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Climate Change Emissions Nuclear Renewables

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

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

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

Q1. How urgent is it to address climate change?

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

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

Q4. Aren’t renewables the most affordable option?

Q5. What about storing excess energy for later use?

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

Q7. Aren’t renewables our safest option?

Q8. Does nuclear emit more CO2 than renewables

Q9. What about meltdowns? Is nuclear energy safe?

Q10. What about radiation?

Q11. What about the waste?

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

Q13. What about nuclear weapons proliferation?

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

Q15. Is there enough uranium?

Q16. Is nuclear energy expensive?

Q17. Is nuclear energy fast enough?

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

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

Q20. But… isn’t nuclear power evil?

FAQ

Q1. How urgent is it to address climate change?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q4. Aren’t renewables the most affordable option?

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

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

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

The 100% renewable option is neither fast nor affordable.

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

Ted Trainer: Renewable energy cannot sustain an energy intensive society

A video on the high cost of Danish wind:

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

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

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

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

Q5. What about storing excess energy for later use?

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

Concerning solar thermal:

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

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

Ted Trainer: Renewable energy cannot sustain an energy intensive society

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

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

A great video on India’s growing demand

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

Q7. Aren’t renewables our safest option?

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

Further reading:

Critique of ‘A path to sustainable energy by 2030′

Germany – crunched by the numbers (by Tom Blees)

Unnatural Gas (by Tom Blees)

Q8. Does nuclear emit more CO2 than renewables?

No.

When generating electricity, nuclear power emits no CO2.

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

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

TCASE 4: Energy system build rates and material inputs

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

Q9. What about meltdowns? Is nuclear energy safe?

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

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

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

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

Q10. What about radiation?

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

Poland is low at – 240 millirem/yr

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

Kerala, India – 900 millirem/yr

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

Certain beaches in Brazil – 3000 millirem/yr.

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

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

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

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

How dangerous is radiation?

Radiation – facts, fallacies and phobias

Q11. What about the waste?

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

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

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

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

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

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

No…

…not if they actually wanted to do some damage.

Q13. What about nuclear weapons proliferation?

Nuclear power is not a precursor to nuclear weapons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q15. Is there enough uranium?

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

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

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

Q16. Is nuclear energy expensive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent nuclear power cost estimates – separating fact from myth

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

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

Q17. Is nuclear energy fast enough?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q20. But… isn’t nuclear power evil?

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

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

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

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.

282 replies on “Take real action on climate change – Part 2 – the FAQ”

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

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

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

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

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

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Phil M,

I would suggest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for attempting what you did John.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They will show up here if you get anything rolling.

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

I mainly refer to this section:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Breath taking stuff. Now we need a leader with a good catch phrase to tie it all together,

Where can one find another Dwight Eisenhower with his “Atoms for Peace”?

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

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Barry – I believe your style of engagement is a big positive. In the Australian context you’re the most reasonable environmentalist I’ve ever encountered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I agree Barry. For example…

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

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

Sorry, I haven’t got to Q3 yet.

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Marion,

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

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

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

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

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

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Phil M,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appreciate the info Peter.

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Phil M,

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

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

You asked:

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

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

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

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

This paper would give you some background:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/

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

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

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

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Phil M,

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

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Phil M,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Peter Lang:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And

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

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

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

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

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

Peter, what do you mean by this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John, here’s some source material:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Maybe another FAQ?

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

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

(How fire can be domesticated)

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think it’s cool!

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

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

As I say on the page:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yes I agree with Finrod here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nuclear power is really good”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can this work?

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

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

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I also quite like the idea of a Promethean theme …

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

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

… Renewable energy placards in carried by diffuse mob in background

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

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

Even my SERVICE check-list is too long.

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

I think we need a renewables attack poster: fast.

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

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

******

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q15. Is there enough uranium?

Yes.

There is enough uranium to provide all the world’s energy indefinitely.
https://bravenewclimate.com/category/ifr-facts-and-discussion/

You may (or may not) want to add other links such as:
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf75.html
http://channellingthestrongforce.blogspot.com/2010/03/is-nuclear-power-sustainable.html

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eclipsenow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I also have deep suspicions about this Phil M”

They were unfounded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a tab especially dedicated to it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Peter Lalor,

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

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

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

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

France built their plants by effectively banning disruption.

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

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

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Peter Lalor,

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

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

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

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‘EclipseNow’ wrote,

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

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

Try and find such pamphletry with a Cerenkov light photo.

(How fire can be domesticated)

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

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

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Eclipsenow,

Just so.

Peter Lalor,

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

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

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John Morgan, on 28 June 2010 at 8.18 — Closing 1/2 the factories was a news item on
http://climateprogress.org/
back a few months ago now.

Not enough transmission lines comes from talking to one of the best-in-theWest power engineers here; he had recently visited north China regarding power related matters.

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eclipsenow,

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

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

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

I’ll expand on this tonight.

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Marion Brook, on 28 June 2010 at 10.03 — Negative campaigns are less effective that positive ones. Such as

France has 75% nuclear power; let’s do that!

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John Morgan said

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tom,
I agree!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Marion Brook, you said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s really very simple GC …

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

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

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

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

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

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