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Nuclear Open Thread

Open Thread 4

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

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

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

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

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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

718 replies on “Open Thread 4”

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

I was looking at this study:

Click to access nuclearpower-update2009.pdf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can it be eliminated? Here are some thoughts:

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

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

3. Pass laws that will prevent public disruption during construction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The previous post is my soap box. What are the imposts on nuclear energy and how could they be removed if we really want to move to low-cost, clean, safe electricity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is really great news.

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

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

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

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

Have any done any analysis?

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

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

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

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

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

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John Morgan,

I’ll offer a few random comments:

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

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

3. ESAA has looked at nuclear and the costs, and I expect they keep up to date. I am out of date, but here is a reference comparing costs and emissions:

Click to access energyandemissionsstudystage2.pdf


http://www.esaa.com.au/images/stories//07_3_08_pm_taskforce_issues_paper.pdf . Notice the heading “Need for investor confidence”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The logic was undeniable – so unfortunately is the reality.

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

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

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

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

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

Proceed with caution

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

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

Proceed with caution

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

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

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

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

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Another discussion for the Open Thread:

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

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

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John Newlands,

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

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

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Charles Barton, @ 6 May 2010 at 22.22

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

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

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

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

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

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

Option 1 – Public Ownership

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

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

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

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

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

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

Option 2 – Private ownership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. The Australian nuclear regulatory authority regulates the operation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk about constructing a straw-man!

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

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

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

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

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A new post on my blog:

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

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

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

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

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Luke,

A couple of reaction to that article you posted:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John Morgan,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few questions I’ve been asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well that’s settled then.

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David B. Benson,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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David B Benson,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Peter, it would be polite of you to acknowledge DV82XL’s point regarding coronal mass discharge, since you raised it.

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Chris

Excellent questions. Here is a short response.

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

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

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

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

I think my first answer applies to this question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is exactly what happens.

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

Have a look through the following:

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

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

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

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

Click to access LloydsMarketMagazineIssue22010_v3.pdf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ DV8 re: David Suzuki.

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

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

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David B. Benson – Of course I was just using your post as a convenient rhetorical platform for my little rant. Nothing personal, you understand.

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eclipsenow – I have seen Suzuki being an asshole in the flesh. I wasn’t extending an opinion, I was making an observation.

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Radio Ecoshock has a 1 hour special on the Gulf Gusher. Interviews with Riki Ott, Exxon Valdez spill expert; Peak Oil guru Richard Heinberg; Antonia Juhasz from Global Currents on BP lobby efforts; and former Shell International VP Anita Burke with the inside track.

Plus a new song for the event “Corporate Catastrophe”

[audio src="http://www.ecoshock.net/eshock10/ES_100507_Show_LoFi.mp3" /]

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David B Benson,

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

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

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

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DV82XL @ 7 May 2010 at 11.46

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

I forgot to reply to this comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I have another question:

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

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

can someone paint a picture?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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thanks dv: very helpful.

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

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

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

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gregory meyerson, on 10 May 2010 at 2.47 Said:

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

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

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

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

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

The truth is not somewhere in between.

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

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

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

(How fire can be domesticated)

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

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

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

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

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Just a quick heads up …

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

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

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

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

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Well Fran, you’ve got to develop a rhinoceros-like hide to be in this business, so I’m neither surprised not outraged. There’s plenty of irrationality around to fill 1000 blogs with defamatory material. Fortunately, BNC isn’t one of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Any number of reasons, none of them sinister.

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

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Yes, I keep reading about the powerful nuclear lobby behind the renewed push for NP in oz. If it exists I wish they’d show their hand.

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Fisho, great comment above.

Apropos my last comment, you wrote:

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

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

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I just checked – so they do. Looks like they build the full suite of grid infrastructure too. Offices in Pymble, Sydney, according to Sensis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@Charles Barton + Sage of Montreal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Peter Lalor, on 11 May 2010 at 1.23 Said:

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

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

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

But nevertheless the silence is deafening

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

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

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

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

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