it is at least tenable that the temperature variations we have seen and are seeing are solar in origin. The Svensmark hypothesis that solar magnetic fields control planetary cloud cover, coupled with Spencer’s hypothesis that water is both a feedbacker and a forcer are looking quite strong as alternatives to the CO2-causes-all-the-warming hypothesis.
    2. The publication of a peer-reviewed paper showing that coral atolls have mostly grown in size over the last 20 years of warming confirms Darwin’s hypothesis that atolls rise and fall with sea level. There is now no evidence that rising sea level will have any major deleterious effect on atolls (something which has been known for 150 years).
    3. The IAC report into the IPCC AR4 report has been published. This report was quite damning of the IPCC, though couched in very polite language – essentially the IAC’s mandatory recommendations imply that the IPCC report was inadequately reviewed, used many non-peer reviewed/ environmental NGO sources, and was politically contaminated. (The IAC is a peak scientific body which was asked by the IPCC to conduct the review).
    4. The increasing calls from within the Climate Science profession for greater acknowledgement of the uncertainties in the basic theory, and the opening of the discipline to proper scientific discourse and disclosure. The Climategate emails and other material have convinced a large number of practicing scientists that all is not well within the discipline. [For example, it is little understood that the “science” is not settled. Climate Science estimates of the temperature change due to a doubling of CO2 range from 0 to 6 DegC. This range essentially encompasses the uncertainty in the effects of clouds, water vapour, evaporation and aerosols, and is an area for hot debate.]
    5. The publication of peer-reviewed papers confirming that:
    a. Half the observed late 20th century temperature rise is due to Urban-Heat Island Effect (ie measurement error),
    b. Antarctica is not warming (though the Antarctic peninsular is).
    c. The missing tropical troposphere hot spot is really missing – the observed temperature change statistically lies outside the model predictions, casting doubt on all the models.

    None of the above means that the CO2-causes-dangerous-warming hypothesis is disproven, just that it is no longer a foregone conclusion – the science is much less certain than it was even a year ago.

    Obviously I don’t want to hijack the debate into an CAGW foodfight, but I think the question of the effects of CO2 is of such economic significance that we should all, independently, follow this fascinating scientific controversy. It’s by no means as certain as it was.

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  192. Obviously I don’t want to hijack the debate into an CAGW foodfight …

    This piece of disengenuity follows an unbroken stream of long debunked polluter talking points. There’s scarcely a line in your post that isn’t an insult to anyone who has followed the pertinent science over the last 15 years.

    We’ve moved on here and in most places however, and we no longer feel the need to do yet another iteration of this insane two-step. Accordingly there’s absolutely no chance of you hijacking the debate, even if you trouble to pretend this is not your wish.

    Point 1 goes without saying because that was settled a long time ago.

    Point 2 is more complex, but we all agree here that nuclear power is a key part of the solution.

    Point 3 suffers from the petitio principii fallacy. I’m not doing your homework, given the bad faith you have shown. Look it up.

    Point 4. I prefer a good cap and trade scheme to a carbon tax but if I can’t have one then a carbon tax may be preferable to a poor cap and trade scheme. In some jurisdictions it may be no worse than a good cap and trade scheme.

    Hope that helps …

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  193. So what is causing strange weather patterns and how do we adapt? Normally the week before Christmas my power bill goes into credit due to high output from my PV panels. I also get contractors to cut hay on a few hectares of open paddock. This year neither has happened due to incessant rain. It would helpful if weather patterns returned to something like historical averages.

    Adaptation could be more difficult than many think. If man made CO2 is to blame it suggests we should take serious steps to curtail it. If it is not man made CO2 then we must still try to understand it as a guide to future adaptation.

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  194. Watching the link now DB. Incidentally proving that satellite internet is more than adequate for streaming video thus the govt doesn’t need to spend $43 bn (or whatever) to connect every remote farmhouse with fibre optic cable.

    Those who prefer a non CO2 explanation for climate change must provide an alternative model. We need to know for example if we can feed billions of people on grain if future climate is hostile to grain growing. For all their faults at least the IPCC tries to model out to 2050 and 2100. Those who say it’s not CO2 should now do the same.

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  195. Getting back on what this thread is about – what can Australia do to get low emissions electricity at a cost less than coal? – it seems to me BNC contributors are avoiding discussing this key issue. I repeat my prompt from up thread:

    This last point (anything other then remove the mass of legislated, regulatory and policy impediments to low-cost nuclear) is the ‘elephant in the room’ on this thread. The unmentionable issue. The one issue no one on BNC wants to get into in depth.

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  196. Peter, it’s not unmentionable. It’s just very difficult to see how to cut through this. I mentioned this point when talking about Britain a while back, but I agree that the topic needs further explanation.

    Worldwide, in 2008 nuclear power avoided 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to what would have been emitted if coal-fired stations had instead been used.

    What of the economics of the UK plan? Like any large capital infrastructure project, it will be expensive. Yet aside from concrete, steel and labour, much of the cost of new nuclear comes from regulatory risk. The UK wisely plan to cut through this red tape by reducing planning permission times from seven to one year, and vetoing the right of local authorities to block construction. They’ve clearly learned valuable lessons from history.

    Further, in my book, I said this:

    What went wrong with nuclear power construction and why the cost escalation?

    Nuclear power plants should be cheaper than coal-fired plants to build, but currently they’re not. Here’s why, and what we can do about it.

    In the 1970s, a new, large nuclear reactor located in the US typically cost $US170 million. By 1983 the cost had escalated to about $US1.7 billion, and by the late 1980s some reactors were already costing three times as much again. Adjusting for the rise in the US consumer price index (CPI), this was an 11-fold price rise in just 15 years. Rising labour costs and commodity prices certainly played a part, but they are largely factored into the CPI adjustment. By 1998, based on CPI adjustments, a new reactor should have cost only $US500 million, not the $US5 billion it had become. What went wrong?

    The two most significant causes were much longer construction times and greater perceived risk. These can be linked to four other key problems:
     tighter regulations
     lack of a standard reactor design
     legal challenges by opponents of nuclear power
     public disquiet over the Three Mile Island accident

    One-off reactor designs meant that every new reactor had its own “first of a kind” engineering quirks, and each had to be certified anew by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission before it could operate.

    As well, the Three Mile Island incident led to increased concerns about safety, so plants then already under construction were required, mid-course, to add new safety systems. This meant extra financing had to be sought, construction schedules were delayed, and interest payments piled up. To top it off, some plants were either never completed or never allowed to operate, being held up for years in the courts as anti-nuclear protestors blocked them with lawsuits.
    It was a recipe for financial disaster, so many utilities and banks became unwilling to take on the financial risk.

    Has anything changed?

    I’m happy to explore this issue in more depth in the new year.

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  197. Fran Barlow kindly responded to my post as follows:
    “Obviously I don’t want to hijack the debate into an CAGW foodfight …

    This piece of disengenuity follows an unbroken stream of long debunked polluter talking points. There’s scarcely a line in your post that isn’t an insult to anyone who has followed the pertinent science over the last 15 years.

    We’ve moved on here and in most places however, and we no longer feel the need to do yet another iteration of this insane two-step.”

    I apologise for causing offence. I like to keep an open mind on scientific hypotheses. I guess it’s not OK to raise the subject, but OK to deny that the science is shakier today than it was 12 months ago. Forgive me if I have misinterpreted.

    I think we are agreed that Nuclear is a long term solution (and I think Barry’s and Peter’s contributions here are outstanding in showing that this is a superior option). Are there any short tem solutions?
    And what are the solutions for transport?

    I understand that Fran believes a Carbon Tax is essential. I don’t know how the Steel (hugely increased coal prices) and Aluminium (hugely increased electricity prices) industries will survive. Perhaps Fran can explain this to me.

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  198. what can Australia do to get low emissions electricity at a cost less than coal?

    A lot of people have answered this question, Peter. Start with a pricing mechanism that includes at least some of the externalities of burning fossil fuels, which can drive debate and, eventually, investment in the right direction (towards nuclear). You may not agree with this strategy, but you can’t claim that no one is answering your question.

    Many hard greens are arguing for various high prices on carbon. Many conservatives are arguing for no price. Let’s take a pragmatic approach, compromise, and start with a $10 price. At least this will give investors some certainty of the direction our energy future is heading.

    Keeping in line with a pragmatic approach, I’m also in favour of rational steps to lower the capital costs of nuclear too. But there needs to be clear steps as to how this can be achieved. And, most importantly, they need to be socially and politically viable.

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  199. Fred said:

    I like to keep an open mind on scientific hypotheses

    I find that implausible. I very much doubt that you like to keep an open mind on those scientific hypotheses that don’t offend you culturally or inhibit your convenience. I suspect the “hypotheses” (these days AGW is a theory, which is much stronger in this context than a mere hypothesis) you like to “keep an open mind on” are what have come to be called inconvenient truths. I suspect you don’t like the policy implications of accepting anthropogenic forcing as the explanator of current climate trends, but in order to appeaer to be in conflict with observable reality you hide behind the apparently safe “scientific skeptic” rubric.

    It’s simply unpersuasive Fred. Let it go. You’re entitled to your own opinion. Yet nobody in the woolly world of climate science denialism has done the spade work for a whole new episteme.

    I understand that Fran believes a Carbon Tax is essential.

    Then you misunderstand. Comments like this subvert your credibility. Go back and read what I wrote. This is no better than the nonsense one hears from let us not mention his name here.

    I don’t know how the Steel (hugely increased coal prices) and Aluminium (hugely increased electricity prices) industries will survive.

    1. It is no part of our job to ensure through subsidy from the commons that any industry survives.

    There is no prospect at all that demand for steel, and aluminium will abate any time soon, so by definition, these industries will survive even if we tried might and main to see to it that they did not. This is one of those slippery slope fallacies.

    If what you are really saying is that you hope they will continue to be undertaken here in Australia then that is an entirely different thing. Right now, the aluminium industry in Victoria particular is in receipt of massive subsidies — estimated at between $135-230 per job. These subsidies are a drain upon consumers of power. If the aluminium industry did pack up and leave we could, if we wished, pay this subsidy to the 5000 workers or so employed directly and since Australia has some of the dirtiest aluminium in the world it’s likely the net ecological footprint would shrink.

    Of course, the aluminium industry probably isn’t going to leave. Leaving involves sunk cost losses and whole new lots of uncertainty. Having to pay a fair price for their energy including the cost of emissions isn’t going to make them run to some other place to set up shop. Maybe they’d move to QLD where the coal plants are more modern.

    Maybe we’d get a lot of CCGT and they’d stay in Victoria, or maybe if we do get nuclear, we will have the near equal cleanest aluminium on the planet.

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  200. Barry,

    Peter, it’s not unmentionable. It’s just very difficult to see how to cut through this.

    I’m happy to explore this issue in more depth in the new year.

    That’s great. I think it is one of the most important issues to address, and potentially could make a significant contribution to the policy debate in Australia next year.

    And, yes as you point out, “it is very difficult to see how to cut through this”. If it wasn’t, it would have been solved long ago. That is also why it is one of the most important subjects that could do with the attention of the skills that contribute to BNC – and others with appropriate skills invited to contribute lead articles.

    Good post here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/11/10/follow-britains-nuclear-lead/

    Yet aside from concrete, steel and labour, much of the cost of new nuclear comes from regulatory risk.

    Yes. This is why I keep repeating that we need to focus our efforts on how to implement ‘low cost nuclear’ not ‘high cost nuclear’ in Australia. High cost nuclear is what is built in the UK and Europe, and advocated in USA and Canada.

    The Figure on page 8 here http://www.grattan.edu.au/publications/060_daley_nuclear_seminar.pdf
    shows how the cost of nuclear has been rising and attributes this to increasing regulation. Without the increasing costs that have been applied by increasing regulation since about 1970, the cost would be 25% to 50% of what it is now. If we’d been able to progress with nuclear during this time, ‘learning by doing’ would have cut these cost by 50%. (very roughly; I don’t know the basis of the chart quoted here).

    You say:

    By 1998, based on CPI adjustments, a new reactor should have cost only $US500 million, not the $US5 billion it had become.

    So, a new reactor should cost 1/10th of what it actually costs now. I suspect that is probably roughly correct. You ask “what went wrong”. Good question and you provide an excellent summary answer. But even more important is what can we do now to avoid these extra costs being imposed in new nuclear in Australia. If your figures are correct, or even roughly so, it supports what I’ve been saying all along: modern nuclear is far too expensive, and it could and should be cheaper than coal in Australia. This is what we should be striving to achieve rather than focusing in applying a carbon price – yet!

    Again, Australia should take note of this warning. We must not go down the natural gas-for-coal substitution route. It would be long-term economic suicide.

    I agree. But there is another point I keep making that I get the feeling is being missed.
    Australia should also take note of the warning that we should not embark on trying to implement nuclear with the impediments that are imposed on it in UK, Europe, USA, Canada. We need to learn from their mistakes that have caused nuclear to be far more expensive than it could and should be.

    When you do tackle this issue in the new year I hope you will address how we avoid going down the ‘high cost nuclear’ route? Let’s identify the impediments to ‘low-cost nuclear’ as step one then work out how theycould be remove so that we can have nuclear cheaper than coal without a carbon price – yet!

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  201. Tom Keen,

    Very frustrating reply, again. You answered my question by saying:

    A lot of people have answered this question, Peter. Start with a pricing mechanism that includes at least some of the externalities of burning fossil fuels, which can drive debate and, eventually, investment in the right direction (towards nuclear). You may not agree with this strategy, but you can’t claim that no one is answering your question.

    If you’d been following this thread you’d understand that my question is asking how to get the cost of nuclear cheaper than coal without raising the cost of coal. Raising the cost of coal (in fact all fossil fuel generated electricity) would damage our economy, make no difference to the climate, and probably not cut world emissions, in fact it may actually slow the rate that they are cut.

    Other responses to your comment:

    Yes, many people have advocated a carbon price. I am fully aware of that and that is what this thread has been discussing. It’s not that I don’t recognise this is what is being advocated by many.

    But applying a carbon price is a solution which many people do not support, including me, for the reasons that have been explained many times by me and others. Barry gave a link to this:
    http://depletedcranium.com/the-problem-with-subsidized-and-mandated-green-jobs/?cp=1
    Did you see it?

    There was also this on ABC Unleashed recently:
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/42196.html

    I’ve also argued up thread that a carbon price applied in Australia will not change the climate, will probably not cut world emissions, and will reduce economic growth – with all the consequences that has. Have you seen those posts? If not, can I urge you to read through this thread, starting with the lead article, and making allowance for the fact it was written nearly a year ago an later contributions have progressed the debate since.

    I am not persuaded by the argument that says: if we implement a carbon price first then the removal of the impediments to nuclear will follow in short order. There seems to be no persuasive evidence to support that argument. I believe it is simply wishful thinking. I’ve been involved in this for over 20 years and I’ve seen this line of argument used over and over again. It is a stalling tactic.

    I haven’t seen any convincing argument to support the contention that if we implement the carbon price then the Greens and environmental NGO’s will change their anti-nuclear policies. Forty years of anti-nuclear advocacy will not change if we introduce a carbon price. To argue it will be different this time is simply wishful thinking, IMO. Given that these groups will not change their policy, I say it is far better to tackle the real issue now – the impediments to low-cost nuclear in Australia – while AGW, electricity prices and peak oil have people’s attention. Delay or avoid tackling this and we delay tackling it for a long time, in my opinion. The Greens, Labor and the environmental NGOs need to be confronted on this now (especially by their supporters and defenders), now, not appeased by succumbing to support a carbon price as a way to avoid the difficult, but essential confrontation that is required.

    Carbon price means gas and renewables, not low cost nuclear (see http://www.originenergy.com.au/files/APPEA_Present180510.pdf ). Gas and renewables means small emissions reductions and the cost per tonne of emissions avoided would be high (see Figures 7 and 11 here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/ )

    We’ve had plenty of symbolic gestures already – e.g. Kyoto agreement. Surely we should have leant by now that these will not deliver the desired outcome. They are the wrong approach – other than to achieve more symbols. There are many people who want a carbon price and for many different reasons – just like the Europeans want Kyoto primarily because it would have given them a massive economic advantage over the USA if the USA had signed on to it.

    I continue to wonder why so many of the wealthy, inner city elite are so keen to have a carbon price but unwilling to look seriously at the economically rational alternative – removing the impediments to low-cost low emissions electricity generation.

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  202. Fran Barlow kindly replied to my last post, saying:
    “It’s simply unpersuasive Fred. Let it go. You’re entitled to your own opinion. Yet nobody in the woolly world of climate science denialism has done the spade work for a whole new episteme.”

    I would like to point out that all I have said (and backed up with concrete evidence) is that the CO2-causes-really-bad-warming hypothesis is less certain/persuasive now than it was a year ago.

    I understand Fran doesn’t like this assessment, and equates it with “climate science denialism”, whatever that may be. Nevertheless, unless she can provide concrete examples of how the hypothesis is stronger than a year ago, the statement stands. (Ad hominem attack is no substitue for a logical, reasoned argument, so could we have some of that, please?)

    I apologise to Fran, she did indeed say that she prefers a CPRS over a carbon tax. I thank her for her responses on Aluminium and Steel, and will respond after Christmas.

    Finally, I agree with Peter Lang that removal of impediments to Nuclear is indeed a big issue, and was very interested in Barry’s post on this issue (see 0939,23Dec).
    On that score, I know there was a series of scientific studies a few years back, which concluded that dosage levels somewhat higher than background radiation are actually beneficial to health. (Apparently the mechanism is increased stimulation of the DNA repair processes in cells.)
    These studies explain the much lower than expected death rates from Chernobyl, the better health of mountain people (they live on granite, which emits Radon gas), and the better health of Voles at Sellafield in the UK.
    If that science stands, then I would think that some relaxation of legislation is in order.

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  203. Fred

    Ad hominem attack is no substitue for a logical, reasoned argument, so could we have some of that, please

    You still haven’t worked out what the petitio principii fallacy amounts to have you? Now it seems you don’t understand the concept of ad hominem either.

    At no point did I suggest than a proposition you advanced ought to be rejected because of some attribute of your persona likely to be judged ill by others.

    What I said was that the things you advanced were unreasonable and not founded in observable reality. You may well find that insulting, but that doesn’t make the claim ad hominem. This is one of the more persistent tactics used by your milieue, but it simply makes you appear philosophically illiterate.

    If you are not philosophically illiterate then please have a care to the claims you make. Recklessness, dissembling and misdirection are commonplaces amongst those who seek to subvert mitigation policy.

    And just to be clear, what I preferred as a general rule to a carbon tax was not “a CPRS” but a robust and ubiquitous cap and trade scheme. More generically, what I would like would be to place an adequate use value on the quality of ecosystem services available to humanity. I support robust and ubiquitous cap and trade scheme (or any other coherent approach) to the extent that it serves that end.

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  204. “I would like to point out that all I have said (and backed up with concrete evidence) is that the CO2-causes-really-bad-warming hypothesis is less certain/persuasive now than it was a year ago.”

    I wasn’t going to get into this, but I just looked back over your posts and saw that you have not provided a single link to a scientific article (or any article at all) in any of your above posts. That is not backing up anything with concrete evidence. You have not in any way explained why the science has become “less certain” in the last year.

    To address your points.

    1. The Svensmark hypothesis is not new (it was coined in 1998 I believe). This Damon & Laut paper is quite damning of the hypothesis. Do you have a reference to refute this, or to show renewed support for the hypothesis?

    2. You didn’t provide a reference to the coral atoll paper. This is irrelevant to the theory of anthropogenic climate change anyway. At most it’s a difference in understanding of a single biological response to global climate change.

    3. On what grounds is the IAC report “damning”? It simply outlines practical ways to move forward with the review process.

    4. What “increasing calls from within the Climate Science profession for greater acknowledgement of the uncertainties in the basic theory” are you referring to?

    5. What peer reviewed papers?

    This may seem off-topic for a thread about what our response to greenhouse gas emissions should be, but there’s no point pretending that peoples’ opinions on the consequences of carbon emissions doesn’t influence what they think the response should be.

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  205. Tom

    This may seem off-topic for a thread about what our response to greenhouse gas emissions should be,

    Very much so. This should be in an open thread if you wish to go another round of the insane two-step.

    but there’s no point pretending that peoples’ opinions on the consequences of carbon emissions doesn’t influence what they think the response should be

    It’s quite the other way around Tom. What people from the denier community think the responses should be determines what they will accept the consequences of carbon emissions to be and the integrity of the science more generally. The “argument” about the science is really just a new battleground in a culture war they see as vital to the preservation of western civilisation. It is no accident that that the denier position is listed under the term epistemic closure.

    In response to this question on the latest antics of the NZ Climate Coalition someone observed:

    It’s like there’s an alternate Wattsian universe we’re co-existing with. And the more evidence and science you lay out in front of it, the higher and stronger the walls become.

    One of the wittier scientifically literate correspondents, BernardJ, commented:

    This phenomenon leads me to postulate the existence of quantum chromodenynamics, wherein reality quarks and trope quacks are bound by a strong moronic interaction. Where the distance between reality and trope increases, the strength of the force attempting to bind reality quarks to trope quacks increases, stressing the cherry-colour field. When the field’s energy threshold is passed, new trope quacks spontaneously materialise to bind with the old trope quacks that are being separated from reality, forming new moron particles in the moronisation process inherent in cherry-colour confinement.

    The frustrating corollary from my quantum chromodenynamic model of denialism is that the more energy is invested in attempting to separate trope from reality, the more tropes and morons will apparate…

    Clever and most apt.

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  206. Why do you prefer a carbon price instead of removing the impediments to low cost nuclear? Would a carbon price:

    1. slow Australia’s economic growth? Yes

    2. change the climate? No.

    3. cut world emissions? No (it may delay and slow the rate of reducing emissions – see up thread)

    4. favour low-cost, low-emissions electricity? No. (It will cause higher cost electricity)

    5. facilitate the acceptance of nuclear? No. (Not in the short term).

    6. provide another near useless symbolic gesture? Yes.

    7. help Greens and Labor politically? Yes.

    8. Is this the main reason for advocating it?

    Why are you opposed to (or supporting with faint praise but no real conviction) focusing on removing the impediments to low cost nuclear?

    Why aren’t you strongly advocating this approach as a first step instead of advocating a carbon price as a first step?

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  207. Peter

    Why do you prefer a carbon price instead of to removing the impediments to low cost nuclear?

    Like “fred”, petitio principii Peter. Look it up.

    Would a carbon price:1. slow Australia’s economic growth?

    Not by very much, if Garnaut and Grattan are accepted and perhaps not at all. Current monetary and fiscal policy seeks to curb growth so the question is moot.

    2. change the climate?

    OK … Barnaby is it? Yes, ultimately. Sorry if that’s not the answer you wanted.

    cut world emissions?

    By definition, yes, perhaps on a substantial scale.

    favour low-cost, low-emissions electricity?

    If properly structured yes and much more than that too.

    facilitate the acceptance of nuclear?

    Absolutely as the cost would not make renewables competitive but it would underpin nuclear.

    help Greens and Labor politically

    The ALP lost its nerve on this issue, so they don’t think so. It might well help the Greens. I’ve no problem with that.

    Is this the main reason for advocating it

    It’s not any reason for advocating it.

    Why aren’t you strongly advocating this approach as a first step instead of advocating a carbon price as a first step

    Because without a carbon price there can be no serious discussion of nuclear power, since it is never in practice going to be competitive (see above). With a proper carbon price we can call these objections moot, move on and then devise a rational roll out.. If nuclear does come down in price then a cap and trade scheme will force down the cost of permits ceteris paribus. Everyone wins.

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  208. Remember that BHP’s Marius Kloppers has called for a carbon price. The idea has in-principle support from the generators
    http://www.esaa.com.au/content/detail/greenhouse_policy
    The problem is that any politically survivable imposed carbon price could be so slight as to be meaningless.

    I think that even talk of a carbon price must have a measurable effect on electricity prices. Virtually all new capacity will come from gas generation while utilities slug customers via smart meters and changed pricing plans. Build a few wind farms along the way. Long run though this is not going to cut CO2 by 80% nor will it be cheap. At some point nuclear must look like a winner on its own merits. That is without an imposed carbon price.

    As I see it the role of the carbon price is to bring that day forward. The difference is that if we don’t intervene early hundreds of millions more tonnes of coal will be burned.

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  209. The anti-nuke groups (most strongly represented by Greens, Labor and the environmental NGOs) argue for a carbon price as the best way to cut emissions because they oppose the rational solution – nuclear. So they have no other solution. They have to ramp up the cost of energy until it is high enough to try to stop people and industry using it. This fits in nicely with their other agendas such as to try to force everyone to adopt a simpler life (and renewable energy). This is a very high price for society to have to pay, and just because they are opposed to rational solutions. Fran argues, in effect, that if enough hurt is imposed people will be more open to accept nuclear.

    But for people who have already accepted nuclear, such as Fran, to argue for higher cost energy and the hurt it would bring is irrational. Barry’s rough figures here https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109619 show that nuclear could and should be far cheaper than fossil fuel electricity. So there is a better way than raising the cost of energy. I’d suggest those who accept nuclear should promote this better way.

    Fran,

    Thank you for your response. As we have discovered before, there is no point in you and I trying to discuss issues. We’ve tried in the past and they were most unproductive. So please understand if I don’t reply to comments you directed to me.

    To others,

    I recognise that many people contributing on BNC would like everyone to be just as convinced about catastrophic man-made climate change as they are themselves. That is the case with all religious like beliefs, which this one has clearly become. But people are stepping back in droves from this belief in imminent. So I suggest a choice needs to be made: continue the advocacy of the extreme and uncompromising positions, including trying to drive the CAGW doubters to accept your beliefs, or search for compromises that would meet your wants and the wants of the CAGW doubters.

    I argue there is a compromise available that would satisfy both groups (but would not satisfy the anti-nukes; they need to be isolated and their numbers and influence reduced; Barry and BNC are already doing an excellent job in this and I’d urge BNCers to put their effort into converting the position of the anti-nukes). The compromise is economically rational, will allow the economy to grow and in fact will enhance economic growth over the long term. It ticks many rational boxes – energy security, more environmentally benign, safer, cleaner, etc. All this can be achieved by allowing low-cost nuclear. It does not involve pricing carbon, a policy that is strongly opposed by many.

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  210. John Newlands,

    Marius Kloppers is looking after his shareholders’ interests, as he should, and working within the reality of the policies of the government currently in power. Even though he advocates nuclear he cannot come out and say it as strongly as he would like because he knows his company (BHP, the world’s largest mining company) could be damaged by this government. He has to work within the current political environment.

    The same applies to ESAA. But ESAA is also an umbrella organisation of the gas and electricity supply industries. The gas industry is enormously powerful. But there is zero representation in ESAA from the nuclear industry.

    We need to recognise that there is no nuclear industry in Australia so the only push for it is coming from a small group of (I believe) enlightened people such as those contributing on BNC. The lead for nuclear (‘low-cost nuclear’, please) will need to come from those most concerned about the environment.

    I urge you to focus on changing the policy of the Greens, Labor and the environmental NGOs. Arguing for a carbon price will miss the opportunity we have right now to get the best solution for the long term. I’d urge us to take a serious and sustained look at what needs to be done to implement low cost nuclear in Australia. Until now we have not looked at this seriously and in depth. Many simply keep arguing for a price on carbon without really looking at the alternative to it.

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  211. Peter claims:

    Fran argues, in effect, that if enough hurt is imposed people will be more open to accept nuclear.

    “Fran” argues no such thing. “Fran” makes the obvious point that when the cost of selling nuclear power is much the same as the cost of coal, nuclear power will more likely be adopted because a major objection will have been overcome. Once that objection is overcome, the rationale for getting nuclear power at least cost and least delay will be compelling. That will, of course sharply reduce the cost of carbon permits ceteris paribus under a cap and trade system because a significant source of demand for CO2 (energy generation) will be demanding a lot less. Under this system, consumers of energy would be able to eat their cake and have it too. They get a rebate to compensate them for the cost imposed by a price on CO2 and then they buy energy from a near zero-CO2 emitter such as nuclear which is, by they time it is rolled out, not much more expensive, if at all, in real terms than is coal now.

    If you proceed the other way, then the battle over “removing the impediments to low cost nuclear” will really be a battle over whether people like the idea of nuclear power at all. Rather than looking at the technical, engineering, legal and bureaucratic issues, most of which will be opaque to most people, every anti-nuclear FUDster will be able to present every proposal as an attempt to engage in reckless cost-cutting at the expense of public safety, the environment, national security or whatever else flies win the political markets they need. The denialists on climate science have shown how effective ignorance can be in marshalling the forces for culture war. One would be naive in the extreme to think those already doing anti-nuclear FUD won’t go up a notch if the proponents start with a proposal not involving a carbon price but involving complex measures to get “cheap nukes”.

    And as I said above, energy is not the only source of net emissions. Agriculture, forestry, transport, mining and concrete all contribute, so yoyur plan is to give all these sectors a freee pass. That would be a massive political own goal when we are pushing something that remains very controversial.

    We need a rubric under wish to place it — and that rubric is a general claim that the biosphere ought not to be treated as a free industrial sewer or a place which ought to be stomped on by industry. Nuclear power doesn’t do that and that is our rationale to those who see themselves as environmentalists. Sure it may cost a bit more, but the ecosystem services are worth paying to protect.

    This line of attack makes even zealous antinukes uncomfortable and forces them into a much more narrow “culture-based” defence, It marginalises them. Yet if we want to run that, we must show good faith and deny them the right to say that we are in some way, the allies of environmental despoilers.

    A robust carbon price is foundational to refuting that claim. It allows us to occupy the same cultural ground as our principal political rivals while attacking nuclear’s main industrial rival — coal.

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  212. GREAT NEWS on Christmas Eve 2010

    ANNA Bligh has backed calls for the Labor Party to review its policy on nuclear power.

    The Queensland Premier has warned that renewable sources cannot meet the surging demand for baseload electricity.

    Read the article here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/anna-bligh-opens-door-to-nuclear-power/story-fn59niix-1225975663810

    Anna Bligh is National President of the Australian Labor Party which is currently the government of Australia and has been the main block to nuclear power in Australia for about the past 40 years. Anna Bligh’s statement signals a genuine policy shift for Labor. She would not have said this, in her position as Natrioal President of the party, if there isn’t a serious move within Labor to change the policy and also the likelihood that the policy will be changed at Labor’s National Conference which is schedule for about December 2011.

    This is realy good news. The article also says:

    Ms Bligh said pointedly that “parts of the environment movement” had shifted on the nuclear option, and now supported it as an abatement measure for climate change.

    A lot of the credit for this shift can go to Barry Brook and the ‘BraveNewClimate’ web site he runs.

    What I urges us to work on is trying to raise the issue that there is a spectrum of cost from ‘low cost nuclear’ to ‘high cost nuclear’ and we want low cost nuclear.

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  213. Maybe the sell-off of the Qld coal infrastructure was an early step towards this. I wonder what swung it; maybe the flooding and concerns over reef tourism. I suspect the actual tipping point could have been the realisation that CCS was a dud. Up til now that had been Big Coal’s trump card.

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  214. John Newlands,

    I agree. All the things you mention probably contributed. However, I suspect this change of heart has been building for quite a while within the top levels of the Labor Party. The National President does not come out and make a statement like this without a lot of discussion, head nodding and agreement having occurred first. The Fact that the NSW Premier made a supporting comment and none of the other Labor premiers spoke against it shows it is coordinated (which is excellent news). I also suspect Anna Bligh’s announcement of the cancellation of the ZeroGen CCS project was coordinated with many players and timed to precede the nuclear announcement.

    Of course, the policy isn’t changed yet, but it is as good as.

    Now we need to get the politicians to focus on low-cost nuclear as opposed to high cost nuclear.

    Like

  215. And as much as I disagree with Peter Lang on many things, I do agree that this latest news on the ALP position on nuclear is very positive.

    I have been plaguing every prominent ALP politician (and quite a few non-prominent ones) for a good two years now, urging them to acquaint themselves with the facts and in the last 18 months or so, to visit this site.

    It may well be all coincidental but I like to think that at least some of them came here and got a little more across the issues.

    If so, then Barry Brook deserves a good deal of credit for the work he has put in drawing together those of us who are keen on this perspective. It has been a huge shot in the arm that someone local with serious environmental credentials who is not tainted by association with the usual suspects or the climate science denier community has made such a point of taking this matter into the public domain.

    Well done Barry and the many others who come here to exchange their useful and pertinent insights. I know that I have learned a great deal that I would not have learned but for this site.

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  216. tainted by association with the usual suspects or the climate science denier community

    What a pity you have to bring your religious beliefs into every post. No wonder you keep getting the responses you do from those who do not accept your beliefs and zealotry about Appocalypse Now.

    No wonder the responses keep coming to your continuous stream of invective, Howard hater comments, Green Party propoganda – ongoing for 18 months now (remember the streams of ‘Howard hater’ posts). I wonder if they will ever stop.

    What a pity.

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  217. Peter said:

    What a pity you have to bring your religious beliefs into every post.

    What a pity you have to repeat this trite trope from the late novelist Michael Chrichton ad nauseum

    The world’s most respected scientists in this field, including Professor Brook, are not doing a new theology. Your insistence that they are is simply bizarre and bears out what I said to Tom above:

    What people from the denier community think the responses should be determines what they will accept the consequences of carbon emissions to be and the integrity of the science more generally. The “argument” about the science is really just a new battleground in a culture war they see as vital to the preservation of western civilisation. It is no accident that that the denier position is listed under the term epistemic closure

    You are much closer to assertion of a new theology, an agnotology if you will than I will ever be.

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  218. The CPRS proposal in its final form was widely criticised as it was just BAU for the fossil fuel industry and unlikely to reduce GHG emissions.

    Reducing GHG emissions requires a radical change to the way we do business if we are to have a successful transition from fossil carbon energy generation to non carbon energy generation. Because of the procrastination over the past 40 years we now only have a short time to make this change. A continuation of BAU for another 40 years is likely to result in global temperature rises of between 4 and 7 degrees C by the end of this century.
    Refer http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/publications/brochures/cop14.pdf. For more up to date climate trends also refer to http://climate.nasa.gov/.

    When proposing such a radical change it would be prudent for Governments not to reinvent the wheel and look at countries with successful emissions reduction policies. Sweden is such a country, reducing its CO2 emissions from 10T per capita in 1971 to 5T in 2008. During the same period Australia has increased from 11T to 16T. Refer IEA Energy Report 2010.

    Why was Sweden so successful? They used nuclear and hydro to produce most of their electricity, they have a ambitious climate policy and use taxes to steer their energy strategy. Refer to IEA Sweden 2008 Energy Review.

    While their system is not perfect and requires improvement, compared to the rest of the developed economies (with the exception of France and Switzerland) they are world leaders in emissions reduction.

    While I agree that nuclear is our best chance to reduce CO2 emissions, I also see a place for a carbon tax to drive the radical reforms that are required. However none of this will be possible without bipartisan agreement from the two major parties and in this regard Anna Bligh’s announcement for a nuclear debate is a ray of hope.

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  219. Tom said:

    While I agree that nuclear is our best chance to reduce CO2 emissions, I also see a place for a carbon tax to drive the radical reforms that are required. However none of this will be possible without bipartisan agreement from the two major parties and in this regard Anna Bligh’s announcement for a nuclear debate is a ray of hope

    Well said Tom, though as noted, I’d prefer a robust cap and trade scheme.

    I can’t but wonder though if, as an interim measure, abolition of deducribility on dirty energy (pro-rata against a dirty energy benchmark set by black coal and petrodiesel for stationary and transport respectively) plus withdrawal of rebates for diesel fuel might not be an easier method. This could be brought in with little delay and would be most consistent with either a subsequent carbon tax or cap and trade.

    This would send a very clear signal and kick off the process of decarbonising. I estimate that the cost of this would be about $30 per tonne in stationary and about $150 per tonne in transport. (Given the role of diesel in coal harvest and transport the stationary figure might actually be a bit higher than this) and might actually act as a tax in part on coal exports.

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  220. The OECD recently asked Australia to end fossil fuel subsidies including the diesel rebate. Commercial vehicle operators can get the cost of diesel close to $1/L through the combination of bulk discounts and the rebate which was about 18c when I last looked. I think the diesel price is going to increase strongly regardless within a few years due to Peak Oil. I think either of two things could happen
    1) we have a UK style system of red and green diesel
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_dyes
    2) truckers make a big switch to compressed natural gas CNG.
    Biodiesel, renewable diesel and so on will always be small time.

    Given that Australia uses a million barrels of oil a day (mostly imported) the shift to CNG could create an unwelcome price shock to other gas users. NG at $5 per GJ or mbtu is 0.5c per megajoule. If truckers switch over when diesel is $1.75/L for 35 MJ their price point is 5c per MJ, ten times what others are paying.

    Given that some weird stuff is going to happen with diesel I think it best to stick with a simple system that doesn’t play favourites. If there are to be carbon penalities they should be proportional to emissions. Note coal-to-liquids and Canadian style tar sands would get extra penalties for the process CO2 before the liquid fuel even gets to the vehicle. Make it the same rule for all emission sources.

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  221. John Newlands said:

    I think it best to stick with a simple system that doesn’t play favourites. If there are to be carbon penalities they should be proportional to emissions. Note coal-to-liquids and Canadian style tar sands would get extra penalties for the process CO2 before the liquid fuel even gets to the vehicle. Make it the same rule for all emission sources

    I agree. No subsidies for any energy source at all. Tax deducitbility only pro-rate the standard source. In the case of petro-diesel, you’d look at its life cycle footprint and a source that could show it was 10% less CO2e-intensive would be able to deduct 10% of the cost from gross income for tax purposes. 10% bettrer then 20% deductible. Someone producing biodiesel or perhaps butanol from waste or other biomass (eg sullage, putrescible waste, used vegetable oil or perhaps algae, ag residues) would be close to 100% deductible.

    Once a system like cap and trade came in such sources would do even better since landfills and sewage treatment works would be emitters and would require permits to emit. A company reducing such emissions by converting waste to fuel would be rendering a commercial service equal to the value of the permits not required.

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  222. Tom Bond,

    The key is low-cost nuclear!

    I understand the argument that we need both a carbon price and nuclear. However, I do not agree we should implement a carbon price in Australia before the G20 at least has agreed a pricing mechanism and before we have removed all the impediments to low-cost nuclear. I’ve explained my reasons in posts up thread. The important points I have made have largely been ignored or avoided There is no point me trying to summarise them in a short post of dot points because it just attracts the silly, inane response of reversing every point as Fran did on Christmas Eve and Tom Keen did on a previous thread.

    It is misleading to suggest that Sweden went nuclear and hydro because of emissions reductions goal in the 1970s. Sweden went nuclear and hydro because it was the least cost and most reliable electricity supply option for them.

    It is very difficult to convince people who have little understanding of finances that it is the economics that will be the key factor as to how quickly low emissions electricity is rolled out in Australia, the western democracies and the whole world.

    While I agree that nuclear is our best chance to reduce CO2 emissions, I also see a place for a carbon tax to drive the radical reforms that are required.

    This is my train of thought:
    – Carbon price cannot reduce emissions much without nuclear unless the carbon price is so high it will do very serious damage to our economy
    – Any carbon price will slow economic growth (that is bad!)
    – Carbon price favours substitution of coal by gas and renewables, not nuclear
    – If nuclear is more expensive than coal, it will be a long slow, hard slog to get nuclear rolled out as fast and at the scale we want
    – So we need low cost nuclear
    – If we focus on carbon price before we focus on removing the impediments to low cost nuclear, we will not focus on low cost nuclear
    – Once we implement a carbon price most people will believe “job done”. Removing the impediments to low-cost nuclear will be put on the back-burner for a decade or so. That is what happens. Many examples through history.
    – Arguing for a carbon price is arguing for the symbolic gesture not the substantive policies that are needed to genuinely reduce emissions fastest over the long term (and provide the other benefits of a reliable, low-cost energy supply).
    – There is an alternative that can improve economic growth as well as cut emissions, provide safer, more environmentally benign and more secure energy supply – it is allow low cost nuclear power. So why don’t we put our efforts into investigating this alternative, thoroughly, before arguing for an economically damaging carbon price? I feel serious discussion of this alternative is being avoided, or dead batted.

    However none of this will be possible without bipartisan agreement from the two major parties and in this regard Anna Bligh’s announcement for a nuclear debate is a ray of hope.

    I think Anna Bligh’s statement is much more than a ray of hope. I think it signals the change we’ve been waiting for. I think it is a key turning point for Australia. I view this as the decision has been made by the Labor leadership and now it is a matter of going through the process to bring those that decide/endorse ALP policy on board. As far as I am concerned, the decisions is as good as made and now we can change our focus. From now on we need to put our efforts it trying to steer the debate towards ensuring the contest between the major parties is about which can offer the policies that will produce least cost nuclear generated electricity, not which can give us the safest nuclear power stations (which would result in them being loacted far from where they should be and bound up in US and EU type regulatory constraints).

    Regarding bipartisan, well I find it amusing that when Labor is in power its supporters call for ‘bipartisan’ yet when the conservatives are in power Labor blocks every major and important reform, but then goes and implements it when it is in power, usually with the support of the conservatives. I expect the conservatives will support nuclear and I see the Premier of Western Australia has already come out and said so. However, I expect the Opposition will highlight the flaws in Labor’s policies, as an opposition should do. I just hope the main political parties will frame their differences over different approaches to getting least cost nuclear in Australia rather than over safety, which in effect would be a race for highest cost and would entrench a high cost regime in Australia for many decades to come – and a slow roll out of low emissions electricity.

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  223. Barry Brook, on 23 December 2010 at 9:39 AM said:

    By 1998, based on CPI adjustments, a new reactor should have cost only $US500 million, not the $US5 billion it had become.

    If I am interpreting Barry’s comment correctly it means the cost of nuclear now in the western democracies could about 1/10th of what it actually is, if not for the ever increasing regulatory requirements and investor risk premium.

    So, if we could remove all the unnecessary regulatory requirements, remove the extra costs they have caused, and remove the investor risk premium that the prejudice against nuclear has caused then nuclear would be 1/10th the cost it is now.

    Of course it will take a long time – decades – to remove all the unnecessary costs that have been built in to the designs. But a lot can be done quickly if we want to. A lot can be done sufficiently quickly that could allow nuclear to be cheaper than coal in Australia. We can remove the investment risk premium by the message our governments send through the legislation they pass. We can set up a regulatory environment that focuses on giving us low cost nuclear rather than high cost nuclear. We can focus on locating the plants where they will provide the least cost electricity for 60 years as well as, perhaps, provide industrial heat, fresh water, hydrogen, etc. To achieve this we need to focus on least cost, not on best practice safety given that all plants are far safer than coal, which we now accept as safe enough.

    My key point: we need to focus on least cost low emission electricity generation. We need to explain that nuclear is far safer than what we have now but it can only be built fast (without sustained opposition from the economically rational folks) if it is economically viable.

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  224. Barry Brook, on 23 December 2010 at 9:39 AM said:

    Peter, it’s not unmentionable. It’s just very difficult to see how to cut through this. I mentioned this point when talking about Britain a while back, but I agree that the topic needs further explanation.

    It is not “explanation” I am seeking. We don’t have sufficient understanding of the problem to allow an “explanation”. Instead of “explanation” we need research, analysis and a thorough debate of the issues.

    I would like the government to instruct the Productivity Commission to investigate:

    1. What are the impediments to low-cost, low-emissions electricity supply in Australia?

    2. What could be done to remove these impediments?

    3. What could be done to give Australia a secure supply of the least-cost, low-emissions, environmentally benign electricity for the next 4 decades.

    To help educate the public and to encourage the government to conduct a thorough, independent, impartial investigation along these lines, I’d urge BNC contributors to conduct a sustained debate to address these questions.

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  225. Terms of Reference for Productivity Commission Investigation

    1. What are the impediments to low-cost, low-emissions electricity supply in Australia?

    2. What could be done to remove these impediments?

    3. What could be done to give Australia a secure supply of the least-cost, low-emissions, environmentally benign electricity for the next 4 decades.

    Another version of the Terms of Reference:

    1. Could electricity from nuclear be cheaper than from coal in Australia?

    2. If so, how much cheaper?

    3. What would we need to do to achieve this?

    4. What are the options,

    5. What are the benefits and costs, advantages and disadvantages of each options

    While waiting for the Productivity Commissions to complete their analysis and report, what could BNC do to pursue this line of analysis?

    What skills sets and inputs would be required?

    • Legal – what are the impediments; how could they be removed

    • Financial – what do we need to do to establish an investment environment that would give us least cost nuclear

    • Nuclear industry – provide insight from them as to what would allow them to provide electricity at least cost, for the long term, what would be needed from government to facilitate phase in of nuclear and phase out of coal and, later, gas

    • Electricity industry – how could nuclear be integrated into the existing electricity system for least cost in the short term and the long term

    • Economic modelling – what are the consequences of the proposed options for macro economy and the micro-economic effects on the relevant sectors and industries

    • IAEA – what are the minimum requirements and how have they been implemented at least cost in other countries with small economies

    • State government bureaucracies – what are the impediments and how could they be overcome.

    Please suggest improvements, and/or how we could progress this, and/or let’s get started: put forward your contributions.

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  226. PL I have to agree that imposed carbon pricing only has a low workability band. $30/tCO2 on Vic brown coal adds 1.4 kgCO2/kwh X 3c = 4.2c to the wholesale electricity price. Therefore unlikely to happen. In my opinion any more than $30 carbon tax won’t get a look in.

    Another way of rationalising carbon prices is that coal power is improperly cheap. It must clean up its act or pay atmospheric dumping fees. My impression reading about Bayswater B is that power company execs are averse to gas fired baseload. They only need a nudge to tip the scales against coal and they will ask Canberra for an official nod and perhaps financial help. A low end $10 carbon tax or ETS floor price might be enough to swing it.

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  227. John Newlands,

    The point I am trying to make is that there are other alternatives to a carbon price that would actually enhance the economy rather than slow it. So why don’t we look into that option instead of looking only at the carbon price option? From what I see on this website, no one wants to look seriously at the potentially better option. They just keep on arguing for a carbon price without seriously considering the alternative. If it is achievable to get low emissions electricity cheaper than coal, then it is a far superior option.

    There is no way we will get the poorest countries to slow their economic growth, and it is these countries that will produce the main growth in emissions over the decades ahead. A carbon price may do more harm than good in terms of reducing world emissions.

    So why not look into the better alternative – nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia?

    Your arguments about coal’s dumping of CO2 in the atmosphere is an argument made in isolation. You also need to weigh the benefits of low cost electricity to society. So far we have judged that the benefits outweigh the costs. Furthermore, there are many other pollutants from industries so why pick on CO2? Where is the balance? Are we just picking on something that suits the environmentalists to make an issue so they can achieve another irrational policy intervention for whatever reasons drive them? I realise it is a passionately held belief by many, but for many others it is seen as just another example of a disastrously bad policy intervention caused by these groups and the electoral appeal it can generate. So I keep coming back to urging that we look at the economically rational solution that will give nearly everyone what they want – other than particular industries like gas and renewables.

    A point I suggest BNCers should consider: There is no industry in Australia pushing for nuclear. All the industries are lined up pushing their own barrow. These industries want a carbon tax:

    – banks
    – gas
    – renewables
    – universities with well established energy researcher facilities and many researchers
    – political parties that have tied their flag to the scare mongering of catastrophic climate change

    We need to be able to see through this. See who benefits from a carbon tax. There is enormous pressure from these industries to advocate a carbon tax. That doesn’t mean it is best for Australia. I argue strongly it is not. BNCers can help save us from this!! :) Think about it.

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  228. Peter I am being forced into the role of Devil’s Advocate so I hope others will back me up.

    CO2 as a pollutant; with nearly 30 Gt a year globally it puts all others in the shade so to speak. The Montreal Protocol did an effective job on CFCs so the CO2 problem is doable with enough political will.

    vested interests; Marius Kloppers owns plenty of coal, oil and gas yet he wants a carbon price. Owners of gas fields are sitting on a bonanza under any scenario so perhaps they should sit back and enjoy the cash flow later. I agree carbon traders are parasites but that’s another topic.

    poor countries and economic growth; alas Peak Coal is going to hurt them soon enough with China already scouring the world for new supplies. It seems impoverished Mozambique will soon do the Nauru thing this time with coal.

    Even a $10 carbon price would have a powerful impact on consumer psychology. It says the days of pollute-for-free are numbered. And coincidentally it makes fossil electricity and fuel that little bit more expensive. Despite what you may believe a lot of people are worried about how much more weird weather we can take. Battlers or not they may actually see the need for dearer carbon based electricity.

    Maybe Barry should take a poll on who supports imposed carbon pricing. I for example support an ETS with offsets disallowed and no RET.

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  229. Peter, after reading Weinberg’s “The First Nuclear Era”, I suspect that vendors like Westinghouse and GE were significantly underpricing their initial offerings. Yes, they were offering reactors at ~$500/kW, but they never met that price and actually made any money. It was optimistic guesswork from the 1960s, according to Weinberg, and I have no reason to dispute what he says. BUT, clearly, the current offerings of $5,000/kW are too high due to regulatory uncertainty and other financial risk factors, including inexperience in ‘new nuclear’ and general tooling up. The Chinese are hoping to get reactor costs down to $1,000/kW for nth of a kind, and I suspect that $1,500-2,000/kW are feasible in OECD countries. So that a 2- to 4-fold reduction in costs IS feasible.

    I like your terms of reference idea for a productivity commission enquiry, and would definitely like to explore this idea further in 2011, along with many of the other points you suggest. The idea of collecting together a team on BNC, with different areas of expertise (law, power engineering, finance, modelling, regulation, etc.) is a great one. The “how” is the question to first be explored… Legal might be a good place to start, for Australia at least.

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  230. John ,

    No, you are not being forced into the role of devils advocate. Everyone on BNC is advocating a carbon tax. No one has looked at the alternative. Why not look seriously at the alternative to a carbon tax? There is masses of material all over the internet arguing for a carbon price, here and elsewhere. But almost no one is arguing for low cost nuclear to replace coal and the benefits that would bring. No one!. The nuclear industry is not arguing for it because they are concerned that a) the ant-nukes will make a feast out of saying “the nuclear industry want to reduce regulation” and b) because they want to sell western expertise and products, not help Chinese, Korean, Indian or Russians to get a start in the market.

    Instead of “playing devils advocate” by joining the masses arguing for a carbon tax, you could join me as about the only one saying “take a serious look at the alternative”. You could do some research yourself and think about this instead of just blindly arguing against it and repeating the Labor and Greens Policy. I understand the argument, so no need to repeat it. As I’ve said, I’ve been following the ETS versus Carbon Tax debate since 1991.

    Regarding taking a poll of BNCers that would be totally meainingless. All it would show is that 90% of BNCers vote Green-Labor. We already know that.

    John, You are avoiding looking at the alternative. Why?

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  231. Peter Lang:

    You praise The Australian article above for the quality of its rational analysis. However, this analysis is based upon an assumption which, itself, is not credible to those that have been persuaded by the evidence of the great majority of climate scientists. Rationality based upon a false premise is of no value.

    I quote:

    “In even the most pessimistic analysis, the potential effects of climate change are dwarfe by those caused by lack of economic development.”

    This assumes that there are two unrelated and conflicting problems of which the latter is overwhemingly the more important. However, many on this site believe that failure to mitigate climate change will result in economic collapse, not just an attenuation of economic growth.

    It is possibly this belief or lack of it that differentiates you from many other contributors to BNC rather than your constantly asserted view that the differentiation is attributable political leanings. However, none of this implies that your campaign for low cost nuclear is other than laudable.

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  232. Douglas Wise,

    If you read my posts you’ll see I acknowledge that many believe passionately that there will be dire consequences of ‘Catastrophic man-made Global Warming’. But surely you would recognise that many don’t. And people are moving away from this belief in droves. So, being pragmatic, you can keep preaching your beliefs, and calling those that don’t believe Deniers, or be willing to compromise on a solution that can satisfy most parties.

    I, for one, am strongly opposed to what I see as irrational and bad policy, especially when I believe there is a rational alternative that can meet most people’s wants.

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  233. Douglas Wise, almost every one of your posts directed to me starts off with a personal attack, gratuious advice, or some other paronising comment. I usually don’t bother reading any further. This time I did read your your comment. You start with a dishonest/misleading statement:

    You praise The Australian article above for the quality of its rational analysis.

    Would you be so kind as to quote my words that support this your statement.

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  234. Douglas Wise,

    Further to my comments above, I have been arguing for a long time for a rational solution. That means minimum interference by government. We have the option of adding more government interventions (Carbon Price) or removing the existing government interference we’ve imposed that is causing nuclear to be far more expensive than it could and should be (lots of caveats and I recognise that subsidy equivalent to what has already been committed to renewables will be needed to get nuclear from FOAK to NOAK – all discussed upthread).

    This article “Labor should just stop meddling with the markets” lists some examples of what the current government’s intervention has done in Australia: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/labor-should-just-stop-meddling-with-markets/story-e6frg6zo-1225976798469

    This gives examples of the mess we get into when governments meddle in the markets, such as imposing a Carbon Tax or ETS.

    Instead of adding more mess, there is a better option (I believe) – remove the mess of impediments that prevent low-cost nuclear in Australia.

    Instead of blindly arguing for a carbon price why don’t you try looking seriously at the alternative and contributing serious material to such an investigation by BNC. Until we’ve taken a serious look at the alternate solution, you’ll understand if I don’t take seriously those comments that are simply arguing for a carbon price because it fits with their beliefs.

    Please don’t repeat the arguments I’ve already answered up thread.

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  235. Peter Lang:

    Your three responses are no doubt the result of several more wickets having fallen.

    I am personally open minded about the need for any levies on fossil fuels. If one could ensure that all new baseload energy generation plants were nuclear without the need for tipping the balance against fossil fuel generation, well and good. Driving down the price of nuclear power so that it becomes the obvious choice is clearly a preferable, though not necessarily practicable, solution, at least until such time as new generation plants become available.

    You are clearly antagonistic to anything that might disturb what you see as the proper functioning of the free market. However, having in the past argued for government regulation that would make life extension of old coal plants and the construction of new ones impossible and more recently proposed subsidies for new nuclear, albeit limited in nature, you don’t seem be that opposed to government meddling yourself. I think you also favour government funded R&D. Perhaps you would be prepared to acknowledge that, without it, cheaper, new generation plants will be developed more slowly? You have, after all, compared the Korean, Chinese and Indian approaches to nuclear favourably when contrasted with American and European. Perhaps I’m wrong to believe that there is more government involvement in the former than the latter?

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  236. Douglas Wise,

    Your three responses are no doubt the result of several more wickets having fallen.

    True. Very cheeky of the visitors to thrash the hosts :)

    Driving down the price of nuclear power so that it becomes the obvious choice is clearly a preferable, though not necessarily practicable, solution, at least until such time as new generation plants become available.

    “Not practicable”? Maybe, or maybe not. We don’t know because there has been no serious analysis of this, either here on BNC or in the government departments and research organisations that should analyse this. I believe the reason there has been no analysis is for the very reason that has been pushed by about 95% of the BNC contributors. That is, we don’t want to discuss this matter because it would give ammunition to the anti-nukes to run a scare campaign. So we’ve avoided serious discussion of it. (Barry has said he will take it up in the new year.)

    I ran this simple calculation “Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia – How?” https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491 based on starting at the same price as the new 5400MW NPP has been contracted for in UAE, i.e. $3,800/kW. Based on the assumptions I used, this simple calculation suggests that nuclear in Australia could supply electricity cheaper than from coal. It should be noted that new plants in China are being built for less than half the cost of the new UAE plants, it is claimed.

    I also linked to this government statement which skites that this government has already committed $10 billion to renewable energy and [government selected] energy efficiency programs.
    http://www.budget.gov.au/2010-11/content/overview/html/overview_26.htm . If that $10 billion was directed to nuclear, instead of renewables and energy efficiency, this may be sufficient government subsidy to get nuclear from FOAK to NOAK and cheaper than coal, with “no more to pay”. If we also redirected the state funding that has been committed to renewables and energy efficiency to nuclear we could double the amount to $20 billion. As noted in the linked comment we’d also have to create the right investment environment.

    The point I make is that we need to do the thorough analysis of the alternative to a carbon price before we implement an economically damaging carbon price.

    Did you see these two links posted up thread?
    http://depletedcranium.com/the-problem-with-subsidized-and-mandated-green-jobs/?cp=1
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/42196.html

    I notice in today’s paper, Japan has decided to stall its plans for an ETS.
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/pressure-on-pm-julia-gillard-as-japan-stalls-plans-for-ets/story-fn59niix-1225977507984
    How wise of Japan!

    Now USA, Canada, Russia, China, India and Japan have all said no to a carbon price. Why on earth is Australia still pushing for it, at least before doing a thorough, impartial analysis of the alternatives?

    The push for a carbon price is coming from some western democracies – mainly the ones that are going broke due to decades of socialist policies or are now governed by socialist leaning governments. They want the revenue to spend on re-election.

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  237. Douglas Wise,

    As for your last paragraph, there is nothing new here that you haven’t said many, many times before. Boring!

    I’ve addressed your habit of selective quoting, misrepresentation of what I say and taking my statements out of context too many times to be interested in tackling it again. I realise you are opposed to globalisation and you want to try to protect England from competition. That’s your choice, but I’d prefer Australia doesn’t become the ‘basket case’ economy like UK and much of Europe.

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  238. Tom Keen and Fran Barlow kindly responded to my post on 23rd December, and I apologise for not responding sooner, but have been away visiting rellies.
    I said: “I would like to point out that all I have said (and backed up with concrete evidence) is that the CO2-causes-really-bad-warming hypothesis is less certain/persuasive now than it was a year ago.”

    Fran called me a denier, which I consider to be an ad-hominem response, devoid of reason. If she can explain the physics of the CAGW hypothesis better than I can, then she can call me whatever she likes. But I’m willing to bet Brisbane to a peanut that she won’t be able to do that. I bet that like nearly 100% of CAGW believers, she knows and understands very little of the physics. And I’ll bet she doesn’t understand that it is the feedback effect of clouds, evaporation and water vapour which are central to the scientific debate between climate scientists, and is the cause of the great uncertainty in the temperature predictions. “Negative Feedbackers” calculate 0-1DegC, while “Positive Feedbackers” calculate 1.5 to 6 DegC.
    I emphasise – this debate, definitely not settled, is between climate scientists. It is an exceedingly difficult area to measure, which is why there is such a huge spread.

    Tom demanded references for my allegations, which I would be happy to provide, on the basis that we do not sidetrack from the issues on this thread, something that I would not wish to occur. It is however very germaine to the discussion – if CO2 is not an issue then neither is power generation technology.

    My thesis is that CO2 is less certain to be a villain than it was a year ago. Note the responses of the readers of Scientific American in November:
    83% thought that the IPCC is a corrupt organisation, and 77% thought that recent climate change is caused by natural processes. This is a significant change from a year ago.

    Now for my data:
    1. The last three Northern Hemisphere winters support the sunspots hypothesis, but not the CO2 hypothesis. Remember that the IPCC in AR4 projected (another word for predicted) that Northern Hemisphere winters would be milder, with less snow.

    2. Coral Atolls rise and fall with sea level. They don’t inundate. See http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627633.700-shapeshifting-islands-defy-sealevel-rise.html for the story, but http://www.pacificdisaster.net/pdnadmin/data/original/The_dynamic_response.pdf for the paper.

    3. The IAC said, among many other things:”. Both scientists and government representatives who responded to the Committee’s questionnaire suggested changes to reduce opportunities for political interference with the scientific results and to improve the efficiency of the approval process.” There are many such statements. The implication is that AR4 is so tainted. It is also of interest that the IPCC has so far declined to implement the committee’s “mandatory recommendations”.

    4. Among many others, Judith Curry and Hans Von Storch have been vocal in demanding greater identification of the uncertainties, less cheer-leading and advocacy, and proper discussion of points raised by sceptics.

    5. A. UHI responsible for a large chunk of observed warming http://rossmckitrick.weebly.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/final_jesm_dec2010.formatted.pdf, in press at the Journal of Economic and Social Measurement.
    B. Antarctica not warming: Improved methods for PCA-based reconstructions: case study using the Steig et al. (2009) Antarctic temperature reconstruction
    (Accepted 11/30/10, Journal of Climate) Ryan O’Donnell, Nicholas Lewis, Steve McIntyre, Jeff Condon
    C. Tropospheric Temperature hot Spot http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asl.290/abstract

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  239. PM faces backlash on clean power

    This article
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/pm-faces-backlash-on-clean-power/story-fn59niix-1225979052580
    highlights the mess we are getting into, deeper into, by applying more and more regulations to the electricity industry.

    The article also supports a carbon price. However, I do not agree with that solution for the reasons I have stated up-thread (e.g. we have not properly considered the alternative of removing all the legislated, regulatory and policy impediments to low-cost nuclear power).

    The Australian electricity industry is very conservative. It is run by conservative engineers – conservative meaning that they want to supply reliable, high-quality power without taking any more risks than necessary. Changing to a different technology involves introducing new risks because the industry does not have expertise in that technology. The engineers know they will make mistakes, their cost estimates will be less reliable, it will take decades to acquire a similar level of expertise throughout all parts of the workforce and to establish all the new practices and procedures. They are naturally cautions and somewhat hesitant to take this on given they probably suspect it may well be just another whim of government. The government thinks in 3 year time frames, the industry thinks in time frames of 40 to 100 years being the life of its largest assets.

    In 1992, Keith Orchison, then CEO of the Australian Electricity Supply Association (ESAA), said to me: “Peter, no one in the ESAA will put up their hand in support of nuclear”. He was dead right.

    The situation is little different now, in that the industry has the expertise in coal and gas generation, but not in nuclear. The guys in charge are threatened by a change to nuclear because their expertise, upon which their position and prestige depends, will become redundant and new experts will replace them. They lose their position and power – the most important threat to individuals.

    Given this situation, we can understand why they prefer a carbon tax to removing the impediments to nuclear. A carbon tax entrenches coal and gas and the industry as it is. But if we remove the impediments to nuclear, there is nowhere to hide. They have to take on the change in technology. There will be enormous resistance, but it needs to be faced. We should not just play into the hands of the many groups wanting a carbon price for their various reasons (e.g. Europe wants it so it can get an economic advantage over the USA).

    No industry in Australia is pushing for what I, most BNC contributors and our host, believe is the best technology solution – nuclear. If we want this solution we need to recognise what is motivating the various key stakeholders; we need to look beyond simply supporting our political party’s policy

    If we want the best long term solution then a carbon price is not the best way to achieve it, in my opinion. Instead, we should be working out what are the impediments to implementing nuclear so that it will give us electricity cheaper than coal. We should list all the impediments. Next we can work on how governments could remove them. And a timeline for doing so.

    If the governments removed the impediments to ‘low-cost nuclear’, the result would be cheaper electricity and all the other benefits this would bring. That would be a massively beneficial reform for Australia.

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  240. No industry in Australia is pushing for what I, most BNC contributors and our host, believe is the best technology solution – nuclear. If we want this solution we need to recognise what is motivating the various key stakeholders; we need to look beyond simply supporting our political party’s policy

    If we want the best long term solution then a carbon price is not the best way to achieve it, in my opinion. Instead, we should be working out what are the impediments to implementing nuclear so that it will give us electricity cheaper than coal. We should list all the impediments. Next we can work on how governments could remove them. And a timeline for doing so.

    The two major impediments to the deployment of nuclear energy in all parts of the Western Bloc is one: the fossil fuel industry using their right to employ money-amplified free speech to persuade the world that man cannot possibly change the world’s climate and that continued use of their products is mankind’s wisest course of action; and two a general belief among members of the public that nuclear energy is inherently dangerous, and is plagued with several insoluble problems.

    Something as basic as flipping on the light switch is the end result of a series of political decisions that begin at the voting booth and make their way through the vast dark spaces of politics, bureaucracy, and commerce. It should be clear that in the face of the kind of lobbying that fossil fuels can afford, any top down solution is unobtainable.

    The only hope that we have is to sell the nuclear option to the general public, and convert them in such numbers that the voting booth, overwhelms the lobby as the major influence for political decisions.

    Anything else is spinning our wheels.

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  241. Hi Peter,

    You redirected a comment I made on Barry’s booklist to this thread but referred to me as Graham Palmer when I’m David Palmer.

    I liked your articles on solar/wind and am making use of them for an article on climate change/energy I’m wring for a church publication.

    Thank you.

    I note someone previous referencing von Storch and Judith Curry, the IAC review. All good stuff. Also I think Mike Hulme’s Why we disagree about climate change should be on everyone’s reading list

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  242. DV82XL,

    The only hope that we have is to sell the nuclear option to the general public, and convert them in such numbers that the voting booth, overwhelms the lobby as the major influence for political decisions.

    Anything else is spinning our wheels.

    You are correct, of course. But the discussion is about how to do this? What policy do we want our government to implement? What policy should we be urging the voters to support?

    Is the best way forward to impose a carbon price before we have removed the legislated, regulatory and policy impediments to nuclear? I have presented the case in posts up-thread (far too much to repeat or summarise in this post) that Australia should remove the impediments to nuclear before we implement a carbon price. As you say we have to convince the public to do this. What the choice boils down to, in effect, is will we have high-cost nuclear or low-cost nuclear for many decades to come. (All explained in posts up thread).

    As you say, it is important to continue to educate the population as we’ve been trying to do for many decades. And I see clear signs that there is a growing willingness in Australia to listen to the arguments and a growing acceptance that nuclear is the way we will have to go in the future. However, if nuclear is not economic it will be a slow hard slog with many backward steps. Implementation of nuclear will be slower; gas will be the preferred option (all explained up thread).

    Here are just a few of the most relevant comments posted upthread (in no particular order):

    1. Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

    2. To put this figure ($11 billion – see above link) in perspective, this government has already committed us to $10 billion of spending on renewable energy and energy efficiency; I expect this figure would be roughly doubled if the states’ commitments were included.
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109569

    2. A carbon price in Australia means gas not nuclear
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109405

    3. Which first? Carbon price or remove impediments to low-cost nuclear?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109572

    4. Some impediments to low-cost nuclear
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-86256

    5. Subsidies that encourage fossil fuel use in Australia.
    http://www.isf.uts.edu.au/publications/CR_2003_paper.pdf
    It is an update of a 2003 paper by Mark Diesendorf. My thesis is that removing the impediments to nuclear would mean removing all such subsidies and many other distortions (including for renewable energy) that favour fossil fuels and renewables and therefore act against the entry of nuclear power.

    6. Suggested Terms of Reference for a “Productivity Commission” Investigation into the impediments to low-cost nuclear
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109732

    7. Barry Brooks’ comment (see included link):
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109565

    8. DV82XL’s comment on BC’s carbon tax
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-45760

    9. Why electricity cheaper than coal is important
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-105862

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  243. Sovereign Risk – A major impediment to low-cost nuclear power

    This year I’d urge BNC contributors to focus on:

    1. continuing to provide good, factual information to the public, media and politicians about the least cost ways to reduce GHG emissions;

    2. suggesting economically rational policies to reduce emissions;

    3. supporting the factions in Labor Party that want to end Labor’s anti-nuclear policy;

    4. helping to show up the unintended consequences of the anti-nuclear policies of the Greens, the environmental NGOs and those in Labor who oppose nuclear;

    5. avoiding more bad policies [Note 1] – an example of another bad policy would be implementation of a carbon price in Australia until we have removed the impediments to low-cost nuclear and until the major emitting nations have agreed a workable, international mechanism for pricing emissions.

    Note 1: This government has made some very bad policy decisions. These bad policy decisions have raised the risk for investors investing in Australia. These are examples of what raises sovereign risk and, therefore, raises the cost of nuclear in Australia. Sovereign risk is one of the major impediments to nuclear that we need to minimise if we want low-cost nuclear power in Australia. We need to urge the current government to avoid more bad policies, examples of which are:

    • winding back 20 years of progress on Industrial Relations reforms;

    • $50 billion committed to nationalising Australia’s communications networks with a government owned monopoly that will lock us into an inflexible communications system, with competition blocked, for several decades ahead;

    • $10 billion committed, in just the last three years, to renewable energy and (government selected) energy efficiency schemes;

    • A myriad of winner-picking regulatory imposts such as renewable energy targets, renewable energy certificates, feed in tariffs, direct subsidies and much more;

    • Pink Bats home insulation program debacle ($2.5 billion and counting);

    • Building Education Revolution debacle ($16 billion);

    • Mining tax debacle – which has caused a significant and long term increase in sovereign risk for investors; meaning higher cost for nuclear power unless we can find a way to remove that sovereign risk;

    • Many other decisions that together have raised the level of sovereign risk in Australia (including the threat of a carbon price and insufficient compensation for investors who invested under previous laws and regulations).

    We need to help to avoid these sorts of bad policies. Implementing a carbon price before we have removed the impediments to low-cost nuclear energy would be another bad policy.

    Other examples of impediments to low-cost nuclear power are listed here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-86256

    Like

  244. Sovereign risk is a far more significant component of the cost of nuclear energy than it is of other electricity generation technologies. The reasons this is so are a) because of the high upfront capital cost and b) because nuclear generating stations have design lives of 60 years and their economic life may be even longer. The risk of any government legislation or regulations that impact adversely on the economics of the investment in the nuclear power plant during that 60 to 80 years life pose a sovereign risk to the investors. The investors must charge an investment risk premium to insure for that risk.

    Sovereign risk is a major component of the Investor risk premium referred to in this comment (“Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia – How?”:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

    One of the most important issues we need to deal with if we want low-cost nuclear in Australia is how we can minimise the sovereign risk.

    I argue that if we impose a carbon price before we tackle the issue of investor risk premium, we will avoid addressing this critical issue. As a result we will set in place, in Australia, high cost nuclear for many decades to come – as in USA, UK and Europe.

    I urge BNC contributors to have the debate about what Australia should do to ensure we bring low-cost nuclear, not-high-cost nuclear to Australia. We need to have the debate now so we can help to inform the Labor party early in this year of deliberations about removing its anti-nuclear policy.

    One of the worst things I believe that could happen would be for Labor to remove its opposition to nuclear but distinguish itself from the Coalition on the basis of who will provide the safest nuclear (which inevitably will lead arguments about which party will locate them furthest from the cities and a whole host of other statements that will make it so expensive we’ll delay for more decades). I’d like the major parties to distinguish themselves on whose policies will bring nuclear power to Australia at a cost less than coal – while both parties agree nuclear will supply much safer, cleaner, more environmentally benign and far superior long term energy security – especially in a carbon constrained world.

    Let’s avoid claims such as world’s most stringent regulator regime and world’s best practice safety , and the like.

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  245. Peter Lang said this on Open Thread 8

    Tom Keen,

    I am interested to know why you (and almost everyone) are avoiding the discussion about the economically rational way to reduce emissions, as opposed to applying a carbon tax? https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/
    If CAGW is the greatest threat to humanity ever, as most of you believe, and if you want to cut emissions, why do you choose to avoid debating ways that could achieve your objective and win over the doubters as well? All we have to do is allow low emissions electricity to be cheaper than coal, and the road to lower emissions will have little opposition from the public (it will still be opposed by business special interest groups). Why the opposition to an economically rational approach? Why avoid the debate?

    To make things clear, Peter, I’ll say for the record that I view continued and large-scale biodiversity loss as the greatest threat to the wellbeing of humanity. Habitat destruction and climate change are the two main threats to biodiversity.

    See this 1997 Nature paper on ecosystem services to understand why I view biodiversity as so important.

    And these articles sum up well some of the economic loss we are experiencing because of biodiversity loss, and the associated loss of ecosystem services:

    http://conservationbytes.com/2008/09/15/global-biodiversity-loss-estimated-at-14-trillion-euros/

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7662565.stm

    Having made that relatively clear, I will now state, as I have done before, that I view a modest carbon-pricing mechanism as the most likely way of making nuclear competitive

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  246. … cont’d (accidently hit post)…

    Having made that relatively clear, I will now state, as I have done before, that I view a modest carbon-pricing mechanism as the most likely pathway to nuclear becoming competive, and the fastest way of getting there.

    You said up thread

    my question is asking how to get the cost of nuclear cheaper than coal without raising the cost of coal.”

    This indicates that you are not interested in discussing the externalities of fossil fuel electricity generating technologies or other greenhouse gas emitting activities (forestry, agriculture etc.).

    I view unabated climate change as a much larger threat to the economy than incorporating the negative externalities of fossil-fuel power plants. Therefore I view whatever pathway to nuclear power that is the quickest as the most economically rational.

    I also believe that a carbon price is the most politically viable way of getting there – i.e. there is a good chance that a carbon price will be introduced in coming years, and nuclear will become more attractive.

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  247. Tom Keen,

    Thank you for your comment (and without any personal attack on me is noted an appreciated).

    I understand your concern and the concern of many of the contributors here on BNC. One way or another these are, in fact, a concern about dangerous or catastrophic consequences of GHG emissions. I don’t want to get into discussing that highly contentious subject.

    However, I am happy to discuss what are the least cost ways to reduce GHG emissions, and what is the fastest way to do so, given we live in a western democracy and given we need to interact in a world of people and countries with different interests and priorities.

    This indicates that you are not interested in discussing the externalities of fossil fuel electricity generating technologies or other greenhouse gas emitting activities (forestry, agriculture etc.).

    No. That is not correct. I have made my position clear in other posts on the matter of trying to incorporate externalities. I have referred many times to the ExternE study for example (and others). The practicality is that we’ve been looking at how to incorporate externalities, and making progress, for at least 30 years. CO2 emissions is one externality. There are many others. If we are objective, we must incorporate externalities according to priority, and we must be cognisant of the unintended consequences of doing so. We are not sure enough of the cost of the consequences of CO2 emissions to seriously retard the economy for the sake of strongly held beliefs. And there are better ways than carbon pricing, IMO, to reduce emissions. I suggest we can cut emissions and actually improve the economy and our well being rather than damage it. I’ve presented the arguments and supported them with references up thread.

    I focus my efforts on energy use which causes about 70% of Australia’s GHG emissions, rather than the non-energy sources of GHG emissions. I leave discussion of the other, non-energy sources of GHG emissions to others. That is one application of the Pareto Principle. Furthermore, as electricity provides about half the energy derived GHG emissions and could increase to 66% by 2050, I focus my attention on electricity. And further still, low cost electricity will more quickly displace gas and oil, so the 66% will be achieved faster if we strive for low cost electricity.

    I view unabated climate change as a much larger threat to the economy than incorporating the negative externalities of fossil-fuel power plants.

    I accept that is your opinion, but many do not agree with it. So we need to find a solution that meets your wants and the wants of those who do not hold your belief, or are doubtful about it.

    Therefore I view whatever pathway to nuclear power that is the quickest as the most economically rational.

    Economically rational is not just the quickest way. It is also the way that will be best for the entire economy (including incorporation of externalities to the extent that is practicable given realistic constraints and state of knowledge). I believe the economically rational way will be the quickest way that is practicable. I’ve argued why (with references) up thread.

    I also believe that a carbon price is the most politically viable way of getting there.

    I am far from convinced about that, and even less convinced it is the best way to proceed. I am arguing for what I believe is the best way to proceed.

    Your statement is undoubtedly true for the Green Party voters and many Labor Party voters. It is not true for the Conservatives (roughly 50% of the electorate), and it may have trouble getting support from the majority when they understand what the consequences will be for their standard of living, families, services, future jobs, etc.

    there is a good chance that a carbon price will be introduced in coming years, and nuclear will become more attractive.

    I agree, there is a chance a carbon price will be introduced, by the Greens-Labor alliance government. But should it be? That is the question. Should we argue to support bad policy or argue to change the policy before it is implemented?

    More importantly, is a carbon price the best way to reduce emissions fastest? Could you please read the comments on this thread to understand the arguments that I have been making (and supporting with links). I argue the best way to reduce emissions is to allow nuclear to be cheaper than coal. The way to achieve that, I argue, is not by implementing a price on carbon but by removing the impediments to low-cost nuclear.

    This comment contains links to the most relevant comments:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109903

    This comment, https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-105862 amongst many others, explains why I argue that raising the cost of electricity is the wrong policy if we want to cut world GHG emissions fastest (and I presume you’d agree that cutting Australia’s emission is pointless if the polices we adopt to reduce emissions do not facilitate a reduction of world emissions).

    Like

  248. Peter,

    I disagree with this comment:

    We are not sure enough of the cost of the consequences of CO2 emissions to seriously retard the economy for the sake of strongly held beliefs.

    There is more than enough evidence to show that loss of ecosystem services continue to impact seriously on the world economy, and that climate change is a driver of such impacts. This is more than just a strongly held belief.

    I have also seen little to no evidence to suggest that a carbon price would seriously retard the economy, even using the conventional metric of growth in GNP/GDP to measure the strength of an economy. The economic impacts in Europe appear to have been negligible, and there has been a reduction in emissions, along with a renewed or newly found interest in nuclear in many EU nations.

    I accept that is your opinion, but many do not agree with it. So we need to find a solution that meets your wants and the wants of those who do not hold your belief, or are doubtful about it.

    From where I sit, this is already a solution that falls somewhere in the middle of the political spectrum. At one end of the spectrum, there are people arguing for a price of $30 per tonne of CO2 to be introduced immediately, while at the other end there are those arguing for no price at all. A modest price of $10 per tonne is a compromise.

    I don’t have enough faith in economic mechanisms to believe a carbon price will seriously solve the climate problem alone, but I think it’s a good place to start. I’d hazard a guess that one of the main reasons there are now some within Labor talking about the nuclear energy option is due to the foresight of a carbon price, and the need to shift away from fossil fuels because of this (combined with an understanding of the futility of renewables in achieving this).

    I’ll have a proper read through your linked comments and may respond further after. Also, the second link you gave doesn’t appear to be working, it just takes you to the top of this page.

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  249. Tom,

    Thank you again for your comment.

    Once a carbon tax is introduced it will become a revenue measure. They always do. Then they are continually increased in future budgets to meet the needs of governments to distribute handouts to swing voters in marginal electorates.

    The Irish PM recently admitted he was raising the carbon tax to help bail Ireland out of the economic mess it is in. This is honesty. It is the truth of what will happen. Bad policy. Regressive reform.

    We do not need any more distortions to the tax system. We should try to clean it up and make it more efficient, not less efficient. The alternative I’ve offered up thread explains why the alternative – remove the impediments to low cost nuclear – would be a genuine, positive reform that would improve economic efficiency. A carbon price would do the opposite. I hope you can take time to read the comments linked here, https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109903
    and the links within those comments.

    Like

  250. DV82XL,

    Your answers on the Q&A thread: http://thoriummsr.wordpress.com/q-and-as/q-and-a-with-dv82xl/ is an excellent explanation of one of the major impediments to low cost nuclear power.

    In your opinion, if the regulatory process could be streamlined from the start in a country adopting nuclear for the first time (e.g. Australia), by how much could the cost of electricity from nuclear be reduced (e.g. compared with the cost if we implement regulatory systems such as entrenched in Canada, USA, UK, Europe or any other way you can present the information)?

    In your opinion, how much cost reduction could realistically be achieved given we are starting from scratch, and given the political will to get nuclear at the least cost (consistent with minimum international requirements)?

    Like

  251. @Peter Lang – You’re asking a rather loaded question. In that Q&A I used the examples of CANDU builds in Canada, compared to off-shore projects and it is clear that in places with a different regulatory regime than Canada’s, things get done on time and on budget. More to the point, the seven reactors AECL built in other countries, in those ten years, have shown any signs of problems.

    These CANDU-6 reactors were all completed on time and within budget, with Qinshan-4 and -5 in China being six weeks and four months ahead of schedule respectively. Indeed, for Qinshan-5 from first concrete pour to 100 per cent power took only 54 months, making it a record for a CANDU build

    Compare the four-unit Darlington NGS which was built ten years prior to the units above in Ontario.

    The cost estimate at the time that Darlington was committed was $5 billion with a schedule for the four units coming into service in the period 1985 – 88. The final cost, when the station was brought into service between 1990 and 1993, was $14.33 billion, and the schedule slipped 30 months for Units 1 and 2 and 54 months for Units 3 and 4.

    It would be wrong to lay all of the blame for this at the feet of the regulator. Of the $6.9 billion escalation from the definitive estimate of 1981 to the final cost of 1993, $3 billion (43%) has been ascribed to schedule changes, driven by demand forecasts for electricity, as a result of which Conservative and Liberal Governments stopped or delayed completion of the station five times. $1.3 billion (19%) is attributed to financial policy, at Ontario Hydro. This is circumscribed , by Ontario’s Power Corporation Act of 1905, required power producers to accumulate all costs as capital debt until the unit is in service, i.e., the costs could not be met from Ontario Hydro revenues throughout the prolonged construction. Consequently, Ontario Hydro’s debt on the project rose continuously during this period.

    The Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), now the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, must take the responsibility for contributing to a two years’ delay in starting up any of the units. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the AECB required AECL to redesign the software for computer-controlled safety systems, in order to facilitate the AECB’s review of future modifications. Darlington reactors were the first to propose the use of such computers in safety systems. The AECB was unprepared to review the software and had no relevant software standards: in the absence of standards AECL went ahead with design of the software in a form that AECB later deemed unacceptable, and demanded a full redesign.

    Other delays during construction were due to regulatory requirements that were “continuously evolving in the light of experience and changing expectations”. Changes in AECB requirements during the extended construction period necessitated redesign and, in some cases, rework of what had already been done. Also, by the time that units were ready to go into service the AECB was requiring more station operators than had been originally expected: recruiting and training operators takes many years. The delays meant that the work force had to be reassigned to other work and so was not immediately available when the delays were over; and when work restarted there were staff shortages due to competing demands from the Pickering and Bruce stations.

    In other words in was a typical project where two levels of government, a government agency, and two Crown Corporations were responsible for getting it done. I have no doubt Australians have a good idea what the situation was.

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  252. DV82XL,

    Thank you for your detailed reply. It is very informative, as always. Before I get to the substance of you comment I want to correct some possible misunderstandings.

    Of course my question is ‘loaded’. Virtually all questions and comments by all contributors on BNC are loaded, one way or another – including yours :) . The fact that BNC contributors have largely avoided responding to comments on this thread and discussing, in any real depth, the economically rational alternative to a government imposed carbon price, is a clear indication of just how loaded are all the posts and comments on BNC. Carbon price or alternative will be one of the most important policy issues in Australia this year and there is a clear indication of avoidance of discussing the subject on this thread. So, I agree. My comments and questions are loaded too :)

    It would be wrong to lay all of the blame for this [delays and cost escalation of Darlington NPP] at the feet of the regulator.

    I agree. I never intended to imply that regulations and regulators are the only impediment to low cost nuclear in Australia. There are many impediments as I have pointed out up-thread My question to you was about just one of the many impediments preventing low cost-nuclear power.

    I have no doubt Australians have a good idea what the situation was.

    . Very few people would have any idea of what you have described here. The vast majority have no idea at all. What you have explained above is enormously valuable to get out to the population (Thank you again!).

    It raises another point in my mind. The cost and schedule blow out was not foreseen. Or if it was by some, then they were not able to persuade those in power of consequences. You imply that Australians will be able to learn from the Darlington experience (and others) and avoid it happening here. But those problems were unforseen before they happened. Just because it is now known and can be foreseen and hopefully avoided, does not mean that we will avoid other unforseen problems of similar magnitude. The French and Finns had the experience of Darlington and would have studied it much more thoroughly than Australian’s, yet they have had problems that have led to similar sized delays and cost blow outs.

    Therefore, I return to my basic questions: what can Australia do to avoid such problems (as other small economies seem to have done in building CANDU 6s)? And by how much would this reduce the cost of electricity generated by nuclear?

    Despite your excellent and interesting comment, you did not answer my ‘loaded’ question? I would really appreciate it if you could give me your personal opinion (gut feeling) answer to my question. You have the knowledge and experience to give an informed opinion, and it would really help.

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  253. @Peter Lang, – I only meant that you are asking leading hypothetical question, that asks me to set a value on how much could the costs be reduced. That is how the question is loaded.

    I tried to show that there were several causes for cost overruns at Darlington: Interference from the Provencal and Federal government that halted construction on five occasions. Would the State and National governments in Australia do the same thing? You would know better than I.

    Ontario’s Power Corporation Act of 1905, was not written with multiple reactor, nuclear generating stations in mind. It was originally intended to stop utilities, which there were many in the region at the time, from raising rates while promising to build generation that never materialized. Does Australia have a similar law? Again I don’t know.

    The regulator got out of control and because it was a case of one Crown Corporation (AECL) building a facility for another Crown Corporation (Ontario Hydro) using public money, the discipline that would have attended a project with a large private-sector element was not present. I suspect that things would not be that much different in Oz, but then I don’t live there and know little of your country’s internal political apparatus.

    The only thing I could do was list the circumstances that drove one Canadian nuclear project into the red.

    Contrary to what you assert, it was well known at the time what was going on at the non-political level at AECL and OHC as well as the leadership of the Power Workers Union. More sinned against than sinning, through this period they were making it clear to anyone that would listen that the project was a mess. If history is written by the victors, the history of this farce has been written by politicians and anti-nuclear activists. As a result little attention has been paid to the contribution of governments and their appointees to the Board of Directors of the two Crown Corps. for schedule slippages and resulting cost overruns. Thus while the regulator must share a good portion of the blame, there were other players.

    You are going to have to fit this into your own understanding of the situation in Australia, and as always, your mileage may vary.

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  254. DV82XL,

    OK, I get what you meant by ‘loaded’ now. Anyway, it gave me the lead in to make some other ‘loaded’ comments. So thank you for the opportunity presented.

    Would the State and National governments in Australia do the same thing? You would know better than I.

    This question is also hypothetical/loaded, but a good one, and thank you for it.

    The answer is most definitely ‘Yes’, unless we can raise awareness sufficiently so that the Government takes notice and then decides Labor will distinguish itself from the Conservatives on the basis of whose policies will provide the least-cost nuclear, rather than on the basis of whose policies can provide the safest nuclear.

    That is the point I’ve been trying to make, in many different ways, for over a year. Look through this thread and you will see that this is the undercurrent of what I’ve been arguing for.

    Another point I’ve been making is that if we impose a carbon price before we remove the impediments to low-cost nuclear, we will delay for a long time seriously investigating what are the impediments and seriously tackling how to remove them. In this case, the cost of electricity will be much higher than it need be, and will remain so for a very long time. Australians, will recognise the similarity to the Australian Republic referendum. Before the referendum was held, supporters believed if it was rejected, then they would get another chance within a couple of years. Others knew that voting down the referendum would delay it for at least a decade. The same will be the case if we implement a carbon price before we tackle the issue of identifying and removing the many impediments to low cost nuclear.

    DV82XL, I am wondering if you ever saew trhis post upthread, and whether you cluld comment on it, please.

    Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

    Like

  255. Impediments to low-cost nuclear – another example

    By how much could the cost of nuclear generated electricity be reduced if work sites were not unionised – during construction and throughout the 60 to 80 year operating life of the plant?

    I expect the answer to this question is around 10% to 25%. What’s the basis of this? Productivity on the waterfront (which controls all our imports and exports), improved by 100% soon after the Howard government removed union control of the waterfront. But now look what is happening: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/patrick-wharf-strikes-could-sink-profitability/story-e6frg9if-1225983232747

    Similar problems – unions regaining control of industries – are occurring widely. Unions held the Woodside oil and gas industry (one of our largest export earners) to ransom soon after Labor won government and demanded and got 50% wage increases. The unions are playing their usual shenanigans on the $5 billion desalination plant in Victoria. This is raising the cost, I’d guess, by around 20%.

    A 20% cost increase to the capital cost of a nuclear plant would mean around a 20% increase in the cost of electricity for the 60 to 80 year life of the plant.

    So, my question is: By how much could the cost of nuclear generated electricity be reduced if work sites were not unionised – during construction and throughout the 60 to 80 year operating life of the plant?

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  256. @Peter Lang – I will not comment on your Dec 19 remarks because I really can’t take the time to check the validity of the numbers you posted.

    I also will not touch the issue of union vs non-union because I am not sure on the state of labor relations in Australia. In Canada, in the sectors that are involved in this area, they are rather good.

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  257. DV82XL,

    It is a pitty if people are promoting a carbon price but not prepared to thoroughly consider economically rational alternatives to it.

    I’ve been getting the impression for some time that that is the case.

    I understand your not wanting to discuss the effects of Industrial Relations in Australia (I didn’t ask you to comment on this), but what I am talking about, and have been for a very long time, is how do we bring low cost nuclear to Australia? To avoid the subject and simply want to impose a carbon tax seems to me to be very irresponsible.

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  258. @Peter Lang – I have never been a proponent of a carbon-price, it is unlikely that any carbon tax will be anything but a token effort, and any carbon tariff unlikely to speed the elimination of coal. However both are incubui for all sorts of political mischief and abuse, and as such likely to be more trouble then they are worth.

    Even now, in those places with some scheme in place, there is more financial juggling with carbon certificates, then there is actual mitigation.

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  259. DV82XL,

    I agree with the points in your last comment. However …

    I really do believe there is an enormous opportunity in Australia right now, and I am seriously concerned that we will miss it again – just as we did in 1991 to 1993. We had the opportunity then too, (to implement nuclear power in Australia) but lost it. And lost nearly 20 years of progress as a result. I am convinced that an economically rational approach is the way to succeed fastest and with the best overall result. (I accept that some of my posts are provocative; the intention is to try to get people thinking about the alternative)

    I really wish I could get through to the rational thinkers on BNC.

    The opportunity I see is to implement:

    1. low emissions electricity in Australia

    2. lower cost electricity (and all the benefits that will bring)

    3. cleaner, safer, healthier electricity generation

    4. less environmental damage

    5. less fresh water usage for electricity generation

    6. energy security

    7. reforms that will improve productivity – leading to greater properity and wealth (for those readers who do not understand what this means, it is not just personal wealth, more disposable income and more choices for families and individuals. It also means better Health and Education systems better transport and other infrastructure, better cities and better funded programs for all that people we want).

    8. I see these reforms as being a continuation of the excellent economic reforms initiated by Howard as Treasurer in 1980’s, put into effect by Hawke and Keating from 1983 to 1996 and continued by Howard and Costello to 2007.

    9. Getting Australia into the energy source that will provide most of the world’s energy this century. It is important that we do not fall further behind other countries on nuclear technological development and expertise

    10. In the future being able to play our role with implementing low cost nuclear power in small economies and developing countries. We were very good at providing technology transfer in hydro-electric, roads, and water and sewage projects to Asian countries from the 1960s through until recently. Now they will be providing technology transfer to us on nuclear. We need to get back into the technologies that will be the real future this century; i.e. nuclear, not renewables.

    11. If we want to be part of the development of IFR or thorium reactors, etc, we need to start building our expertise in the existing technologies.

    I am convinced that battling against economically rational will only delay progress even longer.

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  260. An election-winner policy

    Whichever political party can convince the electorate that it has the policy to provide lower-cost, reliable, high quality electricity will be on a winner, especially if it can also say it will be cleaner, safer and more environmentally benign.

    Like

  261. Peter Lang 7th Jan, 7.44 pm:

    While I cannot legitimately comment on Australian politics, I would like to say that I entirely concur with your list of aspirations.

    I thought the following link might prove interesting to those concerned with the economic side of the debate. It consists of an article written by a right wing journalist in the UK with subsequent comments. I think it reinforces the importance of your points 9, 10 and 11.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/jeremy-warner/8244455/Imbalances-between-East-and-West-will-grow-and-grow.html

    I would be most interested in your thoughts on this and those of others who cotribute to BNC.

    PS: For those of you who wish to find solace for your recent Ashes debacle, you might be interested in the observation that a nation’s sporting prowess tends to be reciprocally related to its economic performance.

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  262. Douglas Wise – The last paragraph of the item you linked to says it all:

    “The need for reform of both the domestic and international monetary, financial and trading systems has never been more urgent.”

    This is very much the same as the climate issue, in that there is no real consensus on the dimensions of the problem, and what should, and can be done about it. In fact they are somewhat linked in that high growth in places like china, has meant burning more fossil-fuels, which is in direct tension with the central tenet of the means to arrest AGW.

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  263. While I support imposed carbon pricing in theory in practice it’s doubtful that governments can actually administer it competently. Like the Mexican Wave at the soccer, do it properly or don’t do it at all.

    I think the penny will drop on the need for nuclear in the next 5 years, probably when expensive oil and hot weather return. The worst scenario would be to decide on a nuclear program then spend a decade shuffling papers. I don’t fear union delays since they know they can move onto the next site if they get the job done well. All the injunctions and legal roadblocks should be fast tracked. An 8 year build time as we’ve seen with some large Gen 3 plants is just too long.

    I’d like to see a pissweak $10 carbon tax just to put big emitters on notice. Then I’d like to see a partly prefabricated Gen 3 plant go up quickly on a NIMBY resistant site. Just to get the ball rolling. God help us if we can’t manage either of those things.

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  264. One thing is almost certain – with the regulators in Australia knowing sweet Fanny Adams about nuclear power builds, the first one is going to be a very hard pull.

    I do not know if this legally possible, but if a consortium was given permission to build a merchant reactor in some part of your vast country that it could not do any harm, to anyone in the worst possible event, and was simply held liable for any clean-up and decommissioning expenses, it might be successful.

    In this plan, there would only be standards for things like discharges, and waste management handed down by the government. Anything that happens inside the fence would be between the owners and their insurance company.

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  265. Hmmm …. another round of Peter’s should we have a carbon price? talking point. Stipulated: Of course we should have a serious carbon price — one that matches the value to the polluters of the externality, for all the reasons I’ve discussed before.

    To say as Peter does that we ought not to have one before we work out how to do low-cost nuclear is simply another way of saying one doesn’t want one. My older son loved his car mags and often in fun he’d point to some sporty number and say: buy me that one Mum?. To which I’d respond: I’ll buy you every car in ther magazine, right after Bill Gates declares me his sole heir.

    While a carbon price doesn’t guarantee nuclear, it is certain that we won’t get nuclear until we get one. If in addition he links it to bans on unions then the drivers of the anti-nuclear movement here will all be on the same page again. Nuclear will again be a rightwing stalking horse and the ALP won’t touch it. Roll on 1983 … This would make it very tough for people like me trying to change attitudes on the left to nuclear.

    The point is

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  266. DV82XL (and others)

    Douglas Wise – The last paragraph of the item you linked to says it all:

    “The need for reform of both the domestic and international monetary, financial and trading systems has never been more urgent.”

    True, But I would say changing these systems is “Important, not Urgent”, but not “Important, Urgent”, I presume most here know the difference.

    Why I say is ‘not urgent’, is because of the time scale that defines “urgent” in the current context. Little can be achieved in changing these international systems in 1 year. On the other hand, in Australia we have 4 months until the 2011 Federal Budget is presented, 6 months until the NSW Labor Party’s Convention (when they will decide to support nu8clear), and 11 month until the Labor Party’s National Convention. At the National Conference Labor will change its policy on nuclear power. But how will it change it? Will it change it to:

    1. “We’ll allow nuclear power to be considered in Australia but it must be the safest in the world”, OR

    2. “We strongly endorse nuclear power, we will do all we can to facilitate early and rapid adoption to provide least-cost, high quality, reliable, low-emission electricity for Australia.” The emphasis being on low cost!

    Could I urge readers to look back at the lead article for this thread and specifically at the section titles “Schedule”. Slip all the dates by 1 year. We are now in the same position as we were 1 year ago when this article was written. The various Departments will begin work on preparing their Budget Estimates in February. The government will be providing its policy directions to Departments starting now. All opportunities to change anything significant are effectively closed by early April. So, for me, ‘Urgent’ refers to realistically achievable policies we have a chance to influence this year, and especially in January, February and March of this year. GHG emissions policy is just one minute policy issue in a universe of other competing demands. So we need to be practical if we want to achieve anything.

    And remember, there is an enormous resistance to any attempt to impose a tax on electricity!!!!

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  267. Douglas Wise:

    For those of you who wish to find solace for your recent Ashes debacle, you might be interested in the observation that a nation’s sporting prowess tends to be reciprocally related to its economic performance

    Personally, I’m not fussed about Australia losing. Ponting and to a lesser extent, Clarke were unpleasant characters. If I never hear their comments or actions reported again (unlikely) then that will be fine by me.

    Moreover, English folk were likely to be a lot happier about winning than we would have been. Yes there’s much wailing and gnashing of teeth now, but in a month’s time we will all have moved on.

    I’d happily live with a situation in which no Australian individual or team ran better than last in any sport, if Australia became known as the country with the most rational and equitable set of public policies on the planet. Imagine if our policies were recognised as contributing much more to the well being of the world’s poor, to the resolution of violent conflict and abuses of human rights and to the health of the biosphere and the health of human beings per capita than any other nation on the planet. Imagine if our policies were the benchmark against which other nations were measured. That would be something in which one could take serious pride!

    Elite sport is, at best, somewhere between an amusing soap opera and a circus. Public policy OTOH, is serious business.

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  268. John Newlands,

    I’d like to see a pissweak $10 carbon tax just to put big emitters on notice.

    I am not sure if you are missing most of the points on this thread, just ignoring them or unable to see the overall picture (the ‘helicopter view’). Here are two recent ones relevant to your oft repeated statement that you want a carbon tax.

    “Once a carbon tax is introduced …”
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110105

    “An election winning policy”
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110203

    You may like to refer tback to this list of the most relevant comments:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109903
    If you do follow these through, be sure to read the links provided in each of these comment.

    Like

  269. Peter

    let’s go back to ACIL Tasman’s report to AEMO that assumes $23 carbon tax. If I’ve read Table 53 correctly then brown coal fired electricity without carbon capture in lower Victoria will cost $70 per Mwh for new entrants in 2011. Nuclear will cost $101 per Mwh. That is a huge gap that will take more than bureaucratic tinkering to fix.

    I agree with most of the criticism of carbon pricing but I see little alternative. If we mandate nuclear without an explicit carbon price then critics will point out how much cheaper coal power is. BHP wants a carbon price as do some business groups and I suspect most of the followers of this blog. Even those who sit on the fence want an assurance one way or the other.

    My question is this; is there any form of nuclear that is reliably cheaper than brown coal with no carbon price?

    Like

  270. Douglas Wise,

    Thank you for your comment and link. You asked for my comments.

    I do not agree that the imbalances between East and West will grow and grow. I believe the opposite will be the case. The gap between rich and poor will continue to close as it has been doing for centuries – see GapMinder charts and Hans Rosling’s presentations, e.g.:

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  271. The other possibility John, at least from a propagandistic POV would be to insist that by 2015 every fossil hydrocarbon plant demonstrate and implement technologies to sequester securely 100% of their emissions (apart from H2O). Apply the same standard to coal and gas mines, petrochemical plants and so forth. Apply swingeing fines for fugitive emissions. Require motorists to retrofit compressors in their cars capturing tailpipe emissions to a kind of gas bearing septic tank which would have to be pumped out at petrol stations at whatever fee they wanted to charge.

    I suspect that these measures would massively spur demand for electric only vehicles and make operating a standard coal or gas plant a lot more expensive. It wouldn’t be a price on carbon as such, but I suspect that the filth merchants would be screaming for one about ten minutes after it was proposed. That would focus minds on what nuclear could do.

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  272. John Newlands,

    I have two fundamental problems with your premise:

    1. I think you are misunderstanding ACIL Tasman report

    2. I think you have not understood the thrust of the comments upthread – to investigate how much the cost of nuclear could be if we removed the impediments to low-cost nuclear. Could I encourage you to read the thread, or at lest the links I provided in the previous comment adressed to you. There is no point me repeating what is already covered upthread.

    That is a huge gap that will take more than bureaucratic tinkering to fix.

    Who said anything about ‘bureaucratic tinkering” You have clearly misunderstood the content of this thread.

    I think you are misunderstanding ACIL-Tasman.

    1. The assumend Carbon price is based on Treasury’s modelling of the CPRS, which must comply with policy directions from the Labor Government and is based on many assumptions, including for example, that there will be an an economically-efficient, international ETS.

    2. The assumed carbon price increases from $23/t in 2011-12 to $55/t in 2028-29 (Table 5, p23)

    3. The capital cost of nuclear in Australia in 2011-12 would be $5,156/kW

    4. The capital cost of nuclear is based on an ASTO study and assumes the impediments to nuclear that are imposed in the western democracies also apply in Australia.

    5. Since the ACIL-Tasman Report was written, the UAE contract was awarded for a first-in-country, 5400MW, APR1400 at $3,800/kW.

    6. Table 52 (p82) and Table 53 (p85) list the estimated Long Run Marginal Cost (LRMC) of electricity sent out for new entrant technologies for year 2009-10 to 2028-29. Table 52 is without a carbon price and table 53 is with a carbon price. Below, I compare the LRMC for black coal, brown coal and nuclear in 2020 with and without a carbon price. (remember that the cost for nuclear is with all the impediments to nuclear in place).

    Black coal; $48; $77
    Brown coal; $48; $82
    Nuclear; $97; $98

    7. Therefore, even a carbon price, at the rate projected by Treasury, will not make nuclear competitive, but will certainly make gas competitive.

    8. If we want nuclear to be competitive we are going to have to get serious about identifying the impediments to low-cost nuclear and then look seriously at how to remove them.

    9. Applying a carbon price before we remove the impediments to low cost nuclear will paper over the issue and defer it for another decade or so.

    10. Get your head around this. Face up to the reality.

    Regarding your frequently repeated reference to Marius Kloppers’ and other industry groups’ comments in support of a carbon price, I have responded to your comments several times. Please refer back to those previous responses. I’d also suggest we need to recognise that there are many different interests and people making conflicting statements. You can select any quote you want to support your case. It doesn’t mean it is the best policy, all things considered. You need to weigh it all up. Also, recognise there is no established nuclear industry in Australia advocating its point of view. BNC contributors should keep this in mind. Carbon price favours: gas industry, renewables industry, any industry that wants stable energy costs rather than lower energy costs. These industries can pass on their costs to consumers. We do need to look beyond the rhetoric and spin!!

    I agree with most of the criticism of carbon pricing but I see little alternative.

    You haven’t looked, or at least you haven’t looked thoroughly at the alternatives.

    If we mandate nuclear …

    Who said anything about “mandating nuclear”? You have clearly misunderstood the thrust of this discussion.

    If we mandate nuclear without an explicit carbon price then critics will point out how much cheaper coal power is.

    Not if nuclear is cheaper than coal because we’ve removed the impediments. Read this https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109903 , the referenced comments and the links the links referred to in each of the comments. Also this https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110065 and subsequent comments.

    is there any form of nuclear that is reliably cheaper than brown coal with no carbon price?

    How do we know whether or not we could have nuclear cheaper than coal (if we removed the impediments to low cost nuclear), if we don’t conduct a thorough investigation to find out? Refer to:

    “Suggested Terms of Reference for a ‘Productivity Commission’ Investigation into the impediments to low-cost nuclear”
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109732

    Like

  273. Then there is the method used in the USA which has completely eliminated any planning for new coal burners and, in one case, stopped construction after an outlay of US$150 million. AFAIK there are only two coal burners currently still under construction, one of which should start operating later this year.

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  274. There appears to be an enormous reluctance, even resistance, to seriously considering any alternatives to carbon pricing as the policy instrument to reduce GHG emissions. Its as if many BNC contributors don’t dare open up that can of worms because they might not like what comes out.

    There are lessons in this article. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/taken-for-ride-by-cash-for-clunkers/story-e6frg6zo-1225983869238
    The lessons are just as relevant to the government picking “Carbon Pricing” as its policy instrument to cut GHG emissions (or whatever its real agenda is).

    In my years in the industry, I never heard serious debate about the wisdom of the program, much less condemnation. In France, close co-operation between industry and government draws little comment.

    Why is there no serious debate about the wisdom of carbon pricing, much less condemnation? Why is there no serious debate about alternatives to carbon pricing? Why is there no serious debate about removing the impediments to low cost nuclear?

    Why haven’t any of the BNC contributors listed the impediments to low cost nuclear that they can think of, and perhaps ranked them in importance?

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  275. Re reading some earlier posts it could be pointed out that we know yet if the UAE will actually get AP series reactors built for under $4/w. No doubt there are rise and fall clauses in the contract. There is less risk premium because the UAE is perhaps less troubled by democratic processes. On the other hand I understand their credit rating isn’t that great. We know Australia has plenty of spare cash because of the overblown NBN project and our mining companies looking for takeover targets.

    Perhaps the only way for a large Gen 3 plant to built in Australia for under say $6/w and 5 years would be to import skilled workers and major sub-units. Then we’ll see TV ads of coal miners kids holding placards ‘coal — bringing cheap energy and jobs for Australians’ . Then something similar for gas.

    It’s interesting how neither record floods nor deadly firestorms seem to tilt the political elite towards nuclear. I guess it’s because natural disasters are forgotten after a few months but a reactor that takes a decade to build hangs on like a festering sore.

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  276. John Newlands,

    Your posts are full of attemptsd to justify a carbon tax and prevent serious evaluation of alternatives.

    Why don’t you have a go at listing the impediments to low cost nuclear that you can think of. Set up categories if it would help, such as:

    1. Legislation
    2. Regulatory system
    3. Financing
    4. Industrial Relations
    5. Investor Risk (& sovereign risk)
    6. Fresh water availability
    7. Skilled workforce
    8. Lack of education and research facilities

    Next, prioritise the impediments in order of which is the largest contributor to preventing low cost nuclear in Australia.

    Then, attempt to quantify by how much each is causing the estimated cost of nuclear in Australia to be higher than it should and could be.

    John, your an engineer. Why don’t you have a go at making some constructive contribution. Apply your training. Have a go at evaluating options, ranking them and costing them.

    Surely you must recognise the cost to the economy and the consequences of raising the cost of electricity by a government imposed electricity tax.

    Like

  277. John Newlands,

    I agree with you that the $3,800/kW for the UAE NPP is the contracted cost not the ‘as built’ cost. I agree there will almost certainly be cost increases during construction.

    I also agree there are many reasons why the UAE price is likely to be less than the price for an equivalent plant in Australia (I said that in previous posts). The difference is due to some of the impediments to low-cost nuclear in Australia. Those are what we need to identify and attempt to quantify.

    Your comment that Australia has plenty of spare cash reveals a misunderstanding about the source of investor funds.

    The key is that if we do not tackle the issue of the impediments to low-cost nuclear, then nothing we do will make it viable. At $6/W (your figure) then gas will be more economic than nuclear until the carbon price is far too high to be politically viable, let alone economically rational.

    Any way you look at it we need to remove the impediments to low cost nuclear before we hide the issue under a carbon price.

    Like

  278. John Newlands,

    Carbon price will mean: high cost electricity, gas generation and emissions roughly static at today’s levels. (Refer “Emissions Cuts Realities”, Figure 7; https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/ )

    Carbon price will not lead to nuclear unless the carbon price is far higher than the Treasury estimates. If we want to reduce emissions we need nuclear. If we want nuclear without unacceptably high electricity price hikes, we need to remove the impediments to low-cost nuclear.

    We need to remove the impediments to low-cost nuclear before we impose a carbon price, otherwise the significant reforms that are needed will not be tackled.

    The background for these statements is in previous comments up-thread.

    Like

  279. Extract from email sent to some politicians this morning;

    You may be interested in this article posted this morning: “Government intervention on fossil fuel pollution”
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/01/09/govt-intervention-ff/#comment-110257

    This thread, about ‘Alternative to Pricing Carbon’, has been active for a year:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

    Some of the significant comments on this thread are:

    1. Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

    2. To put this figure ($11 billion – see above link) in perspective, this government has already committed us to $10 billion of spending on renewable energy and energy efficiency; I expect this figure would be roughly doubled if the states’ commitments were included.
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109569

    3. A carbon price in Australia means gas not nuclear
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109405

    4. Which first? Carbon price or remove impediments to low-cost nuclear?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109572

    5. Some impediments to low-cost nuclear
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-86256

    6. Subsidies that encourage fossil fuel use in Australia.
    http://www.isf.uts.edu.au/publications/CR_2003_paper.pdf
    It is an update of a 2003 paper by Mark Diesendorf. My thesis is that removing the impediments to nuclear would mean removing all such subsidies and many other distortions (including for renewable energy) that favour fossil fuels and renewables and therefore act against the entry of nuclear power.

    7. Suggested Terms of Reference for a “Productivity Commission” Investigation into the impediments to low-cost nuclear
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109732

    8. Barry Brooks’ comment (see included link):
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109565

    9. DV82XL’s comment on BC’s carbon tax
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-45760

    10. Why electricity cheaper than coal is important
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-105862

    11. Great news on Christmas Eve – Labor will dump anti-nuclear policy
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109653

    12. Sovereign Risk – a major impediment to low cost nuclear
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110065
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110072

    13. DV82XL – Canadian regulatory impediments to low cost nuclear
    http://thoriummsr.wordpress.com/q-and-as/q-and-a-with-dv82xl/

    14. Impediments to low-cost nuclear – Industrial Relations
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110185

    15. The opportunity
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110202

    16. Once a carbon price is introduced
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110105

    17. An election-winner policy
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110203

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  280. Peter Lang 8th Jan 11.07:

    Thank you for responding on the subject of the link I posted. You don’t agree that the East West imbalance will continue to widen and you refer me to Hans Rosling. I found the first clip to which you referred me to be a most impressive and clearly presented indication of global changes in wealth and health in the last half century. If you believe, and I think you do, that the next 50 years will be like the last 50, your point of view becomes clear.

    However, I am working on the opposite premise. Thus, I believe that the effects of population growth, peak oil and climate change will prevent the future resembling the past UNLESS we very rapidly adopt strategies which will replace fossil fuels with alternative energy sources which are both clean and non limited by amount or by high price.

    Further, I believe that , should the required strategies be adopted, but not before the onset of a degree of damage, this damage will primarily be inflicted upon the West UNLESS the latter establishes a lead in new nuclear technology.

    You cite Rosling as showing that that developing states are getting wealthier while the West stays wealthy. Don’t forget he was using log scales. I suspect that, with arithmetic scaling, one might already be able to discern a relative decline in Western living standards over the recent past. However, this could become precipitate in the future according to a growing number of economists who are beginning to question the originally perceived benefits of globalistion.

    I would refer you to a new book by Damisa Boyo, a former Goldman Sachs economist who, in 2009, featured in Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and is on the board of Barclays. The book is entitled “How the West was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices Ahead”. You will be relieved to learn that Boyo continues to believe in managed free markets. However, she does question whether globalisation , which she describes as a great idea on paper, has actually worked in practice.

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  281. Renewable wont keep the lights on
    http://www.dimwatt.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82:renewables-wont-keep-the-lights-on-&catid=31:publications&Itemid=48

    The message from this article applies just as much to a carbon price.

    As he writes, “…the costs of environmental legislation tend to be moderate in the short run, with the pain of the full impact only likely to be felt in years beyond the political horizon.” So true! The sinister reality is that these rising costs are like a line of still-invisible torpedoes, all on target, all heading for the engine room of the UK economy which is likely to blow up and sink the boat with all its unsuspecting passengers.

    Just like a carbon price!

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  282. Douglas Wise,

    You don’t agree that the East West imbalance will continue to widen.

    This misrepresents what I said and supported with the Hans Rosling link, that you apparently agree with. The East-West imbalance has not been widening. It has been closing.

    I believe that the effects of population growth, peak oil and climate change will prevent the future resembling the past UNLESS we very rapidly adopt strategies which will replace fossil fuels with alternative energy sources which are both clean and non limited by amount or by high price.

    I believe we will make the necessary changes to what we do and how we live just as humans have been doing for the past 200,000 years. Humans have adapted to changes in environment and to shortages of resources, including energy. For example, the Europeans had to change from burning wood to coal after they burnt all the oak trees in Europe! We will change to nuclear and to Gen IV nuclear. The question is how fast will we change, how fast will the western democracies see the writing on the wall and give up on their ludicrous requirements that are making it so costly. How long this takes will depend, largely, on how long the environmental NGOs and Greens oppose it, and even people who are advocates (right now I am thinking of the reluctance and even opposition of BNCers to looking into the impediments to low-cost nuclear power).

    this damage will primarily be inflicted upon the West UNLESS the latter establishes a lead in new nuclear technology.

    The west will not be able to get a lead on new nuclear technology if we cannot even build Gen III economically. While we are blocked from any progress, we are giving away the lead to the developing world, despite the fact that the developing world has less inherent capability than the developed world to making fast progress.

    I am surprised and frustrated that people like you and DV82XL are so locked into your beliefs that you are advocating, in effect, to continue with exactly what has been preventing progress for the past 20 years.

    I suspect that, with arithmetic scaling, one might already be able to discern a relative decline in Western living standards over the recent past.

    I see that as an example of belief in catastrophe thinking that some people seem to fall for. Many love to believe just how bad everything is and how evil humans are. But they are a small percentage of people. The reliable evidence is that western living standards are continually improving but developing countries’ living standards are improving much faster – as they should (thus closing the gap). You can get this by looking at some of the UNDP Human Development Index charts (with linear scales).

    Douglas, you are focused on trying to guess what changes will be needed for the century ahead. That is interesting discussion stuff. But what is the point if we can’t even agree what we need to do this year, for the next 6 months and the next 2 months. If we can’t agree to try to influence the Australian Labor Party to lock down a pro-nuclear policy that will give us low-cost nuclear instead of high-cost nuclear, what on earth is the point of discussing what might be the case in decades ahead?

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  283. Window of opportunity

    To: Aussie BNCers (and anyone else who wants to comment),

    We have a short ‘window of opportunity’ to get Labor to define its new policy on nuclear so that it focuses on low cost nuclear rather than (non-viable) high-cost-nuclear.

    The window of opportunity is until early December this year when Labor will hold its National (policy) Convention, at which it is almost a certainty Labor will dump its anti-nuclear policy.

    There are intermediate milestones (working backwards):

    June 2011 – NSW Labor Party (Policy) Conference – at which NSW Labor Party will dump its anti-nuclear policy so it can support the dumping of Labor’s anti-nuclear policy at the National Conference in December

    10 May 2011 – Federal Budget – last chance to get a line item in the budget – such as for funding the start of looking into setting up the long lead time items – e.g., regulatory environment and nuclear education/research faculties

    Feb to April 2011 – Government Departments prepare their Budget Estimates for submission to the Finance Department for preparation of the Federal Budget. This is the last opportunity to get new line items into the Federal Budget.

    So we have a very short window of opportunity. If we miss this opportunity, and Labor dumps its anti-nuclear policy – but couches it in caveats, such as ‘safest in the world’ etc (you get the picture) – we will be committed to a high cost-nuclear policy for decades.

    We are in a very similar situation to what we were in two decades ago. Right now we have a hung parliament with a Greens-Labor alliance in government. 20 years ago Labor sought and got preferences from the Greens and environmental groups to help it win power. It won power with a minimal majority in Parliament (similar to now). To keep the Greens and environmental activist groups on side it strictly banned nuclear and instructed the Federal bureaucracy that nuclear was not to be considered as an option in policy options or advice to government. Labor ran an anti-nuclear campaign at elections (and has done, to different degrees, at every election since). At the time much of Labor’s policy and activities within the bureaucracy were centred on their “Ecologically Sustainable Development” programs. Now we have the equivalent with “Climate Change” being the centre of everything – even to the point where they’ve promoted the Head of the Department of Climate Change to be head of Treasury (Wow, The CAGW crowd will love that – I can’t believe what is happening).

    We missed the opportunity to start down the nuclear path two decades ago and I believe we will again. I believe Labor will dump its anti nuclear policy in December (and in all the important lead ups to the Labor Party National Conference), but they will keep the Left happy by burying the policy in caveats on matters such as safety. What this will do in effect is entrench Australia in a high cost nuclear policy like the other western democracies have. Once this happens, it will be almost impossible to change it for decades. Labor will use the discriminator of “safety” to scare the electorate at every election so it can win government. That is what I believe will happen this year.

    If we want to avoid this outcome, we have a short window of opportunity to get the message out. The message in DV82XL’s lead article is excellent. It will be an extremely important part of reducing the general public’s fear of nuclear. It is essential we promote this message.

    But there is another group that also needs to be brought on board – the economically rational people. Those who have some understanding of economics, finances business, investment, trade, etc. Cost will be the final discriminator, even if it is not all over the newspapers.

    It is essential, in my opinion, that we point out to everyone, especially to Labor, the difference between high-cost and low-cost nuclear, what are the likely impediments to low-cost nuclear being implemented in Australia, how we can remove and avoid those impediments and how removing them can be part of the sort of economically rational reforms that took place from 1980 to 2007 – the reforms everyone loves to crow about and lay claim to.

    Labor needs to change its policy so it advocates low-cost nuclear. Otherwise, progress to cut emissions will be slow.

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  284. Listing the impediments to low-cost nuclear helps to make them explicit so people can understand.

    Here are a few off the top of my head and by no means a complete list:

    1. UAE contracted price is 25% lower than the ACIL Tasman estimated cost of nuclear in Australia. That means half the gap to coal is achieved just by implementing whatever is responsible for the difference between the UAE contracted price and the ACIL-Tasman estimated price for new coal. That alone would provide 50% of the cost difference we are seeking.

    2. No work disruptions and delays for bogus reasons. (estimate 20% cost reduction – admittedly this reduction is probably not additive to the previous point)

    3. Located at the least-cost sites: near cities, sea-water cooling (save 10% to 25% compared with remote inland locations).

    4. Remove the fossil fuel incentives and favouritism (raise the cost of coal and gas by 10% to 20%)

    5. Change the investor risk premium from nuclear to coal and gas (20% to 50% swing – reduced nuclear electricity cost and increased fossil electricity cost). As described in other comments (links provided previously) the investor risk premium is very significant and this can be changed by the policies adopted by the major political parties and by the legislation they enact.

    Arguing to avoid listing the impediments to low-cost nuclear, as some are doing on other threads, is unhelpful.

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  285. Peter Lang:

    You say the the East West balance is narrowing. I think we are at cross purposes. The balance referred to in my linked article was referring to trade balance – not relative wealth. The point is that a widening trade balance is not sustainable long term without a subsequent rebalancing of wealth.

    I guess that Australia’s natural resources are sufficient to ensure that you have a trade surplus. You certainly appear to have escaped the GFC. However, you are even further behind in the nuclear race (which may ,of course, have a similar origin – namely fossil fuel surpluses).

    My favoured route to low cost nuclear in the UK is initially to purchase existing Gen 3 technology (no alternative) and simultaneously to attempt to leapfog China, India and Korea in a race to deploy cheaper 4th Gen. Financial collaboration with others in Europe, USA and Australia would be desirable. By the time you’ve won over your politicians in Australia, you might be in a position to go direct to Gen 4. Of course, you might consider it expedient to throw in your lot with those nations in the East rather than competing with them (which I think Europe and the States will need to do).

    Did you know that the French are currently furious over industrial espionage (for which China is deemed responsible) and which threatens their hoped-for lead in electric vehicle technology? Trade wars are likely to be consequences of uncorrected trade imbalances (certainly military planners appear to think so)..

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  286. Douglas Wise,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I find a lot of your comments too hypothetical to deal with. They are interesting to discuss but, IMO, a distraction from considering and discussing the practical steps we should be discussing. They are the sort of distraction the leads to continual inaction, bad policy and wrong policy.

    Trade imbalances come and go. It depends on the time frame. Resource restrictions come and go. Yes, some lead to wars. But the best we can do to prevent these bad effects, I believe, is to open up trade, remove tariffs and restrictions, open up communications, give greater energy security, give people better lives and with all this comes less conflict. Globalisation is good for humanity. There will always be imbalances and cycles but they are becoming less and better managed as we progress and develop. The evidence is clear on this if you look at the big picture. There will always be differences of opinions between academics on details and many want to make a prediction of doom and gloom. Such predictions get lots of media attention.

    The rebalancing of wealth is coming about because of increasing socialism, regulations and restrictions on productivity in the western democracies. Europe has transferred much of its manufacturing, and the associated jobs and emissions, to Asian countries. It is also exporting its wealth.

    We largely escaped the GFC because we had paid off our federal government debt, we had implemented excellent prudential regulations (so the banks were strong and relatively secure), interest rates were high compared with other OECD countries so there was more room for the Reserve Bank to undertake good monetary policy without getting too close to 0% interest rates, most of our largest trading partners were still growing and buying our primary products, and the government acted quickly to hand out cash (which went to China and quickly returned our debt to where it had been before the Howard government implemented the tough policies needed to pay it off).

    My favoured route to low cost nuclear in the UK is initially to purchase existing Gen 3 technology (no alternative) and simultaneously to attempt to leapfog China, India and Korea in a race to deploy cheaper 4th Gen. Financial collaboration with others in Europe, USA and Australia would be desirable. By the time you’ve won over your politicians in Australia, you might be in a position to go direct to Gen 4. …

    Since we are postulating, I’ll state my favoured route too. But firstly, let me state my objectives. They are:

    1. economically rational
    2. maximise relatively stable economic growth
    3. reliable, high quality energy supply
    4. energy security for the long term
    5. safer, cleaner more environmentally benign energy supply, distribution and end use (than we have now and continuous improvement).

    My preferred route to achieve these objectives (for electricity supply) is outlined in the article at the top of this thread. The schedule has slipped one year already and will inevitable slip at least two years because Labor will not change its anti-nuclear policy until December this year. So the earliest we are likely to get funding for progress is in the 2012 budget, (May 2012). Then allow at least 6 months until any action emerges from the responsible government departments.

    I believe commercial, proven Gen IV, suitable for Australia, is probably two decades away. So we will not be jumping straight to Gen IV. It may be possible for a large mine to implement a small new NPP, but I see that as not mainstream and unlikely for some time yet.

    I believe Australia’s first NPPs should be well proven designs and have a long, demonstrated successful life. I’d lean towards CANDU 6 or French, Chinese, Japanese or Korean Gen II or Gen III that have been running for at least two decades before we sign a contract.

    I’d like to see us issue Request for Tenders (RFT) by end of 2015, award contract by end of 2016, and first plant on line by 2022. An enormous amount would need to be done between now and 2014 to achieve this schedule. Most of the high level management would have to be contracted out to a private sector organisation to have any hope of achieving such a schedule. I say, categorically, the public sector has absolutely no chance of doing what is needed. This is a highly optimistic schedule.

    What I believe will actually happen is:

    1. Labor will dump its ban on nuclear but will couch its new policy in caveats to appease the Greens and Left wing of the Labor Party. The caveats will effectively endorse high-cost nuclear, as is the standard in the western democracies.

    2. Therefore, there will be years, perhaps a decade of studies, political wrangling and failed starts (similar to what South Africa went through). We may issue the first contract by about 2018 to 2020 and the first plant will come online by 2025.

    3. The plant will be expensive, so commitments to build additional plants will be slow.

    4. In the meantime we may have a carbon price in which case our economic growth will be retarded compared with what it would otherwise have been. So we will not be as wealthy, not a swell prepared for economic shocks, and not as well able to take the policy decisions we could if we had not slowed the economy with the carbon price.

    5. Gas plants will be built to meet growing demand. Most coal plants will be kept running. Some token renewable plants will be built to pacify the Greens and make it look as if the government is taking action to cut emissions – with the cuts appearing “tomorrow”.

    6. Electricity will be high cost so the rate that electricity displaces gas for heating and oil for transport will be very slow.

    7. The rate of reducing emissions will be slow.

    That is what I believe will actually happen. BNCers’ deep resistance to considering alternatives to a carbon price, as clearly displayed on this thread, has surprised me. If BNCers are resistant, what chance do we have of persuading Labor to consider adopting a policy that would support low-cost nuclear? Next to none, I’d say.

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  287. Peter Lang:

    Thanks for your reply. I think our different perspectives may, in part, be due to the relative differences in the economies of our respective nations.

    I continue to think that you are too sanguine in thinking that the rebalancing of wealth can be blamed principally on socialism, regulation and restrictions in Western economies. I think you also have to consider the forty-fold differences in wage rates. Multinationals move to cheap labour areas, taking their technology with them and leave the host governments to pick up the pieces.

    I would like to draw your attention to another article which discusses financial difficulties in the States, in particular changes in the Gini index which measures wealth distribution. Interestingly, this was written by a financial journalist who, not long ago, was preaching thorium based nuclear power as the West’s best hope for financial salvation.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/8249181/Deepening-crisis-traps-Americas-have-nots.html

    I share your frustration at slow nuclear progress, albeit it is moving faster in the UK than Australia.

    Hypothetical question (sorry!)

    You are offered a tried and tested Gen 2 design with a life of 60 years at a price of, say, $5/watt, ready to roll in 2018. Alternatively, you have the very real prospect of being able to purchase a novel Gen 4 design (only heretofore tested at demonstrator stage) that should be ready by 2022 and is claimed capable of providing power at two thirds the cost of Gen 2/3 designs. What choice would you make and would it depend on how long it took before the decision to go nuclear in Australia took?

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  288. Peter Lang:

    I re-read my last reply to you and realised that for, China as opposed to Third World countries, I should have been talking tenfold rather than fortyfold wage differentials.

    Next, I had time to go back to your reply to me. I entirely agree with your wish list of points 1-5.

    I think I have some sympathy with both DV82XL and you over the merits of the low cost argument in winning over support for nuclear (on recent thread).

    DV82XL sees no option but to fight his campaign by getting Jo public on side. Obviously, safety, waste and proliferation fears all loom large in this scenario. (In the UK, I keep coming across people and organisations who claim to have been hosting young Russian victims of Chernobyl (I don’t think they’re white slavers!). I met someone the other day who assured me that his wife’s premature death in the UK was claimed by her doctors to owe its most likely cause to Chernobyl. I believe sheep on some Welsh farms and deer in Germany are still being kept out of the human food chain. We get the same responses to Frankenstein foods (genetic engineering) and even have scares over the side effects of measles vaccine). Given DV82XL’s view that political leaders must be led by the voting public, he has a lot of work to do (particularly as he respects the efficacy and financial strength of opposing lobby groups). I think, on the cost side, all he needs to do to strengthen his case is to show that nuclear is the cheapest of the clean energy sources. In fact, to the extent that you argue for making it cheaper than coal by driving perceived safety standards down, you could reasonably construed as weakening his case.

    Nevertheless, if political leaders could be persuaded to lead rather than follow their electorates and if their professional advisors could or would present them with compelling reasons to go nuclear, your least cost arguments become compelling. I have previously mentioned that, in this respect, the UK has the advantage of having multi party support for nuclear power.

    Once a government is fully committed to nuclear, the costs will almost certainly fall. LNT theory will be re-assessed, planning delays will be swept away, discount rates will be lower, there will be guarantees that all power produced will be saleable and subversive regulators will have their wings clipped. I think that, here, it is likely that the French model of heavy state involvement would provide a least cost solution. The government would then be more motivated to regulate away competition from privately owned fossil fuel generators ( if necessary, for example, by internalising currently externalised costs when and only when ready) . It would also be seen to have more direct control over security than if matters were left in private and, often foreign owned, hands.

    You may continue to accuse me of being hypothetical and I accept that I may well be being naive. However, with my qualifications or lack thereof, it’s difficult to be much else. I do recommend, however, that, when talking least cost, you should do more to differentiate between the initial capital costs and LCOE. High up-front costs are always going to put a strain on cash flows even for “cheap nuclear” and may become constraining for nations with high sovereign debt.

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  289. Nevertheless, if political leaders could be persuaded to lead rather than follow their electorates and if their professional advisers could or would present them with compelling reasons to go nuclear,…

    This just won’t happen. Nor is it going to be a simple mater of a rally, or a march to move them to our side. As one commenter put it in another blog, a million marched against the U.K.’s involvement in the Iraq invasion, to no effect.

    What is needed is continuous pressure of the sort that several special interest groups have learned to apply, coupled with enough popular support, that the issue cannot be ignored. Will this be easy and quick, no it won’t be, but if you look at these sorts of initiatives they have a history of very slow starts that later, if they survive, start to snowball.

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  290. Douglas Wise,

    DV82XL sees no option but to fight his campaign by getting Jo Public on side.

    I totally agree with DV82XL on this point. Where we disagree is that DV82XL seems to argue that cost is irrelevant. I say that if nuclear is too costly we will never get the level of support we need from Jo Public. Therefore, we need to do both: fight the campaign that DV82XL advocates, and, in parallel, look at what we need to do to allow nuclear to be cheaper than coal in Australia – without raising the cost of electricity through a electricity tax (carbon price). DV82XL’s approach alone will not gain support. It will reduce negative perceptions and some resistance to nuclear but a mass of other Jo Public will oppose an economically irrational policy (because it translates for them into: less disposable income, higher prices for everything and less services they want).

    In fact, to the extent that you argue for making it cheaper than coal by driving perceived safety standards down, you could reasonably construed as weakening his case.

    Gloves-off time.

    Gen II nuclear power stations have a 40 years record demonstrating they are 10 to 100 times safer than coal generators (Figures 1 and 2 here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/ ). Any nuclear power plant, bought from any vendor is far safer than our current generating system (which is 80% coal fired). Renewables are not an option because they cannot do the job. So the choice is coal or nuclear to supply baseload generation – (which comprises some 75% of our electricity demand).

    The choice is:

    1. coal
    2. nuclear (electricity at twice the cost of coal, system 10 to 100 times safer)
    3. nuclear (electricity competitive with coal or perhaps cheaper than coal, system still far safer than coal – probably still 10 to 100 times safer than coal)

    The main point of contention between DV82XL some time ago, and possibly part of the reason for DV82XL’s lack of support for what I am arguing for was DV82XL’s insistence on arguing an inconsistent and illogical position some time ago. In that discussion, DV82XL argued, on one hand, that there will never be another severe accident (5 or more fatalities) in the nuclear fuel chain. He argued strenuously that the statement is true and that it is perfectly reasonable to present that argument to the public. I argued that saying such would have no credibility with the public. If we make such statements most people dismiss us and all your message as that of a nuclear zealots.

    Despite arguing that it was OK to push this argument, DV82XL then criticised me, strongly, for saying that nuclear is 10 to 100 times safer than coal, safety costs money, we do not need to insist on such a high level of safety if by doing so it makes nuclear too expensive to build at all – which is the case and has been for decades.

    DV82XL’s positions on these two statements are inconsistent and illogical. On one hand he argues we should tell the public that nuclear cannot have another severe accident (an incredulous statement) and on the other hand he says we should not say to the public that we have demanded nuclear become 10 to 100 times safer than coal, we are now wanting 20 to 200 times safer in Gen III, but all this is costing so much it is preventing us from having nuclear at all. The excessive costs we are imposing by our excessive demands are preventing us from getting any of the greater safety benefits (and other benefits) of nuclear compared with coal.

    That is what I believe is underpinning DV82XL’s lack of support for investigating the impediments to low cost nuclear.

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  291. Douglas Wise,

    Regarding your hypothetical question about Gen III or Gen IV, I do not agree that the figures you have proposed are realistic, so I won’t answer this question. Furthermore, it is too far off the topic of this thread – “Alternative to Carbon Price”.

    I think we should focus, on this thread, on what we should do in the next few months and this year to try to urge the Labor Party to change its anti-nuclear policy to one which will encourage and advocate low-cost nuclear for Australia.

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  292. Douglas Wise,

    Multinationals move to cheap labour areas, taking their technology with them and leave the host governments to pick up the pieces.

    Yes of course. There are many factors involved. We can’t debate it here. However, the companies move because regulations imposed on them by western democracies, taxes to support the welfare state, and many more imposts make it more profitable for the companies to move to developing countries. The developing countries benefit from jobs, income, tax revenue and technological development. This is all helping to close the gap between rich and poor nations. It is good. If the western democracies want to maintain their growth rate in standard of living, they must be prepared to compete. That means they need to back off on the welfare state, socialism, and high taxing regimes (such as the carbon tax idea!!). On the effect of tax rates, did you see the article I posted yesterday (lead article on the front page of the Australian): http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/high-tax-hurts-the-laggard-states/story-fn59niix-1225984687845

    Once a government is fully committed to nuclear, the costs will almost certainly fall.

    Of course that is true and well known. It is factored into all projections, e.g.:
    1. Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

    What is relevant is the starting point from which future costs will decline. Do we want to start at $6/W, $5/W, $4/W or $3/W? I argue we want to start with electricity from nuclear cheaper than coal (or at least the same). I recognise we will need tax payer subsidy as catalyst to get us from FOAK to NOAK at which point no further subsidy would be required. In the comment linked above I estimated, very roughly, how much tax payer subsidy would be needed, assuming we also remove the impediments to low-cost nuclear.

    The government would then be more motivated to regulate away competition from privately owned fossil fuel generators

    Douglas, on one hand you don’t want your companies moving to developing countries and on the other you want to regulate away competition. You can’t have it both ways. You cant have continuously increasing regulations, socialism, increasing taxation and also have a competitive economy.

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  293. Peter Lang – It seems you want a fight. I’m not so sure that this is a productive use of our time, but I cannot let such and obviously provocative post like the one above pass without a rebuttal.

    Bluntly sir you are well out of your depth on the matter of reactor safety. You seem to somehow think that there are corners that can be cut in the designs or construction that would lead to less expensive equipment while backing off on safety. However you cannot point to any place where these cuts could be made.

    You have accused me and others of refusing to look at this aspect of what you believe is a major source of expense, just as you are accusing me of refusing to provide you with the data on external sources of unnecessary expense.

    I explained at some length, on a previous occasion here that the reduction in costs that you think can be realized by trading off safety in designs are just not there. Modern Gen III and Gen III+ reactors are not amenable to being stripped down, as perhaps a car might be, by removing unnecessary components. Nor is in likely that any manufacturer will de-rate their product to meet a relaxed standard for one nation.

    I believe I wrote as well at the time that this belief of yours is a artifact of a lack of knowledge of the technology, and as such this demand was without logical foundation. And I also wrote that the only cost saving that could be reasonably expected, were in seeing that the regulatory aspects of the project were not allowed to get out of hand.

    In our last exchange on external costs, you continue to assert that these can be quantified and prioritized, despite the fact that I provided examples were such an accounting was not possible. While one could compare builds in countries where a project was not interfered with, with a country where it was, and come to some global value I suppose, the nature of the type of interference a nuclear build gets is too subject to change between projects to establish any general trend.

    Again you seem to believe otherwise on nothing more than your own faith that one can preform this sort of analysis. Yet again you admit you cannot do this yourself, and accuse me, and by extension all other posters at BNC of being obstreperous by refusing to help you.

    Frankly I am getting angry with this attitude of yours. You have two hypotheses and you are in essence demanding that the rest of us work to prove them for you. I do not know any intellectual domain where this is the norm.

    Now I have rejected your hypotheses, and given you valid reasons, if you don’t agree with those reasons, the onus is on you to prove otherwise, and not utter thinly veiled accusations of bias, or whatever.

    This whole edifice you have build is founded on ignorance, it is time that you grounded yourself better on the technical aspects of nuclear energy, and the history of its adoption in various nations. Your lack of understanding is adversely effecting your capacity to mount a valid argument.

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  294. DV82XL’s positions on these two statements are inconsistent and illogical. On one hand he argues we should tell the public that nuclear cannot have another severe accident (an incredulous statement) and on the other hand he says we should not say to the public that we have demanded nuclear become 10 to 100 times safer than coal, we are now wanting 20 to 200 times safer in Gen III, but all this is costing so much it is preventing us from having nuclear at all.

    That’s certainly not as I recall the dispute. As I recall it, the dispute was about you saying that we ought to cut safety measures to the extent necessary to make nuclear cheaper than coal. Your rationale was that the safety measures being cut were more apparent than real and really didn’t contribute to actual safety at which point DV82XL responded that while cutting such pointless comliance was fair enough, there wasn’t enough saving in any of the cut safety measures to make nuclear cheaper than coal, as most of the safety was an inherent property of the technologies.

    Most of us thought that making the focus the struggle to cut pointless safety measures to make nuclear cheaper would be poor in PR terms, regardless of how reasonbale the proposals were. I believed that being able to say that nuclear was 10-100 times safer than coal/gas was something we should not lightly cast aside, and that we should turn the argument back onto coal/gas with a slogan like bit is it as safe and clean as nuclear? regardless of what we did about costly “safety” and compliance measures that added nothing measurable to safety.

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  295. DV82XL,

    Before you take your fight any further, you need to substantiate this statement:

    You seem to somehow think that there are corners that can be cut in the designs or construction that would lead to less expensive equipment while backing off on safety.

    If you would take the time to read what I’ve written, you would stop this line of attack. Perhaps.

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  296. DV82XL,

    Frankly I am getting angry with this attitude of yours.

    That has been my reaction too.

    Bluntly sir you are well out of your depth on the matter of reactor safety.

    Bluntly sir you are well out of your depth on many relevant matters. But I don’t keep telling you so rudely. You also continually misrepresent my position.

    I’ve answered the assertions you make in your post above many times before. But the problem is you haven’t taken the time to read or tried to comprehend what I’ve been saying. I do admit that it is scattered throughout many posts on many threads, but if you would take the time to try to understand rather than simply making assumptions that you can then use to score debating points, we could possibly make some valuable progress.

    It may be past repair now, but if you wanted to, I’d urge you to begin by re-reading this thread’s lead article and then the comments. Or a shortcut that would be to read lead article then the comments listed here:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110262
    It is important to read the links provided in the comments listed in this comment.

    However, if you have decided to ‘take your bat and ball and go home’, that would be unfortunate. Perhaps a swig of Canadian whisky, a wee break and reconsider would be an alternative approach.

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  297. This comment is probably one of the better short summaries to understand how I see us getting nuclear at a cost less than coal:

    1. Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

    Nowhere does it mention changing the existing reactor designs. Unfortunately, some BNCers have not been prepared to put the time in to understand the content in this comment.

    Examples of regulations that would be impediments to low-cost nuclear in Australia are given in other comments on this thread and elsewhere. Two other examples may help to make the point clearer:

    1. If we implement regulations to stipulate that nuclear plants must be far from our cities, the cost will be higher – both the construction cost and the operating cost. If we locate them in remote regions, far from existing infrastructure and existing work forces, industries and services, the cost of electricity may be twice the cost of a similar plant located near to a city. This is an example of the cost of a regulation imposed for safety reasons. It has nothing to do with redesigning existing reactors. I’ve explained this before, but obviously it gets missed.

    2. If we regulate that the exclusion zone surrounding a reactor must be 2 km, the cost of electricity will be higher than if the exclusion zone has a 500 m radius (figures made up to make the point).

    I expect some may be confused about my advocating for redefining future requirements and regulations that would apply to new designs. This advocacy applies to Gen IV, not Gen II or Gen III.

    I have also talked about how we have ramped up regulations over the past 40 years and this has ramped up costs. See page 8 here. http://www.grattan.edu.au/publications/060_daley_nuclear_seminar.pdf . These costs are now built in to Gen II and Gen III and cannot be removed. But we can and should remove the overly restrictive requirements from Gen IV.

    Given the clarification above, and the other examples of regulatory imposts that would make nuclear more expensive, perhaps some here might give some serious consideration to how we might proceed to get nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia.

    Or has everyone here given up on that and decided we want all the regulations and requirements that are impediments to low-cost nuclear in other western democracies and we accept that nuclear will be more expensive than coal?

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  298. I suspect I am typical of many people in Australia who do not believe that a carbon price (a tax on electricity) in Australia is going to change the climate in the slightest.

    Therefore, if we cannot have electricity from nuclear cheaper than from coal, I don’t want nuclear. I want to wait, continue with coal, until we can have nuclear (or something else) cheaper than coal. That is my position and I suspect it will be the position of the majority.

    Here is a hypothetical situation which I believe shows I am being responsible, not irresponsible (as I am sure some here would assert). If the world implemented an economically efficient, emissions trading scheme (Cap and Trade scheme), Australia would be one of the last countries to transition away from burning coal. Why?. Because we have cheap, high quality, coal near our industrial centres. It will be cheaper for other countries to convert to nuclear before us. It would be cheaper for us to buy emissions trading permits and continue to burn coal. We would be one of the last countries to stop burning coal. So from an economically rational, international perspective, we should not transition from coal until there is a cheaper alternative. We should not penalise ourselves. It would achieve nothing positive and seriously disadvantage us

    Given the above, I’d argue, we need to work out how to implement nuclear cheaper than coal, or wait until we can.

    I hope this may coax BNCers to consider, seriously, what we would need to do to implement nuclear in Australia so it can produce electricity cheaper than from coal.

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  299. Peter, you’ve talked about making nuclear less safe to reduce costs. That concerned/confused a lot of people – me included. What did you mean, if not eliminating engineered systems? Your other statement about preferring coal unless nuclear is cheaper ignores the other externalities, which you professed to be concerned about in DV82XL’s recent post. I don’t understand your position now.

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  300. Here is another example of an impediment to low-cost nuclear:
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/wages-policy-undermines-the-productivity-quest/story-e6frg6zo-1225985225840

    With unionised labour able to hold construction to ransom, as is often the case in Australia, NPPs could be expected to be delayed and be inflicted by cost blow outs. In addition to the direct cost increases attributed to union demands, The construction delays mean interest must be payed on the capital invested in plant under construction until the plant starts selling electricity into the grid. If there are delays the interest accumulates on interest. Investors must take all these risk of delays and cost escalation into account. They increase the risk premium as insurance. So, one of the greatest impediments to low cost nuclear in Australia is the investor risk premium for union demands and industrial action holding the contractor to ransom.

    Because of the long construction duration and high cost of a nuclear plant, the risk of union disruption is much greater than for coal and gas plants. So the investor risk premium is much greater.

    How could we remove the risk of unionised labour holding the contractor to ransom?

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  301. Peter Lang:

    I’d like to comment on two of your latest batch of posts:

    1) On 10th Jan,10.53, you referred me to a leading article in the Australian which demonstrated a reciprocal correlation between taxes and GDP in different Australian States. You used this article in support of your view that high taxation, high welfarism and socialism were inimical to economic growth. In principle and, given a level playing field, I would agree. However, I gleaned the impression from this article, possibly incorrectly because of my lack of Australian knowledge, that the low taxing States were those that were benefitting from a booming commodity sector. Therefore, the the need for these States to tax was lower (in percentage terms). If one accepts that a State has to raise money to carry out its functions, States that lack natural advantages will, all other things being equal, have to have higher tax rates, even though their welfare provisions to individuals are are no more generous.

    I am attempting to avoid left/right arguments here because I don’t think they are helpful. However, I am interested in international trade balances. International trade is currently extremely unbalanced and, as I have been pointing out , many (right wing) economic commentators cannot see how the balance can be adjusted in the short term without massive falls in the living standards of those in the so-called developed nations, given the tenfold differences in wage rates between developed and developing states, given the impending constraints on energy and given technology transfer. Of course, many might argue that this doesn’t matter and that it’s time that others in the world got a fair crack of the whip. However, I admit to being selfish enough not not share this point of view. I don’t mind others becoming richer if it doesn’t impoverish me.

    One effect of technology transfer is internal to a nation. Great benefits accrue to citizens and corporations that do the transferring, but at the expense of citizens who lose their livelihoods in consequence. The governments of the developed nations where this is occurring have little choice but to take actions that you might deem socialist in order to rebalance their internal economies. They are, after all, democracies and more of their citizens are getting poorer than richer as a consequence of technology transfer. I accept that this will, in the end, be self defeating unless there is a new world trading structure or unless the West develops further new technology and keeps the benefits rather than allowing a small minority of its citizens to give them away for their own short term gain.

    It is for this reason, along with concerns over peak oil, climate change and ecological degradation, that makes me advocate that Western governments spend heavily on developing new power sources that provide energy cheaper than coal and that they don’t allow private companies to rob them of the benefits. This doesn’t necessarily preclude private sector involvement. Given that the developing world has more or less taken the lead in 3rd generation nuclear, I conclude that the West must go hell for leather in developing 4th generation and also look carefully at all other new technologies that will be necessary in a world undergoing energy transition (e.g. my newspaper was trying to persuade me today that modern airships had the potential to move freight and people very cheaply and “cleanly” in the near future).

    I apologise if I am merely repeating myself. However, it could be a consequence of our talking past each other rather than addressing each other’s concerns.

    2) You state that, if “we can’t have nuclear cheaper than coal, I don’t want nuclear.” This, at least, is an extremely clear position and one that is entirely reasonable in one who professes himself not to be too alarmed by climate change. I would also agree that your view is shared by very many. In particular, because Australia has plenty of coal and gas, you don’t have to worry, as do many other nations, about energy security in the medium term. This, in part, explains why BNC contributors are generally happy over your anti-renewable views, based as they are on economics and practicality, but consider your nuclear position in a less favourable light.

    It is just because Australia sits on a big heap of cheaply accessible fossil fuel that makes it almost impossible for it to make power more cheaply with 3rd generation nuclear. in most of Europe, the differential is much, much smaller. In other words, Australia is likely to be the one place where your goal is hardest to score. In fact, I would suggest, absent a carbon levy, that it could only be achieved in one of two ways:
    a) Rigid internalisation of currently externalised non carbon emission costs. I would submit that this would be as economically damaging as a carbon tax. Why bother? Most citizens aren’t pressurising governments to act on health and safety grounds. Thus, the strategy is one favoured by those more concerned than you over climate change as an alternative to carbon taxes. It should not be favoured by one with your economic views.
    b) The roll out of 4th generation nuclear plants offer the hope (currently unsubstantiated, but to be expected on scientific and engineering grounds) of producing power more cheaply than any other way in sustainable quantity.

    With your views, therefore, I am surprised that you refused to address my hypothetical question relating to what should be Australia’s preferred nuclear strategy – go now with 3rd generation or wait for 4th. I think that your reasoning might , in part, be due to what I consider to be your unrealisic hope of getting 2nd or 3rd generation nuclear costs below those in most places in the world, using relatively expensive labour, such that they could produce electricity more cheaply than from the cheapest coal in the world. You would, of course, also claim that , as Australia currently has no nuclear programme at all, how could it possibly enter the race for the 4th generation? I’ll offer you an answer that might appeal to you. I would suggest that Australia gears itself to nuclear readiness (education, training – including regulators, development of uranium enrichment facilities, development of strategies and sites for dealing with fission products, etc, etc). In addition, it should send substantial capital and some key personnel to join a consortium of nations that have the clear aim of developing those 4th generation designs that have the greatest prospect of producing the cheapest power asap. These may not be designs that are the most sustainable in the long term (e.g. the most efficient breeders, because sustainability is less of a short term problem and Australia is uranium rich). I think that this strategy might serve Australia well. Public opposition to nuclear will more easily be softened with a new generation strategy and, by contributing generously to an international consortium, you could continue to maximise coal exports while avoiding international pariah status. Of course, coal will have to go as soon as a satisfactory alternative becomes available. Before I bring down the wrath of other contributors on my head, I am not proposing this strategy as necessarily the optimum one for minimising CO2 emissions, but one with potential appeal to those with Peter’s economic views, which, in part, I share (while remaining an alarmist on climate matters).

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  302. douglas: peter’s strategy of cheap nuclear is also useless for the u.s.–given the plentiful and cheap natural gas.

    further, those places most likely to go nuclear would never go or have gone nuclear following peter’s dictates on “free trade.”

    France developed its nuclear power in great part to avoid “dependency on foreign oil” (or other energy sources). but such motives are not legitimate ones on free market grounds, are they?

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  303. Dear Barry and other BNCers,

    The confusion is regrettable :(

    Peter, you’ve talked about making nuclear less safe to reduce costs. That concerned/confused a lot of people – me included.

    That is not what I said. This is what I said:

    The choice is:
    1. coal
    2. nuclear (electricity at twice the cost of coal, system 10 to 100 times safer)
    3. nuclear (electricity competitive with coal or perhaps cheaper than coal, system still far safer than coal – probably still 10 to 100 times safer than coal)

    and

    Despite arguing that it was OK to push this argument, DV82XL then criticised me, strongly, for saying that nuclear is 10 to 100 times safer than coal, safety costs money, we do not need to insist on such a high level of safety if by doing so it makes nuclear too expensive to build at all – which is the case and has been for decades.

    See the rest of what I said here:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110366

    I have also provided examples of regulations, justified on the basis of safety arguments, which would increase the cost of nuclear in Australia. Examples are: the cost of disruptions, delays and cost blow-outs because of our IR regulations which would force contractors to use unionised labour, siting the NPPs far from cities and other examples of impediments to low cost nuclear I’ve mentioned in previous comments. The regions that build low cost nuclear do not suffer from the same kind of industrial relations laws and siting restrictions.

    Stated another way: nuclear is 10 to 100 times safer than coal. Higher safety costs money. But if we increase the cost as much as we have done for nuclear, we preclude us obtaining higher safety in the electricity system because we cannot afford to implement the excessively costly systems. That is what has been happening with nuclear. They have been too costly to build in the USA, EU, UK for decades. So the excessive cost, due to excessive regulations, has prevented us getting the safety and other benefits of nuclear.

    Further on the matter of safety and regulations, I’ve also distinguished, previously, between current and future technologies. We cannot change the design of current technologies. But we can change the requirements for future technologies (e.g. Gen IV). I believe we should stipulate least cost with adequate safety, not excessive safety requirements. If we are not prepared to do that, then inevitably most countries will opt for the least cost electricity supply that provides adequate safety. In that case the world will burn much more coal for much longer. It is that simple.

    Your other statement about preferring coal unless nuclear is cheaper ignores the other externalities, which you professed to be concerned about in DV82XL’s recent post. I don’t understand your position now.

    The implications of the word professed has put me on guard as to where this is leading. I think you do understand what I’ve been saying.

    I meant, (and have said before) I prefer to stick with coal if it is cheaper than nuclear until we can have nuclear cheaper than coal. I believe we can have nuclear cheaper than coal as I proposed in this comment:
    Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491
    I believe some people are being intransigent. They simply want to impose a carbon price for the symbolic “win”. While they are unwilling to seriously consider an economically rational solution, I am unwilling to support what I feel is a bad policy – a carbon price. While that is what is being forced on us, I would prefer to stick with coal than damage the economy. I’d prefer to wait until those wanting their carbon price, a symbolic gesture, ‘see the light’ and are prepared to at least consider the alternative, econmically rational solution.

    The fact that BNCwes are not prepared to discuss the economically rational alternative to a carbon price in detail leads me to believe we are simply stuck on wanting a symbolic gesture. I do not agree with implementing any more of such bad policies, so I’d argue we stick with economically rational until we can get people to consider the rational alternatives.

    I have addressed the question of incorporating externalities in many comments on BNC, most recently here. https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/01/09/govt-intervention-ff/#comment-110253

    Here are some of the points I’ve made elsewhere:

    1. Why pick on CO2? Why not pick on other externalities from other industries – e.g. car accidents here, or fresh water in poor countries. What is the basis for picking on CO2? Where is the balanced approach and proper analysis to decide which externalities to address?
    2. If we do pick on CO2, how do we decide on the correct cost of the externality?
    3. Why not regulate emissions?
    4. If we want to internalise the other externalities of fossil fuel use, how do we do it? It is not as if this hasn’t been underway in the western democracies for at least 30 years. Some costs are internalised by regulations. Many are not, but what is the overall cost to society of doing so? Does it do more harm than good? All this has been under discussion, and being implemented in part, for decades. It is not new. We will not change direction on this suddenly in Australia, if by doing so we are out of step with other countries. I am just being pragmatic saying we are not going to suddenly start incorporating all the externalities of coal in electricity.
    5. The most discussed option at the moment is to impose a price on carbon and raise the cost of electricity. But why not consider, thoroughly, the alternative of removing the impediments to low-cost nuclear? This has many advantages as pointed out in comments up-thread. Why avoid discussing this? Or are BNCers, by avoiding this subject, saying that we cannot have nuclear electricity at a cost less than coal?

    Barry, the points I have been attempting to make recently and previously on this thread are:

    1. We have a short window of opportunity (again, as we have had before and lost it every time). This time it has opened up because Labor has, at last, stated it will consider dumping its ban on nuclear power at its National Convention in December this year.
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110327

    2. The majority of Jo Public will not support nuclear if it is going to make electricity prices higher; they would prefer to stick with coal;

    3. We have many impediments to nuclear that would make nuclear power in Australia a high cost option;

    4. For some reason, BNCers do not want to engage in a discussion to try to determine what the impediments to low cost nuclear (cheaper than coal) are, and how they could be removed. I get the impression this is like “bunker syndrome” – don’t talk to me about this, I don’t want to think about it.

    Barry, I do not support economically irrational policies. I do not support increasing the cost of electricity, especially before we have done an impartial, thorough analysis of the impediments preventing nuclear costing less than coal.

    I think it would be wise for BNCers, who really want to find the quickest way to implement policies that will cut emissions the most and fastest over the decades ahead, to take my view as representative of what is likely to be a large proportion of the population.

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  304. To be clear on the point about changing engineering designs for currently available nuclear technologies: I have said elsewhere, that the NPPs we buy for Australia will have to be available designs. We cannot change them. But we can change the impediments that are making nuclear higher cost in western democracies than in other countries like China, Korea, India and Russia.

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  305. I am urging BNCers to conduct a brainstorming session on the BNC web site (in fact I am pleading!). The aim is to prepare a listing and quantification of the impediments to low cost nuclear that, if removed, would allow nuclear to be lower cost than coal. I am suggesting a presentation of this information as:

    1. A table with:
    • each impediment to low cost nuclear in column 1
    • the consequence/quantum of each impediment in column 2 (perhaps as a percentage of LCOE)
    • other relevant information in additional columns

    2. What would we have to do to get nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia?

    3. What could be the LCOE of nuclear be compared with new coal if we removed the impediments to low cost nuclear

    4. Prepared a ranking showing what would be the LCOE of nuclear as we progressively remove impediments in order such as remove the easiest to remove first.

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  306. Greg Meyerson

    Thank you for your comment. We have discussed you points before (and I believe we put them to bed) but here we go again:

    peter’s strategy of cheap nuclear is also useless for the u.s.–given the plentiful and cheap natural gas.

    Nonsense. If USA removed the impediments to low cost nuclear so its LCOE is cheaper than LCOE of coal and gas, nuclear would be the choice for investors. It is the impediments to low cost nuclear that are preventing it being selected.

    further, those places most likely to go nuclear would never go or have gone nuclear following peter’s dictates on “free trade.”

    Complete nonsense, ignorance, ideologically based opinion. No western democracies are moving towards public sector ownership of their energy systems. They are all moving towards private sector ownership. That trend will not reverse quickly, if ever. The world has progressed since the 1960s and 1970s.

    France developed its nuclear power in great part to avoid “dependency on foreign oil” (or other energy sources). but such motives are not legitimate ones on free market grounds, are they?

    Yes, that is the reason France developed its nuclear power. But also because it was the least cost choice at the time, and their decisions has proved correct. It was also least cost in USA, UK, Sweden, Finland and other countries at the time. Since then we have ramped up the costs with ever increasing regulatory requirements (see page 8 here: http://www.grattan.edu.au/publications/060_daley_nuclear_seminar.pdf)

    … but such motives are not legitimate ones on free market grounds, are they?

    Nonsense again. Governments set directions through the policy (voted on by the public) then by legislation (decided by parliament) and regulations. If government set policy to allow low cost nuclear and removed all the impediments to it, then it would be built by the private sector. Greg, your ideas about socialism, and your opposition to free market belong in the 1960’s. Your are decades out of date in your thinking.

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  307. DV82XL,

    An olive leaf. Don’t give up. Your contributions are fantastic. We disagree on the importance of the economic aspects of nuclear power and how important that is in the communities’ decision whether or not to go nuclear, but we wont agree on everything. And you are just as abusive as I am :)

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  308. Peter Lang – Yes we are both abrasive old men, running out of time and patience, and probably we deserve each other.

    But frankly I have nothing more to add on this topic, and I have given you the reasons why. Sparing with you, while entertaining in its own right, is counter productive and a waste of both of our time.

    Should you gather some facts together to support your contentions, I will reevaluate my opinion, my ego isn’t on the line, and I am always open to being proven wrong.

    So I will be following this thread, but I won’t contribute, until I see a good reason why I should.

    Thank-you for extending the olive branch.

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  309. Douglas Wise,

    I agree there will be a levelling of the standard of living between the developing and developed world. That may mean a drop in standard of living in some developed countries or simply a slowing of the rate of improvement. However, I say firstly, that has been brought on by people, like you, trying to avoid competition and by encouraging (demanding) excessive regulation; this has made businesses move to the developing countries. We’ve brought it on ourselves. Secondly, isn’t this exactly what many have been arguing for? It has been one of the arguments for an international ETS, i.e. to move wealth from the developed to the developing countries. On one hand we have many people arguing for this, and forcing it by demanding ever more regulations and protectionist policies, but then when it happens people don’t like the outcome and argue for even more protectionist and interventionist policies.

    You talk about some people getting poorer because of technology transfers. There will always be winners and losers. That cannot be avoided. What we need to achieve, and we are achieving, is that, overall, we are moving in the right direction. Clearly this is the case (see the UNDP HDI charts), and clearly free trade and globalisation are major drivers of this progress to improve standard of living in the world.

    It is for this reason, along with concerns over peak oil, climate change and ecological degradation, that makes me advocate that Western governments spend heavily on developing new power sources that provide energy cheaper than coal and that they don’t allow private companies to rob them of the benefits. This doesn’t necessarily preclude private sector involvement.

    We’ve been over this many times before. You have never explained how it could be achieved to go back to the days of governments owing and running the electricity system. I’ve pointed out many of the issues with doing so and pointed out it just isn’t feasible for many reasons, nor would it be beneficial overall. We’ve been through it before. Unless you can explain how (on another thread, please) there is no point in discussing it again (and especially not on this thread which is about ‘alternatives to a carbon price’).

    It is just because Australia sits on a big heap of cheaply accessible fossil fuel that makes it almost impossible for it to make power more cheaply with 3rd generation nuclear.

    How do we know this since we have studiously avoided and opposed looking into the impediments that are preventing nuclear having LCOE lower than coal? If that is what shows up after we’ve done an impartial, thorough analysis of the impediments tot low cost nuclear, then I will reconsider my position.

    Douglas, have you found a flaw in the logic or assumptions in this post?:
    Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

    My reason for not advocating Gen IV is that it will not be available and sufficiently commercially proven for decades. Your hypothetical question is irrelevant because the premise is wrong. DV82XL has explained that previously and I entirely agree with him on this. Ziggy Switkowski has said the same. And I have enough knowledge of the technology development cycle to agree with both of them.

    Douglas, my priority for now is to try to motivate people to communicate with the Labor party policy makers to get them to change policy to support low-cost nuclear not high cost nuclear in Australia. And also to prevent the imposition of carbon price for reasons I’ve stated previously on this thread.

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  310. Douglas Wise,

    You raise an important issue with this sentence:

    It is just because Australia sits on a big heap of cheaply accessible fossil fuel that makes it almost impossible for it to make power more cheaply with 3rd generation nuclear.

    Firstly, we don’t know whether or not that is true, because we haven’t attempted to determine, list and quantify the impediments to low cost nuclear power in Australia. Until we do we are arguing without facts. It is that they I am hoping BNCers will agree to tackle.

    Secondly, even if it is true that nuclear canot be cheaper than coal in Australia, it will be far more expensive if we do not attempt to identify the impediments, quantify their effects on the LCOE and remove them to the extent possible. And we need to do this not avoid confronting it. For that reason, I argue we need to tackle hit issue before we impose a carbon price. If we impose the carbon price first we will bury the problem and not confront it. I said more in these two comments:

    Which first? Carbon price or remove impediments to low-cost nuclear?
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109572

    Once a carbon price is introduced
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110105

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  311. Douglas Wise (and anyone interested),

    In an earlier comment you asked me to clarify the difference between nuclear and new coal on the basis of capital costs, fixed O&M, variable O&M and fuel costs.

    I have done this, see below, using the ACIL-Tasman projected cost for Australia. These are the most comprehensive figures we have to work with. However, it needs to be noted that since the report was written, the UAE contracted with a Korean consortium for 5400MW of nuclear capacity (including initial fuel load) for a price of $3,800/kW in 2009. The equivalent cost projected by ACIL-Tasman for that same year is $5,207/kW. This suggests that the ACIL-Tasman figure could be reduced by 25% if we could get the same investor risk premium equivalent regulatory environment. Please take into consideration that the figures quoted below for nuclear may be to high by perhaps 25% for the first of a kind in country. I suspect the figures for coal are as reliable as any given the experience with coal in Australia.

    Nuclear in eastern Australia ($/MWh) for years 2010-11, 2015-16, 2020-21

    Cost item 2010-11 1015-16 2020-21 ACIL-Tasman ref.
    Tax $18.26 $17.73 $17.32 calc from Table 54
    Capital, FOM, Tax $91.06 $89.18 $87.30 calc from Table 55
    SRMC (VOM and fuel) $9.94 $9.94 $9.94 Table 50
    Cost per MWh $101.01 $99.09 $97.21 Table 52

    New black coal, super critical, air cooled in North-Central NSW ($/MWh) for years 2010-11, 2015-16, 2020-21

    Cost item 2010-11 1015-16 2020-21 ACIL-Tasman ref.
    Tax $8.06 $7.66 $7.66 calc from Table 54
    Capital, FOM, Tax $38.95 $37.47 $37.20 calc from Table 55
    SRMC (VOM and fuel) $11.56 $10.68 $10.08 Table 50
    Cost per MWh $50.56 $48.13 $47.26 Table 52

    By comparing these two tables it is apparent that the major contributor to the difference between the projected LCOE of new coal and nuclear in Australia are due to the difference in the capital cost, fixed operating and maintenance cost (FOM) and tax payable. The variable operating and maintenance (VOM) cost and fuel costs are little different between new coal and nuclear, according to the ACIL-Tasman projections.

    Given this extra information, I hope those interested may to take another and more careful look at this (and make constructive comments on it):
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

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  312. Peter Lang,

    Regarding your comment on 12 January 2011 at 10:01 AM,

    Suggesting that we can change industrial relations laws which would result in all nuclear power plants being built by non-unionised labour is simply unrealistic. You only have to look at who hold many of the cards in both the Upper and the Lower houses (particularly as of mid this year) to see there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of this happening any time soon. Besides, these regulations apply to any power-generation projects, so I don’t see how this would make nuclear any cheaper compared to the alternatives anyhow, if they all experienced the same changes in IR regulations. I must also say that many of the regions which currently build “low cost nuclear” don’t enjoy the same levels of workplace safety and worker’s rights as most of us do in Australia either – most Australians aren’t in favour of this changing either.

    And as far as the siting of a plant goes, that would be largely determined by the project proponent. They generally must consider several alternative sites on top of the main proposal in a detailed environmental impact statement, as part of the environmental impact assessment process (assuming new nuclear power plants would be declared a “major development”, which is almost guaranteed). Once it has been shown to the relevant authorities that the proposed site won’t have any major negative economic, social or biophysical impacts, it is usually given the go ahead. The public is included in the consultation process for this, but this is largely in a tokenistic manner, so I really don’t think most of us have much of a say as to where a plant would go. The EIA is a very well-established (though far from perfect, admittedly) process, I see no way around this.

    When you state that “I believe we should stipulate least cost with adequate safety, not excessive safety requirements”, this really does seem to imply that there can be design changes made to make it cheaper. DV82XL has argued (very convincingly in my view) that this is simply not possible. As you have still not given any examples of components which can be left out of a nuclear power plant design, I can only conclude that this statement seems to be made on nothing more than faith and belief, and not by observation or example.

    As for saying you’d prefer to stick with coal if it is cheaper than nuclear, then I think you really aren’t looking at the externalities properly. Nuclear is already cheaper than coal if the externalities are factored in. The benefit to the country by not having to mitigate the problems outlined in DV82XL’s latest post, for example, by far outweighs the costs of marginally higher electricity prices. There is no reason to believe that the dollar price of electricity would stay forever higher anyway – not once the industry matures, economies of scale occur, and the technology improves.

    This is all I can add for now. The reason I won’t draw up a table, as you suggested in another comment, is because (aside from not having the technical knowledge of nuclear power plant designs) I simply don’t see how it can be made cheaper. Not in power plant design, and not in the current sociopolitical climate. And I don’t think it is a good way to get the public on-board with nuclear either – the major obstacle being the outright ban currently, due largely to public perception.

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  313. Building on the previous post, the difference between the projected LCOE of new coal and nuclear in eastern Australia is not due to differences in variable costs, such as fuel costs. The difference is almost entirely due to the capital cost, tax and cost of finance. Therefore, if we want to get nuclear for an LCOE less than coal, the place we need to put our effort is into the capital, fixed operations and maintenance, tax and investment costs. Consider this breakdown:

    1. Purchase cost for vendor engineering and equipment
    2. Construction cost
    3. Interest during construction
    4. Financing costs
    5. Tax

    What could we do to reduce the costs of these?

    1. Purchase cost for vendor engineering and equipment
    Get competitive quotes from all vendors. Ask vendors for options that could reduce the cost. Ask vendors to suggest how the LCOE could be reduced.

    2. Construction cost
    Locate near cities. Choose location that will give the lowest LCOE (for life of plant). Legislate to prevent disruptions to construction, and for the public (tax-payer) to carry the cost of any such disruption. Minimise the construction duration.

    3. Interest during construction
    Minimise the construction duration.
    Prevent disruption by incompetent regulators.

    4. Financing costs
    Government legislation to minimise the investor risk premium (discussed in previous posts)

    5. Tax
    Government to remove the tax penalty on nuclear.

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  314. Tom Keen,

    Suggesting that we can change industrial relations laws which would result in all nuclear power plants being built by non-unionised labour is simply unrealistic.

    I agree. However, this highlights the incredible inconsistency we have. That same group are the ones that have blocked nuclear for 40 years and still are. They want many absolutely ridiculous policies. Something has to give. That is whay I am putting this sort of material up so that some will grasp the ludicrous inconsistency and hypocracy of so many of these groups’ policies.

    You want the economically rational people to accept your carbon price, yeat not prepared to give an inch on the ludicsous policies you want to impose on society.

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  315. Peter Lang, on 12 January 2011 at 2:40 PM — Prevent interventions of any sort (other than worker safety issues) once the planning and permitting (pp) is complete. Everybody interested has their say during pp, but once all the permits have been issued the utility and the contractors can proceed without the prospect of lengthy delays, or even cancellations, from lawsuits or even legistors changing their minds.

    So the matter becomes either legislation or just that everyone is convinced that having an NPP is a good idea and so no group files a lawsuit. The latter is perhaps becoming the case for most states in the USA.

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  316. Tom Keen,

    Besides, these regulations apply to any power-generation projects, so I don’t see how this would make nuclear any cheaper compared to the alternatives anyhow, …

    Well, if you don’t understand that, I guess you don’t understand anything, do you? In that case your opinions should be ignored.

    Does anyone else not understand this?

    I must also say that many of the regions which currently build “low cost nuclear” don’t enjoy the same levels of workplace safety and worker’s rights as most of us do in Australia either – most Australians aren’t in favour of this changing either.

    Exactly, Tom. That is why nuclear is cheaper in those places and coal and gas is projected to be cheaper here. That is what needs to be addressed. Do you want nuclear or coal? Don’t you get it? You need to be prepared to sacrifice some of your wants if you want to cut emissions. If you want to sacrifice the economy, then most wont, and if you did manage to get it through, then the damages is enormous. I realise you don’t understand any of this. Try to think about how many people will vote for:

    • Increasing electricity prices
    • increasing cost of everything
    • less disposable income
    • Reduced services
    Just remember that Greens and Left-Labor are not the only voters in the country.

    And as far as the siting of a plant goes, that would be largely determined by the project proponent.

    Absolute nonsense. The way things are set up now NIMBY will rule.

    When you state that “I believe we should stipulate least cost with adequate safety, not excessive safety requirements”, this really does seem to imply that there can be design changes made to make it cheaper.

    For heavens sake, Tom, can you read anything I write without twisting it to suit your own agenda. I’ve knocked that on the head about 20 times.

    As for saying you’d prefer to stick with coal if it is cheaper than nuclear, then I think you really aren’t looking at the externalities properly.

    I’ve addressed that a dozen times too.

    Tom, quite frankly, you don’t have the slightest clue what you are talking about.

    You are one of those that just wants to back Greens-Labor policy and is scared spitless of looking at the economically rational altrernative.

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  317. Peter these calculations have raised more questions than answers about the ACIL Tasman report. I take it when they refer to the assumed $23 carbon tax they call it ‘carbon costs’. On the other hand I assume the major component of ‘annualised tax costs’ is corporate income tax. However a higher capital cost plant with the same lifetime and revenue stream gets a bigger depreciation deduction so that company tax is reduced. Therefore I don’t understand why a nuclear operator would pay more tax.

    Another issue possibly not raised in the report is that air cooling confers much lower siting costs than river cooling. I seem to recall that CS Energy boasted that Kogan Ck supercritical plant saved 22% CO2 compared to pulverised coal. it was ACIL Tasman who rebuked them by pointing out that air cooling cancelled that saving.

    Thus if $23 carbon tax is assumed then NP should pay less of it. Other things being equal they should also pay less corporate tax based on larger capital related costs.

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  318. Peter, I don’t know what ludicrous policies I supposedly want to impose on society that you are talking about. ?

    What won’t I give an inch on? Personally, I’d me more than happy to see a $50/tonne CO2-equivalent pricing. There’s a snowball’s chance in hell of this happening, so there’s no point talking about it. I’ll go with a modest $10 instead for now. This is a compromise, and it’s politically viable.

    Anyway, I don’t want to get into another round on that, it was not what I was discussing in my last comment.

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  319. “You are one of those that just wants to back Greens-Labor policy and is scared spitless of looking at the economically rational altrernative.”

    And once again, you’ve made it personal, made assumptions about political standings, and not actually addressed anything I’ve said. I’ve tried discussing this civilly with you, and I give up.

    I’m out.

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  320. Tom,

    My frustration level is pretty high right now. All your points have been addressed in previous comments on this thread. I’ve even provided links to back the main comments. Have you bothered to try to understand them?

    Can you not understand that a carbon price does not mean nuclear? It means gas. And that means stabilisation of emissions, not a cut in emissions.

    According to the ACIL-Tasman projections a $55/t CO2 price would not make nuclear competitive with gas. (compare ACIL-Tasman Tables 52 and 53)

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  321. John Newlands,

    I’ve previously advised you to try reading the report. I’ve explained to you that ACIL-Tasman’s projections are based on the Treasury modelling of the CPRS and the modelling is based on assumptions dictated by Labor and one of them is that the world will agree to an economically efficient, international ETS. Clearly, that is not going to happen any time soon. It is near impossible anyway.

    I’ve explained to you before, the $23/tonne was the projected start figures for this year. It increases to $55/tonne by 2028-29. So why do you keep mention $23/tonne?

    Why don’t you read the report and get to understand it?

    No wonder my frustration level is high. You, Tom and others keep rehashing things you’ve said before, I’ve corrected, and yet you bring up the same thing again ….l and again …. and again.

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  322. Peter, you replied:

    The confusion is regrettable :(

    Peter, you’ve talked about making nuclear less safe to reduce costs. That concerned/confused a lot of people – me included.

    That is not what I said. This is what I said:

    The choice is:
    1. coal
    2. nuclear (electricity at twice the cost of coal, system 10 to 100 times safer)
    3. nuclear (electricity competitive with coal or perhaps cheaper than coal, system still far safer than coal – probably still 10 to 100 times safer than coal)

    and

    Despite arguing that it was OK to push this argument, DV82XL then criticised me, strongly, for saying that nuclear is 10 to 100 times safer than coal, safety costs money, we do not need to insist on such a high level of safety if by doing so it makes nuclear too expensive to build at all – which is the case and has been for decades.

    I was, however, referring to earlier exchanges, including a long string of back-and-forth with Ewen, Douglas and Fran among others. For instance:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/02/investment-we-arent-making/#comment-41617
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/02/investment-we-arent-making/#comment-41707

    and many more comments on this thread:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/01/nuclear-century-cbg/

    I should say that I recognise that I am arguing from a theoretical perspective. I do understand the problem of arguing to reduce safety on nuclear power. But I do strongly beieve we have grossly over done the safety of nuclear power when comapered with all other industries. This is costing humanity dearly. The benefits of reducing the cost of clean energy outweighs the cost of the consequences by, I believe, several orders of magnitude. I am arguing from what I believe is a purely rational perspective, not an emotive perspective. I do recognise that the emotive perspective is very important. I’d argue it has got us into the mess we are in today.

    You also talk about “unreasonable safety standards”, “Safety demands for nuclear are excessive, costly, and delaying the rate of roll out of clean electricity generation.” and ask “why do we need far higher safety standards for nuclear energy than for other industries?”. What was meant by this then, other than by reducing safety systems on current designs? This is historical though, and I’m glad to see that you’ve clarified your messaging on this point. I’m sure Ewen would be too if he’s still reading this blog.

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  323. Barry,

    Yes. I stand by the first link (take the whole comment in context). I think if you read the whole comment it should be clear.

    Yes, I standby the second link.

    Yes, I standby the other quotes in your last paragraph.

    Nothing has changed. All this is consistent.

    And I’ve clarified again above. Hopefully that will be the end of people misinterpreting what I’ve be attempting to get across and misrepresenting what I’ve been saying or taking it out of context.

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  324. Peter, then I suggest your messaging should be along the lines of: “Complaints about nuclear safety are a furphy — it is already 10 to 100 times safer than coal. Bottom line: nuclear power is already safe enough, and we (society) should instead be focusing on other non-technological impediments to lower-cost nuclear”. That will avoid the sort of misunderstandings that occurred on those linked threads, and which also confused people like me and DV8 as to the thrust of your argument.

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  325. Barry,

    This is a very good question you uncovered:

    “why do we need far higher safety standards for nuclear energy than for other industries?”.

    By which I mean, why do we require nuclear to be 10 to 100 times safer than coal or gas electricity generation, or the chemical, forestry, fishing industries? What is the justification? If there is a rational justification, can you explain it to me?

    I suspect it is an emotive reason, relating to irrational fears of nuclear. The problem with this, as I’ve said up-thread, we make nuclear so costly that we cannot afford it and therefore we do not get the benefits of it, including the much greater safety. We’ve priced it out of being a viable option.

    I do recognise that those who are trying to win over the entrenched anti-nukes feel we should not discuss anything rational for fear of giving them ammunition for their anti-nuke cause. I do not buy that argument. They will never be converted no matter what; and they already have all the ammo they need. The majority of people just want reliable, correct information (not spin). They can handle it. Not necessarily in the first conversation but they are listening, taking it all in, assimilating and will eventually make mostly rational decisions.

    Please do not misinterpret this. I am not saying that we can or should change the designs of the currently available technologies. I just want to buy the least cost (whole of life cost).

    I also want to raise the public’s awareness that nuclear is actually much safer than coal generation (full life cycle) because I want to get through to Labor that the policy they adopt to replace their anti-nuke policy will set the tone and cost of how nuclear is implemented in Australia for decades to come.

    If Labor says, in effect, they “will allow nuclear but only if it is the safest ever” or similar, then the debate between Conservatives and Labor will be largely about who can trump the other on being the toughest on safety. The cost will be so high that rollout will be delayed for a long time.

    The reason this type of rhetoric raises costs is because then we have every man and his dog getting in on the act at all stages in the development and construction, and later in trying to close it down. It will be just like what Canada went through with Darlington. It will be no safer but far more expensive. That is what will happen if the debate revolves around safety.

    Australia has a habit of fiddling with off the shelf items and “modifying it for our special requirements”. I’ve seen a great deal of this from close quarters in the Defence Materiel Organisations procurement of Defence equipment. That experience is informing this advice.

    I may not be making my message as clear as other better writers could, but I hope readers will attempt to understand what I am getting at, rather than just try to find a sentence or phrase to fire torpedoes at.

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  326. Barry,

    I posted my previous comment before I saw what you had written.

    What you have written sums up my position correctly. I agree entirely with this statement:

    Peter, then I suggest your messaging should be along the lines of: “Complaints about nuclear safety are a furphy — it is already 10 to 100 times safer than coal. Bottom line: nuclear power is already safe enough, and we (society) should instead be focusing on other non-technological impediments to lower-cost nuclear”. That will avoid the sort of misunderstandings that occurred on those linked threads, and which also confused people like me and DV8 as to the thrust of your argument.

    I will try to frame it like that in future. If I slip up I request anyone who sees it to correct me.

    Appologies to all for the confusion. It was always perfectly clear to me what I was saying :)

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  327. I now realise I should clarify a statement in this recent comment:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110448

    What could we do to reduce the costs of these?

    1. Purchase cost for vendor engineering and equipment:
    Get competitive quotes from all vendors. Ask vendors for options that could reduce the cost. Ask vendors to suggest how the LCOE could be reduced.

    By “asking vendors how we can reduce the cost”, I am not asking for them to suggest how to modify their design. I am asking how we could structure the contract so it minimises the whole of life cost of the plant. The vendors have knowledge, experience and insights that the owner does not have. They may make suggestions about where to locate it to reduce the overall cost, and they may suggest contract clauses that will reduce the cost and reduce the investor risk premium. Much of this might be to do with moving risk from vendor and contractor to the owner. We don’t have to accept all they suggest, but it will be quantified and we are in a better position to make well informed decisions as to what costs and risks we want to move from vendor/contractor to us.

    The limit of this is that the government takes nearly all the risk. This is how the Snowy Mountains Scheme was built (1950s to 1970s), how the British and French NPPs were built and what Douglas Wise and Greg Meyerson are arguing for.

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  328. I want to clarify my previous clarifications.

    First, to avoid any confusion, I reiterate, it is not possible to change the basic designs of currently available NPPs. Any changes to the basic designs would delay implementation by many years. Therefore, we have to accept them as they are offered by their vendors.[Note 1]

    Barry clarified what I’ve been trying to say.

    “Complaints about nuclear safety are a furphy — it is already 10 to 100 times safer than coal. Bottom line: nuclear power is already safe enough, and we (society) should instead be focusing on other non-technological impediments to lower-cost nuclear”. That will avoid the sort of misunderstandings that occurred on those linked threads, and which also confused people like me and DV8 as to the thrust of your argument.

    All this is correct. However, I do need to clarify my position for the hypothetical case where it would be possible to change the designs to reduce costs.

    To help clarify my position, consider the situation that we need new and or replacement generating capacity and we have the following options:

    1. new coal
    2. nuclear with LCOE less than coal and equivalent safety to coal
    3. nuclear for same LCOE as coal and a little safer than coal
    4. nuclear at twice the LCOE of coal and 10 to 100 times safer (the current situation).

    If I was offered those options, I would select Option 2, then 3, then 1. I would certainly not select Option 4. I would prefer coal to Option 4. I would not select Option 3 in preference to option 2 unless it is demonstrated that the cost of the extra safety was good value for money. I’d have to be convinced that the extra safety offered by Option 3 over Option 2 is the best use of the funds. I’d have to be convinced that the money spent on the better safety of Option 3 would save more lives than if the same funds were invested in another industry, or the Health system for example. That is the purely rational approach and that is what I’d advocate.

    I am not willing to pay the higher cost for the greater safety, because I believe it is not the best way to improve health and safety in the community. Spending the funds on the additional safety in the electricity generation system would be a waste of money, money that could be better spent and achieve greater benefits elsewhere – such as Health system, education, roads, infrastructure, Murray Darling Basin, flood mitigation.

    In the above I am keeping it simple and considering safety only. The comparison is on the basis of full life cycle safety.

    Note 1: (as an aside, there may be some extra “features” being offered that add extra cost and are not required to meet the minimum IAEA regulations. These may be able to be left out if they are not value for money. The vendor would advise, as part of the bid process, of anything that could be left out to reduce costs.)

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